Love In The Right Place, Wrong Time


Dr. John was a relatively obscure musician (outside of New Orleans) until he performed the song, “Right Place, Wrong Time” which became a Top-Ten hit and won him one of his six Grammy Awards. The song had lyrical contributions from several artists including Bette Midler and Bob Dylan and related a tale of ironic bad luck and failures.

Love often finds us in the right place and the wrong time. More precisely the right person and wrong time where one or both of you are unable to recognize that which is right before you. Sometimes you become friends, more likely is that you each go on to other relationships, maybe even happiness, but still not what might have been.

Perhaps you were too young and had no true understanding of what love is? You relied on advice from friends and were open to advances from strangers. Monogamy, sacrifice, dedication, transparency, and vulnerability were words you could spell, technically believed their definition, but had yet to incorporate them into your lifestyle. Maybe you were too shy or immature or too damn busy with your career to take notice?

Maybe you were enthralled with another, in a relationship or just coming out? The mind so occupied that you were unable to begin something new. Perhaps you never met at all, possibly in the same event at the same time but the universe conspired to keep you apart.

But the universe doesn’t always conspire against you. Sometimes if gives you second chances to discover what might have been? You meet at a college reunion, get a Friend request on Facebook, see their picture on an Internet dating site. Life gives you second chance, very rarely does it give you three. So when that second chance comes… what are you going to do?

  • I wrote this well over a year ago. I ran across it in my unpublished stories and decided to send it out into the universe.

A Woman Shares #MeToo


I was sitting in alone in a small workplace breakroom, at maximum it will comfortably hold 8–10 people, often it is empty. I had been there alone for a few minutes when an elderly white woman joined me, sitting not quite across from me but in the next seat over. I knew her name as we’d often said hello in passing. I knew nothing of her life. Her body was betraying her, she had a slight hunch and varicose veins. She seemed like she might be working past retirement age, I guessed in her late 60’s or early 70’s but I had never inquired about her circumstances. We worked in the same building but in different departments, I might see and speak to her once or twice a month.

I was checking the news on my cell-phone when she asked, “Have you been following the Kavanaugh hearings?”

I said, “I have, very closely as a matter of fact.”

She said, “I watched as much as I could of Dr. Ford’s testimony before coming to work. I believe her!”

“I do too.”

Bt then I’d looked up from my phone, she wasn’t looking at me but rather off in the distance. She didn’t say anything for a while and I went back to the news. A couple minutes passed and she spoke again.

“I told my daughter yesterday for the first time what I experienced, I remember it now as if it were yesterday. What happened to me was over 40 years ago and I could tell she was telling the truth. I’d never told anyone before but I had to tell someone so I told her.

The last time I saw the man was when he preached my father’s funeral. He was the pastor and everyone loved him. I loved him too as a preacher.”

She told me how he was always getting young girls in a position where he’d be alone with them. She wasn’t explicit, often saying, “if you know what I mean” or “he would do his business.” I made some acknowledgments along the way that I heard her but nothing I said was of any importance. I’m not usually at a loss for words but my role at this time was more about listening rather than talking.

She rose to leave, looking directly at me for the first time.

“The first time I ever spoke about this was yesterday, and now I’ve told you.”

Then she walked away.

Some Places Are Not For Staying

Photo: thenakedconvos.com

In 1996, Prince released a cover of The Stylistics, “Betcha By Golly Wow.” Before he began singing, he said, “Sometimes the words of another… seem to work out fine.

In the movie, “Finding Forrester.” Sean Connery as William Forrester said, ” I helped him find his own words… by starting with some of mine.”

Sometimes you run across the words of others that just inspire you to do something with them. I recently read a poem by Fee Thomas where a line jumped into my mind and has been wrestling with me to write something about it. I asked permission to use those words. “Some places are not for staying!” This is the result.

SOME PLACES ARE NOT FOR STAYING

Some places are not for staying

You may find yourself in them from time to time

They whisper for you to stay for they are lonely places wanting the company of your misery

They tell you, “Stay if you like”

They pretend to be comfortable places

But they’re not for staying


Photo: Codewit.com

Grieving is not for staying

We all experience loss and handle it differently

But mourning is for a season, not forevermore

We love a person no less when we move on from grief

Forget them not but wrap yourself in the warm and good memories

Grieving… not for staying

Some relationships are not for staying

If pain exceeds joy or truth is never certain

When what you deserve is not what you get

Staying may mean blocking your true joy

Some relationships… not for staying


Photo: Cosmopolitan.com

Pride is not a place for staying

Even visits should be short

It costs you much and gives next to nothing

Pride eviscerates truth, honor and trust

All for a momentary satisfaction

It rears its head again and again, when you notice it’s approach you should instead embrace humility and grace

Not for staying

The past is not for staying

Rather than trying to recreate old memories

Create new ones

Live not in the footsteps of past triumphs

Forfeit not the present

Learn from the past, let it guide you

Don’t stay there, it will only hold you back


Photo: wellspring.com

Love is not for simply staying

It’s not for staying because love is a dynamic thing

It requires sustenance, time and effort

Once discovered it can fade away so keep moving toward the light

Or the darkness of its absence will overtake you

Frustration, Disappointment, Fear, Envy, Hatred, Financial Hardship, Depression…

All places not to stay

How to get out when you find yourself in a not for staying place?

Find someone who’s been there before and knows the way out

Pick a destination away from that place and make plans to go

Pray and act

Pray and act

Don’t pray and wait

Pray and act


Photo: Getty Images

There are places not for staying

Ultimately good for only wallowing and pain

Knowing you’re there is half the battle

Leaving begins with a single step

Some places are not for staying

I Hope You Dance

Photo: youtube.com

I must confess, I glided through the first forty odd years of life without experiencing a bad break-up. I had plenty of relationships that never quite achieved what I hoped for, some that fizzled away and sadly some only for a night which I attribute to immaturity. You don’t have to do something just because you can.

Oh, there was rejection, but generally the kind you equate to walking across a room and asking someone to dance and they say no. It happens, you move on to the next one and put it behind you. It seems that most of the relationships that ended in the first 45 years of my existence (which I guess was all of them). They either never got too far or they ended more or less on my terms or through a mutual decision. I’d never been dumped by someone I love.

Then it happened, and if you’re waiting for all the sordid details you’re going to be disappointed. I will tell you there was one Thanksgiving evening that I was in Richmond, VA on business. Alone in a hotel and realizing I was away from my children, alone, and without the woman I loved. I experienced the kind of brokenness you read about in the Bible where you reflect on your whole life. In desperation I called the woman that had hurt me, she was tied up at the time because… Thanksgiving, but she said she’d call me back, which she did and we talked into the night. Nothing changed with our status and I eventually picked myself back up and got back into the race. Not the next day, week, or month… eventually.

I see people that have dropped out of the race. Whether they never want to experience the pain that often accompanies relationships, or they’ve given up for some other reason. I think it a true thing that the high points that love elicits far exceed the lowest of the low points. But that’s a decision people must make for themselves.

The second verse of the song, “I Hope You Dance” kind of sums it up:

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
 Never settle for the path of least resistance
 Livin’ might mean takin’ chances, but they’re worth takin’
 Lovin’ might be a mistake, but it’s worth makin’
 Don’t let some Hellbent heart leave you bitter
 When you come close to sellin’ out, reconsider
 Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance
 And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

I hope you dance

Abuse


More and more as women tell me their stories

I’ve come to believe that abuse is much more the norm than exception

Varying degrees

Different reactions

Lingering pain

I’ll strive to listen better

For many of these stories aren’t being told

One wondered if I now viewed her differently?

Another relived all the pain in the telling

Many try so hard to forget

I think I’ll listen better

Try to understand

Offer unconditional support

I’ll save my questions

She’ll tell what she desires

When she desires

If she desires

I’ll be grateful for any revelation

Knowing there was a cost

Hopefully wise enough to realize

It’s not about me

The Challenge of Mature Relationships


I’ve met several mature Black women who’ve more or less given up on finding love. It’s not that they don’t want it. They’re just making no effort to find it, possibly blocking every glimmer of hope that comes along. Their history typically contains stories of being deceived, having to carry too much of the load, pain and unhappiness. They don’t reject the concept of love, which to some also means marriage. They just don’t want to be let down again, experiencing what they possibly define as failure. Some are hoping that Black Knight (or possibly another hue) will find them and break through the barriers they’ve erected but taking no proactive steps of their own. Better not to try at all!

There is no one-fits-all solution that works for everyone. Some of these women are content in their lives which may revolve around their children and their careers. They find happiness where they can, having relationships on their terms if at hall.

While thinking on this. I realized that many men find themselves in the very same situation. They settle for shallow small-risk relationships or maybe none because failing is just as real for them. In a conversation with a family member, she compared me favorably to her brothers because, “at least you’re still dating.”

The evolution of a meaningful relationship is just as full of pot holes for men as for women. Perhaps compounded by the fact that women willing to enter into a less than a committed relationship are not hard to find.

I found myself speaking to a younger male about relationships and said, “When I was growing up you were considered a punk if you turned down a woman offering herself under almost any circumstances. What you’ll realize at some point, hopefully sooner than later, is that with each interaction comes expectations. If all you want is momentary pleasure, the karma you’re sewing into the universe will only come back to haunt you.” I actually used much more common language so he’d get the point but I’m using literary license so not to tarnish my image.

The same is true for grown ass men. Enter relationships with a level of seriousness or not at all. It’s acceptable to be hopeful as you get to know someone. But recognize if you’re on or off the right track. Men should reexamine their goals as well. If all you’re looking for is easy access, don’t be disappointed in what you get. Think about what it is you’re looking for and what you’re unwilling to accept, long before you’re sitting across from a date having dinner or buying someone a drink. Once you know what you’re willing to say no to. Then you can consider what will make you say yes.

Relationships don’t have to be as hard as we make them. Honesty and open communication go a long way towards finding that person you’re willing not to just settle for, but settle down with. To those who considered quitting the race, I encourage you to give it another try, or as many as necessary because it can be done! When you find that person you want to talk to about everything. You’re on the way!

Featured Photo: spacuracao.com

How Much Do I Owe My Readers?

 

I will ultimately get to the point of answering the question, “How much do I owe my readers when I blog about topics like relationships and dating?” Let me first say that I’ve written a romance novel that I’m trying to get published that is quite different than what I normally write which is politics, history, family and more politics. I have a writing coach that has seen me through the arduous task of editing the book so she has come to know what I think and feel about a variety of subjects related to love and she has encouraged me to write more in that vein. When I say encourage I would like to say assign but that would be a little harsh, she invites me to consider that which she wants me to do. If I hesitate she temporarily lets the subject drop, knowing she’ll come back to it in a different way. She’s relentless.

She means it all for my good. She wants me to “build a fan base” and “have a platform” which will translate to people wanting to read everything I write and buy my book when it comes out so I see the logic. She “suggested,” I write a piece for the “Good Men Project” that she thought might serve me well. Having run out of excuses I agreed to look at the site and have something ready the next day so I came back with this:

 

“When You Don’t Know What You Want

Sometimes you know far more about what you don’t want in a relationship than what you do. I have a theory (you’ll find I have many theories) that people are somewhat defined by their greatest pain and that they will do much not to repeat that hurt. While not always perceived to be true, men can come out of failed relationships just as hurt and damaged as women, although pride may well keep them from saying so. These are some of the things men do after it’s over:

  1. Time Out – Some men will simply avoid relationships for a period of time while they prepare themselves to get back into something serious. This could entail total avoidance and abstaining or could allow for meaningless sex, requiring flight at the first sign that things are getting crucial. It may be impossible to correlate their actions and words with their ultimate deeds because these men may be extremely romantic. They are quite capable of being tender, holding and caressing which they do not because they are in love; but because they love the feeling associated with being able to make their partner feel good. They might be affectionate lovers, but not want to spend the night or be there for breakfast conversation.
  2. Trying to Get Her Back – This man isn’t content with the resolution of the relationship and won’t be satisfied until he’s done all he can to get her back. Phone calls, flowers, apologies… promise of change. I have another theory that you never truly know someone until you live with them, or until you break up. For the person on the receiving end of this possibly unwanted attention. Being nice can easily be construed as giving hope, so firm and clear is the way to go if you don’t want him back. He may dwell in a dystopian reality imagining how wonderful your relationship was and how perfect it will be again, if she would only take him back. This is a period not unlike madness and while it often eventually fades as reality sets in. Be wary!
  3. Serial Monogamy – This man want’s to be in love whether to prove he can move on or to duplicate feelings that translate somewhere to self-esteem. He moves quickly, fast to express his “love”, assuming without discussing, wanting the shell of a relationship without establishing a core. While it’s possible he will accidentally find his soul mate and come to have true love, the likelihood is small.
  4. Man-Whore – I heard this expression just yesterday and am taking some unexplainable pride in now using man-whore in a sentence. He’ll literally do anybody because he is at least temporarily equating conquest with success. I suppose one good thing you can say about this fellow is that he is not limited by shape, size, race or any surface considerations. Getting you in his bed or yours is sufficient. He walks the thin line between not wanting a relationship and having the ability to go back for seconds and thirds.
  5. Looking for Love – This man wants to get married and considers marriage his natural state. He has a list of criteria and begins checking off items on your first date as to whether you will be a good spouse or perhaps a good mother to existing or future children. He has high standards, perhaps impossible, but because he’s at least willing to be serious about love and marriage, women might contort themselves in an attempt to live up to his expectations. Others may perceive him as a “good catch”, placing shade on the woman who he didn’t appreciate. When you meet this man he is from day one drawing up a marriage contract that he will expect you never to deviate from without it being considered bait and switch.

All of these men are capable of change although recognition of the need to do so may come slowly. If you are relying on your ability to change them or see them much differently than they actually are. There may be some self-examination required on your part. I submit that there is hope from a seemingly unlikely source; the man who doesn’t know what he wants.

The man who doesn’t know what he wants has achieved some level of enlightenment and is willing to consider the fact that none of us (including himself) is perfect and is willing not only to accept but perhaps find endearing some of the flaws you both possess. He is more likely to be honest than the man following a more proscribed agenda. He is more likely to value communication than he that is more goal oriented whether it be sleeping with a woman, marrying her, or putting another notch in his belt. To the man who has realized he doesn’t know what he wants I have a few suggestions:

  1. Don’t Settle – This man often knows very much what he doesn’t want and often having is not so great a thing as wanting. Time spent with someone you know you don’t want, is time you’ll never get back. You can also be blocking future blessings by not having space for that potential soulmate because you elected to chose a cellmate simply for companionship.
  2. Be Honest – You don’t need to have it all together in terms of knowing what you want. Men work so hard at trying to be what they think women want that they create a character much different than the real you. Honesty is sexy! Your fear that women will reject you by saying you don’t know what you want is misplaced. Those that do are perhaps so rigid in their specific needs that you can consider it part of your screening process. They simply self-deported (thanks Mitt Romney for that contribution to the lexicon).
  3. Self-Assess – Lingering in a perpetual state of unawareness is not acceptable. Women will work with you if you are working with them. If you aren’t challenging yourself to narrow the parameters of your choice, then not knowing what you want becomes an excuse. It’s simply not caring enough to work it out. Assess your experiences, what have you learned? I’ve been married twice for extended periods of time. It is not possible that I have learned nothing thru that experience whether it be about my partner’s behavior of my own. What are you unwilling to endure? Will each new possible romance accept you for who you are or do they require you maintain a facade? You can never know how they will react to the real you without sharing the real you.
  4. What is Your Greatest Pain? – I began by saying that people will go to great lengths to avoid repeating their greatest pain. I extend the challenge to not only discover your greatest pain but to relate it to someone with whom you believe might just be what you want. It will require an openness and honesty most uncommon, but the potential reward is far greater than the possible loss. If you and your prospective love can share with each other what you have learned about relationships, how you’ve been hurt and how that has informed your decisions. You’ll be on a road that could take you not just where you desire but to a greater love than ever imagined.

So much about finding a partner is based on chance. We meet people and accept and reject sometimes in moments, based on the skimpiest of evidence. Should you meet someone that doesn’t know what they want, I submit they present a world of possibilities.” So don’t reject out of hand the man who doesn’t know what he wants. Instead, if interested, consider it the starting point of a conversation.”

 

Having given her the piece, I thought I was pretty much through and when she initially read it she liked it which theoretically meant I was off the hook. The first sign I wasn’t through was when she sent me a message requesting we “read thru the article”. Reading thru the work which is basically me reading aloud what I’ve written is a valuable editing tool because it’s easy to spot some of the grammatical errors and tricky sentences once you say them out loud. I am the “King of the run-on sentence” and I know the end result will be a better product. I also knew she wanted to suggest some changes which she will help me discover while I read.

 

Let me say that my writing coach is sometimes the worst writing coach in the world. If she calls and asks me what I’m doing and I reply, “I’m writing”. Most people would look at that as a sign that I’m busy and request a better time or make the conversation brief. I think the words, “I’m writing” is taken as a personal challenge to extend the conversation as long as possible and keep me from engaging in the activity she’s supposed to be supporting.  Other times however, her ability to deconstruct a piece and see what’s missing is amazing and I know that my novel is ten times the work it was when I initially sent her what I initially wrote. The bottom line was that she said for me to write a piece like that in this particular forum, I needed to basically pour out my soul. She wanted to speak of my personal experiences and relationships and what I’ve learned, what mistakes I’ve made and what I would do differently. I tried to explain that, “this is why I write fiction”. I choose to draw on all my experiences to make complex characters that are realistic. If one wants to surmise that those are my specific experiences they are welcome to infer but I still have maintained some semblance of privacy.

She told me that I was welcome to make any choice I wanted but if I wrote for that forum I owed the readers more of myself. As you can see I chose to publish this piece in my own Blog and save the Good Men Project or other similar publications for another time. Perhaps someday I’ll write about me instead of stuff, but for now, I dole it out a bit at a time. I am after all named Enigma!

babs one

 

 

For anyone who wants to contact the worst writing coach in the world (except when she’s the best). She’s Babz Rawls Ivy at mediababz@gmail.com

 

 

 

There Were Always Cookies

There Were Always Cookies

 

I have always liked vanilla. I enjoyed it added to warm milk, it helped medicine to go down, I love Vanilla Coke. I never gave it a thought as to how I first came to enjoy vanilla, until I thought about my grandmother.

From when I was about four years old until I left Minneapolis to attend college at Fisk University in Nashville. I lived a few blocks from my maternal grandparents. My grandmother picked my brothers and I up every Sunday and took us across town to Zion Baptist Church where we went to first Sunday School and then the main service. We usually stopped on the way at the car wash where we all got out and conscientiously watched her Chevy Nova go thru the soapy bristles. When we were old enough we could go to her house by ourselves although we were always admonished to watch the traffic when crossing busy Portland Avenue.

We were never required to give notice when visiting. My grandparents were retired and most always home. The one constant was that anytime we visited, ever. There were Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookies in a large shoe shaped cookie jar. They were straight from the recipe on the package of chocolate chips. Sometimes we got to help make them and of course lick the spoon and get every last bit of cookie batter from the bowl. The vanilla was one of the last ingredients to mix in. It was only a teaspoon and it was darker than the batter and we stirred it in until it disappeared.

My grandmother was an amazing woman. The matriarch of the family. It was only within the last few years that I discovered from my cousin Jacki that my grandmother picked her and my cousin Buddy up once a week to spend time with her which made it all the more remarkable that the cookies were always there.

In this age of programmable cell phones, many people don’t remember their own cell phone number. I do recall mine but the only other number I know in the universe is my grandmother’s. What I would give to be able to call her once again. She was blessed with long life and when she passed away it was Mother’s Day which was somehow fitting. On some days, I will remember her for her strength. On other days for her wisdom. Today it’s for her chocolate chip cookies.

 

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
  • 1 cup chopped nuts