Introversion and the Blues

My silence is indicative of my battle with the blues and my aversion to making it public. Isn’t it odd, I have known for years I battle this insidious and all-encompassing emotional sea. This time, I let the waves take me further out, nearly sinking me. This time, I gave free rein to my nature and thus failed to notice as the blues silenced me and built my walls higher and stronger than they had been in years. This time, I looked out of my already well-built bubble of introspection and introversion, shrugged my shoulders and said, ‘fuck it, I am fine, I am good; I can’t care’.

My silence is indicative of the hurt of the past few years. For far too long I have cared too much for to many only to be told it isn’t enough. It has broken me emotionally, financially and worse it broke my trust in others, long nurtured is finally broken as well. I always believed if I was good to others, it would be returned; I was wrong. Time and again, I was wrong.

My silence is indicative of fear. You might ask me what do I have to be afraid of, but that would show you only know my name and not who I really am. I don’t blame you for this, it is who we are as a people, who we have become. Uncaring, unjust and focused entirely on ourselves, unconcerned with anyone outside of a small circle of ‘just like us’. Unwilling to hear anyone who speaks critically, asks questions, or offers any other voice but what is inside the echo chamber of our own narrow thinking and vision. Willing to lash out at friends and allies of years, name them as enemies and call others to do the same when they question the echo.

My silence is indicative of fatigue, both personal and social. This year-long season of the American Horror Story has worn my patience and my hope thin. There is no critical analysis that can be done in the political arena of today, no justification for what the American public is offered as options for President. We argue over who is worse, not who is best. We have become a laughingstock 20ab55a5576cffe1dce94c2fc4b236b0on the world stage when we aren’t a diplomatic nightmare. Our politics and our politicians belittle the dream of America and turn us into a Reality TV show for the amusement of the world. We have lost our way, our demons are on the stage and we must select which one will lead us into perdition.

My silence is indicative of my despair. Yes, I said it; despair. Despair for all of us that we are falling down a hole of ugly we will not be able to recover from. That we are drawing lines we will not be able to erase for decades. That we are allowing the fringe to speak for all of us, rather than standing up speaking up and screaming ‘Shut the fuck up’ when the extreme ratchets up violence, animosity and nativism without a single voice of dissent. When the extreme causes friends and neighbors to call into question the loyalty of decades and shed those alliances and friendships simply to appear more ‘correct’. Where once reasonable people on all sides joined together across political, gender and racial lines to form alliances for good, now those same people are using the language of the extremes and burning down the houses, without care demanding a return to what once was without understanding the consequence of their demand.

My silence then is the only response I have, the only response I am able to offer in this time of terrible turmoil. My silence and my tears as friends of long standing turn on me and call out for others to do the same because I question within the echo chamber. My silence and my tears, as I come to realize how terribly used I was in my time of weakness and sorrow. My silence and my tears, as I watch the nation burn itself down. My silence and my tears, as I watch the extremes on both sides grab the disenfranchised by the throat and shake mightily until out of the pile of brokenness walks the fury that is seen protesting senseless deaths on the streets of our cities or the Trump supporters screaming ‘Make America Great Again’ as they ignore his casual ignorance, racism, sexism and all other ‘isms.

Will my silence continue? I hope not. I hope I can begin to write again. I hope I can start taking an active role in my own life again, become part of the world again. I hope, honestly, I can start interacting with the world again without simply wishing to curl up and crawl into myself. Each time I have tried lately, it has not been an overwhelming success. This world, well it dumbfounds me. I love it less and less. I pay for my interactions within it on more levels then I am happy with. Nevertheless, I am part of it and should not give in to my overwhelming desire to simply retreat, it is far too easy.

black-and-white-girl-nature-photography-favim-com-356563My silence is indicative of the blues. I understand it is easy when you combine a natural introvert with the blues it is easy to do what I have done. So now, I will try to knock the wall back down. So much of the time I feel so very much alone, so very much as if I have to do this on my own. This I think, this reluctance to open the door and let others in, let others help me, let myself be disappointed again; this is another part of the blues.

I hope you are all well and I will be trying to visit.

I Quit with Much Rejoicing

Linda1I may have hinted I was unhappy, in reality absolutely and utterly miserable in my current employment. Nailing down the why’s hasn’t been easy. Truthfully, I knew some of the reasons but not all from the very beginning. The honest to goodness, oh my gawd, get me out of this madness fact was I was miserable nearly from the day I walked in the door and it only got worse. Exponentially worse each and every single day, it also got easier to identify the reasons why. Finally, this month I had enough of all of it, with great trepidation, I made a decision that I may well come to regret but is nonetheless the right decision for me.

I QUIT.

Yes, you read that correctly. I had enough, I reached my limit my wits end and I wrote my letter of resignation and pushed the send button. I had been contemplating this move for months, seriously contemplating for weeks but then it hit me and I hit the wall of ‘done’ and pushed send. Thinking to myself as that letter went out, ‘shit, can I take it back’.

Last year was very difficult for me, emotionally and financially. I was out of work for nearly six months, ran through my savings and was down to my last month of emergency funds when I accepted the position with my current employer. I had high hopes. I had made the decision to go from being self-employed to returning to the corporate world, to what I thought would be my last istock_000008650446small_custom-6ce6bb326422c9899f3e1b667f9bcae2444a689c-s6-c30job before retirement. I had researched this company, had spoken to more than twelve (12) people within the organization up and down the food chain. I was impressed with what I had seen and heard, I was happy with the salary and benefits, I was happy with the role I was taking. I was excited!

I wanted this to be wonderful.

Then reality hit, it hit hard and fast; it hit like a freight train and rolled over me, squashing me into the ground within the first two weeks. Honestly, I was left questioning my sanity, competency and value. I did not know where to turn, did not know whom to ask and did not have any direction. My boss was incommunicado, his boss simply said, ‘be patient’. The entire environment was toxic and I was miserable, I kept thinking it would get better; it didn’t.

Now less than a year later, I QUIT.

Scary as hell really, with bills to pay and a mortgage I am returning to independence. I am returning to contract work. I am going back to having some control over the environments I work within and those I work for and with every day. Is there risk? Yes, absolutely there is huge risk. Especially since I haven’t had time to rebuild my emergency fund. Nevertheless, misery is a far greater problem than the alternative, the possibility I might not stay busy and paid.

toxic-stress-response-pageIs it really I don’t have the patience to work within a corporate environment where the answer to many questions of inefficiency is, ‘this is the way it is always done’. Or is it that in my industry, consulting and IT, the culture is so toxic today I simply am incapable of surviving. I suspect it might be a mix of the two. Where the only concern is the bottom line, quality and human beings take a backseat. There is of course one other problem that everyone is afraid to mention, afraid to say aloud and that is cultural misalignment that has taken place within most large IT Consulting firms in the last decade.

Our industry, like so many others has been first outsourced then in-sourced through the H1B program, American workers replaced by primarily Indian workers. In the case of my employer, many  of management was Indian (2:1), most at my level were Indian (3:1), those one level below me (5:1) were Indian. Senior leadership of course were primarily American, this is the C-level those who were the face of the company but in all honesty they didn’t affect the lives of those of us who had to function with clients, or with each other day in and day out.

I am all for diversity in the workforce, however when it begins to create a toxic work environment I believe there needs to be something done. The fact of the matter is, when cultures collide especially in work environments all of us need to ask why and what we can do to fix the problem. We shouldn’t avoid the problem; we shouldn’t ignore what is causing the problem. We have an obligation to address the issues and create solutions, for our employees, our clients and our shareholders.

The H1B program was designed to bring qualified resources into the US, employers then sponsor those employees into Green Cards and even onwards towards their Citizenship. This provides large employers such as IBM, HP, Microsoft a source of educated IT professionals at a very low cost. Since the late ‘90’s when the program was expanded the program has brought millions of resources into the US and in turn sent millions of American professionals into the shadow economy of contracting versus full-time employment. One of the reasons for this is cost but as I think I have found out the cost is offset by the loss of organizational culture, the change in workplace culture is incompatible with our psyche and professional expectations, especially if we are women.

I QUIT.10402430_10205015207440428_9211021343351180985_n

Yes, I did that. Today is officially my last day. Yesterday I handed over all my gear, my computer, my phone, my badge. Today if they need something they can call my personal phone, I don’t expect they will though. My resignation caused some angst, though I suspect also it caused some small rejoicing, as I was a thorn in the side of some. I do not regret my decision to accept the position, I do regret allowing myself to stay longer than I should have hoping that it would get better.

So onward and upward, the lesson I learned is to not allow others to treat me badly while making excuses for their bad behavior. Culture is not an excuse.

I QUIT and now I start something new.

Anonymity and AssHats

OpEdRecently I was listening to one of the various talk radio stations I listen to on the way to work, or on the way home I don’t remember which now. What I do remember about that day is the caller who was furious and righteous in his fury. Now and then I find myself talking to the radio, sometimes I even curse and I do know many terrible words in a couple of languages even. This particular caller caused me to use them all; I tell you he was beyond ignorant and bordering on downright stupid, perhaps even evil.

It is my assumption that most people have some grain of good in them and some grain of intellectual honesty as well. I know, it is never good to make assumptions they are usually wrong and they usually disappoint. Another thing I know, social media, as well as, radio call in shows allow people the mask of anonymity, thus giving the privilege / right to be gigantic Assclowns without fear of discovery or retribution.

So what turned my crank? Got me screaming foul names at my radio and most certainly looking like a raving idiot at 70mph, well it went something like this:

Radio Host: You are on the air, what did you want to say?

Caller: I just wanted to say, if it wasn’t for White People there wouldn’t be any science, art; nothing. Everyone would still be living in caves and dirt huts grubbing for food like they do in Africa.

Radio Host: What are you saying Caller that you think all advancements came from Caucasians in Europe throughout history?

Caller: Well of course. White people are the only ones with enough intelligence to invent anything; all the modern conveniences came from white people.

This conversation went on for a minute with the caller getting uglier, more racist and ultimately more stupid in his remarks, the host finally shut him down without ever explaining to him just how wrong he was.

I have a secret; it is an important one I think, something we should have all learned in school, something we should all know by now and should all consider critical in how we view the world and our fellow man. So I am going to share it and then find something else to talk about for a day or two, I am going to take a break from my current bout of rage for a few days. Honestly, I am weary of the ignorance I am surrounded by and it seems only to be getting worse.

So here is my secret.

If it were not for those people of Africa, Asia Minor and Asia there would be no Civilization as we know it today. Going back to the time before Christ (how time is measured) while Europeans were barely walking upright, great civilizations rose and fell. Do you wonder what in Hades I am saying, what in Hell I am referring to?

I just bet you do. Well, let me first refer you to the following maps so you understand the definitions of Africa, Asia Minor and Asia.

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I know, you know what Asia Minor, Asia, Africa and even the Middle East are and didn’t need that small refresher course, did you? However, really it was likely a good thing I provided it. Here you were thinking all good things came from Europe and White Men, just like that caller the other day. I mean really that is what you thought in the back of your mind, right? If you were raised in the US of A, it is what you were conditioned to think, no matter how Liberal your family, how well rounded your education, you were none the less trained to think all good things came from those with pale skin and with few exceptions, a penis.

Let me provide a baseline from which we can leap into the pool of understanding.

Were it not for the people of Asia Minor in particular, but also Africa and Asia there would be no “God” of the Jews, the Muslims or the Christians to fight over. Certainly, there would be no Jesus Christ for the Christians to claim as their own. Were it not for the ancient people of Asia, there would be no Buddha. There is not a single religion, not one that was founded by Europeans, that is by Caucasians or White folks. There are offshoots such as Mormons or Snake Handlers they are though all based on something that came before them and not ‘new’. So just to get this straight in our heads, the faith based religions most White Folks follow so fervently, the ones they are willing to kill for and die for these were all created by Brown Folk. Jesus Christ himself, he was of Jewish / Arab racial descent, would have been brown eyed, with black hair, swarthy skin; in fact he would look much like the men and women we fear today in the airport.

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Without religion, there would be no philosophy. Just thought I would throw that one out there as a bone to chew on.

The next great one that did not come from Europe, did not come from Caucasians or more commonly known as White Folks…Writing. Nope, we did not invent any form of written communication. This was first discovered and then improved upon in other parts of the world. In fact, those same parts of the world we are so quick to condemn as barbaric and backward are the seat of early civilization where the first forms of written communication and math are documented.

Some of the Great Wonders of the World could not have been built without Architectural genius and advanced Mathematics.

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None of them strangely enough in Europe, none of them oddly enough from White Folks. With all this being said, I don’t want anyone to believe I don’t give credit where credit is due. Once the Romans conquered, marching through Asia Minor and parts of Africa, along with much of Europe, spreading joy and book burnings wherever they went, things changed quickly. Slavery for the sake of slavery came into vogue, violence and blood sports as a national pastime (think murder for the masses) and new forms of economic Democracy (vote buying) that have been passed down to us here in the good old US of A.

In the meantime, simply to put things in perspective here are just some of the Black Folks who have contributed to the betterment of our human society.

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To the caller and anyone else who thinks this way, please educate yourself or simply find the pit in Hell and jump in. You and your kind are why we are in the pitiful condition here and elsewhere in the world. It is your thinking that causes the problem. It is your thoughtless ignorance that starts the wars, kills our children and draws borders around nations. It is you, your ignorance that has people, both men and women, young and old lying on the streets of this nation dead by police too quick to fire their guns. Your ignorance, your xenophobia, your misplaced pride in something you had nothing to do with other than being born with the ‘right’ level of melanin.

You are the problem and you truly should seek help for your ignorance. Someone I love continues to tell me racism is a disease. I wish you and everyone like you would work toward a cure, I truly do.

White Man Improvements

Love the Bahamas

Junkanoo Dancers

Day four of eight days of sun, beach and yes family. Actually it is six days of island sun and two days of ridiculous travel. By this count it is still the beginning of day four and it is a beautiful day, the clouds are lovely, white and fluffy; the sky is blue above them and the water is that perfect Azure Blue out to the reef break. What more could I ask for?

Let me say what I love about The Bahamas, about Nassau its capital. I have been coming here since my twenties; my first trip with a group of girlfriends for a long weekend of sun, fruity rum drinks with paper umbrellas we rarely left the resort and had a wonderful time. My next trip was a day trip was part of a cruise taken with a group of friends from the neighborhood; Nassau was one of the stops. I think this is when I really begin my love affair with the island. From this time on I begin to take somewhat regular trips, sometimes with friends other times alone simply to take a rest. Always I saw a little more and always I fell a little more in love. So what do I love? I love the people. They are smart, funny, engaging and engaged. In many cases the people I have met both casually and those I have come to know in a more intimate sense have the same issues and concerns we have in the US, they seek the same opportunities we seek. Because their nation is so much smaller the outcomes of decisions are felt more immediately and thus they can’t hide from the actions of their government. Of course their relationship with the US is interesting, better than 60% of their economy is tied to Tourism and thus to our economy. They watch us, our systems and actions in dismay I think as we struggle through some of or political idiocy.

Anglican Church Drummers
Marching Band

I have a love/hate relationship with some cultural aspects of the Bahamas. There is a strong underlying moral nature to the Bahamian people, with 95% of Bahamians identifying themselves as practicing Christians predominately Protestant; the highest membership being Baptist, but with large populations in some of the Pentecostal and  Charismatic churches. This of course creates some underlying issues for those of us with a more liberal bent; there are several issues including civil rights for the LBGT community, Choice for Women and overall Poverty that continues to be a plague most across the island nation.

Junkanoo Brass

I love the music, different from that of Jamaica the Bahamian music is somehow more joyful and more accessible. I hear Bahamian Calypso, Soca and the Rake n’ Scrape of Junkanoo and immediately my body moves to the sounds, my heart soars a bit and I always smile. There is something absolutely infectious, difficult to ignore when you hear the sounds of Bahamian music your hips move to the sinuous sounds and rhythms, winding through your soul. Walking down Bay Street, the main downtown street for shopping music subtly streams from every store you can’t avoid the sounds. From the restaurants and bars above Bay Street Soca and Calypso blasts, your feet move in rhythm without your conscious effort.

Finally and not to be ignored is the food. I love Bahamian food, first how can you ignore the fact this island nation has access to fresh seafood, Grouper, Conch, Snapper and Spiny Lobster cooked a variety of ways and served from breakfast to late night dinners. Stew Fish, Fried Conch or Conch Salad all choices not to be missed, all served with a bit of Bahamian Bird Pepper and a squeeze of Lime. Then there is my absolute favorite breakfast, one I send my husband out for every single morning possible, Chicken Souse a protein rich broth made up of Lime juice, Allspice, celery, carrots and the all-important Bird Pepper (my husband likes Sheep’s Tongue Souse). Not to be missed are the native deserts, Guava Duff is just one of these. Finally, of course if you are interested in the alcohol drinks available these are all the normal drinks available fruity concoctions made with rum, there is one though native to the Bahamas most tourists miss, that is Sky Juice a drink in my opinion every person should try at least once.

Courtesy Uncommon Caribbean

SKY JUICE: Heavy on the Gin, Sweetened Milk, Coconut Water. Mixed in large batches for the day and served primarily down at Arawak Cay. This treat should not be missed! Never mind the froufrou drinks served in all the traps, the Bahamas’ Mama’s and Daiquiri’s these you can get anywhere even in the US, take a trip to Arawak Cay for fresh made Conch Salad and a cup of Sky Juice.

I love the Bahamas; I love the color of the island. The colors of the homes painted all hues from the artists’ palette from pastels to bright’ taken from nature. I love the sea the perfect blends of turquoises to azures and even the pale greens. I love the sounds of the ocean, the music drifting up from the pool somehow blending perfectly with the waves. New Providence, the main island where Nassau is located is undergoing major changes right now. I was stunned by the changes having not been back for nearly two years. This small island nation is undergoing major changes right now, trying to upgrade infrastructure and partnering with other nations to fund those upgrades. I wonder will the Bahamas lose what makes it truly unique and wonderful, will Nassau lose the history, culture and beauty that makes it spectacular and gives it a flavor all its own? I for one hope not.

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