See Hear Speak

This is what happens
When I can’t sleep.

I’m up before the Sun.
Barely fell asleep, not five hours ago.

Frustrated from thinking

A loved one or I could
Lose the right to breathe and
Be seen as a target instead

Walking to work, the store,
Existing online or
Within the walls of home

We judge, and
Are judged by

Skin color
Speech
Clothing
Labels

Bleed blue
Bleed red

Speak English
Habla español

Pray that prayers are enough to

Stop the words from attacking

Stop the eyes from gawking

Stop the hands from

Covering eyes, ears, mouth

See no evil,
Hear no evil
Speak no evil

Lost between the moon and New York City?

We’ve all at one time or another felt lost unexpectedly explored a new neighborhood. One wrong turn coming out of the subway station, or one station too far, and it’s a whole different planet. The stores don’t look right, street vendors look hostile, even the pigeons look aggressive.

So what’s a traveler to do, besides keep a full charge on the cell phone and update the map applications? Depending on the time – especially at night – here are some survival tips that might be useful.

  • LOOK FOR: people with dogs. They’ll know the neighborhood well enough to explain shortcuts, and friendly businesses.
  • LOOK FOR: people with children. If the adults misdirect you the children will likely interrupt with a correction.
  • LOOK FOR: restaurants, laundries or movie theaters. Chances are, someone can quickly give directions. Also, very good chances at getting food or a quick drink if the “one stop” detour turns out to be more like 10 New York City avenue blocks. Bonus points if there’s a clean bathroom.
  • ALSO GOOD: churches. Regardless of denomination. Remember the tradition of churches as sanctuaries.
  • AVOID: businesses that have very little activity. If nobody goes in – or even scarier, nobody comes out – there might be a good reason to stay away.
  • AVOID: loud crowds where possible. Very rarely groups of people can be helpful. Trust your gut.
  • AVOID: looking lost. Even if there are no landmarks, walk and act as if home is just around the corner.

Most important: if you stop to check your phone, be mindful of your surroundings. Being disoriented is bad enough, without dropping or losing your phone.

Do you have any other suggestions for exploring, without looking like a (GASP) tourist? Share below.

Rita’s Ice – First Day Of Spring … FREE ice (and photo contest)

If you have a Rita’s Ice shop nearby – lucky me, there’s one a short walk from home – remember today is free ice day. Also, Rita’s has a photo contest you can enter on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Basic information: free ice from noon to 9 pm at participating locations, follow Rita’s on the social network you use to enter the contest, remember the # (hashtag) to enter the contest. Exact details are at Rita’s website -> Rita’s Ice – First Day Of Spring.

See you after 12 noon!

Remembering a Friend

Almost four years ago, in the town where I grew up, we mourned the loss of a man who everyone knew. A man who left his mark in the school system, the municipal court, and in the hearts of many people. Depending how you met him, you might have called him an activist, advocate, loudmouth, major pain, poet, politician, translator. What I remember best is that he shared his opinions without hesitation.

We met before I had Lesli, then when he met her he became her friend too. He gave her a nickname, listened to her, never interrupted. She always felt important around him, walked a little taller with a smile.

When he passed, Lesli and I decided to skip the public viewing and burial. I couldn’t imagine having Lesli say goodbye in public. The crowd, the emotion, the thought of having to turn our backs on the Big Guy – it was too much to face. We decided to honor his memory by blocking off time without distractions, as he had always done for us.

 We cooked the dinner that had always been postponed, and sat at our kitchen table to laugh, cry and hug each other as we repeated his stories. It was a simple menu. Pre-made pizza crusts, pre-packaged cheese and fresh herbs. We talked, laughed, smiled and recounted how the Big Guy had taken us out for a long walk. A walk which I knew had caused him pain, but he hid it for the sake of a child. When our meal was done, we got up and tried to continue our day with smiles.

Every once in a while, when Lesli and I hear certain words, or when an adult speaks to a child as if the child’s opinion matters, we think of this activist, advocate, loudmouth, major pain, poet, politician, translator. We smile to each other and whisper his name so as not to disturb the memories. To many people he was many things, to us the Big Guy was a friend.