About 2 seconds after posting “Homeless man in an Armani suit”, I realized I probably come off as ungrateful to some people, myself. While I find it funny that I am so worried about this that I want to apologize, I just can’t apologize for my words. I mean them I AM sorry if I came off as ungrateful, though.

So, I’m making a gratitude list. Right here. For the public to see.

I am thankful for:

–          My grandparents. My family is unconventional and a little unstructured; my grandparents are kind of like the central location of our family. Like the kitchen in an old house, they are what bring us all together. They keep us straight and they support us, as well. I don’t think anyone in my immediate family that can disagree with this.

–          My Lady (or ‘Mom’). She sat with me in the hospital every night, every other week, for a whole year while I puked and refused to eat (ugh, chemo) when I was 12. Not to mention all the other illnesses she fought BEFORE I had cancer as a kid. Now, she supports me while I do it again, just a little differently. Somewhere in between she dealt with me as a teenager, and while I wasn’t a bad kid… looking back, I was kind of intense. I don’t know that I would have dealt with me well if I was her. Just. I’d have to tell you my whole story to explain why I’m thankful for her.

–          My sister. She’s here right now, when I need her. She is the only one that was with me for a while, when our family was split up, and sometimes we both forget that, I think. Having her around is something I don’t want to take for granted.  Also: she’s throwing my engagement party!

–          Big Brother. He and I were so close as kids. I’m pretty sure we still have secrets from our childhood that only the other knows.  He’s my bud. I’ve never even hesitated to tell him things when I’m upset or bothered. That’s not something I can say about anyone else, really.

–          Little Brother. He’s different in that he is the protective brother. And I want to protect him, as well. In our story, I think that is obvious. But he won’t convince me to buy a gun, no matter how hard he tries.

–          The C clan- My Uncle, Aunt and 2 cousins (who have been featured here!) hah. Then the girls were born I was still in this whole… “Omg babies… I don’t get it!” phase, but now, I kid you not- they are to blame, at least partially, for me wanting kids. Not even kidding. And while I don’t see them much or know much about their day to day life, their little family makes me hope I can have a little family. They are like a little beacon of hope for normalcy! (If they read this, they may laugh at that, but I hope they know what I mean by ‘normalcy’ hah).

–          My college experiences. I’ll just say this: my broken heart led to where I am now. Once college led me to another. One form of art led me to another. That life led me to this life. And there are SO many great memories, even in the midst of my screwed up days. My sorority, slursday, the lambda chi hall, apta 32, doubleplay, tubing, and music. I left Montevallo 6 years ago. Sometimes it feels like yesterday. UAB isn’t really full of memories, but I’m thankful for it because it’s there that I learned that I LOVE to teach.

–          South Side. In south side I lived life with no consequences, really, for a year. And it’s exactly what I needed, I think. I filtered out all of my crazy, and then I was saved by that little community. Even now, I think of it as ‘home’.

–          Everyone listed in “Luckiest Girl Alive

–          My job. I got it less than a month before diagnosis with breast cancer and they have been so good to me when it comes to taking off work for doctors and surgery.  Yes, it is there that I have to deal with horrid people, but I also really like it. And those small checks happen to be a godsend right now.

–          This apartment. I was lucky to get this place and now that we have it, I’m grateful for each piece of it. There is not a centimeter of space in here that I do not love and cherish.

–          Albus <3. I got Albus shortly after my TLC (taking on life after cancer) doctor told me that I would probably go into menopause around age 30. She told me that 2 and a half years ago; I was 25 and had just started to really admit to myself that I wanted a family. I did so much research to find Albus, and since then, he and I have nearly crossed the Red Sea together. Now that chances are becoming slimmer for me having a kiddo (because of FBC) I am even more grateful that I have him.

–          Olive Yew Photography

–          Coffee and diet coke

–          There is no cancer in my lymph nodes

–          I didn’t have to have a second surgery to remove more tissue

–          Cleaning for a reason  

–          Modern medicine (And the fact that only one person, so far, has told me I don’t need it to rid myself of my cancer)

–          Fruit. I really like fruit.

–          And last, let me offend or confuse or make sense, maybe. I’m thankful for cancer. How messed up does that sound?! But I am. I’m thankful for it because if I had not had cancer at 12 years old, I would not have had the complications I had and gotten Medicaid. Without Medicaid I would be screwed. I wouldn’t have been able to stomp my feet for a mammogram to find out I had cancer again. I wouldn’t be able to treat my breast cancer. That may make no sense, but I’m hoping you guys can read what I’m trying to say. I’m also thankful for it because of what it did to my family when I was 12- it brought us together and we were happy, despite cancer. The same goes for this time. It has brought us together in some ways. Ya know, cancer puts things in perspective, even for the people who don’t have it. It also led me to my camp family and made me into the sort of person I am. Why wouldn’t I be grateful for that?

There’s a lot more, but making a gratitude list is emotional and intense sometimes. Maybe we will do a part 2 one day.


A Homeless Man in an Armani Suit

I studied Art (and Art History) in school. Initially, I went for Photography. I thought I’d be a photojournalist, because I could write fairly well, most days (and really well when the mood struck). Because of my extra passion for words, I ended up with an accidental English minor (apparently common).

However, I lost it. Not the minor in English, but IT. The big unexplainable IT.

I started to resent my camera. I realized that, and thought I’d ‘take a break’. That was in 2007. I haven’t done anything ‘real’ with my camera since; though, I did get ‘it’ back in 2008.

It’s okay, though. In this time, I’ve really taken to painting and figure drawing and I’ve gotten back into writing (not just blogging; though, I guess it counts).

If there is one thing in life that I understand it is the idea of a catharsis act.

I had such a bad day yesterday that I can’t help thinking about these things. These wonderful loves of mine. Today, I sat here on the couch and thought, in great detail, about idea behind Dürer’s etching, Knight, Devil and Death. I mean, it’s right there on the wall in our apartment, but mostly I walk past it every day and give it little thought. I really, really enjoyed it, though. I even went and pulled out an old art history book when I couldn’t remember something. I didn’t Google it! It was pleasant to find a little marker for it, as well.  I like when little things like that happen.

My love of Art is no secret. It’s something people I never talked to in high school still know about me.

What fewer people know about is this: I love to volunteer with the homeless. I love to not volunteer with the homeless and just bring blankets or leave my to-go box with them. I love to talk to them and some people that know me will even tell you that this paid off for me (because in all of my years in the city, I walked to and from work alone. Or to and from the bar alone. And I was never, ever hurt. I’ve even had a homeless man buy me a soda.).

No one wants to feel cast off. Sure, I avoid some of those men like the plague. But I wouldn’t know which ones to avoid had I not paid attention; had I not had conversations with a few good men. I mean, I may be kind, but I’m not naive.

In comparison, what I do now in my life is the opposite of that volunteer work.

That’s why all of this came up. I had a horrible day and in thinking of everything that went wrong and really delving into self deprecation, I caught myself thinking about how different it is to give a homeless man somewhere to sleep, shower or eat than to help someone else.

Homeless people are nicer, more grateful people than the people I encounter at work. I honestly think that. Sure, you get the stray feather in both groups. But I prefer the rancid smell of an unwashed, grateful man to the smell of expensive perfume on a rancid bitch. Pardon my language.

I had a horrible day yesterday because I don’t have the patience for ungratefulness or insults that I pretend to have. I will take criticism- if there is anything an art student knows how to take, it is criticism. But don’t call me a liar. Don’t insult my integrity. Yes, I can be rather thick skinned but that is just lost on me right now. I made the comparison, recently, that I feel as emotional as a pregnant woman. The only universally hyper emotional thing I could think of to compare myself to…   This is not just maturity and gratitude when something good happens. Or a few tears over dead flowers. This is real, uncontrollable emotion and I’m not depressed. I’m just… tender… about the things I hold dear (like my integrity or you know, ME).

Will that ever go back to normal? Because my response yesterday was less than pleasant and I just said, ‘I don’t have the time or the patience to be called a liar by anyone, or to deal with this shit.’ It was essentially a breakdown, which I would usually feel bad and embarrassed about… but I don’t.  Either way, I just want to go back to hiding my emotional capacity.

I don’t know… I guess I was just looking for a homeless man in an Armani suit, yesterday.

I’m including a link to a beautiful little story and video that will make you want to go touch the person you love most. Watch it, because it will improve your day: