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Holding the door open

I am a woman of patience. Too much patience, I sometimes think, but in my line of work, it is essential. That being said, I grapple with my tendency to be mild with folks, even as they work my last nerve.  I can occasionally channel my #innermongoose.(A fearless favorite) On a day to day basis, I tend to keep my thoughts to myself.

Since Election Night, I have experienced many emotions. Grief is a messy process and it is different for everyone.
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Through social media, well-meaning friends and  acquaintances have posted, either in their own words or via shared images and articles, that it’s time for everyone to move on.  I have been asked to choose love, to hug more, to open doors for strangers, and even to pray for the president-elect.  I have been questioned about love for my country, regard for unborn children, and even the way I am parenting my child through this crisis.  And, sabes que, I have had enough.  Ya me tienen harta. Tu no me mandas!

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Not you, not anyone, other than the Lord and sometimes my mama or daddy.  Tu quien eres?
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Tu no me mandas.
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I can cry, rant, curse, laugh, and react in any way I want. I can take to the streets in protest. I can declare the president-elect #NotmyPresident.  If you don’t like what I have to say or do, GTFO.  Vete. Largate. Borrate.  Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. I am done.

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This morning, I unfollowed a fellow blogger. She’s likable and well-spoken.  I respect her enough to head out on my way. She’s entitled to her opinions. She is standing strong in them.  So am I. There’s nothing to be gained by trying to change her mind and sharing my judgments with her.  She will believe as she does. I will believe as I do.  With one difference. She has a privilege I do not.  It’s easy to tell people how they should be feeling and acting when it’s safe for you to do so.  The most dangerous of the president-elect’s followers won’t attack her.  While I can exit stage left on any conversation that makes me uncomfortable, I can’t escape reality.

In the days, weeks, months, and years to come, I have to be prepared for the worst that could happen. I have to arm (yes, I said “arm”) my only child with the knowledge and skills to grow up into an empowered woman of color. (Mothering a warrior)These are our lives.  These are our rights. If you can’t understand or respect that, then let’s wish each other well.

My second career as an exorcist

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St. Dymphna in full effect

I went into my career because of my first principles. I love to read. I love to write.  I love to share ideas through conversation.  I love to help others.  So, fresh out of college, I stayed at my beloved alma mater, despite acceptance letters from prestigious East Coast universities(mi mama was upset about that for years), to get my teaching credential.  I was 23 and I thought I was going to change the world and somehow also write the next great American novel.  I’m 44 now. I have changed many lives, most importantly, my own, and my writing is still my true passion.  I still love books and people.  So how is it that in the past few years, I have found myself in the role of exorcist.  Que?  Como?

When I was six years old(be patient, y’all who know this story), my soccer playing dad  would take us to the park every weekend so my mom could hang with her besties and all the kids would play in a huge multi-age pack.  The big kids decided we could head to one of the soccer players’ home nearby and watch a movie on the Betamax. I was introduced to the horror movie that would stay with me por vida.  I know a thing or two about fighting el chamuco and now I have real-life experiences.  (Lessons from the Exorcist)Because while the devil may be a lie, evil is real, relevant, and very much embraced by many.  Pick a city anywhere on the planet.  Point your finger at someone you know.  Evil is there, giving you the side eye of all side eyes.

Though I’m only a few years into fighting evil as part of my nine to five, I can tell you some must-dos.  In no particular order:

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Fear is normal.  My head aches. My stomach churns. My heart starts pounding like I’m six again and the nightlight just burnt out.  Accept your fear.  Feel it.  Then move forward.

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Have a battle buddy.  Find a mentor who is strong, tough, and stable.  Your mentor, like mine, can serve as your coach and partner.  This is not work you do by yourself.  You will need someone to have your back.  Work on the bond you share.  You may have disagreements but you must share the same vision, mission, and purpose.  Of course, the demon will attempt to divide and conquer.  That won’t work if your team is strong.

Take care of yourself.  Sleep (though it may be disturbed for a few days or weeks depending on the situation.) Eat clean. Hydrate.  Pray or spend time in silence.  Doing battle with evil is like preparing for a half-marathon or training for Carnaval without the glamour or fun.  A weak warrior will fall.

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Finally, believe in the good work that you do. Believe in the good person you are and understand that this other individual is a hot mess for reasons beyond your control.  If you’re a really good person, realize that somewhere underneath all that maldad, there is/was a good person who got lost along the way. Know that you are protecting others by taking on this challenge. Now let’s go get ‘em!

Ivan Drago mode

A not-so-funny thing happened on the first Friday of Lent.  I had not yet experienced my Lenten Miracle so an incident that occurred prompted a reaction more intense than You’re Ruining My Advent.  I went into Ivan Drago mode. 
Ivan Drago, for you non-Rocky franchise fans, is the foe in Rocky 4. 
He is the Russian fighting machine played by Ms. Grace Jones’ then-boyfriend , Rhodes Scholar-turned-model Dolph Lundgren.  Drago is methodical, ruthless, and cold as the Siberian tundra.
Drago’s statement of purpose
Not only was he physically superior to Philly’s finest, Rocky Balboa, but Drago was mentally Teflon.  
No heart of gold here.  In fact, you could argue Drago was heartless.  
Serving up sideeye
When questioned about the possibility that he could fatally injure Rocky in their international title bout, Drago utters his famous line, “If he dies, he dies.” 
What I could possibly gain or learn from such a character?  I know there’s value in protecting myself and handling business.  After all, I struggle with rattlesnake in pocket syndrome(Marsupium Crotalus); I’ve been betrayed by those I trusted, even as recently as this year. I also struggle with fear of intimidating personalities.  I am making it a priority to tap into my fighting spirit. (#innermongoose) At some point, I need to fully commit to the professional and personal work before me.   I need to focus on completing my goals. So yes, I will go Ivan Drago if the situation warrants it.  

A fearless favorite

When I was about 5 years old, maybe younger or slightly older, I remember watching a cartoon about a mongoose, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi. 
From the 1975 Chuck Jones TV special
He befriended a British family after they moved into a house next to the garden he visited.  He became close enough to them that he fought against his mortal enemies, Nag and Nagaina, a cobra couple.  I distinctly remember Rikki’s red eyes, fast moves, and gutsiness.  I remember how my heart pounded as I watched Rikki in battle.  I couldn’t help but admire an animal that didn’t fear poisonous snakes.
Fast forward almost four decades. I recently read Rudyard Kipling’s story to M. She’s into chapter books now so an illustrated version of the classic short story was a good bedtime option.  I told her how I had seen a cartoon of the story when I was around her age. She asked me if I was scared.  I told her I was but that I believed in Rikki. 
Given certain challenges I have faced recently, venomous snakes have been on my mind. (Blog about dealing with the snakes among us)It makes sense that my longtime admiration of the mongoose would resurface. 
Y que?!? 
In the last two weeks, I have downloaded and shared images, read National Geographic entries, and laughed at Snoop Dogg’s unbridled support of “mongooses.”  A mongoose is a bold and quick fighter. My research has revealed that the mongoose’s nerve receptors have mutated so that a mongoose is immune to snake venom.  
Yasss!!!!
It is undeterred by cobras, crocodiles, even lions. It embodies guts, cojones, ganas.  
As someone who tends to choose flight over fight, I admire an animal that fights with all its sleek little body has. I can admit I fear intimidating foes. I may be able to stare into cold eyes but my heart is pounding. I’m waiting on those awful fangs.  In confrontation, I choose to talk and usually(sometimes to my own chagrin)politely.  I do stand firm.  I may be cowering within but I won’t backpedal, waver, or cry, at least not in that moment of facing off against an opponent. I may not strike like a mongoose; maybe it’s not in my nature to fight like one.
Badassery in full effect
 I still believe in Rikki. I still believe we all have the capacity to fight and win against a cobra. 
#youtried