Holidays are Complicated


Holidays can be complicated for me when I am traveling. I need the downtime. I need the quiet and calm. But I like the camaraderie too. This past holiday was fun. I went to a baseball game, had a great conversation with a friend about her new love connection and I tried my damnedest to go to a concert. The traffic was so horrendous that I gave up the concert for a short trip to a gourmet hotdog joint in the Heights neighborhood of Houston. I had fun and then I came home and I felt sad.  It wasn't the quiet, the calm or the downtime that made me feel this way. It was the loneliness underneath. It's there when I am with people and when I am by myself. Holidays intensifies it. 

When I feel this way, my emotions get all out of whack. I guess anyone's would. I fell asleep Sunday night and Monday night, waking Tuesday to the fact that I dreamt about the same person both nights. His appearance in my subconscious tends to come at times of loneliness. This is what happens when I am sad, my dreams try to make me feel better. This time, I think my dreams made it worse. It definitely got me deeper in my head. 

There was a time year before,  I dreamt of him nightly. Our break up was fresh. But as time continued and moved on the dreams of him happened weekly, then monthly, every now and then to almost never. Longing for him hasn't happened in many years – yet, that Tuesday, I woke up feeling like I did 10 years ago.  For about 20 seconds, I was madly in love and deeply hurt.  I took it in and remembered how much I loved and how he made me feel safe and secure. This short poem-ish thought came into my head:

I loved sitting next to you, arms around you. I loved playing in your beard, kissing you good night and waking to more than a kiss. I felt safe being a nerd around you reading the books I adored, knowing you liked every bit of it. I liked and loved your quiet. You made me feel real and grounded until…you didn't. Love, beauty, normal, real, happiness, was gone and so were we. 10 years later, you creep into my dreams and made me remember how it felt to be protected, loved and real. 

There was no work, or art to stop those thoughts and feelings. There was no one to talk it through with or help shake it off. I felt that, all day. The love and the absence of it. Safety and the vulnerability of not feeling safe. All day I felt it. I walked slower and was irritated faster. 

Sad and happy at the same time. That is what holidays do for me, what love has done. That is what my dreams for the past days have shown me. I don't know what else to do but feel it and call it what it is. Life. 

Playing for Change

I have a new teammate at my place of emplyment. So far so good. He asked me the type of music I like the other day. That is a quetion better answered by sharing my playlist. As he looked through he must of saw someone that he listens too as well and he shared with me this music project called – Playing for Change. If I get this right, people from all over the world take part. One song is sung by serveral people across the world and a vidoe of that song is made featuring the differetn musicians and singers. Particular songs are done to support different causes around the world. I love it. I wanted to share some of my favorites here. 

Gentrification is a Symptom of Consumerism



I've had many conversations about gentrification and have seen it at its different stages as I travel from Brooklyn to Houston to Detroit.  I know the definition according to and Wikipedia. Gentrification seemed like a process that you cannot stop. It is part of the life of society and urban development. But my thoughts about it. changed this weekend after talking to a friend.

She and I don’t see each other that much but when we do, we laugh and talk about the world around us which at that time was Detroit. Detroit is complicated and is in a very early stage of gentrification. Sounds like a disease doesn't it? Both of us see it. I expressed I wish we could stop gentrification from happening. She said something. “Gentrification isn’t the problem, it is a symptom of a larger problem – consumerism. If people could find satisfaction in other things beyond consuming, gentrification would not happen. Wow. A bulb clicked on over my head, just like the cartoons. 

What happens in gentrification? Something about a particular city, town or environment is deemed of interest. That interest brings people to that space and those with resources invest in these places while at the same time making that city, town or environment unaffordable to the people who already live there; pushing them out. Think about it? There are people, sitting around looking for interesting places to invest in to make more money or to be a part of the next big thing, but they do not think of the ramification of that selfish consuming process. It seems all they think about is having something tangible that increase their wealth and worth and relevancy – while removing people who are in a place, that to them, is history, its home, it’s a part of who they are.  All for more money, more prestige and I even think to fill something inside that may be empty. You know what is so ignorant to me. Many of the people who are leaving these other spaces that are condensed with people, high prices, high traffic and every store you could think of go to places like Detroit still desire the things they left. The result of that is they recreate that same place they left in a different city or town. What is the point? Not all people go to places like Detroit to invest. They genuinely go looking for a change. Artists do it all the time – but unfortunately investors and hipsters tend to follow. Nothing against hipsters and investors, but like everything in life, we need balance in this process.

I think gentrification happens for another reason as well. Those who are moving into cities like Detroit, in some way, rather consciously or subconsciously, have to feel they are better than the current inhabitants. Maybe these new-comers do not even think that deeply at all. Either way, it is pretty selfish. Our presence in any situation, in any environment changes the environment and we need to be a little more sensitive to how our presence may affect others.

Can we go into different places/cities/towns/countries and honor what makes that place magical while also finding ways to enhance it and, more importantly the people in it (new and native).  Can we be satisfied with more than things and see the beauty in living with honest, nice, hardworking, fun-having people like we have in Detroit without thinking that we have to completely change these things to make this city viable again? Can Detroit be the exception to the consumer-based world? I think so.

I think we can find better economical processes that will allow all to interact and participate in the growth of Detroit while keeping the authenticity of this city. Some of this is already happening – bartering, collaborations, time-sharing. We need those who come to this city to participate in these processes as well and to do it equitably. We have to teach the next generation of urban dwellers that life is more than consuming.

Gentrification is a symptom – let’s cure the disease or at least make consumerism easier for all to live with.