Monday, February 6, 2023

What is a friend?

 So this is a theme for me especially since I moved back to Texas in 2009.  What does it mean to be a friend?  What does is mean to have a friend?

Honestly at the age of almost 44, I still don't really know.  I feel like I have never really used that concept correctly.  If you had asked me today how many friends do I have, my answer would be zero.  But I know that isn't true.  

Here is the thing, like what really makes someone your friend?  I have a friend who lives in California.  I love her.  She truly treats my girls like they are her nieces.  She calls to check on me.  But there is a physical distance that keeps us apart.

I like to think I have local friends but this is the rub, if I can go weeks without seeing them, weeks without them reaching out, never get invited to anything outside of the box I fill, are they my friends?  Maybe what I have are close acquaintances.  On top of that is the feeling of being unthether because I changed jobs in October.  So all of my work friends are gone.  My current space feels at times really hostile and at other times really inviting.  I really feel unbalanced.

Now back to the friendship thing.  I know the problem is me.  Like I have no doubt I'm the issue so if you consider yourself my friend and are really this, it isn't you, it really is me.  Why do I feel so alone and disconnected?  What does the fact that I have people I only see to work out with or people who use me as soundboard mean?  

I do not know the friends of my friends.  I do not get invited to anything outside of running/working-out or to listen to someone's issues.  I don't get invited to parties.  No one mentions going to events together as a group.  I do hear about all of the cool things after but there is not invitation to actually join.  I don't want to be in spaces where I'm not invited.  Again, a me issue.  I don't want to be told well you can come if you want.  Or worse yet, well it is open to everyone so you know you can just show up.  That is not a fucking invitation.  That is your space and if you wanted me there then you would say that, right?

I'm rambling but I'm struggling.  I haven't seen what I thought of as a friendly-face outside of my family and work in 3 weeks.  No telling when if I'll ever see anyone again unless I go begging people for their time.  I hate begging.  I hate having to reach out especially when I'm feeling so raw.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Finding my running mojo: The Rise of Blaxican MMA

 As is often the case this blog post started from a conversation.  I was having a conversation with a friend about his goals for the year and he mentioned that not everyone does things with a goal in mind, implying I never do anything without a goal.  He pointed out that I run for races.  Now I have been saying that I haven't been running much because I needed a goal/race but that isn't really the issue.

So what was/is the issue.  Well when I took running up the last time, about 5 years ago, it was a way to get through the stress of my dad's colon cancer journey.  Thankfully he has been in remission for almost 4 years so what kept me going over the last 4 years?  Well the stress of my job and wanting to hit  certain mileage or races.  When I made the decision to finally change jobs to something with significantly less stress, my running also kinda dropped.  Now, the struggle for miles has been hard seemingly for everyone in 2022.  Both of my run partners worked through illness and injury.  None of us hit our mileage goals for the year.  The point is I wasn't alone but yes overall I had lost the motivation to run.  I had the least amount of miles since dad's diagnoses.

How do you reverse a trend, you want to actually change, especially when it is something that you use to love?  Well I started the year committeed to completing the None 2 Run program, again.  If you don't know this program I highly recommend it.  I completed C25K many years ago and let me tell you, None 2 Run is better.  Their app, newly released for Android, is wonderful!  Okay so I'm going to get back to running slowly.  Cool, right?  12 weeks to complete the program.  12 weeks to get back to consistently running 3 times a week.  Is that enough?

Yesterday, I decided to binge watch Harry and Megan on Netflix.  If you have been around at all in the 14 years of this blog then you know I have mixed-race children.  So listening to Megan Markle speaking about her experiences as a mixed-raced person, I tried to really listen not just hear but listen to her pain.  I got uncomfortable.  When her mother spoke about wishing she had taught her daughter what it is like to experience being Black, I felt a pang of terror.  I am not a Black woman.  My oldest daughter is Black presenting.  How do I prepare her to be Black when I have no clue?

How do I prepare a child who wants to enter the MMA ring when there aren't people like her in that space, at least not on the international stage?  How do I support her in her journey when I have no clue what that is like?  Now don't get me wrong, I know racism.  I grew up in deep East Texas as a 1st gen Mexican American.  I know what it is like to be called a wetback and told to go back to where you came from.  I know those.  It wasn't until I started working at an HBCU that I really began to understand that I don't know dick about being Black in America, that pain has deep roots.  I'm a newly formed American.  I am a rock in a shoe.  Black in America is the foundation of this country.  But like any foundation, the house doesn't acknowledge that without the foundation, it would fall.  The foundation takes all of the weight, the hits, the abuse and as long as it is quiet no one talks about the foundation.  How do I teach my daughters that?  

But to yesterday, I had just finished the next to the last episode of the Harry and Megan series and I just needed to run.  Run to think my way through the thoughts I don't feel like I can share with anyone because I don't know anyone who is doing this: navigating a Black-presenting MMA phenom on to the international stage.  It's not that I can't talk to people about it but who really understands?  Who can help me through the emotional side of the illogical (or maybe not illogical) arguement that I am a liablity to my daughter's career?

See the agruement in my head says that because she looks "like a Black girl" but isn't "all the way Black," Black-owned companies are not going to want to work with her.  Because she is Mexican but doesn't "look Mexican" then Latino-owned business aren't going to want to work with her.  Business need to invest in fighters that others can connect with.  Can the world connect with a fighter who doesn't match any of their sterotypes?

I have told my child that because of how she looks, she could in theory hide her Mexicaness.  She can exist as a Black woman but that she needs to be careful because you don't want your secret to be used against you.  I told her that and then created her figther social media account as Blaxican MMA (find her on Instagram).  I didn't give her a real choice because I don't want her career to be blown up by a "major revelation" that she isn't just Black.  

I have been to all of her major events and I haven't seen families like ours.  I have seen Black families and Latino families.  I have seen mixed families but not mixed like ours.  I watch MMA events, UFC, Bellaor, and ONE, and there aren't fighers like her.  What I have seen, mostly during UFC fights, is the hate thrown at the Black fighters.  How do I willingly put my child through that?

I have even seen it to some extent in her gym.  The teammates she trains with are creating personas that mimic popular UFC fighters, conservative White elite racist mysoginistic homophobic who play to the MAGA audience.  I have stopped following some of their accounts because I don't want their brand mixing with hers.  But y'all it isn't just about branding, it makes me question who is actually in her corner?  When people are throwing the "N-word" at her, will her teammates defend her or join in?  I have watch them use that word against other fighters.  So with the entire audience against her will they stand with her?  Y'all I don't know.  I honestly don't know and that scares me.

So how does that connect to running?  Well, one of the wonderful aspects of running for me is the freedom to process my thoughts and to cry freely.  No one questions why you are crying when you are running.  They assume you in pain and tears follow pain.  It is true, I am running through some pain.  The uncomfortableness of mile whatever helps me process whatever is going through in mind.  Where is the connection?  I ran yesterday to process these thoughts.  I need to talk (even if it is just to myself) about the terror that the Harry and Megan series brought up for me.  I need to work my way from I am a liabilty to my daughter's career to  my daughter's mixed heritage is a point of pride a selling point.  I need to remind myself that if a brand won't work with her because of her mixed-heritage then that is probably a brand we don't want to work with anyway.  I need miles on my feet to remind me that even if she never gets a sponsor and I have to take on more work to finance her career myself that doesn't mean she isn't a phenom.  Her skills and drive are worth any and all work I have to do.  I have to work on my mindset to be ready to stand with my daughter no matter the insults thrown at her or the opportunities that disappear because she doesn't fit a mold.  

I am no longer running to get through my dad's cancer journey.  I am no longer running to deal with job stress.  I am running to be a strong mom and help my daughter conquer MMA.  I am running through, to, for the rise of Blaxican MMA. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Bittersweet: Cherry Bomb

Recently a friend asked to borrow my copy of Atlas Of The Heart, figuring I would have a copy as a devoted reader of all things Brene Brown.  I, of course, have a physical copy and an audio version.  As I pull out my copy of Atlas,  I started to wonder where my other copies of my Brene books where.  Most I own the audio version so those were easy to locate in my Audible account but one book was noticeably missing:  Braving The Wilderness.  I immediately used my September credit to buy it.  As I drove home today, I started the book.  The theme of the book: true belonging.  I'll spare you my watered down version of her point. UT you at least needed the setup for what happened next.

I stopped the book at Chp 3.  I needed time to digest the 2 chapters I had just heard and needed some music to help soothe my mind.  What should happen to play: Cherrybomb by The Runaways.  Great song but one of the most bittersweet songs in my world.  Why?
Cherrybomb was the first song Sould Sister ad I ever choose for our band.  We were at a function, on opposite sides of the room when the dj played this song.  It was like kismet, we both instinctively went to find the other to say this song is for us.  It wasn't our best song but it was a song that made me feel like a real bass player.  The last time we performed it, at Punk Rock Prom, right before our friendship and then our band imploded, I felt my hottest, series, coolest self ever.

It is bittersweet because I don't believe I'll ever have that feeling again.  The trifecta I always want but always fall short of achieving. The bestie band mate that gave me cool by proxy is what I miss most of all.  The sense of belonging to a band but most of all to myself.

When the song finished I cried.  Grieving the loss of Soul Sister all over again but really grieving how I felt that last performance. Yes, I am hot, at times, and sexy , at times, but never cool.  Today I'm a tired mother of 2 trying to find my way as an academic librarian. I feel miles away from the woman who performed at the Punk Rock Prom.
This past weekend, I played bass with someone. It was the first time I played with another person in 8 years.  I'm rusty.  I struggled. Honestly, it felt pretty crappy.  He wanted to yell out notes but I know bass tabs.  I struggled to understand what was being asked of me.  It was like starting all over again.  I hated it.  I hated him.  I hated the shame I felt.  I put my bass away feeling like a failure.

You would think this was a negative experience but it was the fresh start my bass and I needed.  I can't go back to Punk Rock Prom.  I'm beginning all over again.  I have an opportunity to make new memories with music.  After 8 years, I don't want the old me.  I want this me to play bass, badly especially at first.  I doubt I will ever play bass in public again but I can relearn the bass cleft again and not freeze when someone says play an "E".  I can play Cherrybomb with new people and smile at the memories of that old me, not today, not yet, but I am well on my way.