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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Kansas Uncut: Between Small Town and Cultural Center

(October 2012-August 2013)

For better or worse, there is no place like your hometown. I have spent the past 18 years, visiting this place from my various residences around this great nation. Yet, I never really took the time to reacquaint myself with its roads, landmarks, and other local treasures.

Now, I am a full time resident and struggling to navigate my way around this familiar yet, foreign place. I know the names of streets but, not necessarily the directions in which they run. I do know that my apartment is between Overland Park and the Plaza neighborhood of Kansas City.

This small bit of knowledge is helpful in getting me to where I need to go. I still cannot get over how many cool shops and cafes have sprung up since my absence. The vibe here now is that of a city at a crossroads between small town and cultural center.

I am still not entirely sold on spending more than a year or two here.

Washington DC still seems to beckon me... and I do so want to heed its call.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Kansas Uncut: Home Is Where Proposal Writing Happens

(Topeka: September 2012)

Some people move back to their hometowns and immediately begin reconnecting with old classmates and favorite hangout places.

However, that is not my style. I am holed up in my childhood bedroom crafting up proposals to send to the Topeka City Council with regard to revitalizing downtown Topeka. Conventional wisdom of the past states that a department store and/or a chain restaurant would cause the good citizens of Topeka to converge into downtown.

In 2012, the popularity of online shopping coupled with the relatively manageable drive to Kansas City from here, represents quite a challenge for revitalizing downtown Topeka.

Yet, I believe that the solution to this problem lies in creating a multi-use transportation hub located in downtown Topeka.

I spend the next couple of weeks submitting my proposal to various City Council members and fielding phone calls.  

A majority of my local friends think that I am terribly naive to believe that my efforts will result in any change whatsoever.

I am keenly aware that the ideas set forth within my proposal will probably not come to fruition.

Still, I cannot just sit by and watch Topeka sink further into mediocrity.

Besides, writing my proposal seems to unleash a purpose within me that I have not felt since moving back here a couple of months ago.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Kansas Uncut: The Road Back

(July 2012-Topeka, Kansas)

I am driving into a wall of heat with no end in sight. It is Day 3 of my trek from Rhode Island back to Kansas. The temperatures are well above the 100 degree mark. It is as though the Universe is preparing me for my return to the Humid Prairie Land of my childhood.

As though, I could forget the many summers spent languishing in the perpetual heat and humidity of Northeastern Kansas. In less than 5 hours, I will be back in Topeka.

All at once, the thought of living in my hometown both excites and depresses me.

Living back in Topeka will enable me to spend more time with family and to stash away a little cash.

It is definitely not a permanent relocation by any stretch, I plan on only staying here for a maximum of two years which will give me enough time to pay down my student loans and get some other business in order. After which, I will either head back to the East Coast or check out the offerings in Austin, Texas.

This move back to Kansas lacks the magical quality of my previous moves. In those instances, I was stepping into a realm of the unknown.

However, at this time, I am returning to a place in which I fought so hard to escape. My heart holds not so fond remembrances of a childhood filled with racial slurs and bullying from both white and black classmates.

I am older, wiser, and way more worldly than when I fled Kansas back in 1994.

It is almost certain that the next couple of years should definitely be interesting.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Kansas Uncut Series: Introduction

A View From A Tree-lined Stroll In The Burbs

I ever never imagined moving back to Kansas as nearly 40 something adult.

Yet, here I am safely nestled in a suburb and somewhat enjoying it...which never fails to creep me out.

There are redeemable qualities to my much more settled life.

 In these essays, I will explore what it is like to return your home town after living away for so long.

This series contains four years worth of random anecdotes and even a few instructional "how-to" posts. As always, the names have been changed to protect the privacy of others.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Breakup Essays-Essay #11 The End of The Affair

Today is the day that we say goodbye…for good.  This time I am not playing around. I do not have another 8 years to waste on a relationship with a solidly married man. His wife knows about me but, she pretends not to care.
She found my number in his phone and she confronted face to face on my front porch.
One day she showed up to inform me that their marriage is a sham and it always had been. However, she made it clear that he had husbandly duties which he would not ever be able to shirk. Then, she pulled out her cell phone and started scrolling through her calendar.
“So, you can have him every other Tuesday and Friday during the school year. But, during the summer, the kids might get suspicious if he is gone that often. Now, the last two weeks of July, we spend in Texas with my family. My husband doesn’t get along with my family so, he generally only comes down there for a few days. This would leave you free and clear to have a tryst. He has had a vascetomy, so pregnancy is gonna be out of the question.”
I stand silently. I am unsure of how to respond to her matter of fact manner. It turns out, she does not expect a formal response from me.
“Ok, so I am texting you the information right now. Try to be discreet in your outings. The last thing I need is for some well-meaning friend to bust you guys out on a date. Then, I will have to play the role of spurned wife and it is really not that serious for me.”
She laughs and it is filled with a surprising amount of  warmth. She gives me a demure finger wave and practically skips back to her silver SUV.
I watch her drive off and I am struck by her jovial attitude about her husband’s indiscretions.
Instead of feeling relieved by her permission slip, I am feeling awkward about the situation and disgusted with myself. Any delusions which I may have previously harbored about being in love with this man are quickly evaporating. All I can see is ten years into the future and still being relegated to the sidelines of his life.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Breakup Essays: Essay #10- The Threat Of The Recently Single Woman

Finally, the day arrived when you could no longer turn bear to spend a moment longer in that crappy relationship. You got tired of pretending to be happy to keep the peace. For years your family and friends urged you to leave him.
But, a part of you still held out hope that the boyishly charming young man whom you fell in love with in college would magically return. He never did. You are starting to suspect that the charming young man only existed in the corners of your marriage hungry mind.
Thankfully, you had no kids together and you were amicable enough to split all of the assets down the middle.  You spent the first few months of freedom being the extra person at the dinner party. All of your married friends were eager to live vicariously through the recently divorced girlfriend. Your single life seemed so glamourous to them and to their husbands as well.
You begin to notice the way in which the husbands within your circle of friends seem very eager to volunteer to help you with home repairs. The  eagerness of their husbands to assist you also does not go unnoticed by their wives whom have started to freeze you out of their tightly knit circle. Their kindness has been replaced with inexplicable coldness. IYour name is suddenly left off of guest lists and it is as though you no longer exist. Please do not take this personally. Your singlehood has reminded your friends that their own marriages might not be as secure as they had previously hoped.  Their husbands view you as a safe flirtation with the promise of a bit more. This can only spell unnecessary psychodrama for you. Time for you to gracefully accept that these friendships are now in your rearview mirror.

Go build a new tribe filled with other divorced women whom are eager to start their lives anew.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Breakup Essays-Breakup #9 Choosing Sides After A Breakup

How do you choose sides after a breakup? How should friends, family, objects, and even places be equitably divided? One school of thought is that you leave the relationship with who and what you came into it with. But, what if there are kids or pets whom have grown attached to both sides of each family? How should things work out then? Do you get to keep the gym membership? Can you still follow/friend the Ex’s family on social media even after you begin dating again? How do you divide up mutual friends aka people we met as a couple? Do they automatically go to the person initiating the breakup?
It never occurs to you during the wedding ceremony to even ponder what your divorce will look like. You really go into thinking that it is forever. All of your friends and family will just magically merge with one another and it will be that way until the day you die.
You never think that eleven years from now, you will be packing up your stuff and moving out of the home which you worked so hard to buy. Now, all of those suppers of mac and cheese seem to have been wasted on your marriage. If you had only known…
Why couldn’t he accept the positive changes in you? Is it so wrong that you wanted to lose that 25 pounds of extra baby weight which you have carried around with you for the past decade? Apparently, in his eyes it was an unforgivable crime. He punished your dastardly deed by ignoring you completely.
But, you were no picnic either. You pushed him to make more money and he did. Then, you complained that he was never home. He could not seem to make you happy no matter what he did. You kept trying to improve him for the better. Instead of just loving the man you married.
He is going to move on and be remarried in the span of a few years. You suspect that he has a crush on the bubbly woman whom owns the coffee cart in front of the office where he works. She is a 40ish widow with grown children off at college.
Everyone loves her. Heck, you even think that she is a great lady. Better suited for your soon to be ex-husband than you are. No, you will spend the rest of your living days an embittered divorcee with impossibly high standards that no one will ever be able to meet.
In fact, you inherently know that he will inherit all of the friends that you met as a couple and perhaps some of the ones which you introduced to him. They love him. He is lovable in that hapless husband way which makes women want to nurture him.
Well, at least your kids will still talk to you…hopefully.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Breakup Essays: Essay #8 Dumper's Remorse

            You are and will always be the woman of my dreams. What can I say? I blew it. Things got rocky due to events from my past leaking into our relationship. Instead of manning up and handling it…I dumped you.
Immediately, I regretted my actions but, I was too stubborn to admit to being wrong. Besides, I was in a bad place in my life. I like to think that I was sparing you additional pain. Yet, I could have sat down and told you about the toxic Ex whom still haunted my dreams. The many ways in which I had tried for years to leave this Ex alone but, I couldn’t seem to stay away.
My family tried everything to get me away from the Toxic Ex. Yet, I still ran back to crazy fighting, awesome makeup sex, but, ultimate misery of that relationship.
We both sat there pretending that we were lifetime loves but, knowing that every moment spent with one another was empty and unfulfilling.
After I dumped you and went back to her, it was like night and day. Sure, I did not have to be evolved in her presence. She was perfectly content with not really speaking to me except to complain or correct my behavior.
Each day that passed by made me realize how much I missed you and all the regret I have for how I treated you. I know that I don’t deserve a second chance from you at all. I just wanted you to know that I will always wonder how our lives would have turned out had we not broken up.
I miss your Sunday breakfasts, random show tunes sing-a-longs, evening strolls, holding your hand, how you look in and out of a sundress, and our political debates. You are once in a lifetime type of woman and I hope that you never forget that.
I apologize for not being the man that you deserved.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Breakup Essays-Essay #7 Failed Reconciliation

Both of you have vowed that this time around will be completely different. No more screaming matches, cheating, and/or other dysfunctional behaviors which destroyed the last incarnation of your relationship. This isn’t the first time that you have both vowed to make this relationship work. Technically, you are on the fifth attempt of putting this relationship back together.
You both love one another so much but, outside circumstances seem to always collude in an effort to keep you both apart. You have gone to both individual and couples counseling. You tried chakra cleansing, past life regression, support groups, self-help books, and crystal healing. Nothing seems to be able to keep you two from sliding into the cesspool of psychodrama.
Both of your inner magnets seems to draw in the tidal wave of psychodrama. It is prevalent by the means in which you snap at one another for the slightest perceived infraction. Yet, still you insist that the love you feel for one another trumps all of the toxic negativity that surrounds you both.
Is it really love or just fear which brings the both of you colliding back into one another?
What will it take for you to admit that your reconciliations are nothing more than stall tactics designed to prevent you from personal growth? Will you have to witness your adult children engaging in this type of fear based behavior before it occurs to you both to call it quits completely?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Breakup Essays: Essay #6-The Living In The Perpetual State Of Distrust Breakup

Admit it, you never trusted him. So much so, that you offered to put him on your phone plan in the guise of saving money. You both knew that the reason for your altruism had more to do with his wandering eye i.e. other body parts than fiscal responsibility.
He played along with this because, he was saving a lot of money on his phone plan and it gave you the sense of security that his cheating would stop once and for all.
However, the thing about serial cheaters is that no walls, spy equipment, and/or tear filled pleas will stop them when they itch strikes them to step out on you. During these times, your intuition will go into overdrive. You will search through his phone and still find nothing.
Next, you troll his social media and email account.  You are unable to find any hard evidence to support your strong gut feeling. What you fail to take into account is the fact that he can access the Internet from his mp3 player which is password protected. His mp3 player contains apps to dating sites, his secret social media accounts, and his under the radar private email.
On the surface, he is still attentive and deferential to you. Sure, you get into a few screaming matches a week but, eventually you both calm down. He tells you every day how happy he is to be with you. He even buys you an engagement ring and asks you to be his wife. You start thinking perhaps, you were wrong after all. Your gut feeling could just be leftover insecurity from your previous relationships.
You feel guilty for always doubting his love for you. One day while cooking and laughing together in the kitchen his mp3 player begins to vibrate. A look of guilt crosses his face and immediately races over to it.
“Is everything okay?” You ask concern is rising in your voice.
“Yeah.” He mumbles frantically trying to lock it.
You continue cooking but, the laughter has subsided. Now, your suspicions are once again aroused. You have already established that his phone is clean. But, something tells you to have a look at the mp3 player.
You keep his wineglass filled throughout the entire dinner. As a result, he gets sleepy and goes to bed early sans his mp3 player which is still on the counter. You spend the next 20 minutes or so going through the motions of cleaning the kitchen.
When you are sure that he has passed out completely, you grab his mp3 player.  You watched him fiddling with it earlier this evening.  You take the charger and plug it into his laptop. It takes only a few seconds for incriminating data to appear. You see the apps loaded onto it. Though, you are unable to access them without a password. Your suspicions have been confirmed.
Now, what should you do with this information? You could confront him but, then he would know that you were snooping through his stuff. You jot down all of the names of the dating apps and ask your best friend to assist you in this sting operation of sorts. A few days later, she confirms your suspicions and forwards all of the incriminating evidence to you. Now, you have more than enough proof to confront him.  Still, you wait another week before making a move.
One evening before dinner, you mention to him that there will be a couple of surprise dinner guests in attendance. He nods and doesn't seem to be too fazed by your news. When the doorbell rings, you ask him to answer it. He does and he comes back into the kitchen looking as though he has had the shock of his life.
Two women enter the kitchen behind him. They smile and step closer to embrace you. 
You pretend to go through the motions of making introductions.
            "Oh wait, you guys have already met one another."
He blanches not sure whether to flee or deny. The expression on your face remains impassive.
"These ladies were kind enough to inform me of your overtures towards them on a certain dating app. Which I found strange, you know, since we are supposed to be married."
He is standing stock still.
"Luckily for you, Brenda whom you might know better as ChocolateFantasy14 is co-owner of a storage facility and she has promised to give you a great rate on her services. Which you will be needing in the matter of about 15 minutes."
Brenda is a tall attractive African-American woman with mocha skin and close-cropped dark hair.
His eyes fill with tears.
"Hey, don't cry. Tiffany whom you might know better as AgentofHealing56, here is a Reiki healer and she has also promised to give you a good price on a session with her. So, between getting a discount on a storage facility and Reiki healing. You should be all set in the world."
"Maybe, we should talk-" He stammers.
You shake your head sadly.
"There's nothing to discuss. You have made choices which I cannot overlook. Now, it's time for you to live with the consequences. Your stuff that you moved in with is boxed up on the back porch."
"Baby-" He pleads.
You smile coldly as you glance at the clock on the wall. "Wow, it is getting late. Brenda's crew has another consultation in an hour. We probably should get you moved out."
You nod to Brenda and she walks across the kitchen to the back door. She flings it open to reveal 2 big burly African-American men wearing matching black T-shirts with "Brenda's Got Moves" emblazoned on the front in white letters. They are loading up his boxes onto dollies.
You hand Brenda his car keys.
Brenda heads outside and Tiffany silently follows.
He stands there staring at you in disbelief.
But, you don't even feel a twinge of sympathy for him.
"That's your cue to leave as well." You say.
He shuffles out with his head down.
You close and lock the door. Good thing, you thought to have all of the locks and alarm codes changed. Best of all, you kicked him off of your phone plan. You aren't too worried about him.
There are plenty of naive women out there whom will pay his bills and take care of him financially. You should know since you used to one of them.
None of that matters anymore, all you know is that this is the last time that you will put up with living in a constant state of perpetual distrust.

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