Pose Season 3: Oh! We Buddha

Season 3 of Pose began “On the Run” and started with a bang. Or rather the crashing sound of the universe as Billy Porter’s Pray Tell enters a room and says “Oh! We Buddha…Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.” For me, hearing that phrase, repeated 3 times at the top of the show, was a signal. A blessing on the final chapter of this journey.

In Episode 3, “The Trunk”, Mother Elektra’s past comes back for a reckoning. We see the timeline reveal how Elektra became the woman before us. The trunk was the only thing she had left from her family home before she was kicked out. The trunk is where we first saw Elektra place a dark secret; a wealthy client who overdosed on his preferred drug. To protect herself, the girls rally to “cocoon” the man, this specter on their safety and survival. He remains there for years with the company of Elektra’s finest furs and pine scented air fresheners.

She had to leave it all behind. She only wanted her things, but her things were in her mother’s house. What is in mother’s house, belongs to mother. Elektra sobs “but what’s inside belongs to me…please, it’s all I have!”

When Blanca, Ricky and Papi come to help, they are thrust again into the face of violence and fear. Upon bringing the trunk to their apartment, Blanca suggests they hide the large black box as an altar. A dead body resting beneath a space to pray. It is a clear symbol of life and death existing simultaneously. Inextricably linked to one another and the challenges we face in between.

Blanca tells the trunk, its contents, “there, there, you’re safe now”, despite the stench of decomposition, the heaviness that made it difficult to carry. “This trunk held some of her most prized treasures, all her dreams. And she gave them all away for us.”

I can’t help but to believe that the presence of Angelica Ross on this show has helped to weave in the very practical aspects of Nichiren Buddhism. Cut to Candy in a flashback of the House of Abundance before they fell apart. Elektra again takes it upon herself to go to the piers to work. There, she meets Cubby, Lemar and Angel. She sends them to her home, calls herself mother, disappearing in the night to feed her growing family. This is the first family to retrieve her trunk from her own mother’s home.

“Oh, I thought somebody without a hammer said something.”

Lemar retorts that he didn’t know what kind of “house” he was joining, as they attempt to break in. With fierce protection, Candy guffs “huh, you say something…oh I thought somebody without a hammer said something.” This is the House of Abundance. Which begat the House of Evangelista, the House of Wintour and the House of Ferocity. Three strong houses built on the desire for freedom, autonomy and a stand alone spirit.

Pray Tell continues his journey to accept the circumstances of his life. His health conditions and his alcoholism. Elektra continues to ebb and flow between the role of matriarch and an independent woman who needs no one. Except now, these two Icons need their chosen families to show up for them so that they may alter the course of their lives.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

All is Full of Love: So are my last words 🌬

I learned early on that you must mean what you say. This was encouraged through two books with accompanying tapes called “Gratitude” and “Little White Lies”. As a child, it was reinforced every time someone died. I’d recall their lessons and feel utterly guilty at 8 years old for having secrets.

Did you get to “say goodbye”? What was the last conversation? An argument? Shooting the shit? How long ago was that?

Death teaches you about the process of grief and letting go. Surrounded by this reality, I knew about last chances, last moments. Times when I knew people would die before I saw them again.

It won’t make you rest easier because you had a nice conversation before the person passed. It won’t make anything different when the relationship is over. It’s an illusion. To make you feel better or worse.

I believe we oft romanticize that endings for every situation be happy. Lose a job. I want it on my terms. Break up. My terms. Moving. My terms. But there are far more elements involved to shape each experience into one that’s easy to digest.

Throw up and go to bed angry if you need to.

If you wake up and can still live with yourself…last words were notarized.

National Suicide Prevention Day: I just had the thought

TRIGGER WARNING: Self Harm

For my birthday this year I set up a small donation on the very charitable social network called Facebook. It was for the national suicide lifeline. I did this because during the school year several of my students were hospitalized. I could’ve been one of them so many years ago.

Part of it is the pressure of being perfect. It really can be that simple for some people. But you have to understand that being perfect takes a lot of work. There are a lot of different people in situations that they have to mold themselves into. Depends how flexible you are and I am technically hyper flexible. This is actually a fact. No one needed to tell me I was hyper flexible but I did learn that hyperflexibility is a disability. It is also a source of pain. Some people think that because they cannot touch their toes there’s something wrong with them. When I was 13 and almost dislocated my right hip playing soccer, I was still able to go to the doctor, in pain, stand up and bend forward placing my hands flat on the floor. Behind me. For him, I wasn’t that damaged.

But I was damaged. Every month I suffered from bouts of sciatica so bad that I would limp or drag my leg around in high school. While an undergrad, I went to the College of Chinese Medicine in Santa Barbara because it was affordable acupuncture. I had so much scar tissue that built up over the years and the acupuncture was the only thing that helped mitigate the pain. The scar tissue had to be squeezing my nerve. I would lose sleep. And within 10 years of this injury I had numerous MRIs done to show me they had no evidence.

I am now 40 and I can still do this. But now they call it yoga. My physical flexibility has not benefited me. And for 13 years I played soccer with all my heart because it was the only thing that brought me joy. My grandfather said if I ever did that again I would have to take up golf. At 13? Please. But as it turns out my dad got me some lessons and I learned that I had a bad ass long shot. (Is that what it’s called? Well, I crushed it!) The next year my grandfather died. He was my mentor. Then I began to cut myself.

I mean what does cutting oneself really mean to the general public. The imagination could run wild.

You also have to understand that my grandfather died two days before my 14th birthday. So we had a death, a birthday and a funeral within a week. How could I honestly absorb being wished a happy birthday when the only person in the room that cared about me, in depth, was dead.

So one day I was walking in my parents front yard. They had begun to landscape on their own, planting several rosebushes and other flowers. They covered the ground with pebbles. I walk through the garden to offer myself a bit of grace, but I guess that’s not really what I was looking for. In all the rubble and space I found a heart shaped piece of glass. It took me a minute to realize it was glass and not a clear rock or some quartz tossed in. My brain processed this heart shaped thing as mine. Why would I have found some thing so small amidst all the other small things?

My heart was broken so I took a heart shaped piece of glass and tried to feel something.

I was embarrassed but it was my own private shame so… It’s my party, I’ll cry if I want to. I don’t recall doing this too much because I continued to play a combination of sports throughout high school until I almost broke my ankle my senior year. I was warming up for the state semi finals. There is a small hill to go over from the parking lot to the field. Whatever stupid thing happen next, I rolled my ankle and new it was at least a bad sprain. I played the next two hours on that ankle. It was a gladiator moment and I didn’t want to let my team down. I also didn’t want to sit on the sidelines and watch them play without me, again.

I think getting tattoos stopped the cutting. I didn’t really think of that behavior in the same way some people do. Some people say they get addicted to having tattoos etched into their skin. I don’t remember hurting myself like that but I did continue to get tattoos.

When I turned 30, my brain told me I didn’t want one more tattoo. I just didn’t need any more. The symbology I chose was telling my story. Unfortunately I realized that this was all mental illness playing itself out over adolescence and adulthood. I didn’t want any more tattoos but since I was in a bad relationship I began cutting myself.

When you are not allowed to express your feelings no matter how absurd or chaotic they are, you make decisions about how you’re going to handle it. In previous posts there are Easter eggs referencing some of those times. I never wanted to admit these things. They are part of the vulnerability that people tend to avoid. So to change the chemical reaction in my head, I took a razor to my skin and it calmed me down.

When I found a Psychiatrist we played medicine roulette until something started to work. And by work I mean numb me. Stop me from crying when I might naturally do so (which might not be natural to others). But I have a bad stomach and too many pills make me sick and it wasn’t stopping me from suicidal ideation. We agreed that I would stop taking the antidepressants and just take anti-anxiety meds. It’s the anxiety that makes everything worse. I believed I could survive if I took a blue pill.

I have since stopped this behavior. It likes to linger in quiet places until my brain becomes overwhelmed. I would rather destroy myself then hurt someone else. It’s perhaps best to do neither.

But this week has been really difficult. I’ve had some sort of breakdown for the last 7 days. My friends don’t need the worry. My bosses don’t care, they just hope I don’t cause more chaos than we’re already dealing with as this pandemic confuses leadership on how to lead.

Then I read an astrological statement that said during Mars retrograde you shouldn’t get a tattoo. This is because when this planet “takes a seat” you can apparently do more harm by getting a cut or burn. It would take longer to heal or possibly lead to other problems.

I have to be honest. I talk about honesty on here all the time but I’ve learned to be vague enough. Today I clearly wanted to come home and hurt myself. If only for a moment of relief. The worst part for me is seeing what I’ve done to myself. You might not know what I’ve done to myself, but my body and my spirit know that I’ve been fighting to stay alive.

The one question that pops up over and over isn’t why did I ever cut myself? It’s what am I keeping myself alive for?