Don’t Oppress the Oppressed

I don’t know what I don’t know” and “there are things that I know that I don’t know” take much humility to admit. Don’t worry, my claim of humility is not a self-righteous declaration but a true personal daily effort. It’s not easy to admit you don’t know something for fear of looking uneducated on a particular subject. But admitting it opens the door to true insight. True insight to the facts, to other perspectives, to cause and effect. Opening yourself up to knowledge though comes with first, admitting ignorance, and then displaying interest via inquiry. And in my book, that means asking a boatload of questions. So when I heard that France had banned the burkini…well, that set the Wheel of Questions in motion.

What was the burkini? Where did it come from? Who and why was it created? Why did an entire country ban an article of clothing? Was there a greater purpose for this ban? Who was being affected? Would the ban bring on positive change, and if so, for whom? Or would it bring on negative change?  Did top officials take the time to ask these questions and if they did, who exactly did they ask? Were experts consulted to determine all possible outcomes? Did they ask the party that would feel the ban the most? Did they care to? Do society’s personal fears create blinders to the reality of the oppressed one’s daily life? Do the majority’s fears carry more weight than the minority’s freedom? Have you already picked a side? Do you personally know what’s best for these women? Is this truly providing a platform to empower women or just another way to victimize the “victim”?  Most people reading this have probably already developed an opinion on the burkini, burka, hijab, naqib, al-amira, shayla, khimar, and chador without truly having the inner knowledge of each or the experience of walking in the users shoes.

Honestly and humbly, prior to this ban, I had never ventured to know more about the women in question. I never judged harshly, but what I did do was sympathize in silent ignorance, which in itself can create a biased understanding and give forth a discrimination toward the very same people you’re wishing better upon. Unfortunately, my daily routine between work and home has not equipped me with the opportunity to meet a woman who possesses this cultural or religious lifestyle as to receive personal one on one information.  So, in an attempt to now gain some insight, I read articles written by women from both sides of the argument. Not the politicians side. The woman! The women!

I surmised that after “listening” to countless different perspectives, I’d find myself ready to make an absolute decision on where my loyalties would lie. Instead, I was now understanding bits and pieces of each argument and trying to apply them to what I knew was the bigger picture.

Here’s where I take issue with France’s edict… politicians are dictating what Muslim women shouldn’t wear on the grounds of teaching them that no one should dictate what they should wear.  Ban the burkini, fine the few women donning the modified wet-suit, embarrass them publicly and perhaps this will compel the women to stand against the Muslim law and choose for themselves what to wear.

burkini-vs-wetsuit

Oppress the oppressed! Religious freedom by ways of governmental constriction! A perfect example of constriction is the old-fashioned waist-cinching tool, the corset. Used by women since the 1500’s to acquire a desired appearance without understanding the extent of underlying damage to the user. Ironically, the corset was introduced to France by the wife of Kink Henry II himself. Even more ironically, Queen Catherine Medici, who held some influence in the political life in France, enforced a BAN of thick waists at court attendance during the 1550’s, making the corset a required necessity of law. Similarly today, French politicians seem to have shot from the hip, missing the target entirely. They enforce a secular appearance, losing sight of the damage they are causing the women they claim to protect. Just as the corset in the 1500’s compressed women’s lungs, crushed organs and fractured ribs, this century’s ban piles on an additional pressure that can leave women with less breathing room, possibly crushing their spirit and risk fracturing any possible progress they may have made to date.

Absurdity at it’s finest. Ethically wrong and morally questionable.

corset

There is in fact another side of the coin though…and I readily admit that I can understand the need to pass a law to protect the people from attire that allows citizens to conceal their identity. How comfortable would you feel at a bank when suddenly a gentleman or two strolled in with their faces completely covered? You would instantly think bank heist and most likely make your way out the front door. If a person cannot be identified (see Niqab/Burka below), it increases the risk of the wrong people taking advantage of that freedom to commit acts they would normally think twice about if people could clearly see their face. And this should not change just because the person behind the concealed garment is believed to be a woman. Yes, women commit crimes as well.

hijab-niqab-burka

But the burkini clearly does not fall under this category of safety issues based on concealment of identity, just as a wet-suit for a surfer or diver does not risk the safety of others. Don’t argue this… a wet suit IS just a tight burkini. Many divers and beach surfers use a head covering to keep their hair out of their faces…hence leaving only their faces, hands and feet exposed. Using the burkini as an excuse to deal with religious oppression and terrorist issues is on par with Trump’s idea that a wall between Mexico and the U.S. will solve our illegal immigration issues. Stupid ideas with no real solution to the bigger problems. Politicians dealing with a small can of worms because they are too afraid to open up Pandora’s box.

Someone once told me that opinions don’t mean anything if facts are involved. Although I can concede to that for most any argument, We The People better start opening the forum for suggestions, because the politicians seem to need our help. Let’s then start from the beginning. Politicians don’t know what they don’t know. But they need to start admitting that there are things they don’t know. And just like the rest of us, it may have behooved them for the sake of us all to have researched the issues, ask the right questions, get to know the people from all sides, and brainstorm a little longer for true solutions.

Go ahead and make it your priority to end terrorism, religious oppression as well as gender inequality, but go to the top, to the originator, to those in power. Pick on someone your own size and stop oppressing the already oppressed.

— The Pretty Platform

No More Pets Please

I commence the following diatribe as a way to reach out to the many out there that may be feeling the same way, but are too afraid to speak up, too afraid to admit this out loud, too afraid of being judged. We live in a society that claims freedom of speech. The beauty of speaking up and being honest, but in doing so, the masses gather to bully in retaliation to the point of harassment. I will take one for the team. Life has callused me. I’m ready to hear what you have to say, but only after you hear what I have to say first.

Picture this… It’s the summer of 2006 and Big O suggests that we visit a quaint little place called Puppy Boutique. At the time we were NYC dwellers of a substantially sized 2 bedroom, 14 foot high ceiling downtown apartment with gorgeous views of Battery Park City. He must have been stealthily planning this for a while now because this store was not located in the vicinity. Needless to say, it wasn’t even in the city at all, but in Brooklyn. When did we ever travel in to Brooklyn? I cave and approximately 30 minutes later we find ourselves surrounded by the tiniest, mushiest, fuzziest, yappiest puppies ever. What did I just get myself in to? Nothing good is going to come from this. My gut was yelling at me, “GET OUT, GET OUT, IT’S A TRAP!!!” But it was too late. It is noteworthy to mention that we had never spoken about buying a dog prior to this moment. As I was coddling every puppy my hands could possibly handle, I hear his voice from behind me; “THIS IS THE ONE”. I turn to look, and my eyes feasted upon a site that melted my heart. He was right. The tiny golden chihuahua barely visible in his arms was THE ONE. I should have named her Neo but she became our beloved Lola.

Fast forward quickly out of the posie-filled garden storybook sweetness of it all, we enter many sleepless nights and exhausted mornings of whiny whimpering howling puppy woes. There’s pee on our bed, pee on our hardwood floors, she’d miss the wee-wee pads completely as if they weren’t even in sight. Poop! Oh the poop everywhere! On our floor, on the dog, and one evening even on the walls of our bathroom. That day haunts us still. How can a small dog create such a mess? How high did this tiny dog jump when we weren’t looking? And the hair was everywhere. We were unaware, uneducated to the fact that Chihuahuas shed their fur, all day, every day. It just kept coming. By now the dog should have been bald, but they seem to have a never-ending instant-grow gene that keeps them warm and US pissed off. But we loved her and we trotted with her everywhere. We dressed her, socialized her, entered her in to competitions, and bejeweled her in the trendiest bling NY could offer. We were her crazy humans.

Then the unexpected happens… I find myself one year later standing again in the middle of Puppy Boutique surrounded by more cuteness than I can handle. How did I get here? Did he hypnotize me? Deja vu! I’m sure we did NOT talk about this. Lola was still not fully trained. What made us think being here was a good idea? Bad idea maybe, but there SHE was down on the ground trying to stay warm cuddled among the other puppies. If the group of puppies moved, she moved with them in a backwards motion just to find her ass meet with a warm body. Each time she did this it sent me in to an empathetic whirlwind. Always cold myself I felt a warm tug to my heart. Her beautiful white fur, her floppy ears and her big paws were all wrong for her breed, but I fell in love. Her eyes sent cupid-like arrows straight to my heart. I was hooked. We scooped her up and off we went with yet ANOTHER chihuahua. What! The! Fuck! Did we forget these dogs shed? Now we multiplied this issue along with all the other nuisances that come with a pet. Along with the hair, came more pee, more poop, more whining, more food, and this dog could bark. Not a yappy, yippie little-dog bark, but her larynx was hijacked by the spirit of a Rottweiler, I was sure of it. But Ginger was home to stay.

Two dogs, three kids, one house and a move to NJ later we eventually lose Lola during one of the most difficult evenings of our lives. As we struggle to keep her comfortable, after about 5 straight seizure episodes, Lola’s heart stopped and so did ours. This tiny dog didn’t take up more than one foot of physical space and yet left a huge emotional gap in our home. It took a lot of time for all of us to readjust to our everyday lives, especially Ginger. It’s been almost 4 years now since that sad rainy night. Ginger will be turning 10 this upcoming January, and yet she remains to be the baby of the house. We all love her and can’t imagine our home without her, despite the insane amount of hair everywhere.

One day we will also lose Ginger. We will mourn her and feel empty. We will miss her bark and her floppy ears and her out of control playful spins on the bed when she gets excited. We will miss cuddling with her. We will miss her dark, dreamy, hypnotic eyes.

And here IT is…

I will not miss the hair all over the furniture, the floor and on my clothes no matter how much I sweep, mop or vacuum. I will not miss the money we spend on wee-wee pads because she refuses to ever do her business outdoors. I will not miss having to prep her hard food with soft food of only one kind because she’s a picky eater, or the money we spend on that as well. I will not miss randomly finding vomit on the floor because she has the most sensitive stomach I’ve ever seen a dog to have. I will not miss not being able to stay anywhere we want when traveling due to the limitations of having a dog (We refuse to leave her at a kennel since she gets depressed if left with anyone else). I will not miss the pee nor the poop. I’m sure you realize by now how much I hate poop. I will not miss the added responsibility. I will miss my Ginger, but I will NOT miss having a pet.

When the time comes, I’ll be ready to have the extra cash, the extra time, and more worry-free moments. I do not want to immerse myself again in nurturing yet another living being, especially one that cannot express back its needs or concerns. At the rate Ginger is going it’ll be almost 2 decades caring for a pet. I don’t want to partake in it after this. When I initially expressed my feelings to Big O and the kids, it was not kindly received. I was the cold, mean mommy. They tried spinning the pro’s of all other types of pets…Lizards, Chinchillas, Sugar-gliders, even a Hedgehog. I will not budge. I’m tired. I’m really tired. It’ll be MY time. Just as is the case when our kids grow up and leave the nest, it’ll be MY time. I will not be looking to have any more babies in my 50’s, nor will I want any more pets of ANY nature. I want to write. I want to paint. I want to come and go as I please. I want everyone to care for themselves. No more trips to Puppy Boutique (Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me for not beating your ass the first time). No trips to the shelter. Very limited amounts of time watching puppy or kitty videos on YouTube. It’s cold turkey after this. I know there is a life after pets, and I’ll be damned if anything is going to stop me from finding out what exactly that feels like.

— The Pretty Platform

Learn A Thing Or Two From The Tourist

If you’re a New Yorker like myself, or really any city dweller will do, you’ll notice that your friendly neighborhood tourists all have something in common. Other than cladding themselves in the usual fanny pack, sun visor and DSLR camera, they seem to have a propensity to come to a full stop and..well, LOOK UP. They look up. They are always looking up. Regardless of the usual annoyance, eye roll, or sidewalk rage this causes to the speedy pedestrian, it will certainly never deter or discourage any tourist to feast their eyes upon the glory that is our high-rises. They tune out the hustle and bustle surrounding them all but for a chance to take it all in. Rubbernecking along every street and avenue admiring these impressive pillars of brick and mortar.

But what happens when your every Monday through Friday is congested with concrete and scaffolding? When you have every architectural detail already burnt in to your memory? Sadly, many of us stop looking up after the acclimation and admiration period has come and gone. I’m 45 years old, traveling in to the city on a daily basis since I was 18, and well, you do the math (in case you hate receiving random math challenges like myself, that’s 27 years).

In our busy, focused lives we forget the spectacle that may be hovering just above us. My husband is an architect and he has passionately pointed out how most people will never feel the need to admire the beauty of a ceiling when sitting at a restaurant. Many modern-day designers even forgo the importance of this forgotten “wall”; a lost opportunity to express creative beauty. What if the Romans neglected this blank space for additional expression? The Sistine Chapel or The Pantheon would not be the completed masterpieces as we know them to be.

For the past six years I have lived in the suburbs of central New Jersey and still traveling in and out of NYC. I don’t think it’s possible to completely wean yourself from city behavior when you are there for most part of the day, the week, the month, oh boy, for most part of the year.

But when I stepped off the bus on Friday ready for the weekend, on my schlep to the car I was greeted with the most amazing view ever. Although I have trekked this same path for six years, Friday’s sky was hard to miss. And just like that! I became a tourist in my own town. I came to a full stop and….. I LOOKED UP! Up and out across the wide open space. There was poetry and art in the sky. The layers and layers of clouds climbing over each other for front row presentation to its viewer below. The sun they were trying to conceal beamed light so intense it created depth and alternating shadows between them. There were details and curves and movement. The sky was powerful and yet cottony soft. It declared an upcoming storm, and yet whispered beautiful nothings to me.

I was compelled to share the moment. After I peeled my eyes from the canvas above, I texted my son.

“When you step off that bus…make sure to look up at the sky and see how beautiful the clouds look. See how artistically fascinating they can be. Notice the details, how the light behind them is creating depth and layers. Yeah, that’s it. I looked up and I don’t want you to miss out.”

I then picked up the two younger boys and before they jumped in to the car I made them stop. I pointed up and asked them as many questions about the sky that evening that would force them to see as much of what I was seeing and hopefully feel a bit of what I was feeling.

I wish I had texted you too. I didn’t take a picture because the phone lens would not have done it any justice. Wish I had that DSLR though. Just remember to stop and always look up. You’ll thank me later.

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

 

At 58 Madonna Is Still My Material Girl

Have you ever experienced a moment that slapped you straight in to reality? A moment of self-awareness so sudden that you didn’t realize you had even stopped breathing? A jaw-dropping run-of-the-mill fact that sent you in to momentary denial? I’m sure you have quite the story to tell and I would love to hear all about it over some coffee someday.

But mine was at 6:30 this morning and I’m still feeling the effects. I was in the car driving the hubby and myself to the bus stop. Of course I was driving. When am I NOT driving? Either way, I had the radio tuned in to the Z-Morning Zoo show with Elvis Duran and the gang. Love them. And then IT happened. They read off their routine daily celebrity birthday list. Who cares, right? And I normally wouldn’t care. No big deal. We all have one of those.

But today, TODAY, this year… Madonna turned 58. 58! Fifty-eight!!! My reaction? If you didn’t already guess, I hope I’ve captured the essence of the moment here… First, an instantaneous gasp. Next, with my mouth still open I furrow my brows in disbelief. Then I let out the following… “What? What?! No way! Noooo! She can’t be 58. No! She’s 58? No! Ughhh! Damn it honey! (As I look at the hubby and I hit the steering wheel and laugh. He’s also laughing. I continue, as I’m somewhat pouting in the process) My goodness (as I shake my head side to side and my shoulders drop and my posture slumps), she’s f’ing 58! You know what this means Hun? (as I resume a high pitch) Do you?! I’m going to be 58 soon. Yeah, it’s coming and it’s coming quick. That’s going to be me. Arghhhh!!! It just got real here. Damn it!”.

A comical moment for sure. And even more comical for the spectator of this mini morning breakdown. Here’s the thing…she was my Virgin and Material Girl. She nudged me to Express Yourself. I’d daydream of being someone’s Lucky Star. I pictured myself on La Isla Bonita. My heartstrings tugged for Papa Don’t Preach. I crossed the Borderline. Felt like everyday was a Holiday. I’d fall to my knees and bellow out Like A Prayer and practiced in front of a mirror how to Vogue.

For 30 years her music made me dance like no one was watching. For 30 years her continuous transformations proved that we can always change in to better versions of our prior selves. She was never afraid to say what was on her mind. She fought for what she believed in and she took risks to reach her goals. And during all this time, she seemed to embrace a youthful spirit despite the years darting by.

But this number, 58, was just a reminder that I have to get moving. I have to hustle to enjoy and experience all that I could. That I have goals I still want to reach. I will not waste my time on other people’s drama or expectations of what I should be. That I can’t waste time thinking there is always enough time. Because time rushes by, and my 45 today will be my 58 tomorrow. I will continue to be strong, fearless and fight for what I want until then. I will continue to enjoy even the little things.  I will both laugh and cry with unparalleled emotion. I will enjoy life, people and what this earth has to offer. I will live, sing and dance like no one AND everyone is watching, shouldn’t matter.

And I will always remember that “Poor is the man (or woman) whose pleasures depend on the permission of another” — Justify My Love.

— The Pretty Platform

It’s Getting Loud Up Here In My Head!


My thoughts are like unplanned and uninvited guests.  They usually pop in when I’m on my own during a relaxing drive. For some people it’s a stroll through the park as they contemplate the sights and sounds of nature. For others it may be a long soak in the tub as the lit wick of a candle dances in the dimness of the room. Sure, those seem to be an open door policy as well, but given that I find myself driving everyday to and fro from the daycare, during that daily hour it can get very busy and noisy up in my head. Personally, I dread the To-Do list thoughts like home repairs or shopping for back to school supplies. I prefer to shove those out and jot them down on paper to keep them from pacing around in my head. Then there are the thoughts that if allowed to put its feet up and stay awhile can be quite enlightening. On Friday, during my usual drive, a humorous and somewhat questionable bit of advice handed to me way back in my 20’s opened the door and walked right in. It caused not only a chuckle to escape, but it seemed to be an open call to many other pieces of advice I’ve received in my lifetime. From the profound to the useless. People will gratuitously provide us with information that we can consider either genius or just plain stupid, having acquired it from either tradition or experience. Many have stayed with me throughout the years. Some I’ll keep alive, while others I’ll make sure to keep buried forever.

Here are some I’m willing to share with the world. Some may be equally helpful to you as they were for me, while others just provide simple entertainment. Please share some of your lifetime favorites at the end of this post. My door is always open to good, weird, funny but effective advice.

From my Mother…

 

  1. At the young age of 20, I was about to be married and I was a virgin. The night before my wedding, my mother who had never spoken to me about sex which means I never received “The Talk”, had now offered up the following…. (original advice was given in Spanish) … “Make sure to have either tissues, wet wipes or a hand towel on your nightstand since having sex can get messy and you may be too tired to go wash up”. She told me to trust her. Yuck! Was this my “Talk”? Unfortunately I had nowhere to hide.
  2. “A sincere smile is the best beauty tool you’ll ever own”.
  3. “Don’t accept anything anyone tells you as truth. Always ask for proof”. I wish I had taken this bit of advice early on in my life.
  4. “Let go of the negative stuff and hold on tight to the positive”.
  5. “Don’t wash your hair everyday. It’ll dry it out”.
  6. “Sit up straight”.
  7. “Beware of men that feel a need to sell themselves like a used car salesman. Beware of men that remind you how great they are or how lucky you are to be with them. Let their actions speak for their true nature”.

 

From my Aunt…

 

  1. “Never lend out money to family or friends without a written and signed contract”.
  2. “Never invest in a brand new car. A used car does the job just fine”.
  3. “Forget the rainy day. Save, save, save, for when the storm comes”.
  4. “Hire a lawyer to settle your ownership of your house”. This one proved to be my saving grace.
  5. “Don’t judge others if you want to be accepted as you are”.
  6. “Take care of yourself first so you can then take care of others”.

 

From my Boss…

 

  1. “If you want something done immediately make sure to NEVER use the term ASAP”.
  2. “Go home. You can finish this tomorrow”.

 

From my Husband…

 

  1. “Who cares what others think. Be yourself. To the hell with everyone else”.
  2. “Find what you love to do and do it”. This replayed in my head a million times, then this blog was born.
  3. “Stop cleaning and relax”. Yeah right!
  4. To an article I asked him to critique before I posted it up… “It’s good, but not great”. This always pushes me to strive for great.
  5. “These shoes would look great on you”. I bought the shoes.
  6. “Never stop learning”.

 

From an ex-boyfriend…

 

  1. “Let him speak first. Wait your turn without interruption. Then you can go in for the kill with all information in hand”. His advice to me when I had to go to a child custody court hearing.

 

From a total stranger…

 

  1.  “I can tell by looking at you that you are NOT completely Puerto Rican. Go research your ancestry”. I’ll be doing a DNA test soon for my ancestry percentages, but this stranger was right after I did some digging. I’ll share the results after I complete the test.

 

From a friend…

 

  1. “Keep writing”. So simple but exactly what I needed to hear.
  2. “Rub the steering wheel twice around to the left, once around to the right and ask the Parking God to guide us to a spot, and now go straight. Trust me.”. I laughed but humored her. Then screamed when there was a spot waiting for us instantly. Take note we were driving around for quite some time and just wanted to get on the beach. Hysterical, eerie and weird!

 

From my seven-year old…

 

  1.  “Mommy, you need to brush your teeth. Your breath smells bad”. I had coffee breath. Kids are brutally honest.

 

Now how can I go on after THAT?! Share some of yours below.

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Son’s Open-Heart Surgical Scar Reminds Me Of…

Would you say that you are one of the many people today that lean heavily on the statement… “everything happens for a reason”, especially after an emotional event? Attaching a meaning to a traumatic moment seems to help many cope with the shock that trickles in quickly thereafter. Although I could empathize with this very “protective” behavior, I do not believe the mainstream superstition behind this claim. But I will admit that I have an ability to work out a lesson nonetheless; a “what’s the moral to this story” from almost anything that has occurred in my life. We can all thank our favorite childhood fables like The Boy that Cried Wolf or Little Red Riding Hood for instilling that useful habit. After each relationship, I’ve learned how to make better partner options. After each uncomfortable call with a debt collector, I’ve learned better budgeting skills. After each medical scare I’ve learned how to take better care of myself. Even after burning toast a few times, I get to “know the settings” of each new toaster allowing me to achieve a perfectly golden brown slice. Aside from the toast, these experiences have provided very valuable lessons that have changed my life … although my oldest toast-lovin’ son will beg to differ on the latter. He says I make the best buttered toast. Now there’s an accolade you don’t often come across.

I’m very comforted by the fact that I personally bear the control to draw out the lesson (or lessons) from all that happens, and NOT that every event was set, destined or allowed to happen to provide me with a lesson or test.

Think about that for a minute. Imagine IF for just one second I was wrong.

My youngest son who is to turn 4 in a few months comes to mind. Some know my experience with him, but I’ll fill you in. When I was about 6 months pregnant, my munchkin was diagnosed with TGA (Transposition of the Great Arteries). In a nutshell, a fluke in his arteries. They were flipped from their normal position. Simply put… he could survive “normally” inside of me since I was breathing for him, but he would not survive in the real world without having to undergo open heart surgery for an arterial switch immediately after being born.  We had already gone through 2 rounds of IVF to create him, now we had to keep him alive.

When I look back at the moment I shared the medical news with others, an outpouring of emotional suggestions came with it. Pray to god was the most popular. Pray to Jehovah for strength and comfort. Some even went as far to assure me that “everything will be alright”. There were other reminders sent my way… “Jehovah doesn’t abandon those that serve him” and “God does not test us beyond what we can handle”.

We set out for the best surgeon for this procedure. We carried on until the memorable day that my son came in to this world. I couldn’t even touch his newborn skin since they had to rush him away to get him hooked up to a breathing tube and stabilize him. I saw him for only 2 seconds then I was left in that room, alone, to contemplate all that had happened to lead up to this moment and to meditate on all that we would about to experience.

Fast forward … my son survived it, and so did we. So, does that mean that everyone was right? Everything WAS going to be alright? God did not abandon us? He gave us the strength needed?

What lessons did I make sure to pull from this experience?

  1. If what others or what the bible teaches is correct, I would have to rest on the fact that God had tested us. He tested us with the life of an unborn child. An innocent baby. A human life. Sure, it wasn’t beyond what I could handle, but it does not minimize the lack of moral standing of testing someone with the life of another.
  2. I gained strength in the love I had for my son. I gained strength as all parents do when it means having to protect their young. We had insisted on creating him, no way we were giving up now.
  3. Prayer did not help save my son. A cardiologist that detected the condition early on did. A team of doctors that came together. A surgeon did. His skill and experience in this procedure gave my son a chance of survival. And a blood transfusion is what sealed that deal. Even though the surgery itself was a success, a child that small and new could not generate enough blood on his own to bring up his levels. And according to the religious organization I once belonged to, that action in itself is going against god, so obviously, god did not save my son, nor was god with us.
  4. That morality and a sense to do good and what’s right comes from within and from logical thought. Not through the hundreds of different teachings and beliefs in the world.

Seeing my son’s scar is a constant reminder to live, to explore, to learn and to grow. And saving my son’s life was the moral thing to do, the right thing to do, the human and loving thing to do. And how dare anyone try to tell me or guilt me in to thinking otherwise.

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

I Questioned my fear… and I learned from it

I’ve made many changes this year. Due to that, as of late, I’ve been taking advantage of every moment of silence to pull apart the inner depths of who I am, what I want and how to reach my goals. On the bus to and fro from the NY office, there are days I never get around to opening the book I’m reading. As I drive to the daycare, I rather listen to my own thoughts than blast the radio to the sounds of Adele. And say what you’d like, but on our way back home, to allow for my moments of meditation, I equip the boys with their own tablets and headphones. Everyone is happy and to cover my parental bases, I make sure to ask them about their day as I’m tucking them in to bed at night.

These moments when I’m deep inside my head, despite the amount of people and commotion that surround me can be enlightening or filled with anxiety, many times both. I have not yet found a way to take up residence in the confines of my mind and not have an emotion emerge from the experience. Positive or negative though, it’s quite educational.

One emotion that had surfaced some time ago was fear.  Traveling in to your own head and heart can be a scary thing.  I had to quickly sort out exactly where it was stemming from and learn how to combat it. This required more thought, more meditation, and it was time to use my analytical skills.  I had to walk down that stereotypical path of “facing my fears”. I made sure to question everything to help understand everything. I summoned up the basics I learned back when I was in school and found that using the five W’s was useful at a moment like this.

Below are a few of the questions I found needed resolution (not all are included since this brain was on constant overload). Personally, I found it helpful to write these down in a journal for the occasional reference.

 

Who?

Who am I, for real, deep down, without filter, without guilt, without imposed expectations? Who do I want to be? Who’s supportive of my life and decisions? Who’s a true friend? Who can I count on, eyes closed and heart open? Who’s been there through it all without judgement?

What?

What do I expect of myself and others? What positive things do others bring in to my life? What drama and negativity do I need to avoid? What am I so concerned about? What purpose do I want to fulfill, not what others or an organization expect me to fulfill? What makes me happy? What have I learned from this experience?

When?

When did this all begin? Was the timing of my changes right for me and my family? When do I want to take a stand against negative folks and negative talk? When will I say “enough is enough”? When will I give everyone else that bring nothing to my table the finger?

Where?

Where do I place those that have turned their backs on me as far as importance in my life? Where do I see them in the future? Will their absence truly matter? Am I in a better place without them?

Why?

Why was this bothering me? Why are they behaving this way? Why does it matter? Why do others that claim to be good people find justification to treat others so poorly? Why did I need to make the changes in my life despite the risks?

How?

For journalistic integrity, I instinctively kept in the How as well. This part was definitely essential…. How do I move forward? How do I close the door on the ugly and open the door to a brighter me? How do I release the fear of losing some people, or being judged or shunned? How do I accept the inevitable?

 

After I answered all of the above honestly I realized that the people I was so concerned about were not in my life when I was at my happiest or when I was most in need. They were not there to contribute one iota to my goals, they were not there when I got married, they were not there when I was caring for my ailing mother. They either provided superficial support when my youngest son needed open heart surgery or they weren’t there at all. Plus they didn’t care to understand my changes by asking questions or showing interest.

I realized that the reason stepping deep in to my brain and heart was so scary was because they were taken hostage for so long by the organization I belonged to. My thoughts and heart needed to belong to their teachings. If I veered from that, even in the slightest I would lose everyone that was part of my social circle, my children would lose their so called friends, my religious family would easily turn their backs on us all. And in the process I had to forget who I was, who I truly was, forget who my children could be and mold in to their expectations. But we all grow up some time. Just as children need to leave the nest and find a great big wonderful world out there filled with adventure and information and make it on their own, at 44 I finally grew up and away from the trapped expectations of others.

What I once feared losing is what I now fear being a part of. May they too find their true selves one day.

 

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Happy Pill

He chooses a pill to fill him with the joy
that was lost so long ago.
When she left. She left him sad.
She left because he was already sad.
Well, she didn’t necessarily leave.
More like escaped.
And now he too needs to escape the memory of her.
He falsely remembers being happy.
Happy with her.
If he remembered the truth,
the truth that he was never really happy,
he just may end it all.
He chooses a pill to stay happy.
To remember she too was happy.

To survive.

— The Pretty Platform

I’m No Makeup Artist but I Do Know Art When I See It

I love the artistic world and Big O and I do our best to immerse ourselves and the kids in it. I love expressing myself through my writing and painting. Big O also writes and plays the violin and is now teaching himself the guitar (electrical guitar and it’s driving me crazy). The 18-year-old developed a love for writing and is studying Graphic Design. The jury is out on the two little ones, but if I have to put money on it, they’ll follow suit.

The artistic culture is continuously expanding and comes in various forms, be it through painting, words, music or performance. Artists will use their imagination or skill to express their views of the world or to declare who they are through it. And if you practice any kind of art you will agree that it’s a consuming and thrilling thing to create AND feel, regardless of all the critics you may encounter.

And boy, is this world filled with critics!!! I’m not speaking of those that have mastered an artistry and qualify somewhat to apply their professional opinion, and at the end of the day, that’s all it is, an opinion. Why? Because art is SELF-expression. It might appeal to some but not to all, and for the artist this is absolutely acceptable.

One art form in particular has been under heavy artillery lately by practically…well, the whole world. All sorts of folks have been launching missiles and blasting out cannon sized comments with the intent to hurt, damage and put these artists out of business. These artists under fire are the new wave of Makeup Artists that have hit the ground running. When I was a kid in the 70’s/80’s, the only cosmetologist I knew was my mother. She studied it along with hair and the only running joke back then on this career choice was the Grease musical performance “Beauty School Dropout”. Makeup has definitely come a long, long way since then. With FB, IG and YT tutorials we find ourselves exposed to the many people out there that have found pleasure in this art form. From the beginner and self-taught to the seasoned and educated artist. From personal beauty to theatrical artistry, the videos I have come across are endless. They contour, enhance and coverup scars, these skilled individuals are like magicians. Some do it to help others, some for fun, and some for imaginative application. And yes, as with other mastery, there are those that are complete frauds and mislead by using insane and dangerous practices to achieve the unattainable. Go ahead an insult the obvious con-artist, but careful to not judge the others based on YOUR personal preference. 

Honestly, I don’t use much makeup, I don’t even own much of it. (Thanks to some girlfriends, I finally own a high-end red lip pencil). Today, it took me literally 3 minutes to apply my makeup on the bus on my way to work. (Yes, I timed it for the sake of this article). Just because I don’t like using the product much, doesn’t mean that the art is up for judgement. Everyone talks about accepting yourself as the reason to discourage this art form. And as much as some of you don’t want to agree or understand, makeup is something many people actually do love. THIS is who they are, and should we not accept that as well? So what if they look like someone else once they remove all their makeup. It’s JUST their face. Who they are in the inside is still the same. The same can be applied to clothing and shoes and jewelry. You wear it because you love it. And once you take it off, you’re still the same person.

And for you guys….please, if you can’t notice that a woman has makeup on, then the problem is you, not them.  

To all you makeup artists out there. I applaud your art, I am amazed by your skill, and I will continue to delight in watching the transformations created by your steady hands and keen eye. May you continue to practice and grow as the true artist that you are or are meant to be. 

Much love and respect… from one artist to another.

— The Pretty Platform

0 New

A Killer in Sheeps Clothing – (Writing 101)

Writing 101 – Day Four

I’m not that old. I don’t think i am. No, no, I’m not… Well…by my standards I’m not. (To my grand-niece: this is not old!!!). But I have observed many things in life. I have seen the world transition in my 40 years. Sometimes toward great progress and sometimes it seems as if it’s gone into nostalgic remission.

Everyone looks to move forward, and don’t get me wrong,  I’m right in line always ready to jump on to that wagon. Ask anyone about the dozen cell phones I’ve had in my years. But at the same time, this so-called progress has crept in like a killer and taken away from me, from us, from our children and their children something so beautiful that we didn’t know it until it was too late.Yes, yes, I know, sounds a bit dramatic. But I promise you this will tear at your heart-strings.

Recently, my oldest son inquired about our dating years when we were younger. Not when we dated each other, but our young teenage loves. Don’t even get us started on stuff like that. We reminisced about what it was like for each of us. Similarities are abundant in these type of stories. Those first looks. That feeling when you first hold hands. Going to a fast food joint together because that’s all you can afford. Your friends making sure they pile into the back seat of the car around you just so you’re both squeezed in tightly together. And one of our all time favorites was how we expressed our feelings for each other through the words of our favorite songs…..

THE MIXED TAPE (a.k.a The Mix Tape)

And just like Video Killed the Radio Star, technology murdered the mixed tape. More like slaughtered and dismembered. Almost impossible to gain back all the components to resurrect. Gone forever are the days when a young man would slave over his boom box waiting for the radio to play all the songs he wanted to record for his beautiful young love. Waiting on the weekend for American Top 40 with Casey Kasem to come on so he could dedicate that entire morning to this laborious job. When he’d steady his finger on the PLAY button for just the right moment to push it downward then sit out the entire song to stop the recording before the DJ started to speak again. And it took a skillful recorder to capture only the songs and avoid all those radio commentaries and commercials. The same procedure for every song he had in mind and until there was no more room on the tape. It was an art.

I remember getting my first mixed tape. It was a true proclamation of his love. He was willing to give up that time with his friends or video games just to create something that expressed his feelings for me. He took his time, he handpicked specific songs, he isolated himself from the world, locked in his room, just to impress me. Then, with additional effort and in his best penmanship wrote out all the tracks on to the card provided in the cassette case. All to impress me. And because I too had gone through that same grueling task to create mixed tapes of my own, I knew precisely how important I was to him when he gently put that tape in to my hands without a word said aloud. He didn’t have to say anything. That little box said it all. Back home, light-headed I’d listen and deciphered his message through those songs.

My poor son will drag and drop for a stupid, boring, playlist. How do you hand a girl a playlist? I hate lists! I mourn for his loss!

— Elke

 

 

National Poetry Writing Month – Tautogram – Challenge

This is my poem for this months Challenge. This style is called Tautogram. Hope you enjoy and understand my story.

*******************************************

Tantrums, tasks, troubles.

The toddler twists, turns, tumbles.

Tula too tired to try, the toddler too testy to tame.

Tribulation through these tiny, tiny tirades.

Toiling thoughts.

Tom’s toxic tongue torpedoes teasing toward tearful tot.

Terrible tactless taunts.

Tom’s terrifying touches, Tula tortured.

Twosome tremble. Twosome timorous.

Tula takes time to think, too tough to trust.

Told to tolerate, twin takes tot tonight.

Takes taxi to town, to tavern. Tries tequila, tipsy.

Thoughts transport Tula to terrific time tickling toddler to tranquilize torment;

Turbulent Tears.

Telephones twin to thank, to talk, to theorize.

They trade touching tales taking them to teenage times.

They thirst those times.

They treasure those tidbits; their trimesters; their travels.

Tick-tock, tick-tock, Time’s trauma toughen to tolerate.

Trees, tulips, tasty treats, tarnished!

To twinkle, to thrive; Taken! Tainted!

***********************************************

– Elke