Rss Feed
  1. Speaking Human

    Friday, April 19, 2013

    Speaking Human


    One of the things I appreciate about living in a regular neighborhood that doesn’t price people out is how real it is.  That’s not to say everything is tasteful, but it’s out there.  We know who walks around selling cheaper cigarettes, who deals, who goes to church, who turns tricks, who is good with animals, who is a great babysitter, who has AIDS, who is likely to go to jail, who is likely to go to college, etc. 
    It’s not always a polite neighborhood.  Almost everyone gets called a nigga.  My son was once referred to as “that white nigga who dresses gangsta,” and my dog was once spoken about with “this nigga is barking at me.”  Women do get muttered to as they walk by certain groups.  I do what I can when I can to leave my footprint.  I once spoke to a married man neighbor who typically commented in Spanish at women as they walked by, and from how he stared, I assumed it was about their asses.  He saw me see him once, and he defensively said, “I just said hello.”  He knows I don’t speak Spanish.  But I do speak human.  I told him, “Whatever you said made her feel uncomfortable.  She has a right to walk without being made uncomfortable.  She pays taxes.  It’s her world too.”  He truly found that so funny.  He thought the line about her paying taxes was hilarious.  My face remained serious.  He realized I meant it.  He isn’t unique, but someone has to put different thoughts out there.  These men don’t harass me.  They mostly knew me as a married woman which shielded me.  Now that I’m divorced, they still have their “respect” since I am a neighbor, and they see me as a person usually … as much as this particular pack can. 

    I still prefer seeing what I am dealing with rather than being in a quiet tree-lined neighborhood with no stores nearby, no witnesses, too creepy for me though it may look prettier in terms of cleanliness, lawns, and modern housing.  I also prefer to live amongst people who in general are not pretentious and judgmental over superficial things.  And I love my 24-hour bodegas (whether Hispanic or Arab owned, I still call them bodegas).  I like that when I need to go out in the middle of the night to the store that I’m not the only person out there.  That feels safer to me. 

    One day, I went out, and on the sidewalk, written in colored chalk, I read, “Please help. Trying to avoid eviction.  Please help.”  That same weekend, a man down the side street was demonstrating his wares while shouting, “You got troubles; I got bubbles.”  

    His spirit made me and many others smile past our troubles, at least for a moment.   Later, I saw a teenage girl buy a can of cat food and open it for a stray.  At that moment, I remember thinking, I don’t care what anyone says about the Bronx or where everyone originally came from, these are my people.  Whoever doesn’t get it, doesn’t get it.  Different life experience.  My grandfather could’ve easily been the man selling bubbles, determined to earn dinner for his family in some way that is neither illegal nor immoral.  The girl using her money to feed the stray cat has been me. 
    My grandmother would take leftover food to the alley for the cats.  It means a lot when the person doing the giving doesn’t have much him or herself.  Sharing what one has is typically how poor folks live.  Some say it is what keeps us poor.  I think it is what makes us rich.

    A man a few blocks away hung an extension cord out his window so his downstairs neighbor could use some electricity to keep his refrigerator going and his food fresh when he couldn’t pay his electric bill.  These are not the Bronx stories you will read about in the newspaper, yet these are the daily realities.

    Sometimes, people’s resourcefulness and creativity in the face of need deeply impress me.  I saw this on craigslist, and, damn, could I relate!
    Posted: 2013-03-27, 11:40AM EDT

    looking for sculptor to make fake teeth (Bronx)


    This is highly embarrassing, but I have a few missing teeth and obviously I don't have the money for a dentist.
    I am more than willing to pay. I just need the replacement teeth for when I am working not to eat.

    Any ideas? I do not want a something that I have to wear over my whole set of existing teeth. I tried one of those from Amazon
    and it was awful :)

    • Location: Bronx
    • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

    Posting ID: 3706814287

    Posted: 2013-03-27, 11:40AM EDT

    Well this past week had me without my internet, cable tv, and land line service.  I’d fallen behind and had to always give priority to rent.  One of my jobs doesn’t pay us for weeks off, so I go through dry periods.  Sometimes, I am more prepared than other times to avert crises.  This wasn’t one of those times.  By midweek, I was able to pay up.  I was so glad to have everything back, and then that very day, Con Ed shut me off, so I was back to nothing.  I had candles and a cell phone.  I charged my cell phone and used the computer at one of my jobs.  Daylight lasts longer now which helped also.  I would remind myself that I have running water, a working toilet, a place to call home with a door and locks.  I was managing and trying not to feel like a spoiled American.  I didn’t burst until after paying Con Ed and being told the power would be back on within 4 hours, and it wasn’t.  That was harder to tolerate.  I paid.  I was led to believe I’d have power that night.  I couldn’t stand the feeling of turning on the light switch and nothing happening.  I spent a night at a friend’s house just for light, tv, and wonderful company.
    In my life, I've had much more important things taken from me than conveniences, so as frustrating as this was, I'm not sure I call this an emergency.
    The people wanting to help me out the most can’t afford to.  Eventually, Con Ed told me my power was on and that my super had to turn on the circuit breaker.  Now I had to find him.  I found one of the men who assist him.  I was under the impression the assistant only spoke Spanish.  I was glad to be wrong.  We understood each other enough to get through this.  He gave me the super’s phone number, and he told me when the Con Ed guy had been there.  He made a point of telling me the guy came for another tenant also.  When I told him I had owed a lot of money, he said, “I know how it is.  No worry.  Is not only you.”  It didn’t matter to me that his verbs may or may not agree with his subjects or if his sentence has a subject.  We speak human.

  2. 8 comments:

    1. Anonymous said...

      Great blog Mindy and great timing. A heart-warming story of real people pulling together couldn't be more welcome than right now.

    2. RHC said...

      Real people problems, real people caring.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.
    4. You two women, thank you. Being heard and understood.
      What more can I can ask for.

    5. Melinda said...
      This comment has been removed by the author.
    6. Melinda said...

      Born and raised in Da Bronx. Mindy, you discribe it PERFECTLY! Living in Manhattan now, feel like a fish out of water :>). Susy

    Post a Comment