The Weekend That Was!

Last weekend my husband and I flew out to Salt Lake City, Utah for our friends’ wedding. Initially, I really didn’t think there’d be much to see or do in Utah since I am one of those New Yorkers, who feel like NYC is the epicenter of the World, so I really wasn’t expecting much but farmland and wide, open spaces in Utah, but we were in for a big surprise.

Our first observation after we collected our rental car and drove to our hotel was that it was a Thursday afternoon and there was zero traffic on the highways, like none. Where was everyone in the middle of the day? At work, perhaps. New Yorkers work too but there is always unjustified traffic to fight and curse at on any given day or night in NYC. Always! We were pleasantly surprised by the lack of traffic in Salt Lake City, we arrived on Thursday and left on Monday, drove everywhere, and not once did we encounter any traffic; and get this? We even visited downtown, Salt Lake City, twice, and both times we effortlessly found parking.

As we drove to our hotel we were struck by the gorgeous mountains that served as the backdrop to the city. We observed “white stuff” on the peak of the mountains and we wondered could that possibly be snow? I mean it is the end of June, the first official day of Summer was upon us that couldn’t possibly be snow; but sure enough, it was.

A few days later we had the opportunity to take a drive up one of those mountains and experience the beauty of Summer snow-capped mountains live and in living color. Oh, what a sight that was! Absolutely picturesque!

Bold Mountain, Utah – Both these pictures were taken on June 22, 2019.

Utah is apparently known for its snow. I later read that Utah has the best snow on Earth because it has the perfect balance of wetness and fluffiness. Who knew?! I also learned that Utah gets an average of 18 snowstorms per year, averaging 551 inches, thus it takes forever and a day for the snow to melt from the peak of the mountains, hence the beautiful snow-capped mountains in June, which may very well last all the way into July. It was indeed a sight to behold!

The only thing I knew about Utah, prior to my visit, was that they were the home of the religious sect called the Mormons and that some (not all) Mormons practiced polygamy, which I find intriguing.

We did a bit of sightseeing tour of the Mormon Temple, which was pretty impressive. The architecture of the Temple was intricate and stunning. The erection of the Salt Lake City Temple began in 1846 and took 40 years to complete. I couldn’t help thinking that these masons and builders were way ahead of their time in the construction of such an architectural masterpiece. The pictures below do not do justice to the beauty of the Temple.

On the Temple property, there were also bold, elaborate sculptures that depicted the story of Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith, the founder, and creator of the Mormon Church, and who it has been said, was anointed by the Apostles Peter, James, and John to carry on the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Mormons, or members of the Church of Latter Day Saints, as they preferred to be called these days are a friendly bunch, who will eagerly give you a tour of their Temple while providing a synopsis of the teachings of their doctrines. I was even gifted with a copy of The Book of Mormon, which I actually plan to read someday.

Greg, my husband, and I quickly learned that when in Utah, one must hike. Utah is known for its’ parks, canyons and its’ epic mountainous trails so when we were invited on a hike, which we were told comprised of an “easy trail” we jumped at the opportunity.

Oh my gosh! The trail was not an “easy” one, it consisted of nothing but uphill climbs, and as fit as I think I am, especially since I have been working out consistently all my life, I quickly realized, only 10 minutes into the hike, that no amount of time spent in the gym could have prepared me for this real mountain hike. I was breathless and damn near dying just a fraction of a mile in.

Since the trail had been described as “easy”, I was expecting some flat paths coupled with climbs, not just uphill, treacherous climbs. I am not ashamed to admit that I quit the 4.8 miles, 4,141 feet ascent to the peak of the mountain, after only going a mile up. As the air got thinner, I found myself out of breath and petrified of falling and hitting my head on one of the rocks. I shamelessly threw in the gauntlet and told my husband to continue without me, and while I waited for him to return, I surveyed the beauty around me, took out my phone and took endless pictures of the Bell Canyon Trail, especially since I would never see this place again, because I know without a shadow of a doubt that I will never embark on an uphill mountain hike ever again in this lifetime.

The lawyer in me wanted to visit the Courthouses downtown, Salt Lake City in order to observe the daily proceedings and to get a sense of the type of cases being heard, but my husband wasn’t having it. He told me in no uncertain terms he wasn’t at all interested in “that stuff” so I had to settle for a visit to the Capitol Building instead, where the legislators and lawmakers conducted their business. We didn’t get to go inside, which of course I wanted to do, but our time was limited, so we settled for a tour of the grounds and some snapshots instead.

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On our second night in Utah, we went to a party on the Park City hip strip. We were late and as we parked the rental, as such we didn’t properly observe the parking instructions because we were too busy trying to get inside and rejoicing at how close a parking spot we found to the party’s venue.

At the end of the party, we returned to our car to find a parking ticket. We hadn’t realized that we should have walked to the end of the block and feed the meter. As we contemplated the expense of the parking ticket, especially since we were used to the astronomical parking violation fines of good ole New York City, we realized that we were being let off with a “warning”. The great city of Park City, Utah, decided not to charge us for our violation but instead waived the fine with a notice that read “Don’t worry this one is on us”. Incredible!!!! Can you believe it?! I think it was that moment that we fell in love with Utah!

Our mini vacay to Utah was one of the best getaways we’ve had. We enjoyed the warmth and friendliness of the people, the overall beauty of the State and how very clean the place was. It was hard to find a stray piece of paper on the ground anywhere.

It was interesting and fun learning the facts and history of Utah, enlighting myself about what made them special and even finding out that Butch Cassidy is a real person from Utah. Did you know that? I didn’t!

Who remembers the classic Paul Newman movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid? I thought it was just a fictional portrayal of outlaws and bank robberies. It took visiting Utah to learn that Butch Cassidy was a real-life person born and bred in the great state of Utah, and may even arguably be the most famous Utahn to date. Then again everyone knows of Marie and Donny Osmond, and apparently, they are from Utah too, I didn’t know that. Did you?

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Am I A Writer Now?

I am back!

My last post was on Mother’s Day and today, a month and 3 days later, it is Father’s Day and I am finally getting the time to sit down, focus and share my thoughts. My break from blogging wasn’t intentional. There were so many days that I had planned to write, had my topics and thoughts all planned out in my head but the time, oh my, the time – It has been so hard to find the time to sit down and just write.

Believe me, it hasn’t been a lack of inspiration that has prevented me from sitting down and assembling my thoughts. I find inspiration in so many things that I have even created a list of topics I’d like to someday blog about but it’s carving out those few hours to write and properly edit without interruption that has been challenging me lately.

I like to find a quiet area, usually the chair by my bedroom window, to sit and write; but recently, my life has been full, fuller than usual with things and people and events and stuff that has consumed all of my free time, if there is even such a thing as freeΒ time. And of course, let’s not forget about work – the thing you do that actually pays the bills that have to be done and must be prioritized.

We all have full lives and we tend to use the word busy to describe the fullness of our lives but the truth is we make time for the things and people that matter to us most, as such I am almost upset with myself for my unintentional hiatus from something I enjoy so much.

My Blog is my baby and I feel like a neglectful Mom that I haven’t been keeping up and doing all that I had set out to do with my Blog. My readership should have grown more by now but this stalling hasn’t helped one bit.

Alas, I am okay with it though because like my Mom always says, “The race is not for the swift but for those who endureth.” My blog will get to where I want it to be someday, I am sure of that, but for right now, I’ll just go with the flow and write not only when I find the inspiration but most importantly when I can find the time instead of trying to force myself into a schedule.

I have had a few of my fellow bloggers, followers, and friends reach out to me to ask where I have been. They actually miss my writing enough to contact me and say “What’s up? Where have you been? I miss your writing! When are you going to post another piece?”

Does that mean I am a writer now?

People actually want to “read” me. This has validated me in so many ways and given me enough confidence to start to think of myself as a writer since there are real live humans out there who have an interest in my blog posts and actually look forward to reading my words. πŸ˜ƒ

The one thing I have been consistent with though is my quest to lose weight. I am down an additional 6 pounds since You’re Getting Fat! Of course, I wish I could report that I had already attained my goal weight, which is still a whopping 11 pounds away. These days the weight seems to take much longer to come off than when I first started the weight loss journey. It’s times like these when I eradicate my frustration by again remembering my mother’s favorite saying, “The race is not for the swift but for those who endureth” and focus and how far I have actually come and the 24 pounds that I was able to get rid of.

My new eating habits is a lifestyle change though so I’m confident that I’ll eventually get to my goal weight. I am pleased with my progress and I am excited about being able to fit into all those dresses in my closet that I could no longer wear because of my weight gain over the last few years, which has already started happening. I can’t begin to describe the euphoria of being able to slide into a dress I hadn’t worn since my 40th birthday, 5 years ago, or the experience I had when I went shopping recently for a dress for my friend’s wedding and realized that I have gone from a size 14 to a size 10!

Oh, that awesome feeling of not having to suck in my gut. Ahhhhh…You have no idea!😁

To all those who had missed my Blog and reached out to me, thank you for making a girl feel like she can actually write, the validation is wonderful. It feels fantastic to be missed, I am back now praying for consistency and hoping to still be able to keep you interested. πŸ˜‰

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A 45 Year Marriage

Since it is Mother’s Day on my side of the World the plan was to blog about my mother and all the lessons she has taught me, but then something felt uneasy and weird about the day. My heart felt heavy and I attributed that to all the rain we are having today in New York City but then I went into my Google calendar to add an event and I realized that today is May 12th…May 12th!!!! My father died on May 12, 2015!

So that’s what it is! The heaviness in my heart was from that undeniable feeling of loss, I sometimes don’t even recognize. It’s weird, isn’t it? I know the anniversary of Daddy’s death was coming up and I had planned to honor him by writing about him in one of my blog posts on the actual anniversary of his death but I didn’t realize that this year the anniversary of his passing would coincide with Mother’s Day.

It doesn’t seem fair to write about my Mom on the anniversary of the day I lost the most formidable man I have ever known and it doesn’t seem fair to dedicate my blog post to my Dad on Mother’s Day. I could just cop out and not write at all since I am not feeling my best and let the sadness take over my day but I am way overdue a blog post so I have decided to write about them, both of them, and their marriage, instead.

I was one of the lucky ones, it wasn’t until I was in elementary school that I realized that not every household had a mother and a father. I had taken it for granted that all my peers were being raised by the people who made them but that wasn’t always the case. This fact made me appreciate my parents’ union more and more and when I became a full-blown adult going through my divorce I realized what it must have taken to stay married for the 45 years my parents were. They were lucky enough to be able to live their vows and did not part ways until the day my father transitioned into another World.

He had kissed her that morning, she said. He had kissed her on the morning of May 12, 2015, for the very last time. It was almost as if he knew he was leaving her forever on that day. My father had been really sick for the past few months and had become bed-ridden since February of that year when the Cancer had ravished his body so brutally his legs could no longer carry him and he was confined to a wheelchair.

My mother took care of my father like she always had during their 45-year union during those last few months of Daddy’s life, except, taking care of him in those last months was very different and more demanding than all the years put together because now she had to bathe him and sometimes even feed him and care for him in a way she had never done before. As she fed him breakfast that morning he motioned for her to come closer to him. When she did, he kissed her, he planted his lips squarely on hers, something he hadn’t done in weeks, maybe even months.

In retrospect, I am almost certain that that was his way of saying goodbye without alarming her. A way of saying good-bye, without letting her know that those were his final hours. My father was that kind of man. He was that old-fashioned kind of guy that would bear the brunt of pain, suffering, and difficulties by himself without unloading on anyone, especially his wife. In his eyes, his number one responsibility in life was to take care of his wife and his family despite whatever he was going through no matter how difficult the circumstances, without complaint; and take care of us, he did

Growing up we were never in want for anything, anything at all. My father was an excellent provider. The irony is that when they first got married my mother made more money than my father. She has often told me the story of how she had to apply for the loan on their first house because she had a nice, stable job as a civil servant with the Jamaican government and my father was merely a soldier in the Jamaican army. He was not making much money back then and would never be able to get a loan, but my Mom stepped up to the plate and did what she had to do to secure their mortgage.

That may have been the only time in their marriage that my mother had to step up financially because my father, who was a visionary, left the army a couple of years into their marriage, and with his keen sense of business and leadership qualities built a company from the ground up which had over a 100 employees on the day he died. He was a shrewd businessman, who knew how to take risks and turn over a dollar. He was driven, disciplined and determined and I admired that about him so much.

Isn’t that what marriage is about though? The willingness to step up and help your partner for the betterment of the union as a whole. My parents’ marriage wasn’t easy; I witnessed first hand a lot of compromises and sacrifices. It wasn’t easy but it worked and somewhere along the way they learned the art of compromise and didn’t view letting go and letting the other person “win” as one individual getting their way over the other.

One of the many things I admired about them was their ability to listen to each other – not just hear the other person but to listen. No doubt, my father was the head of the household but he listened to his wife. No important decision was made without her, even though he was the head. He was in charge but not above “taking counsel” from his wife. They complemented each other because they never competed with each other, they each had their individual role to play, which they did very well and happily too.

On May 12, 2015, a few hours after my father kissed my mother for the last time he took his last breath. It was his goodbye. He let himself go after she had left their bedroom. In those last days, she was with him all the time but not even an hour after she left the room at approximately 1:05 pm he let himself go. He took his last breath, knowing she wasn’t there, because in his own way he might have thought it best not to alarm her or not to let go in front of her and make an already sad situation even sadder.

Happy Mothers’ Day to all the Moms out there, but especially to my Mom, who gave so much to her children and her husband. And to Daddy, the reality of your death has a way of striking at the most inopportune times, I still think it’s crazy how your larger than life persona was reduced to just a shadow of who you really are in the end. I will always remember you though as the strong, fierce, force to be reckoned with that you actually were. A man who loved his family, his wife and his children, more than anything else. A pillar in his community, a tower of sheer strength and determination. A real family man.

Like what you’ve read? Please let me know by hitting the like button and leaving your thoughts in the comment section. Don’t forget to follow/subscribe if you enjoyed this piece. Thank you! πŸ’•

You’re Getting Fat!

“Babe, your thighs are looking a little chunky there in my boxers.”

I was startled out of my daydreaming. That was the sound of my husband’s voice but clearly, I wasn’t hearing the words spoken accurately. Did my husband just tell me I am getting fat?

I have a habit of wearing his boxers around the house and as I waddled up the stairs to our bedroom those were the words I heard coming out of his mouth. He was behind me.

“Did you just call me fat?” I said challengingly.

“Your thighs didn’t use to look like that in my boxers.”

“Like what?” I said threateningly, as I spun around to look directly at him.

“So big.” He said matter of factly. “Did you gain some weight?”

I was horrified! My husband did just call me fat.

I tried to answer but I stumbled over my words because this was a completely new one in our marriage. My sweet, dear husband, who, on my worst days always has something nice to say to me about my weight was now telling me I was fat. How many times have I squeezed into a dress that was obviously too tight and asked him if I looked fat and he always told me I looked “great”. I could feel and even look like a bloated pig and my darling husband always tells me I look great, he has always maintained that I am not fat yet here he was staring defiantly at my thunder thighs while asking if I had gained weight.

I was so hurt. I felt the tears forming in the corner of my eyes. Don’t blink, Racquel, don’t blink. I felt defeated. I was so hurt I couldn’t even get mad. Truth be told I had packed on the pounds, quite a bit of it too.
I sighed and tried hard not to let my husband see how much his innocent words had affected me, “Yeah, I think I gained a little.”
“How much?” He asked. Oh my Gawd, why won’t he stop talking???!!!
“I’m not sure.” I lied.
Of course, I knew how much weight I had gained. I weigh myself at least twice a week. I have been doing so for years. I had noticed the numbers steadily climbing for quite some time now but I was in denial. At first, I fooled myself into thinking it was muscle gain, after all, I lifted weights regularly in the gym; then my clothes started getting super snug and I explained that away since clothes generally shrink after a while when you wash and or dry clean them so, of course, that’s the reason my clothes were now tight. I was in major denial.😟
A few days later, hubby and I were getting dressed to attend our annual Christmas Ball and the zipper on my gown would not go all the way up.
WTF??!!!
Luckily, my Mom was visiting for the Holidays and was able to do some kind of trick with the zipper allowing me to still wear the gown but boy was I uncomfortable all night. I looked gorgeous in the dress, take a look at The Good, The Bad & The Downright Ugly but I didn’t feel gorgeous at all. When you stop feeling gorgeous that’s when you know it’s time for a change.

Weight Watchers

As clichΓ© as it sounds, I decided that I would embark on a new, healthier me for the New Year. I had some success on Weight Watchers back in 2010 so a few days after the Christmas Ball, while examing the increase in cellulite on my thighs, as my husband’s words replayed on repeat in my head, I joined WW again.

I had heard about the Keto diet, which seems to be all the rage these days so I did some research on it but I wasn’t interested in trying anything which forced me to eliminate entire food groups. I needed something sustainable, a program that I could possibly keep doing for the rest of my life, as such I joined WW on December 31, 2018, and I am happy to report that it’s been 3.5 months and I am still sticking to the program.

My favorite thing about WW is that you can eat pretty much anything, no foods are forbidden, as long as you don’t go over your allotted caloric intake, or as Weight Watchers calls it your “points”. Mind you, those points go extremely fast.

When I first joined WW my daily allotted points would be all gone by lunchtime. I would freak out because it would literally be midday and I would have consumed all my daily calories. This frequent occurrence forced me to turn to the zero points food in order to sustain me throughout the rest of the day.

WW has named quite a number of foods such as grilled chicken breast, vegetables, and fruits zero points food. You’re permitted to eat as much of these foods as you want and not use any of your daily points. These zero points foods have saved me many times but it had gotten to the point where if I ate one more grilled chicken salad (without dressing) for dinner I was going to keel over and die. 😁

I hate boring food, and I especially detest vegetables. I am not much of a broccoli, eggplant, kale kind of person. I am a carnivore – a kind of meat and potatoes kind of gal so this is where I had to learn portion control. I had to exercise discipline and cut my eyes past that 10-ounce ribeye and instead whet my appetite with a more reasonable portion. Man, that was/is hard.

Portion control is the most difficult part of the program for me. I still struggle with eating just a cup of chips instead of ripping open a bag of Lays Wavy while reading and just popping a few pieces in my mouth every few minutes until the entire bag is gone.

I have developed some healthy habits on the program though, like juicing. Since I don’t like eating my vegetables (I swear I sound like a 4-year-old πŸ˜ƒ) I had to learn to juice them and mix them with fruits in order to make it more palatable. The Nutri Bullet which I have had sitting in my kitchen cabinet for years has proven to be a godsend.

Exercise

Another great thing about Weight Watchers is that you get to eat your activity points. The more you exercise the more you get to eat. Each and every activity you can think of, even something as simple as walking the dog, is outlined in the WW app and has points value attached to it. Therefore, the longer I stay on the elliptical, the more points I get back so that I can devour that 10-ounce ribeye. πŸ˜‰

I challenge myself daily to see how much activity points I can attain just so I can eat them later that day. If I want to have that martini or glass of wine then I have to stay on that treadmill or in the weight room or do an extra challenging class so I can earn that reward, this forces me to workout at least 5 days a week. Thankfully, I actually like working out and enjoy (yes, I said enjoy) going to the gym.

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It’s been 3.5 months and as of this morning, I’m officially down 21.2 pounds. The first 10 pounds seem to come off steadily, then I struggled to get down to a 15-pound loss, and I can’t even begin to tell you how difficult it was to reach 20. It seemed as if each and every time I got down to a 20 lb loss, that I’d wake up the next morning and gain back a pound or two sometimes even three. It’s a nightmare! I’m still not even comfortable announcing the 20+ lbs weight loss because it has been a struggle to maintain and sometimes it feels as if I have plateaued.

Plateaued or not, I am not about to give up because the non-scale victories blow my mind, like the fact that I can now fit in clothes I haven’t worn in years, that my jeans no longer pinch my inner thighs, that I can actually see a reduction in my cellulite (even though they aren’t all gone), that I have lost inches off of my waist (my girlfriend told me recently that my waist looked “snatched”), that I feel stronger, that my skin is glowing, that I can now see my collar-bone and my husband, the one who started all of this, has remarked that I shouldn’t “lose too much weight” because he doesn’t “like skinny girls”. πŸ˜‰

7 Random Things About Me!

Who doesn’t like awards and the recognition from their peers that they are deserving of such awards?! My fellow Bloggers seem to believe I am a versatile blogger since in recent months I have been nominated a few times by various bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.

How the Versatile Blogger Award works is that once nominated one has to share 7 things about yourself with your readers. Since I started my Blog in July, 2018 I have shared quite a lot about myself Ask Me Anything – The Answers (Part One) and Ask Me Anything – The Answers (Part 2) and yet I am still concerned about oversharing BLOGGING FEARS so I am not entirely sure what else, if anything, I’d like you all to know about me but I’ll have a go at the nomination anyway.

So without further ado, here are 7 totally random bits of information about me:

1. I recently lost 18 pounds! It’s surprising to me that my 18 lb weight loss doesn’t really show that much. I think 18 lbs is a lot so I figured everyone would have noticed that I am shrinking but not really. A few people have noticed and commented but in the grand scheme of things not as many as I had hoped. In any event, I am extremely proud of myself for having the discipline to have lost some weight and I am super excited about getting to my desired weight goal. When I first started my weight loss program I told myself that I would write a blog post about it once I lost the first 20 pounds; so who knows there might be a weight loss blog post coming next week.

2. I blog about my husband and my son a lot, but there are 2 other important people in my World who are among my favorites – my mother and my brother. Both my Mom and my brother think I overshare on my blog so despite my admiration for and the fact that I would love to write about them, I am fearful of doing so because I don’t want to inadvertently trample on their privacy.

3. I sometimes feel burdened being the matriarch in the household. Why should I be responsible for what everyone eats on a daily basis? I get so annoyed at the beginning of the week when I have to meal plan or figure out what dinner is going to be for the next few days. The flip side of that, however, is I recently discovered that I actually enjoy cooking and trying out new recipes (psst; don’t tell my husband πŸ˜ƒ). Three weeks ago I made Lasagna for the first time and it was to die for. I am so excited to make it again, among trying other new dishes.

4. I am not impressed by how much money you have, the size of your house or what you do for a living. In fact, I get turned off by people who believe that such things define an individual. I am impressed by character. Are you loyal? Do you have integrity? Are you personable? Are you a pleasure to be around? Those are the things that impress me. The size of your wallet or bank account does not make a difference to me if your personality is lacking.

5. I like watching pimple popping YouTube videos. There, I said it! It’s so gross and disgusting but I inexplicably and weirdly derive some satisfaction from watching all that “stuff” ooze out of the pimple or cyst once it pops. I can’t explain why I enjoy these videos so much, I just do. I find them oddly relaxing and apparently 4,999,999 other people do too since Dr. Sandra Lee aka Dr. Pimple Popper has 5 million subscribers to her YouTube channel alone, this doesn’t even include her Instagram and Facebook pages.

6. People who tell me they have no friends scare me. I am of the view that in order to have a friend you have to at least be a friend so if you don’t have even one friend then there has to be something amiss about your personality. When it comes to friends and friendships quality trumps quantity; so for someone to say they don’t have any friends, not even one, makes me wonder about them, and all I can do is raise my eyebrows and think to myself what the hell is wrong with that person that s/he doesn’t have even one friend.

7. I have a brand new niece. I haven’t met her yet but I love her. When I saw her pictures I immediately fell in love. She is only a few weeks old, and looking at her pictures makes me wish I, myself, could have a daughter. Meet Sonia Christina…..

MILF (Part 2)

“Mom, I’m begging you please don’t go…Please.”

It’s the night before Career Day at my 15-year-old son’s school and I have been asked by one of his high school administrators to come in and speak to the students about the “perks” of being an attorney. My son has been trying for the past month and a half to convince me not to go because according to him his friends think I am a MILF.

After several discussions, a lot of help from you guys in the blogging community, and a whole lot of thought I told my son that I am, in fact, going to participate in Career Day. He was not happy but we had managed to reach a compromise. The compromise was I would make presentations to the Freshmen, Juniors, and Seniors and skip the Sophomores all together since Blake, my son, is a Sophomore. He had agreed to this compromise a few weeks ago but here he comes again, the night before the actual event, begging and pleading with me to not show up to his school the next morning.

I was forced to pull rank on him and let him know I am in charge here, the decision had been made and I was going; besides I would never ever forfeit the commitment I had made at this last-minute.

As he left for school the morning of Career Day he warned me not to try to discipline any of the students if they weren’t listening to me, or if they “spoke out of turn” or “acted up”. He asked me “to leave the discipline to the teachers”. I was a little surprised by this and started wondering for a second what the hell I was walking into. I assured him the only person I would ever discipline is him. I explained to him I would never under any circumstances try to discipline a human I didn’t give birth to.

Blake didn’t kiss me goodbye, as he usually does, as he slouched off to school that morning.

My energy was low from a very busy week and it was pouring rain as I traveled to his school and all of that affected my mood. I grew nervous as I thought about all the conversations we had concerning the issue and how adamant he was that he did not want me in his school, around his friends and all the ridiculous reasons why. I started second guessing my decision to go, so much so I had to reach out to my bestie for a pep talk and a little encouragement.

The bestie’s pep talk worked and by the time I arrived for Career Day, I was feeling like my confident, vivacious self again. I picked up my schedule from the library, confirmed that there were no sophomore classes on it and proceeded up the staircase to find my first class for the day.

My first stop was a bunch of eager Juniors in an AP English class, who had a ton of questions for me. It felt like they wanted to know everything about the law and the practice thereof from the actual Law School application process, to my favorite area of practice and they even wanted to know what a typical work day for me was like in the Courtroom or at the office. They even asked if it was difficult for me to balance my personal/family life with my work obligations, which I thought was an excellent question.

My first presentation went very well and it only got better from there. By the time I got to my third class for the day I was well into the groove and it all began to feel effortless and natural. I actually started wishing I had Blake in one of my scheduled classes so I could impress him. πŸ˜ƒ

At lunch, I met a Judge I had appeared before some years ago. What are the chances, huh?! I remembered his face and his name. I wasn’t surprised he didn’t remember me but I found out that he was an alumnus of my son’s school. He commended me on taking time out of my busy solo practitioner schedule to actually “give back” to my “son’s school”. As we chatted over our baked ziti I told him about the inordinate amount of resistance I faced from my son about attending Career Day and he assured me that it was “typical teenage boy reaction”. He said his son, who is now an adult, put his wife through the same thing. He said, “Your son is secretly proud of you but he probably won’t tell you until he’s about 25”.

Meeting Judge S was the highlight of my day and as we parted ways at the end of lunch he assured me that if my son was “gung-ho” for me to show up at his school for any reason whatsoever he wouldn’t be “normal”. My conversation with him was comforting and he advised me to “show up again next year” if given the opportunity.

I only had one Freshman class for the day and they were exhausting, enthusiastic but exhausting. The teacher left me alone with them for only a quick minute and it seemed that during that minute everyone had a question at the same time. They were my toughest crowd, and they reminded me of the astounding difference in the maturity levels of teenagers. The Freshmen were not shy with their line of questioning though, they were all about the money and wanted to know how much money I made and whether or not it was worth it to go to Law School.

I spent 7 hours at Blake’s school and I didn’t run into him even once. I thought for sure I would have bumped into him in the hallways as the students went from one class to the next or while they collected books from their lockers but my son managed to avoid me all day. I did see 2 of his friends though, who went out of their way to make sure I saw them and said hi to me. I was tempted to ask about Blake’s whereabouts but thought better of it.

At the end of the day, I went to the main office to say hello to the Dean of Academic Affairs, who told me that he had seen Blake earlier and asked him if he was excited that his Mom was participating in Career Day. Blake’s response, “She’s certainly excited. I am not.” Ouch!

All in all, it was a great day. I am glad I made the decision to be a part of Career Day and I can’t wait for next year to do it all over again. πŸ˜‰

Disturbing!

By now you must have watched the HBO Documentary, Leaving Neverland. The documentary is essentially a 4-hour interview in which two adult males, James Safechuck and Wade Robson, describe being seduced and sexually molested by Michael Jackson, at the height of his stardom, when they were mere children.

I watched Leaving Neverland when it premiered last Sunday, I watched it again on Monday, and today, four days later, I still cannot get the graphic details of these allegations against Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, out of my head. To say I am troubled and disturbed by the allegations is putting it mildly. I am not one to get into celebrity gossip or stories or the like, but I simply cannot get the details of this controversial documentary out of my head and it has left me wondering about the veracity of these horrific accusations.

Both Safechuck and Robson alleges in graphic detail the sexual seduction and abuse they suffered at the hands of Michael Jackson when they were merely 10 and 7 years old, respectively; at the time Michael Jackson was a grown man in his 30s. The age difference is staggering and one can only label Jackson a pedophile, if, and I repeat if these allegations are true.

Safechuck met Jackson when he won the role of a lifetime playing opposite Jackson in a Pepsi commercial in 1987 when he was only 8 years old. His relationship with Jackson soon blossomed after that as the allegations purport that Jackson not only seduced the then 10-year-old Safechuck but also his entire family, including his parents. Jackson became “friends” with Safechuck’s mother and in Leaving Neverland, Mrs. Safechuck even describes how she regarded Jackson as one of her own children. She describes him as “a son” and talks about preparing meals for him, speaking with him on the phone daily for hours and having him over for dinner several times in their home. It was therefore relatively easy for her to say “yes” when Jackson invited them on a vacation to Hawaii and later invited the then 10-year-old Safechuck to tour with him on his Bad tour. It was also relatively easy for her to comply when Jackson requested, while on the vacation in Hawaii, that her 10-year-old son sleep with him (Jackson) in his room.

Robson, who was born in and resided in Australia, met Jackson when he was merely 5 years old after winning an Australian dance contest where he won tickets to Jackson’s concert followed by a meet-and-greet. Thereafter Jackson allegedly told Robson’s mother to look him up if she ever came to the United States, which she did 2 years later, and was miraculously able to get in contact with him; and remember this is in a day and age before the Internet. It makes you wonder if certain things were just meant to be, or this is what Robson’s mother believed.

Robson and his family were invited into Jackson’s home while on their stay in the US and again the allegations are that Jackson was able to charm Mom into agreeing to allow her then 7-year-old child to spend time alone with Jackson in his private bedroom.

Dan Reed, the Director of Leaving Neverland, goes back and forth with the camera as both Safechuck and Robson are interviewed for the documentary. He does extreme close-ups of both men’s faces as they describe in very graphic details the sexual acts performed with Michael Jackson when they were mere boys, at 7 and 10 years old. Truthfully, the entire thing made me shudder and it was extremely difficult for me to wrap my mind around the allegations. My gosh, they were not even teenagers yet (not saying that would make the allegations any less disturbing) but 7 and 10 years old! My gosh! They were mere babies!

Safechuck alleges that his sexual relationship with Jackson lasted from the ages of 10 to 14, while Robson states that his relationship with Jackson was on and off for 7 years from ages 7 to 14. The indication is given in the documentary that Jackson preferred it when the boys were very young and as they entered their early teens he abandoned his relationship with them for other younger boys. Robson even claims that he was replaced by child actor Macaulay Culkin of Home Alone fame.

It is interesting to note that Culkin has vehemently denied any inappropriate conduct from Jackson during the several years they “hung out as friends”. It is also interesting to note that Dan Reed, the Director, never bothered to interview Culkin or any other of the several children, who are now men in their 30s, who were always seen in Jackson’s company at the height of his stardom.

The premiere of Leaving Neverland has, of course, revived sexual abuse allegations made against Jackson in the past. In August of 1993, Evan Chandler, a dentist, accused Jackson of sexually abusing his 13-year-old son Jordon Chandler. Jackson vehemently denied the allegations and both Safechuck and Robson gave sworn testimonies in affidavits stating that Jackson is a wholesome person, a good friend, that never once touched them inappropriately. Jackson later settled out of court with The Chandlers for $23,000,000 (yes, that’s right 23 million) and in September 1993 the criminal investigation related to the Jordon Chandler case was closed.

There were similar allegations within the following decade made against Jackson which culminated in criminal charges being brought against him in January 2004 when then 13-year-old Gavin Arvizo accused Jackson of sexually molesting him. This time there was no out of court settlement and the case went to trial, a trial that lasted several months. One of the key witnesses for Jackson in this 2005 trial was none other than Wade Robson, who testified for days about the innocence of his friendship with Jackson.

Both Safechuck and Robson were adults in 2005 during Jackson’s sexual molestation trial, Robson, who was 23 years old at the time, testified under oath that Jackson never sexually abused him. Safechuck, who was 27 at the time, stated in the documentary that when Michael contacted him to testify on his behalf in 2005 he refused, told Jackson to never call him again and hung up the phone.

The fact that both Safechuck and Robson defended Jackson in 1993 when 13-year-old Chandler accused him of sexual molestation and misconduct and Robson again in 2005, defended Jackson, this time by taking the stand has many die-hard Michael Jackson fans questioning their credibility. There has also been talk about both men making the documentary for money. However, it has been postulated over and over again by Director Dan Reed, that neither man has been “renumerated” for telling his story.

Oprah Winfrey interviewed both Safechuck and Robson after Leaving Neverland aired and she asked a pertinent question of them both, “Why come forward now?”

Both men, who are now married with sons of their own, have essentially said it is because of their children. They are now watching their own children grow up and are motivated to tell the truth as they watch the innocence of their own children on display.

Safechuck has said “I want to speak the truth as loud as I spoke the lie. Michael made you feel like you did it, that it was all your idea, Then you look at your own kid, and for the first time realize, “What? That just makes no sense.”

Today I read on BBC.com that a statue of Michael Jackson has been removed from the National Football Museum in Manchester, England. I was a bit taken aback. I also read a few articles where radio stations are considering no longer playing Michael Jackson’s songs.

Say what?!

Jackson’s music has always uplifted me, admittedly it still did this week even after watching Leaving Neverland. Jackson is no longer alive to defend himself and it bothers me that these allegations are now being made when he should be resting in peace.

However, there is something about Safechuck, not so much Robson, but James Safechuck, as I watch him give his interview to Oprah that makes me believe him. His eyes are filled with pain, his face distorted in disbelief that he simply cannot believe he’s actually doing this, that he’s actually talking out loud about something he had vowed to take to his grave. You can almost tell that he takes no pleasure from all of this. He still talks about his “love” for Jackson and the fact that he “feels like he is letting him down”.

In all honesty, I don’t know what to believe about Michael Jackson anymore. I am a fan. In light of these horrible allegations will I remain a fan? Should we now shun the man, his legacy and his music because of a controversial documentary? Or should we separate the man from his art? What say you? Do you believe that the King of Pop was capable of such appalling acts, especially against children?