Open your mouth

owls
Photograph taken by Phelinne Levi

Open your eyes

uncover your mouth

love is within you

time to let it out

Let it be known

from the deepest valleys

to the highest mountains

these feelings you possess

Don’t hide it anymore

for the person before your eyes

may not continue to wait

and alone you’ll be left

So open your eyes

uncover your mouth

no need to be scared

just let it out

-Phelinne Levi

My thoughts on Social Media

I deleted my Facebook a little over a week ago because I was tired. Tired of seeing hatred in my news feed. Tired of seeing idiotic posts or dumb comments. I cannot tolerate stupidity. I just can’t. I was tired of seeing politics. Tired of seeing news about terror attacks and individuals losing their lives. Most of all tired of posting things up for people of the web to see, knowing its all a lie.

What has our world come too? We’ve literally replaced people with our cell phones. One of my biggest pet peeves is a phone at the dinner table. It happens to me no matter how much of a fuss I make. I’ve noticed that it too happens to others. It’s sad when you’re at the dinner table and you’re too busy scrolling through Social Media to talk to the person directly in front of you, who is then left to stare seamlessly into space because when they speak you don’t hear them. We’ve replaced board games around the kitchen table with family and friends with candy crush, (I’ve never once subjected myself to that treachery) or other apps that allows a person to play a game in solitary.

People are too busy wrapping themselves in other peoples lives that they can’t focus on theirs. Facebook paints a picture of how individuals lifestyle should be, leaving others blind to what’s directly in front of them. I myself am a victim of the abuse. I’ve posted photos of outings hoping that others would like it, but not everybody knows the story behind each picture or post. The arguments, the tears, the lack of effort, the strength, or the courage that lie underneath the surface.

I was tired of waking up in the morning; addicted to checking my news feed and notifications while relieving my bladder instead of saying my morning prayers to God for letting me see yet another day. For the past few weeks I’ve seen nothing but negativity on my social media to the point of frustration and stress filled my mind. Literally stress me out to where It was difficult to enjoy my yoga or focus on reading a single chapter from a book. I started to use my app less and less and the more happy I became.

I realized that this social media is an addiction. An addiction that is hurtful to myself and to others. People want to be liked, don’t get me wrong, that’s human nature. However to sit there and post things to show your life is better than everyone else’s when the truth is you’re actually hurting and hiding your sadness. Somehow thinking that when the notifications of likes and loves make its way to your cellphone you’ll become happy. Ha, silly people.

Violence, racism, bigotry, and hatred has been on this earth for thousands of years. The sadness and hatred consumes me and I don’t like being sad or having hate in my heart. I understand one should not be ignorant to what’s going on around the World but I’d like it better if I didn’t have to see or hear it every hour of each day. I started to unfriend people or unfollow their posts so we could at least stay Facebook friends and then I thought, “for what?” I have almost 200 friends on Facebook but talk to about 8 or 9 of them. Think about it! The reason most people have a Facebook is to be nosy and to see how that kid from middle or high school, whom is now an adult, is doing with their lives. Are they rich, poor, ignorant, educated, successful, a selfie fanatic, lover of politics, did they move away from their home town, are they married? Why does it matter? Why can’t we just focus on what and who we have already?

I pray for people to change. I pray that people will wake up. I constantly pray that my brothers and sisters will pick up a book instead of their cell phone. Memorize famous poem stanzas instead of lyrics to a rap song. Learn a new language instead of thinking it’s a waste of time. My mother does a great job so far but the world is rapidly changing around us and it’s very easy to get sucked into this “millennial” society.

I’m not saying that one day I won’t reactivate my social media on account I have family in Brazil, Europe, California, Michigan, and Alabama that I’d like to see. Again what is this world coming too where families don’t have reunions or make appoint to see each other for a holiday? However if and when I return to social media the amount of friends I have on my personal page will decrease drastically. The amount of Facebook posts about my personal life will not be shared unless I think it’s something seriously worth sharing. Addiction? Yeah it’s real! I’m already talking about reactivating my account and it’s only been 10 days.

Though I will not and shall not return to it until I feel ready and not reliant.

Phelinne Levi

Happy? Sonnet

Happy or comfortable is the theme

Every couple should ponder this query

Love should be able to conquer and gleam

Asking this question can make you weary

If you feel stuck in a constant routine

Then maybe that person is not for you

If their smiles make you feel like a teen

Keep them close and each other stay true

Don’t be afraid to leave your usual

For if you stay -unhappy you will be

If the love you two share is beautiful

One should not think twice to rest on a knee

I’m not saying love should be effortless

But questioning it often is something to address

-Phelinne levi

Cancer didn’t win

My grandmother had a very foul tongue, or so the phrase goes, she had the mouth of a sailor. Not what you’d typically expect when you hear “my grandmother”. She had pale skin in the winter which would turn into an unimaginable golden tone in the summer. Her strawberry blonde hair and green to hazel eyes came from her Irish mother and her olive skin and high cheekbones came from her Native American father. She was the definition of beautiful; inside and out. Just like all grandmothers to their grandchildren she was very special to me and I to her. Though it was never stated aloud, out of her sixteen grandchildren, I was her favorite and we all knew. She was always there to pick me up when I was down and help lift me up when I deserved praise. She wiped almost every tear of mine completely away with the laughter she instilled in me. She was a true comedian at heart and could turn every negative situation into a funny pointless one. She even offered an ear for all of my daily venting from frustrating work days or arguments with the boy I was dating at the time. I remember she would call me in the mornings to ask If I ate breakfast; if I hadn’t she would have me stop by only to meet me in the driveway and hand me a warm egg sandwich. That sandwich made my commute to work less agonizing and my belly full.

My how I miss her. A beautiful, kind, and fierce woman who didn’t take shit from anyone except for cancer. I remember when she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and her body scan showed that her bones had holes in them like a sponge, it was as if she was deaf when the Cancer Specialist spoke about her results. We left the doctors office and she carried on as if it were any other day. I remember contemplating to myself that maybe she was in denial or she just didn’t care. Come to find out it was the ladder of the two. When we went to her second visit after a week of being diagnosed, she found out that she had about eight months to live, but still refused chemotherapy. She even told Dr. W. to stick the chemo up her ass. The Doctor was extremely calm and patient as if she was already expecting my grandma to lay down the law on what she would and would not do. I remember my mouth gaping when I saw the Doctors facial expression towards my grandmother. When she turned around to wash her hands I chuckled softly because little did Dr. W. know that my grandmother curses at everyone, including strangers. I always found my grandmothers rants quite amusing. I apologized to her and then turned to my grandmother to let her know that was uncalled for. My grandmother looked at me with a childish, guilty face and shrugged her shoulders. The Doctor turned back around and uttered that it was okay and asked my Grandmother to come back in if she changed her mine. I respected Doctor W. ever since that day and how she handled the situation of an irate cancer patient. When we got to the car my grandmother made me swear not to tell a single soul about the length of time Doctor W. put on her life. I remember receiving chills down my spine, goosebumps across my arms, and knots in my stomach, but I swallowed the spit that accumulated in my mouth and whispered okay.

My mom and her two sisters had a conniption when they heard from me that their own mother refused the medication that could possibly make her cancer free. There were weeks of continuous arguments between my grandmother and her 3 daughters but little did they know that they were just wasting their time. All the while I remained quiet wondering why she chose to let cancer win. Not my grandma. How could she not put up a fight? How could she just give up? Finally after a month my questions were answered when she called everyone to her house on a Sunday afternoon. She sat everyone down and talked as gently but firm as she could. I remember watching her as she spoke and she didn’t look terrified, angry, weak, or hurt. She looked like the strong grandmother I always knew. She informed us that she was given eight months to live and before my grandmother could speak another word the living room filled with painful cries and moans. I looked around the living room at my mom, aunts, cousins, second cousins, brothers and sisters and then back to my grandmother. My eyes began to well up with tears but when I looked at my grandmother she pierced at me with those hazel eyes of hers and shook her head slightly. I knew that meant not to let a single tear fall down my face. Next thing I knew I grit my teeth, inhaled a few deep breaths and stud up.

“Shut the hell up! Everyone! Don’t y’all know you’re just making things worse by acting like it’s the end of the damn world? Do any of you know how hard this is for a single person to stand up and face a room full of loved ones, to talk about their current health condition all the while maintaining a calm composure?” I paused to catch my breath and the suddenly the sound of moaning and screeching cries were replaced with nose blowing and sniffles. All eyes were on me, “Just listen to her goddammit before it’s too late!” I slammed myself back into my seat, my eyes were filled with tears of anger and my heart felt as though it was beating 200 beats a minute. I looked at my grandmother and she smiled at me causing the trembling in my hands to cease.

“When Dr. Weakland told me I only had eight months to live it made me think. I’ve seen people go through the chemotherapy treatments, including my dear friend Wanda, y’all are familiar with her. Well what you don’t know besides seeing her hairless and frail bodied is that she would vomit multiple times a day to the point where she didn’t want to eat anymore. She was miserable with migraines, vertigo, and the constant probing of needles. She told me, ‘Phyllis don’t you ever do this shit if you get cancer- I made a huge mistake.’ So I thought about my last months or days on this Earth and I want to eat and drink whatever the hell I want without worrying about how to keep it down. I want to style my hair and do my makeup instead of letting chemotherapy take my hair and my strength. I don’t want a new wardrobe once I lose weight from medication. I want to be able to drive myself to the store, laundry mat, or the gas station without having blurry vision from the headaches and dizziness. Lastly I don’t want you, my family, to remember me in the same state as Wanda before her passing. I want you to remember me as your mom, your grandmother, or your great aunt that didn’t take shit from anyone! Cancer may be a cocksucker and kill me but I refuse to subject myself to the side effects of treatment. I’ll go when it’s my time to go and I, nor you, nor the doctors can do anything to prevent that. So I am asking all of you to respect my decision and don’t treat me any differently then you did before we found out I had this health issue. Okay dammit?”

I remember smiling after hearing what my grandmother had to say. I looked around the living room of her small house and saw that my family members were smiling too. Some less than others but there was peace that day. It brings me back to how my grandmother was always able to make the best out of a sour situation. I felt bad for ever doubting my grandmother’s strength and thinking that she was letting cancer win. What I learned from her is that you have to face your fears with a straight face. Maintain your composure, maintain your attitude, and always know your self worth, because if you don’t do those things it’ll change who you are. What’s the point of living if your scared all the time? There’s no fun in life walking on eggshells constantly. I understand cancer may have taken her life from us and this Earth but cancer never changed who my grandmother was. She was diagnosed at the age of 56 and her 8 month battle with cancer was stretched out over the course of 8 years. So needless to say my grandmother went out with a fight.

-phelinne levi