…reflecting on adolescence weekends, present-day stressors, & future health…
By Stacey James McAdoo
Back in the days when I was young, I’m not a kid anymore
But some days I sit and wish I was a kid againAhmad
I don’t know which particular straw caused it. Maybe it was the dots. Or the encounters. Perhaps it was the separation, accessibility, the “on” factor or heredity. All I know is that one weekend in February I acknowledged that it…I…was broken.
Weekends of my adolescence were often spent shaking my head in disagreement to the thumbs up (or down) of Siskel & Ebert. They were also filled with “oh no they didn’t” headshakes and chuckles to In Living Color’s “Men On…” skits as Damon Wayans and David Alan Grier played cultural critics who exclaimed “hated it” or gave snaps to various aspects of popular culture including movies, art and television.
When I hear about or reflect on current events and wonder how we ended up where we are, typically two profound movie lines pop in my head. The first and most common is Ice Cube’s iconic line in Boyz n the Hood, “Either they don’t know, don’t show, or don’t care about what’s going on in the hood.” And then there’s Elizabeth Wurtzel’s haunting words in Prozac Nation where she quotes Ernest Hemingway by saying that her spiral happened, “Gradually, then suddenly.”
That Sunday in February my mind was stuck on the second quote. And I feared if I didn’t do something immediately that I would face irreparable damage.
My iPhone’s February calendar had a dot on every day. The months leading up to it weren’t all that different. In addition to the daily dots that represented various meetings, engagements and due dates, I also spent half of the prior month sleeping in hotel rooms in various cities and states. As if the overt racism and undeniable mistreatment encountered while trying to perform my duties and responsibilities weren’t enough of an emotional toll, having access to 24 hour news showing social injustice being carried out in real time was just as damaging as witnessing the flexing of people with political power play with people’s livelihoods and treat others as pawns.
The homicide during homecoming, sex trafficking stories, suspicious van, campus lockdowns and natural disaster Twitter alerts served as constant reminders of the 700 miles between me and my kids. And then there’s the noise from all the critics and experts (and today everyone is a critic and an expert) whose opinions and advice fight to capture my eyes online or my ears in real life.
Convinced that I was experiencing neurological changes of the brain or that all of the things mentioned above had activated (as Nikki Giovanni says in her poem “And How Could I Live On”) this thing that runs in my family, I told myself that if my ability to recall, find items and process didn’t improve in two weeks I was going to see a doctor. In the interim, I decided to make some changes to a couple of things I could control. One of them was getting a good night’s rest. I set a bed time and adhered to it regardless of the items that were not crossed off on my to-do list. I practiced meditation before I rested my head on my pillow. And I even incorporated the use of essential oils and aromatherapy to help calm my mind.
The time and changes helped. The doctor’s visit helped as well. It’s funny how pandemics can change your prayer life. By the time I got in to see my primary care physician allergy season was in full bloom, other symptoms had emerged and coronavirus was spreading faster than pollen.
For the first time in my life I prayed for a diagnosis of hypertension or diabetes. As serious and scary as those two conditions are, there are more than 100 million Americans living with both. So, there’s hope that I can survive this as well.
*Stacey James McAdoo, the 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year (affectionately referred to as 2019ATOY), is a 17 year Oral Communication instructor, AVID Coordinator and sponsor of the spoken word collective called Writeous Poets from Little Rock, Arkansas. She teaches at the historic Little Rock Central High School where she is the living embodiment of her ATOY platform of using passion and poetry to close the opportunity gap.*