A gem in the gruff.  At least that’s how I see it….

One of my professors interviewed me for feature article in the ‘Belt Magazine’ (see below for link to article). “Belt Magazine publishes independent journalism about the Rust Belt. Online only, it launched in September 2013, and focuses on long-form journalism, op-eds and first person essays of interest to the Rust Belt and beyond. Belt Publishing, founded in 2012, publishes anthologies by and for residents of often misrepresented cities.”  I was really excited, but then really nervous at the same time.  A lot of things popped in my head teetering through both extremes of privacy to publicity, however, the scale leveled at opportunity.

I read the article when it published, and overly critiqued my photos.  I then decided it’s time to pick up from here….literally!

A Rust Belt Education: Part Two http://beltmag.com/a-rust-belt-education-part-two/


Home Is Where the Heart Is….

home  I moved back home around this time, three years ago….2012 for those who need a little help with the math.

I had been back home before after my little fairytale family broke up in 2001.  It was also my first time home since I left after high school, but I didn’t come alone.  I left as one and was back as two – me and my then 14 month old daughter.  I remember how weird it was being back home because my only relation to home was how it was when I left.  Although I was far from a child and a mother myself, it was still ‘Momma’s’ house and I didn’t expect that her rules would be any different.  The arrogant me that left was replaced with the humble me that understood the reason behind my mother’s passionate ways.  In any event, my mom and I needed that time together to reconcile, and in 2004 I was back off on my own again.  I hated leaving because the thought of refreshing my mother’s memory with departure was taunting, but I had to move on.

When I came back in 2012 it was under different circumstances.  My mom had become a foster/adoptive parent a few years prior.  Her once serene home was full of kids and pets….utter chaos! My daughter, who was then 12, was pulling away from me and pushing herself into my mother’s house.  It was a constant fight for me and they were tag teaming me.  My daughter telling me how much she hates our home and how she wished she lived with my mother,  and my mother telling me how me making her stay home was punishment….WTH!  Fed up with the wrestling match, I opted for a compromise and decided to move back to the neighborhood.  She owned a house, two blocks away from her that she used as rental property.  It had been vacant for a while and the ‘locals’ had broke in it for the copper.   My intention was to stay with her while I put this house back together.  All in all, I was back home….again….to reconcile….but this time she left.My mother passed on a little over six months later from cancer…In reality, I left when she passed.  Life as I known it was no longer existent for I had become her.  My day-to-day with one daughter and a cat was now three daughters (sorta) and three dogs!  The cat was at the ‘other’ house along with all my belongings except a few articles of clothing.  For months I lived this extraneous life that wasn’t my own while trapped in the misery of remembrance of a home that will never be….I hated staying, so I moved on, I moved into the ‘other’ house as initially planned…Anxious to have a place to call ‘home’ again….erika_harrison_028-450x301

I’ve been in my money pit house for a year and a half.  Reunited with my cat and down to one dog, but I haven’t completely unpacked and settled in…maybe because my heart isn’t here….

Pursuit of Happiness….

I sat in the break room, while the program director prepared a coffee cup for me – It was late evening and I really should not have been drinking any at all.  My attitude was still the same as it was in our emails.  I didn’t understand why I was yet again being dragged in dealing with another one of my adopted sister’s programs….Ms. ‘Director’ reminded me of one of those kindred spirits…you know kinda angelic – real genuine soul.  The program entails creating obtainable goals in which she’ll be connected to a mentor who will help guide and provide support while she come by them.  This was our first meeting.  Me, unbothered by the highlights, haughtily questioned, “What is your mission?”….My sister is now in another meeting area working with her mentor at establishing her goals.  Ms. ‘Director’, my daughter, and I remained in an awkward position almost obliged to small talk.  My daughter worked on her homework all while mimicking my nonchalant facial expression.  However, my personality couldn’t keep up the façade.  We began conversing about where I am in life right now.  How marveling it was that she was able to pull out certain emotional responses.  “I’m angry, alone, and my mother is supposed to be here handling all of this!”  Ms. ‘Director’, too, unbothered by my rant paused for a moment, and then apologized for it.  “I’m sorry”, she says, “When I get quiet – it’s because I’m asking God for the right words to say.” I thought she was going to let me have it….She then blurted out, “What do you do for happiness?”  I said, “I’m working on my degree.”  She shook her head to tell me no.  I said, “Well, I’m working on the old fixer up home I reside in.”  She said, “I think you’re doing a lot things that make you feel accomplished, but what do you do for happiness?”….I sat there, in silence, tried asking God for the right words to say and there were none….She said, “You may have to go back as far as your childhood for this – before you had responsibilities, bills, etc.”….Ms. ‘Director’ told me her mission for her program, but I clearly saw different in her presence.  Her program works with troubled youth by helping them mature and progress in a positive direction, but that particular weekday evening her mission was to help me move in a more positive direction by helping me tap into my inner youth….Everyday I’ve been punching at a task list that I’ve either created that morning based off some yearly goal that derived from some long term goal…checking things off slowly but surely……feeling nothing but accomplishment….   20151224_141140

I Have a Dream….

My daddy set up the small bedroom, next to theirs, as an office.  For as long as I can remember, it was always his personal space.  It wasn’t much of an office…it always looked like a room full of junk to me.  All in all, that’s where you would find him most of the night.  I have faint memories of pale hued green walls and our original dining room table that served as his desk.  It wasn’t a traditional dining table…it had a retro feel to it.  Now, it’s all adding up because my parents trashed its’ accompanying chairs one by one…those gold colored, leather looking, vinyl leg pincers.  Over the years, they had become worn and began to split…since I grew up in the 80’s when high shorts were common, bare legs at dinner, during summer…made for quite the experience.  The last chair standing was his office chair and when it met its’ doom my dad’s office chair ultimately became a simple folding chair….I would sneak into his office and for hours, if I got away with it, would make believe being a boss or something of the sort.  He always had a desk calendar, doodled on in a combination of red, blue, and black ink….so I doodled on it too.  He kept an very organized set up of office supplies – tape dispenser, stapler, paper clips etc.  I was always fascinated by the staple remover…you know the ‘grabby’ type…I had no idea, at the time, what it was for….20160218_0915481Danger!I polished my nails with ‘white out’…I got the worst whupping for writing on checks like they were pieces of scrap paper and throwing away the evidence…I now understand why missing checks out of a check book can cause World War III in a household!…In all the houses I’ve lived as an adult, one room was always set up as an office…maybe that’s why it didn’t bother me that all the years I’ve been working I’ve never had my own office…In my mind, I had my own office since the 2nd grade!…My current fixer upper house, it was imperative that I set up an office space.  At first it was an empty room, on the 2nd floor, until I started doing a little research on Feng Shui and learned a home office should be far away from your bedroom because it separates business from home life….The only piece of furniture that I proudly purchased, in the two years I’ve been here thus far, is my new desk…I wanted a really nice solid wood desk and a formal office set up – I found it!…Dark cherry wood, granite top, and matching leather chair.  It arrived at the end of this past year.  My office is now on the 1st floor in what was considered the library by initial  design.  The first thing I did was put a desk calendar on it…2016!  At the moment, I spend most of my time sitting there doing homework or writing for my blog…I’m really feeding my dream of being a boss – President/CEO even!  Tapping into my inner youth while trying to put my finger on what truly makes my happy, I realized that I stopped dreaming…I’ve let life smother my dreams – wrote it off as time wasted…reflecting on how many times I’ve been reminded to get my head out of the clouds…becoming wary of those around me with their needle ready to pop my balloon…Before bills, responsibility, strife, stress, and struggle, God planted this dream in my heart as a little girl…why would I not succumb!?  Daddy was called home when I was 18 years old.  I hold dear a card he gave me…In this card he told me that in the auditorium of his high school  (John Adams HS) engraved/written on the wall read, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” – Proverbs 29:18

Visualize and manifest your dreams…or you, too, will perish….


                                     Dedicated to Major Harrison Jr. – Jan. 9, 1951 – Sept. 13, 1997


I’ve been receiving emails, over the last week, stating, “E.C.Rogue will auto-renew”…. matter of fact it’s my blogniversary…an whole 2 years!  The emails made me realize that I haven’t posted in over a year….well it’s time to spring back into action…Think about how you can plant a seed for a perennial  plant/tree, and by the fall the plant/tree grows up strong, confidently, and bearing fruit/flowers for your picking or it didn’t grow at all.  Then the following year that same  plant/tree barely grew nor produced fruit/flowers….Then the season after that, the same plant/tree grew in abundance unlike any other previous bloom…maybe it was the weather that year…lack of or too much rain, lack of or too much sun, too cold, too hot perhaps?…maybe it was the physiological make-up of the seed itself….?  This is actually referred to seed dormancy.Screenshot_20170726-144014

The irony is that there is correlation among living things…the reason behind my dormancy?  I can tell you it’s a little bit of both physical and physiological conditions…I had to work on me…heal, forgive, work on my spiritual atonement, stabilize my environment, weigh and weed my relationships…rid everything that keeps me from bearing fruit/flowers….

A small sprout can have deep roots….


I can see the light….

The light at the end of my tunnel that is…and guess what I do!?…slow down making myself an official super senior…I told my friends that I am never going to graduate if I keep playing with them…so funny to me because we are far from them partying years, but have found a way to maintain the status quo….Seriously, life was happening and while trying to obtain this bachelors degree I’ve learned to embrace it…I know preceding post homed in on these mental constraints that I placed on myself…making me a prisoner of my own mind…who does this anyway!?  When I started back to school again, in 2012, I vowed that this would be the final attempt….I started at CSU with credits from three different institutions…Tri-C for Pre-Nursing working in a group home for mentally disabled killed that idea…CWRU studied communications for professional development and declared that my major…back to Tri-C for real estate licensure only to not become a licensed realtor but to become a home owner/landlord…Ashford University online degree program glued me to a computer screen every woke moment of my life for a year and a half – no fun!  This go around was it…I told my mother she was going to watch one of her children cross the stage…how ironic my CSU acceptance letter was dated June 7th – her birthday!  My first semester back I took sign language to satisfy my foreign language requirement…that was the quietest classroom I had ever been in…I thought I was being punked!  My grown butt texting my momma telling her how I made it to school safe & sound, sharing jokes to break up the monotony….I enjoyed coming home and teaching her how to sign…Unfortunately during the following semester, I had to plan her funeral….but the sign language classes displayed its’ purpose…there was a point during her illness she had masked oxygen and could not talk…but her and I had learned enough sign language to say, “I love you”….2a1b638b5f11f0d9fd43be6115348389--love-you-more-always-love-you

Thank God for my mom’s sister…I remember speaking with her on the phone a few weeks after my mom’s service and telling her that all of this was pointless now…her being my mother’s sister wasn’t having it…she delivered the message softer than my mom would have…this is for YOU!….I didn’t hear it immediately though…Last Fall (’16) I dropped my classes, caught my breath and pushed the graduation date back…now I’m really feeling myself…Spring (’17) cut the hair off…I was on this no cutting madness until graduation…tried to take a class during the summer…notice I said ‘tried’….I see the light….it’s right there and I’m going to get there, but like my Aunt said…on my terms….Now let’s wrap up these last three classes and get the show on the road…It’s the final finale….

I’m smiling again…genuinely….


I Walked….

I couldn’t believe it myself…this journey only took me 20 years to complete…Hell, attending class had become life!  I lined up with the other Urban Studies graduates and we started walking…I kept having to convince myself that this is really about to happen….
We approached the back of the stage.  There hung, vertically, ‘viking’ green and white curtains…the marching music projecting…and the tears started to well up in my eyes….I wish my parents were here….
My daughter & I was in the midst of a major melee….she hadn’t been residing with me for a little over a month….I left a ticket for her in care of my youngest brother and sister with hope that she was going to be there…I looked for her to come out of the audience with the rest of my family only to learn that she chose not to attend my graduation….
My siblings were there though!  My youngest brother flew in town…he watched me the evening before go through a few outfits before deciding on the 3-piece suit that I had owned for over a decade even though I bought a dress specifically for graduation…at least I was able to still button the pants and vest…barely….
I bought new shoes too, but opted to wear my Mom’s shoes…they were the shoes that I picked for her to be presented in at her funeral, but when we viewed the body before public viewing, something about shoes sticking out of a casket seemed weird…I took them off and had them with me…what a better time than any to wear them…to walk in her shoes….
My parent’s mothers out lived them…I was so grateful that they both were able to see me in cap and gown…I knew I made them both very proud and that was everything….
I went to my favorite martini bar to meet up with my favorite Moroccan bartender…it’s time to turn up!  My friends couldn’t attend my commencement because of limited tickets but showed up for the cocktails…I eventually connected with my friends that I grew up with from the neighborhood…Then my cousin showed up all the way from Charlotte…there’s more to this story but I can’t remember it *smile*….
This IS for me…and I did that!
(Music by Tamar Braxton – Love & War – 2013)






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