Dear Torey…

You’ve been gone 18 months.

It feels like a lifetime.

Das and I are doing our best … but the road is still marked with moon sized craters, twists and turns.

It’s hard to fight back the random tears and sobs.

All we have are precious memories – even the bad moments are precious because you were here.

Your light, your glow, your smile, your touch, your laugh, your words, your everything are truly missed.

I still see you and feel you in my dreams.

Can you hear me when I talk to you?

I feel silly when I talk to you out loud, but I get comforted to know you can hear me … even in my quiet thoughts.

I’m not sure why I’m even writing this in my blog, but I suppose it’s a moment to document.

Maybe others can find some comfort?

Speaking of others … it’s not always easy to talk about you.

Some folks get uncomfortable.

I don’t mind it when others share their own sorrow because I know how much you mean to them.

I just don’t like it when people get uncomfortable or when they have the attitude of, “just get over it.”

It’s honestly not that easy.

I always wonder what you would do if you were in my shoes.

Would you feel like I do?

How would you try to drown this grief?

I think you’d be better at this than I am.

Where on earth would you scatter my ashes?

I want my ashes to be with yours.

Some in the Pacific with you as you wished and some with you in a tree planted by Das as we both wished.

Speaking of our boy, he had to wear jeans for a team picture at Hebron today!

LOL! He hasn’t worn jeans since elementary/middle school because of his catcher legs!

He wore your black boots, too.

Oh how we MISS YOU, T-Mitch!

Love you, Babe… forever and always.

~ neena

And for those of you who actually read this:

Torey Mitchell | Belligerent Gus Blog

#MissYouTMitch

9 Minutes and 29 Seconds

Today the jury reached its verdict to determine Derek Chauvin’s fate. The man who let his whole body weight land through his knee on George Floyd’s neck – on Floyd’s precious life.

Das didn’t have practice this evening – he had to stay a little past the time of school being out so I needed to pick him up. According to the news the verdict was going to be announced anytime after 3:30 pm CST.

I was on CNN.

3:30 pm hit and I was on alert. Das texted me at 3:41 pm. I had to leave to get him – I left the TV on.

I was on mash mode – yes, I adhered to school zones, but man I was on a mission! I didn’t want to miss it. Lucky for me the go-to station in our truck (105.3 FM) was ready to announce the verdict once they got it while talking about baseball and Texas Rangers.

We we walked in at 4:04 pm and the verdict rolled out at 4:07 pm.

Yes, Das and I got to watch it together. The fact that we experienced it together is truly monumental.

Was I skeptical when I woke up? Yes. Yes, I was! Injustice has happened SO MANY TIMES BEFORE! Why wouldn’t I be skeptical!?

The fact that this happened on 4.20 is also another monumental moment in history for any stoner soul – seriously! You’ll never forget this day no matter how many brain cells you may destroy! haha!

My late godmother passed away on this day 9 years ago.

Torey passed away 17 months ago as of today.

But you know what? Life has to go on. I’m not really ready for the next chapter but I know Torey wants me to be ready. It’s not something I’m prepared for, but I must. I get it. I have to. I have to for my son.

I hope the Floyd family is able to do the same … his brother has already said he’s ready to help people in this world and that’s inspiring. I always imagine what T-Mitch sees and who he meets in his after life and I believe he’s making the right connections to inspire all of us. I truly do. The man was a doer. A doer for good causes.

Let’s help let his light shine and do the same! Shine your own light and DO GOOD!

Our cousin, Ashley @ashley.j.mitchell drew this and I’m incredibly proud to share her creativity with you!! Great work, Ashley!!!
Like I said … he was a DOER!! haha!

Das’ Essay: “Validity of Modern Rap”

Das shared an essay he wrote for an assignment in his English class. I’m incredibly proud of him!

As with everything in this world, emerging Music is one thing that is constantly evolving with new sounds and ideas coming to the forefront fairly often. These evolutions aren’t always openly welcome despite the frequency. The genre in my life that I have not only grown up with has been Hip Hop/Rap. From a young age I was shrouded with many different genres of music by my parents and their respective and distinctive tastes. As I’ve grown to love this genre, it’s grown apparent that a majority of people who were around during the rise of Hip Hop in the early 90s have come to dislike the new sounds and subgenres of Hip Hop/Rap that have emerged in the past two decades. I feel like these new subgenres and sounds of Hip Hop/Rap are just as valid as their predecessors.

Hip Hop hasn’t been changing over night, the position we’re in now is a collective effort of 30 years of this genre’s existence. Many themes and ideals such as lyricism and music theory are still very prevalent and in fact called back by Hip Hop today. Many songs have paid not only their homage but present older sounds take on a fresh new take in some songs, such as Kodak Black’s usage of the 90s Geto Boys “My Mind’s Playing Tricks on Me” in his 2017 single “Transportin’”. Despite this more direct correlation, whether older Hip Hop fans like it or not this genre has changed so drastically that newer subgenres have been introduced to aid the categorization of Hip Hop/Rap.  Atlanta Artist Playboi Carti has pushed the boundary between not only Hip Hop/Rap but also other genres. He has drawn heavy inspiration from the controversial band Slipknot which attempted to merge Hip Hop and Rock in the early 2000s and has further drawn inspiration from the other major Atlanta rappers that predated him to form his own sound that can be described as “Punk-Rap” as told by GQ magazine. Playboi Carti’s style has grown in popularity recently with artists now taking inspiration from his music, fashion, and production. This extends into more subgenres than just Carti’s punk rock. Chicago’s Chief Keef popularized a new form of rap, that came to later be known as Drill music, with the nationwide popularity of his songs “Don’t Like” and “Love Sosa” in 2012. Chief Keef’s conception of drill music was inspired by the heavily disrespectful attitude that was set in the 90s during the East Coast vs West Coast rivalries with artists like Tupac, Biggie, and the group NWA bringing this ill mannered attitude to Hip Hop/Rap for the first time. 

Hip Hop/Rap’s reach has improved immensely over the past three decades due to these new subgenres. The introduction of subgenres that have a more specific appeal have aided the genre’s popularity. Such introductions include subgenres like Drill, Emo Rap, and the most popular: Trap. Drill music has had one of the biggest spikes over the past decades with artists such as Chief Keef, Fredo Santana, and Bobby Shmurda who brought the subgenre about in the early 2010s. Since its inception the sub genre has only grown in popularity due to the new artists who have emerged. Drill’s success can be attributed to its popularity worldwide. Other countries have developed their own Drill culture with the two main countries being the United States and the United Kingdom. This diffusion has contributed to not only the spread but the growth of Hip Hop/Rap as well. Artists like Skepta, the late Pop Smoke, and plenty more have benefit from the expansion of this subgenre of Hip Hop/Rap. The next subgenre is seen as one of the more controversial and disliked subgenres in Emo Rap. Personally it’s far from my favorite but I completely understand the attraction. Emo Rap has not only created a platform for multiple societal and mental health problems but provided an outlet for those who endure these negative emotions or feelings to find situations or ideas they find hard to express themselves in or talk about. Artists like Mac Miller, the late Lil Peep, and Juice Wrld really launched this subgenre of Hip Hop/Rap.

Artists aren’t limited to one subgenre; in fact some artists have a niche for bridging gaps between multiple subgenres sometimes at the same time. The best example of this would be the work of Kanye West. Not only has Kanye bridged gaps multiple times, he can be accounted for a lot of the evolution of Hip Hop/Rap in his almost two decade tenure making music. Kanye has incorporated the work of the gospel in his albums “The College Dropout”, “Late Registration”, and his most recent “Jesus is King”. He can also be credited to the use of autotune and the voice as an instrument, as seen in Trap, which is similar to his albums “808s and Heartbreak”, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”, and “Yeezus”. Kanye’s continued work have pushed the boundaries of Hip Hip/Rap multiple times and consequently set the bar for the entirety of the genre. 

These new subgenres are also surpassing their predecessors from a sales and success aspect. In an article published in 2020 Billboard’s top 20 songs consisted of 18 out of 20 songs that fall into the subgenre categories. These subgenres of Hip Hop/Rap have seemingly taken over today’s modern music. In an era of streams opposed to physical sales music tailored to a specific audience can be found at the click of a button. This aspect of streaming has encouraged new and different forms of music coming about. The Top 100 charts that were formerly dominated by traditional Rap music have fallen to predominantly Trap music due to it’s simple nature, improving sound design, and easy accessibility. The Grammy’s have incorporated a “Best Melodic Rap Song” award to adapt to newer styles and forms of rapping and the production of music. The popularity of these new subgenres have allowed artists to really attempt to push the boundaries of what they can or can’t do. 

At the end of the day music taste is dominated by preference. You like what you like for both conscious and subconscious reasons. Music taste can be taken down to the simplicity of the human palate. All of our lives we’ve been eating things and refining our palates to either liking or disliking a food or flavor. The same can be said for Music, with or without knowing music has been a factor in everyone’s life. Granted the significance tends to vary between people. Personally I hold music very close to me due to the significance it means within my family. My father and I took music as something to share and bond over and after losing him it holds more value and significance. Everyone has their own opinions, takes, and significance held to music, it is simply way too important to be a straight and narrow idea. 

With the intricacies of music today it’s very easy to see where some people may begin to have a hard time enthralling themselves in some genres or subgenres as they do others. I personally feel as if with music you’ll never truly know if you like something until you try it and you immerse and lose yourself in it. The choices begin to present themselves as endless with so many artists to choose from. If you’re looking to get into trap, Lil Baby and Future are very good choices. For Emo Rap,  Lil Peep and Juice Wrld, for worldwide Drill Pop Smoke and Skepta, and for more out there forms of Hip Hop/ Rap artists like the aforementioned Playboi Carti and Lancey Foux very different and out there choices. With those choices being said I encourage anyone who is skeptical of today’s Hip Hop/ Rap to try and explore, discover new lyricism, music productions, and styles to potentially expand their taste in music.

Trigger Part 1

So I must admit … I wasn’t a big fan of Prince when Torey and I met and I blame that on my upbringing! My fam had deep seeded roots in support for MJ so I was led on a biased based mentality (no knock on my loved ones by the way!). The summer I met Torey TLC had released one of their biggest albums. I bought that album during the summer of 1995 (it was released in September of ’94).

One of my favorite tracks was “If I Was Your Girlfriend” – I loved the production, the sound, the lyrics and just about everything else!

After meeting Torey and discussing our musical preferences he let me know that song was a Prince cover song. I was floored. I had no freakin’ idea! It just let me know at the time of realization how much he had to share with me and for me to share with him.

T-Mitch used this song a lot to get through some moments in our relationship. I have to give him the majority of the credit for becoming the woman I am now. He understood me – he got me to my core. I’m not sure if this will ever happen again and I’m okay with this sentiment. At least it happened once. I can live with that. Das will know me better than the most of you – he already does in most ways, but not all.

I know I’m stubborn. I know I’m vulnerable. I am sad and depressed. I have a hard time being creative and I miss this part of myself. I enjoy the escapes I allow myself on a daily basis. I often wish it was me who left the world instead of Torey. I feel like he not only would have handled this better, but he also would have been MUCH more courageous in not feeling alone.

Loneliness is … well I’ve accepted it now. I’m over the wanting of companionship. I just want to live and that’s all I can do because of Das. Das is my universe. I will do what I can for him for as long as I can. Yes, all of this shit stemmed from hearing this song mentioned in this post. It’s pretty amazing what triggers your soul.

That is all. Good night.

Memory/Challenge

I just started watching CNN’s Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy and it’s been great! I’m two episodes in. Watching it made me realize how heart broken I was of learning about Anthony Bourdain’s death. Torey was there that morning as we were getting ready for work. I was sitting on our bed and scrolling through my news feed on my phone while he finished getting dressed. Once I saw the headline and clicked on the reliable source I started bawling. He was so concerned and asked what was wrong and I couldn’t even speak. I handed him my phone and tried to get ahold of myself. T-Mitch was in disbelief, too.

The both of us were huge Bourdain fans – we watched almost every episode he was in. We just couldn’t bring ourselves to watch the last season they aired. It was too much … I suppose I should finish the last season for the both of them now.

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown

“Missing Who I Once Was”

Recently I posted how much I miss Torey and added something about missing who I once was. A friend, Suzanne, reached out to me and asked what I meant by that. I’m glad she asked me this because it made me put my thoughts into words:

As far as “missing who I once was” – I mean it may not be obvious to someone who hasn’t experienced what I (and so many others) have. Once you have been in a long-time relationship with someone, you become symbiotic with them. Your existence becomes so interwoven that you just cannot imagine functioning without them.

Then they’re gone. Just like that – within a matter of seconds. Right in front of you. And it changes you. You can no longer depend on the pillar of existence. You can no longer rely on their wisdom. You can no longer trust your own instincts because you don’t have their feedback for assurance, yet you make do. You can no longer rely on the sense of touch – you have no idea how much people take that for granted. Emotional needs are now a forefront as opposed to before you didn’t think about too much of that because you have support from your significant other. Physical needs are no longer satisfied to your liking. The way you handle parenting changes and you just cannot stand doing it alone.

Happiness is gone. Sadness is present every fucking day: for our son and for me. Depression is real. I would not wish this on my worst enemy.

Sure, people can move on, but that’s not an easy process. And it doesn’t happen overnight. And honestly I don’t believe anyone truly “moves on” … you simply learn how to handle the loss on a daily basis. There’s a part of your heart and soul that will never let it go and I think it varies from person to person just depending on how close/intimate you were to your significant other.

It feels like I’ve lost a part of my identity. It truly hurts. Maybe because he was the only one on the planet who truly got me and never judged me. Our history runs deep…

With that said … cherish every freakin’ moment. Be that annoying person who takes pictures/videos of day-to-day activities (I wish I had done more of this). Never go to bed upset with your loved ones (we tried to live by this the best we could).

Suzanne had interviewed Torey for her Vlog: The Bright Muse
Here’s the video on YouTube

Thanks to Winter Storm 2021 I couldn’t make it out to the Parking Lot to lay my Valentine’s Day flowers for T-Mitch. Das and I finally got to go a little over a week later… here are the flowers:

Valentines for T-Mitch

Plenty of Sharks in the Sea, Too

The past year and a half has been a damn eye-opener in reference to SO many people! I cannot believe some of the interactions I’ve had – many have been embarrassing. I’m not sure if this is “human nature” but wow … I’m just going to say that some folks belong in a “selfish boat” / aka: “shark boat”.

The people I speak of have been Torey’s “friends” for a very long time. Where am I going with this, you ask? Well let’s just say some have taken the liberty to advance their “offers” of “taking care of me” or sharing their “attraction” to me in several different ways.

I’m not proud of this – in fact, the ones that have – on a surface level = whatever.

The ones who have used T-Mitch as a REASON for their advances = downright disrespectful and offensive. Period. No one knew him like I did. He wouldn’t have recommended anyone he knew as a potential suitor. Never.

Sure, we’d talk about what we would do if we ever split up, and he would always encourage me to find my own path regardless of what aspect of life we referred to – this includes another person to fall in love with. I still don’t think this is truly possible for me, but whatever. I’m just really tired of the shark boat and I’m officially done with it all.

The only one on the planet I will allow to speak for T-Mitch is my son, Das. Das is one of his best friends and confidants. In fact, he prepared Das for his own demise better than he prepared me … maybe because he knew how stubborn I was to ever accept this reality. I always reassured him that I would be the first one to go… Torey beat me to the punch. Dammit!!!!

If you’re a shark reading this: I forgive you, but we need space. A ton of it. Like maybe a lifetime. Take care and be well.  

ANAS SODKI/SHUTTERSTOCK

#missyouTMitch (seriously!)

#46’s Inauguration

I don’t even know where to start! I re-wrote the beginning of this post at least six times already… all I can say is, “Good riddance #45!” My goodness – the past four years have been the darkest in so many ways… I kept looking back on 45’s inauguration and how surreal it seemed. It was so difficult to accept!

I remember the night 45 got elected like it was yesterday. Torey and I were in complete shock and we broke out the Tequila and we didn’t stop until well after 10 or 11 pm. I did that drunk-ugly-cry for at least an hour it seemed like. We were pretty hungover the next morning and it was like a new life filter was set before our eyes.

The new reality was stark and Torey worried about our safety – not just as a family, but as a race. He talked about learning how to use guns for protection and getting a license to own a gun. I remember walking into the office and seeing co-workers in the worst of moods – some still shedding tears. It was draining.

Anyway, today felt like a breath of fresh air! I’m incredibly happy for our nation and truly proud of Vice President Kamala Harris! What an amazing achievement and I fully trust both her and Biden to lead us in the right direction. To represent Black people, South Asians (Desi people, stand UP!) and WOMEN as VP – WOW!!!!! What a role model to so many young women of all races and ages. I feel bad for not owning a pair of Chucks otherwise I would have rocked them today with some pearls!

Has a sense of unity been restored? I don’t think so – not fully and I don’t know if we’ll ever get rid of the sense of division in our society. I hope to be proven wrong though! And … there’s that word: hope. I believe in hope and thankful to have it back in my life!

2021 Inauguration Day via Los Angeles Times

#missyouTMitch