Sweet Winona, Beautiful Chicago: Another Tribute to My Family Matriarchs

A moment in time.

The last out of town trip I took with the women who acclimated me to road trips happened in July 2004; approximately 14 years ago. It’s been FOURTEEN YEARS since I shared mile markers with my favorites: my grandmother and my aunt Millie. My mom was never much of a road tripper. I can only remember no times when she was on the road with us but I know it happened here and there. She wasn’t much for going back and forth to Mississippi, which was a 9-hour drive that I learned to live for. My Gmom was spontaneous. Almost none of our road trips were planned, like the night my mom got married. Netria Parker Marlin’s idea of babysitting for the honeymoon was to hop in the bucket and hit the highway. I still see us leaving that night around 9 pm (it was dark) and driving the Buick Century 9 hours to Winona, MS on a whim. That’s how I can drive across the country and be unphased today.

But this trip in July 2004. The fourteenth to be exact. This was another spontaneous trip. Anytime there was a rental around, it almost always assured me that a trip was coming. My uncle had a Lumina that he rented to go to his hometown of Nashville. I drove the whole way there and up until the changes began in my family, he still laughed about how I drove 90 MPH the whole way there. I had NO license. But I got us where we were going safe and quickly; just like Gmom taught me. It almost brings tears to my eyes to think of the little nuances I took from my Gmom. She didn’t teach me to drive but I guess I was watching.

My uncle kept the Lumina for a bit and like clockwork, one afternoon my Gmom proposed we take it to Chicago to see my other aunt, who had relocated from Winona to Chicago w/her daughter due to a mental decline; she had Alzheimer’s and this trip would ultimately be my last time seeing her able to remember things. Me, my aunt Milli, my Grandmother Netria and my Uncle Lenny all hoped in the Lumina and set sail for Chicago: a three-hour trip. The trip would ultimately take the longest it’s ever taken me to get to Chicago and back. It was full of laughter, arguments, strange things and most of all, love. I had just started performing at Open Mics at the time and carried my notebook with me everywhere I went. This time was no different and man am I grateful for that decision. A week or so ago, I pulled this book out to troll it and saw a four-page entry from the trip to Chicago. As I read through it, tears shed uncontrollably. I remember this trip so well. I remember US – my family. Not perfect by any means but man, we were a good family. This journal entry is a great reminder of why it’s so important to journal and to write your stories. I remember how many times we got lost and how my uncle and grandmother, two alpha personalities, clashed on everything from directions to the weather. And then just like that, it would all be fine. Memories are not promised to us as my Aunt Anna Lee, who developed full Alzheimers shortly after our trip to Chicago and my Gmom, who also developed Alzheimer’s and passed away last June.

Wishing me happy birthday from my surprise video. I wish I could make the sound work so you could hear her voice.

But even if we don’t remember what is being recounted, the words are there. The stories are there. The energy lives. My grandmother’s birthday is August 16. Depending on when you see this blog, that’s tomorrow. It’s the second birthday without her; she passed just over a month prior to her bday. I can still see her in that bed. Still see her hand. Still see her gone. At no point as I stood frozen in front of her, waiting on the coroner, did it ever seem REAL. It wasn’t until we prayed over her and zipped her up at the foyer of the house i grew up in did I know my grandmother had left the building for the final time. I don’t know that I will ever ‘get over’ her death. Should I have to? As I prepare myself to receive my grandmother’s essence from the spirit realm rather than here on Earth tomorrow, I wanted to share this entry from our July 2004 Chicago trip. She drove the entire time and when I tell you, this entry doesn’t even cover all of it. There was so much but ALL of it was beautiful. I’d be grateful for any piece of it today. To be able to open this book and step back into this day was good but I really wish I could just have it all back. My gmom, who’s with God. My uncle, who can’t hear much and is alone and probably going to die alone and my Aunt, who’s in a nursing home slowly passing with each second. Then there’s Aunt Anna Lee, who passed shortly after our trip. Aunt Jessie, who’s death was the beginning of my family heartbreaks (I wasn’t that close to Anna Lee as she never left Winona). All of what we did together – the laughs, the trips, the existing in love – is gone. Even her dog passed about a month ago. But, thank God for memories. Thank God I still have my mom. She was never our road-trip buddy, but she’s no consolation prize either. We all we got. I hope we see a different part of Earth together, many times over, before it’s all over with. If for no reason other than it was once an inadvertent tradition to get up and go live. At least that’s one of THE ultimate lessons my Gmom imparted on me. Life is for living. Death is where the quiet is. Please enjoy this glimpse into my quirky, funny, loving and crazy, wild family and one of our road trips.

7.14.2004

 

I deem it absolutely necessary to document this trip to Chicago to see my other aunt. First, let me say we left at 10 oclock. The time is now 1:38PM. We have been lost more times than Waldo (where’s Waldo). My grandmother and uncle have traded one wrong direction for another. They’ve had yelling matches and I now feel like there is a sledgehammer continuously hitting me in the head.

HELP ME PLEASE!!!!!

We are finally here. Thank the Lord. There are people on the corner selling regular bottled water, towels, every and anything. N-E-Way, back to the trip here. We got off on the wrong exits, even when we were on the right one. We were in Chicago for about 45 minutes just lost. It’s about 91 degrees and it’s hot as hell. I saw pictures of Yolanda’s wedding (cousin) and she looked beautiful. Now about to go see my other aunt. We are following Lillie Ruth & Nate (cousins). I will conclude this data later. They live on the nice part of Chi. Didn’t know that existed.

*Back*

We are about to leave the nusing home and my aunt looked so pretty. We all had some laughs and overall this has been a rewarding trip. We’re going back to Lillie Ruth’s so I can eat, then we are going home. My aunt thought I was my mom, but it’s ok. I hope she doesn’t get full-blown Alzheimers. But there are definitely signs of it. I hope the trip home is easier than the ride here or should I say once we got here.

*Back on again*

We are attempting to get on the highway to go home and he arguments have all started and the curse words and yelling have begun again. Lord if I make it home with my sanity, I’m good.

*10 mins later *

We are now on the highway and the argumetns have ceased for all of about ten minutes. Then they fired back up; now they’ve stopped again. Everything is quiet and we are in between Gary & Chicago.

*25 mins later *

We’ve managed to take another wrong turn and when you mess up in Chicago, you got to travel the 7 seas to get back right.

HELP ME PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!

*15 mins later *

Okay, we are going back to the highway to try this all over again. We should reach home at this rate by this time tomorrow. I need a blunt and a glass of wine. WE ARE BACKING UP ON THE HIGHWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ok, I’m lost. But I’m not the driver, so it shouldn’t matter. We’ll see what happens.

*15 mins later *

I don’t know if I’ll ever see home again. My grandmother cut her seat heater on by accident, my uncle couldn’t get his back window up. My aunt called him a dummy. I don’t know where the hell we are. Where is Onstar when you need it??? I have a –wait a minute. MY AUNT JUST FARTED IN THE BACK SEAT!!!(***Added 8/15/18 – my grandmother had the window locks on. We had to live through the fart. I remember that, LMMFAO).

As stressful as this trip to and from has been, it’s been absolutely hilarious. N-E-Way – I have a headache this big (H E A D A C H E HELP ME PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).

It’s 8:28. We left Lillie Ruth’s house at 7:00 PM. We’ve been lost the whole time. My uncle keeps spitting something out of his mouthbut the windows are up. WHERE IS IT GOING!!!??? He’s right behind me !!!!!

I hope not in my hair.

OKAY! We’re 140 miles away. My uncle said he got bad hips. My aunt responded and said “Bad LIPS”.

Lord, please take me to Indianapolis safe.

 

*****Aftermath.

I think it was after 10pm when we got back to Indianapolis. This was a great trip. I had a lot of fun and more laughs than the law should allow. My grandmother drove 90 MPH the whole way home, which leads me to believe she was sick of us.

My aunt and uncle brought me home and we stopped at Kroger, which was another comedic experience. Overall, my dysfunctional family is the best, funniest family in the world.

I wouldn’t replace them for nothing.

~kendria

To the Parker/Marlin/Moore/Harris family that loved me like I was the greatest thing that ever happened to them, I LOVE YOU and God knows, I miss you with each passing breath. I miss US.

Old traditions gone forever. Gmom & Mom/Summer days in the van.
One of our last photos. She was smiling. <3
Such a classic photo of a G.
My uncle and my gfather. Alonzo Harris and William/Blood Jones. This is where we all sat always. #ThePatio
My uncle Lenny. My Gmom’s hand. We loved.
Isn’t she lovely??? I just love this pic of my mom!!!!!
Easter in Winona, MS. Only child face.
Mom w/the eye liner on point! My resting bitch face is similar but not as perfected as this!!!
My gfather. Aunt Jessie in the gold shirt. Lillie Ruth (aunt anna lee’s daughter) in black; her kids.
Aunt Millie in Winona on the porch of the house she grew up in.
Uncle Lenny in front of Gmoms house. They were next door neighbors.
Aunt Millie and Uncle Lenny w/the winning Nibby Gal. I miss these stories.
Chewy (left) was my gmom’s dog. She died about three weeks ago. She was such a sweetheart.
Final goodbyes to a real G. This day is so blurry.
Usie. She wanted to know what the hell I was doing.
I owe my aunt so many visits. Nothing changed about that number; it’s still the same. She loves me so much. I’ve hurt her more than I care to admit.
Aunt Jessie. Lafayette Square. I damn near remember this day.

Kendria, 8.15.18

The Savannah Syndrome:”He’s A Good Man, Savannah”

Savannah Syndrome Definition & Symptoms:

When a man proclaims to be a “good man” and is seemingly captivated by the idea that not only is he a “good man“, but that all women should see him as the Messiah of men, he may suffer from Savannah’s Syndrome. The man in his mirror tells him that he is THE man. The ultimate good guy. Any woman who doesn’t fall for his goodies is deemed not smart enough to see what is standing in front of her. His usual reaction to any type of rejection involves curse words, spiritual shaming, predictions of future regret, forever single and unapproachable. All while conveniently forgetting that he might be talking to a “good woman.” His language will read as if somehow the woman is now beneath him and his immeasurable awesomeness. These men are also known to accuse black women of being angry, often in unwarranted situations. Clinical trials have shown that men with Savannah’s Syndrome believe they are a savior for women (not to be confused with saving women). This condition is not rare as it’s known to affect 3 out of 5 “good men. The only cure is to death to the ego. 

 Note***This gif is meant to imply death to EGO. Don’t let a living ego tell you otherwise.

What is it about good guys who know they are good guys?

Do they smell their shit and think it’s the stuff roses are made of? Do their farts resemble toll house cookies being baked on a cold winter morning just before Santa Clauses slides down the chimney of their home? Is there a governmental kickback, tax-writeoff or a lifetime supply to Jordans and Jordan’s Chicken if they show the public how enchanted they are with their good guy status?

It seems there is a growing phenomenon of men, specifically “good men“, who know they are good men or at least deem themselves full of great qualities, that think because of this EVERY woman should not only want to entertain them but is somehow doing themselves a great disservice if they are NOT interested. They will guilt trip you using spirituality and your future, talk shit to you but use terms like “we” to make it seem less solely directed and/or get mad at you and shoot a white castle sack of ten texts to your phone just to let you know it’s fuck you because they know they are the good guy and oh one day you shall see. All this because you lack or lose interest.

Ummm….ok. But, my nigga you need to seek some help.

 

Seriously, get a therapist and get rid of that baggage boo. It’s not becoming of you. Let’s unpack this by starting with my most recent interaction with a male species….specifically the “good” kind.

We’ll make this short and refer to him as “Chocolate (C.) Winona.” He was handsome, not really the height I’m seeking but he was taller than me and I felt like I could wear heels around him. When I’m detailing a man for the first time, these are things I think about along with checking the lips, arms, Adam’s Apple and honestly, a rough estimate of his dick size. Hey, if men can gawk at my ass and make a big deal about it loud and in public, then I certainly can have an internal thought of big or small.

But about C.Winona…

We met on Saturday. By Monday afternoon, I had been informed not only that he didn’t “need me”, but also that  “The Devil Won.”

***I wrote that just as he did via text w/every first letter capital. No worries. Keep reading and you shall see for yourself. Now, hold fast to the phrase “The Devil Won” because I will be using that more in the future just to be an asshole. So about Saturday. A day trip out with mom to a local bar led to her wingmom’ing me into meeting Chocolate Winona. I was standoffish at first even though he initially caught my attention by giving me a $20 bill to put in the wall Jukebox. I’m a sucker for music so I obliged and chose songs that ranged from Rick James’ Mary Jane to The Carter’s Ape Shit. If he was looking for me to play love music by Tank and Keith Sweat, he chose wrong. But as the time passed and wine flowed, so did the conversation. He was a truck driver from Mississippi not too far from where my known roots began. At some point, we exchanged numbers although Peaches the Wingmom had already given him my business card.

I hoped to hear from him. He had informed me that even though he lived in MS, he stopped through Indy almost weekly. He was a good candidate for friendship. I’m not looking to be ‘boo’d up’ with none of these dudes. I am currently in a celebratory stage with my singleness. I enjoy not semi-owing another human being an explanation of where I am, what I am thinking or why I’m not fucking tonight.

But (t)HugzMansion gets lonely too. Just because I don’t want to be in a relationship doesn’t mean I don’t want to date and have a good time. Go out and have drinks. Eat food. Dance. Sweat. Laugh. You know, the things men and women do well together…or so I’ve heard. C. Winona seemed well for this because he doesn’t live here but he’s here often enough for us to engage in some of those things. Sex wouldn’t be something that could rule the connection because obviously IF we were having it, it wouldn’t be that much. And then there’s always the why am I trying to date men here (who obviously don’t dig me anyway) when I don’t want to live here ANYMORE. I want to graduate and move. It’s not Indy, it really is me. So there should be no more ties to no more tied-at-the-NAP niggas with kids, problems, and maternal nipples they still have their wallets attached to.

He seemed like a good start. He’s never lived with a woman, owns an acre or two down south and just really had an I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T aura. It was refreshing.

One thing I love about hanging out with my mom is that the wine will be flowing. The bad part is that more than likely, it will be wine flowing past my cutoff, straight to my glass.

There’s no point to me saying that other than shouting out another good time in the books. I didn’t leave my mom at the bar and go sleep with the truck driver. This isn’t a blog from the back of his truck cab that doubles as a help me message. We were at the bar for a long time and my mom ended up staying all night with me that night. She’s a great wingmom. They talked for quite a bit and I’m sure she has his life history recorded in her secret Book of NiggaNotes. It was an eventful Saturday out with my mom at The Living Room Lounge. It was really more of a scene out of a black episode of Cheers, just with a wine-drunk poet instead of the mailman.

Staging the Scene:

Sunday we talked briefly and decided to grab breakfast before he headed out to Texas. I drove to the truck stop where he graciously filled my tank up (after I had just put $16 in it…I wanted a refund). We stood outside chatting while he waited for his laundry to end and he asked me why I was so standoffish at first. This led to me saying I have trust issues. I’m thinking I’m not looking for you to marry me so I can say that openly, adult-like and honestly. He obliged my trust issues with some of his own and spoke on past occurrences that left him, side-eyeing folks. Again, we’re just going for food, not a marriage certificate, so I’m cool with this conversation as it was open and straightforward. I also had open and straightforward convos with the ex and so, alleged honesty or good convo isn’t impressive. But again, I’m a heterosexual woman who’s been single over a year and left dateless and dickless and saying “damn” three times randomly throughout the day.

I’ve been proud of myself lately. The guys I’ve come into contact with have all been met by me standing my ground. One guy asked for a hug after we walked and talked for an hour. I decided against it. Simple little thing it was but it felt good to say no. There have been several of these small gestures of me claiming my time properly that I’m hoping will bring a better litter of pedigree my way. It’s a new me that I’m quickly used to and in love with. This time, I stood my grounds on who I am willing to let cook for me:

Him: “Where you want to go get something to eat?”

Me: “Its two really good spots downtown. Wild Eggs and Yolk.”

Him: “Or we can go on the highway and get off on the next exit. There’s a Denny’s up there.”

Me (mentally scoffing AF): “No thanks, I don’t like Denny’s.”

Him: What do you want then?”

Me, without hesitation:”One of the two places I named.”

The conversation and food at Yolk were good. We laughed, talked travel, kids, food, life. We hit it off even more, sober nonetheless, and planned to meet up when he stopped back through Indy. I even gave him a hug which reminded me of how great a good embrace can be.

Monday Mourning:

Now I’m about to post screenshots for two reasons: to avoid typing and trying to summarize these messages without leaving out anything pertinent and two, so we can get back to the original question of this blog and end it. But first, let me start this at where things truly ended. Sunday night, I went fell asleep around 10:00 pm reading my book for class and watching Law & Order: SVU. When I woke up to turn the lights out around 1 AM, I saw he had called shortly after 10:30. I returned the call via text Monday morning wishing him a good day and noting that I was asleep the night before. Well, no need for paraphrasing. Peep this curveball:

The Capitalization of Every Letter Bled My Eyes Dry
**Jodeci sir.

Do you want my response to this madness or should I just dive back into the Savannah Syndrome? Fuck it:

I don’t have the battery life for this shit.

I immediately blocked him after I sent that last message because I mean it when I say I will cut your black ass off these days. No more sticking around and proving my instincts wrong. No more giving second chances. I’m all out. Sorry guise. I wasted them on trifelife niggas and now, either come right or miss me. Now, the term correct is not synonymous with perfect. But this shit right here…NAW! So as long as planes, trains, and automobiles cover the land and skies and ships cover the seas, I swear I will be God blessed and fine. My mom might be disappointed. I think she liked him. Mom, I think we need to make peace with me living this life to the fullest, solo. Or, as I am coming to wonder, maybe I have many true loves in faraway countries that are waiting for my arrival. I know this ain’t it. Oh and before I could get that block to stick, one final message came back to me from Chocolate Winona that I didn’t bother to screenshot (I only did shots to share w/my sister…but hey, why not the blog).

It said “Ok Ms. Smith. Take care. P.S. The Devil Won.”

N I G G A W H A T? ????

What exactly did the devil win? My soul? Cause that would be the only thing that matters and I’m certain that ceasing communications with someone other than God does not equate to the devil winning my soul….or virtually anything else! This makes me think about Too Black and Amiri Baraka. Too Black often performs Amiri Baraka’s poem “Must Be The Devil” as a tribute, and that repetitive line of “must be the devil!!”, popped in my head when I read that. So, it must be the devil winning, not you fucking up?

Seriously, please offer commentary to help me see the error of my ways. My comment sections are open for the public to leave real thoughts in. I welcome them. I gave you the whole screenshots because I want to get an outside take on how I handled this and if I jumped off the deep end. My conclusion was that based on this pre-convo about trust issues and me not answering my phone, that is how my morning text was greeted with “we gotta do better than this” and a reiteration of trust issues rather than something more friendly and fashionable (as in we just met each other) like “have a blessed day too.” Is that fucking hard???? Should I have really been told that we gotta do better? Nigga. I just met you!!! I don’t have to “do better.” Either you like what is being presented or you keep it trucking, Buck. And one more thing….did he hit me with the angry black woman technique? He suggested I shot him down in my aggressive texts but I never could locate either: not the aggressive texts or the shooting him down.

But that’s not the point of this blog.

This is really about The Savannah Syndrome. One thing that I noticed while we were headed to eat was Chocolate Winona’s repeated interrogation of whether or not I am the type that appreciates a good man. It got to a point that I felt I needed to throw it out there that I too am a good woman and make no mistake of that. It started to feel like he picked up a straggler from the corner who needed to be coached on being in a relationship so long as she was appreciative. I ended up saying yeah I’m appreciative but I also REQUIRE the same. I’m a good fucking woman, flaws.and.all. In order to take a seat at your table, I would have to sell one of my own.

I’m not a bum. But – I’m also still healing and reeling from the whatevers of my life so I took it with a grain of perception. But when I received these texts, I knew I wasn’t tripping. My ex used to do this shit. He would play this “good guy” role in attempts to guilt trip me (also known as manipulation) out of giving up on the relationship. He would say things like “you’ll never get someone who loves you like I love and support you”, “you know no one else will love you like me”, and other similar phrases often reserved for women to say to men but I digress. It worked but not because I didn’t think I would get a better love; but because I thought he was a good man and I wasn’t being ‘fair’ to him. Reality has shown that if someone isn’t loving you the way you want or need to be loved, regardless of their level of good, dropping them will allow you the opportunity for someone else to love you BETTER!!!! Even if that someone is yourself. 

Now, I know I’m one to overthink but I also know old relationships are supposed to teach us what to avoid and what to look for in new experiences. When that flurry of messages came through and I kept seeing about the devil winning and showing up Saturday “after the good man came”,  I was instantly yuckfaced about it. The final message of  “P.S. The Devil Won” really made me laugh. Because I couldn’t help but think what if the devil had nothing to do with this my G. What if God was saving me from something that wouldn’t ultimately be good FOR ME? What if for once in my life, I actually allowed that to happen without asking to be broken down first?

Just as there are still good guys left on Earth, there are good women. Most times, it is good women that raised them. I think it’s worth noting that “good” is a subjective term, which means its definition is subject to one’s own individual perceptions and experiences. What are you good at? Building? Cooking? Fucking? Manipulating? Staying out late? Just because you are “good”, doesn’t mean you are FOR everyone…or anyone. Being a good person or a good man or a good woman doesn’t make you perfect and it doesn’t automatically grant you access to whoever you want. Your version of your good self might be the worst choice for my version of my best self. This is how my last self-proclaimed “good man” left me looking:

Wow my boobs are flat.

It doesn’t mean either of us is bad people. And two good people not being compatible don’t mean the devil won shit!!!

It means yaw don’t mesh. The. End. Manipulation is running rampant in relationships and I’m no longer willing to sink in the murky waters of an unknown nigga ocean of confusion. Even if you’re a good guy. That “The Devil Won” shit rubbed me so ill man. Don’t try to use God to fuck with me. My ex did that shit too and thought he was the moral authority in the house while living a devildick lie of a life. Remember how Savannah’s mom from Waiting to Exhale told her that homeboy was “a good man”??? She said it with conviction in her face and voice. She wholeheartedly believed him to be such.

And good he may have been. He was also an adulterer. A liar. And a manipulator. All these things made him selfish as well. Quite similar to my ex, who again, suffered heavily from Savannah’s Syndrome. I’m not questioning whether he was good or not; I’m just saying there came a point for Savannah where his good wasn’t her cup of excellence.

When good dick is no longer the blinding force, you increase the odds of ending up with a confident good man who lacks Savannah Syndrome,

…and also has good dick attached to his beautiful, compatible soul.

So for now,

I’M GOOD, nigga, enjoy.

Today’s soundtrack is a new release from Chance the Rapper:

PS: God Won Again!!!! #AlwaysDoes

September 27th -Pt I. Santorini Sleepless Nights in Indy

One thing I will always remember is how perfect the weather was.  

It was about 80 degrees that day and the evening only cooled to about 68. The sun was abundant and the skies looked like they were made for swimming. We opted to fly to Santorini from Athens and would cruise back on the slow ferry. We arrived around 3 pm and quickly found a way to get to our new home for the next week. My sister was set to arrive the next day and the remaining crew would be trickling in throughout the week. There were about 14 of us total that would be spending up to a week (depending on arrival) in an exquisite mansion, high in the mountain cliffs of what I deem one of the most beautiful islands in the world. I found it on Airbnb for $350 a night. Our guests chipped in to knock the price down per person and this splurge was well worth it. The house was beautiful; there were modern fixtures, minimalistic flair with splashes of color throughout that brought out the sun. My favorite part, a rounded deck with an outdoor dining table that seated 8, overlooked the ocean. As soon as I stood there, I imagined the toasting of our glasses during our dinner together near week’s end.

XXXXX and I spent the first day lounging around different areas of the house and walking along the beach which was easily accessible from our two-story paradise. It was the only night we would have all to ourselves until after the ceremony so we took full advantage; running around naked, playing twister, dancing, singing and making love outside. It was the definition of forever young. I felt at home and protected in his presence.  It was the most incredible Monday of my life and I had no worries. That Friday crept up on us with a thief-like presence. By then everyone had arrived and spent time loving the digs we were Kings and Queens of. At 7:30 PM, just as the sun started to dip into the ocean, we all began to file out and meet on the upper deck patio at the dinner table.  The mood was set: Candles were lit that spanned the length of the table. Cinematic Orchestra, Bonobo, and some good ole American Trap music mixed together for a soundtrack befitting of our hood-snoot. The ocean breeze crept up the concrete white steps, bending around the curve of the corner and brushed past our shoulders with love. Someone hit the theme song, Never Let Me Down (Kanye West) and we all took to our named spaces while a waiter we hired (who knew you could hire waiters by the hour) poured Cabernet Sauvignon into our glasses. For the next 3 hours, we sat with the ocean and traded laughter and memories. We ate a phenomenal dinner prepared by a local chef and listened for the echos of our love to bounce off the edges of the cliff.

Before it was over, my sister stood to give a toast. I listened as she talked about our first time meeting and how we’ve been through the fire together. She looked at XXXXX and thanked him for coming into my life and bringing an air of laughter and intellect that others could only envy. She acknowledged him as being a best friend to me and how necessary that would be for a union to truly last. Her final words were spoken in Greek – we had a translator with us that folks took turns carrying for the day.

“Bare with me,” she said. “This is NOT my native language. Sis, this is for you!”

Laughter and jovial ‘uh-ohs’ sounded off in whispers.

Πηγαίνετε εμπρός και παντρεύεται κάτω από τονήλιο ρύθμισης και το σφύριγμα του ωκεανού

Her Greek was a wee bit….shaky. Maybe at times unintelligible and garnered more than it’s fair share of laughter from all of us, her included.

“Go forth and be married under the setting sun and the ocean’s catcall.”

I thought it was poetic. And hilarious. We toasted as a group, the music got turned up and Clique by Kanye West and friends gave us life on our Santorini dance floor, overlooking the Meditteranean Sea. It was a dream come actionable and I was standing in a small sea of friends and loves that would never let me down.

And just like that, I was waking up on Saturday. I won’t go into every single aspect of the day but I will say my sister and my the other ladies in attendance were incredible to me. I gave my best shot at not being a bridezilla and they showered me with love and prayers throughout the entire day. Everything about this day was woven together in a cloth of love. Every detail had significance; it was small yet grand and well-thought out. At least in my humble opinion.

Shout out to my photographer friends – they all did an amazing job capturing details the other party would have missed. I had two with us, two with the fellows and one that was in constant motion. The mansion had space for everyone. I had several of my favorites there because I wanted THIS day captured by all the eyes that had snapped me on purpose.

So let’s cut to that night. The guys had left when we woke up so none of us had seen any of them since the dinner. No one knew what to expect. Again, it was 7 pm. Seven, being the year of completion, was our chosen our for everything formal. It was also the perfect time to catch the sun begin it’s slow descent and coloring the Greek sky with God’s unique paintbrush. Perfect for our wedding! The guys rode up the beach on horses!! I had no idea this was going to happen. Our bridal suite was full of windows that looked down to the chapel and the beach. You should have seen me jumping (I’m sure it’s on camera) when I saw these brown horses gallop up the shore then parting to make room for the King on the White Horse.

“HOW DID HE DO THIS!!!”, I yelled in excited wonderment? Where was the time for them to teach the horses to part? How did he get the horses and practice this? What in the what? I had a head full of the dopest questions I’ve ever needed answers for and I fell in love with the idea of it all. He knew I loved horses and that my uncle had one named after me. Eventually, when I got pet the actual horse, I noticed it wore a sash that had “Kendria’s Killa” inscribed. It was the name of my uncle’s horse. I told you….it was a small wedding, but the details were grand.

My sisterfriend married us just beyond the loudest voice of the wave; the house we rented came with an outdoor mini-chapel style dome with a pathway that led right to the ocean.

XXXXX stood inside waiting alongside his best man. My bridesmaid walked first and left whole flowers in place of her footsteps. My sister was next. She held a medium sized Swavorski encrusted cage that glimmered against the sunset. Just before she entered the dome of the outdoor chapel, she stopped, opened the cage doors and released two doves into the Greek sky. They flew away together and as practiced, as soon as the next wave was pulled from the sand, I entered.

I walked without nervousness. Each step felt like the joining of forever. I had no accompaniment for a reason; this was my last time feeling like, from a human being stance, I would walk alone. I didn’t wear a veil over my face. Just a simple Swavorski crown with flowing white and pink tulle extending down the back. My dress was a remix of this Krikor Jabotian dress I’d had my eye on for months (but at $11K, I could only get a knockoff). It was extremely elegant for the ocean and 100% me. I couldn’t think of a time when I had felt more radiant or beautiful. The fabric felt like God hugging me as it touched my skin. My eyes had to be sparkling like diamonds because I felt exquisite.

Image result for krikor jabotian
Krikor Jabotian Original

He smiled when he saw me. By the time I stretched my hand to meet his, his cheeks were wet. My sister gave me away. The sun made its final descent for the night, dying and making room for the moon to glow and light up the rest of the evening. We exchanged vows that included laughter and created tears in the eyes of out friendly witnesses. XXXXX is a comedian and all around funny guy.  I opt for being the sensitive one with a knack for describing the moment. Together, our vows spun a web around heaven that locked us in its gates forever. We used to joke that I would have to write his vows for him but he did my heart well with what he spoke. The ocean waves wanted our attention. They grew in size as our nuptials passed and it was when we were granted the keys to eternal love that a gigantic wave crashed against the shore, briefly stealing the attention away from us. Everyone gasped in awe. 

We married without shoes on and the water breeze was heavy enough to move the fabric of my gown. When it services were over, we all ran down the candlelit pathway, women holding dresses and men yelling “JYEAH” towards the sky. We met at the shore for photos, silliness and for that one moment that XXXXX and I stole away from everyone else. We had walked about a half mile away from the party, both standing in front of the Mediterranean on a high. It was as if we couldn’t be bothered to look anywhere but at the water. It was incredibly fascinating. This reminded me of his cover picture. In it, he stares at the Pacific Ocean with admiration and respect. I took it from behind one time when we visited Venice Beach together.

“Look at what we’ve gone and done”, he said without breaking his outward gaze. “I know. Will you keep your promises?”, I replied with a smirk.

He spoke clearly, this time looking me in the face: “I will die before I break a promise to you or the heartbeat in you.”

We held hands, kissed and splashed water on each other with our feet. We walked over to the horses the guys rode in on, and XXXXX and I got on and rode off.  It was love. It was life beginning. We had a small 2nd wedding planned for the states so my mom and stepdad could attend. But this right here – this was all I ever needed.

We joined our friends again with plans to party the night away with tons of food and music. Alone time would come soon. Everyone was leaving Sunday and we had the mansion for an extra two days as a wedding gift from them all. As I changed into my Greek-Goddess reception dress, I looked back in the mirror before exiting the room. My hand was on the door and I noticed there was a ring on my finger. My skin was glowing and slightly tanned. I smiled and spoke a prayer of thankfulness before switching off the light and going back to join my friends and husband downstairs.

He looked at me as soon as I entered the room. His eyes spoke in melodious volumes. I was the woman of his dreams and tonight, his dream came true.

I returned the look as I walked towards him.  The music was up and my sister was bringing food out to the downstairs patio table, where everyone was dancing and talking.

Duke Ellington’s “A Sentimental Mode” came on. Laughter and glasses toasting could be heard on the inside. XXXXX took my hand and right inside the white cave halls of our Santorini mansion, we danced and talked about the rest of our tomorrows,.

I caught a few snaps from the outsiders as they gushed and snuck pictures of us in our moment. It was a balmy night, September 27th, when we became what we knew we were destined to be. …and how exciting it was to spend life with someone worth fighting for, beginning in Santorini.

When I woke up to reality –

– the house was still, the dogs were asleep and Grey’s Anatomy had stopped auto-playing. I put my hand on his side of the bed, moving them in wide circles. Feeling for memories of yesteryear. Looking at the sun pour orange paint across the western end of the sky.

I sat back and smiled at the nocturnal energy I could still feel. In another life, what XXXXX and I experienced together culminated into what we promised each other. A wedding bliss that was simple and abundantly flowing with love.

In this life, we died on the ballroom floor just as the clock struck midnight, and I woke up back by myself with no sign of ocean water in sight.

~j

Sips from My Lemonade: Stages: Chasing Cars in Denial

“I can’t believe he’s not here”

“I can’t believe this happened”

“I can’t believe ( insert emotion ) ”

Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars plays on Spotify. The mood crashes. Suddenly she is thrust back into that space she is constantly trying to keep herself away from. It’s her way of protection; not thinking is her way of self-protection. But there are times when she can’t run, can’t hide and can’t pretend she didn’t lose a part of her that she really wanted to keep.

Life has a way of teaching us that what we WANT and what we DON’T need are sometimes the same damn thing.

It’s a hard lesson to swallow. Some lessons we run from and others won’t leave us be until we’ve accepted their truth. Sometimes it’s a line on a television show or a familiar smell or sound and suddenly you’re back among the echoes of yesterday. For her, this time, Chasing Cars is what sent her searching for the Parked Car she once sat shotgun in.

“If I lay here,

if i just lay here

would you lie with me and,

just forget the world”

~Snow Patrol, Chasing Cars

In these four lines, she pauses the sip of her warm apple cider and looks up from her laptop. Her head, in a slight natural turn, focuses her eyes on the outside window. The leaves are turning colors. For the next five minutes of eternity, she is suspended in what once was.

This is what she mentally runs laps to stay away from. The aftermath of yesterday is haunting when she thinks of it, so for the most part, she doesn’t. She ignores it. She heals in what feels like a quick, slow motion of forwarding steps and controlled thoughts. But again, there are those instances where sprinting through her hurt ceases and all she can do is stand there in the outcome of the war of roses. As unbelievable as it still feels to be here, 8 months after the initial fallout, all she can do is deal with it.

What she always finds perplexing is the level of which she believed in all things them. It seems impossible to ever be able to trust another person with such grandeur but in hindsight, it feels overrated. Suddenly, she would rather have wine and so she pours a glass and places it parallel to the cider. Slow sips from both accompany the recollections: the words and the way they pierced her soul like chars of distressed glass. Insults that snatched her eyelids off and made her stare at the tattered reflection that she could see from his eyes. Shame. Guilt. Things she felt years prior to knowing the man who stood in front of her even existed. she had forgiven herself for everything up until this point and now she stood shortened and defeated by those things she was so good at: words.

Words were breaking her into pieces and alienating the right now from yesterday. Words killed her before: years ago, as a young 20 something, it was words that had her ready to swallow a bottle full of pills that were spread on the living room table. Words have always broken her bones. She found herself falling in love with words after learning how to use them to SPEAK. But on that day, in the second quarter of the newest year, she found words turning against her and ripping to shreds the woman she had become. More sips of the wine and less of the cider keep her tears at bay. She wonders if he thinks as deeply as she does or if the replays in his head seem as harsh to him as they do to her.

“I wonder does he wonder how we got here?”

The song keeps playing, now on repeat, with droopy lyrics that pull at her heartstrings.

I need your grace
To remind me
To find my own

~Snow Patrol, Chasing Cars

She’s all the way in now and might as well allow this mental escapade to run its course. She remembers spontaneous selfies, dressed up events and tons of laughter. Lip syncing contests and long drives to discover waterfalls. It felt like she found her partner finally.  They were a beautiful duo that was the picture of what she thought she wanted.

“I knew you were out there”

She left that message to him on a grid-picture she posted one day. In this moment of 20/20 hindsight, she doesn’t foresee ever trusting herself again. Not in this capacity.  She knows she will get over it and it will become her distant past in due time. Reciprocity is a bitch to catch hold of and until him, she had never felt it from anyone. She’s never actually felt loved, until him. Everyone made her feel a myriad of other ways, but love wasn’t it. She felt loved and supported by him. That’s what hurt her deeply – the love she was confident he held for her was not enough to get him to act on. He didn’t trust who she was and she realized it too late into her love. He didn’t trust her to love him authentically and as is. He didn’t trust her with his truth or the truth they shared. He didn’t even trust that she could leave town and not come back with new dick on her breath. When she thinks back on these things, she runs further away from the idea that they ever existed.

It was all a smokescreen. She was never in a healthy relationship like she used to boast about. He never planned to marry her. He had fleeting respect for her and she couldn’t change his perspective about who she was. She thought he saw her at her core – but it ended up feeling like he saw the book cover and not it’s golden contents. But to that notion, she helped with that quite a bit. She wasn’t the greatest woman like she thought. She was abusive and mean. Cold and tired. She was a survivor who was doing her best to love properly but really had no idea how to execute what she felt. As her backward thoughts played on top of Snow Patrol’s third rotation around the speakers, she realized despite the levels of disappointment and anger she still feels, he most likely loved her as best as knew how too.  NEITHER of them was able to love each other the way they NEEDED.

 

Maybe Jilly w/the Stringy Ass Hair can do him better.

As for her, she never wants to date again. People tell her it will be ok and someone is coming and searching for her and blah blah, meme, meme, blah. . .

She subscribes to none of it. Most WANT this to be temporary feeling for her but she never intends on allowing herself to get that close to anyone else. This was the last time she would share her secrets in someone else’s palm only for them to be thrown into her face like acid. She had done this shit before and was not laughing at the choices she made that got her here again.  Her cherished relationship – the one she would have bet her next heartbeat on – was over and so was her friendship. In losing this friend, she distanced herself from everything and everyone else. It crushed a part of her she doesn’t even want back. As the year prepares to change, she hopes to let go of 2017 in full. But I have a feeling, her tears may continue for years to come.

For now, as other people seem to have LOVE well defined and healthy, she sits in silent envy, controlling her thoughts as best as she can. Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars remind her that she is still healing. She may spend the rest of her forever healing. And man is it easy for the tears to surface.

The song draws near to its close. She wipes her face and straightens her back.

It’s time again –

I’ve learned it’s as easy to remember the bad times as it is the good. Both create permanent records in our head of things that happened, good and bad, and we can pull from either direction. It’s sometimes hard to pull from the good when the bad is present and vice versa. Whichever you pull from, memories can’t decide your future for you…or at least they shouldn’t. But for her, they certainly have. 

– It’s time to stop thinking again.

It’s time to control my her thoughts.

And with that, she stops wondering how they got here, and goes back to accepting this unexpected, permanent truth. Denial serves no one; it only prolongs healthy healing. The last of her wine is gone and her cider is now cold.

How befitting.

Those three words
Are said too much
They’re not enough

~Snow Patrol, Chasing Cars

Death by Strong Arm of self.

Self of arm,

strong by death.

That’s the blog title backward. Sounds like some type of weird spell to cast. When I say it in my head, I have a loud, old English accent. Or maybe a British accent. Definitely an accent.

“Strength is weight you learn to balance”

~Queen Sheba, It Will Pass

During a recent session with my therapist, we started talking about the myth of strength. It’s a word heavily used in our communities and often served on a pedestal when spoken of. Strength is something all black women possess, maybe by default, and when my therapist and I were talking about it, she mentioned how it dates back to slavery days. ‘

Back then, black women had no choice but to be strong. It wasn’t a positive, in fact, it was to our own detriment to expose our genuine emotions. We held in absolutely everything: our cries from rape, our pain from whippings and beatings, our hurt from watching our husbands and children be sold and/or lynched. Every time something happened, we were supposed to stand upright, shut up and not drop a tear. Weakness, otherwise known as feelings, could get us killed or beaten. It could lead to our families being hurt or destroyed and this carried well beyond the slavery days. What must it have felt like to those women who had little white babies suckling from their nipples after their own children were sold, killed or kept from them? 

Still, they better not show emotion. They took the weight of all their despair and sorrows and balanced it by detaching themselves emotionally from their reality. At this point, strength is inherent in our DNA, with every generation of black women bearing their own oppressed torches. Through the 60s (and in many ways still today), black women were still expected to be docile and quiet and to take their bruises with a welcoming smile. Or least a blank expression. For this reason and others, it’s maddening to hear the phrase “angry, black woman”, as if we haven’t earned the right to embrace anger at our fucking leisure. As if anger (which is a derivative of hurt) is something that should be foreign to us when truthfully speaking, we have every damn right to be angry after all these years, and it shouldn’t become how we are categorized or stereotyped!

The phrase “angry black women” gives off the impression that black women should still be strong and silent, happy lil slave women. We shouldn’t hurt and even if we do, we damn sure shouldn’t show it.

Nah, Jody. Not true. You can’t police my feelings. You can’t tell any woman, and especially a black woman, that she can’t be hurt/angry about the shit that has happened either to her or those she loves. But I digress.

The earlier quote I referenced by Queen Sheba is a great interpretation of strength and perfect for this blog. After that conversation with my therapist, I started pondering about the detriments of being ‘too strong’ and whether there’s even such a thing. Our culture promotes strength as something to be proud of. And I admit, I am proud of my own strength. Much like Whitney Houston’s song, there have been many times that I didn’t know how much was there. But is it possible that we are idolizing strength and not recognizing that ‘healthy’ strength (weight) is balanced by weakness?

“Too strong” is something we should all pay attention to see if we are becoming. I assure you, too much strength can be unhealthy for your emotional diet. The meme (via IG) says a ‘strong’ woman can go through the worst of her life and you won’t know it unless she tells you. It reminds me of that cliche,  ‘thank God I don’t look like what I’ve been through.” But how much of this mentality works against us? I’m not suggesting we should be walking around looking like life has dragged us through the mud or yelling from the rooftop what our current life issues are, but I am starting to think that sometimes people close to you need to know you are going through hell. Not for their personal pleasures but so that you can have that safe space. A sounding board if need be. Or a quiet place to sit. Whatever the case, many people don’t tell folks what is going on with them; I know because I am one of them.

We are so strong, so super, that we got it all handled. It’s under control. We are Olivia Pope to our problems. WE ARE STRONG BLACK WOMEN!!!!

Image result for if people wanted you to talk good about them they

“I’m fine” should be tattooed across my forehead in a glow in the dark ink with daytime visibility. I say it so much that sometimes, I don’t know if I’m telling the truth or a lie. Have you ever felt that nagging feeling that pulls at you internally whenever you answer ‘how are you doing‘ with “I”m fine” or ‘I’m ok’ when inside you know you are less than your best and maybe unraveling? We either don’t trust that people truly are concerned with how we are doing or we don’t trust them with our information. Oh, and then there’s that other thing where we don’t want to be a burden to others so we withhold our true feelings. And let’s not forget the mentality of “I should be over it’ and ‘it ain’t that deep’ and my favorite, ‘I keep it moving.’ All the while, we are holding in different emotions about different shit, on top of life happening plus work and/or school and the kids and animals and the goals, dreams, passions . . .

…is there just no time to stop and feel?

It’s not a secret that I come from a family of women that didn’t show emotions or couldn’t be bothered with feelings. Matter a fact, the women that did involve themselves in authentic feeling (my aunt Millie and somewhat my aunt Jessie) were looked at as weaklings. My Grandmother spoke of crying with disgust. She elt the same about mourning the dead. But I will never forget seeing her face full of tears shortly before we lost her mentally, and if you’ve been around this blog long enough, you know I question if everything she held in contributed to her Alzheimers? At some point, we don’t have any more room for stuffing, repressing and hiding memories. It will eventually come out in another form. Look at the former slave women and all their backbreaking strength. They were worn, tired and bent over from carrying all that emotionaLESS weight.

Listen to that statement again:

“strength is weight you learn to balance”

~Queen Sheba

Regardless of whether you are balancing or near the tipping point, you are carrying weight like a fetus that never stops growing even when you begin to run out of skin. If you’re running out of skin, you’re holding in too much weight and if you’re holding too much weight, you’re being too damn strong! Do you realize that STRENGTH can also turn into STRESS??? And we all are aware that stress can lead to heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, and death. Strength is great on a meme and in Popeye cartoons, but did you know that too much of it can end your life?

Don’t kill yourself with strength.

Weakness has a bad rap.

It’s associated with being lesser or not up to par when in reality, being weak is healthy and does not denote a deficiency. In fact, allowing yourself space and self-respect to be weak or have weak moments is a true testament to your strength.  At my last appointment with my therapist, I was talking about missing the feeling of having my ‘person’ and the process of building the life I saw for us. As I spoke, my words began to tremble. Instinctively, I fought it and then I quit. I let the tears fall. I let the emotion exist. I took the breathe I needed. I continued my conversation. I survived. As tiny and as brief of a moment as it was, it was better that I didn’t hold it in and stuff it on top of all the other abandoned emotions left in my field of repressed memories. I watched a documentary of about adults pursuing their high school diplomas. There was a lady who was frustrated with school and was in the office with the principal and her counselor. As she talked about being stressed out, she began to cry. As she apologized for her tears, she said: “sometimes I have to just let it out.”

We were not created to carry the weight of life on our shoulders and proudly beat our chests because we don’t allow ourselves the proper moments to feel. We are supposed to feel. We NEED to feel. It’s detrimental to our health and to our coveted strength. To feel means to mourn. It means to cry. It means to be hurt. To be angry. Sad. Distraught. Melancholy. Confused even. It means to stop fighting it. Let go of the ego that is embarrassed and BE. FEEL. Experience your personal human journey authentically.

THAT is what true strength is – the balance between what you feel and the ability to discern what to do about it.

That’s how you maintain and grow your strength. Write. Sing. Dance. Scream. Kick. Cry. Your tears are dropping on fertile soil. Grow thru your feelings. You will look like you’ve grown. People will notice and that’s ok. It’s actually ok to look like everything isn’t perfect. One more time:

“Strength is weight you learn to balance”

~Queen Sheba

Strength is a balancing act of equal weights but another definition of strength is: ” a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions”. For this blog, the elements would be strength and ‘weakness’ (also known as authentically feeling your emotions). If you combine the two, you will get authentic strength rather than just the kind that reads well on a meme.

Don’t let the spell fall on you and trick you into an early grave: Self of arm, Strong by Death.

~J

Dear Nicole: A Perspective on Guilt & Black Lives

***WARNING: Graphic Photos.

Dear Nicole Simpson Brown,

Where do I begin?

Not long ago, I watched the FX television miniseries,“The People v. O.J. Simpson”, and after the six-episode concluded, I had a clearer perspective on your and O.J. Simpson’s relationship that I didn’t have back in 1995 when I was sixteen years old. The series was well acted and although I recall most of the details, I wasn’t completely engulfed in the trial back then. I didn’t even really know who O.J. Simpson was. I just knew he was a football player who had been in Naked Gun or something, and I only knew about the acting because that’s how people kept trying to relate him to me. I knew what happened and I knew he seemed guilty. I also knew he was black and Rodney King was no stranger to me. And so 16-year-old Kendria Smith had her mind made up on what the outcome should be. I was in the school office at North Central that day.

Someone screamed in the hallway but didn’t sound hurt; it was a joy. Quickly the screams turned into outright cheers and people started running down the hallway. All the black students within earshot of the person who found out the verdict first were rejoicing. Someone came into the office and yelled out NOT GUILTY, and the office cheered. I didn’t…well, not OUTWARDLY. I cheered internally. It was the exact outcome I had hoped for, and it stings me to say this, but-

-I had no remorse for you at the time.

But hey, I was 16 if that soothes the bruise a bit.

The People vs. OJ show gave me a clearer view of the entire situation but if that wasn’t enough, a documentary followed (put on by a different station) that was just as captivating.

O.J.: Made in America was a five part documentary that included Simpson’s own voice, police tapes, private home videos and lots more information. Because it was a documentary,  there were also interviews with people who were a part of the trial including Marsha Clark. The difference with this film was it explored and dissected race in America, particularly in LA at the time and related it all to Simpson, you and everything that transpired. It was pretty intense at times. Add to all of this I’m much older than sixteen now and more seasoned than I was then. I’ve been in an abusive relationship and if you’ve been around these blog parts long enough, you may know that I’ve almost died at the hands of a man I loved. I’ve had a gun pointed directly at me or more than one occasion. So as a survivor of domestic abuse, I see your relationship with OJ and your subsequent murder with an evolved way of thinking.

I’ve rambled long enough. I should say what I came to say.

We live in a fucked up society man.

There are hundreds of thousands of beautiful people with strong personalities that could light up the world if given the opportunity, but as much as we have them, we have evil spirited people; folks who only know hate and bigotry and create destruction in both their words and actions. Sometimes it’s a challenge to find the balance in it all but I have to believe it’s possible….right? Our country has spit on black people since they ripped my ancestors out of their sleep with knives and chains and stuffed their freedom on a big ass ship to bring them over to United States of Stolen Territory. Some were dumped in the ocean like discarded cattle carcasses during six-to-thirteen week voyage. They made them slaves to white laziness, raped them and killed them for fun. They pic-a-nigger’d my people and right now today, picnicking is something considered cool to do on a date. My people’s pain is our current vocabulary.

They stole from us, bombed us, wouldn’t let us be free even once we were. And more than any other havoc they could wreck on us, they killed us. Excuse me…”them”.

They killed them. Them = My people.

And time after time, they got away with it. They hunted us for sport, lynched us in front of public town halls and made sellable postcards out of it. White people wrote love notes and I miss you letters on the backs of our broken necks!! And there was no consequence – it was ALWAYS condoned. They even did interviews admitting to the gruesome ways of which they ended black lives. It should be noted the lynchings were hardly ever JUST the hanging of people. Often it involved beatings, getting shot or drowned or burned as well. Black death has always been inhumane. Fetuses have been cut from hanging black mother’s wombs to fall on the ground and be pierced with shotgun blasts.

Always inhumane.

It continued until it was illegal. But then their homes were stalked and set on fire. Their husbands were kidnapped and killed.

They were shot in their own driveways, in the back, by a scandalous coward.

Shot in the neck from across the street by a scandalous coward.

But as a race, my people have remained unbreakable. We have long been victims of a system that was not created to include us but that still prevails today. People in denial have spoken of how racism no longer exists or how these events are things so far in the past that no one should still be affected by them but I beg to differ. And I know you are wondering why I am saying all this to you, but I assure you it will all tie together in just a second. Racism is not something that halted in the 1960’s and only resurfaces when black people bring it up; racism never ended in the first place. Yes things have changed and many doors opened in the name of racial equality but our climate is just as dangerous and racially charged as it was in 1964. The only thing you need in order to keep racism alive is a family that is willing to pass down the tradition of hate to their offspring. My grandmother couldn’t vote. My mother was a kid when MLK was killed.

The year that O.J. Simpson went to trial (1995), the Rodney King verdict was still a fresh reminder for anyone who thought racism was a thing of the past that. No matter what you want to call it, this justice system doesn’t give a damn about black people and never has. Seeing the Rodney King tape all these years later still invokes the same gasp in my spirit. How a jury could acquit any of those officers can only be explained by saying #FuckBlackLives!

And now, twenty plus years later little has changed. Black men, women, and children are repeatedly being shot and killed by police and local citizens and their deaths are almost always justified in the eye of the law despite any video and/or witness accounts that tell a different story. The police shoot and kill us and put our children in harm’s way with no disciplinary action taken. The silent department oath must be shoot to kill all black people and children at will. Every argument used to against us has been proven to be useless in saving our lives. Respectability politics have yet to save our lives. I’m personally tired of marching and protesting and going to community meetings. None of what we say or do keeps us from being another hashtag or temporary trending story.

Throughout history, our families have been ripped apart and dismantled. Our heads of households stolen. Our men killed in cars and department stores. Our daughters can’t stand in alleys or sleep on couches and our sons can’t reach for their wallet, drive their car, sell cigarettes or CDs, steal from the bodega (like typical teenagers), they can’t play with toy guns, and they better not ask any questions.

It’s a sick cycle that we didn’t ask to be born into yet here we are. This has been the temperament of our country since before you or my arrival and I tell you, Nicole, it’s fucking exhausting.

I was inspired to write you a letter after I watched the final episode of the documentary series. As I said earlier, it was quite an intense watch. Not only did they heavily cover your relationship to OJ from start to end, but they also showed every graphic photo they had including pictures from the crime scene. I saw how he slashed your throat open and nearly decapitated you. I went to school for forensics with the hope that I would eventually work crime scenes and help solve cases. I can’t help but imagine the horror of the people who turned your defeated body over and found you nearly cut in half. It takes a lot of personal rage to run a knife across someone’s neck until its halfway cut off like that. They also showed Ron Goldman’s bloodied body, full of defense wounds and slumped over. There were photos from your collection that you took for evidence of beatings. They played some of your 911 calls and I could hear the terror in your voice when you spoke to the operators and told them he was gonna kill you. Then there was the cop interviewed that answered one of your calls for help who found you naked, hiding in the bushes outside the home you shared. What a terrible way to live.Nicole-Simpson-Abuse-Diaries-1

It’s easy for people to sit back and wonder why you kept going back but I get it. We, victims of domestic abuse, tend to hope that the person we met and loved pre-violence will return to us, sans the monster. Most times, they promise us he will and we let our heart do the thinking for our brain. It takes a lot of willpower and courage to leave an abusive relationship for good and to start over, but after some time you managed to do it. You freed yourself from chains of needing to hide your face in public and call 911 but Nicole, were you still scared? Did you look over your shoulder at times? It was shown how OJ essentially stalked you and let you know he was watching by harassing you when you had company over. As you tried to rebuild your life and give your children a healthy childhood, I can’t help but think you had to still fear for yourself. That fateful day that your mother left her glasses at the restaurant that would lead Ron Goldman coming to your home, had you let your guard down? Were you feeling confident in yourself and your fresh start? Had O.J. given you a break in the crazy phone calls and relentless stalking?

What we know is you were brutally murdered by a savage with a vendetta against you and anyone within eyeshot of you. Your life was not taken by a serial killer or some crazed lunatic on a murderous rampage. It was very personal. It was one of the worst crime scenes I’ve ever seen and as someone with a semi-forensics background; I can honestly say I’ve seen my share of them via photos. Watching both the television series and then the documentary made me hurt for you in a way I didn’t when I was sixteen. It put a human to your face instead of a ‘white woman’, which is all I thought when I was a teenager. Now, all these years later, I relate to you as a woman. I hurt for the way your life was taken and the fear that probably touched your soul as it became harder to breathe. I know people who were shot and killed by the men they loved. I know what it’s like to lose someone to domestic violence, but it seems like the ones I know got off easily in comparison to you. You suffered, and I do believe that was the intent of your murderer. All the evidence pointed to OJ Simpson. Two different television shows with tons of reenactment and actual documents and videos, including home videos from when he first got back to his house after the trial was over, make it hard to see anyone else at the forefront of your murder.

I believe with all my heart that OJ Simpson is the person who stole your life. He played God in your marriage and again in your death. The OJ I learned of through these movies is not who I knew when I was cheering for him in high school. Remember, I didn’t know much about him as a persona. Today, I write this letter heavily saddened for you. My heart actually feels the same heaviness for you that I felt from April Willis, the last person I knew to lose her life to domestic violence. As a woman and a mother, you deserved your life. You deserved to still be here, to see your beautiful children grow up and to experience aging. There is no ‘reason’ you should be dead aside from loving the wrong man.

I 100% believe that O.J. Simpson plotted and planned to take your life and ultimately executed it with a perfect sloppiness. His hateful love for you controlled HIM so much that the adrenaline he felt from killing you wouldn’t allow him to even clean up after himself. It was so obvious and with the background of your relationship being taken into account, it was expected. Your sister expected it. But I think she thought you were free just like you did. I’m sorry that you died Nicole. I am sorry that you were not free.

I’m sorry that OJ’s selfish need to dictate your every move led to the ending of your life and I’m even sorrier for how it ended. No one should have to die like that. No one should be taken from this world while their kids are just feet away. You shouldn’t have had to look over your shoulder day in and out worrying about your safety. You weren’t allowed to just be; you had to live in fear. You didn’t get the opportunity to grow into all the potential that you had because your life was deemed unworthy of living. OJ declared himself judge, jury, and executioner of your story and he ended it at his choosing without so much as an apologetic gloss over his eyes. I think internally, he was happy. I think every day that he sat at the table during the trial he replayed what he did in his head confidently. He was proud of himself and the further the Dream Team got him from a guilty verdict, the more arrogant he was in his demeanor, confidence and proudness. And as a woman, as a survivor and even as a future stepmother, I hurt for the unceremonious way you were taken from this world.nicole

I apologize for the violence and fear you experienced throughout your relationship with OJ Simpson that led to your ultimate death. I am sorry that your children were left motherless and then forced to live with the man that made them that way. I’m sorry OJ was abusive and crazy and that the demons (mental illness) he lived with in his head did not get the appropriate help that he needed. I’m sorry that we tell women to ‘get out’ of violent relationships but we abandon them after that. We judge them when they don’t leave, but we don’t take into account that leaving could still result in their murder. I’m sorry that as a country and a people, we have yet to figure out a true safe exit for women who are in fear of their lives. It’s common sense (IMO) that if a man is trying to kill you in the relationship, leaving won’t stop him either. Woman to woman, I’m sorry for a lot of things.

…but I’m not sorry he got off Not Guilty.

I would vote him not guilty today if I was on the jury. I’m not even sorry for feeling that way. I am sorry that we live in a society and a country where Black Lives don’t matter so much that we as a people could knowingly see this man killed you and still feel obliged to support him and champion for him to get off. I’m sorry that we live in a country where black lives have mattered so little that the entire black population of my high school flooded the hallways rife with happiness from the not guilty verdict. I am sorry that we all know we don’t matter here and that we must take our victories when they come, even at the expense of others.

I am sorry that we have been sacrificial lambs for this country since our bodies were being dumped in the ocean on the journey here. I am sorry for my ancestors who were chained together and lying on top of each other, covered in piss and feces, fear and pain. I am sorry for the whips that snatched the leftover scent of Africa from our skin that would never again heal right. I am sorry for the thousands of black women that gave birth to mixed race babies that were a product of rape. I’m sorry for the times our men couldn’t save and protect us and the times that we couldn’t do the same for them. I am sorry that Mike Brown was gunned down in the street like a wild animal and I am sorry that there needed to be instances such as marches on Washington, Voters Rights, sit-ins, protests, bus boycotts and white’s only fountains, restrooms and restaurants. I am sorry that black people have always been good enough to entertain, but never great enough to be human.

Michael Brown Sr., yells out as the casket is lowered during the funeral service for his son Michael Brown in Normandy, Mo., Monday, Aug. 25, 2014. Hundreds of people gathered to say goodbye to Michael Brown, the 18-year-old shot and killed Aug. 9 in a confrontation with a police officer that fueled almost two weeks of street protests. (AP Photo/New York Times, Richard Perry, Pool)
Michael Brown Sr., yells out as the casket is lowered during the funeral service for his son Michael Brown in Normandy, Mo., Monday, Aug. 25, 2014. Hundreds of people gathered to say goodbye to Michael Brown, the 18-year-old shot and killed Aug. 9 in a confrontation with a police officer that fueled almost two weeks of street protests. (AP Photo/New York Times, Richard Perry, Pool)

And for that, we cheered when OJ got off.

Our verdict-rejoicing inadvertently condoned your death and I am sorry that this is the type of country we occupy.

This letter might sound like an oxymoron but I believe that is the nature of where we live. Not enough people actively believe that black lives really matter. This country was built BY us but not FOR us or even with us in mind. We started as property and although we are not such anymore, we are treated with resentment because of it. We are given NIGGER status every time we step out of our houses and unable to return at night. Every time we are shot as we are in cars (Sam Dubose, Philando Castile, Deravis Rogers), and crowds (Rekia Boyd), and Walmarts (John Crawford) and parks (Tamir Rice), we are reminded that we that too many white people, we are still pic-a-niggers. I remember after O.J. got off for your murder, he was sued in civil court by both you and Ron’s families. The case was won on you all’s behalf and he was ordered to pay. According to the documentary, he would hide his incoming money so that it would not be reported and turned over to the families. His disrespect of you even in death was a direct parallel of the treatment black people get on a daily basis. I’m sorry that it was you chosen to be the lamb for us…but honestly, it was about time someone was.

I’m sorry that black families are broken and disrupted forever by untimely deaths and the only thing they offer us as a way of pacification is to give us a few million dollars that will be scaled down tremendously by taxes. O.J. Simpson was ordered to pay $25 Million dollars to your and Ron Goldman’s families for taking your lives. Our families (black families) are often awarded sums in the amounts of 2.5 million and sometimes four. **UPDATE: Sandra Bland: 1.9 Million settlement. Tamir Rice: 6 Million. Akai Gurley: 4.5 Million. Philip Coleman: 4.95 Million. That’s not even adding up to the 25 million Ms. Simpson and Mr. Goldman’s families received. ***UPDATE: Michael Brown’s (no officer indictment) family settled for 1.2 million. Philando Castille’s (officer found not guilty) mother just settled for 2 million. (updated 6.26.17)

Our lives are not valued here; not judicially or financially and I’m sorrier about that more than anything. I’m sorry we needed a win of some kind. But after Tulsa, OK and after the Philly bombings, and of course the lynchings, shootings, rapes, Emmitt Till and a list that continues literally through TODAY, we deserved and needed a win. We played nice for too long and waited for those in office to give a damn long enough to actually recognize there even is a problem, much less help us fix it. This was not something anyone would have wanted to happen, but since it did . . . the acquittal was merely an opportunity for us to stick the shoe on the other foot.

We needed O.J. to get off for murder. It’s sick. It’s sad. It’s unfortunate. It’s not something to be proud of. But as I look at the climate of this country over time and including the here and now, and as sorry as I am that your life was taken in the manner of which it was, I am still not sorry that OJ got off.

Defendant O.J. Simpson (C) cheers while standing with his attorneys F. Lee Bailey (L) and Johnnie Cochan Jr (R), after hearing the not guilty verdict in his crimininal murder trial, Los Angeles, California, October 3, 1995. Simpson was found not guilty of killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown-Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. (Photo by Agence France Presse/Getty Images)
Defendant O.J. Simpson (C) cheers while standing with his attorneys F. Lee Bailey (L) and Johnnie Cochan Jr (R), after hearing the not guilty verdict in his crimininal murder trial, Los Angeles, California, October 3, 1995. Simpson was found not guilty of killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown-Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. (Photo by Agence France Presse/Getty Images)

I am sorry that he disappointed us and wouldn’t go away. He was supposed to tuck his guilty ass in the corners of society and find silence and solitude in his victory. If this were a case on Law & Order, he would have been found guilty. All the evidence pointed at him from every single angle. He should NOT have gotten away with murder but the elements of a corrupted legal system, a police force wild with badge carrying racists and a community desperate for their own justice set him up to win. We convinced ourselves that he didn’t kill you. We ignored the taped phone calls and the pictures of your swollen and bruised face. We pretended that all the blood droppings that tested positive for you and Ron, found in his home and truck, were merely a coincidence. We as a people dismissed your death and in return, OJ was supposed to disappear. He instead remained the same arrogant asshole he had always been and it caught up to him.

Honestly, he let us down. He wrote that tacky, insensitive book and ran through the black community making a mockery of himself and us as he tried to refresh his fifteen minutes. We were the people who celebrated with him and were proud of the Dream Team. Everyone bought an ‘if it don’t fit, you must acquit’ t-shirt and wore Not Guilty hats in honor of a man who didn’t even identify with us prior to this. As sick as I know it sounds, we were subconsciously and quite temporarily happy. FINALLY, the white people would get a taste of what it’s like to bury a loved one and no one be held accountable despite the obvious guilt. They would learn what it’s like to have the system be a massive FAILURE for them. That feeling that we never get to rid ourselves of –

-the feeling that your life and your loved one’s lives don’t matter, had been reciprocated. Having all the signs point to one person and their unlawful transgressions and that person be able to smile and walk away free from the courtroom was an infliction that up until that trial, was most likely to affect the black community. FINALLY, we got a win on our side.

I’m sorry this is the country we live in.

I’m sorry this is the letter I’m writing to your memory. I don’t support abuse and I don’t condone muder. Your children are adults now and O.J. Simpson is in prison. He will get the CHANCE of parole next year, but it’s a safe bet that he won’t get it. OJ has been punished for the murders he committed by way of a different, lesser crime; he will likely do every hour of his sentence. The trial is 20 years old but I’m sure your family as well the Goldman’s still feels the weight of your absence and the hurt of the not guilty verdict.

I’m really sorry that you lost your life, Nicole.

You absolutely did NOT deserve to. You were a beautiful woman. I champion for women of all races – for our equality, our safety, and our respect. I would champion for you too. I have championed for you.

I wish you wouldn’t have answered the door that night. I wish your mom had have remembered her glasses. I wish your children still had their mother here. They should have grown up WITH you; not memories of you.

I’m sorry. I really am.

But I’m not sorry O.J. Simpson got away with murder.

It was a win for the black community. A disgusting, filthy, blood win. A win we would have preferred to not want so badly. But it was a mirror of the type of loss and subsequent failure of justice that we experience far too often. Just ask the mothers of Philando Castile. Alton Sterling. Remarley Graham. Freddie Grey. LaTasha Harlin. Akai Gurley.  Trayvon. Tamir. Jordan. Michael. John. Keith. Bettie.Kevin.Leroy. James. Roy. Thomas Shipp. Miguel. Tiara. Sandra. Cornelius. Chandra. Jamar. Richard. Stephen. Michael Lee. Alonzo.merliemamie till paperrkingrma

ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: Lesley McSpadden (in red) is comforted during the funeral services for her son Michael Brown inside Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis Missouri. Michael Brown, an 18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Robert Cohen-Pool/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO – AUGUST 25: Lesley McSpadden (in red) is comforted during the funeral services for her son Michael Brown inside Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis Missouri. Michael Brown, an 18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Robert Cohen-Pool/Getty Images)

er

The list is literally endless. There are so many names of unarmed, unjustified deaths of black people that I just started using first names so I could write this overdue blog faster.

For that reason alone,

As sorry as I am that you lost your life, I’m not sorry that the white race spent a little time in our tap shoes. I’m not sorry that there was a sacrifice.

I’m not sorry that O.J. Simpson got away with murder.OJ

Not when Alton Sterling just spent the night in the ground for the first time last night.a sterlAnd it won’t be much longer before someone else joins him –

-scratch that. Philando was the next day.philandoWhen I started this letter, I intended it to speak on behalf of me and my people.

But now, I think I will let it just speak for me.

And I ain’t sorry.
~Januarie

*****9.28.16, 4:53PM – THERE HAVE BEEN AT LEAST 5 NEW NAMES ADDED SINCE i WROTE THIS. IT’S WAY MORE THAN FIVE; I’M JUST LYING TO MYSELF.  POINT IS, THE LIST IS STILL GROWING….AND I’M STILL NOT SORRY. #nOTgUILTY

A Filthy Past & A New Fools Gold #FountainPen ItsRainingPens

It amazes me that I am even here.

That I stand on these shaky, broken grounds, once more in life. Having failed at another relationship, here I stand trying to pick up my toys and relocate my toybox. It’s a trying time in my life, to say the least. But it’s ok. I am not here to blog about the breakup. Or even the guy.

I do want to talk about the past tho.

This was not one of the intended blogs to be released during my #ItsRainingPens blog blitz that started on Monday, disappeared yesterday and is returning today. LOL. I’m going to get this blog thing right one day. Yesterday, I was in no mental space to write, edit, post, share – nothing. I had just landed on these unstable grounds and was trying to figure out who stole my luggage and blogging became the least important thing to do. But I’m here now. And I have something I want to know.

How much weight does the past get to hold on to the present?

Often times, on social media, I see posts that range from typed status’ to memes and pictures that swear no one gets to hold your past over your head. People all over seem to agree that no matter how the past has shaped your current standing, it’s still the past. It has no weight and cannot be held against you in the future. ESPECIALLY if you have already paid the cost of your sins, whatever they were.

But do we really mean this?

Yaw know how much I love the following statement: “You can’t make a hoe a housewife”.

Lol.

Yeah. We know you can’t. Thanks Too Short, or whatever rapper dropped that precious nugget through the hip hop wires and taught us that once a woman stakes her claim under a label (that she likely didn’t give herself), she is forever tainted and unpure.

The reason I bring that statement up is because of this: What if she changed? Is she a hoe forever by default?

Will she ever deserve to be a housewife, IF that’s what she wants? Will she ever be able to reinvent herself or grow or blossom into a brand new woman? No? Oh I get it. It’s because her past is hers and it doesn’t erase because she became a new breed. So no matter what she grows into, what she learns about herself or how accomplished she gets in her life, she will forever wear this stigma and subsequent Scarlet A on her forehead as a warning to the “brothers” that this one is only good for fucking. Will any man bold enough to venture onto my blogs dare tell me I’m wrong ? Or right?

Here’s the point I’m  trying to make. If her past is just that, her past, then who are we to hold her to it for the rest of her life? Who are we to make her repay for the crimes she’s committed against herself? What do we know about her – her past, her personal traumas, etc….what made her the way she was? Who did she talk to? Who tried to help? Often times, no one does, so a younger girl could be stuck in this dimly lit spin cycle of knowing what’s right but doing what’s not necessary smiled upon. But when she makes it out of all of that, alive and still holding her crown and her reflection with a prideful smile, in what world do any of us get to learn about her past and tell her that it’s payday time….again? Who are we to call her names years and in some cases, decades after changing her entire scoop of living?

People who judge folks based on their past absolutely make me chuckle inside (after I pilfer through and cast aside my anger). The reason being is because if you have your finger stuck out towards anyone else’s past, it makes me think that your audacity itself is what is holding up your pedestal. Clearly, you have no past. You have no mistakes. Oh, the perfect places you’ll go . . .

 

People don’t judge folks solely for their past sexual activities, that’s just the most easy and most popular. People talk shit about folks for everything they can pick apart. You have to be careful who’s arms you allow your past to lay in. Some folks will use what they know (past/present…it doesn’t matter. Some folks are just shitty humans) against you. They will spite you with information YOU provided them. They will dehumanize you, talk about you to other folks, call you names, leave you, disrespect you and/or mistreat you based on their personal judgement(s) of what all you have done and experienced….sans their presence as a guide to Godly living. You know that’s why folks don’t really like “Church people” right? It’s because of that entitlement to judge others based on what you know, and then having a PIECE OF A SCRIPTURE to back their argument. In other words they take their favorite bible verses that you’ve been hearing since you were 11 and dropping change in the offering basket, and use it as proof as to why they are correct and you there, you’re wrong. But taking three sentences out of a paragraph or one paragraph out of a full Chapter, in any other realm, means you just changed the direction and perspective of what you’re reading. It’s called ‘taking it out of context’. Is this always the case with ‘church folk?’ Nah. But it is quite often….church folks can take any scripture and make it to fit their current argument. One scripture from the middle of the bible somehow encompasses gay people, promiscuity, and whatever other argument they are having at that moment.  I find myself wondering if they are trying to win a case or speak for God or is this an episode from Candid Camera. What does perfection really feel like? #AskingForMyself

People and their nerves. But more on that later…My final blog this week will be about taking bible verses out of context. So I’ll stop there with that thought but my purpose for even saying it is to speak on the judgment inflicted upon the pasts of people whose current life speaks completely different.

Pulling this full circle, yesterday, an argument ensued based on my past. Here it is…my past I mean:

….prior to Januarie but somewhere in the midst of NSAY. It was my 27th birthday and had a boyfriend who lived with his mother. I don’t know the true point of me even saying that other than to say my decision making wasn’t the greatest. For my birthday, a friend I had known from my past life invited me to a place I possessed all the curiosity about: TopSided. Indy’s premier sex club.

 

So yeah, I visited the club. It was different than I expected. Indiana laws had changed. Things were quite conservative there…inside the sex club. O.O

All the happenings of this trip were placed in a private journal, which was infringed upon unnecessarily. There was no reason for my journal to be looked through. Dude is a fucking troll for that. A straight troll. I have never gone through any of his stuff. I have respected his space but mine for some reason, I wasn’t welcomed to that same treatment. It’s not the first time he’s invaded my privacy.  And I’ve given no reason for that to happen. NONE! Nonetheless, it did. As a result, I was tongue lashed in the worst way that ended with the ending of my relationship. But this all came from an intrusive, uninvited visit into my past. An 11-year-old past.

Eleven Years Later, and I am being called to task to answer to my current man for my past transgressions and foolish decisions? And for what it’s worth, I don’t have ANY regrets. It’s not something I would do today. I’m in a completely different space and life, surrounded by completely different people. But it’s something I did when I was still in my 20s learning about myself. But just 24 hours ago, I was referred to as a host of things aside from poet, writer, artsy chick, JY, Kennie, etc…..If I were to list what was spoken to me, it would make me vomit. I’m surprised it didn’t when I was reading it, but mentally, I am so numb to this shit that I can’t formulate any more ideas on what to say or do. I give up. I gave my ALL. And it was not enough.

My current life ended because my past life existed. And from someone who once told me that nothing about me or my past would ever make him stop loving or wanting to be with me. Until yesterday……yesterday, I was a filthy woman who he would never have talked to had he known. I’m a woman with a past so disgusting that she doesn’t share it. #MyPastAintNoMoreDisgustingThanANYONES #YoursIncludedNigga #MyPastIsNoWorseThanYourPresentSituation

The thing that the people who stand on this 100 Ft high pedestals fail to realize in the midst of judging other folks about their past is that often times, your past creates a debt that you eventually pay. It’s one thing if that payment date is JUSt now making it to you. But when you’ve paid your dues, when you’ve done your time – all you want is to live. You’re not trying to live under the umbrella of whatever you did no more than a felon is trying to live under his reputation as he tries to go straight and narrow.

I can’t speak for the world, but for ME, my past has cashed checks that came right out of my ass. I will NOT repay for any of it. I will not allow my past to be used against me currently. I will not let it dictate who I am currently. All it can be used for are teachable moments to people that I think can handle what I share. But it doesn’t define me. It can’t. And what it also can’t do is becomes an active resource of proof to show how I am a failure today. Nah.

NO ONE SHOULD ALLOW THAT.

No one has the fucking right to dig up your ghosts and turn your day into a nightmare from Haddonfield. It’s not ok. It’s not love. It’s childish to snoop in other people’s PRIVATE things btw. But I digress….

“No woman I would ever be with would have a past like yours.”

That hurt.

It hurt because of who said it. It hurt because of why he was saying it. It hurt because it’s not something I could ever see myself saying to him…or anyone else. It hurt because I’ve paid for all of my crimes. I have paid with my life in more ways than I care to name in regards to the past. Most people will never know the many ways of which I have been called to task….but I know I have. He doesn’t know how much life it took out of me to get to who I am today. L I T E R A L L Y!(And i’m really trying to stop using that word).

The losses.

The failures.

The missteps.

The molestation.

The ho’ing around (sucking and fucking everyone is what I believe he said).

The abortions.

The loss of self respect.

The anger and hurt.

The suicidal thoughts and considerations.

The wishes and prayers for death to find me without me doing it.

The repeated BV problems.

and my grand favorite, The Infertility.

Belle GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

I’ve paid with my life for the life I’ve lived. I fought hard for the me that is here today. HARD. My ex seems to think that I was sucking and fucking everyone and loved to do it so much but don’t want it now. He has no idea about me…..and it’s been 2 years. I guess I should have stepped in and told him just how much fucking fucked up my life, my self-respect, my body, my future…..I should have told him from the gate that sex tried to ruin my life and I had to fight back to get to JY status. But, we’ll color that my mistake.

 

At what point does the past no longer have an outstanding debt on your future?

Idk.

but what I know for sure, is he’s the last person to ever get an opportunity to do this to me again. All that disrespect I received (and he truly believes it’s deserved) reminded me of something: My Past.

And not me going to Top Sided for my birthday.

It reminded me of #MuseRandy. You may remember him if you go that far back with this blog. Randy tore me down every opportunity he got. He made me feel so small and diminutive. Dismissive. Like trash. He made me feel like I should kill myself. I wonder if he suggested it once like I remember? Maybe I made that up. He got in my head and stayed there. I couldn’t get out of his thoughts about me. I believed what he said about me. I wanted to die because I believed it. But I made it beyond that. But I didn’t make it this far to have any of those reminders come from the person I wanted to spend forever with. Nah. Funny how this temper tantrum about my past came to be and he swears he doesn’t know anything about me (or know me at all…his words), but your actions triggered my past in the most gut-wrenching way. WORD HURT ME AND I DON”T CARE HOW THAT MAKES YOU FEEL!!!!! **YOU is an interchangeable word and not reserved for my ex. Idc how mad you get, you don’t get to just fly off the lips with words. You don’t. Not with me. You don’t get to say things to me and then attempt to make me feel bad for being sensitive to the blows that words can give. Yesterday, I stood in front of the man that used to stare so beautifully at me and felt those things. Small. Diminutive. Disposable. Not good enough. Crazy even, but that’s another subject.

Man that’s not us.  If he read this, he would say ‘you’re playing victim I see”. LOL. Nah. I’m playing real life. Just not airing his shit out. I don’t mind airing my own tho. I don’t want to judge other folks based on shit they no longer do or engage in. I don’t want to hold them to the standards of who they used to be as currency. I want to make sure I am cognizant that while people’s pasts most definitely shape who they are as a person, they don’t MAKE the person. And also, I stress this: we never know what all a person has endured to get to the better version of themselves they are today. We don’t know what prices they paid for the whatevers from their past.

And so who THE FUCK are we to think we have the right to stand high like God’s fist,

and redefine them in the present????

***Now Playing: Intruder, Lupe Fiasco

 

~j

The Great Black (h)Ope: After the Ball Ends.

Back in the day, I had a strong dislike for Oprah. In fact, I wished she would go away. I wished my aunt and grandmother’s televisions would stop tuning into her 4 o’clock judgmental shenanigans. My grandmother knew Oprah’s father personally and he had visited her a few times over my youth. When I first started doing poetry, my grandmother used to talk about how to get me on Oprah’s show using her (my gmom’s) connects. I used to think to myself “well that won’t work because I don’t like Oprah and she doesn’t like her father” so…eh. To the contrary, I wanted to like her. After all, she was a rich, black woman on my television with the top-rated daytime talk show. I could identify with her in so many ways so the fact that I didn’t like her was a bit troubling to my spirit but I went with it because I was passionate about what I felt.

My reasoning:

Hip Hop.

She didn’t like it.
Therefore, I didn’t like her.
She, along with many others at the time, was totally against the very music that was providing the soundtrack to my youth. Those same songs she owned so much disdain for, were the songs I was turning up in my bedroom, dancing around and pretending there was an audience watching. How dare she disrespect music of all things??!!!! Sure the language was misogynistic and the stories were often sordid drug tales gone badly, but but but –

-but why couldn’t she still love it?

I mean, I did.

Admittedly, I was young and full of dumb. I loved what I heard on and off the radio. NWA were Niggaz with Attitudes, not disrespectful men. They were simply a group of friends who were infuriated by the climate of our society, and they just so happened to know several ‘hoes’ that were worth remembering on wax. If I, as a young girl/woman, could still like what I heard, why couldn’t Oprah? Ironically enough, I cringed often at the lyrics I was singing and dancing along to like:

“….next time I’m feeling kinda horny/you can come on over, and I’ll break you off/And if you can’t **** that day baby/Just lay back, and open your mouth”
~Nate Dogg, It Ain’t No Fun

Funny how I could mentally tense up at some of the lyrics I heard, but still not understand what bothered Oprah so much about the same music. How dare she ask our men to respect us in and outside of music? Her passion behind not wanting to turn on the radio and be called a bitch and not allowing young girls, like myself, to be manipulated via music into believing that bitch and hoe and niggas were terms of endearment and sex should be shared among friends, upset me because I felt she was against “us” rather than for us. I sided with the rappers and would often hear myself say ‘if you not a bitch, he ain’t talking about you.’ :/ How dare she go against hip-hop instead of head nodding and body gyrating?

Who was she to tell these people how to tell their stories? Again, that is a young way of thinking and had I continued with my strong disdain for her, she would have never been able to inspire me.  You see, around these same years, my creative side was finding a growing desire to do something with and for women. I just didn’t know how to start it. I wanted to pull us all together and celebrate each other. I wanted an organization that celebrated women. I wanted to champion for black women. This passion started inside of me back when Yo-Yo was talking about the IBWC. I think I’ve mentioned that in a blog before, but it’s important to include that here so you can see when the first seed started and how the growth came about. In addition, I want to highlight the importance of inspirational, black women figures everywhere – including HIP HOP. While I credit Oprah with arousing my appetite to throw a ball, Yolanda Whitaker sparked my first memorable flame that told me I could make a difference. It is so important for young black girls to see women who look just like them and can relate to them making major key moves. It’s a high volume in a turned up society of white privilege and black stereotypes. When we see and hear each other, we are able to see and hear ourselves and Yo-Yo, blonde braids, colored eyes and all, was that woman whose voice was an implant of empowerment in my brain. I saw her and saw myself without a doubt. Perhaps that’s why Oprah’s disdain for hip-hop polluted me so much.  I never listened in full to her explanations and gave little credence to what it was I did hear. In hindsight, I totally get it and might even agree to some extent, but back then, I was pissed as if I was a rapper! I didn’t know if she knew of Yo-Yo or Queen Latifah or not, but I knew she was talking mad shit about an area of art/music that was not only my personal soundtrack but also a place that was stirring me mentally. I knew there was a space for me to create something for women and I knew it because Yo-Yo spoke so heavily about it in her music. In addition to that, what I  knew most about Oprah was that rap wasn’t something playing out of her Maybach speakers.

“It only takes one punch to drop ya

And then the IBWC will come mop ya”

~Yo-Yo, You Can’t Play With My Yo-Yo


So needless to say that I had some colorful opinions about Oprah and tuning into her show was something you’d be hard pressed to see me doing. I don’t know when the shift of perspectives happened, but I am thankful that it did. Aging will definitely help your hindsight even if your foresight gets a bit blurry.
I am living proof that grudges and anger are only as good as the fleeting moment. You never know when you might need someone and you never know whom your blessings will come through. Oprah Winfrey, the same woman that threw my beloved hip-hop under the bus, would go on to show me that if I wanted to throw a ball, I absolutely could. In a sense, she showed me that I could do anything that I wanted to do.

Often times, I have asked myself why I was still in Indianapolis when my goal was to be the hell up out of here by the time I turned 35. I just knew New York would host my lifestyle. I saw myself living there and loving every minute and every turn of it. Until I didn’t.

It took time to find out what state I really wanted to live in (AZ…what winter?) but even after figuring that part out, I still didn’t leave. I’m still here in Indy right now, typing this from the north side of Indy. It wasn’t until two days ago that the answer showed me what it looks like. I haven’t left Indy because, whether I knew it or not, there was work for me here that I could not get done anywhere else. This work would be two-fold: It would be me working for/in my community and it would be me working for myself and showing myself what I can really do. In short, I’d be breaking chains and limits– two things that would surely happen in a new city where starting over would be a priority and being lost would be my lifestyle for a bit. There is no way I could have moved to NYC and thrown the Legends Ball. I wouldn’t have known enough people nor had enough connections just yet. I wouldn’t have my friends and supporters hands and hearts so close by to help me and I wouldn’t have been able to borrow their stuff. And then there are the honorees…..it was supposed to be every single woman that was in attendance, whether she came to be honored or to support. Every person in every chair was meant and destine to be in that room. I could not have done that from anywhere other than right off of 30th & MLK.

People like Earl Townsend, my brother, and dear friend – I wouldn’t have been able to watch him pull the incredible, life-changing Claim the Throne event together as he did. I won’t say it wouldn’t have happened without me here (What God has for you is yours to have), but what if I never did the Queen B. Ball? What if I couldn’t get a plane ticket in time to make it to his event?  Then there’s Ro Townsend, Earl’s wife, and my sister/homie/matriarch friend. Would she had been able to send me the books she donated to the ball? Alternatively, is that answer an automatic no because there would be no ball by way of Januarie York? Would she have received this honor from me or anyone else? Would Mali have received hers with the same impact? Would Remitha have loaned out table covers? How about NaShara Mitchell – a woman I went to North Central with and never knew personally but knew in passing – and owner of Studio B. Creative Solutions – the same place I looked at for the inaugural ball but didn’t have the $$ for became the PERFECT home of Tea & Testimony this year. Would that have happened? Would I have held this at a venue owned by a black woman? Would Carla have brought me all 11 of those trees with DJ Deez in the background, coming through on the music AND sound equipment?

I could absolutely go on and on with a list of people, places and things that set this ball off and made it what it became, but you get it don’t you? If I lived in that brownstone somewhere in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn that I have dreamed of, it’s highly likely I would have missed this portion of my life. I would have missed honoring my sisterfriends and giving them an extra push in this thing we call life. The LIT Ball answered the burning question for me of “why haven’t you left Indy?”

The answer: “Because I couldn’t.”

When I first started writing this blog, I was about to dive head first into my typical step by step process of how everything went, which leads to longer blogs. It hit me that, that’s not what I wanted to express. No one wants to read all of that or needs to know everything that I know. I would rather convey how I sought and saw God during this entire ordeal, and how He made Himself awake, alert and involved (insider phrase) for me at all times. When I first dropped the LiT Magazine, I knew I had to make sure this ball stood up to that. The results were surprising and the love and support it received meant I couldn’t half-ass the ball in any way. Throughout this ball, I had to set myself aside for the greater good of all things. I was able to raise five hundred dollars in fundraising from this should-be simple move and while that money went a long way for the ball, the growing theme for this journey was me learning how to get out of my own way. I stayed in it in many ways – I didn’t ask for the help I needed. I paid nearly $100 in chair covers because I didn’t inquire from my network. I missed the liquor license and getting the food catered and a few other small things, but in the end, I learned the necessary lessons. After all, Oprah has a whole team so why shouldn’t I ? #NextTimeGadget

I prayed over what I was doing and for guidance when I was weary. By the day of the ball, I had mastered letting go and letting God in. Even my host calling in sick couldn’t bring me down. I laughed. I genuinely laughed from my beautician’s chair. I couldn’t be bothered with stress and I offered to bring him some meds. It was like a new me. Most times, I would have gotten off the phone in tears and stress but not this time, not this ball! I was too LiT to quit, lmao!

My heart spoke, “I trust you, God!”

And so He delivered. My brother Earl and I played the hosts and it was perfect. When I first hit the stage to address the audience and begin the show that I saw it: Work.

I saw my work. I give all the credit to God because I know without God, I could not have done this the first time, much less the second. I wish I could write absolutely everything that happened and just how many things came together spiritually; like the fact that the venue we were in was the second venue I looked at for the first ball but our wires kept getting crossed and it didn’t end up working out. In 2014, I looked at Studio B. Creative Exchange and The Royal Palace, which was under a different name and owner, and now in 2017, I had BOTH venues for one ball weekend.

But I digress.

So yes, God has the glory from me on this. I also know that being a conduit doesn’t mean just sliding around and fitting in. It means WORK! It means sweat, sometimes tears and a strong desire to quit or abandon. It means wondering if your heart’s intent will be shown. It means not caring if you get the shine or not. It means being nervous that something major will go wrong and you won’t be able to recover from it. It means putting all those worries and stresses in a pot, turning it on simmer so the bottom doesn’t burn and walking away….trusting that God will tend to its contents. I did that. I walked away from the simmering pot many times. But it was WORK putting those contents in that dangon pot!!!!!!

It wore me out, it took away from my time at home with my person; I was suspended in “ball-mode” until it was over. At work, at home and in between (including sleep), it was all things ball and I couldn’t stop it. But when I looked out at that audience in that room, knowing it was over 100 plus people in a space that I pulled together with the help of a small team of dope folks (Remitha Lynn, Carla & Caylie Wimmersberger), made me almost pass out. Seriously, my heart ran a beat so fast with all those eyes looking at me to guide them through the night but I knew what I was there for and I didn’t acknowledge the nerves. I knew it was bigger than ‘fear’. I knew and know God. I coasted through the night, bypassing my tears to preserve my makeup and being in HQIC-Mode – running from one end of the venue to the other in a formal dress and long beautiful hair to make sure it’s all running smooth.

It was amazing. From my end, it was the most humbling thing ever. There is no way I could take credit for it, there is no way I could think that my shit don’t stink or that I am promised this type of love or response or support from people. This isn’t promised; this is earned! These are my people and they respect what God lead me to do. But more than ME – they were affected in a way that I hope lasts a lifetime.

They were celebrated and changed. They cried and stood as those “standing monuments” that Oprah spoke of at her ball. I spoke to the crowd about how I forgot Pearl  Cleage’s “We Speak Your Name” poem, which I intended to have read at this ball just like the first. Earl was about to exit the stage when he whispered, “That’s because it’s your ball now.” It hit me again. But not until it was all over, my long weave was on my nerves, and my makeup was long gone, did I really hear him. “It’s YOUR ball now.” 

One concern I’ve had and have expressed was getting in any trouble because I’m doing too much of what Oprah did. I didn’t want to seem like I was stealing from her, as this was a literal exercise in reactionary inspiration…if that’s a thing. In a sense, I am hoping to pay homage to Oprah for what she sparked in me and for what she did for her people. When I look back on the ball footage (YouTube), I see those beautiful faces smiling and laughing amongst each other and it’s priceless. Coretta and Maya, Ruby Dee and Natalie Cole – all sitting in the same room with  Mary J. Blige and Alicia Keys, Angela Bassett and Halle Berry.  They were all rubbing elbows and toasting champagne to the good life. Some of them are gone now – some of those giant, legendary women have crossed the rainbow bridge of eternity forever. But that weekend will live forever and those women we mourn will have forever own a part of history in the lives of the ‘youngins’, as Oprah deemed them. I wanted nothing but the same for us. I wanted Tea & Testimony to impact women forever –not just for a moment – similar to the gospel day that Oprah had. I wanted the young women to meet the older women and for the strangers to learn they had new sisters. And it worked!!! For the first ball, I watched every legends ball video, studying and writing down pages of notes. I learned the process and I adapted it to myself. I taught myself how to do what Oprah inspired me to attempt. The first time it worked great. The second time, I had more fear than I realized as I became responsible for a 70% increase of company. But it worked because I believed I could and because I kept my faith on stealth-mode. And when time allowed me to come down from the dopamine of it all, I heard my brother Earl’s voice as he walked away and said matter-a-factly as only he can, “it’s because it’s YOUR ball now.”

Well damn.

It is MY ball. Not the Legend’s ball. The Legend’s Ball is Oprah. But the LiT Ball – that’s my shit right there. I made it into my own and in place of Pearl Cleage’s beautiful poem, I used my own…after all, I DO write poetry too. I spoke the women’s names and they stood as the Monumental Legends that they are. The room was decorated beautifully and echoes of Queen B. and stroke awareness were everywhere. I spoke on the importance of taking care of ourselves and in the days afterward, I wished I had said more but I think I said enough. The love from Mark Moore, someone I’ve never even personally spoken to, was nothing short of God’s plan. Why I felt led to post this event on the stroke.org website made sense after the contribution and conversation with one of his reps. Please remember that these books will be in within the next couple of weeks or so, so I will be in touch to get all attendees their “Stroke of Faith” books. If you are interested in one of these books – a book detailing Mark’s personal journey as a two-time stroke survivor as well as his faith- please leave a comment or reach out to me directly. I will also have them at Open Bite (May 13th). The passion for stroke awareness does not end with the ball!!!! In May (National Stroke Awareness Month), I will amp it up all over my feeds. Next year, I will say more and perhaps have a speaker. But for 2017, I had everything I needed. The fears that I created to worry about never came to fruition. My guy looked like fresh, I felt beautiful and the audience was incredible. Folks showed up and showed out and I loved it. It was a black-OWNED event and I use the word ‘owned’ in every way imaginable. From the venues to the DJ and photographers – it was Epic Black Excellence in so many ways. What else could I ask for?  This was 12-year-old me in 1991, dancing to “The IBWC National Anthem” in my bedroom and wondering how I could ‘stomp into the 90’s’ like Yo-Yo and make a difference. She made it popular, at least in my bedroom, to be a proud, intelligent black woman, and to influence others.

Then as life would have it, another intelligent black woman, whose objection of vulgar and violent rap lyrics led to my youthful hostility towards her, would eventually show me exactly how to pull what Yo-Yo sparked in me together.

The Great Black (h)Ope!

It was a cold day in February of this year when I was watching a YouTube video of a party I threw to celebrate my sister Nikki’s MBA graduation. I called it “The Master Class Dinner.” It was a fancy dinner party I pulled together and named after Oprah’s television show. Several more dinner and themed parties would happen after that one in 2011. More ideas would surface and go nowhere fast. In 2013, I came up with the title The Black Orchid Affair. Nothing popped from it. Then in 2014, my life changed forever but you know that story by now. And here we are. The 2017 LIT Ball changed me again, similar but leveled up to the way the Legendary Ladies Ball changed me. This one tho….this ball showed me my own power, abilities and my upgrade. This was me watching an upgrade happen and having the magic wand in my hand the whole time. This was me owning it, making it mine, breaking away from Oprah’s Legend’s Ball, and enjoying the fruits of my own creation. We already have a possible speaker for next year and a live orchestra!!!!

So I say thank you to Oprah. I hope a day comes when a girl or woman who saw me doing the stuff I do will want to say thank you to me, even if I never hear it personally. I want to be one of those ‘inspiring, black women figures’ that speaks to the whispers of young black girls and women. I sometimes see the work that so many other amazing and talented women are doing and I wonder if I really fit in with my antics. I wonder if the stuff I do, write and speak really is impacting for longer than a night. That’s somewhat why performing poetry wasn’t something I could persue as passionately as I once did. I needed to make an impact that goes beyond the mic and the night of my feature. As good as people say I am, I didn’t feel that nearly enough. I felt good ‘in the moment.’ But not like I left people with something tangible. March 19, 2017 will go down in history as the night I showed to myself that I FIT, I CAN and I AM…ENOUGH. I make a difference out here and I want to pass that along. I want to remind us that, in the words of Michelle & Barack Obama, YES YOU CAN!! I want them to see me and see themselves. I want them to know that there is no such thing as you can’t or you won’t. There is always room for you! This is a society that won’t celebrate us when we need it the most because they don’t see all we are doing just to stay alive daily. They won’t pull us up or give us a push but they will kick us and call us names. They will denounce us and stereotype us. They won’t believe us. They will misuse and abuse us for sport. They will, “kill you and say you enjoyed it” (Zora Neale Hurston). They will “show you who they are” so “believe them.” (Maya Angelou).

But none of this has to stop the fire in YOU! Or the drive. Or the passion. DO IT! GO ! FLY! BE FUCKING FREE !!!!! Throw balls, parties and take selfies at your photoshoots. Don’t have a reason or an explanation for everyone for everything you do. OWN YOU! Just like Oprah. I remember so many of us, possibly still fueled from her choice opinions on hip hop, were still against her when she broke free from NBC (?) and came back out with her “OWN Network” (double entendre). But why tho?! She’s charged. She has the damn Master Key !!! Oprah is doing Oprah and she apologizes for nothing about it. In the midst of it all, she is inspiring, building, being an activist for the causes she deems close to her heart and she is constantly pouring into others. Like her or not, she’s the Great Black Ope! She’s a powerful, black woman. A figure worth mentioning. A name that is recognized with grace and power. Class and hood. Dope and love. I CAN and I WILL. Plus a little bit of  I ALREADY DID.

Be like Oprah. Be like Yo-Yo, who has her own hip-hop school in Detroit & LA btw. Be like the women you are inspired by, even if neither of these. Be great. Be the woman YOU are destined to be! BE A BLACK, INSPIRING, WOMAN!!!!! Be the someone the youth will see themselves in, no matter how many years it takes to get the fog off the mirror.

This is my huge thank you. I end this blog with an old poem that was the last track from my album (feels funny to say that), entitled Merci. It’s a simple thank you track. Please add your name to it as well.

Thank you to EVERYONE that contributed to the ball in any way, be it financial donations or time and effort. Thank you Yo-Yo. Thank you Oprah. Thank you God!

Thank you, all for (h)OPE!

Oh and…thank you Kendria….for believing so hard in yourself, that you did. #AjYSituation

 

Blog Photo Credit: Illuminate Hue Photography/Lance Parker (LiT Ball), Eyes Wide Shut Photography/Rana Carter (LiT Ball), Wildstyle Pashall (Claim the Throne) & Jus Fam Photography/Abdul Shaheed Aaron (Personal Pics)

***Special thanks to: NaShara Mitchell/Studio B Creative Solutions, The Royal Palace Events Center, Mark Moore & Adrienne Moore, DJ Deez, Anitra Malone, ALL THE FUNDRAISING DONORS (including but not limited to Tressie Spears, Naz Khalid, Amber Dawn and more), Alaina Renae, Lyndell “Izzy A’more” Campbell, Vei from Kenyatta Dance Company, Remitha Lynn & Co., Carla (Caylie) Wimmbersberger, Damon Dulin, Tamara Hibbler, Nicole Dianndrea, Ronald Craig Jr, Earl & Ro Townsend, Rae Karim, Rheagan Gilmore, Wildstyle Pashall, The Learning Tree, Eric Saunders, Unequa Ganodu, Dominic Dorsey, everyone that helped clean up and anyone I may have left off…PLEASE don’t charge that to my heart. THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SUPPORT. YOUR LOVE. AND YOUR LIT ASSES !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

M U A H !!! Catch us in 2018, how bout’dat!

 

 

Een, δύο, Tres, Quatre, Five: 5 Love Languages to Get You Awake, Alert & InvolvedInYourRelationship

  1. Words of affirmation
  2. Acts of service
  3. Receiving gifts
  4. Quality time
  5. Physical touch

Many prehistoric-before FB years ago, I took a quiz that promised to reveal to me what my true love language was. I don’t remember what the results were, but sometime after, I found out it wasn’t just a random internet quiz. There was actually a book dedicated to the five love languages and for the longest, I intended to read it. I didn’t. Over the years and after this discovery, while I never actually purchased the book, I had become privy to the information inside of it in many ways. This book and this idea of love languages have been recycled in magazines, blogs and hundreds of conversations about love. I admit the author, Gary Chapman, is on to something with this idea of love. All five of these “languages” are legit components of companionship that one or both parties will likely carry, some more than the other. Studies have been done, talk shows have invited Chapman on for discussions and people still today continue to purchase the book in droves and take the random internet quizzes that they hope will inform them of who they are, but as much as I believe in these 5 languages, I also believe there is a great deal missing: The part that comes before the acts of service, gift exchanging and physical touching. In order to have affirming words and true quality time with each other, one should understand there are unspoken love languages that will absolutely make or break your relationship in ways that the five above won’t even light a match to.

Much like the rest of everything that appears on TheIIsNeverSilent, I am basing today’s blog off of my personal experience with love, however, this time, I’m not using my past as a meter reading. My past never taught me these things. In fact, my past taught me, if anything, that these five REAL love languages  I am about to blog on were actually either figments of my imagination, shit I learned from watching too much television or wholeheartedly unnecessary battles that need resisting. But that moment you find yourself in a real, healthy relationship with someone who would do anything just to see you happy, it is inevitable that you will get confronted with  –

-Yourself….…and the love languages that you need to learn how to speak a little more fluently. Unless of course you would rather be in the type of relationship that you can’t wait to get away from.

Ready? Let’s dive in !

The REAL Five Love Languages – According to Januarie York

So many things I’ve got to tell you
But I’m afraid I don’t know how
‘Cause there’s a possibility
That you’ll look at me differently
Love
Ever since the first moment I spoke your name
From then on I knew that by you being in my life
Things were destined to change ’cause…

~Musiq Soulchild, Love

1.Dutch – It’s Not All About Your Ass

*taps on mic and clears throat to sing: mi, mi, mi, mi, mi *

The joys of selfishness are not a welcome tenant on the ship of relations. This should be an obvious fluent language right? Well, in some ways it is. Most of us know it’s not fair to be in a relationship and expect the other person to never drink all the orange juice and in fact, that is not YOUR orange juice (if you are living together). Of  course, you have to share things like the bathroom and the blanket and make time for each other’s passions and families – all things that reiterate that selfishness has no place.

But what about the hidden selfish traits and beliefs that we carry around inadvertently? How does one uncover these secret selfish ways and thoughts? I’ve been with someone for over a year now and we have a beautiful, infectious relationship that everyone who has met us can tell we are a forever type of love. But I’ve never been in a forever type of relationship before. I have only invented outcomes, most times by way of poetry, of what it would or could be. I have never been tasked with taking a deep breath and  surveying how I treat the person I’m with. I say this without a victim mentality, but I have always been the one mistreated. I mean, as my main readers know, I stand full of flaws and fucked up stuff that I have done to people I have claimed to love. But I was never taken to task in a way that caused me to reflect on myself. To add to that, there wasn’t any time to. I had to keep eyes wide open to how I was being treated so that I could call out the poor behavior and boy did I keep a pocket full of stone ass niggas with poor fucking behavior.

Well, when you are no longer being MIStreated, you don’t have to ‘watch’ how you are being treated as hard and as much. There are levels of trust that reign down and you don’t have to watch your own back as you come to understand (and trust that) this person actually has it for you. This is great, but this also turns the mirror on YOU. When you don’t have to watch your own back anymore,  then you can actually see how much you been fronting on love.

In my case, my mirror has shown me many ways that I have made this relationship be all about me and that’s not always a good thing. Matter a fact, if that were a good thing at all, then I would be single…right? I mean, if it’s all about my feelings, my needs, my past, my ways that you need to tiptoe around, my methods, my triggers and my haunting ghosts, etc, at what point is about him? And how fair is it to never be about him? When will it be US? When we argue, it is about me. Not what I did or said that was hurtful; but how the reaction was hurtful to me. And that’s ok to some degree. Life is 10% what happens, 90% how you react. Reactions can make or break your point. I’ve learned this hard way. But there can’t be a REaction without a first action, so at what point do I look in the mirror I’m facing and say to myself ‘ok, let me check myself because this behavior I’m exhibiting is a spawn of something else.”

By the time I decided to throw myself back into the dating pool in 2015, I had a mental list of qualities I wanted from a man, things I would not accept and an ever-growing list of shit to be on the lookout for. I only ‘dated’ (loosely used term) a small amount before I met the person I am with but with each guy I was able to pinpoint signs of stuff from different lists (mostly the shit-to-be-on-the-lookout-for list…it’s an easy list apparently). In this relationship, those signs do not exist, therefore we do. But this is when the thin line of selfishness and togetherness attempt to criss-cross. When you become involved with someone, it might be easy to think that you are supposed to be fighting for your right to be loved correctly. There is a degree of truth to that. But if you are fighting so much for YOU, at what point are loving them?

At what point are you alert, awake and involved in your current relationship and not currently living by way of past baggage? Let’s say you both are ‘looking out for self’ while in a committed relationship together (assuming it’s healthy as this entire blog is ONLY in regards to a healthy relationship). Who is looking out for the other and who is being loved for real? This is a real life conversation that took place in my relationship  that gave me cause for pause because I had never looked at it like that before.

“So what you’re saying is I can’t look out for me anymore?!!!”

….followed by stuff like: “But I’ve always looked out for me!!”, & “If I don’t scan the area and make sure I’m good, who will?” , & “How dare you suggest I not protect myself or lookout for myself”

IYiYi… …this is why they say love is hard. The hard part lies in looking in the mirror and check yourself in the name of saving and protecting not YOURSELF, but your relationship, which if it’s a healthy one, automatically includes YOU. It’s not about your ass anymore!!!! And on the flipside of that, you are not letting go of your self-concern – you are rerouting it to include someone else who, on the opposite end, is looking out for your best interest. THIS is the relationship we all want and imagine we have many times but don’t. Trust me, like I said in the beginning, I’ve written many poems and lived them out in the lies of my love life. I wrote a whole book of poetry on one nigga that stopped reading me after page one. Shit happens. 

If you are with someone who is giving you the best they have,  it’s their job to look out for you and your job to look out for them. If you both are watching your own backs, then two things are happening:

1. No one is looking forward.

2. Yaw don’t have each other’s backs.

You each have your own. In other words, you are exhibiting single behavior in a 2-party relationship.The idea is to trust – if that trust is not there, then why are you? Trusting someone isn’t exclusive to monogamy. Trust is a well-rounded word that encompasses many areas of the relationship and when that trust is there in full, then it’s ok to excuse yourself from the watchtower of your own lighthouse and join the duel space at the top of the [relation]ship with your partner by your side.

To love someone requires the breaking down of one’s self. You have to be selfLESS enough to let go of old habits, thoughts, desires, PLANS, etc that were created with a single person in mind. You have to change your route up on some things and other things will have to die off (see #2). All in the name of love.

Love is a selfless, action word. Loving someone else requires that you open yourself to a new type of growth; no more single growth. No more superwoman (or superman) growth. This is now your growth as an individual AND as a partner. Your outlook on different aspects must be open to change. If you look at my blog, “The Real Tea“,  you’ll see me writing from the battlegrounds of my single vs plus-one life. I’m not single anymore so those exact plans for leaving in October 2016 won’t work with someone who has children in Indianapolis. . . unless I wanted to choose ME only. And that would be ok if I did. If I wanted to say fuck this relationship, I want what I want the way I planned, then kudos for me for having the balls to stand up and do that, IF that’s what I really wanted in the grand scheme (as opposed to the here and now). You always have to do what’s best for you and sometimes that comes from trial and error and other people will hurt because of it. But that’s why they say love is a choice. And when deciding to be with someone else, you’ve decided to choose the needs and goals of the relationship over 100% self-oriented plans. It doesn’t mean I have to live my life out in Indianapolis. It just means it will be a little longer and WE will plan this grand leap together.

2.Greek – You Will Die and Tears Will Be Shed

 

A few weeks back, I wrote a blog on people dying and being reborn again. No, not reborn as a Christian, but reborn as a living, breathing human. It was a story I wrote from my life in current, that had me questioning my happiness while fighting my answer (yes, I am extremely happy and that makes me uncomfortable). It has been a constant battle for me to find comfort in being in love with someone who is visible and physically yolked up and in love with me. Trusting that (see number 1) has been like pulling my own teeth one by one. Allowing him to be free to love me hasn’t been simple. That blog was me having the epiphany that for once I have everything that I want and everything is going well, very well in fact, and that makes me fearful subconsciously. As a result, I begin to react in an almost self-sabotaging way.

I create drama out of nothing. Find attitudes in the midst of laughter. I get angry and lose control. I go backward. I go find the old relationships that I had become some accustomed to fighting and ‘self-protecting’ and I dredge them up just enough to react in them rather than be right where I am, with who I am. In other words, I get mad that I’m happy and scared it’s all a front or a cruel joke on me and I react based on my past. All of this has threatened to kill my relationship….but the funny thing is, he won’t go. He’s like IDGAF how hard it is or how long it takes or what it takes – I’m staying. And we’re going to get this right.

 

Say what? That throws me every single time. Because anytime we beef and I go off the deep end (which honestly is too often…stay tuned for the blog on me confronting myself for real), as I stated earlier, I’m arguing with my past as my refuge so I’m expecting past results. I expect him to leave. To walk out on me and everything we’ve promised to each other and have begun to build but he doesn’t. And truthfully, it’s been hard to actually SEE that for the lack of trust. The lack of trust is nothing he’s created – it’s a monster I have pulled from the graveyard of ExWhy Chromosomes failures and it has no place in this relationship.

That’s a hard language to learn like Greek. Sure the bag lady is gonna miss her bus if she don’t hurry up but if the beat goes too hard for her to get the full message, she might just be running in circles with bags in tow. In a healthy relationship, you don’t get to hold on to your past as reasoning forever. You express what the past has done to you and how it has shaped you and you work on killing off the dead leaves, letting go of old luggage and loving in the current – but you can’t hold the past as your way of reacting to the present. It’s not about your definition of love, it’s about the other persons. This was another real convo at home. He/She is not going to love you for the reasons YOU deem lovable; they will love you for the reasons they deem it. Why? Because it’s them falling in love with you and it’s their love on the line. You don’t get to dictate what they love about you or why. Or for how long. The same goes with the shoe on the other foot. There is much dying to do once you get involved on a safe ship. That death will bother you. It will crush you in some ways. It will hurt your feelings. You will resist some of it. #GrowingPains.

Literally.

Go ahead and confront what needs to be confronted so your other half can watch your back while you bury the dead parts and give way to a new birth. A fresh crown. One that will be cared for delicately and not stained, chipped and broken.

3.Spanish – You Can Kill Their Blessings (Soul Ties)

When dealing in soul ties, if you have not given yourself the proper chance to cut loose old ties, you will stand in the way the growth of your future. We don’t know sometimes that we are still carrying people with us. Sometimes we do, but the ways we are carrying them are ways we think we ‘need.’ I recently read a FB post where a woman was applauding herself for letting go of the last of her past – the last connection she had to a scary place. She was proud as she should have been. But what she let go of was something she legit thought she needed until she realized she would be ok without it (and any inconvenience its absence causes will come into a blessing soon enough).

What I have learned is therapy is sometimes VERY necessary (as I begin now to seek it myself). Sometimes you really do need someone else who has an unbiased, objective opinion to help you not just express what you have internally that you may not have healed in full from, but how to put into ACTION the lessons you’ve learned and bring the energy you desire your way. People always say “you attract what you are.” Oh ok. Well, if I keep attracting shitty people that don’t mean it’s a lot of shitty people? That means I’m a shitty person?

Nah. I don’t accept that in full. To some degree perhaps, but I also think that sometimes learn things and then don’t know how to act in them in the moment we need to. So whether you need to read a lot of extra books and do some research on cutting soul ties or light candles, or find a life coach/spiritual mentor, the cutting of soul ties is not necessary just so you don’t have to feel the feelings – it’s necessary so those ties don’t inadvertently block the blessings of your companion. I heard it as loud as music in a car turned on MAX VOL.

“If you don’t stop behaving like this, you will ultimately block his blessings, which if you two are going to be one, his blessings are yours, therefore . . . ”

Yeah. I was walking down my hallway after an argument about something really petty. This was a time where I had gone overboard and as I walked away with steam coming out of my head, I heard that sentence. It hit me hard because we have been hit with so many blessings from God and in this instance, I saw how I was taking it all for granted. Not just the blessings, but the person as well. Honestly, I’ve shown my ass in this relationship and it’s been 90% unnecessary. #RealTalk

And when I heard what I believe to be God speak that to me – I knew that if I continued to act like this as often as I do with no goal of getting better, my energy was going to begin to negatively impact other things and areas within this relationship. It’s important to know that when you are in a relationship, you are not alone anymore. YOU ARE NOT ALONE ANYMORE I SAID !!!!!!!! EVERYTHING is two people. So that negativity you exude so confidently …that won’t just bite YOU in the ass; that could bite him (her). We have to be awake, alert and involved in the idea that in a relationship, there are two people on the ship. Our soul ties can keep us reacting in a certain way or behaving in a way that we otherwise wouldn’t so it’s important to make sure you get those cut. Not everything will be cut before you get in a new, healthy relationship (gotta keep stressing HEALTHY), so expect to do some cutting and maybe even identifying, together!  The single-minded mentality must end stat. Don’t let your pride stifle their progression…or yours.

4. French – You Need A Couple of Inspire

What is love without inspiration? Everyone needs to be inspired. Inspiration can come in many forms so there is no wrong answer on who or what exactly inspires you. But as an individual and in my opinion, as a couple, you need a source of continued inspire for your relationship. Why?

Well, what does inspiration do exactly? Let’s do my favorite thing! DEFINITIONS !!!

INSPIRE:

Fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.  So, to be inspired means to be filled with an urge to make a move. I hope my blog is inspiring to someone, if not everyone. I hope one person reading this is inspired to look into the validity of these languages I’ve designated necessary for relationships. What I say may or may not be truthful for everyone, but it hopefully will, in the language of Gary Chapman, at least open up the door to in-depth conversation.

  1. <<<can’t get rid of this BS. O.O 
     That’s the way couple inspiration works. I don’t think there is anything wrong with two people having other couples that inspire them to be greater as partners and individual people. Other healthy relationships remind you of the importance of having that other person. If they are your personal friends or family, they can be a source of comfort or a safe place for conversation when things get tense. Mostly, couples of inspiration serve as a reminder that love isn’t perfect or easy, but it’s worth it…and that it IS possible. I think black people especially need couples of inspiration.
    Also, WHO inspires you isn’t up for debate. It’s not a public decision. So if that’s Jay and Bey, who are on my list, or Desi & Lucy, it’s up to YOU! Ossie & Ruby, who were not only a power couple in Hollywood but they were die-hard activists together who’s love story was so palpable that they played a couple on film, are sure-fire sources of relationship Light in my opinion. Michelle and Barack, Megan Goode and Devon Franklin are a few others – look for couples who don’t pretend to have it all or be perfect. Look for people who aren’t ‘in the moment’ or all over the front pages. When I say inspiration couple, I don’t mean famous. Inspirational couples should have an air of privacy to them. They should be a dream team of two. It can be family, it can be animals, it can be puppy love or golden love. You decide who inspires you to be great as a couple.
    They should inspire you  to reach high and hard and never give in. They should inspire and remind you that love wins, every single time. That’s why I loved Lemonade. I didn’t really sit around and try to guess and piece together whether it was a true story or not or speculate when Beyonce would serve Jay w/divorce papers. If you did, you missed the point of it all. Her final video to the project, which is my favorite song from that album, was a tale of love winning out, despite the times that it could have faltered. She didn’t tell a story of a perfect relationship but rather one that has endured true hurt and pain – but one that was bigger than that very hurt and pain. Something that was too rare and  too necessary to just be thrown away. That’s love. Like it or not, if you think the folks who have been together for 50+ years have not gone through some shit where the average person would have sought the help of lawyers for, then get out of a relationship and start researching just what love really is.

    English – Know the 5 Love Languages

Gary Chapman was on to something and this blog is NOT here to refute any of it. I believe in the Five Love Languages. They are of great importance to know. How can you make your person happy if you don’t know what it is they like or what speaks to their happiness the most? There is no sense is buying dozens of roses for a woman who hates flowers right? It’s the same w/these love languages. They give you a way to see a direct line of communication of love. They are real.

I believe I speak all five languages. Yeah, I took a quiz way back when and I believe my language was tapped as Physical Touch. I don’t remember, but I went ahead and took it again for this blog to see what it would say. Well, I can say I was leaning towards exactly what the results are: Acts of Service/Quality Time/Words of Affirmation – I scored all the same on these and they are the highest. Physical Touch was next, off by one point and Receiving Gifts was last.

Um, I love gifts tho !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

LMAO! Well, as I have always thought of myself, IAM all five love languages. I don’t regard one higher than the other but honestly, if I had to choose, it would be in the exact order it’s in. Receiving gifts would absolutely be last (but I love gifts BAE if you’re reading).

LOL! Love languages are important tho. Seriously. Don’t read this blog and think they aren’t. Go ahead and take the quiz if you haven’t before and see for yourself what your love language is. If you are in a relationship, you and your partner should absolutely read this book. It’s only going to open up healthy dialogue and open doors to learning each other in an emotionally intimate way. Do it.

And while you’re at it, apply my additional five as well !!! Kill off what’s dead, open yourself up to trusting yourself (if you trust you, then it becomes easier to trust who you’ve chosen to be with and trust), get some inspiration, remember you’re a couple now and not a single and get the book and grow !!!

Love is hard. It really is.

But it’s so worth it. Some people don’t mind spending their lives alone and I would personally rather die by my damnself rather than spend 25 seconds with a shitty person pretending to love me right. But when you have something worth dying for – die for it.

And be born again in love <3  15235807_1155079907916381_2805255673501856876_o

~J

WOMAN’ing: Ch 69 – The (re)Tired Red Cape, Part V of V.

You know why this is Chapter 69? Nothing to do with sex. Everything to do with no matter how you slice it or what way you turn it, the results are the same.

I NEVER intended on being Superwoman.

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Never.

But once I decided to adult, I was immediately outfitted for my red flowing cape that would hang off my back no matter what outfit I put on. When I wear a dress, there is a long, flowing cape behind me. When I wear a suit, the cape is blowing in the wind and sometimes wrapping around my pants legs near the thighs. In sweats, my cape looks like it doesn’t belong but it’s still there riding my back like a cliché phrase about monkeys. And when I am naked, there she is: my cape. My big ass red cape, hanging from neck as if it were sewn into my skin.

Am I to never depart from this role of superwoman?

What’s funny about this title, is there are countless songs dedicated to the independence of women, particularly black women. For some reason, black women have to make their independence known to the world but the dosage must be in small teaspoons at a time. We wouldn’t want to emasculate the men or intimidate other women. We also wouldn’t want Jill with the Stringy Hair to feel like we were coming for her space right? So when we go to the club dancing to I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T, and songs that fit that culture of music, we must make sure we only spell it out once so as not to offend others. Lol. Superwoman – the title that nearly every black woman has but no one really wants.

Folks think we want to be superwoman and that is simply not the truth. We were not built to maintain life and all of its ups, downs and mediums, all the stress and trauma, the good and the great, alone. I don’t believe that. I believe it’s possible to never spend your life with someone else. I believe it’s possible to try love and decide for yourself that you are better without it and that’s ok. But I also believe that we were made to have a partner. The fact that pickings are slim and partners, true PARTNERS, are few and far in between has made more women Superwoman than ever intended to be. We have to be responsible for EVERYTHING. EVERY DAMN THING. We are not just head of household, we are the head nigga in charge and for those that don’t like that term, sorry. That’s the way the saying goes . .  .

“**yelling at maximum lung capacity*

I’M TIRED OF BEING SUPERWOMAN DAMMIT!!!!!!!!!!!

We are the preacher, the teacher, the mother, the daughter and sister, the wife or girlfriend and for some, the side chick (you may not like a woman’s choices but  that doesn’t mean she isn’t out her making other Super fucking decisions). We are the  bread winners, the cooks, the maids, the stress relief, the emotional beings, the love leaders and the dream catchers. In addition to all of this, we must be responsible for goals, dreams, spirituality, teachings, education, orgasms, and manage any mental health issues or problems we may face, all while spending up to a week per month bleeding and trying not to be pissed off about it.
WoooMFinSah.”

Nothing stops when we have kids. It doesn’t stop when our cycles have us bent over the toilet trying to vomit up our mistakes of the last 3 weeks. Nothing ends because we have a bad day or are struggling through another bout of depression. Nothing stops for us – we must keep going.

I know, I know, all of this is true for men and women, white and black.

Welp, I’M TALMBOUT BLACK WOMEN TODAY!!!

While I do believe that women of all races are tasked with holding the world up on their shoulders, it’s no secret that black women are expected to hold the world while flying through the air without dropping a single thing, all while looking good for our flip floppy ass men. If you are a white woman reading this and find yourself offended by the idea that your privilege prevents you from being spoken for in this particular blog, then I advise you not to return here because there is more where this comes from and I can’t tell you when I will vent my black life opinions and experiences and won’t hold them back for sugary words and friendly comments. Besides, if we were being absolute 100 about it, what it means to be a white superwoman is a completely different definition than the black woman’s experience as such, AND someone is always looking to cape for a white woman whether it be white men, BLACK MEN, society, the community, etc….. A white woman’s superwoman cape is always at the dry cleaners and she never takes it there herself. A black woman’s cape is always attached to her MFing back.

We are the ones that seem to be continuously pushed to the bottom of the totem pole no matter how hard or fast we climb. Our men turn their backs on us at the drop of a white tear, jobs act like they don’t see our qualifications despite our continuing advancement up the education meters and journalists try to refute any good information released about us at every opportunity to click-clack their typing fingers.

I had another blog that I started writing on this topic but decided to start over from scratch after a viral FB thread that I scrolled upon. By now, you may have seen it and might even know some of the women commenting. I don’t at the present time know the origin of the thread or what brought about the tearfully white comment but a precious and privileged white woman left this in a black women’s comment section: “I wish I could have been born a black woman because you all are so strong”, or some derivative of bullshit like such. The post has gone viral because of the eternal dragging that she received, but the comment and the subsequent responses got me thinking about the title of superwoman and our addictive disdain of such.

Superwoman Can’t Die…

…Because if she does, the rest of everything that has been dependent on us for survival will fold and not many of us will chance that. Either we have to be taking care of the kids or going to work or working on our schoolwork or cooking and cleaning or tending to our men or finding out they are cheating and caring for our own feelings or caring for ailing family or marching on the frontlines or pushing our not-for-profit or having contractions while signing paperwork for keys to new buildings after burying close family members and remembering to feel beautiful inside and out. Much like a run-on sentence, there are no breaks and or breaths. We push through and plow unbroken grounds in search of ourselves all while trying to maintain our professional and personal lives. Sure, as I said earlier, this is nothing no one else hasn’t experienced. No, you don’t need to be a black woman to go through this. But as a black woman, I guarantee the Superwoman title is exacerbated by a thousand knots. Let’s use that FB comment I saw for example, which you can find here. One of the commenters shared some screenshots from a black man that inboxed her separately asking if “all white women were considered ugly” and how “in his opinion, most of them look better than black woman, who look like dogs” or some other type of animal he referred to us as.

Wait –

Bish what????

We can’t even stop to take our fucking worn down heels off before we have to stand back up, cape blazing as usual, ready to defend ourselves and our sisters because some flagrant ass nigga thought it necessary to socially degrade us as a whole while casually forgetting that his blanket statement would also include his mother and any other black woman in his life. But I don’t know, some black dudes act like they were pushed out of Jill With the Stringy Hair’s snatch. FoH.

And for that, we must be on at all times. We must always be in charge of who we are. If we don’t command and demand our respect and for that of our sisters, we will be disrespected at all costs. You don’t get the title of Superwoman because you get up and go to work every day. You get it because YOU are work…every day. It takes work to go beyond every barrier set in place to be the ending factor. Superwoman has to be dedicated to herself in an unforgiving way that opens up the valley for her ascent. But she’s hardly ever traveling alone. There is always family, friends and lovers in tow. . .

We are grinding for everyone at once to a point that we don’t know if we are putting ourselves first or last anymore. At the same time of our Super Grind, we are watching our sisters be killed by the police at a rapid rate. We are holding names like Sandra Bland and Korryn Gaines close enough to our hearts that we can feel their final breaths. We stand in the front of the protest lines with signs and grief and strength unfounded because we refuse to sit quietly while our men are hunted, our children are unprotected and our women and girls become easy targets for police assaults and murders. It’s a weight that sits on our hearts relentlessly and even when our emotional hope is drained, we still stand in resilience and solidarity with each other. This is why I say this isn’t about white inclusion. Sorry, not sorry. White women will never know what it’s like to hold the house up, keep self together and watch our families be ripped apart or worse, to be on the burying side of a racist system that supports the hunting and killing of black people. This is a daily occurrence. There are instances that happened last week that we may never hear about and those women, those black superwomen, will experience their losses and grief alone. They won’t have the nation marching and begging for rights that should be a no-brainer for every human. Even when our home lives are in an uproar, we still find time in our stress to care about someone else and see to their needs. 

Superwoman can’t die. She can’t pass away quietly in her sleep or take a vacation indefinitely and leave her calendar book at home. Superwoman must always be on. If not, who will? If we don’t get it done, who will? Who’s going to take the overflowing trash out the door without us having to be a reminder or do it ourselves? Who gets the furniture moved and the rooms changed for a fresh feeling in the house? Who will fearlessly climb up a southern flag pole, snatching down the offensive confederate flag all while knowing the repercussions of doing so will be grand? Black women, in particular, have this Superwoman thing down to a science. When we do ask for help, we have about five to ten minutes maximum as a grace period to allow for it to start to get done. After that time is up, we toss our cape in the wind and fly to solve the shit ourselves.  Recently I saw this meme:

Recently I saw this meme: black-womenIf this isn’t a perfect description of superwoman, I don’t know what is. I almost want it tattooed on my arm but I never wanted the title of superwoman to begin with.

The Title We Never Signed

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Photo Credit: Roberto Nencini

Superwoman is a misleading title that none of us signed up for. I didn’t grow up with my head in comics and I was never a fan of Superman or any of the other Marvel heroes. The closest I got to that type of stuff was enjoying the Thundercats theme song but even still, I never watched the show. On the flip side, I never expected to get married, birth two kids and live in a suburban household with the perfect Ken-doll looking husband. I didn’t grow up with adult expectations and no one ever really tried to implant anything on my psyche. I just grew to know that one day, I would be able to do whatever  I wanted to do with my life and I was looking forward to it (adulting per a teenage mind, smh). I did a mad dash out of the house at 19 and never looked back. But in hindsight, I’m certain I wasn’t looking forward either or else I may have noticed the big ass red cape standing in the way of the door that I would have to put on in order to exit.

I came flying through these Indianapolis streets, cape blazing, weave blowing with crooked smile on my face in attempts to save the world from itself. I offered up every saving grace I could muster from a couch for flagrants to sleep on to my credit for niggas to fuck up. At one point, I had two apartments in my name, neither of which was home to me anymore. Saving people is what I grew accustomed to doing until I counted more losses as a result than wins. But my never-ending flight through the sky was far from over.

My sister has been a single mom for 20 years. She worked her way up working customer service for a pizza company to earning her MBA and becoming a senior analyst at her company. In addition to that, she’s a professional accountant, an Uber driver, computer savvy to the highest degrees and has done all of this while raising a daughter alone. My mother is an only child, much like the daughter she birthed. She has been a caretaker since I was a junior in high school. One after another, a sick family member would make their way into our lives and deem my mom responsible for their well-being until their death. She has been fixing meals, running errands, going to doctors appointments, talking to hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, washing, cleaning, bathing and caring for as many as six people consecutively over the past 21 years. Let that marinate: TWENTY ONE YEARS. She did all this while going through her own health crisis including but not limited to breast cancer that, at times, left her hospitalized on several occasions. All of this took place while she was raising a daughter. As I wrote about in a previous blog, my aunt has struggled with depression for as long as I could remember. Her depression was intense and she would spend days in the bed sleeping or melancholy in spirit. Although she was a married post office retiree, she was expected to hold the house down. She paid the mortgage, the bills and since my uncle couldn’t read, she took care of anything that came in the mail and all things in between. My uncle, although a very great uncle to me, was not a great man to my aunt and definitely not the head of household. Still, he treated the home as if it were his and like she was a squatter. It’s not a lifestyle I could condone for myself but my aunt handled her business, through her depression and a relationship that was detrimental on herself. She may have seemed weak to other folks but as an adult woman, I can see how thick her cape actually was. #CapeStrong. My grandmother was the second oldest of five living children. I’m not sure where her amazing strength of life originated from, as she seems to be the only one of her siblings with the tenacity and the resilience that she possessed. She was blessed to love and be loved several times in her life. I know of three men, one she was married to and two who were long-term mates, who had her heart but not her mind. Each of these men passed away and while I was not around to meet my grandfather and see my G-Mom’s strong will, I can only imagine it based on what I have seen: she never grieves. Not the way most of us do. When the last love of her life, the man I refer to as my grandfather, passed away somewhat suddenly (no disease…he fell and hit his head), my grandmother never let anyone see her cry. No tears were shed at the funeral and just like all the other friends and family I bid farewell to alongside her, she was stoic in her demeanor and always found a reason to flawlessly smile. I’ve written in blogs about the day I was leaving my house a few years back and saw her outside crying. Her tears were so huge I could have stepped inside of them. I will never forget it because I had never seen it. I saw her try to wipe them in enough time for me not to notice, but I did. I often find myself thinking of that day and wondering what caused her tears. Was that day a culmination of life??? …a climactic moment of weakened shoulders hoisting a tired red cape?? She has Alzheimers now and truth be told, I don’t know how she could not have it. How could one store as many emotions away as she did and be the matriarch to her family AND her friends and it eventually not wear her thin in some way? I think being superwoman stole my grandmother from us. 14054582_1059928167431556_446721301327248467_o

No one signs up for this invisible role of impossibilities. We aren’t numb, non-humans who fly across the sky without catching a breath. We aren’t superhumans and we aren’t God, although each of us has the presence (IMO) of God within. To be super is to be excellent. Glorius. Splendid. Marvelous. These are all synonyms associated with the word itself and I don’t deny that they fit every black woman I’ve ever met. But it’s hardly a round-the-clock situation. I belong to a group called The Healing Circle, where women post their prayer needs, vent, uplift, cheer up each other and more. It’s a safe, sacred space on FB (can you believe it) where women have gotten to know each other simply through trying to empower each other throughout the day. I see first hand through this group that every day isn’t a great day. Some days are mental game changers and others seem like finales. There are moments where we have nothing but questions and feel undesirable to even ourselves. Our gears get tired, our immune systems get weakened and we struggle sometimes through bouts of depression, anxiety, and panic. Superwoman, by comic definition, would never experience these things and therefore she would always be able to fly with ease. There is no trouble that scares her backward and there is no past that she just can’t get over.

But in the real world, our past effects our current decisions, our hearts are bruised and at times broken for extended periods of time and we are in and out of confidence depending on who we are and where we are in life. Times get hard and we aren’t detached from how it makes us feel. Things need to be done and we aren’t in the position NOT to do them. #FuckItIWillDoIt. We are in the process of forgiving, understanding and moving on, on a daily basis. Four out of four women are trying to forgive someone right now for some type of transgression. I made up that statistic and I highly doubt I’m wrong.

We don’t want this fucking cape yo!!!!!

We don’t. We have earned our crowns but these capes are overrated…yet so necessary. If not us, then who? After so long of caping for thyself, it becomes hard to let go of the ropes. Trusting another person to take of things the way you know you would can be such a stressor that it’s just more simple to BE superwoman at all times.

We don’t want to do everything ourselves. I have proven it to myself, my family and the world that I can handle life. I can make a way out of no way. I can sleep without electricity until I get paid, I can humble myself and talk to Citizens Action Program to help me with winter assistance. I can swipe my food stamp card at the grocery proudly. I can weather the stressful storm of unemployment and I rock THE FUCK out of interviews. I can work for Goodwill and Target for minimum wage during my maximum 30s. I can swindle, scam, scheme and finagle my way wherever I NEED to be. I can and I will maintain my household at all costs. There is no question about that. Now I want some help. At nearly 38 years old, after having been on my own for nearly 20 years, I officially want to retire this ugly ass red fabric that is weighing my back down and I want someone to help. I want some contribution to these bills. I want to be able to buy myself something without taking from something else. I thank God that I no longer need to ask and give my uterus up in order for the government to give me assistance, but even if that weren’t the case, I don’t want to do all the talking. I need someone else to call the plumber and the mechanic. I want some help washing dishes because sometimes I let them pile up too much.

I have two dogs and when it’s vet time, I need help dammit ! I want to not have to pay for my own entry, drinks, and parking; I want to be treated like a Queen by my man. I want my friends to give friendship that is truly unconditional and in return I seek to provide the same. I want them to reach out to me when I’m struggling and can’t do so for myself. I want to let them know that I am thinking of them when they think they are all alone. And everything that I want for myself, I want for every woman who is battling this superwoman role. It feels good to accomplish stuff that people think you can’t, but after so many accomplishments, sometimes, you want to kick back and relax.  There is an ever growing list of expectations associated with bearing this title of super. You become EXPECTED to take care of things and to have it all together. Sometimes tho, you fucking don’t want to ! You want to stop being the caretaker for the day and stop feeling like you can’t grieve your losses. You want the bills out of your name. You want help raising your child. You want a loving ride home from the hospital and you want get well soon flowers hand delivered. This isn’t about having a man. This is about not doing every damn thing ourselves, all the fucking time. That help can come in many forms…companionship is merely one.

Even superwoman needs a day off.

But if history has taught me anything, it is that our role as Superwoman is immortal.

Eternal.

It is forever.

Superwoman can’t die.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t often want to retire our tired, red capes and just be women. 

 

~j

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