Dead Man Can’t Email.

Incoming Email from Anonymous Acct:

I miss you baby… I’m sad I haven’t received my correspondence I was promised.. I’m a cheerleader of your gift and blessing to paint pictures through words. I’m perplexed by your continued disdain for your most loving ex you’ll ever meet…. I know that is hilarious to you…. I follow you and your compositions when I’m able and I’m a fan of your growth… I speak in this fashion because I don’t particularly agree with the word proud of someone.. I believe that is reserved for parents and elders when expressing there positive feelings for there offspring or younger family… I always knew you’d provide positive feedback for youth as I do also from the belly of the beast… I miss you though real spit… I root for you in all your endeavors know that! I am upset that I have been cut off from every other outlet in order to converse with you… I love you Kendria and I don’t practice this relentless pursuit of anyone I’m content with who I am and not whom I used to be. What I need from you is a consensus as a adult that you no longer want to hear from me and I will respect your wishes love. Peace and love. 

Can someone identify this lying MF because I need to know where to ship my Fuck You to. 

Word to the unwise: I don’t care about what you talmbout.

Back TF off of me for good. My heart and my love is no longer a game piece for niggaopoly.

That’s not personal, that’s a whole blanket statement.

 

~j

Live PD Cam

Self Conscious: Girl stop. That shit is in the past, let it go. It’s already been buried.

 

Me in real time:

I meant, literally. I can dig it…UP.

The color of masochism.

 

Plot twist: there’s no gold at the end, fool.

Stop digging up your past.

It only ends in the death of you.

~j.

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

Falling in Love w/Fly Weights

“I looked good on his arm

As if I were candy paint decorating his suit jacket

Cherry red on suicide doors

My sepia arm dripping in jewels like daytime glitter.

Alternating from faux to French diamonds,

Because every girl needs costume and real jewels.

Accessorizing his east side accent like English language blanketing German subtitles,

the paparazzi loved the way we made an entry,

Arms criss crossing melanins.

We looked fly together

But I was interlocking elbows with an anchor that could halt the Titanic….”

~nomaD, J.York, October 2018

To know me is to know how much I love pictures. I come from a picture taking family. My grandmother owned all the cameras and never fell short of snapping her favorite polaroid to capture photos of the moment. It’s been almost a year since she passed and the one thing I’ve wanted to do was go to her house and look at her old picture books. I know if I do, all those people will come alive in her dining room for me one more time.

Gmom looking through polaroids while Gdad was kinda over it.

Pictures are my thing and it’s no secret that I had hoop dreams of learning photography and specializing in black and white shots. I have several clouds saving pictures for me, including Google and Amazon, as well as a site called Smugmug that I found years ago. My photos automatically upload to these clouds so there is never a shot or video that gets deleted w/o the ability to be recovered from somewhere. As of recently, the newest social trend is to give us a glimpse back in the past. It started out on Facebook but now Google and Prime (as well as others I’m sure) have made it where you can check out the photos you took from “on this day”, circa whatever year. Every day for the past few months, I log onto Prime and do something I’ve never been good at doing: deleting pictures. I delete every and any trace of photos that have my ex in them, no matter how fly the picture looks. On Google, you can do a face recognition, so I did that and removed him completely from my Google cloud. Prime requires me to do this every time they prompt me with a flashback. And I oblige it, daily. Matter a fact, let me check now.

 

I do this daily. I remove all evidence of him from my life and from inadvertently “popping TF up” when I least expect it. I know I can’t possibly scrub my IG and FB page clean without some help, but the least I can do is get those fauxtoshoots off my clouds. All my clouds are too high up to be holding onto this many pictures of Polyester Peter. But you know why there are so many pictures (there are HUNDREDS)? Because we looked so good together. I mean, we looked F L Y !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On our worst days, we could snap a picture that would make my eyes flutter hard enough to kick the 808s in my heart. He was always game to snap as many pictures as I wanted him to. I thought he was just as eager and excited to see us frozen in beauty the way we would be. It wasn’t for ‘likes’ or for public consumption although I made the mistake of sharing our flyness with the world (something that will NEVER happen again. My weddings guests will have to read braille to know what’s happening).

I just loved him. I love pictures. We were fly. It was a triple lutz win worthy of an audience!

But that’s all we ended up being: fly LOOKING.

We were anything but mid-flight.

Yep. We were a crash that looked pretty during the fall. The reality was I was holding hands with a gorgeous weight. For all the times I stared intentionally into his eyes, I fail to understand how I couldn’t see the lies I was being told or the fact that he was an anchor on my hand. A body of bricks. Concrete love, and I was lost in his jungle putting on makeup and pretty dresses.

Venice Beach Plane Failure – during a long period of silence between the two of us. I didn’t know he took this.

Which brings me to the point (finally) of this blog.

It is all too possible to fall in love with a fly ass weight. What does this mean? It means the person (male or female) that you have entered into a relationship with has all your love but no wings, no feathers and no ability to help you fly. No matter how hard you pull them in the direction of up, they will always bring you down. It might not necessarily be on purpose at the onslaught, but there comes a point in the relationship where I believe they make a choice to love you ill and pull you towards ashes and dust. I happen to believe if we are “returned” to Earth after our demise, six feet back into the ground, then our lives are not meant to be lived there; we are supposed to be on the up and up until they lower our caskets or spread our ashes. But there are times when we meet and fall in love with people who can only offer us first base. As the relationship progresses, you start to see the ship isn’t moving and every time you cut the anchor free, another hindrance finds itself in the way of your partnership motion. Congratulations, this is falling in love with a fly weight. 

That weight might dress well, have beautiful eyes that beckon your staring and their skin might appear to be made of golden sunrays but that doesn’t mean their arm doesn’t require a forklift or that their love isn’t the foundation for being grounded. No matter how much they support your grind (which is usually just above the surface) or how often they call themselves “your biggest fan”, they will begin to treat you in ways that don’t reflect what you expect (or what their mouth says). Soon enough, you will become disgruntled and sorrowful when you look around you and see your flight has been halted. Realizing letting go might gift you your travel back will undoubtedly be a painful recognition.

Let go anyway.

Flies vomit when they land btw. .. on whatever they’ve landed on.

The question becomes why is this person a ‘weight’ instead of a wing? Well, there is often one simple answer (although depending on the situation, there may be several more): Jealousy.

The wrong person will see your natural flyness (including but not limited to the way you look, the personality you own, how you carry yourself, how you handle life, how you chase down and achieve your goals and where you are in life) as a hindrance to their personal greatness and the relationship overall. I’m not sure why it is, but some people don’t notice when a person is trying to BUILD WITH them instead of against them. I’m sure it’s associated with whatever baggage they have in tow. But their blindness can keep you out the sky indefinitely while interlocking arms with them and snapping selfies for the gram. Your IG feed can easily become your relationship’s only means of protein.

Jealousy is dangerous, ugly and unloving and it camouflages itself as support, love, and light. But in reality: welcome to the darkroom. It will either kill you or stop your train. Muthafuckas will take from you when they are jealous of you and in a relationship with you. Money itself is too simple. If they know you as a hustler, they will see money as replaceable; they can’t take JUST that (although they will take that too). They take/want your soul. That’s where the satisfaction comes from. Your spirit. Your confidence. Your pride. They take one feather at a time from your wings until they’ve grounded you in a position where they can start trying to mold you into who they now believe you should be to or for them. Their greatness is defined by how weak you are for them. If they can put you in a position to compromise what YOU think, want, know, deserve and push back against, they feel empowered. If they, in their insecurities and fears, shortcomings and missteps, can put an ounce of mental control on us, to tame us, to mend us towards fixing their shit and not working on our own, to pull us down from their words, their ill-fated love, and poor decisions, then they have empowered themselves even more. The more power they collect, the bigger they grow and better control they have over something (usually these people have little control on anything else in their life).

We, the women of great internal power and audacious love, LOOK good on their arms. We look fly. It tells the world what they can pull and keep. It shows people something.

“Look who (s)he walked in with!!”

“How did (S)HE get HER?”

This is ego-lower self food, and it does more speaking on their behalf than they are willing to do for themselves. That’s why they accuse you of caring so much about what other people think. It’s not because you do and they know this. It’s projection baby!! When I tried getting back w/my ex in the late summer of 2017, I hosted a party shortly afterward with my friends. He got mad that he wasn’t invited and accused me of caring about how my guests would look at me if they knew he was back around. Let’s be 100 tho: I couldn’t give a fuck what anyone thought about who I choose to love and why. It was never that. It was all about what I thought about it and I wasn’t ready. But that grassroots attempt at a mindfuck almost worked. THEY care what other people think. Don’t fall for the projection!  Their (wo)manhood has plenty of stock invested in the “fly look” of the two of you that is based on your flyness PRE-their ass.

Here we are: these daring, brilliant, talented women with exquisite beauty that we don’t even rely on. Women who know ourselves.  Women who care for our loved ones. The villagers. Women who uphold honor, love, and respect and demand all of it. Women who build the table and pull out our own chairs. Women who aren’t content with chasing dreams; we massacre goals and create new ones to tackle.

To have US on their arm shows the world they are fly.

Then WE look fly in pictures.

No one can see our secret: that our arms are attached to weights.

And no wing can fly above an anchor. The only means is cancellation or cutting the ropes. It may be one of these most painful retractions of your life. You will ask questions that won’t generate responses that kiss it, kiss it better. Your trust may be broken as well as your heart and your mental state might be challenged for a period of days or weeks (and for some, months). You’ll indeed feel HEAVY as fuck !!!!!!!!!!!

Photo by ANKH Productions

As if you weigh 3 tons and can’t be bothered to pull your weight throughout an entire day (or you may instantly feel great, unbothered and ready for a do-over with a better candidate). But trust me when I say releasing the hand/arm that you are holding, snapping pictures with and looking good next to (also known as a WEIGHT) will open the sky up for you. The sidewalk will become a liftoff. You need not run. Just keep walking.

I assure you, as God and myself is my witness, you will be flying before you know it. While there might not be a hand to hold onto during your ascent, don’t trip. Fuck em and feed em’ concrete! FLY sis. Evict any negative energy from that person (pictures off cloud, phone, old gifts, left items, etc) and move UP with your life.

Fly until you fly into someone already up there, looking for you….we gotta learn that stopping to catch your breath doesn’t mean to pick up worm unless you’re eating it.

Don’t accept less,

Don’t be sorry,

Photo by ANKH Productions

and never settle for being grounded after you’ve left your mom’s house.

~J

 

***Dedicated to my sisterfriend that inspired this conversation recently. I hope you know who you are <3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 27th – Pt II Puerta Va-Hopelessplace

In August 2016, XXXXX and I took a trip to Los Angeles; a first for both of us. We had an incredible trip and spent five days touring the streets, walking the parks and laying on the beaches of L.A. It was a no-brainer that we would go back. The airstream we stayed in was an experience unlike any other. It sat up in the hills with picturesque views of LA, the Hollywood sign and Griffin Park. The sunset was marvelous.  They were a popular destination with only one opening in September: two weekdays.

The calendar was booked for the rest of year just the same. I was a bit taken aback when XXXXX suggested we book the two days in the airstream and then catch a cruise, if plausible, that would take up the rest of the trip. We were basically building a California trip around the openings in the airstream. I was surprised by this because he doesn’t like cruises but for whatever reason, he was up for it. I’m always down to float on the ocean, so we began our next search. He usually lets me handle this part of our vacationing because …well, I’m good at it! I will search relentlessly for the best deal and I ALWAYS find what I’m looking for (or better). I had no idea I was a part of his illustrious plot on me. He knew me well enough to know what my exact reaction would be to each suggestion.

Airstream – Hell Yeah Babe!

Cruise somewhere – YASSSS Zaddy !!!

We settled on an 8 day trip to Califonia, that would include a five-day cruise to Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta. We’d arrive on Wednesday and spend it and Thursday in the airstream. Our cruise left at 8 AM Friday morning and returned around the same time later that week. We figured we’d splurge on a dope ass hotel for the final night in Cali.

Sounded exciting enough to me! The days leading up to our trip felt like they moved slow but soon enough we were touching down in California about to hit the 405. The day of our ocean departure, I could tell he was nervous. His excitement to indulge in my ocean-energy carried him beyond his personal fears. We had a balcony room and suggested to him that we spend at least one night sleeping outside. We reclined our chairs all the way back and held hands under the stars while listening to the soft tapping of the Pacific against our ship. There were stars everywhere and we fell asleep naming them per our ‘skwahd‘, and checking for constellations.

The cruise was romantic. We immersed ourselves in each other’s company and enjoyed every day on and off the ship. He barely remembered he was on a cruise after the first day. Cabo was more than I could have asked for. We ate well, drank better and did every water activity time would allow. He had taught me basic swimming before we left so thanks to XXXXX, I was able to swim in the ocean!! And to not be scared to venture into it. Our final port was in Puerto Vallarta. As time drew close to our final boarding, XXXXX and I found a quiet, secluded area on a beach that was popular with our shipmates. The ship was just around the corner. It was a safe last stop where we could maximize our time. I sat quietly on the edge of the soft, white sand with my feet in the water. It felt good on my legs.

as i sat there, I drifted off into my own world. my thoughts were touring the rest of the ocean as the sun tiptoes over its waves. the sound of god speaking brought me so much calm. I hear God speak when i hear the ocean. and it’s always so fascinating.

I was so far into the depths of thought with my eyes closed that I didn’t realize XXXXX wasn’t standing next to me anymore until he called my name.

“Kendria!”

I shook my head out of my beautiful trance and turned behind me. We had exactly one hour left before we had to board the ship. This hour was the dawn of a new morning glory in my world.

When I turned and looked for him behind me, there he stood barefoot, in white linen pants that were rolled up above his ankles, a brown hat to protect his St Tropez-tan (as he called it), and a sky blue shirt that collected his sweat with ease. His arms were stretched.

I stood to walk towards him while wondering why he would want to leave the beach so soon. The closer I got, the more I saw.

Flowers. Big, colorful flowers that aligned the back of the beach where different vendors were set up. I had been so inundated with the Pacific Ocean that I didn’t realize he was gone long enough to pick these huge flowers.

Tears. In his eyes. As I began to walk toward him, I could tell he had tears welling in his eyes. His smile stood proudly and his eyes were fixated on me. I closed in on him and he stepped to the side, revealing a small, sand-drawn heart with a black box in the middle.

There was no hoopla. No dancers, fire acts or mosh pits.

Just him. Just me. And the distant laughter of the people on the further side of us and the crashing of the ocean.

This black box had everything we had been building inside of it.

The date was September 27th. I couldn’t withhold my emotions and tears sprinted down my cheeks in a disorderly fashion. Before I could speak, he walked around, behind the flowers that decorated the heart. He grabbed the box, opened it and bent down right in front of me. I’m so glad I wore a dress off the ship. It made for beautiful memories when I thought back at how it blew in the wind at the same time as my hair. #MissAmerica #pettyThoughts 

 

He stood at the peaks of the heart, where the two aortas combine and said:

“You make me understand life. Before you, there were none. There is no after you. There is only right now. My life feels refreshed and alive with you in it. You don’t allow me to settle or wallow. You push me toward greatness. Your love is overflowing and sufficient, and I feel it on me when you’re not here. My soul can feel yours before it begins to speak. Baby, we are not temporary. We have to be forever. There is nothing I will not do for you. I want to begin every day, from here on, talking to God about you, with you and close to you. I want to worship with you. Grow spiritually with you and lead us both to greatness. I support you like you support me. You have taught me how to see myself and I want to spend the rest of my life making you joyful. I know it is God’s will that we meet in eternity. I’m Yours Right Now. ..and forever.

Will you marry me?”

He opened the box and the yellow canary that jumped out and sang around my head like a halo gave me a gasping pause. It was just what I wanted. It wasn’t too flashy but it was enough to say “XXXXX Lives Here” in neon diamonds.

I’ll never forget the way my heart beat. Or the breeze. And the sounds. Or how it felt floating on air back to the ship. It felt like as we walked through the metal detectors to reboard the ship, I was entering a new world of my own. My newest level.

A higher strain of trust.

I really tried hard not to ugly cry. 

But, I think I did.

And then I said yes so loud that I think other people down the way heard us. We hugged and danced and kissed. It was minimally extravagant. In front of the ocean and alongside God. We made our first vow right then and there: to never take for granted the fact that we found each other. This world is full of billions of people and sure cities are small, but we found each other. We navigated life and held firm in our faith that our person was out here.

And now, in the evening of a Puerto Vallarta late-summer cruise, we found forever . . .

“Yellow diamonds in the light
And we’re standing side by side
As your shadow crosses mine
What it takes to come alive

It’s the way I’m feeling I just can’t deny
But I’ve gotta let it go
We found love . . .

….”In a hopeless place.”

~Rihanna, We Found Love

 

“Not All Black Men”: #PinningTheTailOnTheDonkeyOfTheDay

“Most men fuck women to destroy them . .  .”

~TK Kirkland

 

For nearly 39 years, I have watched black men drop the ball on me in every way imaginable. Starting with my natural father and blood brother to the man I planned to marry to the guys on the street and complete strangers and the play brothers and the guys I grew up with – -*the men I love so dearly have often left me hanging or worked overtime at disrespecting the very nature of my heart. Or at least, this is how it FEELS. I am currently searching my reserve tank for something to keep believing in them, loving them and fighting with and for them but it has thinned to the thickness of a single hair follicle. Recently, I watched a black man tear down a well-known black business woman in Indy. He trashed her restaurant, her food quality, and her prices. After legions of supporters chimed in, in her favor, he went to battle with each one (mostly women), myself included. He trolled our pages and insulted us based on what he was able to see. He referred to the sole black man (that I saw at that time) as a bitch ass nigga because he defended her. He even disrespected her mother by calling her a bitch (after she stated she was her mother). While other people get angry and go back and forth with this type of stuff, I get sad and seemingly ill. I can’t participate because I start shaking internally. My eyes cross, my heart breaks and tears sometimes form.

This has been a relatively hard blog to write.I’ve feared that my current relationship standing and my past baggage would sponsor a blog post that was too full of ‘black girl attitude’ instead of magic, and come off as whiny, full of complaints and inexperienced with more than one type of black man. What I am about to say is not without merit nor do I lack taking ownership for what I have entertained and allowed to permeate my life (in the cases where I could help it). I’m not another blogger using her platform to tear down the black man. I’m not that. I am a whole woman with validity to her claims, experience under her belt and just enough wisdom to know that some shit just ain’t right. I’m fine with being labeled as angry because….well, fuck it, I AM!

And I have EVERY right to be; to authentically feel WTF I am already feeling! I don’t hate black men and I am absolutely still full of love for them.  It’s just time for me to take the sugar spoon away and be real: our trust has been broken and our bond needs critical repairing, but no one is fine-tuning this shit except me and I’m damn near done completely.

I LOVE black men and I always have. I’ve loved them hard, relentlessly, and wildly on purpose; with intention and out loud. I could never claim to be perfect and I’ve always been on the learning curve of love, but I’ve given it as best as I had to put out.  I’m here for them. Once upon a time, I wrote for and performed to them. I loved them on stage as much as off. I got my first standing ovation from a room full of hood rich dudes who were there to stand their hip-hop grounds on a night that poetry had tried to ease in and take over. The poem, “Convicted Felon”, was written about struggles of re-entry and they ate it up. I wanted them to know that I was present for them and their struggles. In Louisville one night, I won audience favorite after doing a poem about black men being kings. That came w/a $100 and a standing ovation in a room crowded with black men. The hugs and high fives left me feeling like I had done my job: I let them know that SOMEONE (me) is rooting for them and can see them! I’ve never masked or hidden my love, support, and desire for their presence in my life, yet I find this has made me nothing more than a target with a fat ass.

“…and even if I end up spending my life without one of you/I will forever long to hold onto you like the sun longs to hold onto blue skies that are decorated by white clouds./ I will forever try to build you up/not tear you down.”

I’m not in denial about my rocky relationship with black men. I must specify “black men” because that’s who I have dealt with. I know other men of other races do the same shit; but my allegiance is to black men and gotdammit, I want my fucking reciprocity! More than that, I want this breach repaired. I don’t want to have to rely on men of other races – I WANT to love black men; but I don’t want to love for two anymore. It’s time that I just do my part; not both of ours. I have so much material where I have written them into the parts of my life that I needed or wanted them. I didn’t call them kings in a poem and treat them like peasants in real life. I’ve created fairytales with my words and I admit that was a mistake. In hindsight, I wonder did I think that I could write myself into a healthy space with black men in general? Had I been thinking that whole time that I could show them my authentic self via poetry and that might attract like-minds and good fruits of the harvest? Because if I did, I can say that it didn’t work.

It attracted more enemy-like predators. They saw my vulnerabilities and used them to their advantage while assisting in destroying my overall feelings regarding black men in general. Time and time again, I’ve been nothing more than an experimental situationship for them, and I’ve watched them ride off on white horses with other women. Literally.

PICTURE IT:

During my sophomore or junior year of high school, I was called a nigger by a white man entering a nearby Walgreen’s that I was leaving out of. We almost bumped into each other and that was his response. It was so unexpected that I don’t think I responded. I was shocked quite frankly and I was also skipping school sooooo, I didn’t tell anyone. That was the first and only time that I’ve been called that to my face, although I’m sure many have mumbled it about me under their cowardly breath. I was called a ho when I was in the seventh grade. The guyS that started spreading rumors about me at age 13, some true and plenty others embellished at that time, were all black. They lived in the same neighborhood as me and went to the same school. These guys had me thinking I was a slut before I ever lost my virginity. I was bullied, laughed and pointed at, made fun of me and alienated…all because of black boy joy, circa 1992. I took the long way home from the store, I had to transfer schools and I literally peeped around corners to see if I saw any trace of them when I was outside.  They made my life HELL. I lost my ‘friends‘. My shaky self-esteem plummeted and my reputation in my new neighborhood was trashed by the first two people I met: black boys. This continued until I left the neighborhood for good in 1998 @19 years old.

My point of that is not to rehash old memories but to show a juxtaposition of the hurt inflicted upon me by white men vs. black ones. It’s TROUBLING !!! Do I trust white men more than black men (or at all for that matter)??

I’m not stupid. I know they really don’t GAF about me. But I am an observer and what I have seen and experienced has shown me that most of the black men I come across don’t appreciate, want or love me either. It feels worse than that one time Walgreens occurrence or the subconscious thoughts other races may have because black men are who I associate and fight with and love greatly. I don’t want to feel this way about them. I WANT to feel like they look at me and see light and love, but I don’t really think so anymore. My own father and brother never saw worth in me. My brother has a bunch of children. I’m no one’s aunt. It makes me wonder what I did to deserve this shit? I’ve been stolen from, used, abused, left out of town, molested, nearly raped, killed and of course, cheated on and lied to while looking me in my eyes all by black men. Some of this I played a role in but not all of it and I’m not willing to take EVERYONE’s blame on my shoulders anymore. I’ve beat myself up for years over the choices and things I’ve done in the name of love or men. THIS BLOG IS NOT WRITTEN WITHOUT PRE-ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF MYSELF! I am responsible for what I allow. It’s just right now, I’m allowing myself to be honest.

I’m often perplexed as I listen, read and watch the seemingly effortless disrespect and mistreatment of black women by black men and boys. It bothers me to no end and maybe that is because my own personal relationships have always been met with an ICU-ending. It doesn’t matter what the context of our relationship was; just about every black man that I’ve ever had a relationship of any significant sort with has left me feeling unprotected and disposable. #NotAllBlackMen

I recently realized that I’ve been giving out labels that come with expectations to men who don’t want to or simply won’t meet those expectations. Matter a fact, I don’t know that they even wanted the labels. That’s not fair of me. These men aren’t required to protect me in any capacity (and they don’t).

What have I done to deserve their protection or respect aside from being born awesome? These the types of questions I ask myself before writing blogs like this.

Photo by ANKH Productions

But I’m not tripping: There IS a lack of protection by the black man of the black woman. I’m not the only person who feels this way. Other blogs have been written before this. VSB wrote one and received quite the backlash (from black men) because how dare they call them out on their shit? I got into a back and forth on FB with a guy about that exact blog because he wanted me to give him proof that it was valid. Instead of saying ‘fuck you and your proof’, I stopped the conversation. #IAmTheProof

I know if a man is reading this blog, his thoughts whilSt reading this might sound like “well, it’s #NotAllBlackMen.” While my personal relationships play a great deal into my perceptions, it’s not solely based on me. I sit and observe, listen and read things that further push me over the edge all the time. I envy the women who proudly profess their support and love for black men. I see stuff like this all the time:

It’s not that I don’t agree because I do. But I don’t feel it reciprocated in action towards me and never have. And so I also have mad respect for those who stand firmly in their disgruntled truth: that they are disappointed and untrusting of these beautifully created, melanted humans. When one of the young ladies from my neighborhood lab told me about two young guys, no older than 14, cat-called and heckled her and another 10-year-old little girl, I was sick. Their behavior was problematic AF and also learned. It may have even been taught to them. The young ladies asked to be left alone and were met with more advances. The ten year was a bit scared and the 14-year-old told me that she knew better than to show her fear because it would only increase their behavior more. TEN. FOURTEEN. They shouldn’t have to experience that and young boys shouldn’t be taught that girls (women) are owed to them. The inability to accept no for an answer or resorting to increased haggling/violence (resulting in fear for the girls/women) comes from a sense of entitlement.  #WhoTaughtYouToHateMe

The Common Denominator

Maybe the problem IS me. Seeing as though I am the common denominator, maybe I’m the issue. Do I hold them too high to their mistakes? Group them all together unfairly? Because it’s #NotAllBlackMen and I know that. I’ve seen ‘good’ black men; they are just a rare sighting in my personal life. Do I take how black men act towards me and other black women too damned personal? Does my disappointment stem from my inadvertent daddy/brother-search in niggas who are only good for slinging dick left to right or loving me tight for a few months or a couple of years? Do you know how many seasonal ‘brothers‘ I’ve put in my heart since poetry came into my life? #TewDahmnMany. You know how many of those brothers called/inboxed/dropped by to see if I was surviving my newest emotional apocalypse? Not even half. And honestly, I guess I haven’t done that for them either. It’s not their job to come check on me; ‘brother/bro’ is just a title – not a lifestyle they have to live. I take the blame for unnecessarily putting dudes in exalted titles and hoping no unspoken expectations are broken. I am no longer that growing teenager that needs her big bro or dad to fight these dudes for her; I fight my own battles. Kendria stands up for herdamnself against the atrocities of how she’s been treated. I’ve learned to stop giving away permanent titles to people who may be temporary. If my biological brother thought of me as trash, what chance did I stand with anyone else in that department? For these reasons, identifying the role I play in the demise of my own heart and respect for my black brothers is crucial.

Overall, I feel extremely failed by the black men I’ve loved. According to social media, it’s ALL me. It’s me suffering from low self-esteem or not loving myself enough. I attract these types of men due to my energy, says the media of socialites. My energy brings the shit to the plants huh? These damn memes and posts get on my EMM EFFIN nerves!!! It’s not that they don’t have truth (for SOME), but they do rush to put all the blame on the person who was mistreated. We love to preach to women and tell them to step to the mirror and love themselves more. There is some weird societal enjoyment in suggesting that the deficit resides solely in us as opposed to telling men to love themselves enough to realize without us, there is nothing. Where are the memes and posts and status’ that suggest to men that they stop using and abusing women? The memes that challenge their self-love based on their mistreatment of us?

In Summation . . .

I have a memory during my teen years of sneaking off into the alley with my neighborhood obsession. His name was Devon. I loved Devon for some reason although, even at such an early age, he didn’t respect me. Maybe he didn’t know how….nah, he knew how. He did it well with others but he saw the cracks in me and used them to his advantage. He was one of the first two guys I met when I moved on Cornelius. One day, while still a virgin, I met him in the alley and let jack off on a pair of checkerboard shorts I wore. The garage we stood behind belonged to a house I’d later move into at age 27. When he was done, I can’t remember what it was I wanted from him – a kiss or hug? For him to walk me back to the front? I don’t know, but it was something that he wasn’t willing to give. He zipped his pants up and started walking down the alley while I stood against the garage in tears. I will never forget him looking me dead in the eyes, walking backward and laughing. Then he took off running.

There it is folks.

That is the summation of my experience with black men. #NotAllOfEmTho

You know I gotta say that before one of them gets their boxer briefs in a bunch and hunts for me with the ‘you hate black men’ inscribed pitchforks. LOL.

Black men don’t like being talked about and called out on their shit. They don’t like being the center of attention if it ain’t what they deem good attention. They want women to stand by them, fighting, fucking & loving no matter what. My ex complained that our sex life wasn’t satisfying – but he carelessly had been telling lies the whole time. How do you have the expectations of getting your dick sucked on a regular when you have all these secrets, plus a white woman on the side? That goes back to that entitlement. It has been my experience that the men I have loved have all felt entitled to my body. They treat me like I OWE them sex. I once told a man I was not in the mood for sex and he didn’t respect it at all. When I later told him that it hurt me how he treated me that night, he called me crazy and said I was tripping. Some of them think we are deserving of their inability to take ‘no’ for an answer. That same man wrote hundreds of poems to women – calling us Queens and talking about what we deserved. But wait – I should blame myself for that. Right? You’ve read it before in my blogs. Or maybe not because when I wrote in great detail what happened, I privatized it days later. I have been protective of black men to a fault. Even my ex, who I blasted across social media. I’ve tried to rewrite how the public saw him many times because I love him. I know his good side; he loved me, although quite incorrectly. I got mad at myself for calling him out. But the reality was, once our ship sank, my body erupted like a volcano that had been FULL to the max of niggashyt that had been collected over 38 years. There was no time to make any other choice except scream at the top of my lungs. 8 months later, I am still smoldering.

Devon walking away from me in that alley was quite the significant foreshadow to my future. The black men I’ve known (#notallblackmen) would much rather piss on me and laugh in my face as they walk away and watch me cry about it. It’s as if they get a hard-on because of it. Becoming Devon’s girlfriend later in life symbolizes how I accept the bullshit and hope for greater anyway. I almost included an example of the few good men that I know to help balance the blog with black Light. But this isn’t about them. Today, I hope by purging this from my system that I will set forth a chain reaction of personal healing. Not just healing for my most recent ex, but a true repairing of my relationship with black men. I don’t want to sink into the abyss of fuck them.

But I got both heels and a spare in the quicksand.

I will pull myself out without a doubt. I always do and it’s always me and God. But who I will be when I emerge is only God’s best guess. If most men fuck women to destroy them, then consider me in repair from being fucked and fucked over and now standing on an emtpy train of my pieces, trying to reconfigure who TF I am. This is what devastation looks like on me:

Photo by ANKH Productions

 

SN: I do want to shout out a man I’ve referred to as my brother for years now. I won’t name him here, but he sent me over 70 text messages in an effort to help me stitch these breaches back together. He also reaffirmed that I don’t need to suffer in silence. That even though my feelings might not be shared by anyone but me, I have the right not to sit in silence and pretend. I’ve done enough loving out loud to be able to sit down and say “I’m tired boss.”

Thank you. I appreciate THAT push from a black man who knows my story.

~j

 

Started From Winona, With No Fear: My Golden Girls #NPM

 

Big Momma is a staple matriarchal figure in the black community. We know her as the older woman with the world in the palm of one hand and all of iitsresolutions in the fist of the other. She is larger than life. There is no question she doesn’t know the answer to or at least how to find out. There is no meal she cannot cook from scratch and her biscuits, greens and macaroni are all dishes that people fight over the last plate. She holds recipes in her head like brand new Jay-Z song lyrics. Big Momma doesn’t get sick. She nurtures her immune system with natural ingredients and special homemade remedies. She seems invincible in her existence and families know her as the glue that holds them all together. Her image has been portrayed in many movies, often which show the downfall of family relations in her absence.  Just as every daughter longs for her father and every son needs the affection of his mother, all grandchildren want that relationship that they many other enjoy with a woman often called Big Momma.

This isn’t a story of Big Momma. That would be more of her oldest sister, Anna Lee, who never left Winona.

Matter a fact, if my description of Big Momma is accurate, then the title that an old friend gave to my grandmother after being in her company a few times, is more than befitting: G-Momma. It’s perfect. My grandmother was a fucking G ! 

This is a story of my grandmother. I can’t tell everything about her, but there are some great highlights and straight dopeness that are worth sharing in a blog short. Netria Parker Marlin. I wonder why she didn’t have a middle name. Parker was her maiden. I’ve written poems about her in the recent years. I’ve had memories of happenstances with situations that seemed to foreshadow all that has come to pass. I decided, after staring at my grandmother who seemed to be worlds away in her eyes, that I would tell a story she can no longer tell. I would tell who she was to me. I would tell why it hurts to see her forget us all, but mostly her own life. I will speak of a life, lived to the fullest extent she knew how that I remember in bigger pieces each day. My grandmother has Alzheimers…or something that has altered her brain. It seems permanent. God always has the final say…but who am I to say God is not speaking now? So, what I know, I want to share. I want to immortalize a woman who was anything but Big Momma…

…but every bit my grandmother.

I never called her grandmother. Or granny.  In fact, I called her Netria. I remember it being a big deal to some and non-big deal to others. She didn’t seem to mind and when people questioned her, I don’t really remember her response but it didn’t result in much change. I vaguely remember her having a conversation with me about it and I wonder now if it ever hurt her feelings, as that was never my childish intent. I was just a spoiled child I guess, I don’t know. Eventually, I stopped calling her anything. I don’t remember if someone told me to or if it was a natural progression, but I stopped calling her by her first name and I never referred to her as anything else. I just spoke to her. I talked to her and she talked back to me and never a word was spoken about me not calling her grandmother. I knew her as my grandmother, I just didn’t reference that in speaking to her. And truthfully, it didn’t even fit her. She wasn’t Big Momma, she wasn’t grandmother, or granny…she was G-Momma. And I wish I had been introduced to that term long before my adulthood. I think she may have loved it.

While Big Momma was up in her kitchen snapping green beans, my grandmother was in the basement gambling. I don’t quite remember exactly why she chose to move to Indianapolis, but it was told to me that she always a strong-willed child who didn’t cry when got whoopings and was the second oldest of five. She was a soaring 5’9 with silky hair, smart, played basketball and was the Prophesies of her graduating class. When she came here, she worked first at the Finance Center out in Ft. Harrison and then moved on to being a postal carrier, as well as her first and only husband, Kenneth Marlin (my mother’s father). She was a talker, a mover, and a shaker. My grandmother knew or came to know everydamnbody. She would make friends at the Goodwill because we would go so often that the cashiers would recognize her and she was always good for striking conversation. We’d go to the  Goodwill, or the “GW” as she called it, and come out with bags of stuff for a few twenties that went partly in the register and partly in the cashier’s pocket. She never knew a stranger and I didn’t fully grasp that term until I realized my grandmother knew the entire city. My grandfather was long gone when I was born. I split my time between the women in my family – my mom, my grandmother and my two aunts. There were no babysitters or cousins, sisters or younger aunts. I was never around kids unless they were friends I made and brought with me. I wasn’t a grown child in my attitude, but I kicked it hard with the adults.

The day she buried my grandfather

And the adults were enjoying the primes of their lives. My grandmother was the gambler. She had a basement outfitted for sleepovers and poker playing. Her kitchens smelled of large trays of food cooked in other kitchens and brought over for dinner and snacks throughout the night. I never dreaded going over there. It was live. There was music sometimes, but mostly it was a house filled with poker plays, arguments, laughter, and television. There were people everywhere but no danger was ever present. Folks would await their turn at the table upstairs, and that’s where my grandmother would tell ghost stories and let me play in her hair. I’d brush her hair until she got tired of me brushing it and then I’d put it in a ponytail. The first one never worked right so I’d have to take it down, brush it and try again. I smile as I type this, remembering those moments my grandmother allowed me to be her stylist and her my babydoll with the pretty hair.  Her house was always popping, for lack of better word. There were cars everywhere, parked on each side of the street and in her driveway. Out of seven days a week, she had card games probably roughly five. I remember B.R. had every Thursday no matter what. I don’t know how the exchange of money went but I know my grandmother was pulling in what the young folks call ‘racks’ or whatever. She had to be!!! She was good at being a hustler and she would take me to the P Shake house with her. I was her partner in many ways and it’s baffling how long it took me to realize that. She let me work her card games – I would bring the poker players their coffee and Pepsi in exchange for them giving me tips. It was exciting to me because I could glimpse into the basement at all the money on the table, witness the cussing and the cigarette smoke and take sips out of their pop on the way down.

These beautifully sometimes haunting memories are ones that I could only get from experiencing life alongside her. She may not recall it anymore, but I do.

She was no Big Momma, but she every bit my grandmother.

She loved pictures. My grandmother had a photo of everything and everyone. She had tons of collages, frames and photo books, all full and stuffed with multiple photos in each sleeve. She kept long wallets that had lots of plastic pockets, and for every credit card and ID card, there were photos of random people she knew…and me. She always had pictures of me – they were in her books, her wallet, and her house.  For everything I think is so uniquely drawn about me, I come to realize it originated in my roots somewhere along the lines. I get my love of photos from my grandmother. She kept a camera and was always ready to pull it out and get a new picture. If I were to go to her house today, pictures would be everywhere. Her in Vegas or back in Mississippi.  My school pictures. Pictures of the man I called my grandfather, someone I think she loved more than she could bear to stand. Pictures of Candy, one of her best friends and also a transgender. I’ll put it in my book about how me and my friend Shakira discovered she was formerly a man when we were just 8 and 9 years old. That was a big deal back then and we thought we’d discovered something no one else knew, and had no idea how to sit on our ‘secret.’ It made for a laughter filled story G-Momma would later share with folks.

Her house had red and gold velvet wallpaper. I used to enjoy running my fingers up the velvet part because of how it tickled me. Her living room had red velvet like couches with a gold and red glass table that had mini chairs that fit around it. It was elegant. Beautiful. I’m sure my mom has it locked in a human size safety deposit box now. There is no way something like that is available now. It was full of gold pillars that held the glass up and I used to use them for my Barbies.

G-Momma told ghost stories that honestly used to scare the shit out of me. I still remember the story about the man with the wooden leg who she could hear walking down a hallway and how my grandfather still turned the doorknob every day at 4:30 pm, when he was coming home from work. She used to say that some spirits don’t know they are dead yet. She and her friends would trade tales of hauntings and occurrences and I would sit and listen without showing signs of fear. She always had a story for something. I never thought those stories would end. She had a stellar memory and spoke the last four digits of a phone number in blocks: “forty-seven, thirty-six.” Singling out numbers was foreign to her.

She was a night owl who slept hard in the day time and was wide awake gambling or reading the latest national enquirer and counting change in her bedroom. She varied on how she liked to keep her attention. McDonald’s breakfast was our thing. She’d wake me up at 5 in the morning after the last poker player went home and ask if I wanted to go get something to eat. There was also this spot called Fast Eddies, that used to be at 38th and Meridian where the old Subway sat. It was a diner style joint and of course, my grandmother was friends with everyone, including Fast Eddie. My love of waffles came from that spot. My love of peach cobbler came from us eating at Marbles all the time, where again there were no strangers. Either we got the peach cobbler…

…or we’d b-lined around the block to Long’s Bakery, where we would joke about needing to put the box in the trunk so we didn’t eat them all.  She loved Cadillacs and she loved her friends. My fearless G-Momma kept a personal arsenal of guns. When her friend was robbed at gunpoint at 500 Liquor store, she started going up there, me in tow and keeping watch with her gun in the armrest. I really was her buddy. The more I type, the more time I realize that we spent together and all the things we did. She taught me to play 5 & 7 Card Stud, Fifty-Three, and several other card games. We’d gamble on the floor for pennies.

My mom told me she wrote me a letter when I was born because she wasn’t going to be in the hospital to see me into the world. She was at the Mayo Clinic prepping for brain surgery that would cause her to lose her teeth, but little to nothing else. Her dentures had a gold on the side and I used to love it when she wore them. She kept long fingernails on one hand and a gold rings on her finger, or hanging from a necklace. The nursing home recently cut her nails because she’s a bit combative and they don’t want to get scratched. I get it but….yeah. I’ve never seen that one hand with those short nails before. It was like slicing off one of the lasting pieces of her. G-Momma was that woman that had a gold nugget and diamond ring on her pinky. It was a money sign to be exact and both she and my grandfather had one. When he passed, she wore them both. She didn’t have a hood mentality or talk with broken English. She just …was who she was. A lady who loved the blues and Al Green, and who may or may not have been on the run late in age.

She had throat surgery when I was a young kid. I can’t remember what her original voice sounds like as the operation did something to her vocal chords and caused her to speak in a raspy but loud whisper still to this day. It’s a distinct voice that can’t get as loud as she sometimes pushed it to be but when she was making a point, or if she were upset, best believe you knew. She didn’t cook. She wasn’t Big Momma. She had can goods in her oven and her favorite things were beans, bacon, an egg scrambled in the pan, steak and her famous hot-watered cornbread that used to look like pancakes and taste like a buttery offering from Heaven. She had a washer and dryer in her basement, but she mostly bagged her clothes up in Hefties and dropped them off at the laundromat. She didn’t mind paying for what she didn’t want to do. She was responsible. She loving. She was beautiful.

She wasn’t Big Momma, but she was my damn G-Momma and that was enough.

My grandmother never showed emotions. I watched her outlive so many of the poker players that I had come to know as family. I saw her lose love several times and not bat a tear. When my grandfather passed, I wondered how she could sit in front of the pew with such grace and class. She was dressed up the way he would have wanted to see her: in a mink coat that drug the floor. I can’t remember much else about her outfit but Crown Hill was so full of people that they were out in the hallway in bunches. She floated around to everyone, stopping for conversations and laughs. When the service started, I watched her. There was no emotion the public could see. When I spoke, which was my first time ever doing a poem or speaking in public, I could tell she was proud. I made her laugh and smile with my words and I could feel it. Thinking back, I can still feel how we connected. She had to be devastated…but didn’t wear the types of sleeves that would show it. She also never said I love you, until right before she stopped remembering me. It was jolting when she said it because I had never heard it from her. “I love you too”, I awkwardly said back to her on the phone one day back in about 2013 or 2014. I realize now, as she began to fade into a new Netria, God allowed the old Netria to give out a phrase that would come to be cherished like gold.

She was a resilient woman. I could give many stories on how she bounced back repeatedly from what would otherwise put others down for the count. But I have to stop the blog right?

My grandmother. Netria Parker Marlin. She used to smile a lot. Laugh. Talk on the phone for hours. She loved boosters (hot people as she called them) and a good deal. She loved dogs and a good spontaneous trip back to Winona. She could cuss and dress well but she preferred to be barefoot, outside on her patio drinking a Pepsi. There was once a time I thought she didn’t love me or that I wasn’t good enough for her. She used to have this saying that hurt me to hear but she let it be known every chance she got that “I could have made something of Kendria.” I didn’t understand it. Well, when I was dancing I did, but after my life began to change and I started to show myself with great purpose, I couldn’t figure out why she always said that. I get it now. She was old school, from the backwoods of Mississippi. She saw something in me and she saw me quitting everything I started. Everything I tried, I was good at. Piano, Karate (which we took together for a couple of classes), dance, cosmetology; I was good at everything I put my mind to but I quit it all. I chose a different path, consciously. I became the girl that cried “I’m Great” but had yet to stick with anything long enough to prove it.

Until poetry. My grandmother used to come watch my performances. She was one of my first fans. Once she saw I was relentless with it, she started to pay attention and when she heard me, she wanted everyone to hear me. She wanted to contact Oprah and get me on her show. She wanted the poker players to hear the “God Are You Listening” poem that I wrote early on which included some lines about her. She was one of the people at one of my first features, held at The House in Glendale before there was a Target. She rocked with me. That saying, although hurtful for me, wasn’t meant to hurt me. She just wanted me to see my greatness and follow it upward. I miss going to the Goodwill with her. And hearing her blow outside instead of parking, getting out and knocking...like normal folks would. I miss walking into her house and the door never being locked. I miss the sounds of the poker players and all the drama they brought with them.

I miss my grandmother.

She didn’t need to be Big Momma. And she never intended to be. She was simply Netria Marlin. She never remarried after my mom’s dad but she loved again and again. She had a smile that I miss seeing and she didn’t like to sit still. Neither do I. In fact, sitting still is something I still work on doing. I’m a night owl like she was and while I never fell in love with Cadillacs, I am able to drive across the country without batting an eye because of our frequent 9-hour trips back to Winona, MS. She loved her sisters. I miss our patio sessions where I would look up in the sky and watch the planes flying over while listening to conversations between her and my aunt that often times included belly aching laughter.

I miss her.

But …..

I can’t ever say I didn’t experience her.

And what an experience she was.

Her love was not traditional. It may have even been hard to detect at first. But looking back, I know she loved me. She loved us all.

She loved us like the G she was.

She was no Big Momma,

That one time we accidentally dressed alike.

But she was every bit my Netria.

 

We Should Have Brought Some Tissue: A Review of the choreoplay SHE, by Jinah Parker.

“We should have brought some tissue.”

These words slipped my sister’s lips to the right of my ear and I emphatically agreed with her sentiments. The show had been on for all of two minutes at this whispering point and already we knew we were in for an emotional ride that would guarantee tears shed. Luckily I had some paper towels in my book bag, but once the show got underway I didn’t want to move, and at times couldn’t. Leaning down to grab my bookbag and remove some of the hard ply napkins I’d pilfered from somewhere in New York seemed like it would be a distraction to both the cast and myself. By the end of the play, I’d done that several times.

Welcome to my after-thoughts of SHE, a choreoplay created by an incredible dance choreographer, Jinah Parker and produced by Kevin Powell.  My intent is not to recreate the 90-minute show play by play in this blog; I believe it to be something one needs to experience in person in effort to fully grasp how effective it was at telling these particular stories. Instead, I want to focus on how SHE made me feel, both internally and externally, as I journeyed with the four main characters through five stories, each feeling like a page from my own autobiography.

Quick backdrop about me (in case you don’t already know) to help put my perspective into context: I love dance! All of it. I love watching and participating in it. For too short a while during middle school, I danced w/an African Dance Troupe called FIRE, and for as long as I can remember and still today, I play songs at high volume and dance to the music as if I’m a professional, on stage with an audience mesmerized by the way I move. Dance has always symbolized freedom to me. The way an artist moves their body in tune with rhythmic sound, background noises and common chorus’ is like a feather being pushed by spring air. It’s such a natural experience and full of effervescence; delicate even. I wish I had stayed in dance classes and allowed myself the opportunity to form my flexibility and learn how to follow choreography the way I think I am when I’m at home pretending to be the student and the teacher. One of the allures of dance for me is how no stone is untouched. The dancer’s consciousness of their 5-count is effortlessly exuded in not just the movements of the feet, but also the controlling of the arms, down to the tips of the fingers and how they fold or relax at the exact right moment. Their eyes speak the lyrics they move to while their lips never part and dare to mouth the words. Their feet showcase their arch at specific moments and flatten at ease when necessary. Dance is an art form that requires all systems to be ready to go, on or off beat, depending on what the choreographer has led them to do. Dance is like freewriting, using your body as the pen and the paper.

Where dance asks the student to become the song, even if there are no words in it, theater asks the actor to become someone else-

-even if she can directly relate to the storyline.

This too feels savory to my soul. Anyone can memorize a script or read a monologue and it sound ok. But becoming, or embodying, another being while finding something in their story that is relatable enough for you to add your own special touches while still keeping yourself out of the characterization, is truly an art form. I believe that’s why there are so many different awards for actresses and actors. It is a remarkable feat to give your audience someone they’ve never met through you. Simply put, I love the art of dance and the greatness of acting. I’ve dabbled in both, but writing is my true calling. Still, I find myself sitting in theaters, festivals and other showings that include one or both completely enamored with hearts for eyes as I listen to their bodies create a story and watch their acting introduce me to someone new. Needless to say, I sat in the theater waiting on SHE to start, knowing that the artistic high I would have by the end would be something worth writing about. I kicked myself for not bringing a tiny notepad to take notes. Everything I am blogging is based on my memories of the show. No pictures or video were allowed, respectfully and rightfully so.

I’ve also received word that it will make another run later in the year and I will surely help promote it, so please be looking for that later down the line.

Let the Bodies Hit the Floor:

There were six dancers, each with her own personality about her toes. All six dancers have trained extensively in their art of choice, with some traveling as far as Amsterdam, Paris, Ethiopia and Isreal for study and teaching opportunities.

The musical selections were carefully chosen and perfectly intertwined with the storylines. When I heard Eryn Allen Payne’s Piano Song start to play, I relaxed even more in my chair as I instantly felt at home in this space. My unspoken (in this blog) love is music, and Eryn Allen Payne is an artist I recently got turned on to by way of Spotify trolling. She’s not on charts or playing on local radio, so anytime I hear that type of artist play outside of my earphones, it brings me comfort.

“Sometimes clinging to a cloud ain’t, easy as it seems
Sometimes clinging to a cloud ain’t, easy as it seems
But we try (just a little)
And we try (for you)
And we try (for me)
And we try”

~Piano

Payne’s delicate voice sings like a songbird over simple piano keys that eventually wrap themselves in the arms of various horns and drums and high notes by the singer. I love suggesting music and Ms. Payne is someone to puto n your radar for certain, especially Piano Song. At the same time, the stage lights were up and the dancers gave us our first taste of the next 85 minutes. As they neared the end of the song and sprinted about onstage with high jumps, mind blowing one leg spins and facial expressions that were a cross of internal joy and melancholy fears, my sister moved close and spoke this blog’s opening line:

“We should have brought some tissue.”

The dancers were charged with being the narrators of the show, which was artistically exquisite because they didn’t have actual speaking lines. The narration was all foot and body work, facial expression and intensity. Throughout the show, different dancers would enter the stage and begin to tell the stories being spoken by the characters. When pain and hurt were present, the choreography was inflamed and at times frantic. They’d tug and pull on each other, spin desperately on the floor or run for the freedom the characters were searching for in their tearful cries. There was one specific a point a dancer was on the ground with her legs up, her arms gripping the ground and her head back. I felt the storyline in her movements. Her inhales and exhales were distressed and passionate and they almost made me lose my breath for her. Her toes were aware of their surroundings, her skirt spread against the concrete flooring as if it were purposeful.

In that instance, she was me. I was her crash to the floor and the melancholy in her feet. I watched them all dance for me, for my life and for my secrets and pain.

It was hard to know whether to watch the dancers or the person speaking but I attempted to use both eyes separately. No matter what dancer was on stage be it one, a couple or all, the words being spoken were given a palpable heartbeat by how the dancers connected their movements to each monologue. And man were they strong!!! They picked each other up, rolled off each other’s backs and did the fell into the splits as if it were as simple as left foot, right foot. The intensity elicited a listening silence throughout the room. We watched with our eyes fixated on how each talented dancer turned their footwork into the actors. When the conversations were lighter and loving, the jumps and spins were graced with smiles and spread arms. The songs made you forget for a quick second that this was a heartbreaking story of how much pain women carry with them on a daily basis.

In secret.

This was not just a story of sexual trauma and abuse; this was a story of silence.

At one point, I remember thinking about the fact that in this room of women actresses and dancers, audience members and venue staff, there was more than five stories worth of women who could relate directly, or all too closely, to any one of the stories shared on that stage. It’s scary and maddening. The choreography put movement to the pain that hides behind the smiles on many of our faces.

The Bedrooms:

There were four actresses and much like the dancers, they are all well versed in their art form and each have a resume that includes tons of theater acting, some  television (including recognizable shows) and even a musical tour or two.

The stage set up was very minimalistic yet spoke volumes if you’ve ever experienced sexual trauma of any sort. There were four women, five stories. More on the fifth story in a second. The stage had four bedrooms, each with a woman in it. The rooms were all the same dimensions but varied in aesthetics. Each had a bed but the contents surrounding the beds were all different. In one room, there were tons of balled up and wrinkled papers alongside pill bottles. Another room was more controlled and clean with not a drawer out of place. One girl had a teenage looking room and the older matriarch of the play had a room befitting of her regal personality as well. Each bedroom held a different trauma but all fell under the same category:

Sexual Abuse.

And silence.

These bedrooms are a crucial unspoken part of the play and I will tell you why. The significance they carry is effective to any audience member versed in this topic by way of personal experience. Our bedrooms hold our secrets. We keep our diaries, journals, AND silence in these rooms, hoping that closing the door or locking the book or hiding it in the panty drawer will shut out the effects it has on our lives and mental state. Bedrooms are where we THINK we have healed ourselves until we realize we haven’t. It’s where we throw our fits and tantrums, as did one of the characters. It’s where we ball up in our sheets and write or consider suicide or cry our eyes out, using our pillows to muffle the screams that cannot exist outside of that room. Our bedrooms are often our inadvertent tombs or temples of anguish.

Every time one of the characters descended from her room, another layer of her pain was exposed. Stories of molestation, sexual abuse, rape, and harassment fell out of the closed closets and into the arms of the waiting audience as well as the other characters. Again, I don’t want to give away too many details. I only want to convey how well these actresses delivered their roles. Like the dancers, there were times when it was just one or several and towards the end, all women on stage. The characters all shared the common bond of having been sexually traumatized and thinking she should remain silent while internally erupting with hurt and confusion. Throughout the room, of which you could hear an ant sneeze, there were sniffles. Tearful emotions were overtaking the packed audience of various ethnicities, genders, and backgrounds. We all collectively were slapped in our faces by the reality that too many women face and must live with. From catcalling to schools turning their backs on rape victims and court Judges that ask questions like “why couldn’t you keep your legs closed“, SHE moved through not just these four women’s stories of abuse and trauma, but those of MANY. Thousands of women and teenagers are abused every day and they stay silent due to the treatment of victims once they’ve gone public; these were their stories. These girls and women keep to themselves, self-medicating and secretly hoping to die and for some, attempting to do so.

“…Halfway ready to die but scared to be buried on our backs because what if someone sneaks into our casket and thinks we were asking for it?”

~Januarie York, We Be All Night

In SHE, the bedrooms represented silence and repression to me. They were places of unrest, fear, and self-doubt. Stepping out of the abyss of the bedroom and turning on your vocals is what this play was about. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN VOCAL!!!!! The matriarch in the show, played by actress Kimberly Dalton Chalk, suffered molestation as a child by a family member and stayed silent about it. Imagine how many of our matriarchs and [great] grandmothers have gone through this and we don’t even know it. Through her own trauma and experiences, she urges all the other women to be vocal. She pushes them towards healing, knowing that in doing so, she will begin to heal herself as well. Throughout it all, the dancers were interacting with each other and the characters themselves and it made for a phenomenal, emotional 90 minutes of trial & tribulation turning into a triumph over pain/guilt/fear.

SHE told these four stories of sexual trauma, each having its own ability to branch off into further traumas and ways to be identified with by the audience. The word RAPE was given a broader spectrum to exist on that included direct sexual rape, mental and sexual manipulation, catcalling and street harassment among other instances that all fall under the brim of saying NO and it not being respected. But there was one story that didn’t involve sex, although manipulation, abuse, and trauma were at the forefront of it. I cried throughout this play. I cried during different dance sequences and monologues. I cried from looking at the facial expressions and hearing the fear and defeat in the voices of the characters. I’ve cried during theater many times in my life.

But I’ve never uncontrollably lost it during theater like I did when they gave space and tribute to Sandra Bland.

Panel & Jinah Parker & Final Thoughts:

Jinah Parker, the creator of this show and professionally trained dancer/dance educator, ……

Well, what do I say exactly? I want to keep this brief because I know this review is long but there is still much more to process. I’ll say this: She has a body that looks to have been sculpted meticulously in a quiet room of a Smithsonian Museum. It looks like she dances. Her face as she moves is aligned with her steps. There is no blink that was by accident. No hair that doesn’t move the way it should, no scowl that shouldn’t be and no smile that should be missing. She dances like her life depends on every single movement. I’ve written about this type of dancer numerous times. ..

“…and I will chronicle slave stories and bear battered women’s bruises with these feet!”

~Januarie York, The Architect

It’s no wonder that she would use her body to give tribute to Sandra Bland. A woman who, at the right angle, could be easily blended into a picture of Ms. Parker. That’s the thing about the PTSD that black people are suffering from regarding our relations with the police. We look just like the people we see dying !!!!  So it’s hard to not think it could be you when you, at times, feel like you’re looking AT yourself. I’m not suggesting this was where Jinah’s mindset was when she added this part to the show, but I do know that as beautiful and precise as the entire cast was, Jinah was the only one that could pull off the emotions, the anger and the appalling acts that led to the death of Sandra Bland. Through a video montage, we heard Sandra’s voice and were reminded of her face. We saw her get pulled over. We heard the exchange. As soon as she appeared, I began bawling crying and couldn’t stop. The montage showed other faces, familiar and unfamiliar, including Tarika Wilson, Rekia Boyd, and Aiyana Stanley-Jones.

Jinah’s face….Her face pulled me into those first moments I heard or wrote about each other these black women and girls. My body was jumping. Tears were in a complete cascade. I grabbed some hard paper towels from my bag and held it to my nose and mouth. I feared I would vocally cry by accident. It was gut-wrenching, yet necessary. The way the scene ended made me almost run out of the theater so I could collect my thoughts. But I didn’t. I sat there and pulled it together and watched the rest of the choreoplay. It was a breathtaking display. The whole damn choreoplay was just that: breathtaking. Inspiration. Honest. Frightening.

Jinah Parker has pulled together an incredibly talented cast and woven some of our most silent stories into 90 minutes of expression and verbal release. It was followed by a 30-minute talkback, of which I sat on the panel and briefly shared a story of mine of how I related to this showing.  The cast was so welcoming, full of smiles and eyes that beamed with excitement. But before the panel began, Ms. Parker had us all do a breathing exercise. The exhale was so necessary and I am thankful for that. The audience was greatly impacted, men included. They stood and shared sentiments of fear and disgust and wonder of how to become the right type of ally. Some women spoke through tears and others with an imperative sense of awareness, calling on each other to push back against this system (hello Trump Admin), and our traumas.

I could continue to write about this show but I worry that I may have lost some of you already with this length. There is a way I could shorten it I guess, but I like being true to me. I like stepping out of the bedroom and allowing the silence to fall off of me. I like being vocal and talking in all my truth. I had to share this experience the way I felt it. I hope that Jinah finds herself reading it so that she may KNOW that I too am one of her fans and will be championing for this show’s continued to success. And if ever it finds itself touring . . .

Jinah,

Thank you for what you have created. Thank you for answering the call in your heart and mind to push this out and into the world. Thank you for taking on the pains and hurts and traumas of your fellow sisters and turning them into a conversation. Thank you for not layering this show with unnecessary, unrelated moments in an effort to keep the attention of the audience. I’ve seen that happen before and it’s hit or miss; thank you for trusting yourself and your work. This is a heavy show. I can’t say it’s not. But it’s so necessary for people to see and hear. Too many do not know that the women right next to them are walking around with this type of hurt stewing in the back of their minds. We suffer in silence and we die in suffering when we don’t have to. This choreoplay was not for entertainment; this was for education. Thank you for your heart. Your art. Your calling. You move like the wind is your direction and your passion for this project is easily seen and equally felt. To sit alongside you and to have you trust my voice is humbling and a true blessing to my soul.

Again, sister, I say thank you. On behalf of myself, the cast and all the women out here who have experienced some form of sexual abuse. Finally, a special thank you for the Sandra Bland tribute.  In the same spirit of speaking our names aloud, as many of us in the audience did when the different names graced the montage, I will speak the names of this cast. This is what we like to call LIVE  ROSES: flowers delivered while they can still be smelled. Ladies/Cast – Congratulations on an EXCELLENT showing.

I will come back to see it when it runs again!!!!

 

Afterword: I Speak Your Name

Phaedra Michelle Scott  – Directory

Sarah Elaz – Dancer/Narrator

Yuki Fukui – Dancer/Narrator

Brittni Genovese – Dancer/Narrator

Evelyn Joy Hoelscher – Dancer/Narrator Tammi Cubilette – Actor/The Mother

Tammi Cubilette – Actor/The Mother

Kerime Konur – Dancer/Narrator Tammi Cubilette – Actor/The Mother

Tammi Cubilette – Actor/The Mother

Montana Lampert Hoover – Actor/The Girl

Kimberly Dalton Chalk – Actor/Ma

Bridget Barkan – Actor/The Woman

Jinah Parker – Dancer/Narrator/Sandra Bland/#CREATOR

***Produced by Kevin Powell

 

Per the Playbill:

National Child Abuse Hotline (childhelp) 800.422.4453

National Dating Abuse Hotline 866.331.9474

National Domestic Violence Hotline 800.799.7233 (SAFE)

National Human Trafficking Hotline 888.373.7888

National Sexual Assault Hotline (RAINN) 800.656.4673

National Suicide Prevention Hotline 800.273.8255

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!

 

 

WOMAN’ing: CH 40, Bullies & Bullshit, Part III of V

Remember those metallic vertical blinds that came out back in the late 90s? You know the ones that looked really snooty and cost a lot of money; there used to be a store that specializes in those blinds in Lafayette Commons (a former popping area of the Westside of Indianapolis).  Yesterday I drove past a house that still had those types of blinds up. It caught my attention in the same way they used to when I was a teenager….well unless you count the fact that upon seeing them, my initial thoughts were ‘they STILL have those??!!!!” Nonetheless, it instantly took me to a nostalgic place. My aunt had some – hers were metallic gold and faced just enough sunlight to create a blinding glare when the rays hit them. I loved them. I remember when she first got them installed. I was quite mesmerized and had promised myself that when I finally got out on my own, I would have some of the same blinds. I hadn’t decided on silver or gold, but I did love the way the gold accented her dining room both in and outside.

She had plans on getting more. I remember her pointing to the living room windows and talking about how she had planned on getting more. She wanted some that had a design going through the middle in a different accenting color. That never happened. I would guess myself to be about 14 or 15 when her blinds were installed and I was excited to see her house get outfitted in these expensive looking blinds, but again, it never happened. To this day, those gold blinds still cover her sliding glass doors as the only metallic in the house.  When I drove past that house yesterday and had that quick run down memory lane of metallic blinds and my aunt’s house, it hit me: that’s part of aging.

Having all these grand plans for the home you live in that never pan out seems to be part of growing up as an adult. I’ve done it hundreds of times for each place I stayed at. The last house was supposed to have an office/prayer room that even got as far as having the room blessed only for it to sit idle with nothing in it until I stored someone’s new bed for them (that was ultimately left for me to keep).  But sometimes, life happens. So with that, welcome to part III: Bullies & Bullshit.

 

Bullshit:

Sometimes –

Wait. Lots of times…..

Hmm…

MOST times, I have hair on my legs. Lots. The good thing is I don’t grow excessive amounts of hair in places I don’t want it (or even places I do), but that does not equate to me not growing hair in places I don’t want it. Lol. Starting with my legs…somewhere after age 30, my silky smooth legs became a hot spot for hair growth. By about age 34, I started to take conscious notice that I had enough hair on my legs for it to be  visible and unattractive (to me…this is not coming from a societal standards place. I simply don’t want to rock unnecessary excessive hair and that’s ok with me). The problem with this is I didn’t always grow hair on my legs. I never shaved my legs  growing up or in my 20s and the few times I did, it was just to see what it was like. So I have this ‘my legs don’t need shaving’ mentality and I rarely remember to take a razor to them. So again, most times, I have hair on my legs. Lots.

And I still wear skirts, dresses and rock high heels with a model walk, unapologetically.

In my late 20s, two lonely but belligerent pieces of hair started to grow beneath my chin in a place dark and quiet enough not to be easily noticed by most folks but I knew they were there. I would yank them until they were gone. Pluck them out. Snap them off with fingernail clippers and at times, play with the longest one because it confused me how it grew so long, thick and fast when the top of my head seemed to struggle bus it’s way through my life. But I digress. I also have two chin hairs.

Lastly, in the last year, I noticed a new tenant on my body. Another hair. On my face. This one more visible than the chin and my legs put together in an army. It is right above my lip. Like a lone mustache hair. It hardly lays flat and it is visible. My guy has seen it and laughed at me. I was embarrassed of course, but not for long (he don’t care). But it’s there. And the same treatment I give to the chin hairs, I dish to this one. I snatch it out with an attitude while thoughts of ‘how dare you grow on my face’ circle my head.

Hair.

Hair growth is a part of aging that I had long seen in my family but never understood it as part of the process. I believe I thought the women in my family who had faint mustaches and chin hairs was due to a flub in their DNA; not something to do with how many birthdays they celebrated. Turns out, I was wrong. While I know it’s quite normal for women to grow hair anywhere (seeing as though we are humans and that’s what human bodies do), that doesn’t make it any less irritating to wake up from your 20s and notice some random, permanently growing hair in a shiny suit, dancing and waving a checkerboard mark towards it’s friends from the cliff of your chin.

This is bullshit.

Aging, while fun at times, eye-opening and full of epiphanies, laughter, tears and cheers, is bullshit.

Reasons why aging is bullshit sometimes:

I’ll be 38 in about two months. That’s a hard pill for me to swallow emotionally because I don’t ‘feel’ 38 but then to again, what does 38 feel like? I remember turning 25 and not feeling this great big difference although  I knew there were some subtle changes that would take place. At age 25, you are officially of the age where people can’t turn you down for alcohol, clubbing or cigarettes. You’re grown. But what is hardly said about 25 is that is the age where life kicks up a notch and goes into high gear. I am now an age I consciously remember my mom turning. When you are a kid, your mom feels old. You know she’s older than you and because of her authority and wisdom, 30s, 40s and 50s all seem like one big, old age. But as a nearly 40-year-old woman, I understand that not to be true. I feel young in many ways and like the things that happened in my 20s just happened a handful of years ago. I mean, nothing seems like I should be about damn near 40 !!!

! Except this hair. All this unnecessary hair…..

But that’s just part of it.

Some of my aging issues:

Black DOES crack!!! Just ask my black ass back and my black ass legs which crack randomly throughout the day for no reason. Why is stretching so important now when I used to get out of the bed and go all day and all night with no stretching and no problems. I’m heavy!!! How come I haven’t been able to do a push up in forever or pull myself up on the ariel silks? Once upon a time I could!!!! Why does my left leg randomly hurt like it needs to pop but won’t and so it stays in this suspended state of OUCH all fucking day!!!!???? Why does my stomach hurt for no reason sometimes? I hurt my toe on a trampoline and it stayed hurt for  THREE MONTHS!!! Was it broken? Shit. WTF? Why have I started loving flats more than heels (but still buy heels just the same)? Why does the new music sound like TRASH and the old music is what I bob my head to? I’m still shouting No Limit from Master P while yaw bumping and grinding to Usher’s attempt at staying relevant.

 

Aging does something to you when you really stop to see how fast time has gone, where you are in your life and your goals and what concerns you have today that you didn’t have last year or five or ten years prior. 2016 has been one of the biggest years of death that I can recall in my life. Some of THE greatest celebrities that I always thought to be immortal passed on this year, but it didn’t end there. Animals that were family staples at my mom’s house went over to the rainbow bridge this year – one cat, one german shepherd who was still young for his death.  Growing up, my mom and stepdad kept a house full of people playing cards, listening to funk music and hanging out. I used to want to be able to hang with them but of course, I was sent to my bedroom. I would fall asleep on the weekends to the sounds of laughter and cards smacking the tables. In addition to that, my grandmother hosted card games at her house. I used to ‘work’ those card games, bringing the players plates of food, coffee and pop so they never missed a beat or lost their seat. They’d pay me in dollars and quarters. I couldn’t hang out in the basement with them because I was too young for the cussing, the gambling, and the excessive cigarette smoke, but man do I have hella memories from that time period and used to love going to my grandmother’s house. I would fall asleep to the sounds of 5 Card Stud arguments coming through the bedroom vents.  My uncle owned race horses and I spent countless days hitting the road with him and my aunt so they could sneak me into the track. My life has always had a sense of G-ism in it. LOL.

Those were the days.

I’m 38 now ….well, I will be in two months. The card games at my grandmother’s house stopped a long time ago. The people whose faces I can see right now in this flashback are gone. About 95% of them have passed over. My grandmother doesn’t remember most of their deaths. She’s alive but suffering from Alzheimer’s and living with my mom. The most self-sufficient woman I know can hardly recognize me when she’s talking to me most days and looks to be in a world that doesn’t include the current us in it. When she laughs and smiles, I can feel warmth take over my heart. I just want to see her do as much of that as possible. My uncle is in a rehab facility where he now lives and I haven’t seen him for at least two years. My aunt stays w/my mom as well and doesn’t get around well physically. I often wonder does she consciously realize my grandmother has Alzheimers because sometimes, it seems like she just doesn’t get it. The horses are all dead and gone, the sound of the gunshot signaling the horses to run is a distant memory. My grandmother’s basement is silent. And my mom’s living room……

Man……

This year saw Ramon, Cobb, Duff, Tony (stepdad’s last living brother), Uncle Willie and several other  people who were staples in our front room, go be present with the Lord as they say. Ramon and Cobb really hit me. They were two of my stepdad’s closest friends and helped him build the house that he and my mom live in today. It’s hard to believe either of them are gone for good. I’ve attended very few funerals – but I’ve experienced a lot of death hitting my family this year and truthfully, the years preceding it. All of my stepfather’s brothers are gone.  Some of my good friends have lost their parents. My mom is battling her own fight again and my stepfather has started to slowly break down as well. It’s hard to watch. Hard to believe and crushing to think about. This is aging. This is bullshit.  You can’t get older without getting closer to your own death and that of others, but how often do we think about that?

Bullies:

My period is a bully. A big 3Oclock High (a movie) bully in a long flowing dress with strappy sandals that are too damn high to be walking in. My period is an asshole. It has no loyalty. No set date. Just a time frame that it’s expected and it usually drops the week before.  I have read several times from women online shaming each other about asking for tampons, having period accidents or anything related to coming on your period and needing to clean up on aisle ten. I wonder what type of bodies do they have and how can I purchase me one? My period lack of loyalty almost always leads to a surprise because it’s not supposed to be here until next week. My period’s extreme heavy flow has lead to me running out of tampons but because of the judgment I’ve seen other people receive when asking another woman for a tampon, I will leave work and go buy one before I ask for help. And that’s a shame. That’s bullshit. That’s some bully shit too. Ugh….My mood, which used to be unaffected by PMS, has now seemingly turned into PMDD or whatever the initials are for CRAZY MF WHILST BLEEDING !!!

I abhor my period and love it at the same time. It reminds me of my strength and abilities as a woman but it’s so bothersome and irritating. How about it show up for one day, serve me the inconvenience and then leave? No? Ok. What used to be about three to four days is now closer to a week, full of attitude and always a problem.

SN: I have no issues talking openly about being a woman and having a period because at damn near 40 years old, if you have issue w/the fact that I’m discussing this, then not only are you on the wrong blog, but that is not my problem. That’s part of aging too – no longer giving a fuck about sparing EVERYONE’S feelings.  If you don’t piss off someone, you probably need to work harder anyway.  * shrug *

The aging process really teaches you a thing or two about bullies. Well, maybe not so much about bullies, as much as it teaches you about how you will deal with them. In your 20s, you might be quick to jump bad or fight someone but as I inch my way closer and closer to 40, I have no patience for that. I have no space in my head for the stress of bullies. I pray for them and mostly, I pray for myself to handle the shit gloriously. So far, so good. I cut people off, move on with my life, apologize when I’m wrong and take my responsibilities as necessary, but I will be damned if I get bullied around. Folks will try you. The older you get, the easier it is to spot when someone wants you on their plate. But at this point in my life and aging process, if someone wants to eat me alive, they better be prepared to get poisoned as they chew. I have venom that is only activated when I am in between the jaws of someone else’s life and once that happens, I can’t be responsible for what is said or done.

Which is a great segway to my patience at this age: I’m not sure I ever had the gift of great patience, but I know it wasn’t always this thin. I’m actually working on bettering it. Currently my patience is like the movie thinner.

Does anyone else find themselves losing patience with people (or maybe it’s just with bullies and bullshit) the older they get? I will snap on you. I will pop off on you and I will say some things that hurt your feelings but you know why?

Let’s think about stats real quick:

The reason I bring up these statistics is because by the time a woman is nearing 40, it is highly likely that she has been a victim of SOMETHING, whether it be domestic violence, sexual assault as a child or assault as an adult or one of the many other crimes that people are eager to commit against women. While no one wants to walk around and play or feel like ‘the victim’, there are effects that come along with having been treated to a particular type of behavior or assault. Trust and patience are two traits that get hit the hardest. For me, I’ve had my share of shit happen to me. As a result, my patience is thinner at 38 than it was at 30 and much less than it was at 21. My trust in others is a lot more skewed and my expectation of being disappointed or hurt is the highest it’s ever been. It comes out in my actions, my words and especially my arguments. If I have lost patience with you at any point, my responses to you might stem from some of these areas, but not in a ‘carrying baggage’ type of way. Everything a woman has with her isn’t baggage. We are constantly being shaped by our experiences and surroundings and our personalities take the biggest hit when it comes to transgressions done to us. The older a woman is and the more she’s experienced, the less likely (unless she is heavily grounded in the Lord Mon-Mon) she is to play the nice role for an undetermined amount of time. I have learned that I have triggers. And when they are pulled, shots ring.

It probably shouldn’t have taken me this long to realize that, but it’s true. That realization led to me obtaining a therapist. Aging allows you to be honest with yourself in a way that begs the question: do you need someone else to talk to? Someone unbiased?

My answer was yes.

I’ve noticed the people I know tend to have one too or at least not be against it. Aging gives you the keep experience to know what you can handle and what you can’t and the closer you get to 40, the more you should know. Matter a fact, I think most women need a therapist by age 40.

Mentally, I feel good about turning 38. I’ve never really had any beef with aging. I’ve always thought it to be an honor and not a guarantee so I’ve embraced every age I’ve ever turned. This one will be no different although when I speak the three and eight as one, it feels ….odd.

I still feel like I’m a young woman. I’m an old head to some. A ‘G’ to others. But to my grandmother, I’m still young Kendria. She calls me a baby. My aunt calls me a baby. My mom calls me chicken. To my family, I’m still the same little Ken. If it’s weird for me to be aging, what must it be like for THEM!!!!???? I’m the kid they raised. I’m no longer working poker games, listening to living room get-togethers are whispering that the horses are going “buggity boo” with their hoofs.

Now, I’m working. Living. Trying my best.

Learning my passions daily and the reasons my gift was gifted to me.

40 will be beautiful, but I must master 38 & 39  to make it there. What are you doing to master your age right now? What are you doing to make yourself better this year than you were last? I always view birthdays as a new year. WOMAN’ing has always been about not telling anyone your age. I’ve always broken the rules as a woman. Always.

I’m Kendria ‘JY’ York and I will be 38 on January 23, 2018.

This day seemed so far away 20 years ago. But it seems like yesterday that I thought that. My ovaries are almost dried up and my period will be on her way out soon enough. My infertile issues are permanent but I never let it take me off my square. I’ve found blessings in other people’s children. Mentally, I could be better with a lot. My patience and my tongue can become razors when I feel fucked with. I am a highly sensitive person (HSP) with a teaspoon of undiagnosed bipolar traits and mild depression. I suffer anxiety, introversion and panic attacks sometimes. Most times, I’m together. I take no medicine, lean heavily on prayer and trust  God to send me to the right therapist. I am scared of cancer with every passing day. I have always been high risk and I’m now of the age of mammograms.

There are words and things that never mattered before that matter now. I look in the mirror sometimes and wonder where the time went while plucking asshole hairs from my face. Recently I gained ten pounds and have not been able to see myself the same. I’ve been low on my reflection and in between feeling dangerously close to going back to 200 lbs, which is not good on me, I’ve also been feeling less than ….beautiful. BUT-

On the flip side, I have found more beauty in my face and my struggle than ever before. I accept that everyday is not a flawless feat and sometimes, I have down moments. But I know my truth. I have learned how many qualities I possess and I allow myself to feel DOPE AF, no matter what anyone else has to say. I try every single day to be a better woman today than the days before. Sometimes, I win. Sometimes, I lose. All the time, I keep going.

This is aging.

Or at least,

my experience with doing so. My aunt never got the rest of her metallic blinds, but I got my office. Some things aren’t meant to be and some things are. Aging will show you which is what. As a matter a fact, aging will show you what is important to your overall happiness, and how far you will go to obtain it.

9780_712378495519860_492177830547914885_n

~j

“I look in the mirror and I see this old lady looking back at me, but I have no idea how she got there”

~Cher