Sips from My Lemonade: Stages: Chasing Cars in Denial

“I can’t believe he’s not here”

“I can’t believe this happened”

“I can’t believe ( insert emotion ) ”

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

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

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

“If I lay here,

if i just lay here

would you lie with me and,

just forget the world”

~Snow Patrol, Chasing Cars

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

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

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

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

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

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

I need your grace
To remind me
To find my own

~Snow Patrol, Chasing Cars

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

“I knew you were out there”

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

It’s time again –

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

– It’s time to stop thinking again.

It’s time to control my her thoughts.

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

How befitting.

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

~Snow Patrol, Chasing Cars

Resentment: Stages: Sips from My Lemonade

I’m on this stage. Image may contain: one or more people and people on stage

Usually, there is an artistic accompaniment. Maybe a band. A host. Lots of mics to choose from or colorful lights that can be changed depending on the mood of my speaking. There is usually poetry here.

Today, there is none of this. The stage is dark with burnt edges that have a stale smell of smoke. It’s empty. There is simply a stool and white spotlights that all aim in my direction. You can’t see anything other than …..

-me.

This is the stage that I am on.No automatic alt text available.

I cannot leave or abandon it until the showing is over and I will only know it’s over by the dimming of the overhead lights. Welcome to my newest one-woman show.  Please, kindly take your seats and enjoy the ride.

Unlimited tea and lemonade are included in your ticket.

Stage Left: Resentment

This is a bitter tea. As it goes down my throat it leaves a strong hint of habanero on my taste buds. My tongue may feel singed but I understand this to simply be part of the process. Water has yet to help with the inferno slowly building from the back of my mouth to the traces of my lipstick.

Sadness has subsided or at least put on a new outfit. Blessings can be hard to hold onto once you step foot into this world of emotion. I can feel the stage floor turning red and becoming too hot for my feet to stand on.

I walk through this place sometimes, listening for the sound of cologne hitting his wrists. Waiting for the dogs to hear his truck turn onto the block and run to the window. I sit and binge watch television while doing homework and working on the ball – wondering how it is that on television when men fuck up, they somehow make it back to their ex’s front door, lacking their ego and humbly dedicated to resolution instead of dissolution.

But maybe that’s just for Hollywood and Love and Hip Hop.

Or Geist.

Carmel perhaps? Fishers? California? Morocco??

Where exactly is this space in the world where people (men or women) who fuck up their relationships actually take a moment to realize the damage they have caused and try to EARN their spot back? Do those type of people actually exist? Or, better yet, am I even that type of person?

Image may contain: 1 person, outdoor and closeup

It’s like swallowing a horsepill full of urine; you kinda feel pissed on but you kinda feel like THE urine.

Oh love,

How I have waited for you to show back up at the doorstep

like a stork delivery

minus a return receipt

and I undo the locks and open the door

eyes staring into soul windows with curtains drawn

we pull each other in by the scent of our connection

and figure it out. You tell me,

you came to figure it out.

And we do. Like they do on tv.

Oh love,

how I have waited for you to show back up,

at the doorstep.

Ready.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tzp2vUp3kyo

But alas I don’t live that poetry life anymore. I thought I was in my forever space and it was another temporary person with a lifelong lesson. I get angry because I wonder when will I gather up enough lessons in my binder to be able to meet someone that isn’t just a summer school teacher? When will the moment come when I inspire another person to be his greatest self and vice versa? To reach WITH me? I want to BUILD with someone; not sit around, playing house like God ain’t watching and life ain’t short. It’s maddening.

I’m angry at myself. I don’t know if I should be, but I am. I look through my hindsight lenses at stuff I overlooked, things that could have saved me but I want to see and believe in the great in people and in return, it usually gets me toodamnopen and vulnerable. I begin to lose my power. I get mad at myself for not doing a better job of self-protection. I get upset at how I love – how intent and full it is. I can’t stop the train once it pulls off. When I love, I go into the veins of my soul and suck the blood through a coffee straw just to put life into this new relationship. I was recently told that I lose myself in my relationships.

And that was a dose of ouch and wow to be honest, although not surprising. I’ve always known that, but I thought I had it under greater control more recently. I exhaust my and that other person’s love when the end draws near because letting go has never been my strong suit. My last texts to XXXXX were fresh off the live wire. I was angry, in my feelings and resenting the idea that I should be chasing him. In the weeks after, once the tears began to clear, I continued to allow resentment a space to dwell in, inside of me.

There were days that felt like an inferno replaced my heartbeat (and still are). Every breath was a cross between mourning what we had while trying to accept it is over. I felt like I changed my course to follow love again only to end up at the same fork I’m always at; this definitely sparked a seed of anger that was growing into an Oak Tree.

But the thing is, if I pretended to not be outraged and displeased, the resentment would stay and become baggage: baggage that I would never unpack. So I opened the door and welcomed it into the living room only.

There were no bathroom breaks and I only offered one complimentary mug of lukewarm water to quench its thirst. I acknowledged it silently. Then publicly. Then it began to release itself.

As I sit on and through these different stages and take slow sips of my lukewarm lemonade, I must face my own mirror at every interval. I am nothing if I do not confront my inner demons while acknowledging the ones in others that I do not wish to encounter in others again. I could write a blog about all the things that my ex did that made me unhappy and hurt my feelings, but then I would just be a victim. That is also a planting field for resentful feelings.  I could also write about how my therapist is helping me see ME in a whole new light and damn it feels good to have that, but shit, the ‘aha moments’ are like:

This stage of sour lemons is natural. I don’t feel embarrassed or like I’m not where I should be in life. I went all the way this time. I put it all on the line and I fell off and still held that tightrope with my bare hands until the yarns cut my skin open and the blood loosened my grip. I’m not sure if I’m sitting on this stage, or if I fell onto it, bloody and out of breath.

Maybe we were both exhausted. And then, I paused and thought about my role. The things I’ve done and said at times weren’t the greatest or most poetic. At times, they were flat out wrong. It made me wonder if we are both relieved in some way. . .

The exhaustion is over. The show has ended and the people have all left the venue. The fight is done and the stage lights are beginning to dim. Maybe I didn’t fall on this stage of resentment. What if my instincts were already here, waiting on my physical to arrive while watching real life play out. And now that I have officially stepped foot into the building, I can go. I can gather my toys and go. Ever since I spoke it aloud, the universe has beckoned me to free myself from the pitfalls and dangers of resentment. I also had to come to realize maybe XXXXX has resentment towards me too and what if that’s fair? Well, now we are both free again to be who we are and where we are. I would be a crooked ass liar if I said that it doesn’t hurt that we can’t be our authentic selves with each other.

And sometimes, that hurt feels like anger….resentment.

But I free it. I free the anger. I free the pain. I free myself – from this stage and the inside of this particular arena. And if you are reading this, let this be a reminder or a form of inspire that it is natural to feel outraged or enraged by situations that occur and things people do. It doesn’t reduce you in size, character, strength or power – it simply makes you human. It is my belief that it’s actually more healthy to give yourself the space to be the human that you are and to authentically FEEL instead of running and fronting in front of the mirror. Once you sit with yourself – study it and understand it’s origin as well as the role you played in its existence, then you are giving yourself the path to let it go. And that’s all resentment is good for…letting go of.

But in order to do it, you have to first allow yourself the room to feel it.

I am proudly learning yet a new journey from the comfort of the warmth in my chrysalis. A rising will soon come.  I

 

~j

 

Intensive Care Unit: The Surgical Yes

I started binge watching Grey’s Anatomy a few weeks back and ever since the onslaught of Owen and Christina Yang’s relationship, I have found myself entranced by the storyline. Yang and Owen had an indisputable love for each other, but their conflicting overall desires for their lives as individuals and as a couple wouldn’t allow them to prosper. Over the course of several seasons, the audience is pulled from north to south in their love story. They have passion, desire, and unfiltered love; it’s undeniably present. But Christina doesn’t want to be who Owen wants her to be (a mother). And Owen can’t shrink his needs to fit Christina’s plans for her future (winning the Harper-Avery surgeon award). On one of the final episodes of her Grey’s Anatomy career, Yang finds herself asking a newly-paralyzed but conscious husband if he would like to end any life-saving techniques, as his distraught but supportive wife stands on side listening. At the exact moment of his response, Yang envisions two different scenarios, neither of which resulted in dual happiness for both her and Owen.

In the first scenario, Owen’s desires to be a father were fulfilled by Yang’s willingness to carry and care for not one, but TWO children (keep in mind she NEVER wanted kids). She lost or gave away the opportunities at winning the research award she once passionately sought after and secretly confessed to her best friend Meredith that she knew messed up. She aged with a disturbed happiness that glowed across her face as she introduced the award recipient who was one of her former interns. This is what self-disappointment looks like.Related image

In the second flash, the shoe was on the other foot. Christina was on her 4th award win and dedicated her time to continued research efforts. Owen, on the other hand, still wanted to be a father and had turned to drinking to cope with the dreams he gave up on for love. This eventually led to him being considered for termination due him working under the influence and creating a hostile environment for the attendings. Christina no longer wanted a relationship with him and while talking to Meredith, she asked her “don’t let me go back to him.“During her award acceptance speech, she asked a series of three questions that encapsulated her daydreaming and aroused my inquisitiveness.

“Do you know who you are? Do you know what has happened to you? Do you want to live this way?

I watched their relationship and particularly this episode during a time in my life where I was mourning the loss of my own failed-future alongside someone. I found myself relating my failures (and wins) to what Yang was going through. Who would have guessed that I would find myself connecting to a fictional, non-black Cardiothoracic surgeon who was once in love with a black man and ultimately married a white one? I found so many parts of my personality showing through her passion for …..herself! When she asked herself these three questions, she inadvertently asked me. And now, after the revelations and epiphanies I had from watching these old reruns, I am asking myself AND you!

“Do you know who you are? Do you know what has happened to you? Do you want to live this way?

I tend to use my age as a scale to measure my life’s progress. It’s not because I really subscribe to the idea that by a certain age certain things should have happened (although I do believe there is a hint of truth to it depending on the circumstances). It’s more because I tend to look at things from the standpoint of how many years I’ve been on earth and allotted the time to get shit done! So when I say at age 38, I should be able to answer these questions without blinking, it’s not because that’s my worldview on humans, age and progression but rather because, after three decades of living, I should fucking know these answers….even if they change in a week!!

In the circumstances where Christina gave birth to two children, she was miserable! It was on her face, with her plastic smile and her aloof conversations. She looked like she regretted her choices, and she did; she had long stated that she never wanted to be a mother and now here she was the mother of two! It wasn’t her dream she was living – it was Owens.

No one wants to or even should live that way. It’s mentally and emotionally dangerous. Owen was in complete bliss as he played with the boys while Yang confessed to Meredith that she knew she had made a mistake. When one of her kids got sick in the middle of her research, she passed her award-winning project off to someone else, who ultimately ended up being the recipient of the award she had spent a lifetime hoping to earn. She had given up her dreams to live for someone else’s, and in the process, the things she wanted most were never achieved. It was a life she was born for that never finished getting actualized. The minute she chose Owen’s dreams over hers, she died and was reborn as a version of herself that he was creating.

So what is the point of this blog? I am asking both myself and you the reader if you are able to answer these questions and what you will do if the answer to the last question is NO? At some point in my last relationship, I began to feel like Christina. I had not been rewatching old Grey’s episodes at the time and maybe if I had, I wouldn’t have felt so wrong. I started to question whether I was eager to marry the wrong person. I never told him these things because I never wanted him to feel like he wasn’t enough. It wasn’t that – everything that he was at face value was enough for me. But I was concerned that in my love for him and excitement for our future, I would end up compromising parts of dreams that my long-term joy needed me to experience.Image may contain: one or more people and closeup

I wanted to leave the city and much like Christina, I expressed that from the start. I never wanted to spend an indefinite amount of time in Indianapolis, but I had fallen in love with an active father of two children. Who was I to move him away? He used to tell me not to worry; that it would all work itself out and I trusted in that. But in the back of mind, I worried that I would hit a point of no return with Indianapolis and he wouldn’t even have teenagers yet (his kids were under 13). I was willing to be the puppeteered Yang over the authentic Christina. I was trying to prove to myself that the things I had come to find I needed weren’t that big of a deal in comparison to love. That love was, dare I say it: ENOUGH.

When you get fed up with your own fronting, as posted by Tamar Braxton

Sometimes, our authenticity will come at a price.  Listen, if you know anything about me, you know I love me some love! It’s beautiful and in many ways, it will carry and sustain you and be enough. But love isn’t the end all be all and it’s certainly low on the priority scale when it comes to goal-setting and achieving unless that’s what all you really want. 

If we are seeking a true unimpeachable human experience, then sometimes, that means choosing ourselves OVER the things that come into our lives and compromise who we are and/or what we want.  Selfishness is a form of self-care. When Christina was envisioning these scenarios, she didn’t lack love and respect for Owen nor did she think he was out to hurt her. To the contrary, she adored HIM. But she didn’t adore motherhood or want it. . . EVER. She wanted to pursue her passions and dreams and to her, they held the same weight of importance and value as motherhood. When she attempted to see herself living without her dream while creating a world for Owen to be happy, she saw sadness and disappointment. Regret. On the flip side, when it was Owen who she imagined doing the sacrificing, it led to his misery and ultimate downfall. His lack of personal fulfillment lead to him becoming an alcoholic. You are going to cope with the decisions you’ve made and it’s not guaranteed to be in a healthy way, so you might as well create and live the life you envision, alongside people whose ultimate goals aren’t out of alignment with yours. At no point did both of their goals find a common ground and therefore, there was no possibility of true happiness, or better yet longstanding JOY between the two of them.

The Bottom Line:

It doesn’t matter what your gender is or how you identify sexually or beyond; choosing to exist in the stories of other people rather than the passionate future you desire to create for yourself will undoubtedly cause you great unhappiness. There has to be a way to co-exist and climb the ladders of life successes together OR understanding and ACCEPTING that you can’t be together due to the vast differences; anything else is just wasting love. It will more than likely HURT to choose yourself sometimes; it’s like a surgery with no anesthesia. But when you emerge from recovery, you are a better, more healthy YOU. It’s worth it to choose yourself when you otherwise being left out of the equation.

Do you know who you are –

What do you like? What is your perception of the world and of life? What brings you joy and what causes you grief or pain? What upsets you? How do you love? Are you awake, alert and involved or are you just existing? What do you want for yourself? What would make you feel successful? What are you dreams and where do they lie? 

Do you know what has happened to you –

What caused you to think and feel this way? Are you ok with that? Who hurt you? Who made you laugh? Where were you when the ball dropped? What did it look like when you got back up? How long were you down? How hard do you fly? What shapes you? What caused you to fear? What has helped you believe? Who did or do you run to? Did you know that you own the rights to everything that has happened to you? Now, what are you going to do with that? 

Do you want to live this way –

If you died today, on a scale of one – five with five being the highest possible feeling, how would you rate your overall satisfaction with how you lived your life?  What surgery needs to be done to achieve a 5…today? How can this answer be YES?!

Welcome to the Intensive Care Unit. Extreme care will be taken of yourself by yourself from this point on. Take a second and ask yourself Christina Yang’s questions. Allow your imagination to create potential layouts of what your future may look like depending on the door you choose. And when you are searching for the answers, be sure to open discernment’s door for the people, places and/or things that you need to let go of. You will find this to be a necessary surgery in order to get a Yes answer at the end of the third question.  

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

4620W8T – #Pause: My Hood Is DOPE: #HighlighterPen #ItsRainingPens

Recently, I sat on the back patio of my home, enjoying the sunshine and watching the butterfly that kept landing on the banister. My male dog tossed and turned in a dirt pit he dug for himself and his toys while my female rested her head sleepily against my leg. It was a typically quiet and serene moment at a place I call (t)HugzMansion.

My house rests in an area that has its fair offering of boarded-up houses and vacant lots. From my backyard and because of a vacant lot, I can see straight through to the one-way street one block over. It’s a busy westbound street and I watched as traffic sped by on their way to important destinations. A collection of sounds christened the air that ranged from loud trunk music to kids playing and ultimately my personal favorite, stillness. There is no shortage of trees in the back and I took special notice to the fresh spring buds sitting on high limbs that reached for the sky’s approval. Several trees were covered in purple buds that looked like a high field of lavender from where I sat. It was (and is) quite beautiful.  As I sat, Cinematic Orchestra’s “Woman: Burnout” played us an evening soundtrack.  It was a solid warm, peaceful spring day full of the kind of sunshine that tickled the tips of the growing grass and kissed my melanin ever so gently.

I had no complaints.

According to a 2013 Fox59 report, the 46208 zip code is not only one of the most dangerous zips in Indianapolis; it is ranked as one of the most dangerous in the entire country. In this zip code, along with 46205, a person has a one in fourteen chance of becoming a victim of a homicide. While the report itself goes on to mention certain areas within these zips, or pockets, the zip code itself is used as a blanket statement for an entire area covered under those ten specific numbers. Butler-Tarkington, which is not mentioned in the 2013 article but makes up a huge portion of 46208, was featured in the news in October 2016 for making it one year without violence after a string of unsolved murders left families broken and police stumped. It’s also been listed as a high crime, dangerous areas. The MLK and Riverside areas have also been known to fall under the title of danger zones. Both areas have endured a long notoriety with locals as being oppressively unstable and full of crime. I am not writing this blog to deny the existence of the all too frequent violence. In fact, I can easily understand how one comes to label these areas as they do. Who can forget 10-year-old Deshaun Lee Swanson, who was shot and killed during a drive-by that injured several others? That happened around the corner from my mother’s house and next door to the parents of a lifelong sisterfriend. My stepfather was supposed to be in that house that day but decided to stay home. Trust me when I say I am awake, alert and aware of the violence and negativity that go on in these places.

But doesn’t the label of “most-dangerous” at least somewhat eradicate the presence of the love that I happen to know exists in these areas? Does no one else feel marked and thrown away under such a label, or is it just me and my feelings?

Consider this: the label of “most dangerous zip code in the country” (or even the city) doesn’t identify the isolated pockets where the violence is most prominent. One would have to read between the lines to get that. Instead, that lable engulfs and speaks for the entire covered area while conveniently forgetting that despite what you see from the outside looking in, there are still families here. There are still people with goals and dreams, folks who are mentoring the teens and kids that live in these very areas. There are small, grassroots collections of people trying to combat the violence AND all the other issues plaguing our communities (food, transportation, health, etc).

I grew up in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood. I have lived all over Indianapolis but I returned to the area in 2007 and spent the last ten years in the 46208 neighborhood. I can say with certainty and experience that there is so much beautiful to be seen and experienced in the hood. Last year, I tried to apply for a job with the INRC, a community-based organization that targets urban areas with the intention of building neighborhood awareness, communication and dialogue, as well as empowering the community to teach, grow and sustain itself through their own initiatives and talents. They use what is referred to as the ABCD (Asset Based Community Development) model to achieve this success. When using the ABCD model, you assess what are considered to be “weaknesses” and work on how to utilize them as strengths. In other words, there are no weaknesses. A person may not like to speak in public, but on the flip side, they are great listeners. That person could record information for someone. There are no vacant homes: those are potential artistic canvases OR rehabilitated meeting houses or safe places. Using the talents and gifts of the people within these areas, coupled with identifying ‘troubled’ areas (regarding buildings AND the people), and then learning how to turn those into assets is how you revitalize a community from the inside out…without gentrifying it.

But in order to respect that there is talent in these so-called urban, dangerous areas, there must be belief. There must be hope. Despite what is said about us, life still exists within our numbered boundaries.

Who knew??? Life exists in “the most dangerous zip codes” of Indianapolis!!!! 

Indystar isn’t really good about reporting that though. The media is great for being first on the scene to capture people screaming and hollering in grief and disbelief when a dead body is discovered. They are Johnny on the Spot when a drug bust happens, even if they don’t have much information. But when over three hundred people draw together, along with the police (by happenstance), on a corner where folks are scared to make a complete stop at the four-way, no one is there but our own cell cameras. Then when two thousand people gather together in an event that could rival all of the summer expos and food festivals, but this one being held in a neighborhood that falls under the national label of danger, the only stories that are written are the ones we write for ourselves. Remember that person that doesn’t like to speak in public but is a good listener? He/She would fit well here to help create stories that live long after we do. OUR STORIES MUST BE TOLD. I am now part of a neighborhood organization called The Learning Tree where doing just that is a top priority.

My point of all of this not a list of suggestions of what we could do….but rather an ode to what we are doing. There is great work going on in the areas that many people are afraid of based on what they’ve heard. I spoke about my neighborhood to a coworker the other day with pride, not embarrassment or shame. As I heard myself, I couldn’t help but notice the second nature of which I bragged on the incredible initiatives in my area. The block I recently moved to is a very busy block. The street cramped with cars on both sides and the people hang out late at night with loud conversations. There are vacant homes on both sides of the street. My grandfather used to own one of them. Matter a fact, it’s the biggest one of the block – the biggest house and the biggest vacant. When I walk out of my door, I am not inundated with the negative. I see duplexes with bikes on porches and older men who frequent their stoops on a regular. There is a daycare in operation right next door to me. I hear kids crying as they get dropped off in the morning and laughing outside as I pull up in the evening.

I’ve often told people when I moved to 34th and Clifton (The Cliff), I was nervous as shit. I feared that I was making a mistake that would cost me my safety and/or peace of mind. I couldn’t have been further from reality. In the three years I stayed there, while some weird things definitely came about like the police repeatedly visiting and looking for someone who didn’t live there, or a random man knocking at my door at like 3 AM (I didn’t answer), it was a wonderful experience overall. There was a neighborhood street clean up the first year I was there. The second year led me to meet Mr. William Ryder, the artist whose home was a museum of his own incredible sculptures. He also told me how his father used to dress him up as a girl when he lived in or near Lyles Station, IN, where county officials were kidnapping black children to do radiation experiments on them. From what Mr. Ryder told me, they preferred boys hence his parents dressing him as a girl. I wouldn’t have met him, toured his home or looked into his beautiful eyes and saw all the ancestry they held with artistic pride had I been living in the safety nets of some place like Normandy Farms (traders point).

There is a gas station nearby my house that I see police presence and arrests nearly every day. Just last week, I watched a cop sit behind the Double 8 building and watch the station activities from his car using binoculars. I admit, there is a lot that goes on there and I personally try not to use it too much but I can’t be too surprised. After all, this IS one of the most dangerous places in the entire country.

 People drive through here daily. I wonder if, when driving, anyone notices the precious gems that those of us who live here see? Such as the teddy bear memorial that I believe grows by the week from where two men lost their lives after a driver jumped the curb, striking and ultimately killing both men as they awaited the bus. It’s old news but the neighborhood hasn’t forgotten them. Do people only see what they believe are bums and addicts or do they notice the mothers walking down the street holding hands with their children too? Those are real people. Have they seen the garden preparation at the Flanner House that will provide freshly grown food to area residents in addition to offering gardening classes. Do people see all the kids that wait for the after-school food program that GRoe Inc. provides? Or is that too inner in the inner city? Kheprw has a great community food program for a low monthly cost. Neighborhood and community building is happening right before our eyes…and right above the labels.

Let the news tell it, the only saving grace in these areas is the 10-Point Coalition, spearheaded by a man whose affinity for profiling, stop and frisk and disparaging remarks about black youth keep him locked out from making any real impact on the people. Photo ops and a ‘walk thru’ or two with the Mayor are dope tho.

The link I provided in regards to the Butler-Tarkington area going a year without violence starts with a video of the news crew walking up 40th street with the 10 Point guys. The media seems impressed but those of us who live over here don’t see them until we turn on the tv or see the news crew outside. We are NOT impressed. Less reported are the grassroots efforts of the RESIDENTS. The people who live here when the camera crews pack up and go back to Noblesville and Carmel. Folks like these fathers who came together to not only work the streets of Butler Tarkington at night time in attempts to curb the violence, but they are attending community meetings and letting their voices (our voices) be heard. These are fathers and husbands who, through their own finances, offer children in the neighborhood options for the summer (football little league) and someone trusted to confide in.

A couple of weeks back, on the MLK side of 46208, I along with my partner, catered a “living room concert series”, where locals gathered together in a neighborhood living room for a concert-style dinner, entertainment and conversation. This event included area neighbors as well as people from the community that have the pull, the pockets and the DESIRE to invest in our areas. No animals were harmed and no gunshots rang out in the process. Lives were not lost; in fact, they were inspired and uplifted. The living room concert featured a live band and singer with me serving as the host and poet. A bit of community dialogue followed the music where questions were asked and input from those of us who live here was shared.

All of this in one of the most dangerous zip codes of Indianapolis and the entire country.

THE POINT:

Meet Indy’s New Fountain Square

There is no question that violence, drugs, and police runs in these communities are frequent occurences. I am by no means attempting to dismiss the importance of curbing the statistics over here. But there are great things happening in the 46208 areas and it’s not coming by way of gentrification. It’s coming at the hands of the community residents that either stay here or travel over here to help rebuild the people. That’s the difference between gentrification and community rebuilding: In the gentrifying model, homes and land are bought and remodeled to look pretty. The rustic browns and tans of hood life are replaced with friendly hues from the pastel color wheel. Pink, blue and yellow siding line up the newly constructed homes or the ‘rehabbed’ places as the old neighbors are pushed out and new ones are brought in. Coffee shops pop up and white people start jogging with babies and strollers and the next thing you know, what was once a predominantly black area is now the new hipster area. *See Fall Creek Boulevard. Fountain Square didn’t become the revitalized artistic gem that it is now without pushing a shitload of people out and rewriting the story without them in it.

“30’000 feet up and you are not invited” ~Kanye West

But in the community building model, we fix the PEOPLE first and then assess what needs to be done regarding the homes, buildings, and land. The people are not pushed out; they are empowered. You can’t empower a building but you can its people. And that is happening all over urban areas with little to no coverage from local news outlets or stations. If it wasn’t for these blogs and articles that we write, we would only believe that these dangerous zip codes are places where you only drive through if necessary and you never move to on purpose.

I moved here on purpose, even with a fistful of fear I had collected by what I had heard. That fear was quickly eradicated and with the help of people like Earl & Ro Townsend, who started the GRoe Inc organization, it became easier to see how to be an asset instead of a complainer. I didn’t get the job at INRC but I’ve learned and am still learning how to apply the ABCD model to my community. Right now, if you look at my big yellow house, you may notice one of the blinds is a jumbled up mess. It is ridiculously ugly.

It’s been torn, shredded and manipulated to fit dog needs. I honestly don’t know what they did to get the blinds like they have but we have failed to replace them as of yet and it’s been a month or so.

You can see straight through on the bottom portion. I must say, it’s time to replace them. If a person was to judge my home based on my blinds, they would expect to walk into a dust-filled, grease motel with floors full of stuff you don’t want to step or stand on, the stench of dog piss and two couches that don’t match in one room. That’s far from the case. It’s typically clean in here although there are times when we get lazy. There is no shortage of furniture but it still has a very minimalist vibe as there are no televisions downstairs and nothing but the dinner table in the dining room. If you started from the inside first, you wouldn’t expect to see those blinds. In a sense, I guess I own the most dangerous blinds in the local area…and maybe even the United States.

Much like my blinds, the inner city has a stigma attached to it that comes with lowered expectations and stereotypical assumptions. Many people will stop at the stigma and never venture inward to learn otherwise. But if you dare step inside for a bit, you won’t last five minutes without learning that love lives here; daily. You will meet artists of varying mediums – string players, harpists, singers, and musicians. Painters and sketch artists, writers and photographers. There are places to learn how to garden, do yoga and work on clean eating. Yes, we live in a food desert with no standing bank. Yes, there is violence around us and an overwhelming police presence despite our lack of trust in them. But there is always laughter on our blocks. There are smiles and children with their bikes turned upside while they spin the tires with their hands. There are lavender buds on the tree limbs out back and the sun still kisses our flowers with precision. We have as much silence as a Carmel, Indiana subdivision and in the morning, the chirping birds don’t hesitate to sing to us. We are business owners. Working people. Retirees and school kids. Parents and elderly people with stories in their pockets. We are a community of people. We are more than a zip code and it’s label.

When I see or hear stuff like ‘I wish black folks would come together’, I can’t help but shake my head in immediate irritation (while wondering where the people who are quick to say this actually live). Clearly, they took the media bait and they believe there is little over here beyond the violence and heartbreak.

In reality, there is a great deal of good that goes on and I guess this is one of those instances where you just have to live it to know it. Or at least be a frequent visitor. The outside looking in often leads to a front row seat to ignorance.

From my front row seat, I get to see butterflies land right in front of me. That same butterfly landed on me before flying off again. #BeFearless

Nestled under the cold blanket of a harsh label, there are human beings trying to do and striving for the best…for themselves AND for their community.

Welcome to one of the most dangerous zip codes in America.

~j

 

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

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

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

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

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

Ready? Let’s dive in !

The REAL Five Love Languages – According to Januarie York

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

~Musiq Soulchild, Love

1.Dutch – It’s Not All About Your Ass

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. No one is looking forward.

2. Yaw don’t have each other’s backs.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Literally.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. French – You Need A Couple of Inspire

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

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

INSPIRE:

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

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

    English – Know the 5 Love Languages

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love is hard. It really is.

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

And be born again in love <3  15235807_1155079907916381_2805255673501856876_o

~J

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

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

I NEVER intended on being Superwoman.

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Never.

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

Am I to never depart from this role of superwoman?

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

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

“**yelling at maximum lung capacity*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Superwoman Can’t Die…

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

Wait –

Bish what????

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

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

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

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

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

The Title We Never Signed

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Photo Credit: Roberto Nencini

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even superwoman needs a day off.

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

Eternal.

It is forever.

Superwoman can’t die.

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

 

~j

befunky-collage

WOMAN’ing: Ch. 25, F*#@ It, I’m On One – Pt IV of V

It was the night of the Michael Jackson and Prince ICON party at the Vogue…I had bought tickets weeks prior and was stoked to attend the party that would include live performances, lots of music from both artists and their musical friends, as well as a huge dance floor to party the night away. I got cute. I wore a tutu blue jean dress with some cute hand gloves and put my hair up in some funk-driven style. It was my guy and I’s first time going out to this type of setting and we had plans to set the dancefloor on fire. We arrived and were able to make our way to the front of the stage just in time for one of the many dope performances planned for that night. I saw a few people I knew and gave out hugs in between getting myself ready for a long night of sweaty foreheads and  tired feet. My guy stood behind me as the artists began to take to the stage and prepare to sing. I stood in front of him looking at the stage when I started feeling dizzy. I’m a smoker and thought maybe it was from that and would subside in a minute but it didn’t. It progressed forward with the dizziness moving from my head to my eyes and then I started to sweat profusely. It hit me so suddenly and so hard that it was almost hard to deny. I stood there trying to see if I could tough it out but at the point that I could feel the sweat running down my head (mind you, we had just arrived about 10 mins prior and had not done anything but walk from the door to the stage), I knew what time it was. I hesitantly turned to him and said ‘I need to go outside, I’m having a panic attack.’ He didn’t miss a beat or ask any questions; he just turned and came out w/me. I walked as fast as I humanly could from the stage to the front door. More people had arrived so the crowd was thicker and I was moving so fast, I didn’t really know if he was still behind me or not. The band began as soon as I got to the front door but I felt like if I stopped, I would drop dead. Literally those exact thoughts.

We got outside of the venue and I walk-ran to a picnic table in front of a sushi restaurant that sits next to the Vogue. I sat down and could barely see anything. I was so dizzy and scared and sweaty  and all I could think was ‘I need to be out of these clothes.’ My guy was there and I could tell he was scared but at this point, my breaths had shortened and I was dry heaving for air. I unzipped the front of my dress to let some air get to my body, no longer concerned with anyone who might see me. Logic time had passed; this was me trying to find my safety net. I felt like I was dying. I am not sure what dying feels like but that is my best guess. As I struggled to get a whole, relaxed breath, my entire body became drenched in sweat. I’m sure I was shiny because I was so sweaty from head to toe and I was shaking from the inside out. Nothing about me was put together and I could not find my footing. I was terrified and so was he. He sat with me, holding my hand while I continued to try to just catch a whole breath. About ten minutes passed before he asked if I wanted to leave; I said yes. Party was over before it began. He had to walk to get the truck and I could tell he didn’t want to leave me but I told him I was ok. When he disappeared into the dark, I cried as best as I could. I think I cried so I could see if I had ANY control over anything in my body. I cried because I was scared and worried that I would be dead when he got back to me. When he got back with the truck, I got in and we went home. I had the window rolled all the way down, face towards the wind and the seat leaned back. The panic attack was starting to subside but it felt like if I moved or blinked too fast or hard, it would resurface. It was the first panic attack I had since 2010 but since it wasn’t my first panic attack, I recognized the symptoms and was able to remove myself to a ‘safer space’ (loose term) until I could get home.

As we come to the last two blogs of the WOMAN’ing series, I had to take a minute out to discuss mental health issues. I am not here to be a doctor in literary form and not only do I not have all (and in some cases any) of the answers, I also am not sure of all the different types of mental disorders that people suffer from. I do realize this is not solely a woman’s problem and that men suffer from many of the same things I have discussed throughout this series, however, women are expected to be emotional yet in emotionally in control of ourselves. We are expected to be the nurturers and the ones that bring the ‘love’ aspect into things but are also expected to be ok. We are expected to not need help, professional or personal. We are expected to have this side of us together, when in fact, all of the stimuli we receive in trying to be everyone’s everything often has negative mental effects on us, therefore exacerbating any mental deficiencies we may have or worse, creating new ones.

I have had a pill bottle full of depression meds for two years now. When I moved, I considered throwing them away, but they now sit in my office as a ‘break open in case of emergency stash’. I have never taken meds before. I got them in the middle of 2014 when I thought I was going to lose my shit. I have never so much as twisted the bottle. The weird thing is when the doctor handed me the pills, I felt some sense of relief having told someone that I was going through a severe depressive storm that I was not yet able to pull myself from even with the tools in hand. Having him hand me those pills that I knew I would never take made me feel good because for the first time, I had told someone that could help me that I was depressed. I don’t particularly want my personality to become dependent upon depression meds to be able to make from hour to hour so I’ve never taken them but I did find myself on a lightning end to my depression. I am going to speak very candidly from this point forward on three different things regarding mental illness:

  1. Depression
  2. Anxiety/Panic disorder
  3. Mild/Severe Personality Changes

Shall we?

Depression is not an Adjective:

Growing up, depression was not something that I was not privy to. My aunt suffered from depression from the onset of her mother’s death when I was like 5 or 6 years old through current. I suspect her home life with an emotionally abusive husband did nothing to help her through it. I would hear her talk of her racing and scattered emotions and since I spent a lot of time with her, I would see her go through them sometimes. She would sleep through whole days and wake up not knowing if she was at the beginning or end of the week. I assume she was doing a lot more crying than I ever knew of, but her face always told a story of weariness and tire. She looked emotionally spent when she wasn’t in a good mood and I know now that was part of the depression but as I was growing up, as much as I understood, I still didn’t. It wasn’t until I realized I was battling the same type of mental demons that I fully got the impact of depression and how debilitating it is. While on the outside, it looks like ‘why doesn’t she just get out of the bed’ or ‘why do you stay’ or ‘why won’t you ‘ yada yada yada. Everyone outside of the window has all the answers for someone else’s life but few for their own.  My first conscious dealing with depression was in the early 2000s when I was, much like my aunt, in an emotionally abusive relationship. I do not blame him or the relationship for my depression; it was just part of the saddening motivation. People use the word ‘depressed’ so flagrantly. It’s been as whored out as ‘woke’ or ‘overstand’ or some of the other words that lose their meaning over time because we have removed the true definition for them in our conversations. Depression is not a fleeting sad moment. It’s not someone passed away and you’re grieving. That’s called grieving. It’s not you lost your job and now you’re stressed. That’s called stressed and there might be some sadness associated with it, but tears and sad faces don’t equate to depression. Depression is in your brain. It’s the overwhelming sense of sadness and even fear when you get a promotion and everyone is cheering you on. It’s the death of a loved one that renders you unable to continue; you can’t get out of bed, you can’t go back to work, you can’t be bothered to talk to other people. It’s you existing solely in your emotions, whatever they are (they aren’t always sad). It is physical. It is being down on yourself about everything from a simple catalyst. Depression can be triggered but it need not be. It is a silent creeper that is relentless in its pull on your coattail. Depression simply put is a beast that can’t be resolved by someone coming over and making you laugh. It isn’t helped or cured by someone telling you that you don’t feel what you feel or you are kidding and lying to yourself.

While society still struggles to know how to deal with depressed people and learn constructive, healthy ways to address and assist them, depression gives no  fucks and the flippancy or unbotheredisms of us as a people tend to further an individual’s depression higher up the charts. It’s dangerous to say you are depressed when you are just sad.  Sadness is a part of life and for some people, so is depression, but the two are not inclusive of each other. The danger of using those two words interchangeably lies in confusing people into believing that depression is as easy to suffer from as apple pie in a white family’s oven. It’s not. Depression has it’s chosen ones and I do believe that it can be developed as well (not just the way your brain was wired at birth), but it’s not what occurs when you stub your toe and can’t get over the pain so you lay down and don’t move while watching tv. Depression wants solitude, silence, loudness, movement, tears, anger, fights, help, hugs, phone calls, shouting matches, more tears – depression wants EVERYTHING and yet nothing helps until it does. It doesn’t always have a ‘sad’ face and sometimes, you know you are going through another bout simply by your physical reaction to things. I have no ‘answer’ or solution for depression and curing the mind and heart of such a dangerous place. But I do know we need to stop just tossing it out there as an adjective. It’s not a way to describe how unhappy you are at the moment. It’s a mental imbalance. An emotional meat-grinder. A growth stunter. Depression is not an adjective. We have to be responsible for our language because it creates cultures and beliefs that sometimes aren’t true.

Stop saying you are depressed when you are sad.
Stop telling people they are just sad or ok when they say they are depressed.
Stop being dismissive. It just creates a wider funnel for depression to drown the sufferer in.
Stop using it like it’s candy. If you aren’t depressed, that’s great. If you’ve never suffered from depression, that’s great. Don’t pull yourself into a storm you don’t understand because it’s a disservice to those who do get it.
Depression is not an adjective. It’s a legit illness.

Anxious for the Panic Room

I still remember my first panic attack. It was at my mother’s house. We were standing outside on a warm summer day and both me and my mom were standing at the back of my stepfather’s truck when this  rush of sweat came over me just like at the Vogue most recently. I stood as long as I could until I had to go sit on the porch steps to catch my breath. I tried to act like nothing was wrong although I was completely terrified because not only was I profusely sweating, but now I was dizzy and my heartbeat was racing. I went into the house, laid on her living room floor and prepared to die as I cried and begged God not to let me pass this randomly on my mom’s living room floor. Clearly, I made it. But it would take talking to my friend at the time to help me make sense of what happened and even then, I still didn’t believe it. Not until I had another one and began to read about panic attacks.

On the soul food series, Terri suffered from panic attacks. They attempted to address that silent stressor but when I was watching, I couldn’t understand it. I never understood it what was going on with her or why. After I became in tune with my own, I went back and rewatched the season w/Terri’s attacks and what a difference a panic attack makes. Shit! I completely got it and truthfully, that is EXACTLY how I felt. Watch this ten-minute clip to see the randomness and the accuracy of panic attacks, at least from my experience:

That is a legit interpretation of panic attacks, even down to the way Bird reacted. My guy was similar in reaction….while he didn’t sing old church hymns to me, he was scared and tried his best to offer comfort and bring me down. He told me in the days afterward how frightening the situation actually was. I am not sure why my panic attacks started. They aren’t frequent and sometimes  there are years in between them, but when they happen, THEY HAPPEN!!!!! Listen, all over the web you can find articles and pages dedicated to panic attacks, what to do, why they happen, etc, etc.

This one is pretty well detailed in the symptoms.

That fear of dying is so real. You literally feel like this is the end and OMG why is it ending like this of all ways?

Of course, stress, whether internally (your own personal stress) or external (adopted stress of loved ones), can bring on an attack but when they will happen is anyone’s guess. The unpredictability coupled with the fear associated with panic attacks keeps me on edge when I find myself sweating or feeling nauseated or dizzy. Most times it’s nothing, but the fear persists just the same. The last attack, I tried the methods that are often suggested including trying to stay mentally calm, taking deep slow breaths (which is hard when your breath is stunted), getting air but I can’t say how much they helped.  There are anti-depressant meds you can get to help with easing the frequency of attacks but they don’t stop them completely and to be perfectly honest, I’m a bit over the idea that everything can be solved by a little pill somebody created out of who knows what. Finding the route cause of your panic attacks would be the greatest hope one would have for fighting back and I’m sure there is some type of natural supplement that could assist. I don’t have them frequently enough to have invested much energy in combating them, but if you are reading and aware of some natural cures or something aside from popping pills, drop it in the comments !!! Talk back <3

Fuck It, I’m On One

 

I have only tickled the fancy of the surface with this blog. Mental illness issues are abundant yet they are shunned and whispered about. To me, this portion of my journey through my womanhood includes being honest with myself about who I am and how that affects me in positive and/or negative ways. Being honest with yourself means owning up to your mental strengths….and weaknesses. It doesn’t matter if you have an IQ of a genius or daily struggles with bipolar disorder, owning your mental space is what will allow you to continue to grow. It’s what allows the necessary help get to you even if that’s a depression prescription that you never take. But somewhere tiptoeing on the axis of womanhood, there is a silent creeper that affects millions of women but we hardly see it as news or hear it about it in conversations.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) came into my life about five years ago when a dear friend found out she was suffering from it. During the beginning days of her period, she would get irritable and jumpy. What would usually be a simple argument would be like WWIII and anyone could get it !!! She was given some meds to take and I can’t remember if they were birth control pills are anti-depressants, but with her emotions being an absolute mess on a monthly basis, she tried them. I think the results fell in the middle of the spectrum. In the blog prior to this, I talked about the effects of aging and how I feel about it. I wrote about how my period has changed over the years and become an untrustworthy (although reliable) reminder of my womanhood every month. One thing I failed to address was PMDD and how it suddenly appeared as part of my PMS symptoms. I am self-diagnosed so there is room for me to be in error on this but I’m about 100% I’m correct. Real quick, cause you know I love definitions:

Dysphoria – A profound state of unease or dissatifaction. Dysphoria may accompany depression, anxiety or agitation.

Out of nowhere, over the last 3-4 years, I noticed a change in my personality that occurred at the exact same time every month: during my period. Let me back up first. When I a teenager and even throughout the majority of my 20s, I didn’t suffer from any PMS or sickness or mood alterations when I had my cycle. It was business as usual on all other fronts. The closer I got to 30 and then afterward, I started to develop PMS symptoms and cramping which I have charged to the game as aging. But these last few years, I noticed something else. Something new. Something a bit more dangerous. My attitude: tolerance, patience, conflict resolution – all greatly affected and down in numbers. In other words, I have none of those things. My tolerance and patience levels are zero and my conflict resolution is sarcastic at best. Now whatever you have imagined it, quadruple it and that’s me barely “able to can” as Awesomely Luvvie would say. I have screamed so loud that I’ve become hoarse. You want to talk about uneasiness?? Lord Jesus, I can feel myself shaking internally and I know it’s time for everyone to hit the deck, she’s about to blow !!!  Then the next day, I’m looking and thinking back with embarrassment like ‘who the fuck was I?’

My friend and I aren’t the only sufferers of this. I mean, there are enough of us for them to concoct another lab pill with a commercial attached (but be careful on taking meds because the symptoms could be as small as a rash to as final as death..lol). One day we were talking about it and how people who don’t and have never experienced it don’t really understand how heavy and detrimental the symptoms can be. Men of course totally don’t get it and with both of us, it showed up so late in life that people are looking at us like ‘well you weren’t this way just last year.’  Yeah well, DUH MF !!!!!

If you add PMDD on top of a nervous and mental system that is known for panic attacks and a depressive nature, there is no telling what you might get. I once had an ex tell me I had personality issues. I had another tell me that I go from zero to a hundred really quick and then my currency seems to think something along the same lines. Everybody can’t be wrong, but that doesn’t make them right. I wonder how much of what we experience in life effects us in our menstrual cycles? I recently obtained a therapist and will have my first appointment with her soon. Something that I have wondered about in regards to personality & bipolar disorder, as well as PMDD, is do the people on the other side of us take our mental issues seriously enough to attempt to NOT trigger them?

Here’s an example: Accountability is something that is big to me. I am not always in the right and while criticism of myself may be hard to digest at times, I still understand that I have to be responsible for the things I say and do and how they make other people feel. Even if there is something mentally different about me, I still have enough ‘norm’ about me to know that I have to respect how I’ve made folks feel even when it’s bad. For me, a person holding themselves accountable is HUGE so when you avoid accountability or deflect (which another pet/personality peeves), it has the ability to instantly take me to 100 depending on what time of the month it is (and sometimes NOT depending on that at all). I’m an only child and so was my mom so I didn’t even grow up with cousins my age. There was no one else to put the blame on when something was messed up. I’ve always had to be called to bat for what I pitched out so it’s a hard pill for me to swallow when I see someone can’t be accountable for the things they’ve said and done. So again, I go back to the question of triggers.

Are the people on the other side of us taking our mental issues seriously enough not to trigger them? Are they being accountable? Are they deflecting? Are they being condescending? The list goes on and is based on individuals but me accepting that there is something different about how I am mentally and emotionally wired, be it once a month or daily, is also me saying to you if you plan to stick around, please try not to toss gasoline on an ever burning flame.

I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone but me.

But it’s definitely something I’ve wondered more than a handful of times. Mental health is hardly addressed enough and especially not in the black community. Those who have mental illnesses or suffer from anxiety or depression or PMDD or [insert illness] need the assistance of our loved ones as much as we need doctors, prescriptions, and the rest . . .

That is greatly important and I can’t begin to stress how much so in one blog. We don’t don’t need to be coddled and treated like babies. It’s not that. But if we acknowledge an illness, please don’t tell us we are lying or tripping or need to ‘take it to the altar.’ Those of us who believe and trust in God have already done that and this is the part of faith where you WORK. We don’t need to be patronized or made fun of but rather that you are cognizant of words and triggers and actions that create funnels for depressive or manic episodes and reactions. If you already do that, then keep up the great work !!! 

In the meantime, if you suspect (or know) that you suffer from of the aforementioned or other mental illnesses, please seek the appropriate help for you. Trust your gut and your instinct. Talk to someone in confidence and if possible, seek counsel. I was recommended to the Christian Theological Center which has a sliding scale for therapists according to your income. Mine is about $30 a session.

Click this link for their information.  

Again, I didn’t write this blog with a bunch of answers and suggestions. Simply my story as I inch my way closer to 38. I hope somewhere in this, someone else becomes free enough to be open with themselves first about their mental illness, deficiencies, and issues.

I’m still the shit regardless of whatever makes me less than perfect. I love the fact that imperfection is something I cannot achieve because I truly feel like (at least on my good days) that I can accomplish nearly anything I set my mind and heart to. Perfection seems to hard to obtain so it’s better that I am flawed in the ways I am. It also allows me to empathize with folks.

I wish more people had that same empathy and understanding. Although this series is called WOMAN’ing and about being a woman, men suffer mental illnesses just as much as women. And our society is too full of people who don’t know how to nurture us appropriately.

May the high horses they ride in on catch a broken leg. Hashtag PutEmDown. 

Blogtrack:

“I had a one-way ticket to a place where all the demons go
Where the wind don’t change
And nothing in the ground can ever grow
No hope, just lies
And you’re taught to cry in your pillow
But I survived

I’m still breathing, I’m still breathing
I’m still breathing, I’m still breathing
I’m alive
I’m alive
I’m alive
I’m alive
I found solace in the strangest place
Way in the back of my mind
I saw my life in a stranger’s face
And it was mine”
~Sia, Alive 

 

 

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.

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~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