Monday, September 26, 2011

haunted

I haven't written about Troy Davis. Yet. Part of that was purposeful.

I didn't want to write about Troy Davis the day after it happened, because I knew everyone would do that. It makes sense, of course--as a writer or journalist type, you write in the midst of things. You write while it's on your mind (and everyone else's mind). You write while it's pertinent. And let's be honest: with the rapid fire turnaround of news information in this country of instant gratification, pertinent news stories don't stay such for very long. Events happen, travesties occur, and then we all move on, it seems. Even my Twitter timeline, which was ablaze not so many days ago with people calling out for justice to be served, has now calmed to the usual Tweets about football, mundane occurrences, and random trending topics like #SomeWhereInTheHood. (Really?*)

It's only just, I imagine. Though an event may stay with someone for days, at some point, the world continues turning just the way it was before said event. Things always go back to normal, as people always say.
Well, though I didn't write about Troy Davis right after his execution, it doesn't mean the experience didn't stick with me. It's been on my mind. And today it was brought to the forefront again, by an experience that seemingly has nothing to do with Troy Davis at all.


I'm in my hometown, enjoying a nice break from the mean streets of Miami. I've been running around all day, taking care of some various errands, and the last of my errands involved a stop at my local Publix. (The best one in the world, as it has a Chinese kitchen AND a liquor store. Nope, no Publix can be better than mine.) As I walked up, I saw an older looking Black woman sitting on one of the electric carts outside of the store. When I started to pass her, she timidly asked me if I was active in the church. I stopped, and said that I'm not, hoping that if this had anything to do with a religious speech, me saying I'm not church-active would spare me.** She then simply asked if she could speak to me. Usually never rude, and usually never one to deny someone the opportunity to speak to me, I stayed in place and removed my sunglasses.

She introduced herself as Stephanie, and told me earnestly, it seemed, that I looked nice in the outfit I had on. I thanked her and smiled, and she asked me if she could tell me her story.

Before continuing, I must express my often perplexed feelings when I find myself in situations like the one I will continue describing in a minute. I have encountered many, many people who have asked me for money, as I knew that was where her story was going. I have encountered people with myriad stories, in many places, and always, it leaves me feeling a tad helpless, as well as frustrated, and on some level, guilty. Helpless when I sincerely would have given that person something, but I only had my card, and no physical cash, not even change. Frustrated when people get mad at me, or have an attitude with me simply because I cannot or will not give them anything. Guilty when I want to help, but think about my financial situation and how I'm struggling too. It's often quite the struggle. How do I know whether this person is telling me the truth? Am I wrong for automatically questioning whether this person is telling me the truth?

I'm a giving person, and I enjoy helping others, but I'm also a cautious person, and I, like many people, try to erect guards around myself so I'm not taken advantage of. So, whenever this situation arises, therein rises the epic battle between my logic and my compassion. Can they both exist simultaneously?


Stephanie looked up at me, and she told me that she was a dialysis patient, and that her and her family had just moved to a street not too far from where we were. She told me she had twin teenage girls, and that they were honor students, and she told me that their church had offered to get them a meal the other day, but she'd tried to convince the church to instead take them to the store, because a meal would only last for one day. She told me she had public assistance benefits, but being that she'd moved from a different state, her benefits weren't set to kick in for a couple more days.

As she was explaining herself, she did something that people I've talked to usually don't do: she started to cry.

Right outside of the store, she began to cry, and as she cried, I didn't feel sorry for her.

I didn't feel sorry for her, because I know that my least favorite emotion is pity. I don't want people to ever feel sorry for me, because it automatically puts them on a different level than me.

I didn't feel sorry for her, but instead, I imagined how much it took for her to stop me, ask me if she could talk to me, and then ask me if I could help her. I know that I have trouble asking people to do anything for me. Especially when it comes to finances. I imagined that if that were me in her shoes, I'd probably cry too. I know I would cry because I would feel ashamed.

As she was explaining to me that she was sorry that she had to ask people for money, and as she continued to wipe the steadily streaming tears from her eyes, I'd already decided that I would help. I told her that on my way back out of the store, I would make sure I gave her something.

And as I walked around the store, that was all I thought about. My groceries suddenly became of lesser importance, and all I thought about was that I needed to hurry up, get my cash back, and make sure I helped Stephanie. I didn't want her to think that I didn't mean what I said.

When I left, I walked out the same door I'd entered through, and there was Stephanie, still sitting there. I folded the ten-dollar bill in my hand, and I told her it was for her. It's not much, I said, and then trailed off as her tears started to flow from her eyes again. She thanked me multiple times over, and told God to bless me. She then leaned up for a hug, and I hugged her and told her I know times are rough, and she asked me to pray for her. Even as I put my sunglasses back on, told her to take care, and turned to walk away, she was still giving her thanks, as I bit my lip and walked away, starting to feel the tears welling in my eyes as they are again now.


Do I know whether Stephanie's story was true? Do I know what she'll do with that ten dollars I gave her? No, I sure don't, and it doesn't matter. I know what I was planning on doing with that ten dollars before I'd arrived at the store. I'd planned on wasting it on a sub, chips, and a drink, knowing that I didn't have to, because I had leftovers at home. Before I'd pulled into that parking spot, I'd decided that I wasn't going to spend that money on that sub, chips, and drink, no matter how good they would taste, because that wasn't financially sound. Good thing I made that decision. 

As my mother always says, you never know where your blessings will come from, and I wholeheartedly believe that. I've been hustled for quarters by a crackhead before; I've been talked to death by seemingly delusional homeless people before, and I've even been criticized and called out of my name by panhandlers before. But my actions remain the same: I will not deny somebody the opportunity to talk to me. 

I know that if it were me, and the shoe was on the other foot, I'd pray that someone would stop and listen to me. I'd pray that someone would believe me. And I'd pray that someone would be able to help me, just a little bit.

As I walked away from Stephanie, I knew her tears would stay with me, the same way I knew the thought of Troy Davis would stay with me as time moved on. The same way the man with a sign touched me so much, I wrote about him. The same way I think about Derrion Albert, and wonder if anyone still thinks about him.

The point of all this is to say: I worry about our collective humanity, sometimes. I know who I am, and how I am--I am the type of person who worries about strangers. I am the type of person who will pray for someone I see who looks like they are having a tough time. I am the type of person who sat on my boyfriend's couch, my head against his arm, and cried for the injustice I witnessed the night Troy Davis was made to wait four extra hours before he was murdered by the state of Georgia, a state that runs in my own bloodline. I am the type of person who spent the days leading up to his execution frustrated, and on edge with the society I live in. I am the type of person who believes in the possibility of Nineteen Eighty-Four (so much that I told my boyfriend to read it), but still hopes it will not come to pass.

I know that this is me. I know that I will stop and listen to strangers tell me their stories. (Because what greater power is there than being able to voice your own personal truth?) I know that I cannot witness a grown woman cry in front of me, a woman who looked like she had many years on me, and not try and do something. I know that I'm the type of person who doesn't believe in the death penalty, the type of person who would have given Troy Davis another shot at justice. I know that's me. Call me a fool, hyper-sensitive, whatever you want, but I know that's me.

But what about humanity? We live in a time when children are killing adults and adults are behaving like children. A time when the latest singing reality tv show is more important than what's actually happening in the real world. A time when injustices come, and then they go. Where's our outrage? Where are our movements? Where are our Black leaders***, and any leaders, for that matter? It seems like no one cares. Like Sonny said in A Bronx Tale, "nobody cares."

And maybe after reading this, you could step to me and ask me where my outrage is, and why I'm not out there trying to start a movement, or become a Black leader. Maybe you could ask me if I think just writing about everything is good enough. Sometimes, I may wonder that myself.

But I don't claim to have the answers, only a number of questions. And the image of Stephanie's tears, and the haunting remnants of her embrace.

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 *--this is more evidence that though Black people probably still make up about 13% of the population, we must make up a hefty percentage of the population of Twitter. My first piece of legit evidence? The fact that as The Preacher's Wife was playing last night on BET, it was also trending on Twitter. You know damn well ain't nobody watching that movie on BET, at that, but some Black, Twitter using folks.
**--spiritual, not religious.
***--sure, we have figureheads like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, but are they leaders? Whom are they leading? I have yet to hear anything from them that swayed me and moved me like some of the voices I've heard from back during the Civil Rights Movement, and even before that.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What is Facebook, really? (A love/hate letter to the predominate social network du jour)

Amid all of the things that have been going on recently via my social networks, I found myself alerted to the fact that Facebook has made yet another change to its interface, as my news feed was crowded with posts ranging from saying the interface sucks, to someone saying they would leave by the end of the day.

As a quasi-nomad who now has an apartment but usually only goes there for the necessities of eating occasionally and bathing (since there's no internet connection at my apartment and God only knows when the internet gods will decide that it's about time they stopped playing with our emotions), I have been relatively disconnected from what was previously a very active online life. I can only check my Facebook on my phone, since that's lately been the way I've accessed the internet 95% of the time. So, the new Facebook changes were lost to me, as Facebook mobile was still the same irritating thing it has been since I joined the smart phone world.

Even before checking the new Facebook layout, I started to experience commitment issues, and thought of leaving. I didn't even need evidence of Facebook's transgressions, I only knew how I felt: that our relationship was losing its spark, and that I needed something new.

Facebook and I have experienced such troubles before. Right before I went to college, we began our relationship, which was nothing but tame. In those days, I still had dial-up internet (what an ancient relic), so Facebook and I couldn't really see each other that often. Facebook was simple, and so was I. Facebook was just a page, with photo albums and profile information. No fancy things like status updates and chat functionality. It was a simple platform that allowed you to connect with people you were going to college with. I was a simple girl, still a teenager, really, with no smart phone, no Twitter rants, and no blog. Less Huey Freeman and more Charlie Brown. (Though in my adult life, I find myself existing within both.)

And then: I fell in love for the first time, hard, and Facebook was there. Hell, it was because of Facebook that it even happened. Facebook was there for me, allowing me to see pictures and the profile of the guy I loved, and Facebook even helped us send messages back and forth. What a great friend, that simple Facebook was.

But by the summer sun's dip in the sky, and autumn's leaves, that romance was forever through, and it was just Facebook and me again. I'm sure I pestered Facebook with my constant viewing of my lost love's profile and his pictures and searching through his friends list, trying to take clues from a dream I'd had in order to find out who his new girlfriend was, and I'm pretty sure Facebook tired of me altering my profile so often, always trying to express the most pressing feelings of disappointment, longing, and hope. (And sometimes anger.)

By the new year, I found myself asking what Facebook had really done for me. After all, Facebook was the one who brought me to the love who now was happy in a new relationship. My now constant communication with Facebook (going to college also brought the wonder of always having internet access, and leaving your computer on all day, every day) had become too much for me, and I needed space. So that April, I left Facebook. We'd talked about it before the decision was made, and there was never any discussion as to whether what we had would ever be real for us again. I left Facebook with a picture of me, half my face in shadow, and half of my face in sunlight, smiling at the camera, ironically reflecting the daily divide of my spirit.

I left, and felt that I'd never return. I took up with other relationships, and found myself thinking about Facebook sometimes, but never thinking about returning to it. We'd had our time, and it was time for new things in my life. For MySpace and for Blogger to become new comforts in the midnight hour. Frequently, people reminded me of the relationship I'd once had with Facebook, asking me about it, but it prided me to tell them that I was without Facebook, and to see their shocked expressions when I said such. (I've always enjoyed doing what differs from the norm. Huey Freeman.)

Three years had passed, and I had gotten over Facebook when an old friend showed me what Facebook had been up to since that day in April. It seemed that both Facebook and I had grown. I was a young woman, with piercings and a tattoo or two, and a "take no shit" attitude, and Facebook was a fancier platform, with status updates and pages to be liked. My friend talked me into speaking with Facebook again, and I decided to give it a shot. What could be the harm, after all? We were older, wiser, and different than when we first began our affair oh so long ago.

So, Facebook and I became an item yet again. It seemed our relationship was much stronger, as Facebook offered me a lot more the second time around, with its status updates, increased capacity for pictures, and the ability to post stuff up for my friends to see. (Like my blog posts.) Facebook was there for it all. And when I got my first smart phone, I was able to take Facebook with me everywhere. We were like two peas in a pod, it seemed.

Until I changed. And Facebook changed. Repeatedly. It felt like every time I signed into Facebook, something was different. Suddenly, there were ads that seemed to know what I was searching for and what I liked. The pages and groups changed. News feeds changed. As a bit of a chameleon myself, I understood the desire to constantly be the different thing, but what was with all the rush? What was Facebook trying to keep up with, I sometimes wondered. Was it not enough that people couldn't start their day without checking Facebook, or that now everyone--not just college students--could use it? Why did it have to always change, and without warning, at that?

More Huey on a daily basis now than Charlie, I found myself troubled by all the changes. Why did Facebook seek to be so controlling? What joy could Facebook derive out of knowing my every Google search? What joy was there to be found in knowing where I was, and where I'd been? I resisted against the change that other people seemed to take in stride. Hadn't anyone read 1984 by George Orwell? Was no one troubled by the fact that at any given moment, anyone in the world could know what you were thinking, where you were in the world, or where you'd been? In a matter of years, Facebook had gone from the simple platform I'd once known, to an entity trying to be too many things--too much Twitter, too much MySpace, too much GPS. I just wanted Facebook to become Facebook again.

But in saying that, it leads me to ask, what is Facebook, really? I imagine, to each individual, it may be many things. For most of us, we say it's a way for us to keep up with our friends, and to see what's up with their lives. But, in my recent ponderings, I have found fault with this argument. Facebook now feels like an easy way to play out the role of private voyeurs. It's what we as humans love, after all--how else could reality television have become so commonplace? Though our satisfactions might not be quite sexual in nature, how many moments of our day do we devote to Facebook stalking? To seeing who's dating, who's fucking, who's sad, who's angry, who's pregnant, etc.? In the past couple of months, I have seen a number of Facebook friends' newborn children, whose naked pictures were posted via Facebook, in some instances merely minutes after they were born. In real life, I'd have to go to the hospital in order to see that. I've also seen posts about people having been proposed to... merely minutes after it happened. I've seen pictures of people's engagement rings, their newborn children, what they had for dinner, what they're wearing to the club, the argument they had with a significant other, etc.

Facebook has given me unprecedented access to things I otherwise wouldn't know, about people I otherwise wouldn't speak to. In sitting here, debating whether a more permanent leave of Facebook is coming for me, I wonder what Facebook really is, and why I feel some reluctance to leave, though I've done it before.

For me, Facebook is many things, good and bad. Facebook is an excuse for me to not keep up with people. If I couldn't return your phone call, I can always leave a message on your wall. If I have something I need to say to you that's difficult to articulate, I can always send you a Facebook message. If I miss you, instead of writing you a letter, or even sending you a text, I can leave a little heart on one of your pictures and tell you how gorgeous you look, followed by an "I miss you!!"

Facebook gives me the ability to play detective and figure out whether you've just ended your relationship, are having trouble in your relationship, or have started a new relationship based on the frequency of your posts to people, when you remove/add the "in a relationship" from your profile, when you remove/add certain pictures from your albums, etc. So what if the detective work is actually a bunch of assumptions confirmed by my brain as truth--it's fun, isn't it?

Now, with this new Facebook layout (I pulled it up earlier to look at it, and found myself staring at a foreign entity), I find myself asking, sincerely, why I keep holding on. It's no secret that I'm not a fan of Facebook right now. I find myself living in a world where it's a legal right of mine to voice my opinion, but I can still be penalized for said opinion. I wonder often if I've given too much of my life to Facebook. Given too many people I'm not truly friends with the opportunity to know my thoughts, see those I care about in pictures, etc. As a blogger, it seems strange that I would ever have a problem with people knowing my thoughts, as I have given my thoughts away free for anyone who would like to read them for two years now. But for some reason, something about Facebook doesn't sit well with me anymore. Confusing privacy settings, constant changes, and a generation that won't even show up to an event unless they get an invite via Facebook... it's all come to be a bit too much.

Maybe it's just the Huey Freeman in me, but I find myself wanting to be rid of Facebook. It's starting to feel too much like part of the norm for me, and if you haven't learned yet how much I don't like to be part of the norm, it would be useful for you to learn now. But, for every minute I ponder clicking "deactivate," what must be the sentimental Charlie Brown in me comes up with reasons as to why I shouldn't. I think about the family members I honestly wouldn't have really known of if not for them finding me on Facebook. I think of the associates I would have lost track of if not for Facebook status updates and photo uploads. And although it may seem silly to some, I think of the fact that after what seemed like a lifetime of dealing with men who weren't about the same type of shit I was about*, I waited my whole damn dating life to be able to date someone, and have it Facebook official, and have it say that I was in a relationship with... Seriously, I did.

Well, I'm in a relationship, and at the top of my ever-changing Facebook page, it says that I'm in a relationship with (insert my boyfriend's name here). Though, you probably wouldn't even know it was me, since due to a recent bout with Facebook spies** I have currently changed my Facebook name and profile picture. Consider it the witness protection program for the internet-active. Finally, I'm in a relationship, and I've said it out loud on my Facebook page, and now that I've been able to have that moment I felt was robbed from me time and time over, I'm... over it. Not over my relationship, mind you, as I am extremely happy and proud to be able to show my affection for my love via my Facebook page. But, I'm over the need to put in a relationship on my Facebook page in order to make the relationship any more "official" than it would have been if say, I didn't have a Facebook at all, or my love didn't have a Facebook at all. Or if Facebook simply didn't exist at all... what a thought. I realize the fact that the reason I was robbed time and time over of the ability to have that "Facebook official" relationship is because of the type of men I dealt with, and the type of situations I allowed myself to dwell in. Now that I have that relationship status I in the past wanted so badly, I actually now have the urge to keep details of my relationship to myself. Does every picture of every outing need to go up? Do I really need to have everyone know when our anniversary date is?

And in thinking about those family members I "honestly wouldn't have really known if not for them finding me on Facebook," do I really know them? Just because we're friends on Facebook, does that mean that I know any more about them than their name and the fact that we're related? Yes, I get to see their pictures, and sometimes that involves getting to see pictures of family members I've heard of, but never had the pleasure of knowing while they were living, but as my family members on Facebook are older, the pictures they do post are scanned on... meaning that if I took a trip to visit them (which is what I really would like to do), I would probably be able to look at a photo album and see these pictures in real life.

And as far as those associates go... well, Facebook is a nice way to keep up with them. But before we had Facebook, we had random sitings in the mall, or in the grocery store, and we had the phone. We've also always had letters, though we all know (and I lament) that no one writes letters anymore.***

That all being said, I don't know the fate of my off-and-on, love/hate relationship with Facebook. I won't sit here and tell you that I'm going to delete it tomorrow and never go back, but by the same breath, I also won't tell you that I won't delete it at some point in the future. And as far as what Facebook is to me, really?

It's starting to seem like more trouble than its worth.

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*--seemed better than saying "men who weren't about shit," but you know that's what I meant
**--have you ever been fired from a fuck shit job because your employer spied on you, lied about what you said on Facebook, and then tried to twist your words to make it seem as though you meant something you didn't? Yeah, me neither.

***--In recent times, the US Postal Service has talked about eliminating postal service on Saturdays, and I've heard rumor recently that they are talking about eliminating the postal service all together. As a letter writer and enthusiast of snail mail, I want the postal service to stay. But, if I live in country where schools and libraries and bookstores can be shut down, then clearly the postal service is doomed.

for whatever reason, today

For quite some time, I had nothing to write.

I always have plenty to say, so much so that I sometimes have trouble settling into sleep, for all of the monologue running through my head.

But sometimes, I don't have anything to write. For extended periods of time. I settle into life, and life takes its hold of me, and I neglect to push myself to sit here and write. For sometimes, writing is a compulsion, something I have to do. I imagine, possibly like that addict that needs their next fix. They have to get their drug of choice. It doesn't even feel optional; it's like breathing, except that it stays on their mind. Generally, I imagine you don't really notice your breathing until you think about it. Nevertheless, much like the addict searching for their next high, when writing is a compulsion, I think about it, and think about it, and search for somewhere, anywhere to write; I search for something, anything to write on. Sometimes, it's like that.

But there are other times when writing is not a compulsion. Sometimes, that urge to write hits, and I think about it, think about it, think about it, and then let the urge go. Drop it back into whatever place it came from, as quiet as its kept. And then I keep it moving. Sometimes, the urge hits, and I say, "I'm going to write about this," and then life takes its hold of me, and nothing comes forth. Sometimes, writing is a thing I would have to make myself do, if I wanted anything to come from the urges that swell and recede, like ocean waves against the shore.

Writing has always been a friend to me, but just like with old friends, sometimes, you lose touch. You know that old friend is still living in the old neighborhood, and you tell yourself all the time that you'll pass by, that you'll say hello. You look at your phone and tell yourself all the time that you'll call. You make empty promises to yourself, halfway full of hope, and halfway full of knowing that you won't visit that old friend when you say you will. You pick up your phone to check your messages, but you know you're not going to call that old friend when you say you will. Writing can be like that for me.

I haven't posted a blog entry since July, and I haven't posted anything substantial since before that. I'm explaining my absence to you, but really to myself, because I feel like saying "I just didn't have anything to say" simply isn't enough. I said that last year, and the year before that. Truthfully speaking, with summer seems to always come a lag in my writing. Does life simply happen faster in the summer, too fast for my writing to keep up with?

Regardless of whatever time vortex may exist in the summer, I don't have to explain why I was denying my old friend a visit, though I will nonetheless.

Life happened, in a manner that seemed to be even a bit ridiculous for my taste. In short: I quickly fell in love with someone, and found that a lot of things I used to say and feel no longer existed for me. No longer was I the advocate for singledom, fucking before being fucked, and existing within the pain of that which had happened to me, and that which I allowed to happen to me. I was in love, with someone who was wholly in love with me, for none other reason than the fact that I was, simply, myself. (I'd never really experienced this before.) Suddenly, my relationship with this person had gone from business, to friendship and love, and I found myself gaining perspective and closure that I didn't know I was searching for. I found myself holding hands, spending nights, crying on shoulders, sacrificing without struggle, and feeling within myself that the thing I knew I'd been searching for all the while had come to me, as quiet as a shadow in the night.

I fell in love, and all else fell away.

It no longer mattered that the "love of my life" had moved on and didn't even leave a return address. It no longer mattered that the victory of a recent "conquest" rang hollow like the inside of a gutted log. It certainly didn't matter that an old "friend" found fault with me for not coming to pick him up during a visit so we could have an empty quickie, presumably, in my vehicle, and it didn't even matter that the ex I gave two unofficial years to moved back to the land he wanted so badly to fit into and didn't even return my Facebook message. In fact, everything became rather comical, because all of the mistakes I made and all of the experiences I had led me right to the front step of the man who now took my heart and spirit into his arms and held them tightly.

So, I fell in love. Became a girlfriend. Became a friend. It's been a lovely journey that I sincerely enjoy, but you understand, this kind of journey takes time and dedication. Hence, putting off that visit to the old neighborhood for yet another day.

And then, everything else happened. My roommates and I moved out of our condo. (There went my consistent internet access.) I was supposed to move to California. That didn't happen. (I'm never ruling you out, oh California fantasy of mine.) My City Year came to an end. I found a job with another AmeriCorps program that didn't start until a month after my City Year ended. So I had a job, but didn't have a job. My only sister graduated from high school and started college. After my roommates and I moved out, I didn't have another location set up to move to. (This time around, I will start looking for a new apartment when I still have six months on my lease. I've learned.) I took on two housesitting jobs for about an entire month. I stayed with the boyfriend. I moved the majority of my things into my future boss's house. I ate. (A lot.) Put on a little thickness. I cut my hair again. (Natural round 2.) Boyfriend and I made the commitment to start locs together. (December, I'm ready.) My car decided to pitch a fit and scrambling had to be done to ensure it would be fixed. Started new job and found myself dissatisfied before new job had really begun in earnest. Food stamps ran out and the office conveniently didn't get my paperwork. Finally found an apartment that was bug infested. Had to move into said bug infested apartment because roommates wanted to rush things. Job sucked. Was making no money. Struggling. Had bills. Struggling. Spent plenty of days lamenting the decisions I'd made (or hadn't made). Wondered why I couldn't just want to do something lucrative, like handle people's stocks or cut people's chests open. Wondered why I hadn't just stayed in school forever. Hated the city I was in. Wanted to go home but knew that wouldn't solve my problems or feelings. Prayed, prayed, prayed

for a resolution.

And then, the boss I never really connected with fired me on some bullshit logic and shady business practice. Surprisingly, the resolution I'd prayed for had occurred, but I was not in the business of realizing such. All I could think of was how livid I was that an employer lied in order to find a reason to fire me. All I could think about was how everyone that worked there or had something to do with them sucked, and how I shouldn't have trusted anyone. All I could think about was the fact that I graduated from a relatively big deal of a PWI*, in three years and cum laude, at that, and this job, that I still performed for even though it didn't matter to me nor my future goals, this job that wasn't even a real job, but an AmeriCorps placement fired me. I've never been fired from a job, barely received as much as a reprimand, and I'd been fired from a joke of a job on some 1984 shit. (Big Brother is real, ladies and gentlemen.)

But: I'd wished I could have time to actually read. (In my absence from writing, I also unfortunately hadn't been reading either. Completing Steven King's It clearly took its toll.) I'd wished I could be outside in the sunlight rather than stuck in a small cube. I'd wished I could make more money. Wished I could be doing anything other than what I was doing. And now, I sit here, in the middle of the day, writing, watching the sun shine on the palm trees outside this Barnes and Noble, beginning to feel slightly dizzy from the focus I've been giving this screen for the last half-hour, but I'm free. Free to do all of the things I'd been hoping I could. God may not answer the way we want Him to, or expect Him to, but He does answer. He does.

So, all that being said, I haven't written in a while. I've been passing the old neighborhood by, saying I'm going to drop in on that old friend, but every time I find the time to stop by, I find something else that needs to be done. Like plucking my eyebrows. Or taking a third nap. Or checking my Facebook.

I haven't written in a while, but today I got tired of passing that old neighborhood by, and thinking about the old friend I've been neglecting.

I'm sorry I took so long.

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*--Predominately White Institution

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

21 + 3, and other things

It's been so long since I've written, I'm surprised my blog remembers who I am. I almost expected an error message to pop up when I tried to log in.

I'm sorry, you are no longer recognized. Please start over and try again.

Thankfully, that didn't happen. My blog tells me I haven't written since June 8th. It feels like it's been much longer than that. Maybe it's simply because so many things have changed so quickly, maybe that's why it feels like it's been forever.

Well, to start, happy birthday to me :) I am beyond happy and blessed to have seen another year on this tumultuous land we call Earth; in this spacey place we call America. Twenty-four is solid. Not quite my mid-twenties yet, but I'm almost too far gone from 21 (in fact, this is probably the last year I'll include 21 in my age calculations), and getting ever closer to 30. Sometimes, I have to remind myself that I'm an adult. Since adolescence (in memory) wasn't that long ago, sometimes I forget that I can do whatever I need to do myself. That I'm legal, and don't need my parents there to do anything for me. You might wonder how one can forget that, but trust me, it's possible. Being an adult is an idea you have to get used to.

So, let's take a trip back in time, shall we? I feel it necessary in order to catch you up on where I am now.

These are the types of days that are going to make me miss Miami... Knowing that you are slated to go somewhere else aids in perspective shifting. ("prayer answered/perspective"; Friday, March 11, 2011)

So, around this time, I was working with the knowledge that I would be moving to San Jose, California, to pursue another City Year term. I was right: knowing that you're going to go somewhere else leads to perspective shifts, and usually an embracing of your surroundings. I wanted to get the most that I could out of Miami, because my time in the city was coming to a close. Well... not so much. In May, I believe it was, I was granted with a phone call from CY San Jose, regretfully informing me that the department I was slated to work in had been reduced to simply a management position, meaning that I no longer had a position. City Year giveth, and City Year taketh away. Just like that, the move that I thought I was going to be making was no longer happening. I'm a big believer in signs, so I took that as a sign from up above that I wasn't supposed to be moving, at least not to Cali. Maybe there was something left for me to find on the East coast...

I started looking for jobs at home in Orlando, not really giving much thought to staying in Miami. In fact, my first thought was that I would move back to Orlando. I started rallying the troops; telling my friends at home that I would be making an appearance back in the hometown... started setting up welcome back/birthday parties and all. (I unfortunately inherited the penchant for speaking too soon from my father.) As fate would have it, though, there were no jobs popping for me at home. Called my old boss, he couldn't really offer me any concrete answers; sent off resumes and cover letters, and wasn't hearing anything back from anyone. Time was drawing closer to my City Year term being over, and I was beginning to get antsy. I needed to find a job, but Orlando wasn't biting. It was suggested to me that I should look here in Miami. I had completely overlooked Miami, even though I was living in Miami. My mind was so set on getting out, that I didn't even consider Miami to be a resource.

As I thought about it, I thought about the group of friends I'd made. Started thinking about the fun times we'd all shared. Stood on my balcony and looked at that view and pondered deep. Maybe, just maybe, it wasn't time for me to leave Miami yet.

That April, after having a like/hate relationship (mostly hate) with Gainesville for so long, I finally settled... and right when it was time for me to leave, I got the feeling that I have now: awww man, everything's finally fallen into place. That sensation is exactly what tells me it's time to go. ("April 2008 to 2009 to 2010"; Wednesday, April 21, 2010)

Something clicked inside my brain one day when I was at work (better late than never, I suppose). As the quote above states, when I lived in Gainesville, and found myself finally comfortable, it was time to leave. Though I was never uncomfortable at home, once I found my little groove in Orlando, it was time for me to leave. And here I was, with my little Miami groove, and I was preparing to leave it also. My sister said to me once, when I was talking to her about wanting to maybe move to New York because I just wanted and needed something different, "Well, what if you don't like it there either?" I have had a habit of living places, not liking them, and then moving to something else, only to find myself repeating the same type of behavior. At some point, I finally came to the realization that it had much less to do with the places than it had to do with me. This had a lot to do with why I decided to try to stay in Miami. I decided that at some point (no time like the present), I was going to have to stick with a place, and let it grow on me. Stop being so stubborn and try to accept someplace that isn't home. If I keep jumping from place to place, year to year, I'm never going to form any type of relationship with anywhere.

And go figure, as I had this realization and sent my resume to my boss for an open AmeriCorps position, I received a phone call the same day from the employer, and essentially got the job before interviewing and before meeting him in person. Man, when something is meant for you, it's meant for you. So, Miami and I will have another year to grow on each other.


Even now, I feel like I never get any reciprocity. Never. No one is ever on the same page with me, no one can ever emote as deeply as I can, no one feels and I mean really feels the way I do. I feel like whether I play the games or don't play the games, I still end up with the same result (nothing). Sometimes I wonder who I have to be in order to get what I want, but I don't feel like I have the energy. ("Jazz in the Gardens, feelings, and Lauryn Hill"; Sunday, March 20, 2011)

I want to love someone past the boundaries that even I'm comfortable with, and have them love me in return, and I want us to be happy. I don't want everything to be perfect. I don't want either one of us to be mental vegetables. I don't want us to have sex because we feel like that's what we're supposed to do. I want us to like each other quite a bit and be able to recognize it. I don't want us to be perfect, and I want us to love one another for our innate imperfection. I don't want any more fucking fool's gold. I want the real thing. ("'for me it ain't real... it's fool's gold...'"; Wednesday, March 9, 2011)

Maybe, quite frankly, I have deluded myself into believing that someone should, and will accept me for exactly who I am. Thus, since I believe in this delusion, I refuse to change myself... I am now genuinely considering whether or not this idea that it will all work out simply because someone will be marvelous enough to accept me as I am is, indeed, a delusion. Even if it is a delusion, it's one I believe in. Yes, I believe and hope within my heart that someone will come along and accept me as I am. Why? Because I believe I deserve it. ("I love me more than the thought of you"; Saturday, May 14, 2011)

Okay. Let's travel back a bit. That was a lot to digest. Essentially, before late May/June, this is where I was, with regards to relationships. I found that no one was on the same page as me, I was still only meeting dudes good enough for a fuck or two, I still could only trust and believe in men as far as I could throw them, my ex was still behaving like a piece of shit (I wonder why I imagined he would change), and I still wanted a relationship, though I wasn't sure how much I really trusted the idea. I started to wonder whether maybe I was deluding myself into believing that someone would come along and take me as I was. Well, it's funny how things work sometimes, because I met someone. Someone who accepts me exactly as I am. Someone who looks out for me. Someone who genuinely loves me--not just the pussy, not just the head, not just the way my ass looks in a pair of jeans. He doesn't love the idea of me, rather, the reality of me, the totality of me. He's a friend who's not afraid to check me when I've overstepped my boundaries. When I've gotten so inside my feelings I've checked out. He's a homie who's my road dawg. He's a lover who listens. He holds my hand, he holds my body, he holds my heart. He is that person who does more than tell me where my worth should be, he shows me where my worth is.

Funny, he was under my nose for a minute, and I never realized it. Never gave it a second thought, honestly, because as usual, I spent all my time focusing on the dudes that didn't give two shits about me. Trying to make this dude want to fuck with me. Trying to make my ex pay more attention to me. The usual mistakes that people make when they just need someone to care.

As I said in a previous post, I have become the person I used to stare at and envy. The person walking around holding hands and kissing their significant other. The person looking happy. My mother always told me to never look at others and judge because, being on the outside looking in, you don't know the reality of their situation, but I knew that those people I used to envy looked happy, and I wanted that. And I got it. And I'm blessed. Not boastful, not taking a second of anything for granted. Simply blessed, and happy beyond anything I have ever known. I am grateful. Grateful for fate working against my desires, because if I'd had it my way, I would have never known him, and probably would still be on the other side of my Facebook page, pining after an ex that does not care about me, nor for me.

That, is what has been going on with me lately. Traveling all over the place, in love, helping my sister with her transition to college, hanging out, enjoying myself, oh, and I picked up some thickness too... time to find another gym.

Oh, and I got rid of my cat. There are people out there who are better suited to be pet owners, so I made their dreams come true. I love a clean room more than her. I'm honest.

Oh, and it's time for me to move to a different apartment. My first year in Miami went by faster than I expected it to, even though I knew a year would fly by. A year is not a long period of time by any means, but so many things can happen in that short amount of time. I gained so much. So many lessons, so many great additions to my life.

I am blessed. Thankful beyond words.

I am at peace.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

old thoughts meet new life

I know. I haven't written in a while. Forever, it seems. Life has been moving faster than I can keep up with. As usual, I'm still here. You know I start to falter in the summer anyway. (Doesn't this happen every year?)

I found this note on my phone yesterday, a couple months shy of a year after I wrote it. I'm pretty sure I was sitting observing this couple, feeling wistful, feeling on the outside looking in at something I wouldn't quite be able to capture myself. Well, almost a year later, I can safely say I'm no longer on the outside looking in.
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Thursday, Sep 9, 8:21 pm

The most beautifully simple thing: sitting in a small sushi joint w/red round lanterns for lights, an older guy and slightly younger female are at the table diagonal from ours , and they are sitting almost nose to nose, and he is running his hands through the hair behind her ears. She smiles at him tenderly as he continues to rub the hair at her face's sides, placing it behind her ears over and over again. Trapped inside their own private galaxy, I imagine their hearts are smiling at one another, connected in a way I hope lasts for them, forever.
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I will never again underestimate the power of being trapped inside of a private galaxy with another human being. I used to observe people trapped inside their own moments with one another, and my inside parts longed for that feeling, while my outside parts met those hand holding, kissy face making, all in love and shit folks with silent vitriol. 

I have become one of those hand holding, kissy face making, all in love and shit folks. And I couldn't be happier.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

"If I don't, have you..." (what does that mean for me?)

Share my life, take me for what I am
'cause I'll never change all my colors for you
Take my love, I'll never ask for too much
just all that you are, and everything that you do
Whitney Houston, "I Have Nothing"

I was going about my evening doing the usual: procrastinating on this cover letter I've been writing for approximately eight days, listening to Pandora, and refreshing my Facebook page thinking, when my need-to-write desires linked hands with some able-to-be-articulated thoughts, and here we are right now, in the low-light, together, at last.

Since the lights are already low, let's not beat around the bush: I love singing. If you believe in past lives (I'm pretty sure I do), in my past life, I was a nightclub singer. Slinky blue dress with sequins, lying on top of a piano in a smoky room, one white light focused on me, singing my heart out to men who are infatuated with the way my voice makes them feel, but don't actually love me.* (Yes, even in my past life, I'm pretty sure that love was a torment to me.) That was me. So, whenever I get the chance to sing along to a song, particularly a ballad, I do. Pandora helps me out with this often, and the ballad that was given to me this evening was Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing" from The Bodyguard soundtrack.

Now, I was some type of child when this movie came out, but I vaguely remember it. Creamy looking black woman (Houston) and white man who is presumably her bodyguard, hence the title of the whole damn movie. (Costner.) I remember them being someplace where it snowed, and him picking her up and carrying her. (Or maybe it was a child who almost drowned? Shit, I don't know.) I also seem to remember that they aren't together at the end of the movie, on some Casablanca ish. (Go figure.) Anyhow, that's what I remember. That aside, I've always loved this song, and so my Pandora listening wouldn't be complete unless I sang along with Whitney as she belted out her frustration and pain. Being that you can't sing a ballad without enunciating and articulating, and henceforth knowing all the words, I made sure to pull up the lyrics so I could be on point with my singing.

While singing the very first stanza, I realized that I must have never known what the hell Whitney was saying. The first stanza of this song articulates something I acknowledged in a former post, and something I was ruminating on tonight via Twitter. I am starting to accept the fact that my fierce loyalty to my ways of thinking and my ideals may leave me perpetually without lifetime partner.** Just like how I talked about deluding myself into believing that someone will accept me just the way I am, I suppose I also have to accept the flip-side of the possible delusion, that being that no one will be able to deal with me as I am.

In the first stanza of "I Have Nothing," Whitney pretty much shuts everything down and gives whomever she's talking to the reality of her emotions: she tells the object of her affections to take her as she is, and to be a part of her life, but she's not changing any-damn-thing about herself for this man. She's offering her love, not necessarily as an option--she doesn't say take it if you want to, she says take. She tries to offer the reassurance that she won't ask this man for too much of himself, until she tells him in the very next breath that she needs everything that he is, and everything that he does.

This is my favorite part of the entire song. The rest of the song is still beautiful and melodic, but these words resonate most with me, and they are the strongest, and thus, my favorite. It's very cliche to tell someone you can't live without them, or that you have nothing without them--I'm sure at some point in your life, you've either felt this way, or told someone you felt this way. But to tell someone that in exchange for accepting the love you're giving them, they will be receiving someone not willing to change anything about themselves, and someone who expects damn near the world from them? Well, that's some type of resolve. Such that may very well find someone perpetually without partner, as it seems was the fate of Whitney by the end of her ballad.

Never changing my colors for someone is an ideal I find to be very powerful, especially after what feels like a small lifetime of having been a chameleon for the sake of acceptance, but I think it's the smartest route to accept the possibility that maybe my desire to not change my colors will ironically leave me with no reason to change my colors at all.


*--Who, do you love?/Girl I see through, through your love/who, do you love/me, or the thought of me?/Me or the thought of me? --John Mayer, "I Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You)"
**--before you say shit, stop: I don't care that I'm not that old yet, I don't care that you may feel that I have plenty of time, I don't care about any of the cliche shit that people like to say to you to try and talk you off the ledge of your emotions. Yes, I'm 23, and yes, I'm talking about love and relationships again. /rant. I am taking control over my own self-awareness and realizing some ugly truths that I would never have been comfortable acknowledging a couple of years back. Though I can acknowledge the fact that my loyalty to my ideals might not ever sit well with someone for long enough for us to have a legitimate future together, it doesn't mean that I'm wholly a fan of it.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

fascination

I can't help but think of how he touches me
as I sit in low light
trying to erase the thought
of the touch of his words,
snaking around my earlobe
slinking down my shoulder
creeping across the rise in my chest
trailing down the ring in my bellybutton
it pauses...
my passion rises
to meet
the thought
of your tongue
behind my kneecap

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

seis

Spinning, laughing, dancin' to her favorite song
a little girl, with nothing wrong
is all alone

eyes wide open, always hopin'
for the sun
and she'll sing her song, to anyone
that comes along

Fragile as a leaf in autumn
just fallin' to the ground
without a sound...

Crooked little smile, on her face
tells a tale of grace
that's all her own

Spinning, laughing, dancin' to her favorite song
Well she's a little girl, with nothing wrong
and she's all alone
a little girl, with nothing wrong
and she's all alone
(Seven Years--Norah Jones)

Six--not quite seven--years ago today, I was walking around the park with my family, my graduation cap and cords still on, proudly beaming to the passers-by who congratulated me for my accomplishment.

Six years in the past, I graduated from high school. I thought about it this morning when I was at work, and I said it out loud, as though to make it real. Six years. Where has that time flown to? Where is it now hiding?

It seems like five minutes ago that I was in high school, suffering through many of the typical trappings of adolescence--crushes, friendships gone awry, pimples--and some of the not-so-typical kind as well. And yet, here I am, an adult (I suppose). When you speak the ages (18 through 23, almost 24), it certainly doesn't seem like that much. But when I think of all of the things that have happened, and how different I am from that girl then, I am almost astounded.

Kind of wish I could go back in time and meet that girl, and tell her about the fantastic young lady she'd become.

Eh, no need. I'm pretty sure she figured it out.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I love me more than the thought of you

In examining this process, I understand more and more where I fail in the romantic game. I’m just not very good. Even worse is that I know how to be better but I just refuse to do what it takes because I’ve deluded myself into believing that a woman I am trying to convince as to my “wonderfulness” should accept me for who I am.

(Read more about Falling in Love, What is Love/Relationships on Naked With Socks On)

If you have never visited Naked With Socks On, go ahead and make your way over there. And then read the post from Rastaman. (From which the marvelous quote above can be attributed.) And then come back here. And then read my thoughts.

As a formerly diehard romantic, when I first fell in love with the ex, I truly thought he was "the one." I thought he was the one, and I half-way hoped, half-way expected we'd end up on a porch fifty years from then, sipping lemonade hand in hand as we told the story of how we met to our grandkids. Yeah. And when we began erasing our ties, it was simply a case of the right people at the wrong time.* But leave it to me, and I would have told you that life had ended, I would never love again, and that he was "the one" that got away. In fact, for quite some time afterwards, part of me struggled with the legitimate pondering of whether my chance at true love was indeed over. Sure, I felt he was the one, but the rational part of me, however small it was, was persistent in insisting that I couldn't have possibly exhausted my shot at love, all by the age of eighteen. I was too young, too naive, too dumb for that to have been my only chance.

I allowed my hurt time to exist and manifest (that's another story for another day), and came to realize that it was relatively improbable that there was only one person in the world who was meant for me. I do believe that there is a small number of people with whom I'll get along with well enough for it to turn into something greater, like a marriage. But even though I've grown older, as has my viewpoint, there is something that has not seemed to change about this entire equation: my relationship discombobulation.

For a long time (i.e. forever), I have stood by the fact that relationships and I simply don't agree with one another. I want companionship, it wants sex. I want sex, it wants friendship. I want forever, it wants tonight. I want tonight, and it wants never. Poetics aside, I usually always attest to the fact that relationships and I are always on two different pages. It's part of my acerbic humor, it is. How better to cope with something you see as a personal fault, than to joke about it often?

Lately, I've been wondering what part I've played in my perpetual disagreement with relationships. I used to say it was all its fault, but it would be remiss of me to not examine my role in all of this. Being as how I've done a lot work to reach a new level of self-awareness, I know that the problem isn't me being unaware of some ungodly trait or behavior. No, that's not quite it at all. It's the exact sentiment behind the quote at the top of my post.

Finally, I have reached a place where I have accepted damn near all of me. (And happen to like me, too.) The social smoking part, the entire bottle of wine consumption part, the irritability, the enormous heart, the worrying, the no-five-year-plan having, the I-feel-some-type-of-way-about-cooking-for-you, grudge-holding, fiercely loyal and loving part. There are a few things I know would probably benefit me and my relationship with relationships if I tweaked them. Sometimes I tell myself that I will tweak and change these things. But at the end of the day, I know I could change them if I really wanted to, but I don't. Because I love the traits and my embracing of them more than I love the idea of being up on the good foot with relationships. Maybe, quite frankly, I have deluded myself into believing that someone should, and will accept me for exactly who I am. Thus, since I believe in this delusion, I refuse to change myself.

After reading Rastaman's post, I am now genuinely considering whether or not this idea that it will all work out simply because someone will be marvelous enough to accept me as I am is, indeed, a delusion. Even if it is a delusion, it's one I believe in. Yes, I believe and hope within my heart that someone will come along and accept me as I am. Why? Because I believe I deserve it.

So, at least, if relationships and I aren't existing on the same page, I can't say I don't have an idea as to why.


*--he himself said this to me, in a conversation that has now been blurred by my own replaying of my memories. I'm not sure whether he said this to me when I was walking to the bookstore, but that memory is so strong in me that I'll believe that's when he said it. I believe we were on the phone, because I'm pretty sure I would have remembered walking with him. Regardless of how it played out, I remember it being a cloudy day in Gainesville, and I remember that classic line being dropped upon my consciousness. Now, I wonder if he was spitting game. Of course, my first instinct is to say no, but it would have been so easy to run it, that I can't be for sure that he wasn't, though my heart is inclined to say that wasn't a possibility. Life later taught me that anything, especially that which shouldn't be, is possible.

Monday, May 9, 2011

that moment when you realize it wasn't love, though...

I can't tell you when it happened, so I won't lie and tell you I know when. But I do know that when I laid down with you, my mind got up with him.

7:05 pm, summer

7:05 in a Florida summer's evening means that the breeze is warm and blowing relaxed through the trees, rustling the leaves to my pleasure. 7:05 means the sun is starting to lounge in the sky, illuminating my walls with orange sunray, broken into lines by my blinds. 7:05 is after-dinner conversation and Jeopardy; suds sloshing in the sink while I lean over dinner dishes. 7:05 is that first post-work margarita.

7:05 is the quiet storm; slow R&B making love to my ears; slowly sneaking up my earlobe. 7:05 is Florida brilliance, a first and last date in the park, resisting an inevitable end. 7:05 is the day's transition.

7:05 is memory. Past, present, future.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"Because it's the right thing to do..."

Excuse my french, emotion and my passion/
but I wear my heart on my sleeve like it's the new fashion
-Lil' Wayne, "Dontgetit"

I'm going to speak right off the top of my heart tonight, so I apologize in advance. I'm not quite sure what the fuck I'm apologizing for, but for some reason, it feels like the right thing to do.

And that's precisely what I want to talk to you about. The "right" thing to do. All day long, all life long, we are conflicted. We're always trying to make sure that we're doing the "right" thing. (Well, some of us, I suppose.) But, "right" is just as subjective as "wrong." Think about it: what can we actually say is the "right" thing to do? We can't necessarily use the Bible--it's not the only holy book around, and Christianity is not the only religion, thus, what's right by Biblical standards will not ring true for everyone. Also, there are things that are supposedly* considered wrong in the Bible that I personally do not think are wrong. (i.e. homosexuality and premartial sex.) Okay, so what's next? Utilizing the law to determine what's "right?" Okay, well we do utilize the law, but laws are made by man, and man is a subjective creature. Remember, slavery used to be considered A-okay by law.

You glimpse my point, right? That "right" is technically subjective. What may be right for you, may not be right for me, may be right for the next person. And I say all that to say: how in the hell do we know what's right? Because it feels right? Well, if we go on the basis of this just feels right, how do we know it actually does? What if it feels right because we've been groomed by former conditioning of what "rightness" is supposed to be?

So, I wrote a couple of posts before this one that touched on issues essentially of nature versus nurture/"rightness": "Think as a lady, and be one, too" and "head game", specifically. In both of these posts, I attacked some very current threads in my life: the idea of programmed womanhood (how much is a result of our wiring and how much is a result of what we're told to be like), and consequently, the idea of what is considered "right" for a woman.

The reason I bring up this entire argument of what's right, and how you determine whether it is indeed, "right," is because this evening I was in conversation with my best sexy guy friend (we will start referring to him as BSGF) when I encountered an epiphany. As I was explaining to him my plans for a specific situation, I realized that my plans had no rationale. I planned on doing something I didn't want to do simply because I thought it was the right thing to do. It felt like the right thing to do. But truth be told... it isn't "right." Not to me, at least. It's not what I want to do, at all, so how could it be "right"? That being said, who is it right to?

So often, I explained to BSGF, I feel like women consistently make moves and try to prove points that often are illogical... but why? Because we feel like it's the right thing to do. Again, but why? Take for instance, what could be any girl's situation. You have sex with a guy once. You like the dude/think he's cool/whatever, and you don't want him to think you're "like that," so next time you want to have sexhang out, even though deep inside yourself (no pun) you enjoyed the last time you hung with him, you try to make him jump through some type of hoop. (Like going out for dinner, or coming over at this particular time, or having that "I don't want you to think I'm a ho" conversation.) But why? You've already had sex... the deed has been done, so what point is trying to be proven? That if you have sex with him after a date you're not a ho as opposed to having sex with him when there's no date at all? (Illogical.) And better still, whom is the point being proven to? Yourself? Because I can bet, it ain't that guy.

I'm not sure why, as a woman, I feel the tendency to prove a point (clearly, to myself and no one else, because it's not proving shit to a dude since it barely proves anything to me) that is unnecessary. Is it my wiring in the sense of my innate nature, or my wiring in the sense of the fodder I've been fed from my surroundings on how to be a woman? Is it both? Essentially, I am acting under conditions of "right" that I didn't set. There have been many times when I have done or not done things because they were the "right" things to do, when they honestly didn't feel right, and weren't necessarily things I wanted to do. But early in life (as women), I feel like we're also taught that active self-denial of our own pleasure is just part and parcel of womanhood. It fits, right? Bear the brunt of humanity, deny yourself pleasure and desire in the name of what's "right."



*-I say "supposedly" because unless I'm going to quote directly from the Bible, I don't feel comfortable giving an affirmative with no fact. You're always suppose to quote your source, and since I'm not taking the time to do that, we'll stick with "supposedly."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Why Black men and not Black women?

I have a question for whomever wants to answer it: why do Black women hold Black men to impossible standards? In this case, I mean one standard in particular: interracial relations.

Now, let me first clarify by saying that I technically can only speak on behalf of myself, since I'm very well aware of the fact that there are plenty of Black women who may disagree with me. But, in that speaking on behalf of myself, I'm going to speak on behalf of something I have noticed.

It's no secret that I love men. I have realized this year that I have an affinity for men that far surpasses what I originally imagined. I love damn near everything about men: the way they smell (when they smell good), the way their bodies are shaped, their ruggedness, the simplicity of them (sometimes)... shit, I love them. I love men so much that I pray in the future that I have a son or two so I can have a hand in the raising of a man. (Not to have my sex be outdone, however, I also want to have daughters. I hope to have twins first, because I can't imagine choosing either a boy or a girl to be the oldest of my family; hence, both of them could share the responsibility.)

That being said, I also have a very special place in my heart for Black men. (And by "Black" here I mean African-American. They are not one in the same, so I wanted to clarify.) I love to see them do well. I want to see them do better. I have tried to guide some of the young Black men I've come across, and Lord knows I've loved me a couple of Black men. My father is a Black man and without him, there'd be no me.

But... that all being said about my special place for Black men, there's another special place in my heart reserved for another kind of man. In fact, this place isn't even reserved solely in my heart, but it's more like in that fleshy, soft, tender skin behind my kneecap. A weakness, you could say. An intense infatuation. I've got a thing for Hispanic men.

As a child, I can remember having a fascination for two cultures: my own, and that of Hispanic culture. At the time, the most exposure that I had was Ricky Ricardo on "I Love Lucy" but it was still exposure, and I was still transfixed. I can remember enjoying when he would break into Spanish at the drop of a hat and then go back to speaking English. I loved the music. The drums. The costumes. The mythical place he spoke of called Cuba.

As I grew older, I found myself infatuated with other cultures as well (I've got me a thing for the cultures of the Romance languages), but the base of my childhood interest was in my own far-reaching roots, and, not long after, that of Hispanic roots as well. My first love being Dominican clearly cemented such interest.

Now, I said all that to say this: anyone who knows me, or has even had a bit of passing interaction with me, is probably aware of my weak-behind-the-knees-ness for Hispanic men. Although I've been the butt of many harmless jokes because of it (from my best friend telling me, "U can't deal w/ a real, african-american in touch w/ his culture to save your life!" and my father spending a season telling people he worked with that I fancied Puerto Ricans [though he clearly got the country wrong]), I have never been met with any real problems because of it. No one has stared at me sideways, my family hasn't been up-in-arms about it, and no one has questioned my "Blackness" because of it. I've even been met with approval from girlfriends, one of whom expressed her "being done" with Black men, and that she herself was going to date white men. (Though I won't elaborate now, I will say that her comment made me feel some kind of way. It's an interesting dynamic to look at, considering the questions that will follow this sentence.)

That all established, if I was a Black man, would I have that privilege? The same best friend who made the joke about me not getting up with an AA man to save my life, is the same best friend (who is a strikingly intelligent young AA male) who was joking with me one day about being infatuated with a white girl, and though I legitimately consider myself as someone who doesn't care who someone dates, I will be 100 and admit that it bothered me.

The thought of my strikingly intelligent, ridiculously handsome, young, promising, Black male friend getting up with a white girl bothered me. I even asked him if she was blond. God forbid if she was blond. Is it right to feel this way? (No.) Why do I feel this way? (That's up for debate.) Why is it that I could feel uncomfortable with my friend even joking about being infatuated with a white girl, but I don't consider it a problem--and no one else seems to, either--to be infatuated with, lust after, and even fall in love with Hispanic men? Why is it that I can think of wanting to have brown-skinned babies who speak English from their mom, and Spanish from their dad without feeling any trace of awkward obligation toward Black men, but I know if the tables were turned and my friend expressed this same desire with a white female, I'd feel some kind of way about it?

Is it simply that it's okay for me, as a Black woman, to want to venture out of my own box, but I want to keep Black men firmly in that box, vowing to be attracted only to women who resemble me? Is it because "exotic" women are trendy and I'm not exotic? Is it the need for me to be in control that causes this need for me to be able to walk away but not be walked away from? What causes it to become such a personal issue?

Why does it seem that Black men are vilified when they violate the sometimes-feels-damn-near-seems-moral obligation to pick Black women, but Black women are not?*


*--So, say ye, you don't practice this, right? Okay. Let's see. Say we have Sanaa Lathan and Taye Diggs, two should-be-well-enough-known-I'm-sure-you've-seen-them-before-in-some-damn-movie Black actors. (They are the first two that popped in my head.) So, take Sanaa's role in Something New, the movie that deals with a lot of what we're talking about. (She falls for a white male.) Now, the vibe of that movie is all like "you go, girl, you try something new and get you that white man who treats you right and is not looking at color." Great, right? Still supports your idea that this doesn't affect you, right? Alright. Let's switch Sanaa for Taye, and Simon Baker for some blond actress. Now, you tell me just how many of you and your friends would pay money to go watch a movie about Taye Diggs getting caught up with some blond girl. I can tell you right now, I'd probably catch it on DVD. Now, if this paragraph did nothing to you or for you, then I am clapping my hands for you. But I know there are people who would read this here paragraph, and have the same resistance inside your spirit that I felt writing it. I understand the resistance is incorrect; my desire is to understand what the cause of the resistance is. Because it's there. Oh yes, it's there for real.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"I'm living for the memories of right now..."

Thank goodness for Twitter. It gave me an idea.

So, my time in Miami is growing ever shorter. This realization is leading to me getting all reminiscent and introspective and shit. I've been writing and tweeting all about how it's funny that we are constantly in the process of making memories we will long for later. It's something we don't think about in the moment, but it's absolutely true: at some point, every memory you have was something occuring in the present tense.

Anyhow, so I was sitting here, looking for an entry to re-post because I didn't like what I was originally going to post and because I couldn't at the time generate any critical thought when the waves of nostalgia and introspection came up behind me real slow like that dude at the end of Scarface when Tony Montana is flailing around all high and crazy and shit. (Okay, well that dude was walking for like a million frames. Maybe the waves came up on me a wee bit faster than that.)

I started thinking about a couple of the guys I know and how much I like them as people. Multi-faceted and deeply intriguing. The type of people I find sexier than a motherfucker. (Cue Prince.) Well, that thought led me to many other offshoots of thought: how they are the type of people I hope to always have around, how I wish I could take many of their characteristics and form one guy from them, how they make me damned happy to be single (how could one want to be booed up when there are multiple boos floating out there to be discovered?), but most of all, how this is a change of pace for me. Before, I frequently met people I hoped I would never encounter again in life. Now, I seem to meet people I hope stick around forever.

(I've still got my fingers crossed that some of the people in my past life will forget about me, change their names, and move to a remote island off the coast of Nowheresland, never to be seen again, but I know life doesn't work that way.)

Anyway, this sparked a thought in me. (As everything does.) Previously, I do believe I spoke on how you attract what you put out into the universe. I really didn't know exactly what this meant, because I'm not sure I was fully aware of what I was putting into the universe, or that how I was feeling actually created a vibration that the universe picked up on. But there clearly must be a difference in the vibes of then and the vibes of now, because the type of crowd you roll with tends to reflect who you are. Thus, the type of crowd you attract tends to reflect what you emit into the universe.

I can tell you now what I was putting into the universe: a bunch of really sad, insecure vibes. And I can tell you exactly whom I attracted: men who were nice and for the most part, decent people, but who were just as, if not more insecure than I was. Men who were interested in saving someone. Isn't it funny how people who can't deal with themselves are always trying to deal with others? It usually doesn't work very well.

I know for a fact that even though I have my many moments when I'm in some kind of emotional funk, I'm not that same person who was consistently sad; I'm not that same person who felt surrounded at times by people she didn't want to be. And the people that are attracted to me now are a reflection of that shift within myself. I'm confident. A hell of a lot more secure in myself than I ever was before. (Though I've still got a ways to go.) No longer the first person to put my own abilities down, but the first to correct your ass if you decide to put them down. Sexy. Wanting. Hungry. Challenging the mental status quo. I feel surrounded by people I genuinely want to be around. I know men who are sexier than I've ever seen. People who are more multi-faceted than I had grown accustomed to. People who challenge me. Men who don't have to save me, because I'm no longer looking for Superman to swoop in and save the day.

The type of people I hope I have around forever.

If you're not already aware, please monitor what you're emitting into the universe. You attract what you reflect. Don't believe me? You should.

I know these things.

Unless otherwise indicated, all words here are property of Miss Malorie

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