Friday, June 27, 2008
"Girl, it's 9 o'clock. Wake up. La."
It's always kinda strange when my mother addresses me because she sounds just like me except where years of corporate life has sharpened her diction, I still often sound like I went to school on the south side of Atlanta. Half asleep and confused, I remind myself where I am, what I'm doing, that it is not me talking to me and telling me that it is 9am and thusly somehow implying that I shouldn't be balled up under the covers and grumbling like an angry kitten.
I sit up straight in the lumpy bed, my eyes sweeping over the space, stopping only momentarily to observe the crevices of the room that Katrina still lives in; the warped bottom inches of the door, the faded colors of the carpet, the slight ceding of the baseboard from its union with the wall. I open the heavy drapes on the eight foot windows in the room and look out at the street car tracks as it cuts through Lafayette Square. It's beautiful out.
"We need to hurry. I don't want to miss the viewing."
It's always increasingly humorous to me that my mother expects her urgency to become my emergency. I recall that she was asleep right along with me. She even heard the alarm that I missed. And truth be told, I would rather miss the viewing. I don't want to see anything but the old columns of the buildings leading into the Arts District.
I get up, moseying, putting on my clothes in layers, like armor, debating the merits of a pantsuit versus what is usually my grown and sexy happy hour little black dress, appropriately dressed down with a tank underneath. The dress eventually wins out as summer in the south, New Orleans especially, ain't no joke.
In the bathroom I notice the rounds of my eyes look sunken into my face and dark against my light skin. Part of me wants to put on makeup but I'm pretty sure it will be an exercise in futility given our plans for the day. I instead concentrate on my hair, fashioning its length into soft and full curls that fall well below my collar bone. I take my time with each curl, concentrating hard, paying attention to the shape and smoothness and position of each, wasting time really. To the untrained eye it probably looks like I'm styling my hair but to me, because I know me, I recognize that I am merely raking my fingernails across my scalp, forehead to nape, as I am prone to do when I am thinking. Or tired. And Lord knows I am so tired.
Despite it being 2008, driving down the streets of New Orleans is much like driving down the streets of your favorite country town in the south, certainly not a vestige of American backwoods life pre-Civil Rights, but definitely not a glittering metropolis. There are no towering glass condos going up or immaculately pedicured lawns. No abundance of sprawling houses or even fast food places. No one wants McDonald's when you can get a crawfish po'boy next door. The streets are raised and cracked from the heat and the water. The houses are still the same shotgun style boxes that I imagine they were when afros were in and the Black Panther was king. New Orleans is the city that still looks like a small town, like Gretna, Virginia, like Americus, Georgia, like Clinton, Mississippi.
If any of those had been hit by a category 5 hurricane in the last few years that is.
On the way to Saint James Major, I watch the juxtaposition of life and death through the car windows. We pass the po'boy place on the corner of Gentilly where we once got hot sausage po'boys and plotted on a high ball at the juke joint further in 7th ward. That building stands across from a duplex, formidable black Xs painted on the front porch declaring 7 found dead inside on one side, 3 on the other, and 2 pets. Through every street named after a flower (Jonquil, Gladiolus) New Orleans stands as a physical manifestation of what we all should know and respect; life and death teeter in a precarious balance around us every day.
Inside the cathedral, we greet our family, exchanging hugs and smiles and small talk dutifully, the chords of our laughter just barely strained out of tune under the weight of the forced pleasantries. To the layman, these melodies are as they should be, but to the trained musician of emotional distress, the orchestration is all minor chords and flats.
At the realization that she has not in fact missed the mandated viewing time, my mother walks towards the ornate altar all purposeful and swollen, the way I imagine she walks into a meeting full of men who aim to make her feel unimportant. I take that opportunity to escape into the bathroom, barely larger than that of an airplane, and squat on the toilet, not having to go but needing release. For a second my surroundings take me back over my history and I am young again and in the bathroom of a neighborhood church in Clarkston, Georgia, hiding from my stepfather and fumbling through the index of my well-worn Bible and trying to find any and every scripture pertaining to divorce. But the moment is fleeting. I remind myself that I am an adult, that I should be able to conduct myself as such. And if all else fails, I know that staying in the bathroom all day won't tip the delicate universal balance of this life and the next in any particular direction or the other.
Though I haven't stepped foot in mass in many moons (my own liberal views on abortion, gay rights, women's equalities, and just about everything else long conflicting with the strict practices soliloquized to me amongst the Seven Sacraments and scripture), the habitual nature of Catholicism comes back to me without even concentrating to recall it; the genuflecting at the pew, the responses when called, the prayers I haven't uttered since I kneeled in a confessional booth in a cathedral in New York, rosary gripped tightly in my palms leaving marks oddly like stigmata, as a priest told me to pray for forgiveness for the things that I'd done. I am physically present there in the pew, but in my mind I am in Scottdale, right outside Atlanta, a few years ago burying my grandmother. I am in religion class, raising my hand and asking the teacher if being gay is wrong, why did God create gay people? and quietly being ushered to confession. I am ten and singing in the choir, oblivious to the song's message, but thoroughly enjoying the power that comes from being the center of attention. I am eight and crying in a bathroom at school because a boy in my social studies class told me my parents were going to burn in hell because they were divorced. I am sixteen and apathetic, lazily scribbling the notes I am forced to take on the sermon being screamed at me from the pulpit, counting the seconds until I am free to go home and finish reading the book on Buddhism hidden between my mattress. I am nine and practicing Hail Marys and Our Fathers until I get the exact words and intonation that is expected of me correct. I am twelve and I am Esther for Halloween at our church's watch night service. I am fourteen and noticing the stares of the congregation that know the minister of music has slept with and knocked up some chick from his job. I am walking down the aisle staring them back, knowing that the minister of music is also my stepfather.
I walk my entire religious journey until there I am, the me I am in the present, tears streaming down my face as the last rites reverberate through the vaulted ceilings. I can't discern if I am crying because of the finality of this moment, because of what is yet to become, because of all the memories I have just relived, or because I recognize that I, as I am today, am not who I wish to be when my last rites are promulgated.
A little while later, I watch the heat rise from the cement as I make my way through a cemetery cluttered with weeping willows and stone. It's mere minutes after noon, and there is sweat pooling in the curves of my back. I stay as far back from the lid of the shiny mahogany coffin as I can, the sun beating at my back, blind to what lies ahead of me. I can't understand a word the priest is saying, he's too far away, but the prayers are like a lover I haven't seen in a while but still remember how they felt inside me. After a few more muffled words, the family pulls the purple ribbon on a wicker basket, releasing a gaggle of white doves that immediately wing towards the southern sun. For a moment, I imagine myself a believer, and try and take comfort in the fact that they can safely usher the spirit past purgatory, directly onto the side of the equipoise of life and death where it is to exist from this moment on.
May peace be with you.
And also, with you.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
The Truth About Barack Obama
The Barack Obama presidential campaign introduced a new site last week, FightTheSmears.com, that it hopes will debunk persistent myths about the senator: that he's a Muslim, that he won't say the Pledge of Allegiance, etc. As we have argued before, restating the myths often reinforces them, no matter how persuasively they've been refuted.
Rather than restate untruths about Obama, the campaign would do better to start some rumors of its own. Here's a template e-mail the Obama campaign might consider disseminating.
Subject: WHO IS BARACK OBAMA?
There are many things people do not know about BARACK OBAMA. It is every
American's duty to read this message and pass it along to all of their friends
and loved ones.
Barack Obama wears a FLAG PIN at all times. Even in the shower.
Barack Obama says the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE every time he sees an American flag. He also ends every sentence by saying, "WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL." Click here for video of Obama quietly mouthing the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE in his sleep.
A tape exists of Michelle Obama saying the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE at a conference on PATRIOTISM.
Every weekend, Barack and Michelle take their daughters HUNTING.
Barack Obama is a PATRIOTIC AMERICAN. He has one HAND over his HEART at all times. He occasionally switches when one arm gets tired, which is almost never
because he is STRONG.
Barack Obama has the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE tattooed on his stomach. It's upside-down, so he can read it while doing sit-ups.
There's only one artist on Barack Obama's iPod: FRANCIS SCOTT KEY.
Barack Obama is a DEVOUT CHRISTIAN. His favorite book is the BIBLE, which he has memorized. His name means HE WHO LOVES JESUS in the ancient language of Aramaic. He is PROUD that Jesus was an American.
Barack Obama goes to church every morning. He goes to church every afternoon. He goes to church every evening. He is IN CHURCH RIGHT NOW.
Barack Obama's new airplane includes a conference room, a kitchen, and a MEGACHURCH.
Barack Obama's skin is the color of AMERICAN SOIL.
Barack Obama buys AMERICAN STUFF. He owns a FORD, a BASEBALL TEAM, and a COMPUTER HE BUILT HIMSELF FROM AMERICAN PARTS. He travels mostly by FORKLIFT.
Barack Obama says that Americans cling to GUNS and RELIGION because they are AWESOME.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
I am so ashamed of the things I have thought of doing to this married man.
**leaving for confession**
Friday, June 13, 2008
We stay allllllll up in and through each other's shit right? We discuss everything from down low brothers to dick size to Dior to diaphragms, true? There are things you share or have shared with our little incestuous circle of blog family that you haven't even told your sister/best friend/work homie/brother/cousin that you love more than fish fries on the 4th, yeah? And for most of us, especially if we've been in the game for a little while, some of our blogger friends become real life friends. We talk to these people everyday. We meet them in real life. Text them. IM them. Call them. Shop with them. Break bread with them.
Because we STAY ALL UP IN AND THROUGH EACH OTHER'S SHIT.
But only in the good way. Not like that crazy nosy cousin who is forever making smart ass comments cuz she thinks you slept with the fine ass dude from up the street that everybody was trying to get with from around your way
And like I said, I know some of us deal with each other offline.
So let's be real...
WHO OUT THERE IN BLOGLAND IS FUCKING ANOTHER BLOGGER?
Oh. Ok. Yall close and sensitive and shit. You think using a term like 'fucking' doesn't do your relationship justice. That's cool. So who's dating? Interested? Flirting? If you wanna throw it back, 'talking'. Leave it in the comments. Leave links to their blogs, please. I'll even post a submission myself if you guys participate.
Ok you don't wanna put your business out there. That's cool. I'll even let you do it anonymously. And don't worry, I have a full time job and a life and a relationship and a dog that thinks my Banana Republic halter tops are chew toys. Ain't nobody got time or inclination to be trying to track down your anonymous ass comments
Even if you're not dating, what blogger are you so in love with, so infatuated with their style and their writing that you WOULD you like to maybe possibly holla at if the situation presented itself? You can leave that anonymously too.
And tell your friends to stop by and leave their secret blog crushes/relationships. I need some new blogs to read
You've got all weekend kids cuz I am A-town bound for the next few days. Any Atl bloggers? RJ email me or something! Let's get your antisocial ass out the house!
Thursday, June 12, 2008
We try in as much as we can to not disturb anyone as we climb all the way to the top. We pass a couple more enraputred with each other than the previews on the screen and Bob turns and says to me, not at all discreetly, "They'll be fuckin' before the lights go off all the way."I try not to roll down the stadium seats in front of me while I bend over laughing.
We settle on seats in the middle with no one sitting in front of us, which I appreciate because I'm little. Although Bob never has to worry about not being able to see over the heads of the people in front of us, I appreciate the pocket size person consideration. We sit, lift the arm rest and cuddle and talk as our interest in the previews ebb and flow.
"So baby what is it exactly that you wanna do? You wanna do more theater or you wanna be like in movies and stuff?"
"Um... all of it. Yeah," I respond quietly, cringing just a little because usually when I have this conversation with someone it is swiftly followed by a rude request to break into a song and dance routine on the spot that, in my younger days, left me feeling guilty for not carrying Broadway calibre lighting and sound equipment in my back pocket.
"I could see that mama. You've always wanted to?"
"Yeah. Since I was little. Its the only thing I ever remember wanting to do that didn't change with the seasons."
"So why aren't you?" I shrug, hoping I come off as unconcerned when in reality I wonder everyday if I am wasting my time and talent.
Punctuated with light kisses on my forehead, Bob says to me, "You can do it."
"You've never even seen me perform."
"You can do it."
The previews end and the theater goes completely dark, but not before I glance over at the couple at the end of our row and make out what may or may not be pants being unbuttoned. Jesus.
We sit, talking in low tones and giggling for much of the opening credits, passing the flask we smuggled in back and forth between us. I lean in, trying to get warm, settling in the nook. Bob leans over deliberately during one flask pass.
"You see it baby?"
"See what?" I ask all confused.
"Your name up there." I say nothing, just smile slightly, my head bowed. "I see it. In red. Your name has gotta be in red. I see it."
I bite my lip hard and pretend to be concentrating intently on the opening scenes of the movie until Bob gasps beside me.
"Look baby! There you are!" Bob says, more excited than a little kid, semi crooked smile wide, pointing at the screen. "And right there too. Baby look at you! You see you in the movies?"
I grab the hand outstretched at the screen, lace our fingers, and curl up tighter at Bob's side. I'm smiling wide, wider than I have in awhile, but I am thankful for the theater being dark so no one can see my tears.
Monday, June 9, 2008
What natural resource do we waste more than time, that we can never replenish, gain back, or find a substitute for?
Or maybe time is a sort of institution. A thing we are chained to, slave to, even if we don't recognize it. We are indentured to our workday, to the 24 hours we have to do everything that our life calls for and still find time to handle the things that unexpectedly arrive. How many times have we all said, "There aren't enough hours in a day."
But is there enough time ever, really?
I can't recall how many times I have looked back over my day, over my month or my year, and been exactly opposite of where I calculated I would end up. Things change. Conflicts arise. That simple thing you thought you could handle in "no time flat" became a complex issue anchored by sub-problems you have to solve before eventually solving the issue you set out to eradicate to begin with.
It is our way, to be careless with our time. We even tell our kids, "Don't stress. You have time to figure it out." I can't tell you how many times when I've, in the middle of a quarter life crisis, bemoaned the pitiful state my life is in, and someone sought to quell my growing hysteria by saying, "You have plenty of time."
I am 24 years old. I have time. I have time to (not) get married. I have time to decide if I will
Until we don't have it anymore.
What do you do when all you have left is all the time you used to have?
If you're lucky, you spend that time in a house in New Orleans, surrounded by your family and your friends that are like family. Hopefully you spend it surrounded by laughter and spirited voices recalling happy memories. You can only hope that there will be an endless parade of friends and neighbors from all over 7th Ward, walking through the open and unlocked door to offer a story and a smile, a comforting touch to those you are leaving behind. Your eyes may not be open, but maybe with every inhale you will smell the aromas of the cuisine of the city you love and maybe it will bring to mind something that makes you smile. If you're lucky, you will spend your end of time under a barrage off kisses and short hugs and whispered I love you's in your ear. If you are lucky, everyone that comes to see you, to love on you, to pay their respects for the life you lived will see you not as the besieged vessel that cancer has stolen, but rather as the friend, the jokester, the playboy, the drinking buddy, the kind smile and easy manner that you were. You will be not a memory, but a presence, a warm blanket to those that wait for your illusioned time to pass. You won't be alone, a prisoner to the ticks of the clock, but rather completely engulfed by multitudes, by admiration and peace, by love.
If you're lucky.
So tell me, what are you doing to be lucky?
Friday, June 6, 2008
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Go to work for me.
Not because I hate work. My job is actually pretty tolerable and I love the people I work with. But I feel like sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day keeps me from doing the elective things I wanna do. Like that 10am pilates class at my gym. Or sleeping til 10am. Learning how to make homemade pasta from scratch. Taking Honey to the park everyday. Folding the laundry that has grown vines into my bed because I never seem to make it to putting them away after making them clean.
Have important conversations.
You know how you say to your boyfriend, "We need to talk" and you can see him physically wince? Yeah that's me? I am notsomuch with the talking. I kinda hate it. I recognize it as a neccessary evil, but it an evil nonetheless. Sure, I'll do it. But I'll need a shot first. And through much of the conversation I will have the screw face and continue to flinch as though you're about to hit me. But it's not just about me. It's better for you too, Important Person I Have to have Important Convo with. Because I get all ridiculous and inarticulate when these convos arise and we both just end up all confused. So if I could get a clone to do it, hopefully they could do it right and I, you know, could go get a martini or something and then check back in for the make up sex.
Do all my shopping.
Unless it's for shoes, handbags or makeup, I hate shopping. All kind of shopping. Clothes. Furniture. Grocery. I'm out. Clone is in. I'm on the couch watching 48 Hours (OBSESSED).
Go to family functions.
I will admit that I have all but checked out of all kinds of family participation. This is partially because I have issues, and partially because they have issues. We are all equal parts to blame. As it stands right now, I have very little desire to check back in. But I know it would make my family happy. So the clone could be sent to all weddings, graduations, holiday bbqs, family dinners, and other events as necessary.
Talk on the phone.
Surely I have mentioned my intense hate for talking on the phone. I'm not sure why it bothers me, but I'd rather be doing a million other things. I would SO much rather email or text or IM. Hence my love for my BB. And those things that I can't do via the written word, that require actual personal interaction (i.e. fighting with Sallie Mae), usually require some period of me being on hold. I hate that even moreso than actually having to call.
Jury duty, doctor's visits, DMV lines, etc.
All a waste of my time. Do you know how many drinks I could have consumed in the time it took me to get my Texas DL? And how many I had to consume quite quickly after I got it to make up for the fact that I had to get a Texas DL? **shudder**
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Ahh... shoes. :-)
Oh how I heart thee. Let me count the ways...
Oh shoes. You never let me down. I can't believe I ever thought I could live life without these...
And these... this wasn't living!!!
Oh the rapture...
And last but not least, a gift for my fav AKA... if she were to ever wear anything even remotely close to sneakers...
Monday, June 2, 2008
"La you are so fucked up."
"You are so FUCKED up."
"Because I fucked you once and didn't fall all head over heels in love with your arrogant ass like all the other extra regular ass hoes you fuck wit' means I'm fucked up?!?!"
"No you're fucked up 'cuz you don't know shit about love. You have no muthafuckin' clue what to do with a good man when he's standing right the fuck in front of you," he says to me, beating his fist against his chest.
"I know plenty about love. I know good dick isn't love. I know just because I stood in this same spot and wrapped my leg around your head doesn't mean we should start picking out matching bands and china patterns and bullshit."
"That is not what love is about."
"And neither is anything we've done. Get serious."
"You are so fuckin' callous."
"And you are such a fuckin' pussy."
K.B. is staring at me, his eyes on fire, nostrils flared, fists clasped tightly at his sides. I'd be scared if I was scared of any man alive, and if this childish shit wasn't so hilarious to me.
"So that's all it was to you? Good dick."
"Yeah, pretty much. But if it makes you feel any better, it was great dick. Your head game could use some tightening up though."
I start gathering my stuff to go, smirking and shaking my head as the thick carpet swallows the noise of his pacing.
"If I could get my hands on that nigga I'd fuck him up for making you this way."
I wheel around so fast that I knock a picture off the low table next to the couch.
"Did it ever occur to you, KB," I spit vehemently, "that this has nothing to do with him? That maybe you can't charm and buy your way into a woman's heart if she has any kinda constitution about herself? That maybe you are alone at damn near 30 years old because you can't dick every woman you meet into submission?"
He glares at me. And I see he hates me. It tickles me. So I laugh.
"See that's the problem with niggas like you," I continue. "You're so damn reliant on your bullet points. You're so damn proud of yourself for being college educated, for not having kids or being divorced and having your shit together. That ain't special nigga. You ain't magic. That's what the fuck you're supposed to be doing. You ain't no glitch in the matrix."
He takes an angry step in my direction, staring me down like I'm supposed to cower. That makes me laugh out loud. I step up in his face.
"Oh you intimidating now KB? I'm supposed to be scared? Stumble over my words? Take back what I said?"
"You're a crazy bitch La."
"Real talk. Don't make me prove it. Get outta my fuckin' face."
He steps back outta my space and exhales hard.
"I could make you happy," he says to me, his tone the low erotic one he uses in bed.
"That's exactly why you won't," I retort, my eyes never leaving his crestfallen face. "Because you still think my happiness is contingent on somebody else. I know better."
"Well if it's not, then why have you let this random nigga make you so miserable? Why are you so wounded?"
"'Cuz I got my heartbroken asshole. But that doesn't mean I need you to save me. I don't need saving."
"Every woman needs saving from something."
"If that's the case then you won't be the one to save me."
"Why not? Why can't I be that dude?"
"Because you're not worthy."
My last comment takes him to couch, his hands pressed against either side of his head. He's rocking slightly, bent over at the waist. I walk towards the door.
"You're going to wanna come back. And I can't guarantee I'll be waiting," he says to the carpet. I laugh out loud again.
"Spaceships don't come equipped with rear view mirrors."
The door clicks shut behind me as I laugh down the hall.
"Stop firing me all the time."