Thursday, December 23, 2010

I'm not the Enemy

This post sponsored by this song and the letter L for LadyLee, without whom you would go a month without a post. lol

I don't know you; don't know those melancholy eyes I see
Do you even know me? Your scent is familiar…

I have a complicated relationship with returning home.

In the hours before my inevitably high-heeled feet step off the inbound plane, I am wrapped up in the giddiness of it all, the frenetic pace of the to-do list, the anticipation of seeing my friends and family and friends that are like family. But as soon as the “fasten seat belt” sign goes off on the other side of take off, I feel anxiety and a twinge of dread. I find myself strolling without purpose to the baggage claim, all the while checking the signs on the gates I pass to see if maybe I can just jump a plane back to my own life.

I could say it is because Atlanta is a city I barely recognize anymore though I was born of it and likely, just as with any parent, still a baby in its eyes. It is almost lost some of it's familiarity with each hole-in-the-wall eatery I loved replaced by some gleaming, shiny place with velvet ropes catering to those who consider themselves “elite”. (vomit, gag.) I could venture to guess that maybe it is the frustration that comes from recognizing that they have built another goddamn high rise condo right in the middle of a street that used to be my favorite back road. But really, it is that feeling I get below that frustration; the realization that I no longer know my way around my home, that maybe it is no longer for me.

Really though, it is the detachment I feel from the person I was living the life I was living there. I am no longer 17 and convinced that the boy I have dated since I was 12 is the man I am going to spend the rest of my life with. (vomit, gag.) I am not girl who must doggedly pursue good grades and elite social status and participation in every club outside the Asian Student’s Union and Men of Distinction on the off chance that every membership will get. Me. The. Fuck. Out. Of. Here. I am not the disenchanted kid forcibly sitting in church pews six days a week, internally screaming back at the messages shouted at me from the pulpit, that I know in my tiny heart are not true.

It has become my way, in the years proceding my flight from home, to pretend that person no longer really exists. Sure, I allude to my childhood in vague and sepia tones, keeping the colors to myself. But mostly, with the exceptions of a few artifacts of Then, as far as I am concerned, life started for me at Howard.

Certainly that is to say that life started over. But if I admit that, then that means admitting there was something that came before. And I prefer not to do that.

Your worries, your stress are both the root of your unhappiness; fueled by insecurities...

Sometimes I recognize that home is not the enemy; it has done me no actual harm other than the diminished ability to appropriately pronounce dog (said like “dawg” ‘cause that’s the way everyone is supposed to say it). Rather, it is the things I left there, dropping them curbside on my way out of town, that I have to trip over every time I (rarely) return. The relationships I didn’t mend or close. The issues I left handing in the closets of my old room, scattered across the floor like emotional debris. Those things continue to harm me. But I just can’t seem to convince myself it is worth shouldering, confronting. I hear the things the city whispers in my ear. The truths I just can’t seem to fathom, the lessons I should have learned back when I was young and flexible and easy to rebound.

We can't be happy until you’re happy with yourself
Come on talk to me baby; I’m not the enemy
You can't love nobody, unless you love yourself
Don't take it out on me baby; I'm not the enemy

No, instead I blame the buildings and the transplants that can’t drive. I blame the soul food spots shuttered and replaced with this season’s favorite fusion cuisine. I blame the ridiculously priced airline tickets who want to charge me internal organs and intimate bodily functions for a 2 hour flight. I blame the humidity and/or the cold, the noise and the pollution.

But really, Atlanta is just doing what I have been largely unable to do; tearing down the blighted monuments to misery, constructing something better, bigger, stronger, more beautiful in its place. My beloved city is evolving in ways that I have not been able to, because the way I have rewritten my story does not allow for a foundation from which to build.

So maybe in that way, I am the enemy.

Friday, December 17, 2010

This is a Story...

...about how I know I am now being punished for spending a previous life kicking kittens into lakes.

I went on a date. A real, live date. I was worried I would be a bit rusty after putting myself on a self- imposed hiatus through the rest of the year (it’s not hard if you keep a jump off), but I figured it was like riding a bike, except this isn’t as good of a workout and the slight bumps don’t feel nearly as good in your lady parts.

I met him in the sushi aisle at Whole Foods and was pretty much judging him for being a hipster douche who shops in the fancypants grocery store for smoked quail salad and other bougie shit 'til I realized, hey bitch, you’re in the Whole Foods too. (In my defense though, it’s where I buy some of my hair products.)

He was handsome, all the while managing to seem unaware of it. I put emphasis on seem ‘cause I can guaranfuckingty you there is no way a man this handsome, single, and childless has lived in Houston for any significant amount of time and has NOT been gassed up by the particular breed of thirsty female found here in the Texas desert. But he was charming and funny and he was wearing a Cowboys shirt (and sweatpants. A bitch LOVES a well hung man in sweatpants), so when he whipped out his Blackberry and asked me for my number, I obliged. And was delighted when he didn’t do that mildly stalkerish thing men have come to do where he calls my cell on the spot to see if I actually gave him the right number.

No seriously, guys. Don’t do that shit. It screams of insecurity. And it’s desperate. And creepy. And desperate. Take that fake number like a man, sir.

Anyway, he called, not texted the next day (score!) and we set up a date. He seemed intent on taking me to dinner at this Italian place he raved about, because I mentioned I hadn’t found any really good Italian here. But anyone who knows me knows that it is extremely rare to get me to commit to anything other than drinks on a first date because who wants to sit through a two hour dinner if I realize during appetizers that this isn’t going to work? I also politely turned down his suggestion to come pick me up. Nigga, I have friends who don’t know where my apartment is. There’s not a chance in hell you are getting my address off a couple phone convos and some BBMs.

Doing too much, table of one.

Come date night, I try hard to make myself presentable (somehow during my hiatus, all my cute date clothes disappeared), and meet him at the designated hotel bar for our date.

This bar in particular, all dim lighting, candles and live piano music, is a little more than necessary for a first date, a drinking first date at that, and smells desperately of eau de Trying to be Impressive, but I decide to give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he’s as out of practice as I am and didn’t think before having me meet him at what can best be described as the place you take your first serious girlfriend for Valentine’s day because you are 23, fresh out of college and don’t know any better. But whatever. I am a new me. A nice me. Not like this me.

He is there when I arrive, holding down a corner table. Five more points for him for not only being on time but beating me. He is just as handsome as he was when we met, if not more so, as now he has showered and put on cologne.

Zomg it’s Burberry. Swoon.

For an hour, we are all smiles and laughter, trying to outwit each other, generally hitting all the marks for first date impressiveness. After our great convo (and four dirty martinis for him) he leans over the table and levels his handsome face in front of my uncomfortable one.
“I have a confession to make.”

Oh, Jesus. Oh my minty, baby Jesus. He is fresh out of jail. He likes boys. His baby mama just had his kid today. He voted for John McCain. He’s going to call me exotic.
Jesus take the wheel.

“I have a bit of a…situation.”

Wait, what?
Nigga wtf is a “situation”?!

Struggling to keep calm because I refuse to be black girl who comes to the swanky downtown establishment and winds up on the news, I inquire about what exactly his “situation” is.

“Well, I have someone in my life. Kind of. We are taking a bit of a breather. Dating a bit and seeing what’s out there. And I wanted to be upfront with you and let you know. Because I am enjoying myself.”

Now what he doesn’t know, likely because he is too full of himself to give me this much credit, is that he has picked up no mere plain girl in front of the steamed dumplings. I speak fluent douche. As a matter of fact, I am writing a book on douche literature. It’s called You Aren’t as Great as you Think you are and your Dick Isn’t that Big. I will let you guys know when you can pick it up.

As I have been speaking douche for years, I recognize what he is really saying; “I have a girlfriend and I am still seeing other people but she isn’t.”

Some of my more gullible readers might think well maybe they really are on a break and taking time to figure out what they want. And I am guessing that he looked at me, standing there in my Howard sweats, glasses, messy curly bun and needing to avoid french fries and hit the gym and I assumed I would be one of those low self esteem girl that would take this admission as a call to action. It’s now a competition! I must PROVE to him why he wants to be with me, not his faux girl. Pick me! Choose me! Love me!

Naw, nigga.

And let me tell you how I can be so convinced, with barely a paragraph about it uttered from his lips; because NO MAN, NONE, NOT ONE, NOT A SINGLE SOLITARY MAN ON EARTH, MARS OR VENUS is ok with knowing a woman he is sleeping with/has slept with/will continue sleeping with in the future is sleeping with another man.


Especially one so self involved, so delusional that it’s not enough to keep a harem of chicks. Oh no; he must have them all compete for his affections to satisfy his ego.

It don’t work that way.

I ask him a few questions in the low, syrupy sweet voice I tend to use when I am setting someone up for failure. To his credit, he answers them all, with barely a blink or pause. His answers are perfection; they’ve been together since they were very young. Getting to a place where they want to decide if they want to make it forever or a fond memory. But both wanting to “see what else is out there” before deciding if they will only be with one person from age 15 to eternity.
It’s good. Too good. And I am not new here.

He is talking, all charming and sweet, and I softly interrupt his monologue to ask for his jacket. It’s gotten chilly. Does he mind? I am all doe eyes and hunched shoulders to the cold. And him, being the gentleman he has feigned to be for the evening, gets up and settles the jacket around my shoulders with a flourish.

And just like I thought he would do, he left his cell phone in the pocket.

Fucking rookie mistake.

It only takes another 15 minutes or so of waiting him out before he excuses himself from the table to go to the bathroom. His large frame is barely on the other side of a life sized vase before I have slipped the phone out of the pocket.

A tip for you all: if you have a touch screen phone, such as an i.fone, it is very easy to tell what your password is if you don’t keep your screen clean. The oil from your fingers will leave a trail that not only points out which numbers you’ve lingered on, but the direction in which you swiped, and therefore the order in which to unlock your phone. Other places on your phone will merely have fingerprints. It’s quite simple to hold the phone up to the light and see these marks.

You’re welcome.

In less than five seconds I am in his phone and, just as I suspected, his text messages are all from women in varying flirty tones. There is a Sasha who comes up repeatedly, the only one whose texts vary between the flirty and the mundane (“Can you pick up some salad on the way home?”). And just in case I couldn’t figure out that she is the main chick, he has conveniently put “wifey” next to her name in parenthesis. Apparently there is another Sasha in his phone who needs not be confused with wifey.

Their string of texts confirms that he has given her an alibi for the evening. And I know I have to act quickly because men don’t pee that long. I send her a text directly contradicting the last he sent;

“I’ll be there around 8. Miss you. Can’t wait to see you. If you wear that yellow thing I love, I promise to take it off.”

It should be mentioned here that there is an art to crafting the perfect Get This Nigga Caught text. It should be specific in a way that a woman can easily disprove (yellow is one of the least manufactured colors of lingerie; it’s highly unlikely she has yellow anything) and, just as a backup, should probably mention a something that he will fail to do (like show up at 8, as it is currently 7:45 and he probably isn’t planning on going anywhere anytime soon because he is not expected to be anywhere). For good measure, I put his phone on silent so he won’t hear or feel any of her confused and/or angry follow ups. I slip the phone back in the pocket and in just a moment more, he is back at the table.

For the next hour and a half, we laugh and talk, both of us fake but him because he fancies himself a player, and me because I hate his life. When we decide to depart, he walks me to my car. I hand him back his jacket as I climb into my truck.

“I really had fun tonight, La,” he says to me, leaning too close and smiling too hard.
“Me too,” I reply, “but probably for totally different reasons.” I’m smiling and I’ve dropped my voice all low to make him think that maybe I am referencing some sexy secret I have yet to let him in on. He kisses my hand.
“I’ll be calling you soon.”
“I bet you will.”

He stands at his car door while I start mine and put it in gear. I pull off just slow enough to watch his face change when he slips his phone out of his pocket and looks at the display.

Silly rabbit. Tricks are for ACTUAL pimps.

This was a waste of a perfectly good face of makeup. I slip my shoes off as I drive away and ponder what I’ve learned.

Don’t trust men who drink martinis.

And sure enough, just as he said he would, he starts calling me soon. And back to back. Like a psycho.

Dating moratorium back in place.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Love Letters and Library Books

I used to be a girl who wrote love letters.

Volumes and volumes of text, finding glory in every detail, capturing every stimulus of the senses. I was my life’s own historian, obsessively recording documentation of the beauty and brutality of it all.

I once wrote stunning love letters.

I wrote in searing detail of the rush of seemingly boundless freefall, of the lush colors sprung up from fertile ground coaxed forth with rainfalls of kisses down my spine. Every word served as tactile evidence that this thing, this “love” in fact exists.

And then I wrote of a different kind of falling just as endless, the bleak landscape of every heartbreak painted with tears and pain; of magicians’ beguiling a willing audience with smoke filled illusions.

Because we all want to believe, don’t we?

I still have them all, stored in the mental and physical libraries of my life. Sometimes, I even crack the dusty bindings of these volumes and read them.

It all reads like a police report to me now.

In every photo now hangs mental crime scene tape, Hi-liter © yellow marking off where some emotional violence took place. Every musing and dream, precise and detailed, each marveling at skin and muscle and bone and barely perceptible flaw are but bullet points, tiny pebbles paving the road towards inevitable conclusion. It is evidence. A victim's account of unforeseen violation at the hands of perpetrators they knew.

I don't write love letters anymore.

Now they are just words I read, detached from the feelings like I’m observing them in a museum. Every description seems almost scientific, one dimensional. They are hazy as though stared at from a distance on a hot day. Where once stood epic monuments to joy and love and promise are merely tombs encapsulating the life bound in the paragraphs.

I once was a girl who wrote love letters.

Now, I write this.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mommys and Martinis

This happens to me all the time. You know why? ‘Cause Jesus? He’s FUNNY.

“I am telling you, La. You’d be an awesome mom.”

It is around this time that I realize that the best thing about dirty martinis is that if you hold it up to your eye and look at the person across from you, it makes their face wiggly and wavy, like the movie Fantasia.

And if you drink enough of them, your eyes will do it for you; you don’t even have to look through the liquor.

I am trying to accomplish the latter.

“Seriously, you are so good with Baby 1.” I look at Baby 1 sleeping in her stroller next to where we are having lunch. And it’s true. I am great with her. When she is sleeping.

“I don’t doubt that I could be a great mom. I just doubt that I want to. There is a significant difference between being afraid of motherhood and genuinely not being all that excited about it.”
“How is that possible?”
“I’m sorry?”
“You’re a woman!”
“All that means is when I don’t skip the placebo week of my birth control that I bleed once a month like the rest of you hoes. Doesn’t mean my uterus is aching with envy at the sight of your pot roast belly.”

Her hands, already parked on her protruding mid-section, as they have been all day, instinctually start to rub circles around her belly button.

“Really though, La. It is the most amazing thing.”
“I don’t doubt it. I just don’t care for it.”
“You will change your mind as you get older. I forget what a baby you are.” I give her The Rock eyebrow.
“Are you, like, trying to recruit me or something? Is this what the yoga moms do? Leave after mommy and me yoga and go forth and try to spread your doctrine? You are like a Jehovah’s Witness but instead of coming to my door, you trick me to coming to my favorite lunch spot to Scientology me into being a mom.”

We laugh at me, her laugh far too loud to not be overcompensating and mine much too hollow to be anything other than defensive. I don’t have the heart to tell her that ever since she waddled herself in here appearing to be what must be AT LEAST 11 months pregnant, pushing this far too expensive stroller with her previous excursion into failing Sex Ed strapped in tight, that all I have wanted to do is wheel her around in a stroller because her ankles must be SCREAMING.


But really, I want to ask her, what about Italy?

See, this friend used to have a thing for cooking. She was a sous-chef before she became a mommy. And she used to dream of going to Italy and studying real Italian cooking; traveling the entire country, spending a year in each major city, learning the small differences that would make her cooking authentic.

Now, the closest thing she gets to Italian cooking is probably spaghetti-o’s.

And maybe this IS what I fear about motherhood. Not necessarily the whole having the child part (though I must admit that the idea of carrying said child and giving birth to it gives me neither warm nor fuzzies). But rather the losing yourself that seems to go hand in hand with so many mothers I know. The putting aside of your own big dreams to potty train and relish first steps. Hell, even losing your name. It’s not bad enough you lost your last name when you got married, but now your first one is gone too because you are only referred to as “Mommy”?

Make no mistake, while I advocate wholeheartedly for the right of any woman to make motherhood look like whatever she wants, at what point do you get to still be a person outside of a mom? How do you reconcile the things you give up with the things that you gain?

And if you can’t answer those questions yet, should you REALLY become a mom just because you get older?

I not-so-craftily switch the subject to neutral territory; shoes.

Later, when the check comes, we are both unloading our ridiculously large bags (both Coach but one filled with bottled and diapers, the other with makeup and condoms), and I put down Travel + Leisure on the table as I dig for my wallet. She picks it up with a sigh.

“This is beautiful,” she says staring at the scenery on the front.
“Isn’t it? I picked it up because I thought it might give me some ideas of some out-of-the-way places to travel. Or info on Greece, which I am currently obsessed with.”
“It’s lovely there. Hubby and I went for our one year anniversary.”
“Oh, that’s right. I’d totally forgotten.”
“Yeah. We were supposed to go to Italy for our two year anniversary but-“ she gestures absent mindedly at the stroller. I barely know what to say.
“But you got something better, right?” She snaps right back into Stepford mommy role before I can blink.
Of course I did,” she says with so much emphasis that I sit back in my chair. “I would never trade Baby 1 for a trip to Italy.”
“I know that. I wasn’t implying-“
“I know you weren’t. I was just being defensive. I’m sorry. That was just the ‘what ifs’ talking, I suppose.”

She looks away from me, past even the shrubbery she appears to be gazing in the direction in, maybe all the way to what could have been. And it strikes me that I wish that more women had these conversations, these honest, frank conversations, rather than the conversations they are supposed to have about all these things we are supposed to do.

“And who knows,” she says turning back to me, “maybe one day I will still get to Italy.” I put my hand on hers.
“Of course you will.”

We look at each other, mirrors of the same wry smiles, and we both really want to believe it.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Inappropriate Reasons to want a Live In Boyfriend

If you follow me on The Twitter ©Betty White then you know that periodically I espouse random, but totally necessary reasons to have a live-in boyfriend. I have never had a live-in before as I enjoy not having to talk to people, sleeping in the middle of my bed, and drinking in the morning, but I imagine that these are the reasons why people move in together. But apparently some people move in with people ‘cause they, like, love them and stuff? Or because they actually want to? It’s super weird. I dunno about all that but I do know about not wanting to get up at 7am on the Saturdays I don’t work just to walk Honey. That is some bullshit.

Some of my male followers have given me some flak for my (totally valid and reasonable) motivations to want a live-in, but um… so? If you aren’t doing these things, then what is the point of my sharing my space with you? If I just wanted company, that’s why I have a dog.

I haven’t done a list in a good long while, and y’all know I love them. So here is…

Inappropriate Reasons to Want a Live in Boyfriend

1. Anything that has to do with my car.
Anyone that knows me knows that I LOVE cars. Love them. I get this love of cars from my daddy who used to quiz me on the year, make, and model of each car on the road according to their body style and specific modifications (for instance when Ford bought Jaguar in 1989, the body style of the XF started to look quite a bit like the soon-to-be-discontinued Ford Contour, and continued to look that way with minor tweaks to the headlights, taillights, mirrors and grill until Ford sold Jaguar in 2008) and made me learn to change my oil and brakes so that I “would never have to wait around on someone to do it for me.” (Read: so you will never get married and not need me.) You know what I do NOT love about cars? Going to get mine serviced. Mainly because due to the fact that I have tits, mechanics assume they can tell me I need new brakes when I bring my car in for an oil change… two weeks after I have had my brakes done. (True story.) I would just rather a man deal with that while I am at home in bed on Saturday mornings.

2. Carrying things upstairs.
I live on the third floor. It seemed like a good idea at the time. You know what is NOT a good idea? Bringing in groceries into said third floor apartment. I have to make NO LESS than three trips most of the time. And don’t let there be something heavy like cases of dog food or water. They are likely to stay in my car until I can manage to bring them up a few cans/bottles at a time over the course of a couple days. And as my dog likes to eat everyday and I drink more water than a fish, THERE ARE ALWAYS CASES OF DOG FOOD AND WATER. I’ll do all the grocery shopping and bring up some light bags. But I would surely toss the keys at my live-in boyfriend’s face upon my return and tell him to get on the heavy lifting.

3. Eating Leftovers.
I have a problem. I don’t know how to cook for one person. At all. Everything I’ve ever learned to cook was family portions. This is great for taking leftovers for lunch and nights where I don’t feel like cooking. The problem is, that it seems like something is always going bad because I never get around to eating it. And for someone who doesn’t like to waste anything, this is a problem. And I feel like if I can grocery shop and cook, you can AT LEAST bring up the heavy stuff and eat.

4. Kill bugs.
‘Member how I said I live on the third floor? Well I also live on the third floor of a building facing the woods. Which is lovely and quiet, but tends to lend itself to my apartment becoming a safe house on the underground bug road. And I don’t appreciate it. I am not nearly as terrified as I once was about killing the miscellaneous creatures and spiders and flies (oh my!) that have found their unfortunate way into my house. But the truth is, I don’t wanna. Come kill this damn bug and go get groceries outta the car. This is why I have you, Hypothetical Live-in Boyfriend.

5. Reach things.
A bitch is short. There is no other nice way to put it. And while I can usually climb the counters in the kitchen to reach the things in my upper cabinets that I need, my closet is a different story. I have a rack in the top of my closet that seems like it would be great to use… except I cannot reach up that high to actually access it. Puberty foils me again.

6. Lotion my back, clasp my bracelets, zip up a dress, etc.
Does anyone remember that episode of Sex and the City where Samantha called a guy over to have sex with her just so she could get him to clasp a bracelet for her? You have not ever truly lived the single life until you have done this. There is one bracelet in particular that I love, love, LOVE and it takes me NO LESS than 30 minutes to put it on. Common sense would dictate I just not wear the bracelet anymore, but it was handmade by a friend and I just adore it. Besides I would MUCH rather just move someone in to help with these sorts of things especially if it means…

7. Splitting the bills.
If the idea of splitting all your household bills with someone doesn’t absolutely make you wetter than David Beckham in boxer briefs, I wanna know where you work and what economy you are living in. It must be nice there. Seriously, dual income is where it’s at. I obviously don’t know this from experience but I have been rocking out with this whole single income thing for awhile and I can ASSURE you it is not the shake. I told my mom that I was going to get married in 2011 and she got all excited…until I told her that I meant strictly for the dual income and tax incentives. She was crestfallen. But then again, she has never had to pay student loans. “Split down the middle” is absolutely the best foreplay I can imagine right now. Speaking of which…

8. Put out AT LEAST 3 times a week.
This is non-negotiable. NON-NEGOTIABLE. You mean to tell me there is a program I can get with where I don’t have to sit through two hours of boring chit chat about what we do, our upwardly mobile, educated, much-too-small-in-this-city circle just to get him to put out?


What’s that you say? I don’t have to get dressed? I don’t have to put on heels (though it could be fun to keep them on)?!

*hands go up… and they stay there*

Sign me up.

I listen to the tales of my girlfriends with live-ins and I am absolutely 200% envious. I am pretty sure the only thing better than really great dick is really great CONVENIENT dick and what is more convenient than RIGHT NEXT TO ME? As it stands, I have to go through way too much to get laid. I think I deserve this.

So what about you? I know I am not alone. What other totally inappropriate but still important reasons do you have for wanting a live-in boyfriend? Leave them in the comments.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Early Check Out

It's almost 2011.


And I am 26 years old.


Where did my time go?

I will be forthright and admit to wasting it. All of it. The whole thing. This entire 11 months has mostly been a waste for me. I have done some things, sure. But as I look over the last year, the last few years, I wonder, is this all?

Objectively I recognize that I am no different than any of my contemporaries caught in the net of the quarter life crisis. And really, the best thing I ever did was get older friends who reflect back to me that life is more than what it seems like it isn't in your 20s.

But still, I constantly find myself dogged by the question, is that all there is?

I can't really remember where I was a year ago. I think I was fresh off a trip to Chicago with Bob, trying to decide if I would deal with the issues left dying on the pavement after we imploded or walk away.

I walked away, by the way.

And here I am, a year removed from my removal, some things changed, some things the same, but everything seemingly... dormant.

Is that who I have become?

For the longest, this year especially, I have just been trying to remember how to feel. I haven't been. At all. And maybe this is why I am not writing. Because I haven't been feeling like I need to.

Or anything, really.

Intellectually I can say that the reason that I am right where I once was is likely because rather than going through, I just shut off. I have completely checked out on my own life. On a deeper level though, I have to admit it was not a conscious decision. I did what the BP oil rig was supposed to do; shut off automatically when the pressure got to be too much.

I have checked out. Instinctively. And now I have to see if I remember how to check back in.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sleep in the Middle

Being that I am a single, attractive woman in her mid-20's, I have the same issues that every other woman has; men.

It is my goal to spend as much of my 20s as possible well travelled, well paid and well laid.

It is the pursuit of that last bullet point that makes me roll my eyes.

I am texting my QQ simultaneously while texting the Jump Off, relaying his shenanigans and synchronizing my eye rolls with hers. I'll spare you the details but here is what I've learned from JO:

You know how every men's magazine would have you believe that all men LOVE the FWB situation?
Don't believe the hype.

Every man LOVES to hear you say you don't want a relationship... That is until they realize that you ACTUALLY MEAN IT.

*le sigh*

Because, I mean, he's single, childless, attractive, and with a job. He's a fucking stellar candidate. His bullet points are spectacular. I'm a WOMAN. I MUST fall for the charm and try to manipulate him into a relationship, yes?

I have a choice here. I know how to get what I want. I could make this easy on myself. I could do and say the things I'm expected to say, pretend to be the person I'm not to fit more comfortably in this situation. I could get what I want. And he could think he was getting what he wanted, his ego sufficiently stroked. I could be That Girl if I so chose.

But that's just not me.

Even if what I choose isn't always fun or without the lonely side effects...
It's still my choice.

Instead I do what I always do; I roll my eyes at the predictable phone call that follows the text I ignored. I shake my head at the fact that he doesn't realize he's the only person jockeying for position or power; my power isn't anyone's to take. I climb my short ass up in my sleigh bed. I wiggle around in the covers until I find a spot that suits me. I proceed to fling my appendages outward, limbs akimbo like the old school Cingulair ads.

I am a girl who chooses to sleep in the middle.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Because You Asked...

It's kinda like that scene in Definitely, Maybe.

We are on opposite ends of the couch, both our laptops in our laps, our legs intertwined, him working on lesson plans and me looking at hotels in foreign countries that have alabaster beaches and cobalt water. Every once in awhile we pass our computers back and forth accompanied by shorthand grunts and mumbles, so he can look at pictures and I can proofread his words.

Outside the sky has turned from peacock to flamingo, and is now sliding through shades of Clementine on its way to plum. The music that was playing has long since stopped, leaving us in silence punctuated by keyboard clicks and unintentional sighs. After a little while, I notice that my nails are tapping a solo now that his have been tucked behind his head. I look up and he is staring at me.

“You know this isn’t gonna work, right?” he asks, not accusing, not emotional, but rather matter of fact as though he just told me I am short or that hoes are having the best year ever.
“Yes. I know.”

We both sigh in unison, smiling at each other across our ivy vine legs.

“It’s ok, you know.”
“What is?”
“To not be ready.”
“I think so too,” I reply before pausing, “most of the time.”
“It is.” He untangles his long legs from mine. “Some things linger longer than we think they should. But even lingering isn’t forever.”
“It seems like it is. It feels like forever. And then sometimes not nearly long enough.”
“It just means you’re human. You’re not a hurt person hurting people. You are just a hurt person.”

In all honesty, part of me wants to get angry, and I can feel a bit of my defensive nature start to bubble, way down low in my gut. But beneath that is the truth, solid and weighted, extinguishing the fires of combativeness before they even spark.

I am hurt. And isn’t that what I have been afraid of admitting all this time?

“You’ll be fine,” he tells me and he says it so calmly, so incredibly sure that I believe him. “Better than fine actually. You’ll be beautiful.” He pauses. “You’re not used to it being you that’s wrong with a relationship, are you?”
“NO!!!” I yell, and we both burst out laughing.

Before our laughter subsides, the door bell rings signaling that our Chinese food has been delivered.

“I’ll get that,” he says grabbing his wallet and heading towards the door. “The Daily Show is about to come on,” he tells me, pointing at the TV over his shoulder. He grabs the food and spreads it out to where we have decamped on the floor as I flip channels. We pray, holding hands as we do before we eat. He interrupts before I finish, and without letting go of my hand, he holds his chopsticks up in front of his face.

“To better,” he says, his smile so brilliant and beautiful and bittersweet that I could burst into tears right there over my steamed dumplings.

“To better,” I intone and we tap our chopsticks together.


Monday, October 11, 2010

My So Called Life

There are fresh tears on my waterproof lashes. I am doing that thing where you blink really really fast because, despite all evidence to the contrary, in the moment it seems like that actually works.

It does not.

But I am a black girl recently left sitting alone at a crowded bar and I DO NOT need the predatory instincts of the throngs of men around me to start beeping like a smoke detector.

Slyly, I use my black fingernails to move the tears away, hoping it’s looking like I’m scratching my eyelid. I am like the fucking Le Femme Nikita of emotion hiding.

“I would have come sooner if I’d known you were gonna get all misty at my arrival.”

I know it is Peter Parker before I turn around, his cadence and his cologne tattooed on my sense memory. I take a deep breath, determined to be better than I was the last time the Universe unceremoniously threw him at me.

“I am not crying.”
“You are a very bad liar,” he replies, as he wipes a tear I missed from my lower lash line.
“Hi, Peter,” I say on a sharp exhale, probably an instinctive response to the butterflies in my stomach.
“Hi Freckles.”
“I don’t have freckles. I’m-“
“A black girl. I know.”

We give each other mirror images of the same wry smile in the silence that follows, lingering a bit longer than it should. We both try to break it at the same time.

“How have you-“
“What’s new?”

We laugh at ourselves, at how absolutely foolish we are being, and the air in our little bubble starts to thaw.

“So,” he says as he claims the empty stool next to me that my girl vacated a few moments before. “What makes pretty girls cry in bars?”

I want so badly to make fun of him for being so corny, but I just don’t have it in me.

“I have a friend. Well, had a friend. Well, I dunno if I could call him my friend. But my friend- she just left,” I say, pointing at the door, “He was her boyfriend. We met him in May. At Mansion. You know they do the Sunday thing? It’s really nice out on the patio and-”

I notice he has raised one eyebrow at me curiously. I am babbling. Like a monkey. But not nearly as cute.

“My friend, well, her boyfriend. Well, he was her boyfriend. He died. A couple months ago.”

His hand is on mine before I even have time to realize that I stopped nervously stirring the remnants of my margarita.

“He was shot. Out of the blue. And the thing is,” I tell him, gesturing to my Black.berry like its poison, “he left me a message. He called me. Like, that day. And I can’t listen to the message. But I can’t erase it. And I keep forgetting that I have it. And when I finally check all the tons of messages I have, I hear the message and I forget that I have it and it just catches me off guard and I just let my friend hear them before she left and then she got all teary eyed and I got all teary eyed and I dunno why I am even crying because he wasn’t my boyfriend and I dunno if I should even call him a friend so I shouldn’t even be upset. I just, forget.”

I look up from what has to be the world’s worst My So Called Life moment this side of 1994 and to my surprise he is not looking at me like my emotional smuttiness is contagious. He has the same kind eyes he’s always had, his beautiful mouth now turned down at the corners. He takes that deep breath you take after something heavy has been laid on you and you want to say the right thing.

“I’m sorry, La.”

Of course he said the right thing.

“And I know it is killing you to have to watch a friend be hurt and you can’t fix it.”

*sigh* He is so fucking good at this.

“It is. She’s a mess. And I can’t fix it. So I just try to be here.” I half shrug while he wraps his fingers tighter around mine. We sit in companionable silence for awhile just long enough to it to sidle close to uncomfortable.

“Who but us has this conversation in a crowded bar in front of a guy in a lilac ass bowtie?” He asks with a self depreciating smile and I burst out laughing.

Ugh. I do love a man with good timing.

We talk a little while, hitting all the casual highlights you are supposed to hit when you haven’t seen someone you have a rather bittersweet history with: job (both of us feeling restless), friends (his are doing great, mine he’s never met), relationships (his, not mine, obviously).

“That’s why I’m here.”
“She’s meeting me here after work but she’s running a bit late.”

I am suddenly consumed with the need to flee. I can’t see this beautiful bitch when I am all puffy fish faced and teary and half drunk on happy hour margaritas. My ego simply can’t take it. I start to gather my things, blurting out a hasty goodbye, and simultaneously trying to dislocate my ankle while unhooking my boots from the bar stool. He grabs my arm and swings me around.

“I keep wondering why we keep running into each other.”

I open and close my mouth with no words, like a fish, trying to figure out something to say. Something clever. And smart. And funny. And then this can be like a TV show where I am all graceful and witty and leave him missing me rather than, you know, being the drunk bitch who stumbles to the door after mumbling something about feeding the dog.

I’ve got nothing.

“I just wonder, is all.” He pulls me a bit closer to him, not as close as he wants but as close as I will allow him knowing better than to be in his personal space. “It’s like, you’re kinda like these freckles,” he says, rubbing the makeup off the bridge of my nose. “If you rub the surface just a little, they’re still there.” I refuse to say anything that might betray me. I just can’t.

He drops my wrist.

“Have a good night, Peter. Bye.” He pins me to the spot, his eyes on mine, the corners of his mouth sneaking towards his cheekbones.
“I’ll see you soon.”

It’s not until I am in my car that I exhale, and finally let myself wonder why we keep running into each other, too.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

America the Beautiful

Fall is finally coming here in the annals of the devil, which means it is bearable to go outside. This is great for me, as I have a big 50 pound dog that I have to walk twice a day to burn off energy, lest she run around my house tearing up shit, Marley and Me style.

Cute puppy pic for posterity...

To that end, our daily walks have become far more enjoyable now that dog and owner are not melting under the sun's glare. Just this past Sunday, I took her out first thing in the morning, since she was doing her little pee circle dance around my legs at the front door.

Outside, I notice there's a guy walking with his toddler daughter, right around the time the dog notices them. Honey, being the unabashed attention whore that she is, immediately drops her ears and starts wagging her tail, pulling me hard in their direction. I make a concerted effort to keep her on the opposite side of the street since she is NO LESS THAN three times the size of what I am realizing slowly must be the world's cutest kid.

After the dog does her business and I scoop, I see that he has let go of the little girl’s hand and she is making a beeline for Honey. He says hello while trying to catch up, and I have the dog heel while she cautiously makes her way over.

(It should be noted here, that my complex is really dog friendly. And my neighbors are really people friendly. There is a huge black Lab and a Corgi that live downstairs. There’s another black Lab mix downstairs that just moved in, an insanely friendly Pit bull named Bella, who I sometimes have to convince myself not to confiscate. And a tiny little Chihuahua down the way who thinks he is a Mastiff. I have met most of these dogs, and their owners, who have made Honey and I feel quite welcome (and dished some neighborhood tea but that’s another post).

Honey has a bit of a jumping problem, especially around children because she adores them and gets too excited, so I hold her collar firmly and give her the command to sit. She does. By this time, the man and what I assume is his daughter have approached, and despite my own misgivings about having renters in my uterine apartment, I am overwhelmed by how cute she is. She has big brown eyes framed by a lush line of dense lashes, a tiny smiling mouth and cheeks so cute I am pretty sure this man mated with a cherub to make her. As they draw closer to Honey, she squeals with delight in that baby way, but pulls her big sunflower hat down further over her head because I don’t think she quite realized just how big Honey is from a distance.

“Can we pet her?” he asks me with more than a little hesitation.

“Of course you can. She doesn’t bite and she likes children so your daughter is more than welcome to pet her too.”

He reaches down with more than a bit of trepidation, and Honey, in her fashion, reaches her head back to lick his palm which, in short, scares the shit out of him. The dog is on her best behavior and we try unsuccessfully to get the little girl to pet him. While she doesn’t want to move away, she certainly ain’t fooling with this big ass dog either.

We make small talk, introducing ourselves and him thanking me profusely for allowing them to pet the dog. I brush off his thanks with a simple you’re welcome, and continue chatting with him for a few moments before he excuses himself to continue his Sunday morning walk with his daughter. Barely even a foot away from us, where I am still steadfastly holding Honey, lest she get loose and jump on his back, he turns back.

“Thank you for being so kind to us. We don’t-“ he voice fissures noticeably, “get that a lot.”

He smiles, his big hand engulfing his daughter’s tiny one, and walks back towards their apartment.

At this point it dawns on me that while he spoke perfect English, the man had an accent which, judging from it and his appearance is probably Middle Eastern.

And that made me so sad.

Is this who we have become? Is this the identity of our country? We can commune across races, ages, and genders in my little neighborhood over our dogs, but can’t offer a simple kindness to someone who might be from a part of the world we are told we should blindly hate?

If that is who we are, there are scarcely any words for my sadness.

He was just a father, wanting his baby girl to pet a puppy. What does where he might be from have to do with that?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Good Bishop and What he is or Isn't

Being the asshole that I am, I have cracked many, MANY jokes on Twitter about this whole Eddie Long scandal. I would be remiss to not mention that sometimes when I am having a bad day, I go look at him posing with his hip jutted out in his tangerine Under Armor shirt, and it makes me giggle. I have even commented in private about my recollections from attending his church as a child, recognizing even then the powerful, albeit it unnerving, adulation his members feel for him.

But really, I don't want any parts of this foolishness. I don’t want to comment on what it means for him, his marriage, his family and his ministry if these allegations are true. I don’t want to begin thinking about what the fall out will be if any of his four accusers are lying. I don’t even want to jump into the debate that some women are having, like over at Belle’s spot, about whether or not Mrs. Long should stand by her man.

But I will say what hardly any one is saying amidst the flashy, marquis catch phrases like “gay”, “pedophile”, “Christian”, etc; this is not a homosexual issue.

Sure, “Bishop”* Long may in fact be homosexual. His well documented hatred of gays and lesbians might be rooted in self hatred for his own sexual attractions. On an entirely personal note, I wouldn’t be at all surprised. I have long maintained that NO ONE is that violently, vehemently homophobic without a deeply personal connection to homosexuality that goes far beyond not liking the social idea of same sex relationships.

But honestly, I don’t care about that. Who would be surprised? Who wouldn’t see “Anti-Gay Minister Outed as Homosexual” and think it’s a tired, old headline? It’s almost becoming cliché because it is happening all over the realm of religion, politics and everywhere else. And seriously, who looks at these cell phone pictures of the Tangerine Dream sent to young men and thinks he is sending it to them to, what, encourage their fitness goals?

Let’s be real.

My problem with this entire issue is the intrinsic way that homosexuality and pedophilia find themselves, once again, linked. For the longest, these two terms have been mutually exclusive, especially to those who rage against the “unnatural ways” of homosexuals and accuse them of molesting young people to “indoctrinate them to their gay way of life.” Molestation and pedophilia have long been touted as recruitment tools, or reasons why people have “turned gay”. Especially in many (not all) Christian settings, every “reformed” gay or lesbian has a story of how they were molested or raped as a child and thus they internalized their pain in such a way that manifested itself in homosexuality.


Don’t believe me? Look no further than “cured” gay Donnie McClurkin (who has long fought loud whispers of gay activity himself).

Even on the side of those trying to defend gay rights, some misguidedly suggest that if Catholic priests were allowed to marry, that maybe it would lessen their appetites for young altar boys.

To be fair, there have been plenty of pundants and writers who have taken care to make “Bishop” Long’s record of homophobia very separate from charges of sexual misconduct. (An aside; as a former resident of Georgia, I can tell you that the age of consent is 16 so really, aside from it being incredibly disgusting and seedy, by law if these allegations are true, Long is not a pedophile.) But that doesn’t make quite the same splash as calling him a hypocritical, homosexual pedophile, I suppose.

Make no mistake; if these allegations are true, “Bishop” Long manipulated these boys for a very specific reason. And it is not his, or the victims’ sexual preference.

Sexual assaults are not about sexual acts or gratification. In fact, many perpetrators gain their sexual gratification not through the physical act, but rather the power exerted over another.

And that is what is at the root of this entire scandal. Power.

The power of a charismatic leader preying on the naïveté of the young. The power of a church behind him able to blindly shape the narrative of the human deity they have lifted to insane heights. Power over someone younger, easily coerced by someone filling the void of a father figure, and then using the power of that intimate trust for his own gratification.

At no point there is sexuality an issue.

It is even likely, as is the case with some same sex predators, that Long himself isn’t even gay. Rather, it could be he saw easy victims. These were young men who were easily manipulated, and entrusted to his care on trips that took them far away from eyes that might catch his impropriety. It could simply be the case that the “Bishop” saw the opportunity to exploit their vulnerability, and take advantage of their blind trust in him as spiritual leader.

Despite how easy it is to be lazy and link pedophilia and homosexuality to create the best bang in an increasingly saturated 24 hour news cycle, the fact that more people aren’t taking the time to clearly highlight the behavioral differences and motivations in the two is alarming, and is in fact pandering to increased homophobia, consciously or subconsciously. It concerns me that coverage of this story in this manner gives even more ammo to people who cannot discern that a predator is not one in the same as someone who is attracted to a person of the same sex.

It’s clear that this scandal isn’t going to go away anytime soon. And surely the story of the powerful minister brought down by the very forces of “evil” he claims to be at spiritual war against is one too powerful to not continue to perpetuate. I just wish more people took care to separate a perfectly natural attraction from a psychological need for power through abuse.

*there are no bishops in the Baptist church. I dunno who got y'all black folk to declaring yourselves titles that don't exist, but please cease and desist.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

But That's What you Do

Somewhere between hours one and two of a really great phone conversation with my aunt (who has long since been screened once I realized she rarely calls me to talk to me in as much as she calls to track down/talk about/reaffirm my responsibility to my mother) right after talking about the dog, she said the thing that I knew she was going to say, but still caught me off guard anyway…

“So… do you think there will be any babies in our future?”

“Oh, I dunno. Lemme ask Honey. Honey, are you gonna have babies?”

“No, *first and middle government names* are YOU gonna have babies?”

“I’m sorry- what?!”

We had the inevitable back and forth; her saying I should have babies, me countering that between all my cousins who have babies (all but me and one other) there are MORE than enough kids in the family; her saying I should have babies, me explaining to her why I love my crisp, white, 600 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets and how having a baby shit all over them is not my idea of a party; her saying I should have babies.


Finally, I removed myself from the inescapable circular children argument with the tried and true, “I can’t afford one.”

Which is true, btw. Though I would love nothing more than to get all manner of tax returns because I have pushed a little human out of my snatch.

In recent years, as I move further from drunken, middle of the yard face plants in the snow
(REALLY funny story involving Cuervo and Hypnotic) and draw nigh of the hallowed, adult ground of 30, this conversation has become more frequent. It probably started in earnest a couple years back at the funeral of a loved one when my mother turned to me and said, “You can have a baby. I will help you take care of it. You don’t have to get married. Or even wait for a boyfriend.”

My mom, probably much like yours, spent my entire adolescence preaching, threatening, warning about the dangers of becoming somebody’s baby mama. And now, because I am on the other side of being sent away to “boarding school” when I find myself in a “situation” it is suddenly ok? The irony of this conversation aside, it became a fairly standard practice; my mother bringing it up, me rolling my eyes and making a snarky remark.

But now, it’s not just her. It is peripheral friends who remind me, at every act that could maybe be construed as motherly, how great I would be at it. It’s every ex-boyfriend who resurfaces with a batshit crazy baby mama who wants to wax philosophical on how different it would be had it been me *eyebrow raise* (for the record, damn near every ex of mine now has a baby and, by extension a baby mama. Except one. And he might be lying. And the gay one, of course). It’s the high school friends who look at me crazy when I explain I don’t have kids. And now my aunt of course. If my daddy asks me when I am gonna give him grandkids, I will likely lay down in the street and die.

The earliest I can remember being ambivalent about having kids was around 13 or so. I was with First Love, daydreaming aloud about what our future would be like, as dumb ass children sometimes do in the throes of their first love. There was the wedding (mutually decided upon), the small cottage with a porch in Morningside Heights (me), and 3 kids (all him). Every time he got to that last point, the three kids, I would go silent. As a teenager, I wasn’t quite sure why and didn’t know how to articulate my hesitation. I remember pretty clearly it starting with baby steps; what if we waited the first couple years of marriage to have kids? What about five years? What if we wait until we both finish school? Or until established in our careers? That could take until our early 30s.

What if we don’t have kids at all?

The first time I said it aloud to him, somewhere around 17, after we had been discussing these same ever morphing plans for four years, he looked at me like I told him I got my cardio by setting kittens on fire.

“But La,” he says to me, genuinely befuddled, “that’s what you do.”

It was easier then, in ways that it is not now, to just say no thank you.

Then, you have the built in excuse of being far too young, unmarried, uneducated, un-etc, etc. At 26, while still unmarried, but neither of my previous two excuses, I more often than not get the side eye. You know the one; like something is inherently wrong with me.

Don’t get me wrong; I love kids. Other people’s kids. Kids adore me. And I am pretty great with them. Many of my girlfriends are DYING to have babies. And I am dying for them to have them. I am just not dying for them myself.

For me, that isn’t a problem. I have made my peace with it. Just as I have made my peace with the fact that if, in the future, I decide to have children, I can do that as well. The people in my inner circle (mostly) leave me alone about the hereto unknown occupants of my uterine apartment. But I catch the subtle digs. The reflexive side eyes. The assumptions that I am barren/was abused/a lesbian (btw lesbians are generally some of the most baby crazy women you will ever meet so I recommend you dispense with this stereotype). I see the knowing glances when I comment on a baby being cute, because somehow being able to see that a child is adorable means I want one. I am well aware of the subtle ways people imply that somehow meeting the fabled One will magically change my mind, because, you know, finding a man is what makes all the pieces of your life fall together, Tyler Perry style.

It’s rude and insulting in ways you can’t imagine. I won’t even start with the pathology that assumes that as a woman I am a ticking time bomb of conception desire, and that, and if I am not or don’t have a child, that I must be a wasted woman. I won’t even discuss the ways that pontificating on how I MUST be bitter about a parent/boyfriend/familial issue MUST be the reason I don’t desire children is insulting not only to me and my intelligence, but the many mental health professionals I have sought over the years. I don’t hate children (unless they are screaming in restaurants). I intend to be front and center for every baby shower, birth and birthday that all my friends are blessed to have. I just fully expect that they appreciate that my house in Morningside Heights is the only quiet, non chocolate pudding stained one they can come to when they need a break from being great moms.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pearl Harbor

I have the most comfortable bed on earth. It is like lying on clouds lined with organic cotton wrapped in the sighs of baby cherubs. If love and kindness was made by Serta, this is what it would feel like.

I say all of that not to offer free advertising, but rather to explain just how hard I sleep in said bed. Hard. Like, comatose. Like sleeping myself under the pillow. Like utter and total confusion when I stumble into consciousness.

So there I was, sleeping soundly like the hibernating bear cub I am, only to be kicked into consciousness by what sounds to me, in my Nyquil stupor, like someone at my door. Just that quickly I am sweating, my breath coming out in uneven huffs. My eyes are open wide, the dull ache of them trying to adjust to the darkness becoming a sharp pain in my panic. I fling the covers off, wanting to be unfettered if I have to fight my way out of this room that is the polar opposite of the front door, my escape. The dog, being the worthless bitch she is, is still asleep.

I listen to the adrenaline in my ears; to the silence crackling around me, save for the distinct noises of animals and insects in the dense thicket of trees far too close to my building. I am trying to hold myself still as I possibly can, hoping like hell that what I thought I may have definitely heard is nothing but the many strange, unidentifiable insect war calls that seem to be par for the course at this damn place next to the damn woods that I just had to live in.

I hear no bugs.

I am waiting now, straining to hear the door open or a shift of weight on the carpet on the other side of the bedroom door. I am considering my options. The only weapons in the house are in the kitchen, though I am not above doing some serious damage with my chef’s knife. But I would have to get there. And the kitchen is by the front door. Which would bring me face to face with whoever is standing in my living room waiting to beat me, rob me, and cut off my hair, or whatever. I could try to creep in the darkness to the hallway door, lock it, and effectively barricade myself in the back half of the apartment. But hell, that door is as flimsy as a hooker’s dress. Surely it can be easily kicked down. I grab my Black.berry off the nightstand, my finger hovering over the key to press for an emergency call. I listen.

And hear what sounds like feet on the other side of my door.


I see myself then, trembling, drunk on adrenaline, trying to see into the silence like I’m a fucking sensei or something. And suddenly, I am incensed. This is MY APARTMENT. I LOVE this apartment. I have wanted this FOR A LONG TIME. I WILL NOT be scared shitless in my own apartment. I have a DOG and she is PART GERMAN SHEPHERD. I look at her, peering at me in the darkness all half-sleep looking.

Riding that wave of crazy, I tiptoe into my kitchen, lighter than I have moved since the many moons I used to spend at a ballet barre. I don’t turn on the lights. I know the lay out, all the nooks and crannies of my place. I have home court advantage over whoever is about to break in. I even fool myself into thinking that adrenaline serves as a sort of superhuman night vision. I am a fucking bat, y’all.

I slide a knife out of the drawer, settling it in my grip as I slide down to crouch behind the wall that separates the kitchen and living room. Punk ass dog that she is, Honey is right next to me, burrowing her little fox face into my side.

In the silence, I wait.

After what feels like forever, I hear more shuffled footsteps outside the door. Honey lets out a low growl.

Well, bitch, it’s about time.

Nothing is happening, so I decide to creep to the door and look out of the peephole to determine if I can fight off whoever is about to attack me or if I need to blockade myself in the bedroom and call the police. I should mention though, that this is a bit of a struggle as my peephole is *almost* too tall for me to see out of comfortably.

Balancing in my most precarious relevé, I don’t see anyone. A million different scenarios run through my head; What if they are hiding to either side of the door because they heard me moving on this side? What if I have scared them off with the sheer force of my super secret spy vibrations? I have a CHEF’S KNIFE, BITCH. I am DANGEROUS.

At this point, with silence wrapping around both sides of my front door, I carefully weigh my choices. I know I will never be able to go back to sleep so I have two options; I can open this door and confront whatever might be on the other side of it, or I go watch Real Housewives of DC onDemand.

After a bit of debate, I decide to test my newly-acquired-through-fear-and-osmosis ninja knife skills with whatever might be waiting for me on the other side of my door. In a grand flourish I open my front door, barely even jumping at the sharp slap the heavy door makes when it bangs against the wall, ‘cause I am so gangster right now. I swing my gaze quickly, left to right, my spidey senses tingling.

No one is there

Except an unnaturally large opossum, staring at me with big red eyes the size of brake lights.

I scream, a sharp, piercing scream, louder than I have ever screamed in life. Before my mind can even tell my body to, I'm running backwards, trying to get back inside, but trying to keep an eye on this toddler damn near the size of my torso disguised as a opossum, tripping over the poor dog who is getting trampled underfoot, still screaming, and somehow slamming my own foot in the door in the process. It’s a wonder I don’t stab myself. I get the door closed and securely locked though I am 98% certain I felt the opossum trying to push his way in.

I am breathing hard, sweat dripping off my limbs, my heart tribal dancing in my chest, trembling like I am in my panties in the Arctic. A quick glance over at the clock on my microwave tells me that only 10 minutes have passed between when I was awoken by the terrorist opossum and now.

You have GOT to be kidding me. I have been in fight or flight ninja mode for AT LEAST 5 hours. This is some bullshit. Seriously, the Unidentifiable Flying Insects were one thing, but this? What in the fuck is up with all this NATURE?! What the fuck kinda opossum just strolls up to somebody’s door? And what the fuck chemical wasteland Indian burial ground is this damn complex built on that this woodland ass creature got to be so fucking big?!

I can’t.

This was how the war began.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Love Below

There is something hanging over my eyes, long and spindly. Before I can realize it is my own eyelashes, I have reached up and slapped myself in the face.

That shit is gonna leave a mark.

My eyes are open now, I think, but I am not sure because the room is completely black. I lay there a minute, waiting for my eyes to adjust and slowly, a headache creeps up around my temples.

I am confused. The room is coming into shape, slowly, fuzzily, but it's coming. I don't recognize a thing. I roll over to my side and a swift wave of heat crashes over my head and drips down to my toes. I lie back down, trying to be perfectly still so I don't throw up.

It's around this time, as I put my hand to my chest to wipe the damp sweat that has pooled there, that I realize that I'm naked.


I need to look around, but the last time I lifted my head didn't go so well. I start with just my eyes, slowly dragging the details of the room, slowly waking fully up to new waves of nausea. I feel like that Outkast skit...

"Where... where... where are my panties?"

Next to me something exhales sharply and before I know it I have let out a yelp and flipped myself backwards off the bed. OhmyGod, my head. It is cooler on the floor but I still feel sick, and now someone is spinning the room in circles. And of course there is still some unidentified sighing object above my head.

I place just my fingertips over the edge of the bed, pulling myself up slowly to peek and see who it is, trying mightily to steady myself just in case I have to fight my way out of there.

My eyes fully adjusted now can make out the form of a naked man lying there, tangled in the covers. He's sleeping hard, on his back, one arm flung out into the space I have just vacated during my super secret spy roll out of the bed. Starting at his head, I try to focus on the details of him, try to place together some of what got me here. I take in the form, the tattoos, the slight slope of his stomach and the more than abundant bulge beneath the slanted chocolate sheets.
Oh shit.

What the fuck did I do?

I am awake. And in flight mode. I'm gathering up scraps of clothing from everywhere; purple lace panties are on the edge of the bed; my bra is on the dresser, pants outside the door.

Damn girl, you couldn't even make it inside the room good before you lost your pants? Jesus.

I am jumping up and down on one foot, cursing the name of the Patron Saint Patron when I hear my name from directly behind me-

"La are you ok?"

-and I fall directly on my face.

He is behind me, smiling down at me and offering a hand, slightly bemused and a bit unsteady on his feet himself.

"Are you leaving?" he asks me, a tad bit hopeful.
"Yeah I am. I have to work in the morning."

Or at least I think I do. It is Thursday, right?

I find my shoes (one under the bed, one in the closet) and hold on to him while I put them on. He walks me to the door still naked, turning me before I can make my escape, kissing me full on the lips.

"See you later."

I smile in response without a word, stepping backwards out of the doorway, and turning as sharply on my heel as being still slightly drunk will allow. I stumble a bit as I walk the few steps to my car, grateful that he has closed the door by this point. Before I can make it to the curb however, I fall off my favorite pair of BCBG pumps and head first into the bushes.

This cannot be life.

I am sick and stumbling, now scratched up from the bushes, and feeling the initial effects of sex soreness. I know that if I want to make it home, which is all the way across town, I need to get it together. I lean against the car for a minute, appreciating the slight breeze, and hoping that no one comes and robs the semi drunk girl standing at her car in the middle of the night on a strange street.

My daddy would be so proud.

I finally get in the driver's side, cranking the car and turning on the air full blast. I sigh as my head hits the steering wheel.

No really.

Wtf have I done?

(to be continued...)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

And Now I Will Say Something that is Unpopular... though that were any different than half the offensive shit I say here on a regular basis.

Before I start, I will hopefully quantify the statements following and reduce the amount of people who want to crucify me by saying this;

I am overweight. Far more than I should be, thanks to a medication I had no business taking, depression and emotional eating. The previous three things are not excuses by the way; much of my weight gain is my own fault for seeking unhealthy ways to deal with the things I don't always wish to confront.

I wasn't always overweight. I have been healthy-skinny (eating right, working out regularly, etc) and I have been what-probably-should-have-been-diagnosed-as-a-complex-eating-disorder-skinny (weird eating habits, 6 to 8 hours of exercise, a torrid love affair with diet pills that made me feel like I was dying). I admit all of those things to say, I have been on all sides of the weight issue.

Last night a friend called me, complaining about her love life or lack thereof. She whined for about 30 minutes (during which time I watched "HawthoRNe" on low and muttered, "Mmhmm," during the commercial breaks) while she went on and on about how shallow men are and how all men are dogs (anyone who knows me knows that any gross generalization, especially of the "Men are dogs" variety will be met with a blank stare of epic proportions) and finally she came to her thesis...

"I think men just don't like me because I am fat."

*record screech*

In the interest of transparency, I will admit that my dating life has changed as I have gained weight, but it certainly isn't nonexistent unless I choose it to be. Plenty of men still approach me; sometimes I even like them. I go out on dates and I have by NO means been celibate.

No means.

To be clear.

At this point I am torn; I know that no good will come of this situation if I tell her that it is not her waistline that is likely keeping men away or turning them off. Rather it is likely because she gives off twenty feet of Eau de Desperate to Have a Man and bathes regularly in Clinique Clingy.

But I guess in her world, those things are neither here nor there.

I tried, as delicately as I could, to say that maybe her assumption was incorrect, but I am pretty sure she got off the phone with the same singular thought as before. But really, I needed to catch the last 30 of HawthoRNe so I didn't care to try to explain it.

I have heard it often among some of my friends who are overweight; somehow ALL their problems with work and men and friends and health must be tied to the number on the scale. (Maybe the health part is valid.) It somehow becomes a scapegoat for all their issues and cloaks all their destructive behaviors. That might be more dangerous to me than the weight they are carrying.

I mean, what if they lose the weight and the issues are still there? What if they haven't channeled those bad habits into healthy things or natural growth and progression? What happens then?

For me, I recognize how I have contributed to the deterioration of my own health. I can look in the mirror and see how I have been, quite literally, carrying around the misery of the last few years. But I am also very clear about the fact that whether I was skinny or fat, it was hardly the source of any of my issues. Rather, it was usually just an outward indicator of what was going on inside. It was the symptom; not the sickness.

And now, I will say the thing I am not supposed to say because we live in a world of happy and rainbows and glitter…

Let's be honest; there are some men that will immediately discount a woman based on her size. That doesn't make them terrible, low down, shallow amoebae that live under moist rocks. It makes them human. Just like I have seen women turn down a perfectly handsome, funny man because he is a garden gnome who comes equipped with his own booster seat, both women AND men often dismiss a perfectly nice person because of their weight. Have I had less men approach me since I gained weight? Sure. But I also used to have an abundance of men cat call my sizeable rack before. I am not missing much. Come on; no one approaches someone across a bar because they seem like they have a sparkling wit and shining personality.

I understand the emotional, hot button nature of the conversation about being overweight, especially with America being the fattest country in the world. But I don't think that any person, on either side of the scale, can afford to demonize someone else based on their ill informed assumptions about someone else's motives.

My friend will go on thinking that men hate her for her size, not because she mentally moves into their place the first time she visits. That is her journey, I suppose. And there will be tons of overweight men and women who will sneer at the potential suitors they perceive have slighted them because of their weight and recite the mantra that anyone who loves them will love them for exactly who they are.

Which is true, to an extent.

But the only thing I know for sure is this; I want a life fit for myself to live. Not just physically but mentally and emotionally as well. And I know that I will never be perfect, but I believe I can be better. And that is the person I want people to fall in love with.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Girl got a Girlfriend

I remember when I wrote this and then later revealed this, I got a few emails from readers who ranged from shocked ("Omg! Who knew?!") to, well, men ("Do you guest star regularly? Me and my fiancé...")* One of the emails I received stayed with me long after I read it;

"I have struggled with my attraction to both sexes for a long time. I have usually only been comfortable exploring it when a boyfriend has wanted a threesome. Cuz then, it’s for him, you know? How is it that you are so matter of fact and OK WITH IT?"

It puzzled me for the longest, and I will admit that despite the fact that I try very hard to respond as timely as possible to reader emails, I had to sit with that one for a few days. It confused me because I once I was very clear about who I was, I WAS VERY CLEAR ABOUT WHO I WAS. For me, trying to deny my sexuality was much like trying to deny the fact that I have (unruly) curly hair; I could do a ton of things to change it, disguise it, hide it or make it look different but underneath it all, it would still be curly.

So, no; I never had any particular problem with being "okay with it", nor did I regard it as a big deal. There was no huge, looming, "coming out" moment. I was blessed enough to not lose any beloved family members or friends (although when the subject was broached, many said they figured as much and weren't shocked...? Could y’all have told a bitch? I mean, damn), and really, I woke up the exact same person the next morning as I was the night before when I told my mother; the dog was putting her cold nose on my forehead to signal that she had to pee, my equilibrium was all messed up cuz I was still half sleep, my favorite color was still red and I still thought that Kahlua in morning coffee shouldn't be frowned upon.

In short, nothing was changed.

I replied to that email with (what I hope was) a long, thoughtful response that was as middle of the road as I could manage that made one very important point: no matter who you do, you are still you. (I like for my advice to rhyme.) And maybe, that was the root of my calm and matter-of-factness: I recognized early that my sexuality was as authentically a part of me as being female and southern and black and anything else; I could be me in secret or I could be me out loud. I chose the latter.

Because I’m lazy. Secrets are hard.

That was really great right?

Also, totally not the point of this post.

Having been with less women than Queen Latifah likely has (#shade) but more than many of my readers, I want to pass on a little bit of wisdom that I have learned via my Sapphic exploits…

These lesbians ain’t playin’ with y’all out here.

I know, I know. It’s totally in style to kiss girls in bars. And every week a new celebrity is touting her purported penchant for pussy as evidence of how “edgy” she is (we see you Christina and Fergie and so on). On behalf of the entire bisexual community let me tell you; we are full.

The last few years, I have watched the onslaught of this new type of fetishism become more main stream. Back in the 90s, the Thing to Be was black and Asian; it was “exotic”. Now, apparently it’s a girl who likes girls. It’s all over ever form of media you drown in everyday and not even just your guilty pleasure trashy reality show or favorite faux rapper’s club anthem anymore; now it’s commercials for selling vastly unrelated products and in pop music.

And everyone knows once it is all over pop music charts, it is no longer avant-garde or trendsetting. Kinda like an electronic/dance/pop fusion (*waving at Aguilera’s “Bionic”).

Sadly, it isn’t even some sort of artistic movement towards the acceptance of one’s self (and by extension their sexuality). Rather it is about fulfilling some rappers’ threesome fantasies and making him look like the man to other men who apparently are not rich/famous/well endowed enough to get two women to go down on each other just for the chance to blow him. (Don’t even get me started on the fact that not all lesbians look like Megan Fox, despite what Maxim would have you believe.) Now it is just the attention grabbing stunt you do to be ‘It’ girl in the club. It’s the 2010 equivalent of accidentally vadge flashing the paparazzi. Much like that particular brand of unintentional porn, I want it to die. Painfully.

And don’t try to call one of these barsexuals on their same sex marketing ploys. Well then, THEN you’re just trying to define them and they don’t want to be boxed in, and they TOTALLY didn’t mean that they ACTUALLY sleep with women (cue: “Go Hard”).

Perhaps that is the saddest part of this all; that somehow what could be a vital and potentially life changing move towards normalcy for a group that is often marginalized in both gay and straight communities, is even more marginalized by girls who play act the role of Angelina Jolie to make boys notice them (I totally believe Angie’s heart is purple, by the way).

I get it. I really do. It’s hard out there. Marriage rates are declining. Women are getting married later, having children later. There is a man shortage, supposedly. Add to that the much hyped plight of the lonely, never married black woman (*HARD eye roll*) and I understand; you are in this game to win a husband and you will do what you have to do to gain the competitive edge.

But for real though, these lesbians ain’t playing with y’all.

They don’t think you’re funny. They don’t appreciate you playing with them and touting your supposed lesploits out for you boyfriends so he thinks you are sexually exciting enough to sleep with for the rest of his life. Remember that time in college that you and your best friend Stalked and Slashed because the guy you felt so strongly about strung you along? Yeah. Except now you have crazy College You with Adult You resources out for revenge after the realization that your “curiosity” was just for the sake of winning back your ex-boyfriend.


Have a seat.

Maybe you actually have questioned your sexuality, and this entire “my girl got a girlfriend” foolishness is giving you breathing room to explore your attractions with substantially diminished fear of judgment. Maybe I don’t get it because I didn’t particularly struggle with it despite my own religious upbringing and it wasn’t all that scary to me; it just was. Maybe I don’t understand because I am prone to side eye anything that encourages female sexuality to be used as a tool of manipulation and satisfaction for men.

I seriously doubt that shit though.

Long story short, I’d appreciate it if all you Real World rejects kissing your bff in the bar when Katy Perry comes on would have a seat. It’s insulting, really. My life is not your foreplay. And promoting the idea that it is only ok to like girls if your boyfriend wants you to like girls is so incredibly damaging to people like the girl who sent me that email way back when. Explore your sexuality if you truly desire to do so but do it like the rest of us; when you are living in a fairly gay city far away from family and friends


*actual quotes from actual emails

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I Know, I Know...

Right in the middle of this whole, epic, soul searching situation, I just disappear.

I warn you, I can be flaky like that, lol.

But I SWEAR I had a good reason (this time).

I was almost homeless, y'all! Home. Less. Without home. Sleeping in my SUV using the dog as a pillow.

Not a good look for the kid.

So I had to handle that. And I did, never fear. I am no longer homeless, but rather in the possession of a rather cute apartment that I am currently in love with and dying to decorate. Granted, I will be too broke henceforth, now, and forever more to decorate it, but so long as I'm not Boxcar Kid-ing it, it is all good.

Expect many, MANY stories about the terrors of living alone. There are many. I have experienced them. And I moved in all of one week ago.


Circling back around to some semblance of sense, I have been thinking alot about a conversation I had a few weeks ago with Michael. I think, generally, he indulges my particular brand of crazy because, well, let's face it most times it's hilarious, but during what was most likely a light hearted conversation about family fails, we got on the subject of allowing people to be who they are. In a rare moment of sobriety clarity I said to him, "I have learned that people will be exactly who they are and I can't change them, but I haven't quite learned how to forgive them for not being what I need."

Michael says, "Come on nah. You're 26. It's about time to learn that lesson."

Hate when he's right.

Sure, sure, he said it as nicely as blackberry messenger can allow one to come off without benefit of tone or tact. But he's right. And it stung.

Once upon a time, I remember a friend calling me "Slayer of Everything that Moves" upon the dissolution of a friendship or relationship. It was really funny at the time, but when I started to think about it once I was sober, it's really quite true. It usually takes me quite some time to decide that I am done with people in my life, but once I do, I am DONE. They are dead to me. Not moving. A distant mirage that I might recall for comedic effect or I might pretend never existed. It really just depends on my mood. But that is mostly because I don't particularly thrive in the gray area.

I don't know what to do with that friend who is no longer a friend because you can't really trust them, but they a tree with deep roots in your history. I am never sure where to step with a lover I am no longer sleeping with who inquires about my day. I can't handle that. I don't know how. And in all honesty, I am not sure if I want to know how.

Not because these types of changes in relationships are particularly difficult to navigate. But rather because I am Slayer of Everything that Moves; I don't want to be looking at a Something that use to be an Everything, being simultaneously reminded of all the good things we shared and all of the unique, intricate ways they hurt me. Rather, I want everything to STOP MOVING. So I can get up outta here.

Otherwise, I just don't know where to put it.

Seemingly, superficially, this has worked for me up until this point. But I also recognize that there are people I can't extract from my life, who still drive me crazy everyday and who, as Michael said, I would benefit greatly from learning to just allow them to be them, without that being in tangent to recalling how being them has meant for the injury of me.

I am gonna work on that. In the meantime though, I slay everything that moves.

That includes the varying collection of bugs I keep finding in my apartment abutting the woods. Wtf?!?!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Great Assesment

Secretly, Lady Lee is one of my favorite bloggers and a friend in my head. Don't tell her though. Can't have her throwing herself an Oldgirl parade in her own honor.

I read her blog regularly, even when she writes a novella, though I don't always comment. Mostly because her entries are always making me think. And then, you know, my head is hurting, and I'm all confused and I just don't quite make it around to posting a comment. So really, when you put it that way, it is her fault.

And stuff.

Be that as it may, quite some time ago, it must have been around late 2008-ish, Lee posted a series of questions on her blog that she had lifted from someone else's blog, and I mentioned in her comments (back then I was capable of commenting) that I was going to answer said questions, though I was sure my answers would turn into a novel.

I promise I had every intention of answering them.

But I didn't.

I read them. And they made me uncomfortable. I started to write, and I didn't like the way I was sounding; my words a bit too raw, the syntax not nearly symphonic enough for me. So, I just left it alone. Saved my scraps and strings of semi-intelligent self summary in the drafts and ignored it. I thought about it from time to time, figured maybe it would do me some good to answer these questions I had not given myself time to answer, because I did not always want to know the answer. Sometimes I thought it would be a great way to pull me out of the writer's block I had been experiencing. Other times I feared it would just send me spiraling deeper down into the depression I have been spiraling.

So they sat there.

I am looking at them now; they're staring back at me from their spot in my drafts, deeply rooted in this five years I've been chronicling. I stick my tongue out at them and they don't blink. I turn away and I can still feel them looking at me and wondering when I will get it together.

Me too, most days.

So, for the lack of anything else to write about (that's a lie, by the way) today I thought, well, what if I answered them? What's the worst that could happen?

Today we will find out.

(Answers down below...)

Who are You?

I am my parent's child. And I mean that certainly in more than the biological way. I am the sum of who they are and aren't, their strengths and their weaknesses, their sound decisions and mistakes, their issues and shortcomings, as much as their positive attributes and triumphs. Physically, I am equal parts of them both; my mother's face with my father's hair. My mother's mouth, which was her mother's before her, and their hands. I have my daddy's penchant for developing freckles and his mother's delicate nose.

Because of them, I am pretty. I don't say this to be conceited, but rather to offer in all honesty that I have both suffered for it and used it as a means of manipulation.

Anyone who tells you they have never used their beauty to their advantage is a liar.

I am not gorgeous though. I am not classically beautiful, nor the type of lovely that makes people stop and take notice. How do I know this?

Well, a family member told me of course. Specifically, that despite my "fair skin, long hair, and white girl features" that I wasn't really "all that pretty" so I better find something else going for myself.

So I did.

My daddy is pragmatic. He is simple in the easiest and loveliest of ways. He is not fancy or holding himself up to be better than. He is not fussy or emotionally ornate. He is just a man, far too generous and self sacrificing for his own good, not prone to grand, emotional demonstration, hard-working, and warm. But he is also so wholly dedicated to financial providing that he errs on the side of distant when treading emotional waters. He works excessively, and therefore provides, having taken up the mantle at a young age when his own father died. He does not have much by way of possessions, but certainly he has managed to provide as best he could with what little he was given. Unfortunately though, he has given a great deal of his life to his family without having lived much of it solely for himself.

In that way, we are the same.

My mother is the baby of the family, and she's enjoyed being indulged as such for most of her life. If my daddy is all solid lines and black and white, it is my mom who dreams in color. It was she who dreamed of a life far grander, bigger, brighter than being the youngest of a whole clan, born poor to a single mother who cleaned the houses of rich, white southerners, who's skin she may have favored, but who's wealth she did not. She dared to dream of more than her circumstances, to desire more than what she was given, to reach for more than what she was told she should have, defined simply by being born who she was.

This ability to dream in bold, Technicolor pictures, she passed on to me.

But perhaps because of those dreams, and what must still have seemed like the sheer improbability of a reality inside of them, she is not prone to selflessness or sacrifice. Sure, she did (does) and said (says) the things that she should so and say in the way that self appointed martyrs do. But anything deeper than a precursory look will prove that image is not quite the case.

She chooses partners badly, tempestuously in that baby-of-the-family way. And she commits whole-heartedly, foolishly, to men who will not, cannot keep her. It is likely that she has spent the greater part of the last half century, searching for the man to fill the shoes of her absent father, discarding each long after the damage has been wrought when he proves himself to be exactly who he has been all along, and not the projected picture she painted to worship in her head. Having had to give up her own dreams at such a young age, she teeters precariously between feeling bitter at the loss and still trying to find some semblance of that happiness, no matter what the path between here and there looks like and who she has to drag along the way.

Including me.

I equal precisely what the addition of them, and those that they came from, produces. Much of my life has been defined by their choices and their shortcomings, as people and parents. This is in no way an accusation or laying of blame, but rather an observation, made as objectively as their offspring can manage. In many ways, I feel trapped under the weight of their life; I am just as stoic as my father. Adding that to my aversion to the romance my mother favors without condition, and you have, well, a recipe for nothing nice.

For better or worse though, I believe they did the best they had the capacity to do for me. And despite their faults, and what their faults have meant for shaping my own identity, I am deeply appreciative of that. They have, just like so many other people, built the best them that they could with the supplies they were given. And even more importantly, they went out of their way to make sure that the supplies I was given to build me were even better than what they had. My own perceived shortcomings are my own to deal with. Whether I always believe it or not, I am all I need to be exactly who I want to be.

It might seem as though I have discussed who I am entirely through the lens of who my parents were or weren't.

And that, friend, is exactly right.