Tuesday, February 28, 2006


i was walking between buildings one day when i was in high school. noone else was outside with me, and i was in a good mood. so my happy ass was literally skipping to


and blessed.

the science building. but before i got there, my shoes betrayed me, and slipped on the dry concrete. i wish it was on tape. america's funniest home videos coulda paid my way through school. my feet went up, my head came down, and when gravity was finished having its way with me, i found myself laying on my back, stunned. and blessed, because i was able to get up and keep it moving with no injuries, save one. my left middle finger hasn't been straight since that day. good thing it's barely noticeable, 'cause it's right next to the finger that may one day be flashed to loved ones who ask to see his gift to me.

i was about five or six, and was standing too close to the door as he was trying to open the lock

the key's path

with a key. i guess he fumbled a bit - the key slipped and found its way across my right cheek, just under my eye. i don't remember if it hurt, but my mom was beside herself, worried about her baby girl's face, and the bleeding, and what if it had been my eye?!?! but, thank God, it wasn't my eye. the key's path is still visible there, and if you look hard enough, you can see it. i don't even try to conceal it, 'cause people don't even notice it until i tell them it's there, and besides, i don't like foundation or concealer much anyway.

i had my fair share of tumbles and skinned knees. but for whatever reason, this particular scrape produced four distinct scabs, as if i'd been scraped by a fork




with thick tines. i don't remember what caused the scabs, but i do remember picking them... and picking them... and picking them... and i probably remember it so well because i am looking at my left knee cap right now, and yup - there they are. four little bright stripes, ranging from a quarter inch to a half inch long, tracking south southeast on my knee.

my mamanem should have gotten rid of that damn coffee table. or maybe i should have just listened to my mom and slowed my little butt down. either way, if i look hard enough for the evidence, my shins tell the story. i find it quite ironic that she finally ditched the whole coffee table thing once i'd acquired some decorum and grace. too late to save my legs, but right on time to rid her living room of the table's clutter that irked her so. to this day, i have no coffee table in my living room. humph. i don't drink coffee noway...

i never wear three pairs of earrings at once. on occasion, i may wear two at a time. but never three. but mom hooked me up as an infant, and then said okay twice after i




hit puberty. and i didn't have anything better to do than to allow some girl to create that warmwarmwarm feeling in my ear as my cartilage was assaulted with that little stud that you have to clean and turn... clean and turn... clean... turn... silly waste of time. at least i'll never have to wish for more.

i call them my beauty marks. why can't i? just 'cause they're not on my face - on a cheek perhaps, or just so, above my upper lip? whatever. there's one above my right hip that's only visible in a bikini or low-rise jeans. got another beauty mark on my right shoulder blade. and then a few others on my ah, chest, that ah... only doctors have seen. *dodging lightning bolt...*

and speaking of lightning bolts - i have some of those, too. traceable,



lovable lightning. i don't care what others say about lightning - my lightning is a beautiful decoration, dancing across the most secret and soft of places, telling the story of my metamorphosis from bud to flower, once upon a time.

soap, water, lotion, cocoa butter, love.

it's all beautiful.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Sunday, February 26, 2006


hi! this is me at the feature. k.b. sent me the pictures, and i am posting them raw, because my photo editor was free and you get what you pay for. i've been photosho.p-deprived ever since my laptop died and i realized that i couldn't find the CD with the installation software... *sigh.*

anyway, apparently, i close my eyes while performing... a lot. 'cause every picture k.b. took of me is an eyes-closed shot - funny, it doesn't seem that my eyes were closed that much... (but i know how hard it is to get good pictures of someone when they're performing, 'cause i tried to do it thursday with a friend of mine, and it was really hard to get a good shot). but i know my eyes were open at some point, especially because of all that eye contact i remember making with the audience. which, by the way, is wonderful! all this time, i'd suspected that i was missing out on some contact with the audience because of my dependence on my raggedy lil' composition notebook. and wouldn't you know i was right? looking into folks' faces while i tell my heart is so much better! but anyway, for now, this is the best i can do... i promise, when i come into my unexpected windfall *snicker* i will buy a supa dupa computer with supa dupa software. 'til then, this is as good as it gets.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

but then there are the dreams

as i begin to type these words, it is 3:37 a.m. lately, i haven't been sleeping at night - i've been going out to keep company with friends, or staying up watching old tv shows, or updating my blog... so i'm not shocked to be wide awake right now. i need to write - i have things on my mind. and as i type these words, i don't know what will come out, but we'll see. i'm taking a very brave gamble by typing in my blog instead of inking up my real journal, where i usually work out things that are on my mind that i think are best kept to myself.

this evening, i treated myself to a play. when i got there, i bumped into friends, and we hung out together for the night. i enjoyed good company and had a nice time. and i thought, as i pulled off for home in my car, that a nice evening like that with good people felt like enough.

what do i mean by enough?

check my thursday post. the last paragraph. the one where i talk about not missing him, 'cause i was too busy enjoying life. that thought scares me a little. it sounds a little bit like that, "i don't need a man" mantra that bitter women have been prophesying over their lonely futures - speaking solitude into existence. and that is scary, because i have an acute fear of and aversion to ever being one of those bitter women. now to really think about it, i don't think that i am one of those bitter women. but what if i am and i don't know it? what if it's written in the particular stitches of my knit brow, but i can't see the stitches and everyone else can? i mean, what if bitterwomanhood sneaks up on me, like how gray hairs are just found one day, or one day the bathroom scale just says 5 pounds more than it did the last time you hopped on. a conversation with friends tonight just highlighted my need to take a look...

could enough be the mantra of the bitter women? shoooot, enough scares me. it sounds like the sentiment of a person with no faith, no hope, no will to aspire and believe. it sounds like the inherently toxic comfort of someone who settles. i don't like to think of myself as a settle-er. however, lately, the idea of being single just makes sense to me. the idea of actually sleeping regularly in the same bed with another person doesn't appeal to me. the idea of me being a part of a couple is actually beginning to sound foreign - foolish, even. i'm developing a protective callous against watching others love and believe in love, couple up and build families, like that's their thing, not mine. i've had even thoughts of me being the childless "auntie/big cousin" who gives great presents, and whose house is always open to others' children to stay for the weekend while their parents get some time to themselves. and instead of this thought freaking me out and making me frantic about coupling up, i shrug and figure that that imagined life sounds like it has its advantages - that living that life might not be the thing i've always said i wanted or dreamed... but it would more than likely be enough. enough is a double-edged sword. it's good because it certainly has been effective lately to dissuade me from being pressured to settle in with someone, just to be with someone. but it's also bad. because enough keeps me in a mindset to avoid "unnecessary hassle" at whatever cost.

avoiding hassle means not flirting with guys i'm attracted to, like k.b. was trying to encourage me to do tonight. it also means smirking and sarcastically saying, "okay, whatever," when my best friend says she knows someone nice who wants to meet me after hearing about me through her. avoiding hassle also includes reserving my appreciation for compliments for only those compliments that seem simple, pressure-less, and sincere. avoiding hassle has, over time, even come to mean dismissing sincere interest from men by finding reasons why it's better to not even deal with them beyond friendship. that sounds like something that a bitter woman would do. *shudder*

let me let you in on what is only semi-secret... ready?


i gots NO game. none whatsoever. the flirting games - i never wanted to play them. in fact, i'm somewhat oblivious to when the flirting games are even being played. the closest i ever come to what could abstractly be called flirting is being nice. that's the full extent of my game. that's a result of the avoiding hassle regimen. how many times have i defiantly declared, "forget all that game mess - if he can't just stop playing games and come right out and ask me something or tell me something, i guess it's just not something i need to be worrying about then, is it?" i look at people playing the mating dance mambo and shake my head in condescending rejection - "later for that. i ain't got time for no games." (as if my door would be open if someone wasn't trying to play games.)

so let's add it all up, shall we? too busy trying to enjoy life to miss him. check. embracing the concept of enough as a good thing. check. avoiding hassle by repudiating the cliches of flirting/dating/game playing. check. mm hmm... sounds like fertile ground for prime, grade A quality, firmly rooted, bitter woman to me. iced lemonade coursing the veins. going home to an empty home by choice, then turning around and complaining about being lonely. ewww.

but then there are the dreams. the dreams i managed to snag memory threads from in my haste to start my days. lately, my dreams have been related in some way to this post. my spirit has a knowledge that i don't always comprehend.

as i continue these words, it is the following afternoon - last night, after i finished the previous sentence, i did the strangest thing: i fell asleep! i slept soundly and with a vengeance... but most of this morning was spent fitfully, trying to deny and change the subject matter of my dreams. they lead me to believe that my spirit knows that i am being cowardly. that embracing the concept of enough is a cowardly act, an act of trying to deceive myself - an attempt that is failing with a stellar level of inadequacy. my dreams remind me that hassle isn't the only thing that i am avoiding. they remind me that i am also avoiding the comfort and security that my spirit defiantly believes i can find in an intimate relationship, despite everything that i want to espouse through my refusal to play the game.

through the cloud of pain and out of a timeless human desire for self-preservation, many people foolishly say - when they're tired of seeking love, finding substitutes, and then losing their illusions - that never again will they subject themselves to that cycle. i've never said that. i've never believed that i would be strong enough to resist temptation and go that route. but apparently, somewhere along the line, i made a similarly foolish commitment to try my best not to give myself over again in my entirety. befriend, but don't trust. date, but don't seek longevity. kiss, but don't allow true spiritual intimacy. play the role, but don't believe it will last long. (i wonder how many others share themselves this way?) and ultimately, this get-your-basic-needs-for-company mentality towards the game became don't-even-play-the-game-because-you-can-have-enough-life-and-satisfaction without it - without the effort, without the inconvenience, without the cyclical ups and downs. let the world spin, doing its own thing around you, and live in a plastic bubble. a bubble encasing a glory who revels in being self-absorbed, not having to deal with the problems and mysteries of love, whose "full life" appears pristine from outside the bubble, although that same bubble lacks air. never mind that its occupant fears that the bubble would ever be shaken, dislodging all of the loose ends, and shaking them into a swirling, falling disarray, exposing the latent chaos in all of its dizzying, unsettling reality.

what to do with this confession, this writer asks? two roads diverged in a wood, frost begins before taking the road less traveled. when you come to a fork in the road, take it, i read recently. leave the false security of the bubble, or step outside and play the damn game? settle for enough, or learn how to navigate choppy waters? throw myself into self-indulgence, or make the hard decisions of who i can trust with my time and spirit? perhaps if i didn't love myself so much, this would be easier. if my concept of my spirit wasn't so high - if i didn't feel so protective over the trusting, giving and sensitive spirit i believe i have - it wouldn't be so scary to subject it to the world outside the bubble. but the idea of being loved by someone who deserves my love (and not just me playing the role) is so tempting... but it would require the bravery it takes for me to stop playing myself.

i have no intention of answering this question here. i will have to live out the answer - feel my way through. and i'll also have to deal with the consequences of family and friends and strangers reading this blog and seeing my vulnerabilities, which i'm not always particularly fond of showing. this probably belongs more in my journal than on the blog, but confessional writing from my heart on this blog feels good sometimes. probably because i know i'm not alone - there are too many people out there who aren't even dating, or who won't commit, or who are merely indefinitely playing the role. i guess confessional writing is a way to face my fears of being misunderstood or being stuck in that bubble. it's funny - for someone who claims her biggest fear is being afraid of anything, and who always is challenging herself to face fears - i sure have a lot of phobias, LOL!

thanks for reading.

Friday, February 24, 2006


brief today, 'cause i really want you to read wednesday's post, which i know is long and probably got passed over, since it was up virtually at the same time as yesterday's post.

i have got to learn to be able to rein in my passion sometimes. i speak out of turn. i speak before thinking. i'm candid and outspoken when perhaps i should just be quiet. i have a friend whose character and talent i admire. he's got a spirit for his people, for progress, for change. thing is, his mind is always pushing, striving, working - and in his hustle to press toward the mark for the prize for his high calling, sometimes we find ourselves playing catch up just to keep up with him. i found myself telling him to try to understand that we ain't all on the same level and sometimes he has to be patient with the rest of us mere mortals. this, on the same night that i interrupted a few folks and snapped on a beloved friend mydamnself. upon reflection, i realized that i need to take my own advice. rein in my passion sometimes. let people talk, and listen - not for my opportunity to jump in, but for understanding. slow my tongue. think first. understand that our minds aren't all in the same place. get more skilled with the reins and know how to "whoa" when it's time. i know all these things - but there is a difference between having the knowledge and applying. here's to trying to apply it.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

bday part two: daybreak

friendship n 1 : the state of being friends 2 : the quality or state of being friendly : FRIENDLINESS 3 obs : AID

i felt so good riding home on the way back from harlem with ebony knight and sage queen - feeling like i'd bonded with them. (if you don't know who i'm talking about, you need to scroll down and read the previous post first. and i know... it's long. but you don't have to read all this in one big swallow. a sip here and there will do. no rush, no hurry.) being in the cold all evening was the last of my concerns. the congestion in my chest that was just beginning to wane couldn't have been further from my mind as sage queen and i raved over everything we'd seen and experienced while ebony knight tried to get his rest on in the seat behind us. i had a bag full of goodies - my stuff from carol's daughter, the hue-man bookstore, and some extra plantains that ebony knight made sure i'd have to take home. i felt beautiful and intelligent and happy from looking at so many beautiful and intelligent brown people all day long, not just in harlem, but on our bus. the children were so handsome and full of promise - their mentors were brothers and sisters of talent and vision, who led us in prayer before we hit the road.

word from ebony knight and sage queen was that a poet/all around good performer friend of ours, knowledgable beauty (k.b.) was having folks over for a movie that

such a sucker

night. they'd asked me in the morning if i wanted to tag along. well you know me,
(well, okay, you don't, so i'll tell you), i was definitely down. ebony knight broke my heart, talkin 'bout some he was tired, and he wouldn't make it to k.b.'s. when we got to philly, we said goodnight and parted ways. meanwhile, sage queen, who was wide awake, rolled out with me to k.b.'s. we went over the river and through the woods and around robin hood's barn - sheesh! but we finally got there, and trucked in the cold night to k.b.'s door. i went in first. they must have been into the movie already, 'cause it was quiet and dark... i was wondering why it was so quiet... and so dark... until i rounded the corner and heard, "SURPRISE!!!" i am such a sucker! LOL! ebony knight got there before us and apparently was the one to transport the (CHOCOLATE!) cake, which said, "Happy Birthday, Glory," and was sitting under happy birthday streamers. my peoples were there or came through during the night to show some love.

i was so touched. i was in a room full of poets that i admire and look up to for their knowledge and


accomplishments - poets that i learn from, poets that remind me of how much growth i have yet to experience, poets that have known me for less time than i've even been in the area... and here they were hooking me up with cake and ice cream, their company, and their friendship. overwhelmed is the best word i can think of to describe how i still feel about their kindness. i had a good time unwinding with them and just being in the company of good peoples...




sunday, my actual birthday, and monday, president's day (shoot... bump dat - glory's day) passed without much fanfare. i got plenty of calls and text messages, but the kid didn't make it out of the house until monday night, and that was only insearch of food. i was tired, and i hardly had a voice, which was scary, considering that my feature was coming up. all that running around in the hawk and staying out late and stumbling into the house at 3am is not the way to go when you're getting over an illness that, at one point, had you laid out. i had a meeting planned, and then i really wanted to hit up a youth slam that night, but i realized while buzzing around to get dressed that simply buzzing around the apartment had me worn out. i listened to my body's pleas for relief and just rested these bones. they are a year older, after all...

but tuesday??? whoooooooooo!!!

i woke up thinking about my first feature ever. excited and nervous. confident and unsure. work happened. midway through the day, i came home for

just the boosts

i needed

lunch to three gifts from my wish list - one, a bell from nigeria with a striker (which i take great pleasure in playing without regard for my neighbors), and the others were books (nikki giovanni and angela y. davis) with an accompanying note: "Happy Birthday and Congratulations on your feature, Glory. Knock em dead! Love your sis! - Sis" i love my bigsistasoror for thinking about me, and my sister of the pen, traveler of the earth, for discerning how much fun i would have with my new instrument. those were just the boosts i needed on the day of my feature!

after work, i rushed home, let the water renew me, slid into my outfit, and rushed to philly. then came the worries. will so-and-so make it? will such-and-such remember?

the atmosphere

supported me

will there be parking? is there enough room in this place for everyone? will i screw this up from nervousness? nonsense. everyone made it (except my cousinbrother who was knocked out - old married men tend to do that lol!), including my best friend and my college homie. and those who said they would and didn't? you were missed but not resented. things happen, i understand. but i can't control for what you missed! the open mic was so diverse and so good! and i swallowed my nervousness and did the damn thang. it was fun to share with my family. the atmosphere supported me - hoisted me up on its shoulders towards the comfort i needed to just relax and remember the words, deliver them with the feeling with which i'd wrote them, and give of my heart.

my homie, pretty eyes, had my camera. i just handed it to her, and she took a movie of it, instead of stills. but i'm having technical difficulties. my computer and camera don't want to cooperate. i don't have stills, but k.b. took some and will email them to me once they're uploaded to her machine. sorry for the delay. but i won't forget to update once i get some stills for you, since my movie won't upload.

i did my poems voice and intolerance first. then altar. then north (which i read, 'cause it wasn't memorized). voice is the first poem i've shared with



others, that started this addiction i have for
sharing my words with others... intolerance was the second. each poem deals with the aftermath of loving gone wrong. i shared altar because it is a favorite of mine, about black men, those who i love to love. (i didn't tell the audience, but that piece is retired from performance after last night). i wanted to share more pieces, but we had so many people on the open mic list that my feature length was cut, so that we could accommodate our many guests. i'll be honest i didn't want to share (only child syndrome), but i made an executive decision and read north - i couldn't help but think of this poem while at the schomberg center, witnessing the movement of my people towards whatever freedom and prosperity beckoned. luckily for me, we got through the open mic list and were able to have another go round of poets who wanted to do more. my dear frik wanted me to do a poem of mine he likes - he wants to be assassinated - my version of a concept floating amongst the poets at one of my favorite venues. it spells out the spirit of sistas whose revolutionary act is loving a revolutionary by sharing his passion for their people. i enjoyed doing that without the book - i get to holler, and oooh that hollering feels good!

what felt even better was the support i got from more experienced poets after




the night was over. i appreciated their presence, let alone their kudos. i think they respected me for trying - and not just trying but striving to give them good words and thoughts and feelings, not just hastily thrown together snatches of language. they make me want to get better. and so does the critique i got from mightyservant, who is one of the reasons i spit now. i admire her gift so much, so i will take her criticism and use it like mineral plant food - soak it in my soil and grow with it...

what a week! what a birthday! i didn't even miss him over the past

my new year is

so full of hope

few days - my life is so full of love and reasons to be inspired that i didn't have time to think about the stuff i did upon the calendar new year... i also made some career decisions that give me hope. my new year is so full of hope. thanks to all for the birthday wishes! thanks for reading the blog! hope i inspire you to grab what love and inspiration you can from where ever you can, 'cause that's my plan and it keeps me well fed! peace to you...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

bday part one: come so far on this road...

peo-ple n, pl ... 3 pl : the members of a family or kinship ... 5 pl peoples : a body of persons that are united by a common culture, tradition, or sense of kinship, that typically have common language, institutions, and beliefs, and that often constitute a politically organized group...

a few friends offered to pay my way on a bus trip being sponsored by the local college's community development group to new york city, and i happily accepted. on saturday morning, i found myself on a chartered bus heading up the new jersey turnpike, munching on a brunch of p.opeye's red beans and rice and a biscuit. i was excited - i hadn't been to the city in about six years, and even so, i had never been to harlem. we went to the schomberg center, which i'd

soaking up real


heard of but only knew little about. i knew that it was the place where bell hooks discovered that there was a world of books by and about black people. i knew there was a library there. but that's all i knew. i was pleased by the art that merged langston hughes' poem, the negro speaks of rivers, with facts about arthur schomberg's life. the library was off limits to our tour group, because it's under renovation. however, the center currently has an exhibit about the various migrations of africans in america, past and present. south to north (twice), north to south (which is happening now), tropics to mainland, motherland to otherland - the exhibit was replete with artifacts that ranged from a pullman porter's uniform, to a stock certificate in marcus garvey's back to africa steamship corporation (signed by garvey himself), to an old school jamaican passport, iron fetters, sale papers for human chattel... i was especially pleased by the fascinated reactions of younger members of the tour group to the exhibit. i love to see young people soaking up real knowledge about our people. i hope to go back one day to actually see the library - maybe even dig around for some clues on my genealogy, which i hear is one of the benefits of the center.

after the schomberg center at 135th and lenox, our bus trucked down lenox to 116th and dropped us off at an african marketplace. we had four hours to do whatever we wanted before making our way back home. if it had been a few months later, we probably would have lingered... but unfortunately for me (i shouldn't have waited to buy that kalimba - it was packed away lat




er on and i never bought it), it felt every bit the brisk, blustery, bitterly bone-chilling february day that we all dread being outside. i and my friends/sponsors, the ebony knight (so named for his refreshingly gentlemanly ways - he should teach a class on how to make sistas feel appreciated) and the sage queen (a woman i'm proud to simultaneously admire and call a friend), decided to get out of dodge. we took the subway up lenox to 125th, where we knew there were more things to see and a better variety of things to eat. i think we made it about a block over from lenox before we realized that it didn't matter what we ate, as long as we got out of that wind. it was cutting through our clothes and exposing the extreme fragility of our humanity. then, *insert beam from heaven and an ahhhhhh here* i spotted the jamaican place. ahh yes - curry chicken, rice and peas, and my favorite! - plantains... and sage queen was even able to find vegetarian sides to accommodate her. even better - we were out of the cold long enough to warm up.

either the wind lost its edge, or the food gave us power (or maybe a little of both) - we were able


the art

to move up and down 125th a little bit better after the pit stop. we wanted to distribute sage queen's newspaper in as many places as possible - increasing readership of her urban literary arts newspaper is important for urban artists anywhere (matter of fact, why don't you check it out - maybe even subscribe - support the art). we checked out the hue-man bookstore (and cafe), the nubian heritage store (books - music - body products - spa to come), and some other spots, like the ma.gic jo.hnson starb.ucks, where people were sitting around playing chess, talking, and staying warm as best they could. we met some interesting folks... but i appreciated seeing these businesses even more.

living in america with brown skin is a curious phenomenon. we are forced to affirm ourselves constantly in a world that does not often offer affirmation. we turn on the tv, go to the mall and see mannequins, open magazines, and patronize businesses that don't shine our hair, our hue,

a healing


our humanity back at us... harlem is a little different. everywhere we went, i saw me looking back at myself and it made me high. i grew up in a predominantly black area, surrounded with images of myself, but that was different, because that all ended whenever we became consumers. every other commercial property in my old neighborhood is vacant, and the occupied places are often owned/operated by people who don't look like me. on 125th street, everyone looks like me. and what's even more amazing, the businesses weren't closed when the sign said "open," and i didn't feel like i was in a substandard place getting substandard service. i hate to reinforce a negative stereotype, but you know how "we" do. on the other hand, harlem was a healing experience - the kind that reminded me that lowered expectations have no place in the heart of a black person who truly loves black people - we can rise to the occasion if expected to do so.

the apex of this feeling happened almost by accident. we were walking towards one of the bookstores when ebony knight nonchalantly said as we passed the door, "oh, and here's carol's

inspired me to

follow my dreams

daughter." sage queen and i stopped and literally squealed with excitement before almost lunging for the doors. i can't adequately describe my excitement. i'd heard about how carol's daughter started this business at home, then grew and cultivated it from a seed to a corporation with major celebrity investors and spokespeople. it just so happened i was in dire need of a moisturizer, too - LOL! i also knew that the harlem store is home for carol's daughter. and what a store it is! warmly lit, comforting colors and scents, professionally laid out... so so classy. so so not well-she-doing-the-best-she-can-with-what-she-got. that store made me proud to be a black woman and inspired me to follow my dreams. i can't imagine the pride she feels when she walks into her store. even the bag and the tissue paper are so nice! i can't throw them out. watch out competitors! carol's daughter is coming for ya neck! and, i love my new moisturizer...

one other thing... yes, i'm a geek. so what. i remember standing at the end of the washington mall when i was thirteen on a class trip to d.c. and being just dumbfounded - transfixed - at the thought that i was standing on ground kissed by history - the site of the '63 march on washington. i turned to my teacher and said

kissed by


in awe, "martin luther king was here!" she kinda blinked, and was like, "yes, he was..." as if she was explaining the alphabet to a three year old. forget her. i reserved the right to be in awe when i step on ground that has significance to a people and a past that she just doesn't share. i felt the same way for a few moments in harlem. when i stood inside the apollo's vestibule and wondered whose footprints i was stepping on... when i stood at 125th and lenox waiting to cross the street and wondered how many times malcolm little crossed this same street on his way to small's paradise, not knowing that one day it would be the intersection of malcolm x boulevard and martin luther king boulevard... i felt like i'd finally touched my feet to ground that i should have long since visited on some pilgrimage to understand my own people and history better... should i be renamed, like el hajj malik el shabazz was? probably not yet...

but my birthday doesn't end here...

playing catch up

folks, it's been a whirlwind. the birthday celebration is finally over. i have stories to tell, ideas to float, pictures, all kinds of stuff. but time has not allowed me to get it together. i have not abandoned my blog. i am not on hiatus. i can't wait to give you a decent post. but in the meantime, a short proverb, african origin, culture unknown to me:

a man and his son need to make a long journey. they and their donkey set out for the distant town. they pass through their first town and the townspeople grumble: how foolish of them to walk when they could ride the donkey and ease their feet? so the father and son get on the donkey, and are riding this way when they enter the next town. they hear the derision of the townspeople: how cruel of them to put both of their weight on that poor animal - the weight must be killing it! the father, hearing this, gets off the donkey's back, and he and his son continue to travel. in the next town, the people look at the child on the donkey and cluck their tongues. why should that young boy who is full of energy take advantage of the donkey, when his father, an elder, should get the rest? the father and his son switch places. the people in the following village frown their faces - why should the father, who is stronger and heavier, ride the donkey, while his child, who has to take more strides with his shorter legs, is forced to walk beside them?

the moral: you can't please every one. so don't try.

Friday, February 17, 2006

tuesday, february 19

they didn't know if i would ever come. they'd waited for years. they'd prayed. and then... the news that i was coming warmed their hearts. she woke up before the sun one cold morning to tell her husband it was time, and he took her to the hospital on his way to work. they put her in a bed and she waited. for hours. from before the sun rose in the morning until dusk started to consider making its arrival. my dad's mother stopped through on the way home from her nursing shift, but there was no point in her staying long, since first timers always take forever to deliver. but eventually, some genius finally realized that i hadn't even been proactive enough to break the water, so the doctor did my mother that favor instead.

almost immediately, the excitement began. at 4:41 on that tuesday afternoon, some anonymous nurse recorded the time i took my first breath. seven pounds, some odd ounces, female, black. unfortunately, i'd swallowed a little amniotic fluid on the




way here - i guess with all the commotion and my reluctance to get here in the first place, perhaps i'd opened my mouth in an early protest against the whole process. you see, i was expected to arrive almost a week earlier. but even early on, i suppose my father's stubbornness had already marked me. my mother and the other grown folks thought i'd been here before or something, and if that's true - if i knew then what i know now - i don't blame myself for my hesitance. in any case, i wasn't in a rush to say anything. my mother's anxiety skyrocketed as she waited to hear my voice - it seemed to her like it was taking me too long to say something, anything. but she found out soon enough that my lungs were just fine and quite healthy. after they cleaned me and returned me to her, she wondered what kind of child would just look around, seemingly unimpressed with the new surroundings. but she was glad to see me, and she certainly had done enough work to help me arrive.

the picture taken of us on this day would have the uninformed believe that her style of choice that day was an afro - on the contrary. it's just that her relaxer was no match for the travail of my arrival. which happened just in time for him to get to




the hospital from work before an hour had gone by. the first time he saw me, he couldn't see my eyes because i was asleep (probably more bored than tired). but he believed at that moment, seeing the tiny yellow baby with gargantuan cheeks, dark feathery hair, and squinty eyes, that his daughter was a special child. i probably looked special, too, since i was quarantined from all the other new people. because i'd swallowed that fluid, the nurses wanted to make sure i didn't get sick and harm the other babies behind my clumsiness. they tied a red piece of yarn around a lock of my hair at the very top of my head for my first picture. the likeness shows a bright red mound of blubber, and if you look hard enough at the eyes and mouth, you can see that the face looks angry - that in fact, the two fists are balled up and held up like a boxer's. it's a stance i've never forgotten. i assume it as often as i feel i have to come out of my corner swinging to protect the me inside who wants to remain as innocent as i was on the day that i was reluctantly born. a day that followed the end of aquarius and heralds the dawn of pisces.

this year, i will be enjoying the age that my father was on that day.

happy new year to me! i'll holla after my three-day weekend and the feature...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

tennis shoes

the first term i learned for athletic footwear was "tennis shoes." never mind that no one in my life played tennis, or even desired to play tennis. that's just what they were called. then my family moved from the south to the northeast and i learned that "tennis shoes" was country, about as country as the accent i learned to drop, and that the real name for those shoes was "sneakers," or if i really wanted to be down, "sneaks."

sneaks are on my mind this morning as i think about staying active, and stepping my game up. i haven't been writing much lately, outside of the blog. i've been socializing and regurgitating old pieces, but writing? not so much. i've been here before. it happens cyclically - at one point, i have lots to express... and then all of a sudden i look up and i haven't written a decent poem in weeks. i'm in one of the silent parts of the cycle right now. i've been kind of distracted by the other concerns in my life - health, business, networking, collaboration, bla bla bla. but i haven't felt the pride of turning out a skillful set of words in some time now...

and i want to. i'm ready for my expressive part of the cycle to come back. because i've been hearing some poetry lately that makes me want to scorch pages, make people cry, make people rethink themselves and their world. i've even got some themes scribbled on random post-it notes throughout my marble composition notebook (the back cover has recently fallen completely off) that i would love to expound on, but i can't yet - not until the words come. when they come, i hope they come in different styles. i hope they represent a growth in my ability to get it said and get it said in a way that reaches into people and makes them listen, if for no other reason then because when they hear the words, it's like they're listening to their own voice, coming to their face, grabbing them by the collar, and saying, "this is what's real. deal with it." i love to express the feelings that often go unsaid because no one takes the time to articulate them. my mom told me she heard yesterday that people should find out what they do well that others have a hard time doing. that's how they'll know what they're sposed to do. somehow, for someone, my job is to tell their heart for them. that's why i love it when people tell me that that's what i've done.

but i have to continue growing in that skill or it will waste. ever read who m.oved my chee.se? i gotta keep my sneakers tied around my neck. ever ready to write. gotta keep finding new ways to put words together to tell the hearts and minds of us. or i'll get complacent. ungrateful for the ability to do so. and lose a gift that shouldn't be lost.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


i was thinking that i understand why it's important to honor your mother and father/respect your elders... we know how to live because when we get to this life, they show us everything. how to communicate, eat, clean, work - all that stuff. the success our present existence is a result of accumulation of knowledge gained from the experiences of elders. their trials and errors, their ingenuity, their inventions, their thoughts, their communications with the Creator. when you look at our community, i think it's fair to say that the well being of the youth is undoubtedly traceable to the relationship between the youth and the elders. they are necessary for our survival. eastern cultures - african cultures, asian cultures - seem to understand this concept well. if the youth were to dismiss the wisdom of the elders, or disrespect them, or mistreat them, the acrimony that results could be the downfall of the future. sometimes, we follow rules without thinking about the why? i don't know how i happened upon this train of thought, but i figured i'd articulate it. who knows who needs to read it.

this sore throat/coughing thing has me thinking about mortality, too. i'm not afraid that i'm about to die or anything. it's just that we often don't value our health until it's in jeopardy. it pained me to not be able to sing along with jil.l sco.tt last night in the car. i stood in front of my poetry family and couldn't share my poems with my everything because my voice wasn't at 100%, and i really took that to heart. life is not something we can postpone. there is no t.i.v.o. for life. and that means trying to enjoy it to its fullest. and sometimes that's hard to do when your health is hemmed up. the past few days, i've been worried about being able to enjoy my birthday and my poetry feature because of my health - that is not enjoying my life to the fullest. this recent resolution of mine to take better care of myself in my new year has become that much more important to me because of this. i never want to have preventable health problems stand between me and living my life happily. i hate not being able to visit my cousin's baby girl because i don't want to make her sick. i hate giving people half-assed hugs 'cause i don't want to put them in harm's way. i need to be whole and healthy - well fed, well exercised... so that when my time comes to be out of here, i won't wish i had spent less time on a sick bed.

my grandma told me to make sure my neck is covered up out there - my dad is always telling me about my head. i'm usually covered. but my mom says it only takes one night.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

she loves me

gargle with salt water, she says. i've heard her say this a bazillion times before. from fiery throat to lost voice, from year to year, this voice, which has represented home and comfort to me since before i took my first breath, has sent me to the kitchen to stir mort.on salt into warm tap water. some things never change. she is hundreds of miles away - a four hour drive. i am bringing my boo-boo - my enflamed throat and chest - to her, telling her my woe. and she responds, you should gargle with salt and warm water. in these, my sage late twenties, i roll my eyes, having heard it before, often before, way more than twenty-some times before. but i make a mental note to remember to go to the kitchen to mix up some salt water. i listen to her voice - it's all i have of her most times. her hug is infrequent, her face a mere image, projected from my memory to the back of my eyelids, like at the drive-in movies we went to when i was small. but her voice is just a phone call away. i can't get her expert touch, feeling my forehead and my neck for fever. i can't bury my face in her abdomen, which carries the womb that was my first home. but i can hear her voice, conjuring the furrowed brow i know she gets when she is concerned about someone - me - when i say my throat hurts and my back is achy. i can hear her voice slipping into serious mode as she cautions me to see the doctor i chose because it was her doctor once, and if this doctor was good enough for her, she's good enough for me. in my invincible youth, i roll my eyes again as i hear her voice recount the worst case scenarios i need to avoid - flu, walking pneumonia... i miss her. i wish i could wrap my arms around her and just hold this, my best friend, my first teacher, my nurse, my role model, my comforter, who i know will be praying for me tonight.

after we get off the phone, having exchanged i-love-you's, i head to the kitchen and grab a glass. i turn on the faucet and test the temperature with my hand, feeling the water go from cold to tepid to warm. the glass filled, i take my mort.on salt out of the cabinet and pour it into the water while stirring, stirring a cyclone like she used to do. i tasted the water - needs a little more. after adding more, enough for a little froth to surface at the top of the liquid tornado, i take my medicine to the bathroom, give my reflection a loving look in the eyes, sip a mouthful of water, and gargle. thinking about how she would be proud of me for taking her advice, and glad that i didn't shrug off the simple remedy. singing several notes through the water to the ceiling while her words, "it always works for me - better than anything else i've tried," echo in my head.

later on, i blog about her. with a calm throat that hasn't burned for hours.

Monday, February 13, 2006

las gracias

thank you! thank you all very very much. really, i appreciate this honor. i, uh, *pulling a lil' slip of paper out of my hand to unfold it...* i just wanted to thank some people before the music comes on or they send the sandman out here or something...

first and foremost, i want to thank God and my mama. God, because He is awesome and worthy of praise and i wouldn't have been able to do this without Him. nor would i have needed to do this without Him creating the perfect conditions for a whole heck of a lot of snow. then my mamanem because calling back and forth with them keeps me laughing and inspired while being stuck in the house. plus they raised me right, so i knew better than to panic just 'cause the meteorologists said something big was getting ready to happen. i'd just made groceries on tuesday, so i didn't see a need to wile out at the store. i did, however, have the presence of mind to get my laundry done and get some errands run before packing it in for the rest of the weekend. and on that note, i would like to give a shout out to the two young ladies that made my appearance tonight a little bit better - thank you for taking me as a walk in and scratching the mess out my head when you washed it and then listening to directions and not cutting off any more than the six inches that i asked you to cut off. good service is priceless, especially at the hair shop, and that's why i gave y'all bombing tips, ladies. i'll be back. i also wanna give a shout out to the 6 foot model, wild child, and her backup singers, frik and frak, who kept me entertained enough on friday night so that i felt like i'd packed in enough fun for the whole weekend by the time i got home in the middle of the night. and yo shuffle - thanks for the invite to the party, your friends are cool, even though i wasn't feeling the fire out back - y'all can have that - i don't do standing outside in the dead of winter for the hayle of it, i got too much melanin for that. beautiful flower, for real, you're a riot and a new role model, and frik and frak, thanks for having me by and making me laugh - i love you guys even though i fight hard not to act like i do. yeah, i hear the music - dag, can a sista give her propers?!?! edit me out in the taped delay or something, geez! *talking faster now* frik, i can't cheat on you 'cause we'd have to be together for that, and you know the kid is a free agent right now *wink* - but we need to get working on my theme music - can you play a funky bass line for me? and yo frak, damn them do.ritos and your tempting ways! you make me almost want to be nice to you behind that nacho cheesy mess *smile.* get off me, i ain't finished yet - don't make me take these earrings off and show y'all where i come from! *talking like vaness.a hu.xtable's friend kara* anyway, i really appreciate getting through this stormy weekend, y'all - i'ma get off this mic before i have to hurt somebody, but again, thanks y'all. *blowing kisses as the music gets louder before i haughtily strut off, stage left*

Friday, February 10, 2006

like chocolate

sometimes life tastes like bus exhaust. but it's good to feel appreciated. i asked a soror for advice, and she happily obliged me - gave me just what i needed. called my best friend to check on her and the baby, and i could hear in her voice that she was happy to hear from me. when i get on the mic, they call my name. the other poets in my collective make sure i know they're listening - the one said, "that's my sister!" and the other gave those go on sounds of encouragement and affirmation as i read my poem. it's nice to be invited to the party. to get a real sincere hug from the friend who could tell that the poem i read on stage was for real and from the heart, and not just some stuff i wrote 'cause i thought it would sound nice. it's good to hear poets who i admire telling me that they will try to make it to my feature. it's good to not feel some insane amount of pressure about the buildup to this event, 'cause i know my audience will be there to support, not criticize. it's nice to have a brothafriend call me beautiful with no expectation of anything in return. it's nice to greet familiar faces of people who i enjoy saying, "hey family," to when i see them, whether or not we are blood kin. it's good to know my cousin trusts me. to see the happy pick-me-up-and-hold-me face of his beautiful baby girl when she sees me. to get that returned smile from strangers when you offer them a pleasant face. it's good to be able to look forward to seeing people again and again. it's good to make new friends. all of it added up just tastes like love - is sweet like chocolate. now i know the favor of man is fickle and ephemeral in comparison to the love of my Creator. but i also know that the love i get from His creations is possible because of our ability to surrender to His presence in us. so when i get it, i treasure it, i applaud it, i encourage it, and i try to meet it with the best that is within me. because maybe as i surrender to love, and they surrender to love, and we keep using each other to increase the intensity of love, we will all make His love for us easier to believe and understand. so we can seek that clarity, that compassion, that contentment that only He can provide when we surrender to Love. so it can always taste like chocolate.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

luh dat booty

i stood in the full length mirror wearing an outfit i thought would be nice for my upcoming poetry feature. i got the outfit years ago, probably as a christmas present from my mom, who buys all my cutest things. i experimented in my mind with accessories i owned, trying to figure out if i needed to get something new... actually, i already own the stuff that would make the ensemble work for what i was going for. but part of the outfit is this sweater that i've worn quite often in recent months. and i didn't want to wear it, again, on the night of my feature. it's an important night for me, and i want to feel kind of brand new and special. it'll be my first feature ever, at the first place i ever read my stuff for strangers, and it'll be the first time i perform in my new year, since my birthday is two days before. so i decided to go shopping for something to take the sweater's place.

easier said than done. first of all, everything i found didn't work, so far as color and style and preference were concerned. (if you're a guy, and you're still reading

i realized

i was


to hide

this, thank you for being patient with me, i'll get out of the feminine fashion nitpicking as quickly as i can.) secondly, i was too busy being a hypocrite to broaden my horizons. let me explain: the outfit i intended to wear clings to me - to every curve and bend. i generally don't shy away from that if i'm wearing jeans and a top, but that's because that's casual. this outfit isn't as casual, and the material is such that my booty is right. there. i didn't realize it until i'd been in the mall wearing my feet and my patience out for a couple of hours, but the main purpose of the sweater was to cover my hindparts, tone down the outfit, and hide my body. i was on the phone discussing my little shopping adventure with my mom when i realized that i was trying to hide my body. there was this little sweater i coulda used with the outfit, but i decided not to buy it, 'cause my booty would still be exposed, and that's when i realized that i'm a hypocrite.

see, my mom - my best friend and most trusted life advisor - didn't miss a beat when i told her about my desire to cover my butt. she could see if i had a really gross butt, but i don't, by any stretch of the imagination, so why would i be trying to

do you, and



hide it? she reminded me of how i would complain when she toned down her personal professional style on her new job, because the women weren't as stylish as she was accustomed to being at her old job, and she didn't want to stand out and be talked about. i used to love to check out her stylish and funky outfits - my mom was the best dressed mom i knew (except for maybe miss daisy, who wore suits to work, but anyway)... i would see her compromising her style and tell her, "forget those heffas, mommie. do you, and stop worrying about if they get mad 'cause you cuter than them." now here i was, trying to cover my booty 'cause i didn't want it to be noticed or talked about. trying to cover my outfit, 'cause i didn't want to be overdressed or look like i was trying too hard to be cute for my feature. trying not to be noticeable - which was really silly, considering that i'll be the center of attention for a room full of people for half-an-hour. oh, for shame! i was so embarrassed when i realized my hypocrisy and insecurity. my mom thinks i don't need the sweater - she thinks i shouldn't even wear it. to be honest, even now, i'm not sure what i'll do - we'll see what happens.

anyway, upon realizing that there was no point in trying to hide, i wound up deciding to deliberately put some sparkle into the outfit. i bought accessories that pop. big ones - sparkly ones. noticeable ones. i'll probably wear the sweater until i get warmed up and then take it off at some point, kinda like how when i get to a party i'm a wallflower until i get comfortable enough to start dancing.

and of course, after leaving the mall, i thought about it. and thought about it. see, i'm all about telling other women to love themselves and their bodies and to celebrate what God has endowed them with, 'cause i know that everything else is

the negative side

of humility

telling them otherwise. see, i am the champion of all things self-esteem, and the biggest fan of all things assertive, and i am fond of saying my biggest fear is being afraid of anything. but i have this annoying habit of doing humility habitually. sometimes that's a good thing, but sometimes the negative side of humility has me shooting myself in the foot. i've been known to dismiss the true intent of compliments 'cause i didn't believe in their sincerity. i've been known to linger in a shadow rather than speak up about my own talents and capabilities. shoot, i'd been crafting poems for years before i shared them with other people. i tell people i can't sing when i can (by the way, i didn't say blow, i said sing, and there is a difference). i tell people i don't consider myself a spoken word artist, when i know i have the juice and versatility to do more than read paper poetry from a notebook.

and when it comes to my body, there are just some things i just don't do, out of a desire to be overlooked. as in, don't look this way. don't have an opinion about me.

desire to be


don't comment on me. spare me your criticism. keep it moving. never mind that i really do like my body. never mind that i don't turn away from my reflection when i step out of the shower 'cause i've learned to love and affirm what's there. never mind that there are very few things i want to wear that wouldn't hang well on my frame. but still, there are non-scandalous shirts i don't wear because of how the neck is cut, or non-scandalous dresses and skirts i won't wear because of the location of the hem... shoot, it took my friends years to convince me to wear low rise jeans with tops that showed any stomach at all. imagine, at such a young age, being the diane keaton of my day. pitiful, isn't it? i think so. to my credit, i do try to express myself much more than i did in years past, and to be honest, the poetry scene is helping me to reclaim joyful parts of my self-expression that i'd forgotten about and missed more than i'd realized. and it's showing up in my wardrobe.

i can't, in good conscience, call myself a role model or exhort all the women i know and love to be themselves unashamedly if i can't do the same for myself. physician, heal thyself, right? so i will be using the next few weeks to talk myself out of covering my booty, and to shore up the bravery to confidently be myself, despite what anyone could possibly have to say about my beloved boo- uh, i mean - body.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

a few notes

thought about you again today. i'd settled into my seat for the evening out amongst fellow familiar faces, and for a fleeting moment, i felt lonely for you, because the couple in my presence seemed so comfortable and cute. but before i had a chance to get my emotional pout on, my mind imagined you telling me to relax and just have a good time in the interim between that moment and finding you. so i did. no sense in having a long face when you come across me, right? chin up, shoulders relaxed, i had a good time performing with and bonding with my peoples. thanks for the advice.

and i know i've not been the best to myself lately. my skin and hair reflect the bad diet and lack of exercise and scarcity of sleep and water intake, and i notice it every morning, but i just haven't taken the initiative to take the time to be good to myself. i am better to my dishes, my plants, even to the inanimate objects in my place that need to be dusted, and i'm sure i could be doing better. i'll be honest, i've been a little uninspired about my health and appearance lately, recent resolution to eat healthier notwithstanding. time always seems so short, so i've been eating for convenience instead of nourishment and i can see the difference, and i just know you would be shaking your head at how i've been treating myself. i won't even share with you what my last meal was. hey, i'm really sorry. i'll try to do better. for myself, not for you. but i'm sure you'll appreciate it when i take the time to love myself more.

i'm not worried about next tuesday. i have plans. i'll be at a poetry slam with friends, enjoying myself. i hope you enjoy your day. if you're with someone right now, enjoy her - learn from her - be good to her. if you're not with someone, be patient. that's the best i can say. i'm trying to do the same from here. we'll find our way to there eventually.

just wanted to send the positive energy to you, wherever you are right now. i know you do the same - that's why i feel you in the early morning fuzziness that is the trailing dust of my dreams, that lingers after what dust is left has been rubbed out of the corners of my eyes.

take good care of yourself.

the reason you still believe in love

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

race woman

(a warning - i have some expletives in here today, cause it's just how i felt while typing this gripe, which, i'll warn you, is long, and all over the place. i'd like to add that i think i probably contradicted myself in here a few times. it's okay if you point it out, i don't mind. i reserve the right to have imperfections and bad logic. this is a rant, after all, not a doctoral thesis.)

sometimes, i get tired of this black shit. really sick and damn tired. sometimes i just want to take a vacation from this shit, really.

i go to turn on the radio in the morning to hear some music on the way to work, forgetting (again) how much i hate all that cooning on the ignent ass to.m j.oyner morning show and the country ass ste.ve harve.y morning show. tired of all those clowns in music videos representing black men to our children and to the world like buffoons who are fascinated to the point of lost sense with shiny objects, including diamonds, gold, platinum, and hypersexed butt naked women.

i'm tired of the co.lor purp.le, which is sure to be in the top five list

i just didn't have

the tolerance

of movies black women love. i'm so sick of that damn movie... i grew up on it, watching it over and over, memorizing the lines, quoting it in conversations with my friends. i can't even watch it now. the mess between mister and celie... the mess between whitefolks and sophia... i can't mentally witness that shit over and over again anymore. it just makes me angry and bitter on a level i feel increasingly intensely, commensurate with the amount of life i live and experience. it came on monday night. i couldn't make it past fifteen minutes. that miss millie bitch going on about how those black men were about to attack her when they were only trying to help her drive home... i just didn't have the tolerance to get through the scene. shoot, i haven't even watched roo.ts in years. i might need to abstain from all racial media images for a little while before some innocent person gets hurt if i hear the wrong tone of voice one day. i'm realizing now why i was such an angry, militant young lady when i left home for college - i had been watching too much damn television.

now something new was a cute little movie. i made it a point to support it during opening weekend. i'd heard the radio ads, seen the billboards, caught wind of the




previews, and thought, "well this movie's pretty much for us, by us, and it seems to sidestep the cooning, so let me be sure to go add to the opening weekend tally." like how blackfolks crowded around radios whenever joe louis had a fight. like how everybody and they mama wanted me to watch j.amie fox.x's tv special the other week. imagine my disappointment upon hearing that the movie only grossed half as much in opening weekend as others that debuted to a similar audience, like st.ella or brow.n s.ugar, about 4 million dollars less than expected. i'ma chalk that up, in part, to big m.omma's ho.use 2 splitting the audience (which doesn't make any sense, because one is a comedy and the other a romantic comedy, but since we're talking about blackfolks, it somehow inexplicably makes sense all of a sudden to lump those two movies in together and see them as competing against each other).

however, i realized my disappointment wasn't even a surprise, since i've anecdotally heard black person after black person dismiss the movie as a commercial for black women to get down with the swirl. how 'bout first of all, it was more about reexamining silly inhibitions, it just used an interracial relationship to center the point around. secondly, damn, what's wrong with dating white guys anyway? (warning: very very very hypocritical statements are about to come from the keyboard of a woman who, on the way to the car after leaving the theatre, said, and i quote, "yeah, aight, but i still ain't dating no white boys. can i 'let go, let flow' with a brotha?") date who you want. and at the point it seems everyone is dating interracially EXCEPT black women, i think it's about damn time we started to let go of our collective inhibitions about the taboo of "stepping out on the black man," whether or not we are individually able to take that mental leap.

why didn't we want to see this movie? why did we choose m.artin law.rence in padding in a dress over sana.a lath.an and company? a brother was talking about this movie, and how he wouldn't go (in the midst of a whole boatload of things he felt like complaining about as a black man). he said that he didn't want to witness

maybe people get tired

of always bringing it back

to color

white men "taking" our women when they are the cause of the shortage of black men in the first place. i took offense to that, as if white men are forcibly making us abandon black men - no, actually, i think some women are just trying to get some loving, and if a white man is there to provide it, more power to her - i certainly wouldn't attribute such a relationship to a white man "taking" a damn thing. or maybe certain sisters get tired of hearing brothers like him griping about "the man" this, "the man" that. i had the unfortunate experience of dealing with a man who did that to the point of disturbing me. there were times, while i was dating him, that i wondered what it would be like to be with a man who just went through his personal struggles without always bringing it back to color (e.g. a white man). but i digress.... a black woman told me she had no intention of seeing the movie, as she wrinkled up her nose and said she didn't want to see another movie with some black woman getting down with a white guy. this movie is sooooo not gu.ess who, or mo.nster's ba.ll, but i guess you'd have to give it a chance to know that.

this movie (and some of sana.a lath.an's interview comments) incited responses by black men who are all employed, educated, outside the penal system,

the bane of the single professional black woman's existence

and straight. seems these men are all sick and tired of the dead/gay/in jail litany that has become the bane of every single professional black woman's existence (and which litany, not surprisingly, plays a supporting role in this movie). on their behalf, and on mine, i would like to say that i am sick and tired of hearing that shit too.

just one day, i'd like to know what it's like to be a single woman, and not a single black woman, lowest on the totem pole of single women who are likely to marry, because even black men don't like me or don't "qualify" to be with me. i mean, it comes up all the time. and people love to fall back on that because they don't see me as unattractive or mean or repulsive. but does the problem have to be the black numbers game? could it possibly be that whatever relationships

we are people,

not statistics

i've been in just haven't worked out for whatever reason? or that i have poor relationship skills? or that i make bad choices in men? or that i just haven't met the right one? nooooo, it's always got to go back to my brothers. yes, i am pulling the "my brothers" card. yes, i am taking the stereotypical stand-by-your-brothers-ange.la-da.vis-afro-fist-in-the-air stance on this one. yes, i am. to do any less would be to disrespect my dad (and men like him), who is one of the greatest men i've ever known, and who happens to be a black man. who was my first and best example of how this thing can go. and no, i don't think that if i dated or married white, that it would per se disrespect my dad (we'll ignore for a moment that he doesn't want me to even marry lightskinned, which is a whole 'nother rant). but to dismiss brothers as a dating possibility, or to lie down complacently in the face of the dead/gay/in jail litany, or to blame my singleness on their statistics would, because his life, his intelligence, his strength, his achievements, and his love are a testimony - we are not all statistics. we are people.

and see, it's that we are people thing that gets me. it's just not true. we are, more often than not, not just people who happen to be black - we are black people. there's a part in the movie, something new, where the possibility of being able to just live life without the ever-present burden of race/class dynamics hanging over your head is addressed. i could choose to try to listen to "white"

we're not just people

who happen to be black

stations in the morning instead of just the black ones and still have the same damn problem of senseless chatter interrupting the music. i could go see a movie without regard for who's in it and just choose based on the subject matter and whether or not i think it'll entertain me (wait a minute, i already do that, but work with me here) instead of worrying about which types of images of blackfolks i'd most like to support. i could act at work as if my idiosyncrasies, successes and shortcomings don't impact my all-white co-workers' perceptions of blackfolks' capabilities. but i can't and don't want to shake this skin. i can't change the statistics. i can't bury my head in the sand when my friends and family come complaining about being black in this country, as much as i want to tell them sometimes to just shutup and stop complaining (like how i've been complaining in this entire blog entry). shit really does happen. and sometimes it really is directly attributable to color. and every time, we really do have to deal with it, whether it's mushed in our face or it's the elephant in the room noone wants to talk about.

this legacy is a heavy load. i'm just saying that sometimes i'm only carrying it 'cause i have to, not because i would if i had the option not to. don't get me wrong, i love being brown - i love who i am and where i've come from. it's just i could do without some

it's exhausting sometimes

of this shit that comes along with it. people getting shot by bullets instead of cameras at video shoots... wasting time hearing about the yo.ung-and-the-r.estless-like he say/he say of na.s and ja.y-z and camro.n and re.my ma and fat jo.e when there's aids cases to prevent, and welfare-to-work mothers struggling, and kids getting sentenced to ritali.n and special ed, and other kids who only know r.osa parks and m.artin lut.her ki.ng but not arthu.r ashe or ca.rter g. woodson or m.ae jem.ison. it's just exhausting sometimes seeing and feeling so many negative things happening among a sea of yellow, red, brown and black reflections of myself.

but it is what it is. as much as i cry out for the chance to experience humanity without the burden of race/class politics, i know that those politics shape everything about me, from my upbringing, to the decisions i make on how to wear my hair, to the food i eat, to the way i express myself, to the postage stamps i use - i and my blackness are inseparable, whether or not i want a vacation, and though i may complain sometimes, i wouldn't have it any other way. and the truth is, every one of every culture carries their culture with them every day, like a thread running throughout a tapestry. it's just the circumstances of my birth made me a minority in perhaps the most racially charged place on earth, which heightens my (and my people's) self cultural awareness more than your average bear.

like another ethnic group is fond of saying, "whaddaya gonna do?" every morning i wake up, i will get up and keep on trucking, 'cause i'm standing on the shoulders of giants who made this trucking possible for me - more tolerable, in fact. i owe them at least that much, and as tired i might get sometimes, i ain't got nothing on what they had to deal with.

Monday, February 06, 2006

working with it

somebody asked me last tuesday how i was doing. that question always tickles me because it's become more like a standard greeting than it is a sincere query... shoot, i'm guilty of doing that myself. so whenever i'm asked how i'm doing, i always toss around in my head whether or not i want to be honest or go with the flow and give the standard alrightandyou. that time, i decided to be honest, gave it some thought, and replied with something like, "i'm working with it." kind of took him by surprise, but i think he felt where i was coming from. i liked it. that could soon become my standard response to howyoudoing - i'm working with it. since that's the truth, more often than not. i got circumstances. i be dealing wid 'em. more often than not, i'm not simply, "fine," or "alrightandyou?"

anyway, this weekend was kinda like that. it wasn't a bad weekend. i'd planned on getting in some personal time, time for reflection, time for writing, time for preparing for my upcoming poetry feature. didn't exactly happen like that, what with the new baby being here and all. then, there were two friends' birthdays i wanted to celebrate, the superbowl happened, the movie something new happened, and i just couldn't say no to all of that. so i got a lot done, so far as keeping up with friends and supporting the movie as i'd planned, and some other little housekeeping matters. but there were other things i didn't get done, like spend some time writing... and some other housekeeping matters. add that to the fact that there were things on my mind, and with all my running there are still some phone calls i need to return, and still some running i can see coming up over the horizon, and i know i'll always feel a little bit behind the ball.

but i'm working with it. happy cause i'm full with the 'itis, and cause i can still remember how good my dinner was at the mexican place the other night. happy cause me and my friend made it to the convenience store and back to the movies just in time to not miss the beginning. happy cause my new boots are broken in. happy cause the baby is healthy and cute and such a reminder of how precious life is. happy cause i have leftovers from the superbowl party in my fridge so i don't have to buy or make lunch tomorrow. happy cause somebody called me to hang out for the game (which, i might add, was the most boring superbowl i've ever seen - the highlight of the game for me was laughing with others at my comparison of mi.ck jagg.er to the si.mpsons' mr. bu.rns). happy cause i got to support the something new movie (which i enjoyed and may blog about later) during opening weekend (which is important for movies with predominantly black casts - to let hollywood know that we like seeing positive images of ourselves on screen). happy to get a chance to play with my best friend's nieces and to talk about personal spiritual growth with my friend from college and happy to find out that i'll get a tax refund, and happy to see the movie glory road (which i hadn't heard enough buzz about, but which i really really appreciated seeing).

i mean, to type it out and look at it, sheesh, i got a lot accomplished, and i even managed to get some decent sleep. i don't think i could have asked for much more. being me is a full time job, though. i wanted this hustle and bustle - be careful what you ask for, cause i sure got what i wanted! i feel tired - i feel the good kind of tired. i feel loved and as if i have loved. i feel accomplished and i feel hopeful. it's a good way to start the week. and as my birthday gets closer and closer, i hope this hopeful feeling gets stronger and stronger, so that i can start my new year off with the right attitude.

Friday, February 03, 2006

to mothers

i am in awe of what it took for you to go from daughter to mother. epidural or not, lamaze or not, what you did was amazing. you have strength i have yet to understand. you have resolve that i can't put into words. and you are the vessel of a miracle of the Creator - new lives. new manifestations of God's spirit. thank you!

and congratulations to my best friend, who i had the privilege of helping with her delivery of a healthy and beautiful baby boy last night. it was my first time in a delivery room, and i felt blessed to have the opportunity to be there for her and to witness the birth as a cheerleader/stirrup number two (the right leg). i am the first person to ever see her son's face - the first person to see him open his eyes, and the first person to see him open his mouth to gasp for air.

i am humbled and awed at what God can do.

and i feel that much more special to be a woman - to know that my body is capable of being His instrument in such a profound way. i know women have babies every day. but every single time it happens, the Creator is showing off His divine engineering skills.

so everymother, i salute you.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


we were best friends before we understood the meaning of the term. our mothers were friends, and we would play together while they did their girlfriends thing. dj and his little sister and i would run wild - in and out of the backyard, taking clothes out of drawers to make spaceships, making tents out of blankets... i always had a ball with him.

around february 2, 1985, i had the worst day of my life. (or so i thought at the time, not having lived much life). it was the day of dj's birthday party, and i was missing it, because my dad was at work with the only car, and my mom couldn't get us a ride to the party. i must have worried her to death about when my dad would come home to take me to the party. i wound up missing that party, and i'll never forget the horrible way i felt that day about not being able to see dj. i often wonder if my intuition knew that it was my last chance to ever see him.

my family moved states away shortly after dj's birthday. i never forgot about him and his sister. his mom sent a picture of them to my mom while we were still small children, that included his new baby sister. in all of our trips back and forth between our new home and our old home, i never was able to go back and play with my first best friend. many years later, my family and i were back in virginia. i meant to find him and his sister and see how they were doing - tell them that i remembered them on dj's birthday every year for all of these lost years... but sometimes such errands fall in the "later" pile, and they wind up getting put off again and again. one late january day, i was sleeping in, and i woke up to the sound of my mom calling me to give me the bad news.

"dj was killed. he's dead."

not my dj! not my giggling dj with the big smile. the friend i never got to see grow up into the kind and generous and funny young man that his family and friends spoke about at his funeral. we packed into and overflowed out of the cramped room where his services were held. we sloshed through muddy grass in the rain to put flowers on top of his casket. the rain fell in tandem with many tears over a life that hadn't stretched long enough to mark its 22nd birthday. but every day february 2nd rolls around, i remember the birthday party, the spaceship drawers, and crying in the rain.

my best friend called me today. her water has broken! her son will be here any minute now. i had hoped that he wouldn't be born on a day that already holds such intense emotion for me. but i'm so excited about this new birth. so curious to find out if this best friend of mine will raise a boy who is as eager to smile, as imaginative, and as sweet as the best friend that i lost twice in a lifetime.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


juggling is hard for me. it's always been hard for me. i don't know if it's a coordination problem, a rhythm problem, an effort problem or what. but i've never been able to do it.

it's an apt word to use when trying to describe multi-tasking. we all do it. we all have to. and sometimes when i do it, it really does make me feel like how i feel when i attempt to juggle.

i'm not overwhelmed, i'm not burned out, i'm not crazy (i think... 'cause that's what all the crazy people insist), but i am definitely going through something. some folks may not be able to relate to this statement, but i believe that spiritual warfare is real. that not all the elements of the dark and light play nicely together, and sometimes there is clashing and strife and struggle, not just in the world, but within individuals as well. i believe that sometimes your best intentions can be thwarted by having to deal with your shortcomings. i believe that sometimes you have to fight to stay encouraged in the face of situations that don't, on their face, support your dreams. i think sometimes circumstances somehow seem to arise to distract you from the true realization of your dreams.

and in the midst of all of this, we each have to recognize the threats to our dreams and neutralize them - draw a line, some defining boundary - and declare that this is where the clashing ends. this is where i change myself and/or the circumstances around me or adjust shape like water to maintain my composition under this new temperature or despite the shape of this container. this is where i declare that i will not be discouraged. i will not succumb to complacency or confusion or doubt or whatever it is that seems to stand in the way of your wellness and being your best self.

i am in that process now. reconciling my balances, affirming my dreams, articulating my intentions with greater fervor. so that i don't lose the visions and goals and my drive to dream and shoot for my dreams. so that i don't lay down and stop fighting and become a mindless drone who's just trying, at bare minimum, not to screw it all up. may God be with me.