Tuesday, June 27, 2006

can i get a jump

i walked through the park this morning on the way to work. apparently, the kids are out of school now. funny how there was once a time when i knew that i knew that school was out, 'cause i was one of the kids counting down the days. anyway, there were kids all over the park wearing these red camp t-shirts. now, please don't ask me to explain why being in the middle of an urban park that's surrounded by highrises and which contains pigeons, statues, and a fountain counts as "camp" experience. i mean, come on, they were right across the street from the chain bookstore/cafe. i used to wonder why, when i was in the might-as-well-have-been-called-big-kid-daycare summer program at the Y in the summers it was called "camp," when i didn't see hair nor hide of anything woodsier than a squirrel. look: kids with rich parents go to camp where they canoe, swim in lakes, make arts and crafts in the woods, walk nature trails, and make s'mores. kids with regular parents, especially urban regular parents, go on city trips in vans and swim in chlorine, make arts and crafts in the rec center, walk to and from the vans, and never learn how to make fire without cigarette lighters. but i digress.

as i was walking by, i noticed that some girls were jumping double dutch. in fact, i saw the rope before i saw the girls. white and vinyl, (since it's really a corner store clothesline fashioned into a toy) it opened and closed like a big pac.man mouth as a brown-skinned girl hopped straight up and down in its sphere.

i hungered.

and for a moment, i forgot that i'm supposed to be a grownup and that i'm on my way to work. i was about to walk right over, dump my commuter bookbag on the ground as if it were carrying my spelling and math books, and ask, "can i get a jump?" with pleading eyes. the etiquette and commerce of jumping not forgotten, i knew that i'd better be prepared to earn my turn by turning the ends for at least one or two of the girls in the game.

and that's when i remembered all kinds of stuff. first, i remember what it was like when grown women would ask to jump with us, like they were trying to recapture their childhood... at the time i thought it was cute that they loved the game so much that they'd be willing to chance embarrassing themselves at a skill they hadn't practiced in years. i remember feeling sorry for them that they'd lost touch with the game. and i suppose i probably conveniently ignored the inevitability of that same thing happening to me.

i also remembered that i was on my way to work and that i didn't want to be late or get there all musty and disheveled. and besides, i don't know if i could really get down in these damn loafers, not having jumped in at least a year now (i brought my rope to the family reunion last year).


and i'm still hungering. my double dutch crew is all grown now. we live miles apart. one of us is a mom. everybody's all boo'd up. between us we have three degrees and two in progress. now, i still have my rope (somewhere). i still remember the songs. but the last time i asked these heffas if they would jump with me, they didn't want to. all of us have gained weight since we were teenagers, and all of us are sedentary. plus, let's not forget that once a sista gets to be a certain age, she doesn't want to get her hair messed up, 'cause then she'll have to fix it all over again. excuses, excuses, excuses.

we were just talking about how our jobs and our men and our families and the things we've found upon leaving our neighborhood have made it so that we only see each other sometimes. it's pitiful. we talk in snatched conversations grabbed while getting the baby from the sitter, or trying to get the laundry started before dinner, or over text messages snuck from under the office desk. we used to bond from opposite sides of that white pac.man mouth, singing for each other's rhythm, sweating to outjump each other, arguing over whether the rope clapped, and fighting boys together over messing up our rope's cadence since they didn't know yet how to get our attention... i want that sisterhood back. when we were girls, we had competing concerns, but the rope always brought us together - we made time for that release - that experience like no other. i liken the pounding and tapping and joined voices and communal concentration to the footage of motherland ceremonies i've seen on tv. it's in our blood. it's in our backbones.

i'ma find that rope and bring us back together. maybe start a club for women 18 and over who want that feeling back. matter of fact, if you're in my area, holla at me.

Monday, June 26, 2006

acting on it

it feels good to take a clean sheet of paper and start to realize a dream.

about twenty-three or twenty-four years ago, i surprised my mother by showing her i actually could read words and sentences in the stories she'd been reading me nightly. over the next few years, people would pay me quarters or candy to show off my reading skills. i devoured any book brought my way.

about nineteen years ago, i started writing in a little diary my dad bought for me to write in. i still have it. there began a lifelong habit of articulating feelings, thoughts, and dreams on paper.

about seventeen years ago, i wrote one of my first stories, inspired by all of the books i was reading. already at that point, i'd begun to understand such things as character development, plot momentum, climax, and bringing a story to a close.

about sixteen years ago, i wrote a biography of myself from the standpoint of the future - who i thought i would be when i grew up... it's not quite who i'm turning out to be, but the little narrative shows imagination and promise.

about twelve years ago, the teachers realized that i should have been in advanced placement english. i thrived under their encouragement.

about eleven years ago, i started writing poetry about boys and stuff...

about nine years ago, i chose not to major in writing seminars or creative writing. i had no idea what i would do with such a degree besides teach english somewhere. it didn't seem reliable or practical. i took a intro level class in the english department. bored me to tears! but i came to love some of the more advanced courses that allowed me to build and defend creative theses on interesting literature. besides the riveting discussions and reading from the social sciences classes i took, these papers (and laudatory comments that graced their A's and B's) were the highlight of my time in academia... it was about this time that i heard spoken word for the first time ever.

six or seven years ago, with dreams of writing novels that would treat others to stories like the ones i grew up devouring (and an actual semi-autobiographical story idea in my back pocket) i uttered before witnesses for the first time that i was going to publish a book someday.

about four years ago, i was bored at my library job, and a poetry thread on a message board caught my eye. i started with haikus... then worked my way into poetry with free verses, full of imagery, folk wisdom, observations, and various manifestations of love.

about three years ago, i went to my first open mic. i found it online and went out by myself in search of spoken word. i loved the atmosphere and the people, but most importantly, the creative use of words. i did not have the nerve to get on the mic.

about a year ago, i moved to philly in search of urban life and a place where there would be more poetry venues. i went to an open mic and read for the first time in front of others - someone told me to be humble enough to recognize that i shouldn't keep God-given gifts to myself. not much time passed before i started blogging and hitting every open mic i could. i joined a poetry collective and was a featured poet at a few venues.

twenty-four years and i'm just now turning all this over in my head, realizing who i am and what i'm supposed to be doing with myself. but even more so, i'm ACTING ON IT.

it doesn't often take too much energy or courage or initiative to dream. but what about taking action? at some point, you have to get the ball rolling... time doesn't hesitate in its passing. i don't want the years that start each of these paragraphs to increase indefinitely before i'm autographing covers. so i won't let them.

Friday, June 23, 2006

karma and stuff

Is it possible to squander karma? The Bible says that you reap what you sow. Hindus believe that you will receive what you give. I know that if you walk down the street and you smile at people, you are likely to get some smiles in return. I also know that people you don’t appreciate are less likely to appreciate you. I believe in karma, the exchange of energy, equal and opposite physical reactions, the innate tendency of creation to seek balance in all things… but I wonder if that can be interrupted…

I was told by someone I really respect – someone who really respects me – that there are people who would be oh so willing to see me flourish because of what I have done to support and encourage them. And that these same folks could and would do things for me if I needed their help. And that all I’d have to do is ask. But I haven’t been asking, and I should be. I should be growing and making moves without hesitation while there are people – resources – available to me. I shouldn’t wait until later, because I should recognize how important timing is. It got me to wondering about how I would really be disappointed if my folks would be weary of waiting for me – or perhaps even worse, so far around the curve that they’re too busy for me - by the time I decided to grow and ask for help. No one owes me anything. But because one of the roles I like to play is cheerleader/sounding board/impromptu support staff, I suppose karma is waiting in the wings for me to give it a chance to fulfill its purpose.

I have to ask though: what if I never get around to asking for the help? What if the roles I play are played because I simply like what I do? What if I lack the focus or energy to birth a vision that would require me to ask for help? Would the karma shrivel up and die a frustrated death? Would it simply manifest itself in a different form, like money found in the pockets of last summer’s jeans right when I need it, or like a passerby helping me with a heavy box when I’m all alone trying to lift it by myself, or maybe a compliment at the right time from the right person on a bad hair day? Perhaps karma is the feeling I get when I know my encouragement helped keep someone going when things were challenging and difficult – that feeling that makes me appreciate my existence and feel like I’m fulfilling some divinely given purpose. Maybe it’s all of those things combined. Maybe not so much.

Maybe I’m just trying to deflect the responsibility for living my purpose away from myself.

I was talking with the smart people yesterday (I prefer the company of eagles to sparrows as often as they let me fly with them, convincing me to embrace my eagle-ness) and I heard some valuable stuff. First, if you’re going to be different, you might as well ‘do different’ to your heart’s content, because those who won’t accept your difference won’t be any more accepting of you if you attempt to minimize your difference. And those who are seeking difference won’t be able to distinguish you as different unless you have the boldness and wisdom to truly distinguish yourself. Also, if you really want to support the soldiers in a movement? Fight alongside them, respecting the concept of critical mass. That’s food for thought…

on the go

(Funky butt – thanks for the suggestion!)

I like my new commute. Now granted, I spend twelve hours a day now between when reluctantly rise from bed and when I gratefully pull up in front of the house I live in… but see, that’s why I’m glad I like the commute. That, plus the fact that my commute isn’t a permanent one, since I’ll be moving soon, is the stuff that gets me through when I’m on the train, weary, like I was yesterday. A few basics: I drive to the elevated train station that’s the same one my friends and I used to use to get to the movies and the mall, the one that’s a short walk away from the house I grew up in. I take the back roads to avoid traffic, traffic lights, and people. Then I park and ride. The wait for the train isn’t long during rush hour, maybe about four or five minutes. Then, when I get to the city, I walk underground with the other commuters until we find daylight and walk upstairs to the street. Then I’m walking, about four blocks north and another four blocks west (less, if I cut through the park, which I do often). I could transfer from train to train and cut my walk by four blocks, but I don’t see the point unless it rains… I like the walk. I like the scenery. There are shops and news stands and people everywhere on the street, on bikes, on foot, on scaffolding, driving, working, sleeping, people watching… and that’s where I get my entertainment and my food for thought. I also like the energetic rush I feel after my brisk walk to the office from the train. I haven’t commuted in a city in maybe about six years, and I’d forgotten how much I appreciated it.

Such travel takes consideration. I was using a bag that went over one shoulder. Bad idea. I got tired of switching the bag from one shoulder to the other to keep from killing either of them. Plus, after realizing what would make my commute easier, I realized I needed to upgrade to a bookbag. It carries my poetry books, reading material, and handbills for my poetry collective’s venue, just like my other bag did. But there are other things I needed, like a compartment for shoes. I ain’t walking one block in heels, let alone eight. I don’t rock sneakers with office wear – not ‘cause I feel any particular way about it, but ‘cause carrying sneakers takes up more bag room than comfortable dress loafers, which is what I walk with. But the bookbag has to hold the heels till I get to the office. Plus it holds my lunch – I brown bag, which saves about $1200 dollars a year that are going towards my goals. Then I had to get a train pass so I wouldn’t have to scramble for change in the morning. It’s so cute – it’s like I’m back in school, walking around with my bookbag and carrying my lunch in it.

The commute and working in the city have got me thinking about interesting stuff. I passed a woman yesterday whose daily routine is to play music and to ask for money and food. Yesterday as I passed her, I heard her say she was thirsty. Pointedly on the way somewhere, and already calloused to such requests, I and many others passed her to go wherever it was we thought was so important. That’s a downside - city bustle can expose the ugly in us – it becomes easier to walk past a thirsty person without doing anything about it. It’s ironic, because I simultaneously feel closer to humanity when surrounded by people everywhere… but I realize that all of that contact makes the experience of sharing space with people too familiar, making us a little disturbed, distrustful, uglier, self-isolated in the midst of many, and then essentially, less humane. Despite the many civilities I witness – held doors, friendly strangers, sincere apologies for accidents like a squashed toe or a near-body-crash, I know any one of us could be a hair fracture away from fracturing. The dichotomy and the precarious balance between the extremes fascinates me, especially since I don’t think most of us want to face the darkness of what we’re not only capable of, but what we actually do (or don’t do). I’ma say this, and I don’t preach often, but it’s true: we need a Savior.

Another ugly thing I’ve seen is sidewalk rage. Not road rage. SIDEWALK rage. I get it when I inadvertently walk through someone’s cloud of cigarette smoke. I can’t get too mad, since we non-smokers have pushed them all outside of buildings, so where else would they be but the sidewalk? But still. It stinks. I like to see the smokers before I smell them so I can measure my breaths to minimize my contact with their smoke – not walk all up into it, breathing like how I normally do. I also get sidewalk rage when people do dumb stuff like start taking toddler steps right in front of you, ‘cause they can’t walk and dial a cell phone at the same time. Or when something catches their eye and they stop with no warning, rubbernecking right in the middle of the sidewalk, in front of you, while you’re at full speed. Then there are the Sunday stroll people who must not realize that others have places to go. There are also sidewalk hogs, who weave all over the middle of the walk, like they don’t realize other people may need to get by. *rolling eyes* But, whaddaya gonna do?

I must also say that I do feel herded sometimes, when I’m walking with folks all tight in a space, silent, looking straight ahead, not making contact with anyone. It reminds me of when penned up animals are let loose, and their only focus is, “Forward, march!” Then, between someone telling me that wars are manufactured, and my observation that celebrity propaganda seems more valuable to our society than real news now, plus the developing feeling of feeling herded (and not just in the context of commuting), I keep wondering why Geo. Orwel.l’s 1984 and Ray Bradbur.y’s Fahr.enheit 451 aren’t banned books. Seriously.

But on a lighter note, I like people watching and fashion critiquing. I love checking out the stuff the women wear and getting ideas on what’s hot and what’s not. And! I did.not.know that there were so many good looking brothers walking around the city. I love seeing brothers in their work clothes. *swooning* Eye candy. I look, but don’t flirt. I’m too *ahem* busy for them. But I ain’t dead. Bless they hearts...

Thursday, June 22, 2006


i miss posting. been busy. wrote a whole blog for today and can't post it 'cause it's lost in cyberspace...

i'll holla.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

my time

i refuse to be apologetic for wanting to do what i want to do with my time. it's MY time. i can't get it back. once it's spent, it's spent. and after my scrrrrrddddd, the value of my time and other resources mean that much more to me. it's not because i have a lack of love. it's not because i think i'm more important than anyone else. but do i love me. and my time is more important to me than it is to anyone else. and that makes me no less a good person than the overwhelming majority of people on earth who feel exactly the same way. i will learn to say "NO" or "later" more often. i will learn honest ways to say, "i don't want to do that for you." and i will stop beating myself up for not being able to be everything to everybody. that doesn't mean folks can't ask me to do things. it just means that they'll have to understand it when, sometimes, i don't. or when i prioritize my own stuff first. or when i'm non-committal for a while before committing, 'cause i don't want to make promises i won't keep. i also want to be understood for my energy conservation. i will not expend energy when it appears to me that i will be wasting it. i'm still on the uphill/building/growing part of my journey, God willing, and if i'm blessed to have a long journey, i'ma need all the energy i can get. i will not be wasting it on lost causes or trivial problems that are not mine. i will not go above and beyond the call of whatever relationship i'm in just for g.p. i'm okay with that. i need my sanity. i'm black, i gotta watch my blood pressure. you people will not kill me - i won't let it happen. y'all better stop looking to me before looking to God and looking within. and (channeling forrest) that's all i have to say about that...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

too close for comfort

i don't know what it is about my place but the critters seem to like it. there is a spider whose home i can see from my desk. she's been there for maybe about a week or so. whenever i go to check her out, she is hanging upside down in her web, waiting for food, i guess. it's so funny to me that spiders' methods of hunting are real chill and laid back: "i'ma just spin this web, mm hmm, and eventually some food will get stuck in it, and i'll just wait until then. screw all that stalking and chasing mess. what i look like? a cheetah? humph. i didn't think so!" i keep meaning to catch her and send her outside, but i keep forgetting, and besides, she's not bothering me that much. my general policy is that if you weren't invited, and you don't pay rent, you are not allowed to live in my house. that means that critters either have to move out or have their carcasses flushed down my toilet, depending on whether or not they allow themselves to be caught and deported. fast critters usually get the latter, 'cause they won't stay still long enough to get caught.

but i can think of one exception to that. one night, recently, a bird flew into the house after me. i didn't notice when he came in. it was late, and i dumped some stuff in the kitchen and headed to the bedroom to get ready to sleep. i went to the bedroom, turned on the light, and i heard him before i saw him - there he was, lost and confused, flying around my bedroom like somebody had done him wrong. i beg to differ - didn't nobody invite him into my house! and unlike miss spider, dude had to go before i would be able to sleep peacefully. so i didn't freak out, since he was doing enough freaking out for the both of us. fortunately or unfortunately, i'm somewhat practiced in this situation. a man i used to work for had a fireplace in his office, and curious (and stupid) birds would come down his chimney and not be able to find their way out overnight. we'd find them in the room, freaking out, the next day, and through closing a series of doors and getting suggestive with brooms, eventually we'd get them to fly out the door. i got lucky with this one - he found his own way out without too much struggle after i got my broom. but don't you know i woke up the next day and started discovering the white chalky evidence of his nervousness? little punk. he got my television, my mirror, the red fabric box i keep my meditation balls in, and worst of all, one of my stevie wonder cd's.

see that? this is why i don't allow critters in my house - they don't know how to respect nothing. i have never relieved myself in a bird's nest. never. i wouldn't even wish that on a bird. i mean, my car is fair game - but not the personal effects in my house - that's just not fair. stupid bird.

now that i think about it, i don't think i've ever seen that spider move. either she's asleep everytime i look at her, or she wasn't able to get any food and she's no longer with us. seems like to me she woulda spun a web somewhere that was bound to be more successful if she realized she was getting too hungry to stay there and keep waiting with no guarantees... oh, what do i know? i think i'm going to send her outside, just on g.p., just in case she is alive and decides to do something to piss me off.

shoot, i live alone for a reason. i don't want no roommates. what we look like? bert and ernie? humph. i didn't think so.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


whenever i come to her parents' front door, there she is - beautiful and affectionate. her little pudgy arms reach up as if to say, "pick me up, hold me, say hello to ME!" and it is the best feeling in the world to be loved that innocently and unconditionally, even if she's not my own daughter.

i'm a little jealous of her ability to just open herself up like that to whoever comes to the front door. she looks so happy, so free... i know that one day, just like we all did once upon a time, she will learn fear. she will get shy and wary and start making up her mind to hold herself back and check people out before approaching them. she's not even two years old yet, but she is already starting to reserve her cheerful toddler babbling for those she feels most comfortable around. it's just a matter of time before she's picking who's in and out of her elementary school clique and averting her eyes from strangers to keep from being approached by the unknown, the dangerous, the scary. i don't look forward to this loss of innocence, even though i know that in this risky world, it's best that she learns how to be careful among strangers.

i think it's the smile. her rounded cheeks, her little baby teeth, all decked out in an expression of happiness for its own sake, as she is entertained by the idea of someone new to play with. it's so endearing and inspiring. i wish we could all be more like that. you know, smile more honestly, like how she smiles, and be more optimistic about the intentions of folks that we come into contact with. it would be wonderful if we could welcome the guests to our lives more readily, with outstretched arms and a bountifully beautiful offering of good spirits.

in any case, i take joy in living vicariously through her wonder and excitement when she greets whoever's at the door. it's a treat for my eyes and my spirit, and i'll get what i can from it until she learns to be wary like the rest of us.

Monday, June 12, 2006

written mirror

it's really nice to look up and be totally convinced of my own happiness. really, really nice.

and it's really nice to have every diary i've ever written since i was little, to look back at, and rediscover the path from here to there... more about that in a bit, but,

anyway, communication is the best! the poetry slam i went to was astounding! the b-boy barbecue (at which no barbecue was served, but at which i still had fun) was just what i needed, and odunde the next day was great! there was a drummers' circle, plenty of vendors, a poetry cipher with some of philly's best poets, and fl.oetry performed live (what a treat!). i, of course, got some earrings and some scented oils... and a kalimba fashioned out of a gourd! i've been wanting a kalimba ever since i found out what it was from reading liner notes from ear.th wind & fire cd's. i'm in the midst of a writing spurt, and read my new poems for constructive criticism from my audience. plus i'm reading more often, comparing writing styles and the way novelists pull their stories together - i'm inspired to elevate my story telling ability, and i've been playing with ideas and building character identity for the people in my stories. also, this weekend, i got a chance to hang out with my best friend a little bit, and do a favor that made me grateful for my ability to help. i suppose none of this is all that earth shattering, but when i look over my life as it stands today, the way i'm passing my time, the company i'm keeping, the dreams i've been forcing myself to take more seriously and view as more attainable, i'm happy. even though when i look at the list of desired accomplishments in my diary i made when i was about fifteen, and i probably can't even cross most of that stuff off, i'm okay with that. i feel mentally healthy. no longer bound to fulfill expectations that are either not my own or which stifle my spirit. it's beautiful. i won't be trashing the list though. it's really cute, and it reminds me of who i was. and it paints a picture of who i wanted to be - the spirit of which still captures the essence of who i'm trying to be today. i'm not trying to become someone, i'm just trying to embrace and develop who i already am - who i've always been.

and it's really nice to look up and be totally convinced of my own me-ness. really, really nice.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


you know that "scrrrrddddd" sound people make when describing a car's abrupt braking or change of direction?

this past month, i pulled a scrrrrddddd.

a major scrrrdddddd.

and this is one of those times when i am immeasurably thankful for two of my most indelible qualities: my faith and my lunacy.

i realized that i hated my career trajectory. i didn't want to do what i'd gone to school for. i didn't like the process of my education, but i'd stuck it out because i'd never quit anything major before in my life, and i wasn't about to start quitting in the middle of a degree program. so i finished... and then i was talking all this jazz about how i was gonna use my degree for this and that and whatever. i even went through the trouble of finding work in my field. hating it every. step. of. the. way.

in my foolishness, i figured that it was simply the transition from academia to the working world that had me hating my daily work. then i figured that it was just my dues-paying period, and that things would get better with time and that i would adjust. and in the midst of all my figuring and all my waiting, it occurred to me that maybe i just was doing the wrong thing with my time. of course, i dismissed it. i like to keep my optimism in a reasonable perspective, given real cold hard facts and prevailing societal wisdom. you know, stuff like, quitting your job isn't smart, and bills need to be paid, and you don't want your resume to suffer, and you shouldn't burn bridges, and let's not forget those student loans...

apparently, this "thing" i have for honesty got the better of me. my dissatisfaction with my work and my workplace began to alter my general mood even after hours. i began to resent the plans that i'd been referring to as my "dreams." i started making arrangements for the scrrrrddddd that was becoming more and more inevitable...

and then my scrrrrddddd happened. then came the questions from those few folks who became privy to my business. the main one was, "well, if you're not going to do that, what are you going to do?" i'll give y'all three guesses...

let it suffice to say that you can expect me to spend even more time writing - maybe or maybe not on this blog, but most certainly creatively and passionately and with an eye toward success in my craft. (that felt good, saying "my craft"...)

anyway, no questions or comments on the specifics of my scrrrrddddd in my public comments, please. if you know me personally, you are more than welcome to call me and we can chat. i'm baring this part of my personal journey in order to share my personal knowledge that all of that hippie foolishness about following your dreams has merit - if for no other reason than i know that i am happier now than i've been in years. YEARS! and i know that no matter the outcome of my new trajectory, i will enjoy the journey of getting there waaaaayyyyyy more than what i just got myself untangled from - the prescribed dream, the programmed plan... i realize that i am taking a chance. but i also realize that if i don't, i will always wonder about what would have happened if i'd just been a little more brave. i only have this one life. this one youth. and i can't wait for my life to start later, after i've adjusted to living numb for years waiting for a breakthrough or a loss of consciousness, whichever would mercifully happen first. i have to feel the blood pulsing through my veins NOW. i have to be inspired to live my life now. i can't satiate my needs with promises of "later, later, later." i am convinced that this is real living in all of its pulpy, juicy goodness.

and i'm satisfied now with who i am and where i am going.
thank God.


yes, yes, y'all. i'm moving.

and to some extent, i feel silly for moving, 'cause my cost of living will be going up. and my car will become more of a hindrance than a help. and i'll probably be living in a higher crime area. and i'll have to pay an additional wage tax. and i'll be farther away from the friends that i moved from virginia to be around. and because my current neighborhood is so clean and quiet and mayberry-like.

thing is, i am not the mayberry type. never have been. i left virginia because i couldn't stand the pace - i mean, come on - there are no sidewalks in virginia. what i look like staying there? no... i had to come back from my home state to be back up north. and i LOVE urban life. i grew up in a rowhouse in a city with graffiti and corner stores and potholes and people arguing over parking spaces and doggone if i didn't wind up missing it, even though i said when i left for college that i was never, ever, coming back here to live.

i was half right. i'm back, but not in my old city. i couldn't afford to stay there (gentrification) so i'm out in the 'burbs. but i'm never home. know why? 'cause i'm always in the city. it started with my old neighborhood - loving the dominican store and its music, quarter hugs and quarter chips, running on concrete, being able to walk up the street to see friends... then when i left for college, i wound up in baltimore in a neighborhood where everything was within walking distance - groceries, the cleaners, takeout, clothes, thriftstore, pawn shop, everything! i loved it...

then imagine my culture shock when i got to richmond and i had to drive everywhere. and i had to learn how to navigate parking lots! parking lots!!! now you know that don't make no sense. and then driving 20 minutes to get from here to there... i got used to it, but it annoyed me that it wasn't even necessary. i HATE suburban sprawl passionately. drive out of one parking lot, past two more, into another one... it offends my sensibilities.

but then i came back here and started doing the open mics and making friends in philly, where there are trains and buses and sidewalk shopping. it reminds me of those four good years i spent in baltimore. it reminds me of the salt-of-the-earth feeling i got from my old neighborhood. i love walking down city streets, feeling the pulse of people who have somewhere to go and something to do, walking fast like urban dwellers are apt to do, and sopping up the kitschiness of the whole clash of diverse people in limited space. the more time i spend walking that concrete, the more compelled i am to pull up a chair and set up camp. so now i'm checking out the papers, planning on giving my landlord notice, and crunching numbers, so i can get the hayle out of the burbs. i've been contemplating this move for about six months now, and by the end of the summer, i suppose it'll be a reality. parking space arguments, noisy neighbors, traffic jams, here i come!!!


stuff has been happening. and it's not like i forgot that i have a blog - it's just that i have actually been too busy/spent to invest time in it. but here's some stuff i've been thinking...

friendship is not always easy. i don't mean when you and your friends have a falling out or when it's difficult to keep in touch with your friends. i mean when your friends are going through stuff and you have to be patient while waiting for them to get out of the messes that they find themselves in. see, for as long as i can remember, i've had that listening ear. when my girlfriends started dating, i was the one they'd ask for advice on what to do about boys. i am no an.n land.ers or anything, but my parents have sound minds, and in their fashion, i take a decent angle on situations and try my best to suggest things that make some kind of sense while trying not to make my friends feel silly for not coming up this stuff themselves. i am honest and earnest. i am empathetic and i try to understand where they are coming from. i will cheerlead folks 'til they can't stand me no more. i truly believe in trying to see the best in people and treating them according to their awesomeness instead of according to whatever momentary weaknesses they have.

but i'm not perfect. sometimes i come off as judgmental, and to some extent i wouldn't disagree. mentally, i know that we're not all coming from the same experiences, and that we WON'T handle everything the same way, AND that no one is obligated to handle situations exactly the way I THINK they should be handled, especially since i don't know every thing. yeah, well, it's one thing to know that, and another thing to be honest about the feelings that i actually have. sometimes i am disappointed in my friends' decisions and reasoning. sometimes i am disappointed in the attitudes they take towards things. sometimes i wish they would just. do. better. but i know they don't want to be told about how I FEEL they should handle x, y, and z. they want to be heard and supported. period. no comments, no advice, no judgments. and through experiencing this enough, i think i've learned the difference between, "advise me" and "just listen and hug me."

but damn if just listening and hugging doesn't just tar my feathers sometimes. sometimes I FEEL my friends need advice when they're not asking for it. and sometimes i know that it's better for the friendship if i don't give that advice. that's where things get fuzzy. i have to decide whether it's better to piss a friend off in order to help them, or whether it's better to stand down, and let them go through whatever it is they're going through on their own in order to preserve the friendship and keep from alienating my friend. you never want a friend to feel like they can't talk to you about anything.

sometimes your breath will be wasted. your advice will wind up trampled, rejected, ignored. sometimes it could, when executed well, be timely and effective, and strengthen your friendship. but more often than not, the former is better. giving unsolicited advice can be much like opening pandora's box - you don't know what you're gonna get, and it's better if you don't take the chance.

so here i am sitting on top of pandora's box. balancing more than one treasured friendship in one hand and my insufferable frustration with some of my friends' (in my opinion, self-inflicted) problems in the other. i have little tolerance for martyrs and victims and folks who duck personal responsibility or proactivity. sometimes talking with some of my friends is like torture. i can't talk about THIS, i gotta tiptoe around THAT. it gets to the point where i don't even feel like picking up the phone when i see them on caller ID. then i feel like a rat, 'cause you're supposed to be there for your friends. but as much as i love them, i love myself more. and i don't plan to get my blood pressure up for nobody but my own babies. i can't baby my own grown behind friends. so sometimes, i just won't be answering the phone. they'll get through their problems, THEIR WAY. and i'll be there for them when they stop frustrating the hayle out of me.

whew. that felt better. LOL!

Friday, June 02, 2006

lots of stuff

lots of things going on with me. my schedule has been... interesting, lately.

i realize that i don't work best under pressure - i ONLY work under pressure.
i realize that sometimes you need to just listen to what other people have to say 'cause if you leave it up to you, there's stuff you won't even notice about yourself.
and friendship is priceless.
and likeminded thinking can be such a comfort - to know you are not the only one is so affirming.
i love the way summer rain smells.
i missed having thunderstorms, and i'm glad that they're back.
driving over a bridge with lightning striking everywhere is scary.
never underestimate the value of a good view.
plantains and ice cream go good together - no, really!
appendicitis is more common than i thought.
so are root canals.
funny how you realize what you miss sometimes.
really funny how sometimes you think you'll never come home again... but you do.
scheduling is not easy.
and the world of words is at my fingertips - should i be poetic, prosaic, introspective, motivational, entertaining? should i act, screenwrite, or only publish?
how come sometimes waiting for the other shoe to drop is matter-of-fact...
but then how come other times it just feels pessimistic instead of realistic? optimism can be scary sometimes, but my gosh, it can be a comforting thing...
toys are cool.
i hope that if i'm ever in the hospital that people come to visit me.
i am my biggest obstacle. ain't nobody tried to hold me down. i'm blessed and highly favored - ax about me - but any lack of increase is pretty much 'cause of me.
i owe myself more.
i owe my children more.
i've been a mother ever since i realized that i was capable of bearing children.
many of my life decisions have been influenced by my fledgling relationship with these strangers.
i see the way i live my life as the foundation for whether or not i will be able to have something of value to give to my legacy (who has not asked to come here).
the more i think about it, the more i realize these women don't know their worth.
they don't.
these men don't know their worth either. and the ones that do are passed over way too often by women who underestimate themselves and these men - to their detriment.
if you don't love yourself, how can someone love you?
how can you invest the right energy into loving them if you're spending too much energy working hard to care about yourself?
loving yourself shouldn't take so much energy, 'cause you should be well practiced in that art by the time you try to love somebody else.
it's like how magicians work really hard to pull off the illusion, so that they don't have to work on the trick - they just do it, so they can focus their energy, and ours, on the magic.
i love when people make you want to be better and grow as a person - simultaneously taking your focus off yourself and still focusing on how their eyes view the goodness in you.
i hope - often - that people see themselves as i do.
i see such wonderfulness in people. it's there if you just look.
i'ma stop here. you probly got other blogs to read today...
thanks for coming back, even though i been so quiet for like a week.
have a good weekend!