Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Few Things I Learned: From Django Unchained*

*And the controversy prior to.

1) Spike Lee came out to say that "Django Unchained" was disrespectful to his ancestors and that he would not be seeing it. I am not one to begrudge someone for their opinion or convictions, however I do consider the sources from which those opinions come and act accordingly. I'll be honest and say I've never seen a Spike Lee film that I've liked or would care to see again. None of his films from the past decade have been critically or commercially acclaimed by anyone in my circle or out of it. And "Django" is set to be a hit right out the gate. What did I learn? Sour grapes make good whine.

2) Katt Williams, in his recent influx of infinite knowledge, has said that he was offered a script for "Django" and turned it down because "any n*gga who would take that role deserves to die." ...Who here who has seen the movie can see Katt in any part of that film, much less the lead? Don't worry, I'll wait. What did I learn? Sometimes, unhit dogs will holler too.

3) Say what you want about Quentin Tarantino, he makes beautiful movies. Blood spatter in comic, gregorious and over the top. The music is a mix of classic Americana, rap, hip-hop, and musica de la banda. The actors are all at the top of their game scene stealers in scenes with one another. There's something to be said about a director who keeps up the same fervor and passion and belief in his craft to risk failure with his ideas every time; that something to be said is "that dude makes awesome stuff."

4) Quentin Tarantino uses the word "nigger," which seems to be a big deal to people. Those people say it belittles their heritage, or it (and the movie itself) makes a mockery out of slavery. To that I counter that women are still being called bitches in popular rap songs on the Billboard 100. I counter that I hear the word "nigger" more often in things made by my people than anyone else. If anybody is making a mockery out of slavery and belittling the history of our ancestory it is us, and our willingness to call anything and everything out as racist whether it is or isn't. What I learned from that is, in this post racial society, it's still only okay if "we" do it, but not "them."

5) The word "nigger" was a character in this movie. Just like Django, and Dr. Shultz the word had a story of it's own before we heard it and then became something else with every utterance of it after. Sometimes it was malicious, sometimes it was gleeful, and sometimes it was just a noun after an adjective of an (at the time) unheard of and unseen sight. The blood in this movie was an action. With every splatter and gurgle new life was on the screen, drenching walls and ground in a thin, shiny red layer of awesomeness and mirth. What I learned, last and most important, is that filmaking, great filmmaking, is not dead: when we let art thrive and expression grow, we end up with beautiful, creative and fun representations of not just our bad, but our amazing.

Cinephile out.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

How To...

I am a fortress to those who don't know me well. A level-headed, super-cool, funny, dope and cute girl with aspirations and an outgoing personality in public, but the truth is, I don't have too many friends.

Three, I think.

W, SoulBrotha, and Tarzan are pretty much it for my friends, which is awesome and perturbing at the same time. You see, if one or two of them fall out of commission  fall off the face of the earth, gets mad at me, or is otherwise too preoccupied to be a friend, instead of a fortress I'm a picket fence. I lose a little of me, because I lose them temporarily; some of my personality's most beautiful and explosive components come from the energy I sometimes get from my friendships, and seeing as I don't have too many deep friendships, it stands to reason I lose a little footing.

Perturbing, as I want to stand on my own and be this level-headed, super-cool, funny, dope and cute girl with aspirations and an outgoing personality in and of myself without the extra "Umph" I seem to get from others. The truth is, I'm always that girl, always always, but she's cloaked by shyness and reservation; I don't trust too many people with my whole self, and I'm not really sure why. It would alleviate some of the intense loneliness I sometimes feel but the fortress I spent so much of my teen years building up has inevitably blocked me in.

For instance, with my boyfriend. I care about him a lot and this fortress I've built lets me out just enough to tell him and show him so, but not enough to always be honest with him when I need more. I'm afraid that if I ask for too much, he won't stick around. I'm afraid that if I put too much pressure on him, instead of getting a diamond of a relationship I'll end up with ashes. And the same goes with W (sort of. The "but" here being that I can say literally anything to W and she knows exactly where I'm coming from and, though she gets mad sometimes, she always is a sister of my soul and sh*t, so she comes back.); the people I care the most about , the ones I feel I can be most myself with, oddly don't get all of me.

The only person who does is me and God I suppose, and if I'm being honest a lot of the times I don't even know why I feel the things I feel or think the way I think so I'm thinking God is on His own getting all of me (hopefully). Wise as some may call me, I'm still young and figuring all this out, and by "all this" I mean human interactions and relationships. How to be honest without hurting any feelings? How to express my needs without feeling needy? How to be more of myself without feeling so reserved about it?

Is a puzzlement.*


*A line from one of my favorite movies, "The King And I."

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Classic Movie Love: All About Eve

Never had I ever seen a movie so complex at age 16 than the movie "All About Eve," and never had I been so enraptured and impassioned by a movie at that point either. Every now and then a movie comes around that makes you think and this was the first movie, for me to do so.

In black and white, at first I thought the movie wasn't for me. Soon, I became entranced by these characters and the depth that the women were portrayed with more than I was the lack of color (race and literal wise). Never had I seen women portrayed with such wit, cunning and ambition before.

We'll start with Margo Channing, the aging, beautiful and insecure stage actress. She's got a man who loves her, fans who adore her, but she knows the end is near, and she knows she wants something more. Enter Eve, a young fan who's willing to look after and adore Margo in a way she hadn't been before, up close and personal. But soon, Eve's scrutiny becomes blindingly obvious to the women in the movie (Karen, a good friend to Margo, Margo herself, and even the maid) to be a front for what becomes known as Eve's true agenda, and at that point everyone is entangled in her web and are powerless to stop her.

What I loved most about the movie is that the women aren't played as the one dimensional props who's main objective is to land a man. Rather, the women are shown as these creatures who have thoughts (!!!) and objectives beyond the men in their lives; instead, the men are used as vehicles, as representatives of all the things the women really want. These women have ambitions, loyalties, lives and admittedly loves to protect and they protect them, go after them, ferociously at that.

The men, for their part, seem to not know the underlying drama and grab for power that is going on with the women. No, instead, as in life (as I've found) they believe it's all about them, all about our emotions as women and things they've no interest in understanding. The director, Joseph Mankiewicz, had an interest in portraying the truth of women, and I think in "Eve" he tapped into the truth of it all; we women set the men up in our lives as the holders of all our joys and triumphs, when in actuality (if we're lucky or self-aware enough) we realize that the men are just men, the desires we have are our own, and the men are just a physical representation.

For example, Margo is in love with Bill Sampson. Bill is less than a decade younger than and doesn't take any sh*t from Margo, but for his part loves her just as much as she loves him. When Eve enters, all of a sudden Margo is faced with a younger woman in the vicinity of her (younger) man, and has to face not only her age but also a threat to her vanity and her belief that Bill only has eyes for her. Bill is a component of the issue, but Bill is not the issue, you see? Throughout the movie you'll see power plays for the men in main characters' lives, not for who the men are per se, but for what they symbolize, what they can do, and the perceived power they give the other women.

In the end what I learned from the movie was that these seemingly stupid power struggles I was going through in high school were A) never going to end and B) would form the basis for who I would be as a woman. For my part, I mostly stayed out of them, but when I did become involved... Sometimes I was an Eve, sometimes a Margo or a Karen, but in all those times I was aware of the truth of what I was doing, of the meat of the stew I was stirring or brewing and for that, this movie has been an immeasurable help to my realization of myself, and an illumination of to who I would or would not want to be.

I've added this to the list of movies Tarzan and I should watch together; if he were to watch it alone, I don't know if he'd get all the juicy, relevant subtext that's been missed by so many when viewing the film. Maybe it'll help him understand the world of women around him which he seems so naievely, believably oblivious to. Or maybe it will just facilitate him learning who I am, why I think the way I do and how and why I see the world the way I do. In any case, I can't wait to share one of my favorite movies with one of my favorite people.

-Cinephile out.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Being In A Relationship Doesn't Make Everything Go Away

I want to move in with Tarzan. 

Is it fast? Terribly. Impulsive and impetuous? Probably. But more than any of that, I think, it's a manifestation of the fears and trust issues that I've yet to really deal with.

I've let go of the loves that didn't work, let go of the pain of the rejection and the feeling of being lied to, but the one thing that's stayed with me throughout every failed attempted and actualized relationship was the inability to trust the people that I wanted to be with. It felt like each time a relationship didn't work put a little nick on my self-confidence and my belief in the innate good in people. 

I know I have to realize that those past hurts won't necessarily manifest in my new relationship, that those things and people were different, and that most importantly I'm different. It's hard, though, because the relationship that I'm in happens to be a long distance relationship, and so my reluctance to really trust and let go of the fear is pushing me, and in turn it's making me push him.

He's not ready to move. I've known it for awhile, but I just kept pushing, thinking that him not willing to make this move with me means that he doesn't love me or doesn't believe that we'll make it that far. He expressed concern once about the temptations that he'd face once he let people know he was dating me (because you know those chicks, just like I do, who don't want a dude until he's with someone else) and that made me freak out. What if I wasn't what he wanted? What if there was something there that was easier that the relationship we're in? 

Then it hit me. Maybe I wanted him to move here so badly so I could keep an eye on him. Now don't misunderstand, I want to be with him. I love waking up and seeing him, I love joking around and talking with him in person. But maybe I was pushing so hard because, if he were here, I'd be able to, in my mind at least, know if something was amiss. Me even wanting it for that reason let me know I wasn't in the right place.

I want him to move with me because he wants to. I want him to do so of his own will and feel secure enough in and of himself to just say one day "Say Jane, how do you feel about me moving in next month?" More than  that, I want to trust him, whether he's with me in person or not.

My parents were long distance relationshippers in the sense that Pop was military and deployed a lot. They worked, at least in my eyes they did. They laughed all the time and had fun and then one day, they didn't anymore. One day it all fell apart and neither I, nor my mother, really knew why. For a guy I'd known my whole life to just decide "Welp, this ain't it for me no more," and just dip right as I reached adolescence? It hurt a lot. It confused me; if my Dad couldn't even stay around for me, what makes me think any other guy would? 

And so started a very confusing cycle of me either chasing dudes I knew would let me down, or allowing dudes in who weren't really what I needed, just for the sake of not being lonely. The latter, I didn't worry about trusting, as truthfully I barely liked them anyway, but the former? The former I would put all my hope behind and push. Then when they pushed back, in the opposite direction, I fell down and got hurt. I got hurt a lot, not realizing that it was my own choice. I chose who I gave the power to hurt me to, and up until that point, nobody has shown they were worth that much. 

Tarzan met me at a tough time and picked me up, not expecting anything in return. He's been a friend to me before anything romantic happened and has proven he's worthy of my trust. He's worth my love and my faith and yet it's still so hard to give it so freely, still so hard to not push him either to his breaking point or completely away. 

I'm trying to learn to trust, trying to not smother. I think working on myself, while working on us, is the key; I thought a relationship would "fix" me, in a way so I'd kind of stopped thinking of myself as an individual in process and a switch was flipped to turn me into a couple in progress, not realizing I could do both. I thought all my previous issues with myself would dissipate once I had someone giving me their heart, but the reverse is true; they've been brought more to the light. I don't want to be a liability to him, nor to myself. 

I'll keep working at it, and in the meantime stop putting so much pressure on him; I'm sure he's already putting a lot of pressure on himself for so many other things, and I don't want him feeling more trapped than loved. As for myself? The only way to learn trust, is to practice it I suppose. 

So here's to more practice.

Sex Is Overrated*

*Unless you're ready.

I was a virgin until one day, after meeting the right man, I wasn't anymore. It's as simple as that. Folks seem to put this stigma on girls who wait as long as I did (and also stigmas on girls who don't wait nearly that long, but I digress), that we're prudes, Jesus freaks, or terrified of penises, which is (usually) not the case. It certainly wasn't the case in mine.

What I was waiting on was to fall in love. At one point it seemed like it would be easier to give it away/settle on just anybody than to do it the right way (It can be argued that the "right way" would've been to wait until I was married but...). I decided it didn't mean that much to me, the sex part; if I couldn't find someone I trusted or loved enough to partake of it with, it would've been worthless and I would've sold myself short. I gave up on love for awhile and stopped looking; I decided to put my relationship with myself at the forefront.

And in waltzed Tarzan...

It's not like they make it look in the movies: all effortless and flawless make-up and smooth transitions. Not at all. But as long as you've got someone who you're learning with, who you're not afraid to have a little fun with, it's usually a lot better than the movies.

Orgasms though (and I don't mean to burst your bubble) are tough to come by. You're always  at a state of "almost..." Don't get me wrong, it still feels amazing and powerful and overall goo-od, but if you're expecting it to be the way it is when you do it yourself? Nope. Sorry. If you're expecting that person to hit it out of the park those first couple times? Sorry again. As long as it took you to learn it, it'll probably take them twice as long, maybe more if you're unwilling to talk about it which is a key.

I love talking about it. With him, of course. It helps me learn what he likes, what I like, and how we can incorporate more of that for later. I will admit though, I do hold out on a few tidbits here and there. I could be dirty, I could be kinky, I could be all those things but sometimes...Sometimes I worry Tarzan wouldn't be able to handle the hypersexual side of me, at least not without viewing me completely differently. I think that's  more of a "me" issue than a "he" issue though, and I'm working on it.

If you can't talk to that person about sex, you probably shouldn't be having it with them. If you're "settling" for that person instead of waiting for whatever it is you really want, you probably shouldn't be doing it. Also, if you're embarrassed about buying condoms or getting your birth control? Definitely not.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard women tell me they regretted their first time. They regretted it was so soon, that it was with the wrong person; overall, they wish they would've waited, like I did. I don't regret it, and never will; it was all around right for me. The right person, the right time and most importantly, I was ready. Nobody can tell you when you're ready, nobody but you. You've got to be honest with yourself, above all else, before you enter into a sexually intimate relationship.

That's all I got (so far).


Monday, October 1, 2012

Musing: Long Distance Love

Somewhere along the tumbles of life, I figured out what kind of person I wanted to be. I wanted to be kind and loving, honest and smart, and beautiful, not just for how I look but for who I am. I figured out that I wanted to be loved, appreciated and acknowledged, cherished and treated with respect. The role models I had growing up weren't the right people to really teach me those things, but somehow I found out what I wanted, what I needed of myself and anyone I allowed into my life to be.

I spent a week with Tarzan and found that all those things I wanted and even more that I didn't think to wish for, had come to fruition. For the first time I felt wholly confident in myself. I'll admit, I was nervous to meet family and friends, folks who had been hearing about me and wondering if I lived up to the hype, but I realized I didn't need to impress them; the person I had to impress was holding my hand the entire time, beaming proudly while introducing me to the people who mattered to him.

There's so much I want to say about the visit, but again, so little of him I want to share with the world. I want to talk about how loved I felt, how fun it all was, but what I'll instead focus on is how hard it is to say goodbye, even temporarily, to someone you're head over heels in love with.

It's a long goodbye, as from the minute you land, there's a stopwatch ticking down until when you have to leave again. It forces you to savor every moment, to open your eyes to the beauty of the small things, and for that, it's a great thing. But for the rest, for the separating of two folks in love? Sucks.

The long goodbye comes to a head the day of. You know and that person knows that this is the last time ya'll will be seeing each other for a minute or two. Personally, I cry. Unembarrassed, unabashed, I cry and can't stop completely. I'll occupy my mind and then the moment I let my mind wander BAM there it is; memories flood and break your heart over and over and there's nothing you can really do to stop it.

Long distance relationships are a gift and a curse; they make you fall for a person - not a look or an idea but an actual human being, and they make everything glow, even the small things. The curse of them being that you fall so in love with this other person, and you want to be there with them at every turn but you can't. Overall though, I can honestly say they aren't for the faint of heart. I can say that, if you're not serious with or about the person you're in it with, it's best to not go forward with one. And I can say that, in my case, it's one of the best things that's ever happened.

I hope he feels my love, even from this far distance. I hope he knows that the tears are from missing him, a deep sadness at not being in his presence more than anything else. And I hope he knows that I'm committed, over one hundred percent.

Something beautiful blossomed even further between he and I, something that made me feel loved beyond my wildest dreams. Something took root in me to make me want to reciprocate that feeling every chance I get and as sad as I feel now without him, the more determined that makes me to limit the long goodbyes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Short Birthday Post

Today is my birthday.

I'm overwhelmed by the fullness and happiness I've achieved through simply loving others and doing the best I can.

Sometimes I fall short, but these people I surround myself with love me anyway. When I sing off key, when I stumble or falter, they're there in any way they can be to let me know my worth is so much more than how I look, or how much money I make.

My faith in humanity is still strong, after all these years. My hopefulness in love and kindness has never faded, even when no one was showing me the same. And the fact that God sees fit to keep me, continue to let me have that same optimism and joy with the simplest of things makes me grateful beyond words.

So on my birthday, I just want to say thank you to everyone who loves me. Everyone who likes me. Everyone who even knows who I am and has a positive opinion of me. Thank you.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


Three glasses in is when I realized it. Each glass had gotten progressively more alcohol than juice. It felt like every breath was being forcibly pushed from my chest. I realized I was crying when the skin on my cheeks was feeling tighter and tighter...

I hate not being perfect more than I love being happy. If everything were right with me, then everything else would be right, right? My best friend wouldn't have to be strong for me, my boyfriend wouldn't have to walk on eggshells for his honesty, and this bottle of Triple Sec surely wouldn't be empty.

I want to blame my father for leaving my mother. For cheating on my mother. For taking away my security in family, my faith in faithfulness. I want to blame my mother for taking out her sadness and anger at him out on me for so many years. But I'm grown now. Who's to blame for the mess I've become but me?

The points where I feel I have no control. The moments when I beg God to make it stop hurting. The moments where I feel so alone and misunderstood are the moments where the alcohol is comforting. But with every sip I'm reminded how weak I am. How much a liar I am. I said I wouldn't drink to soothe anymore. Said I'd focus on being happy, focus on what I can do instead of what I can't.

Relapses sneak up on you, just like happiness and love, and force you back into that place with the heavy locked door. Relapses, just like your points of joy, force you to take a look at yourself and what you're doing. Some people fall prey to them, letting the relapse pull them back into bad habits and terrible mental states. Some people never get out of those. I happen to not be one of those people.

I have work in 7 hours. I have a best friend going through something. Bills to pay. Plans to make. A trip to take. I don't have time to feel sorry for myself, to feel remorseful for the probably hurtful things I've said or the folks who, if they knew, would be let down by my broken promises. I have to go on living and act like these bruises and burns on my little soul are soothed with one night of over zealous drinking.

Relapses, thought disappointing, happen. It's important to remember to just keep breathing through it. Renew your promises once your tears have dried and work through it all in the morning. Don't let one bad night be the deciding factor of your life, or let one slip up turn your whole perception of yourself.

You're stronger than your vices. Stronger than the sex, stronger than the liquor, stronger than the drugs; they wouldn't be able to do anything, make you feel or do anything, if you didn't allow them to. Don't give up. Don't drown. Find your know, just not in your vices (or the people who provide them). Pull yourself up and begin again tomorrow.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Saying I Love You Is (Kind of) A Big Deal...

Saying I love you is scary the first time. Any time after that it just is what it is: an affirmation. But that first time?

The first time I said it to Tarzan for me was a hoopla. We were on the phone and we'd talked for hours and hours and I was in that place between fully amp'd and exhausted, but I didn't want to hang up the phone for anything. He convinced me though, saying goodbye to which I replied, "Good night. I love you." 

And BOOM! 

Nothing happened. Not that I remember. He didn't say it back though. Didn't say it until a few weeks later I think, but I was oddly cool about it, which went against my character. Normally, I'd have been turning it over and over in my mind, kicking myself for saying it first, for meaning it first. I'd have been worried that him not saying it back meant he didn't feel the same way, or that I was moving too fast.

However, he's different. More importantly I was different when I said it, far from that girl saying "I love you" and really meaning "Please, please love me back." When I said it, I said it because it felt right. It felt real, and true and that it was what I'd been aching to say and just held in waiting for the "right time," realizing in the moment that that was the right time. I said it for me, because I meant it, and I said it for him, so he could know it, and that was that.

I didn't use it as a bargaining chip or something to hold over his head, but I told him, almost every day (albeit in different ways) how I felt about him. And then one day he said it back. It was like he'd been saying it back the whole time on his end, but to me? Oh, I flipped out. I cat-daddied. I hit a clean dougie. I jigged. And then I went on with my night. And ever since, sometimes I say it more, sometimes he says it more. Sometimes he says it without saying it. But now? The saying of it isn't as big a deal as the showing of it. 

And that's the main thing you guys. Meaning it, feeling and showing it every way you can matters more than who says it first, or when or why. Know who your partner is: if they're not the gregarious, PDA-overload type of person, do you really expect them to say it right back, right then? Conversely, if you aren't that person, and they say it to you first, you're not obligated to say it back, until or unless you feel it.

That's why I didn't worry. I felt it, I expressed it and I was cool with it being out there in the open. Meanwhile on his end, he had to tumble through whatever thoughts and barriers he had in his way before he could admit to himself first, and then to me, that he felt it too. I said it not because I was looking for him to say it back, but because I couldn't hold it in anymore.

So, to recap

1) Tell someone you love them not because you want to hear it back, or you're being pressured to. Say it when you mean it; it'll mean more to the both of you that way.

2) Don't be upset if the person you say it to doesn't respond in kind right away. 9 months down the line and they haven't said it back? Worry. Other than that? Let nature take it's course. As long as they haven't run or fallen off the face of the Earth immediately after, they're still in it with you.

3) Don't just say it, show it! Do it! Whatever! Just saying it, though nice and beautiful, isn't enough. Show them with gifts (if that's your steez), show them with time and affection. Show them by being there. Saying it isn't the end all be all; if you mean it, saying it is only the first step.

Now go out there, and love each other.
 -And mean it :) 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Tes's How To Guide: Love Letters

I am a shameless, hopeless romantic. Nothing touches my heart more than seeing folks in love. As such, I've written a few letters here and there (okay, like three times including Tarzan, and he honestly gets the bulk of them) and I'm pretty good at it; found out in high school one of the boys I'd written one to had used my words, with a few pronoun switches, to get another girl. Karma came, but that's neither here nor there; here's my short list of things to consider when writing a love letter:

1) Find a song that makes you feel something. I don't care who you are, music will move you to tears on occasion. I'm not saying you've got to bawl to find your perfect love letter inspiration, but you've got to be inspired. The whole of the song has to be something you feel about this person, where you hope you guys go; the song, pretty much, is your template for your love letter. I'm not saying you write down the lyrics either (that's lazy!), because that's just tacky, but listen deeply and clear your mind of everything but the song and thoughts of that person.

2) Don't try to be Shakespeare; write what you know, write how you speak. A lot of people, once they meet me, find out I blog and make their way here, say that what I write sounds exactly like who I am. The letter is coming from you, make it sound like you. Simply put, which would you rather hear: a) Lover, I nary glimpse a star-drenched eve without pondering over your proximity and if they catch your eye as well, or b) I can't look at stars anymore without wondering if you're somewhere looking at them at the same time?*

*Admittedly, both float my boat. And if both sound good to you, don't be afraid to mix the two styles up, if that's who you are and what you mean. Which leads to 3.

3) Mean it. Every word, down to the "the's" and "a's" that drive the letter forward. If it's insincere, it'll come off that way. And if you wouldn't stand by it in front of a stadium full of people while having someone else read it aloud, it means it wasn't true to you, which is a big thing. In a love letter, you're not only letting this person (and any person they decide to let read it one day) know how you feel about them, but you're letting them know who you are and how you feel. If you can't stand by how you feel, proudly, why would they, after reading it, stand by you?

4) If you're not comfortable with someone other than that person reading the letter, don't write it. Instead, see #1 and make them a playlist of other people's stuff. Getting personal with someone else is a big step with no guarantee that they'll keep it to themselves, and what's more personal than writing down your possibly grammatically erred, but deeply passionate thoughts and feelings and handing it to someone? If you're not ready, work your way up until you are.

5) Make it cohesive. A page full of the words "I love you" written over and over is not only limited but entirely creepy (and lazy! Put in the effort!). Just like in high school, when teacher told you to state your point and the beginning and end of each paper, make sure whatever story the body of your letter tells you go back to the main topic (which you stated at the beginning. Something to the effect of "I think you're super dope") and the end to bring it all home.

6) Make it (or them if you're writing a few of them at a time) something special. I write something everyday, whether it's here or a diary or, yep, love letters to Tarzan. The difference with the work I put here, the work I put in my diaries, and his letters are simply dates. The reason being that my feelings and who I am don't need to be time-stamped. It may not seem like a big deal, but no matter which letter he picks up, I know (and hopefully he knows) that whenever he reads them, they're going to be true, and it's going to be who I really am. You've got to find something to do with your love letters that make them special, to make this person realize they're special. Spray perfume on them, draw stick figures at the bottom and create a flip book, put the cheat codes you use to whup them at video games at the end of every letter in very small print...Whatever you guys share, whatever is special and fun about the two of you, incorporate it.

Coming from a girl who's written a small box full of cursive, undated love letters for the person who means the world to her, this isn't a fact just an observation: it feels great. Letting them know how you feel on paper (or by Microsoft Word), releasing the feelings out into the world, frees you and them. In all honesty, what the  omnipresent "they" say is true: the worst the person can say is "I don't feel the same." If you never let them know (whether in love letter form or not) you'll never know. And we all need a lot less "what if's" in our lives. And so what if they don't feel the same? You just did something brave and beautiful, and if they don't appreciate it, someone else surely will.

Be great (don't be lazy!) and share the love.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Body (Acceptance) Challenge

It's no secret that I, just like other women, suffer from bad body image and insecurity. Some of us use it as fuel to mold us into a societal size 6 (or lower), some of us wallow in it and pick at the things we don't like until they become mountains in our mind, and some of us learn to just go with what we've got and love it anyway.

For awhile I was part of the first group. I dieted, eating only salads and drinking only water or sports drinks and still only managed to be 158 pounds. After the first didn't work I became the second; I ate and ate, feeling sorry for myself, gaining more weight, stretch marks and giving myself bad acne with the sweet and fatty foods I kept consuming, making my weight balloon to 175, the highest weight I'd ever been.

Now, I'm in the third camp, and floundered with where to start, until I came across an article on how to feel more confident in bed. One of the items listed is to do chores naked, which, as I'm home alone a lot, I could do. And so, two weeks ago, I started doing my chores and morning and evening routines in the buff. At first I was embarrassed of my body; the stomach isn't flat and has stretch marks, the skin isn't perfectly clear, so on and so forth. I couldn't even look at myself that first week, but I kept at it. And now this week, it's like a lightbulb went off.

This is the only body I've got, and for all intents and purposes, it's fully functional. A lot of people can't say that. I have two strong legs, and a very strong back, and a mighty quick brain, and some people can't stand on their own, can't bend or stoop, can't make good decisions. I'm built how I'm meant to be built at this moment, but I could always be better.

So I started doing more; I started doing at least 30 minutes of cardio a day, in addition to light weight training and simple muscle exercises. The first week of the "working out" aspect of my body acceptance challenge is down, and my weight (which had ballooned to 171) is back down to "normal" at 165 but loving my body, and learning it has made me recognize I could do better than that. I don't expect to be what my BMI says I should be (about 120 pounds), but I could settle at 150 and be happy, and so that's where I'm shooting. I don't want to be extraordinarily thin, or a size 6; I want to be happy and confident in myself and if I could get there (and stay there)? That would make me happy.

I learned portion control when someone bought a box of fried chicken and sides into the house. Where I'd normally take a three piece dark, and almost half a plate of sides, I took one piece, a small handful of fries and a small glass of sweet tea. I've learned to opt for the healthier snacks, as the sugary ones make me feel sluggish if I have too much; seriously, a pack of mini-donuts made me mad because I wanted them so bad but just couldn't bring myself to eat them with a couple of ripe bananas sitting on my countertop. I'm learning to take cues from my head and not my stomach, which is a lot harder than it sounds, but makes you feel a lot more proud of yourself.

Speaking of, having a support system is important. Tarzan told me once that if I were to lose weight (or stay the same or gain) he'd love me anyway and think I wasn't bad to look at. Put to the test with the body challenge, he's been there every step of the way, encouraging me when I don't think I can do anymore or go any further. He's there when I want to give up, letting me know I can do better. He's there, letting me know he's proud of the changes I'm making for me, which a lot of people wouldn't be there for.

The big thing to take away from the body challenge is that it doesn't end. Whether you want to exercise or not, whether you want to do chores naked, or not, you have to keep going. Even when it gets hard and even when you're tempted with fattening, succulent food, remember your goal and what you're trying to accomplish overall: confidence. Have at it!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Musing: Feelings

1) Sometimes I feel like I am drowning. Like there is not enough air, and that more and more weight is being put on my person. I'm a small person, but I carry around so much weight that nobody seems to see, or that people see and don't seem to check that is all my own, just like everyone else. Instead, I sometimes feel like I'm drowning, with no floaties, and more people, more weight, more things keep pulling me down. But I keep swimming. I keep fighting the undertow with a smile. I don't know why.

2) I fall apart. All the time. In my car before work, in my car after work, but for my full ten hour shift I keep it together. I take payments, I make arrangements, I excel. For ten hours straight I am competent and sure, I am precise and also nice...and then I fall apart. None too many people have seen me fall apart. Three. In 21 years three people have seen me fall apart. And those people have also seen me pull myself the f*ck together and get back to life, because it doesn't pause, there are no time outs and I have stuff to do. I fall apart and put myself together again. Every day.

3) I'm not all dark and twisty. The two previous, prevalent emotions may make you think so but I'm not. I laugh, all the time; I read some where that the people who laugh the hardest, who laugh so hard they cry, have known pain so that the joy is sweeter so maybe that's why. I still love listening to music, reading books (some I've already read), I still love driving with the sun roof open and the music blasting. I still love and enjoy so many things, things that distract me from the dry land drowning and the falling apart. I'm still a happy person, underneath everything else.

4) My boyfriend brings me joy. I sometimes get randomly mad at him for making me love him so much because before him? I didn't know I could feel like this, I didn't know I had such insane, beautiful, terrifying depths (also for him comandeering the left side of my bed, even when he's not here...just saying). He doesn't talk or say as much as I do, and he takes more time to think, but I adore him. I think he's wonderful, stubborn, sarcastic, funny and way too opinionated but I just adore him. Not like Jesus walking on water, but like a guy who has the key to a very tricky, very stubborn lock that leads to a room of new, exciting and super dope things. Yeah.

5) When the bad outweighs the good, when the hurt crowds around and beats up the joy, I become quiet and a bit more withdrawn. The ones closest to me sometimes take it personally; it's not as if I'm not there, but I'm not. I'll be on the phone with them, I'll be sitting in front of them, looking right through them, keeping me together. But even in doing that, I hear them, I hear what they need from me and do it without question. I don't know why, but I am always a safety net, even when I feel like my own net has holes so big I can fall through, even when I don't feel safe. So even when I'm falling apart, drowning on dry land, feeling the joy and the love and the abyss that threatens them, I am there for the people who I sometimes let be there for me. And then we start back at one, where the weight...and the lack of air...

I don't write as much as I used to. I don't know how to put into words every feeling, every thought and I don't want to as it makes them real. It makes them have weight and add more onto my little buoy of a soul that's already so weighed down. I am tired, and I fall apart but I put myself back together. I'm a strong person, a quiet, deeply feeling person. And how I feel about that is usually ambivalent but...usually? It sucks. But my eternal optimism, my belief that because I am good, and try to be better all the time, makes me believe, just like Nana says that trouble don't last always.

Don't forget to feel. It weighs you down, it hurts sometimes, and other times it's really amazing. Don't forget, in keeping yourself together by unloading on others, don't forget to check their baggage too, and if you love them (or even like them remotely) help them unload where you can. Above all, keep calm and keep moving; never ever stop moving. Take some steps backwards to assess, sprint a few yards forward and just... When you stop moving, you stop trying, and you never want to stop trying. Be the resilient kid who keeps building, even when they're running out of blocks, because that kid? Innovative. That kid? Will make something where there wasn't anything before. That kid, is going places. And so are you, kid.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Letter to a Heartbreak Revisited

I thought about you yesterday. Not for too long, and not too deep; in all honesty, it's the first time you, the actual person, not the act you did, crossed my mind since I left home. I guess I found something better to occupy my time. No guessing about it; my life isn't ideal but damn it's beautiful.

W often told me after everything happened that you told her you released me, that you felt bad about it all,  that you saw where I was heading and weren't ready to be there for me in that capacity. And that's bullshit. You said that all the time to me too, with your hand on my knee, with a smile and a wink; mixed signals don't mean you let me go - it means you were keeping your options open and for awhile I was content being an option, even after you hurt me.

The last time I wrote you I said I forgive you, but couldn't forget what you did or forgive the way you did it and so far that's been true. The insecurities I earned, like battle scars through loving you when you didn't deserve my love, have crippled me a bit. Don't misunderstand and think that I'm ashamed of the scars, because I'm not; they're a reminder to me, to any guy thinking he's got a flawless girl, that I'm not flawless. They're also a reminder that I can still grow and be better than what I allowed you to treat me.

The guy I'm with now, the man I love, is having to deal with the baggage you dropped on my shoulders. He wants to help me relieve the pressure, pick up a few of my bags but I won't let him; it's not his burden to carry, and palming it off to him is unfair. I've been working through my fears of being abandoned, my fear of unfaithfulness, my fear of not knowing the future, I've traded all those for happiness with him which is so hard when I remember, like a ghost limb, what happened last time I thought I was in love.

This time though, I know I am. I worry a lot, but that worry doesn't stop me from opening my whole heart to him. So I guess I didn't learn as much as I thought I did from you; I still love with a full heart, with abandon and fearlessness hoping that, with taking this leap, he's there to catch me. I'm glad of that, that your presence didn't change who I am deep down, just made me reassess who deserves those parts of me.

I wondered how you were doing, if anything had changed with you. Did I want to know enough to ask W about you? Not even, but that childish part in me wants to rub my wellness in your face. Guess I'll never really forgive all the way, and that's okay. You don't need my forgiveness to live your life, just like I don't need your ghost to live mine.

I guess I'm writing this letter to finally let you off the hook, to finally let myself off the hook for a mistake I made almost three years ago. We're all just in this thing trying to find people to make bonds with, build bridges and castles and dreams with. You weren't the one to build anything with, you had a hard time building for yourself let alone wanting to build, or being ready to build with someone else. I hope you live well, I hope you find love, and I hope you treat her better than you treated me. And I hope I never have to run into you ever again.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Depression Hurts and Stuff

I hate that "Depression hurts" commercial. I always found it condescending and stupid and unrealistically optimistic about the wonder drugs. The commercial, as "bleh" as it was, had one thing right. Depression? It. Fucking. Hurts.

It's not in the obvious "Oh, look, a bruise," sort of way, but in an all over, all the time, constant waves sort of way. Personally, my waves happen at night and before work. I cry. A lot. And can't figure out why or how to make it stop, but I cry and cry. I pull myself together, and go to work and function as well as I normally do, I excel. And then I come home, and either try to think my way out of it, distract it with tv, or try to sleep. But it always comes back. Always turns back on, and I'm starting to realize that maybe I can't fix myself.

Maybe we can't fix ourselves alone. Maybe the friends we collect, the books we read and the stories we tell ourselves, maybe those are the ways, the "normal" ways, we mend our broken little selves. Some of us, the stronger of us I think, sometimes need more than stories and books. Sometimes we need something just as strong as we are. Sometimes we need something stronger.

I tend to be everywhere. I tend to be everything, to everyone. I'm a sister, a best friend, a confidante, an excellent employee... I'm a girlfriend and a daughter and sometimes I forget to be there for my people, the people who have claimed me as "theirs." More often than that though, I forget to be there for myself. And I'm finding I really, really need to be there for myself, even if that means being there by finding someone better than me to diagnose, find and fix whatever this dreadful, painful thing is.

I don't really talk about it. Not to anyone except W, and even then it's more of a rambling, long dissertation about life and morality and philosophy and all the things I picked up to fix myself. I can't really say "I'm sad," as that doesn't explain it. I can't say "I'm miserable," as that doesn't really say much either. If I had to describe how I feel I would say I feel lost. Confused. Stuck. And stupid, that I can't figure a way out.

So... I'll be trying to seek help soon. Convincing myself it doesn't make me weak or less of an adult is the hardest part, but I have to fix it by calling in a professional.

I don't know if many people read my blog. I don't know if anyone really ever listens to me at all. But if they are reading, and if they do listen, and if they are going through something similar, something that needs a professional, a specialist, I want them to know something.

I'm a superwoman. I do everything I can, for every one I can. I am a great best friend and sister, I'm a pretty cool daughter, and I think I'm a really dope girlfriend. I'm funny and smart, and I have plans. And this one bad thing doesn't define who I am unless I let it. I am all those great, cool, dope things. I am also drowning in this bad thing. It doesn't make me less dope, less cool or less great. It doesn't make me weak. It doesn't change who I am. And it won't change you either, unless you let it break you down, unless you let it drown you.

And I don't know you. But if you're reading my blog, or listening to me, I have to assume you're not only awesome, but smart. And let's face it, we need more awesome, smart people at one-hundred percent in this world, right? Be at one-hundred percent. Be smart. Be awesome. Be who you are without the pain. Find the help, make the first step.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Musing: What Makes A Man?

We all have that one actor, that one singer or dancer who's always been the pinnacle of manhood for us (men, if you're reading, replace all the male pronouns with female pronouns and go from there). As young girls, they start off as princes in far away places and evolve into preteen boy band members with cracking voices. But once we become women and are allowed to form our own ideals of what a man is and not be so put upon by tradition, fairytales and hormones, what defines a man?

Personally, I've always liked Michael Ealy. At first it was a looks thing only; his eyes are phenomenal, legendary even, and he has a beautiful smile with dimples in both cheeks deep enough to make a girl swoon. His voice is velvety and refined in a way but he still has a bit of a Northern accent to my Southern ears. Simply put, he is a gorgeous man.

As I grew older and would see him in interviews I noted a seriousness about him that no one else seemed to have. He always was a bit stand-offish, but straight-forward when asked about his work. He dodged the personal questions with dignity and diplomacy and didn't seem too fazed by all the attention he would receive for his looks, but would seem genuinely humble for the thanks and accolades he got from his work; that seriousness, that quiet intelligence he had about himself always stuck with me.

Recently I saw an interview with him and not much has changed. I suppose what I like is that he reminds me of myself, or rather who I usually am. I always feel a little different from the folks who I'm sometimes forced to hang with; I don't laugh at the jokes, we rarely like the same music and books are like a non-existent subject a lot of the times. I end up getting picked on or called snobby but the fact is, I'm just not on that level, and haven't been for a minute.

The interview above sort of embodies that. That guy who's sort of more conscious of not just himself but his community and society as a whole and, with that knowledge or consciousness, is put a little off to the side by the jokers and pop culture junkies. And I love that. That's different and exciting and I would love to have a conversation with someone like that, and that's where dudes miss me every time; if I don't want to (or can't stand to) have a conversation with you, then I'm already a lost battle for you.

Which is why I hadn't dated someone before now (not that I didn't want to or push myself to). I think I knew that none of the dudes I was dealing with at that time were serious. They didn't believe in anything, didn't want anything for themselves and couldn't hold a decent conversation about anything (other than themselves) to interest me for more than 3 minutes tops. They were checking for me because I was that girl, that serious girl walking and reading and getting her job done and not checking for them, I was the challenge, but once they realized they would have to bring something of themselves to me to prove their worth, they split.

And it's not like it's some exhaustive list of things I need from a man before he's considered; most likely after one good fifteen minute conversation I can tell what a guy is about and if he's not intelligent, if he's not driven, and if he is not kind then it's not going anywhere. I'm not saying he's got to be the smartest, I'm not saying he's got to have a business model attached to a resume and 401K package, I'm saying we have to be on the same level or at least on similar planes of being to benefit each other.

But seriously, what makes a man? To me a man is one who supports and provides what he can for his woman and his family; doesn't have to be money (I can make my own money) but something that benefits his unit. A man is intelligent and confident, kind and genuine and always striving to learn more about himself and life. A man is one who can accept his short-comings and work around them. A man is one who respects not only his life but the lives of others. A man simply is, and you can usually take note of them the moment they step into your vicinity. Some are born, some are made, and some will never be, but the ones who are are in short supply but high demand.

How can you recognize a man? Not by what he says but his actions and the people he hangs around. Everybody knows birds of feathers flock together and if he is hanging with thugs and dealers, even if he isn't one, the company he keeps will eventually bring him down. You recognize a man by who he shows himself to be; all men are honest and just, until they aren't, but a man of consistent character is easy to recognize and appreciate.

A lot of women have the misconception that men want these model types and porn stars (which is partly society's fault and our own, but that's another blog for another time). And they do, but not to build anything with or grow with. What men want, what real men want, is a woman who is his equal in every way she can be. What men want is a woman who commands respect without hollering about how independent and strong she is. A man wants in a woman what a woman wants in a man (except less hairy, more curves and a few other details here and there).

I'm not saying this as a guide of how-to. What I'm saying is you define what a man is for yourself and instead of searching for and hunting him down like a buck in the woods, elevate yourself to be the person who deserves that kind of man. Trust me, at that point, they'll come to you. 

Surprise Yourself*

I surprised myself recently.

You ever have those moments when you're confronted with a decision which, if it were a few years ago (hell, for some of us a few hours ago) before learning a lesson or looking at something with new eyes, we would have chosen differently than we have now? You ever have moments when, placed side by side with what you used to do and what you do now, you find more pleasure in now than then? Most all of us feel that way at some time or another, but I think because I put my emotions on the back burner in much of my walking life I haven't had time to notice it.

I am surprised at my joy. For so long I wasn't a happy person; I was angry, bitter, sad and depressed or working my way up to happy, but now? There's so much more than happy in me. There's joy, and faith and so many things that were missing throughout so much of my life and it just takes my breath away. For instance I hate doing chores; my room (since Tarzan left) was covered in clothes, hair products, papers balled and unballed, shoes and packs of tissues. But one day, I just cleaned it. And the hallway. And the bathrooms. And suddenly, I was singing, and cleaning and didn't think twice about it. Joy is a motivator.

I am surprised at my kindness. I've always been a sort of kind person; when it would suit me to be so, or when I was too distracted to be otherwise it would just kind of happen. But now I'm more knowledgeable of my kindness; I know what I'm doing is a kind thing, but don't harp too much on the act. I do kind things for people, not necessarily for them, but because it makes me feel good to help another person (or group of people) out.

I am surprised by my thirst for knowledge. I'm a smart girl, and I always have been, most likely always will be. But I know things. Things regular people walking down the street might not necessarily know. I know what causes inflammation, which animals are psychologically self-aware and how to eat perfectly with chopsticks. I know things that, deep down, none of us can know for certain, but I know them for myself and don't force anything I know onto anybody else (part of that whole kindness thing I was telling you about earlier).

So I guess I'm learning to surprise myself more often. I surprise myself with how well I seem to do my job everyday. I surprise myself with the determination I have to reach my dreams (the ones I have set in stone anyway). I surprise myself by being myself, not by what other people expect and/or want me to be.

Try surprising yourself. Do something different. Say something different. Think something different. If you don't like who you are, or who you think you're becoming, be someone different. Chose to surprise yourself with the good things and the fun and exciting things you are, rather than disappoint yourself with who you are not and what you perceive to be your short-comings.

*I normally hate surprises, but if they're coming from me (and I can kind of see them coming) I can make an exception.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Storytime: Why Tes Believes In God

I don't have a religion. I'm not sure if I ever will. But I do, without question, believe in God.

I don't have a religion because, in all honesty, religion scares me. Historically speaking, whenever anyone wanted to control another group of people, they used gods and rules and regulations, they used the fear of damnation for eternity. I say "used" as if it still isn't an occurrence now, but the point is, in history and in modern times, religion is used not only to control but to divide.

I don't pray every day. I don't go to church. I have no idea where my bible is. But I do talk to and have faith in God. I talk to God as I would talk to a mentor, I tell him what I think and what I feel, and wait patiently for an answer, realizing that sometimes no answer is an answer in itself. I don't hear God's voice or believe that He illuminates items or situations in my life as "signs" or "tests," rather I feel what it is He's trying to say and go with that.

There are times I'm sure he's laughing at me, not in a mocking way but in an "Oh, Tes," sort of way. There are some times where I know He's disappointed in me, but not more than the times where I know I make Him proud. The care with which I try to treat people, the advice I give them to follow what their heart says, those are all things I learned from Him.

Where did I learn it? Simply with waking and walking, seeing kindness and beauty in people has taught me what and who God is. Seeing hatefulness and mistreatment of others has taught me what God is not. God is about love and love, the true and life changing kind, isn't hateful or segregated. When you love, you love with an open and free heart. When you love, you share it with everyone, and don't seek to change them but rather to be there for them regardless of if they feel that love or not. That, to me, is what God is.

This whole blog post was actually inspired by a song that reminds me of God every time I hear it. There's this Texas band called Flyleaf that I adore and their break out song was called "All Around Me." Everyone in my music class at the time thought it was a love song, but when I heard it, I immediately thought it was a rock/gospel song. Turns out all of us were right; upon inspection the lead singer said that the song was a love song to God, about what it would be like to meet Him. The way she sings of meeting God is full of tummy butterflies and the exhilarating feel of finally falling for someone you know is going to catch you. One line, the line that makes my skin break into goosebumps says "Take my hand, I give it to you/Now you own me, all I am/ You said you would never leave me/I believe you, I believe," is what convinces me that I'm not the only one who thinks of God as love. That abandon, that full trust and faith in someone you love, isn't that what God asks of us? Isn't that what God tries to show us, if we would only see it, at so many points in our lives? 

I can't tell you why I believe, because I truly don't know. With some of the things that have happened to me, some of the things I still rarely talk about, it would be so easy for me not to, to turn my back but I simply can't. There are some people so eaten up inside with anger and hatred for people and things and places they've never known, seen or been to and I don't hate them but rather feel pity for them and fear their ignorance. I suppose I believe because I believe in love, and if there's one thing I learned from all the holy texts it's that God is love. Anything a person does through true, genuine love, sets them one step closer to God, whatever or wherever that may be. 

You don't have to believe. I'm not on this Earth to make you believe. What I'm here to do, is love and learn. I don't know what for. I don't know if there's life after this. But what I do know is that if I live my life in a loving way and let the love govern who I am and will become? A fruitful, full life I'll have lived and beyond any heaven, any promises of "after" knowing that for myself, before I die will be more precious than any other gift a person could receive, in this world or the next. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

All of Us Have to Come Out Sometime

I've been reading a lot lately. Working more than that. Thinking things through, and noticing life patterns not only in myself and those around me, but people I have never met. Everybody's coming out of the closet so to speak recently (by the way, where or why is that the phrase for when people expose their true selves? Can't we come up with something...better?) and I figured it was time I came out with something too.

I am afraid.

I don't know what I'm going to do with my life, and that terrifies me. In such a world as this one where nothing is certain or definite, and me being the type of person who needs a set plan or way to think and do, not having any idea where I'm going is the second scariest thing in the world to me.

It seems everybody wants me to do and be and act and jump and run and I just...can't. Or rather, I won't. Not until I know what I'm doing, who I'm being, what I'm jumping for and where I'm going to end up. And the sad fact that I'm starting to realize is I'll never have all those answers; I'll never feel safe enough in and of myself to just go and be confident in myself and what I can do, never blatant enough to just grab at what I want and not be afraid of any failure that may come from that.

So, I've just got to jump. I've just got to go. I've got to do and not be so worried about the consequences for once that I get locked up in my own little hand-made prison of dreams never chased and opportunities never explored. So I'm terrified. I don't know what the plan is. I'm just doing what I feel and crossing my fingers that it'll all end up in the black. Isn't that how everybody else does it? *shrugs*

I know you're now wondering what the first scariest thing is. Simply put, loving someone. I love W. I love my Soul Brotha and my parents. But Tarzan? It's so different and new and I'm so afraid of messing it up. Not enough that I don't enjoy it, mind you, but afraid nonetheless. He's the first love. He's the first person I'm sharing all my dreams and fears with (other than ya'll of course :) ) and I feel liberated by that but at the same time, coming from my mindset of never trusting more than 2 people at any given time allowing this new person in, giving them the power to destroy me and just praying that they won't, is terrifying.

But it's like Jagged Edge said, it's all in the mornings; those looks and kisses, that peace. I can't give that up without a fight. And so now the real business, the real work starts. I don't want to be away from him any more than I've got to be and so my mile a minute mind is planning and stacking chips and working crazy overtime, unsure of what I'm doing it all for, but the endgame, the big picture? I see that clear as day, and if ya'll have been reading me, ya'll know exactly what that is too.

I understand what my parental figures are saying: I've got to do for myself before I can do for anybody else, I've got to have me together before I invite anybody else in to share it with. But in all honesty, they want me to jump, right? So what if I have a jumping partner, so long as I'm doing what I feel I have to. I feel confident enough in what I've already accomplished, in what I already know I can do that I'm ready to push that envelope, first definitely for myself and then...maybe...

Love makes you fearless. I'm not used to that, as I've been scared for so long. And that fearlessness is what scares me about it; fearless people are usually the ones you hear about on the news dying from unusual things but the people who I feel bad for upon their deaths are the ones who look back at all the things they should have, could have and would have done had they just not had that fear, had they just had the confidence.

So this thing I'm working on, this idea, is it foolish? Probably. I don't know. I just know that it encompasses everything I'm trying to do, not only for myself, but for my unit, my relationship with an amazing person who, if I had been too afraid to speak up to, I may not have had. Ain't that something?

So if I'm "coming out" of anything, it's the fear. It's the trepidation and lack of confidence in what I can do. It may be foolhardy, and I may learn a painful lesson from it all, but it's also brave and may lead to me having the "enough" that I've been seeking out for so long. Don't think me naive enough to think it'll all run smoothly, but I don't want to be that person, facing death, and looking back at this moment, this time in my life with regret. I want to look back at it and smile and feel joy and pride in my heart for staying true to who I am and those dreams that I chased and opportunities I either took advantage of or made for myself.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Musing: And So I Told Her...

She said "I want a love like you and he have. I want to be in love like that," and I laughed in my head before dropping to her, in short form, the knowledge I'm about to drop on you.

Everybody wants to be loved, but while we young girls are wishing it up, we aren't wishing for a love of our own. Romantic comedies, Disney, and R&B songs tell us we should all love roses, we should all want to have sex all night...all women should desire this same kind of love. How untrue that is, and how sad that so few of us realize that from the jump.

You never know what goes on in someone else's relationship. While they're holding hands and kissing in public, he could beat her once they get home, she could be cheating on him and we, the world, don't see that. We're focused on the front that it's all good, that they're happy all the time, instead of the realities of a relationship. Even if it's not as extreme as that example above, we the people never get to see the work that goes into that happiness, or the lack of work that goes into it's demise.

Love is only the first step is what I told her, and it's true. You have to love yourself first, and as cliche'd and "not what I wanna hear" as that statement is, it's the truth. I'd been waiting to fall in love since I was thirteen years old. I'm twenty-one and for the first time fell head over heels for someone only after starting to learn how to love myself. By taking time to figure out who I am and what I like, instead of what I was told I should like, I knew what it was I genuinely was interested in in myself so could I seek that in someone else.

After loving yourself, I told her, the next thing is finding someone who's willing to love you for who you are right at this minute, not someone who loves you for who you will one day be. If they can see the good in you right now as you are (as well as the bad) and still love you anyway? They deserve the greatness that you will one day be.

The final thing I told her is that it's work. The love is the easy part; it comes in and fills all the spaces between you two. The work is maintaining that, making sure that the love is enough. That can be anything you deem it to be, whether it's making time for each other, learning how to communicate effectively or just not being as much a bitch as you usually are, anything towards your progress not only as a couple but as individuals. If you're not willing to work hard on yourself, how can you be expected, or know how to put in the work, with and for someone else?

I'm not sure if I got through to her; the love I have isn't for the faint of heart. The love I have took time, patience, and getting into those parts of being a human that are tough for a lot of people, getting into those true emotions and facing who you are and who you want to be. A lot of times we're so afraid of being honest with ourselves, of being contrary to what "society" tells us we should be that we miss out on the true beauty of life, which is living it and exploring it for ourselves.

Remember that when pining after or coveting someone's relationship. You don't know what they're really like or going through, you don't know anything but what they present. Under all that though, who are they really? Who is he, who is she, who are they together? In your own relationship, don't try to define who you are by who he (or she) is, and don't define that other person at all: just know who you are, and where you're going, and (with some work) hope that that other person will be along for the ride.

Musing: Where Is Up Really?

My growth becomes evident with every new thing I have to face as a woman, as an adult, and even when I'm in the throes of it, the knowledge of that makes it all worth it.

I'm not sure if you guys follow me on Twitter, but my boyfriend and I are a very...(vocal? open?) visible couple. So if it goes by that you follow him and I and we're debating or sending lyrics and whatnot back and forth, it's just a normal day. No tweets? Not a normal day, not at all.

A few weeks ago I wrote about being abandoned and how that sits in my soul. It hurts, because a lot of times in my life I felt abandoned by the people I love and care about; the thing about me is that once I'm open to you, I'm a sitting duck. You can hurt me as easily as you can crack an egg if I'm completely "there" with you, and not too many people know that because I'm not there with more than a handful of people.

So it happens that Tarzan likes to disappear on me at times. Every time, it hurts somewhere deeper than I thought my love could go. I don't think he realizes how I value him; more than just some dope dude, he's one of my best and closest friends, more than a lover I share pieces of my soul with him. Isn't it odd, how the people we love, have the easiest route to hurt us? Isn't it strange that we all know this and still love them with all we have anyway?

In the past the deep parts of where my pain is remained a mystery, not only to me but to those around me. I realized it was a problem about six or seven months ago when I started medicating with copious amount of alcohol. I would get into the low parts, not know what was going on or why it was hurting so bad, and pick up a bottle from my friendly local gas station, or from my fully stocked mini-fridge, and drink it all away, sometimes into the early morning; I still managed to go to work, act like it was all okay until I could get back to my bed, where all the bottles were lined like soldiers. Just because I was aware of the problem didn't mean I stopped. Nope, I didn't stop drinking heavily until I started dating Tarzan.

He doesn't drink, and I didn't want him to have an alcoholic girlfriend so I stopped cold turkey. And about the time I wrote that abandonment blog, he went missing on me. Because I'd made that vow to him in my head to not drink to soothe my pain, I didn't know what to do. What do you do when your reason not to is suddenly the reason to? What I did was plow through it.

I cried like my life was over. W couldn't console me. My mother couldn't coax me out. And it happened that one night in the middle of it all the house was quiet and I had the thought to just get in my car and find a liquor store. It hurt so bad and in such a new way I didn't know where to go with it. But at that time I found this song by Wiz Khalifa, and instead of getting in the car, I sat very still in the dark and let the feelings lead me where they wanted.

It wasn't a pretty place, it wasn't a happy place, but it was a place I needed to go. It was a place where I was confronted with all that pain I'd been pushing down, all that resentment and anger, all the fear. And it hurt even worse going through it than standing at it's door. That place reminds me of all my short-comings, all my doubts, all the things I try to deny to myself that I am; it's where all my negative, human emotions are.

I relate that place to this song because, for a few months there, all I did was drink; it was my high to keep me away from the real me and the real problems I was facing. Wiz's song is the anthem for that phase, reminding me with it's mournful beat and "high" lyrics where to not go. Even when it hurts, even when it's dark, that temporary high? It always drops you, and you have to have more and more of whatever it is that's keeping you afloat until your remedy becomes the problem.

So it happened that Tarzan shut me out, even in knowing where that pushes me, and instead of drinking I found a quiet place and reminded myself that yes, it hurts like hell, but the alternative, that false sense of control I used to get from drinking didn't compare to what I have with him, good day or bad day. He's no longer the reason I don't drink to soothe; I am. And it all came full circle when, my all knowing iPod, brought  it to the forefront and followed "Up" with Jill Scott's "He Loves Me." I won't lie, that hurt is still there, and I probably won't talk about it for a long while yet, but...I'm a woman, a fully functioning, loved and respected woman who, through sheer will, found her way out of painful places.

Even in your sorrows, even in those places where it hurts for you to go, even in your anger, remember who you are in relation with who you were and who you want to be. If you find yourself soothing with all the wrong things, backsliding, know that you're not alone. All of us have those moments where we can pick up keys and go get what will make us temporarily forget, all of us face those moments where it would be easier to forget than forgive. That moment, that small decision, makes up who you are in this moment and may make up who you are. Don't let it.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Funny Thing Happened In Podunk, Texas

So a funny thing happened in Podunk, Texas.

I'm not sure if you've been reading for awhile, but I've been in love with this guy from New Jersey for a couple months. It was one of those intangible sort of things where I was in love with his spirit, his heart and the way he formed thoughts. I was in love with major pieces of him, but this past week, I got to love all of him at once. Shockingly enough, I think he may have loved all of me right back. Even more shocking, I wasn't second guessing it, wasn't doubting it; I finally felt like I deserved something, that I deserved him.

The feeling isn't...I can't even put into words what it means to me. It's like cruising down the highway with the perfect song playing and wind in your hair. When trying to explain it to him I use Camp Lo's "Luchini" - we're a musical couple, and he totally gets what I meant by it, but I'll try to use words...

He made me feel as if I glowed, as if I were made from precious, irreplaceable material. As if I was the cutest, sexiest, most adorable thing he'd ever laid eyes on. I felt weightless and heavy at the same time, heady but level. It felt as though, in every moment with him, I was who I was always meant to be. I felt like a woman: classy, elegant, but not too snooty to not have fun and be chill. I felt like his woman, like everything I did (or didn't do) was understood and appreciated. It all came together like fingers twined while walking down a river walk...

When he had to go back to his life in New Jersey... It felt like I'd lost this whole world he and I had made, where everything was beautiful, fun and meaningful. I felt like I'd lost my best friend, and my love in one, full sweeping day. I can't tell you how much I cried, all I know is the first two days of it exhausted me, and I still shed a few tears the days after. Literally, this morning was the first morning without him that I didn't cry. I still can't sleep without his favorite shirt (either next to me, cuddled up with me, or on my person). I even well up in the middle of my day when thinking about certain minuscule moments, like holding hands in stores, or hearing him snore while he slept.

A lot of people who talk about my generation say we feel entitled: we deserve money, fame, love, happiness...but I've never thought that. I never thought anything should be handed to me, although when it was, it was much appreciated. No, instead I used to think "Who are you to think you deserve these nice things? What have you done to be worthy of them?" For a time in my past, I didn't deserve anything, and a little bit beyond that point I started living my life in a way that left no marks, no scars on anyone else. I was determined to live that life, not so I would one day deserve something, so that I could grow to feel good about the person that I am, the person who I was working towards being. Even in doing so, I still didn't think I deserved love.

A funny thing happened in Podunk, Texas. I realized I was capable of loving and being loved. I realized that loving someone, if it was the right person, is effortless. I'm reminded of a quote by Khalil Gibran that says something to the effect that love doesn't take from anything but love and seeks nothing in return and it's true; I didn't want anything from him but him, and he didn't want anything from me but me. The funny thing, the amazing and beautiful thing that happened is that I finally realized that I do deserve love; I deserve it because I am finally ready for it.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Musing: Is it Real?

'What're you doing with him? Can't find a man in your city? Is it even a real relationship?" I've heard the questions and talking behind my back (or to my face) about my relationship for a minute but just always choose the high ground because odds are, even if I do explain coherently and concisely they still wouldn't understand; love isn't something that's easy to explain to people.

What am I doing with this guy, this guy who's thousands of miles away? Simply, I'm loving him, or rather trying to love him the best I can, in spite of the distance between us. Trying to show him how valued he is in my life. Trying to be the type of woman he can be proud of, whether we are together as a couple or as friends kicking it (although the former is what I'm aiming for more). How is that any different from any other relationship?

The distance hurts, no lie, hurts more than I originally thought it would. After his visit I wasn't right (okay, maybe "am not" would be the better phrase to use), couldn't sleep right or eat right and just felt as if I lost not only my love but my best friend in one full sweep. It's scary, realizing that you're all in. Scarier even when you haven't ever felt that feeling before and don't know how to cope. But even through that hurt, even though it still stings and will sting until I'm in his arms again, because of who he is, it's worth it.

He once said that he visited a Queen and became a King and that stuck with me somewhere deep. In my eyes he was a king before he arrived here, long before. The choices he's made in life, and his heart which is so beautiful, are what makes him so. Me? I'm just some girl from Podunk, Texas in love with him, but knowing that he sees me as a Queen, as his queen? Spins my perception, deepens this whole love thing as it shows he sees me in a light brighter than the one I view myself in, unmarred by insecurities and blemishes from past fears.

Why do I love him? I don't know, but does anybody ever really know, can anybody ever really pin point one thing that makes them love someone else? Before he got here, I was confused about a lot of things, thinking that the passion or lust or whatever ignites the physical attraction was missing. Intimacy was missing, to me, because he didn't say he loved me everyday, or he didn't text or call everyday but it's not in his nature to do so, even if it is in my nature to crave that sort of frequent validation. I was wrong: the intimacy isn't necessarily physical or lust driven. The intimacy is driven by comfort and honesty, trust and a willingness to grow together and we've got that.

Couldn't I have found someone here to love and be with? Honestly, I'm sure I could have, but I wasn't checking for them like that (as I'm sure they weren't checking for me) and I don't think I was ready. I may have said or thought I was, but months ago when I was lamenting my love life, or lack thereof, I wasn't in the mindset of someone ready to grow with someone else, at least not for the right reasons. I'm sure I could've found someone, but no one like him.

So my question then is, is it really different, our relationship from others? When you cut down to the marrow of any relationship it's about the love, the attraction, and the willingness to work, and our relationship has those same qualities as those that are made by couples who are able to see each other everyday. I just think we're more grateful for the chance to be together, more appreciative of every glance, every touch and kiss, and it makes us want to work harder to be together.

So to those who question is it real, I counter with why wouldn't it be? Unconventional though our initial start was, it consisted of the same "getting to know you" that other relationships have, but because of the distance and so many other factors we had to learn each other with words, with talking and hearing nuances in each other that most couples don't start picking up until months in. I invite those people who say it isn't real to look at my tear stained pillow, listen to my weary voice when I speak, and tell me that what I feel isn't a real thing.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Love Expands

Hey yous guys.

I want to write something deep and prolific and yada yada about my week with my boyfriend, Tarzan but, seeing as he just left to go back home, I'm don't know if I'm good for it, but I'm definitely going to try because there's so much I want to say, but so little of him that I want to share; most of him I want just for me, but I can certainly tell you a couple things.

When he got here I was so nervous about putting my foot in my mouth or doing something stupid, especially when I saw him for the first time. He's tall, with slanted brown eyes and a lanky build, and when he smiles my whole world fills with music and peace, even that very first time. We were nervous, bumbling with his bags and hugging. No lie, for the first few hours it was a bit quiet, but then we held hands on the way to a concert, and from that point on nothing else felt forced or awkward, at least on my end.  From the first time he held my hand I don't think I went for maybe five minutes without touching him, just to be sure he was actually there, real and tangible... And just because I couldn't keep my hands off his sexy self.

What I grew to love most was the way he would look at me. In the mornings, after the sun would rise I would turn to see him looking at me with the most adoring look on his face, and for maybe ten or fifteen minutes we would just look at each other, saying everything without saying a thing. The way he looked at me...there's nothing like that, nothing in the world that could make a girl feel so big and so small at the same time. There's nothing that can make a girl forget all her insecurities, all her hang ups and the stress of the rest of the world with such simplicity and definiteness. When he looked at me I felt loved and nothing else mattered but me and him.

Giving him back to the rest of the world broke (breaks, and is breaking) my heart. I wanted to build my whole world around that weightless, heavy feeling I had with him. I wanted to build my whole world around the love I felt in my heart for him. I still do. Albeit, this week was far from everyday life, far away from the troubles of work and bills and everything else we have to face as functioning adults in the world, but even in knowing that, I have this crushing want to see him every day in a normal sort of way; I want to wash our dishes and cuddle up to watch sports or cartoons, talk about life and love and hopes and dreams. I want a life with him, and I've never thought of sharing my life with a person before.

If there was any doubt in my mind before about what I was working so hard for, or where I wanted to be, it's gone now; I just want him. I want to be near enough to see him without catching a plane, train or automobile. I want to be able to cook for him and hold his hand. I want him more now, than I ever did before which, at the time, I thought was impossible. But, as I've learned this past week, love expands, and fills up all the spaces, even the ones you weren't sure were there.

The one thing I want though is for him to know he is undoubtedly loved. He is everything I didn't think to ask for. He is the King who made a Queen out of me and no matter what, I'm forever in his debt for that. Your girl is a goner. Totally, completely and unashamedly in love with an amazing guy scary as it is, as unsure as any of our futures ever are, I can't wait to see what's in store for me and him.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Being "Just Fine" With Me

Saturdays are my lone days off in the week. It's no excuse for not writing :( and I'm sorry... BUT, I've come back with gems.

There's a song by Chris Brown of all people that sums up my epiphany for the day called "Just Fine." In it the only thing that sticks out to me is the chorus "I think God will give you someone much better than me. Your life will be okay, you'll be alright. It'll be just fine." I wonder where that mantra was a few years ago.

It's no secret that I've had my heart broken before. It used to weigh down every conversation, every thought and every move I made with a settled, stifling heaviness. I couldn't meet anyone's eyes for awhile after that and have recently just began to meet my own without that guilt and self-loathing hiding behind them. The whole thing, in my mind, was my fault. If I'd have been a better girlfriend candidate he wouldn't have treated me that way, I wouldn't have ended up hurt and this whole "finding myself" thing wouldn't be needed. I'd be someone's miserable ass girlfriend.

Someone was looking out for me. Maybe it was him. He often told me he didn't deserve me and I always thought he was being self-depreciating but it turns out he was totally right. He didn't deserve me. Every moment with him was a moment on edge, worrying about his next move, my consequent strategy and other girls who could come in at any time and replace me, because he didn't treat me like I was anything necessarily special, just available. If he'd have let me, I would've been his girlfriend, probably would still be his girlfriend to this very moment.

I'd be somewhere crying, blowing up his phone, drinking and upset. I'd be wondering if he was cheating at every turn. I'd wonder where he and I were going, where he and I were currently, what I could do to fix it all. I'd be driving W absolutely bonkers. I wouldn't be me. Not the me I was, am, meant to be. The me who thinks and feels for herself, the me who, despite every criticism still rocks her natural hair every day, still sings (sometimes off key) at the top of her lungs while driving, the me that is so right.

I'm a dope chick, legit shit. Do I struggle? Every day, with something or another it's a struggle but I always try to find that one thing that'll make it all worth it. Sometimes it's W. Sometimes it's my dreams. Some times it's Tarzan or my budding friendships with amazing people. There's always something, somewhere that makes the struggling worth it, even if it is for that one moment, and the me I am now recognizes that and keeps on trucking, instead of being stuck in such a terrible, confining headspace.

God gave me someone so much better than that dude. God gave me me. People will come and go, situations will change, but the thing that is constant, the thing that I'll always have, is me. And honestly, that's better than any dude in the world.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Struggles: Abandonment & Faith

"Why do you always think you do something wrong?" W asked. And I truly didn't have an answer at that moment, just a deep, guilty, wrong feeling that somehow I've done something to force me into this position.

After my parents split, I didn't cry. Not publicly at least. Instead, in the dark, mellow music playing, I'd sob uncontrollably, gasping for a breath of understanding in between each teardrop, wondering what I'd done wrong to make my father divorce me and my mother. I cried so intense I was tired after every round, but so silently that nobody ever found out. But even in my dreams I would ask "What did I do wrong? Why?"

They say the more things change the more they stay the same...

I was once in love with someone who could never love me back. I asked him why; why did he have me grow attached and fall if he never had the intention to catch me? Why build my trust to just abandon me with my own vicious thoughts? Why? He never had an answer, just a world of apologies in his eyes to match the world of hurt in mine. And even in knowing it wasn't my fault, that there was nothing I could've done better, I still questioned it; what could I have done better to make him love me, what did I do to make him not love me?

I have a strong reaction to abandonment, whether imagined or otherwise. It hurts physically, like drowning in oxygen, like a firm palm pressing right over your heart and lungs, taking the air from them. It tastes salty and bitter, like tears and iron. And still, no matter how grown up I am or think I am, I revert back to that little girl who's daddy left and wonder why? What could I have done? What did I do wrong? The adult in me assures me that, logically, I've done nothing, nothing is wrong, reminds me to breathe, to eat, to not get so bogged down in that emotion from so long ago that I don't live.

There aren't many people I fear losing. A good four or five. And so when I think I've lost them? I revert. For moments, the jubilant, normal me will shine through, trying to convince them that I'm fine, or that it doesn't hurt. But if they know me, they know. The worse thing you could do to me is leave me by myself in a relationship. If I'm in a friendship with you and you just up and go? I blame myself, deeply, and can never explain to myself what I've done wrong to make you go. You make me love you? And it's ten times worse, because in addition to all that weight is added the feeling of stupidity; how dumb was I to think I could be someone's someone? How foolish and naive to think I deserved love.

I write about it today because I almost let that feeling take me over. I forget sometimes that it's not me that's the problem; sometimes that other person has their own weight to carry before they can share it with someone else, or become free of it and can truly focus on everything else around them. I'm reminded of it today after talking to my father, not talking to my certain someone, and receiving a message from that one I've never been able to truly forgive.

I've never trusted either of my parents after the divorce. I never forgot that guy who made me love him only to leave me alone in love. I never forgot the friends who walked out. And each of them share some of the dark stitches on my heart. I've learned from them to be the one to walk, to not be the one left behind, and when you're so ready to jet when things get tough, what does that really say about the value you place on these people?

I had to trust my judgement and my heart from scratch. I had to learn to put the doubts and fears, that nit-picking force in the very back. I had to learn to have faith in people, faith in my choosing these people. The hardest of all, I had to un-learn walking away; the best way to show someone you value them is to simply be there. I learned that from years of feeling so much less than valued by all those people who were never there for long, never there as I needed them to be.  And I've been a better person for it. So even if I don't understand now, I won't walk away, and I won't jump to conclusions, asking myself over and over what it was that was wrong with me. No, from now on I'll stand my ground; I'll choose faith, choose hope and choose trust.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Vulnerability Isn't A Liability

"Do you think about me?"

The tweet passed my timeline but I just kept coming back to it. I'd always been the person who, while in infatuation, in romantical tangles, in whatever we chose to call those things that make us want to be in love, but aren't love...I'm always the person that seems to want it more. I'm always the person asking that question, because, so often, the answer isn't clear, or worse, isn't what I wanted to hear.

I had a hard day today. I woke up feeling terribly insecure and didn't know where or how to place that feeling. I've been confident in myself and in my world for awhile now so for the feeling to hit me so hard was jolting. What was missing? What was wrong?

And then my someone wonderful comes into the picture. And boy, did I unload all my insecurities on him today. I'm wary of this thing he and I are in because it leaves me feeling like I'm asking too much, or am too jealous, or too nagging or any of the other myriads of things I think that get me down. I'm wary of these feelings, these unprovoked (or mildly, depending on your perception) jealousies and worries; feelings, and people, change constantly, and I, for all intents and purposes, am a rock. I may shift, I may chip, I may be polished, but ultimately I am the same. Today though, I was not a rock. And for that reason, I kinda lost my sh*t.

You see, the way I'm used to it happening is this: I fall, they don't. They lead me on, and I stupidly follow. They drop me, and I bruise. I move on, and they miss me. They ask me do I still think about them, do I miss them? So many of my ex-somethings seem to still have my number. Seem to want to follow me on Twitter. Keep friending me on Facebook. My answer is in the response that they get: none.

I am weary of always being someone's "What if" or someone's "second place." I am weary of putting everything I've got into this love thing and never getting much back. And I'm tired of dudes from friendtationships past hitting me up on some Ne-Yo "Do You?" type sh*t because no, I don't. For a week or two after? Definitely. But someone's got me now who I don't worry about dropping me, as even if he does, I've know doubt he'd help me back up. Someone's got me now who tries to assuage my fears rather than feed them. Someone's got me now who cares about me where all others have failed. And if you didn't bring that to the table to begin with so long ago, I'd be a fool to miss you, much less think about you, now.

As for the me in the present? I won't lie and say I'm a secure girlfriend. At this distance? Insecurity chews me up inside some days. I try to stay cool, calm and collected, not letting it all get to me, and most days, I succeed. But days like today? Everything has me hypercritical, nit-picking, not at him or our situation but at me, and the myriad of things I could be doing better. I could be stronger, and more secure. I could be thinner and wear my hair differently. All these internalized things, because I simply don't know how to ask him "Do you think about me?" without feeling clingy, needy or naggy.

I forget sometimes that my vulnerability isn't a liability but rather the thing that makes me human. Vulnerability makes me nervous. It makes me feel weak and dumb and like I'm making a fool of myself constantly. If I'm vulnerable with you, please, be patient with me. I'll ramble like an idiot. I might cry a little. But if you handle me right, I come back stronger, better and ultimately more comfortable and confident, if not in myself, than in where I stand with you. In such case, you won't have to answer the question, because at that point, I'll no longer be asking it.