Tuesday, October 15, 2013

On Longing

As a child, I was never really sure what people meant by "being jealous." I had no siblings to contend with, truthfully, I was usually the only child around and my parents and their friends made sure I never wanted for anything. I didn't become acquainted with jealousy until I was about 13 years old and the boy I liked was dating someone else.

Jealousy is like that for me. I never crave things. I've lived in my apartment about four months and still have no drapes, no rugs, and no couch. Instead, I do my reading and writing in a little nook, complete with a faux fur-ish type blanket, lavender and tawny decorative pillows and one kneeling cushion that I sit on. Or, in bed, which, let me tell you, is the most comfortable bed I've ever laid in in my entire life. But no, I don't want your man, or her man, or his man. I just want, for just one moment, what people in functioning relationships have.

Even in my own relationship, which I tried so hard to make work, I was always striving for what I call fullness. Fullness is the feeling you get when you're around those you love, things you love, doing something you love, that makes you feel that at any moment, you could burst from said happiness. I've felt that way maybe twice in my life thus far, and ever since, I've been chasing it's elusive high. My mother says it's a curse I've inherited from her, this need to be loved and loving with everything I've got with very few slivers of reward.

But the thing is...I realize, often, that what I'm in want of is not necessarily a person. I'm in want of the feeling of fullness, of belonging to someone who belongs to me in the same way. So now it happens that I can look at a couple and feel genuinely happy that they've found each other...while at the same time wondering when I can find that for myself. I don't ever wish for another's relationship anymore, which is such a big step from my formative years, instead I wish them well, and wait, somewhat impatiently, for my own.

Longing, as I am coming to realize, is not a dirty word. We all long for something, whether it's to be a great parent, a world-renowned doctor, we all aspire for things that are typically just out of our grasp. I long for love, or rather, the right kind of love for me, which will take, I think the right kind of person.

So, moral of the story, I need to chill on the love shit for awhile. It'll happen when it's meant to happen, and in the meantime, maybe I can try loving myself again? Easier said than done, but it's a definite start, and a step I'm more than willing, more than ready, to take.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

On Being Open and Facebook

I am an open person, but still am deemed by folks as mysterious and closed off. Oxymoron, or just the truth of my character, I can't really say. In any case, my openness is sort of a defense mechanism, a way to put out who I am in the world so that it can never be misconstrued what my intentions are, so that it's never hard to say what Tes is about and what Tes is striving for.

So, it happens that on Facebook, a person I knew years ago, a person who was my best friend at the time, comes out of the woodwork to tell me that I've changed; I'm a mean person, a closed off person, and unforgiving to boot. He told me that and then asked for my phone number to call me to talk. ...excuse...what?

Sidebar: What is it about Facebook that makes people think they know all there is to know about you? You post a few pictures, list a few favorite movies, and now people have insights into your inner workings based on arbitrary likes and dislikes. What's that about?

This person literally disappeared from my life. I'm talking, one day we're on the phone and hang up as usual, then four years later I get a Facebook friend request. And now he comes out his face to call me mean, say I'm changed for the worse and haven't forgiven him for pulling a Houdini at a time when I needed all the friends I could get. 

Anyone who knows me truly, or is on their way to knowing me truly can attest that I am a kind person, almost to a fault. I'm the kind of person who actually thinks about living her life in a way that doesn't harm other people; how many other people my age can actually say that? 

There is a difference, though, between kindness and foolishness, forgiveness and being somebody's Patsy. Dude straight up called me to the carpet, disparaged my character and demanded my phone number like I owed him something. And let's not even get into his indignation when I told him "no."

The long and short of it is I had to tell him about himself, let him know I had forgiven him a long time ago and no longer even thought of him. Explained that people change, and grow and not everything under the umbrella of "being nice" is actually nice or entirely black and white. And then, when he demanded a better response, I told him to fuck off.

When he knew me, I was 18 or so. No responsibilities. No school at the time. No real goals. Since then, I've gotten an apartment, am on my second car, two years at my job, been in a committed relationship, none of which I had accomplished at that time when he knew me. I've experienced things, and thus I've changed. And I no longer need or want him in my life. It's part of growing up, figuring out who the leaves and who the roots are in your life...

What he fails to realize, I think, is that I don't need more people in my life. I need more good people. More like-minded people. People who respect my choices and know that I'm on a journey in life to find the zenith of myself and are not gonna impede that process. He was never that person, never one of those people. 

Open or not, some people just don't deserve me, which is oddly something I learned after my break up. I've started to realize that I am better and thus deserve better, so if that means losing points in somebody who I don't know's eyes, then that's just what it's going to have to be.

Sometimes I forget that the folks who were your friends, were your friends. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

My Birthday

I think it's weird that I never have anything to say on my birthday. I truly just spend the day being thankful for being where I am and thanking people for their birthday wishes, but this year seems so different.

For starters, I was excited. Although it snuck up on me like it always does, when I realized it was coming, instead of the "Oh, shit," feeling I typically get, I got a real happy, giddy feeling. I don't have anything special planned, just dinner with my Mom, and I don't plan on getting a whole lot of gifts, but I just finally feel different.

I feel like all of my birthdays I was waiting to feel my age, or waiting to feel some way about it one way or another really. That's not to say I feel my age now (I always feel older) but I feel like I'm finally a person. For a lot of my growing  years I felt like an idea, something that was supposed to be happening, maybe, but just...wasn't. I feel now that I'm actualized. I'm living, and breathing and functioning to the best of my ability and I'm proud of that. I understand that a lot of people don't get to feel that way about themselves, or don't feel that way because they feel like they can't be proud of the little things.

I am proud of the little things. I've maintained a job for two years. I've lived on my own for about four months and haven't ruined or wrecked anything. I'm paying off all my small debts. I'm healthy. And most important, more often than not, I'm just happy to be.

I won't deny it was a hard year for me, what with my break up and the stresses of moving, but I feel like with those hardships I got to find out who I really was, and what I was really made of. Getting through those two things was like breaking a glass ceiling that I didn't know was so thick until I got to the other side. Sure, I'm a little cut up, but no worse for wear. In fact, I may even be better than when I started.

So, for this birthday, more than the others, I may not do a whole lot of moving and shaking, but I will revel in the pride I feel and the joy. Bask in the well wishes, and look towards the ever-brighter future.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Breaking Up Is Truly Not The End of The World (But It Hurts Like a Bitch)

So, if you know me or follow me anywhere else, you know that Tarzan and I are no longer a couple. Can't lie, it really really sucks. Is it childish I wanted us to last forever, that I expanded and changed all of my dreams to fit in another person?

A few years ago I would've said hell yeah, that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Why would you change and do this or that for some other person who's not even guaranteed to stay with you? The truth is though, that's what faith is. I've always had a shaky relationship with faith and expectations and the like because whenever you put faith in anything you run the risk of being disappointed, and in my life, up to a certain point, I'd become so heartbreakingly used to being disappointed by the people I trusted and the ideas I put faith in that I sort of stopped believing in the good things. Sure, I'd think about the good things, write about a few good things, but the sky was always falling and I was the one chicken just sighing and waiting for it to take me out.

I always had this idea that being in love with someone would heal all wounds and make everything wonderful and perfect. In that aspect, yes, that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. With experience comes a really big picture in 20/20 of all the teenager-y things you thought and the silliness of them, because I'm still not perfect. I'm a person who did the best she could and loved the hardest she could and for that I'm proud, but surely not perfect. Love doesn't solve everything for you, but it does make you realize what your real problems are and for me, it was holding back.

I was so scared of trusting people and letting people into my life. They could trust me with anything; strangers would tell me deep dark secrets and horror stories and I'd simply pat them on the shoulder, tell them everything would be okay, and then go on about my life, but didn't trust the people in my life enough to tell them something simple as how I was feeling, preferring instead to deflect and talk about them. Trusting people, is an easy way to get hurt, but it's also a beautiful way to form attachments, which I've learned life is all about.

Breaking up hurts, especially when it's from such a great person, someone you learn from and become a better person through knowing. But I was lucky; my former steady is a gentleman, a sweetheart and a scholar; he hasn't dogged me in the street, hasn't leaked any nudes, and I've avoided a lot of those horrible break up stories you hear about or read. You'll never hear me say an unkind word about that man. I'm trying to maintain a friendship with him, because over the year and change we were together he became my best friend, sometimes understanding what I was feeling before I knew what it was I was feeling, and because you never give up on the people you love.

So what's next for this girl?

I can tell you honestly, dating is far off. It's not that I don't want that connection with someone again or that I'm immune to the loneliness that creeps in after a breakup, but rather, I know that getting over an old man by getting under a new one rarely works. Plus, the guys that I like are really really hard to find :) . Next up for me is biting the bullet and finally going back to school for my Associates of English. I know it may not be a lot to people, but it's the world to me, a first step towards a new horizon.

After I get that degree, I'm thinking on a move to Philadelphia or Seattle, some place I've never lived but that suits the type of person I am and hope to grow into. The Hip-Hop scene in Seattle (or lack thereof) is not a draw exactly, but Seattle is like my Los Angeles - that dream place where you meet people you've always wanted to meet and do things you've always wanted to do. But I'm thinking Philly suits me a lot better; the few times I went for a visit (though hopelessly lost on one of those visits) it was beautiful and the people were really nice.

A lot of times, folks use breaking up as an excuse to give up on their dreams, on love and on life in general. But it's like Brandy said, life's not over (and you can start again). It hurts, like a bitch, it hurts, but it's not the end of me. It's not the end of all the love I have to give or the lessons I hope to learn in life and it's not the end of my dreaming.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Nature of Broken Things

I'm a really emotional person. Highly, highly emotional and very few people get to see any side to me other than my aloofness, my slight meanness, or my totally engrossing kindness*. The few who see behind the little that I do show, however, know that there's so much more here than my frame or any words I could ever say would tell you.

I'm moving into my very own apartment in less than a month. I have never lived one-hundred percent independently in my life. Sometimes, I'll admit it's felt like I've been autonomous from my support system but in my mind of minds I know it's never been true. But it's about to be. So as I branch out on this new life, this big life, this new big thing I keep looking over at this broken couch in my mom's living room.

She's told me I can have the broken couch. And I look over at it and just feel waves of emotion. I hate that couch. I love that couch. I'm angry at that couch. I feel like I need that couch. But the truth is, that couch is me, or what I believe parts of myself to be: broken, damaged, and inadequate.

I don't want to bring damaged, broken things with me, because I feel like I don't have room in my new life for more than one big, damaged, broken thing. And that one damaged, broken thing happens to be five foot tall, with an afro.

As much as I think I've grown, as much as I can read and hear in the words I chose to use and the thoughts I now think, the changes in me that have happened haven't mended this brokenness I always feel. It could be self-imposed, as I don't let too many people near enough to me to heal or hurt. It could be the fact that I feel I haven't found what it is I'm going to truly "do" for the rest of my life and thus have no direction. I keep thinking that if I can find what's broken and fix it, that all of my problems will disappear, but deep down I know that's not true; by the time I find what's broken, something new will be cracked or in need of attention.

Do we ever really heal? Do we ever get fixed? More pertinient to my close-knit life, can we, in time, heal ourselves? I feel like I've been putting bandages and salve on these wounds that are really slow to close: I see myself healing, and I see myself doing better, but I'm frustrated with the seeming lack of forward movement, with the lack of visible progress.

I have a decision to make: I either take the broken couch, or I start fresh and make a new base. I can either take these feelings of inadequacy and all this repressed anger with me, or I can try and let it all go and start something new. Each of those prospects are terrifying.

I guess I'll get some beanbag chairs, and figure out the rest later.

*Not to brag, but when you hear it enough it sort of sticks with you.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


I've been absent from writing awhile and it's been a challenge to figure out exactly why. Did I lose my mojo? Did I just not have anything to say? The truth is, I'd lost my sense of freedom.

I danced under a streetlight for 10 uninterrupted minutes to some Stevie Wonder and some Spice Girls. Didn't stop when cars went by, but truly danced and booty popped like no one was looking (it was on my bucket list). And in that moment it all just came smashing together like two inevitable toddler heads at a play date; I'd stopped doing the things that make me feel like myself, and feeling like myself is what makes me feel free to be or do anything I put my mind to.

Somewhere in that hustle and bustle of scheduled time, I'd neglected me and what makes me happy. Long walks to nowhere. Thirty-second (or longer) dance parties. Music and books, art and learning new things. Truthfully, the past month or two (or three) I'd been going to work, coming home, and...that's it. No writing. No reading. No singing. No joy.

I suppose I felt obligated to this idea of what an adult person's life is. My parental figures go to work and come home and that seemed like what the traditional American life is but I always forget I'm not traditional and that puts me in direct confrontation with people who say they want to understand or help me, but don't know me enough to tailor their "advice." From my hair, to my shape, to the words I chose to express myself, I never seem to be in-line with the life my family and some friends seem to think I should lead.

I get discouraged with having to explain my choices in life to people, not because they have any valid or vital for my everyday life but because I feel like I shouldn't have to. These are people who see me in passing, people who've never seen me furiously typing away at keys, or dancing while I brush my teeth. These people don't know who or what I am because they didn't make me. Why am I explaining myself to these people? If I were explaining it to folks on the basis of letting them know who I was, I'd have no problem with it, but explaining myself to be judged? Takes away that sense of freedom.

It's a feeling of obligation, I've decided, that makes me feel so unlike me. When I feel obligated, especially if it's to family or close friends, I block off the things that I need or want in order to make things happen for them and I give them my freedom.

But you know something? I'm twenty-two f*cking years old. I shouldn't be obligated to anybody's ideas of who I should be, because I'm still creating myself as it is. If I'm a wreck, I'm a wreck, if I'm a success, I'm a success, but that path I chose should be purely my own, and I should enjoy the journey, because I only get one.

So, moral of the story is this: steal your sense of freedom back from those who've hijacked it. Even if it's only for a ten minute spotlight/streetlight dance party. Even if it nobody else understands you or why you must scream-sing 90's R&B ballads when you drive (just me?). Even if you gotta keep explaining who you are to people over, and over, and over again. One day they'll get it, or one day you'll quit talking, but either way you'll still be who you are, you'll still need what you need, and it's nobody's responsibility to hand you your sense freedom. Don't be afraid to take it.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

What Is The Matter With Us Young People?

I'm fresh into this life game. Admittedly, I'm not brand new, but for perspectives sake I'd just like to make it known people still call me "Sweet Baby." In my eyes, I'm seven years from being thirty (!!!!!) while in their eyes, I'm just the youngin', the shorty, or the little sister.

So why is it that when I look around at my peers, we're starting families, we're moving in together and getting engaged?

I was thinking this over as I was talking to a coworker with an adorable Southern accent which I admire (admittedly, I have a Southern accent but her voice and her accent together is something stupendous) and she said that she and her fiance' were excited about the next phase of their lives. The last time I sat down and talked to her, they were simply dating and living together and now, she beamed a big, prideful smile and showed me her elegant, beautiful ring. When did this happen? Why is this happening?

Another coworker of mine just had her third child (all with the same man, mind you) and they're now engaged. Another is not engaged, but pregnant by a man she lives with, and yet another is proposing to his girlfriend this very weekend. None of us are over the age of twenty-five.

It took me back to my Sins of Our Fathers post and thinking on the ramifications of our parents actions as we ourselves reach adulthood. At this age my mother and father were married, had me and were living on an army base. At this age, so many of my co-workers and associates, friends and family members parents were either becoming or on their way to being parents. So are we doomed to repeat their pattern, becoming young parents before we know better, or do we actually know better?

A lot of us come from broken homes with one parent living away from home, divorced parents, widowed parents, and blended families that never fully blended. In watching our parents struggle to continue to love each other and the lives that they'd dealt themselves, had we learned that what they did was on the wrong side of right?

For instance, I plan to move in with my boyfriend sometime this year. No children. No engagement rings. No wedding bells. I want to see what he's like before I decide to make a family or a life with this him. Moreover, before he comes, I want to experience some independence, so I plan to have my own place in one or two months, start paying bills that I create, and learning how to be okay with what I've got. My mother never had that; she fell in love with Dad, she got pregnant, after living together two years, they got married. She never had time to decide if my father was "it" for her; the decision was made by an earlier decision she'd made to keep me and to stay with him. Had our parents known or seen what we now know, would things have been different? Would some of us be here? Would our families still be together?

Maybe that's what the matter with us is. Maybe we've had to mature so much faster, because our parents had to mature that must faster. Maybe we're now realizing at this age, what took our parents to learn at age thirty. Maybe we're trying to create the ideal families we never got to have, with people who understand where and what we come from and have an ambition, a drive, to do that much better.

Maybe there's nothing wrong with us at all. A lot of people from older generations like to lump us all into this pants-sagging, Waka Flocka admiring, good-for-nothing kids, but they fail to realizing that just like they had those same types when they were young (that they didn't necessarily fall in with) we have those same types. A lot of us are hard workers, in school, at our jobs. A lot of us are doing the right thing by not ourselves, but these budding families we're creating. We're doing the best we can with what we've been handing which, given the indiscernible 'gift' we've been given, is pretty damn good.

There's nothing the matter with us, I've decided. We're trying. We're striving. We're making connections and feeling free to be untraditional in the way we show our love, make our families, and even create our lives. We're learning; you were given the chance to, and now it's our turn.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Short Story (That Says A Whole Lot and Yet So Little) of a Short Trip

I hadn't seen snow since I was in my single digits, and the last time I visited this new, big-little city, I was sorely disappointed with all the sunshine; if I wanted sun, I could've stayed my ass in Texas. But on our anniversary  it seemed as if all that hope from the last trip culminated in the white lattice falling from the sky. I may have squealed in glee, I'm not sure, but I do remember taking a big handful of snow and letting it melt in my mouth, just like I used to as a kid and was warmed inside by the nostalgia.

"Happy anniversary," he'd said, with a big smile.

If I were the spontaneous sort, I would've sat in the middle of the hotel parking lot and soaked up the ambiance the chill and inner joy that the snow was providing, but we'd made tentative plans with a few associates to go boldly where we hadn't gone (together at least) before. We were prepared to make fools of ourselves on a skating rink, and he and I were equally geeked to get there.Plus, I'd spent an agonizingly long time getting ready, and didn't want to make us any later than we probably were.

Now, the thing about driving in New Jersey is that you don't realize how long it's going to take until you're on the road. We'd been following his friend's car for so long, I began to wonder if I'd somehow traced behind the wrong car and we were on our way to a "Hills Have Eyes" situation. Upon mentioning that to him, the terror on his face made me laugh. Thankfully, we arrived at our location, after passing a few pastures and hamlets untouched by time.

The rink itself wasn't much; the building was small and a little shoddy with character. Long discarded spiderwebs swayed in the breeze from the cracks between the front doors and the concrete under our feet was cracked. Slightly rusted doors separated the entrance from the actual rink. Paint cans and wooden beams sat near the door as if someone had left for lunch and never came back to finish their odd job. I loved it.

I stood in front of him, keeping my feet as far apart as his, however, him being a foot taller or so it was harder than it looked for my small stature. Realizing I was mimicking him, he posted up in a stance that nearly put me in a split. Our chuckles filled the small space and we huddled up for warmth, or in my case, for the closeness. That's when it started: the bubble.

You ever stop and notice couples? Sometimes you'll see them with their friends or family, or even with each other but separate, and they're simply part of a crowd, and then, suddenly, they aren't anymore. They make a distinction between the world and them, forming an invisible barrier as if they're being filmed for a romantic comedy montage scene. The people around them subconsciously part, giving them room to pass, their intimacy obvious even at a peripheral level. They've made a bubble.

The first thirty minutes or so, it was just us, the folks we came with, and the people who worked there on the rink. The footwork of those people was insane. One guy, simply given the moniker of "Cool Mothefucker" seemed to walk and skate at the same time, another man literally moonwalked on his skates. Me? I stayed as close to the wall as I possibly could that first thirty minutes; I didn't want to make a fool of myself in front of him, them or the experts by falling.

And then the DJ did something fantastic. He played a song I knew and loved, that put me at ease. It was a lot easier to skate after that, a lot easier to loosen up and have fun. Up to that point I'd been skating alone, but when looking behind me, there he was, almost as if keeping watch over me that whole time to make sure I didn't fall on my ass. I held out my hand, and invited him to make a fool of himself with me.

The couple we'd come with had made hanging with them a little awkward by the arguing and passive aggressive daggers they were staring at each other. Truth be told, even if they hadn't been in a cold war, he and I would have created our own space. Sometimes (more often than I would have liked) my bad shins forced me off the rink and to a seat, but seeing the experts, and my lanky steady, sailing by to increasingly awesome tunes fueled my fun and kept me smiling.

An hour went by and the place was packed. Adults and teens alike had flooded the rink and were skating backwards, doing flips, two-stepping - it was something out of a cliche'd dance movie but much more interesting as I got to imagine the plots and back stories of every skater myself. For instance, there was one skater who, every time he passed, would pop-lock. He wore a throwback buttoned down jersey short set and knee high socks. His skates matched his outfit and he had on a 80's inspired gold chain. My dude's eyes lit up every time he saw Jersey Guy and he whispered that he wanted to be just like him when he got older - fun, free and unapologetic about it. I said he could be all those things, just not like that, and certainly not publicly.

Another hour rolled by at which point my shins were on fire and swollen, but I didn't let that stop me. Okay, yeah, I did, but I was still having fun. I'd lost track of my group and instead, sat alone and made up stories for all the skaters and watched Tarzan breeze by and try not to get run down by the aggressive skaters.

When couple skate started, even Jersey Guy had found his steady and they rolled, dipped and slid right on by. I was sad I couldn't get up there with them, but to my surprise Tarzan came off the rink and sat with me. The music got more and more romantic, culminating in a song I've loved since I was a little girl. And that's when it happened: I was in the bubble.

Maybe I'd been in it that whole time and had to take a cue from the soundtrack of our life that was going on to notice. Maybe I'd been purposely oblivious to it to not get schmaltzy. Whatever the case, when you notice you're in the bubble, everything seems to glow. Arguably, it could've been the strobe light hitting the disco ball, but for the story's sake, we'll say it was love that had made my world gleam silver.

We didn't need to stay any longer than that. It seemed like that was the moment we'd been leading up to, he and I. Now, that's not to say the other places we went or things we did didn't seem like the type of things couples did or that we weren't in so many bubbles for the entire trip, but this one made us feel like a fairytale to me. So often with long distance relationships the time you spend together, everything seems special and dipped in honeyed gold and whatever, but because of my analytic mind, or maybe in spite of it, I knew that day was something truly important and special. Not only did the time feel golden, but I felt golden. I felt beautiful and delicate and all the things a young girl hopes to feel when she first falls in love.

I went ahead and took our skates to the counter and looked behind me to see Tarzan and Jersey Guy yukking it up and shaking hands. Turns out, Jersey Guy had been skating since he was a toddler and did it out of love for the music, love for the sport, and truth to himself. He encouraged Tarzan that, if he found something he loved, to never stop doing it. I guess there are worse people Tarzan could aspire to be like.

Whether this story tells you more about me, him, or us, I'm not sure. Whether it restores your hope in love, spontaneity, or even snow, I can't be certain. I can be sure, though, that for me, it restores something in me long broken. It restores that belief that fairy tale things do happen to ordinary girls. It encloses my former jaded self in it's sweetness and warmth, forcing the me under all the previous hurts to resurface. Finally, most important, it reassures me that the love I've always wanted, more so the one I've always needed, is indeed out there in abundance, and I truly, finally deserve to be the girl, smiling and strolling inside the bubble.

*New format sponsored simply by my need to write a story.

Friday, March 29, 2013


Thinking about forever...

I've been doing a lot of that lately, having conversations with coworkers and strangers about what they think forever entails and what they hope to accomplish with it, if there is anything to accomplish from such a fluid idea. And so far, I haven't gotten the most thought provoking answers from anybody, but I have surprised myself with what I used to think, and what I think now.

As a kid, forever was something I knew didn't exist. In the movies, the "forever after" part came when the movie was over, so, forever meant the end to me in the sense of "okay, this is over now." Forever was what I said when things were taking a really really long time. Forever is what I said when asked by my friends how long we would be friends. Forever wasn't a tangible thing, it wasn't an actual thing, it was just a word you said to symbolize a really long time, or until the end.

As I got older, my idea of forever was tainted by bad experiences. My family was supposed to be together, forever. I was supposed to be friends with the people I met in high school forever. I was supposed to go to college and get a degree and a good job that would last me forever. Forever became one of those childish things, in my mind, that I no longer had the time or patience to ponder and believe in, kind of like love (because as that point, I was sure I'd be single forever). It wasn't possible, forever. It was just something people said, like "Congratulations" when a woman becomes pregnant (even though that's what she's essentially designed to do) or "I'm sorry to hear that" when a person gives you some bad news about themselves that you either could really care less about or don't know how to respond to. Forever became a filler word without meaning.

And now...I've worked around to thinking about it again, to believing in the possibility of forever. I could say that it's because I'm with a partner whom I love deeply and can't really see a life without now that I have him. I could say it's because I've been best friends with the same person for almost four years now which, for a military brat and a loner like me, is super impressive. But the truth is, it's me.

I feel like I have changed for the better through understanding myself and what it is I want. I feel as though time has done me the service of providing wisdom and insight that I didn't have before. Forever was a fallacy, a dream made up by Disney and parents who wanted you to believe that "happily ever after" was true. But it can be; it's a distinct possibility that happily forever after does exist. The question becomes, how much work are you going to put in for it?

Are you going to let every step back steal your joy? Are you going to let some ex-douchebag ruin your potential happiness with someone else, let alone yourself? Or are you going to believe that joy is possible? That dreams don't die, they merely change? That forever isn't just a word people say?

That's what I'm working towards, the possibility of finding what my "forever" is. Is it moments where I find myself smiling despite myself? Moments where I'm with the ones I love? Moments where I'm left alone to contemplate nature, and humanity and God? I believe that forever is in those moments, the laughing until I can't breathe with best friend W, the arguing over fictional casting of a comic book movie with best friend Tony, the walking in the rain with Tarzan. Those are pieces of what I want my forever to look like, but it's not promised to me. I have to work to make those moments happen, organically or otherwise. I have to understand that the pursuit of happiness is just as important as the happiness itself. I can't be afraid to find out that my forever isn't what I thought it would be, but that it's exactly what I need it to be.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Shame On Me (For Being This Size)

Not to quote the untalented rapper of this quarter, but I'm different. From the way I think, the things I read, the way I dress, I just don't seem to fit in with my peers (or even much my elders) and I've learned to be perfectly okay with that.

What I can't find myself being okay with is that people seem to want me to be less than what I already am, want me to revert back to that pre-high school train of thought that says because everybody else feels a certain way, I have to feel the same way.

For instance, I woke up today and perused my Twitter and found someone I follow, a very talented woman, fat-shaming the entire hell out of another woman for a really brave picture she took of her stomach. The former couldn't understand why the latter was so bent out of shape; she was only stating her opinion, the opinion that the latter's body was utterly disgusting, and what did she (the big girl) expect anyway? It's Twitter, it's rude and obnoxious and gets off on shade, drama, and slander, and this girl, the bigger girl, should've known better and been ashamed of her body enough to not post it.

(I'm reminded of a quote that says there's a special place in hell for women who aren't kind to other women, but I digress...)

I staunchly disagree. Firstly, who is anybody to shame anybody for something as superficial, something as ever changing, as how they look? Looks is one of those things that fade with time, but beauty is one of those things that grows as you grow, that develops out of your kindness, your creativity, and your wisdom. Beauty is an intangible, but it's really noticeable when you don't have it as it seeps into your personality, into your words and actions.

Second, and most important, anyone can take pride in how they look, whether they are traditionally attractive, or not. To tell someone they can't like how they look because it goes against how you think they should look, or how you yourself look is ugly. So what if someone's bigger than you? So what if they think paisley and floral prints are in and you don't? Let them do them, and you continue to do you, such is the wisdom of time; whatever someone else does, that doesn't directly effect you or your way of life, is them and should remain such.

Fat shaming is one of those things that makes me mad. I feel like I'm fat. Those who see me often and know me tell me I'm not. I eat whole grain, nuts and berries, love fruit and vegetables and have drastically cut down on my fast food intake. I've started walking and running after my shifts at work and even started a small weight training regime. I still weigh one hundred and seventy pounds, size 14, and I get discouraged all the time about it.

Standing naked in a mirror, I can't look at myself straight on for more than three minutes; any more time than that and I just want to crawl into bed and hide away my body. It's been this way since I was maybe twelve or thirteen and puberty hit, and I've been working ever since to become accepting of my shape. Some days, I'm there - I look at myself and think that I'm beautiful, inside and out, and I just smile and go about my day. Other days, I look at my stretch marked skin, bigger hips and thighs and just sigh and shake my head, pinching the fat in the mirror and feeling sorry for myself.

I shame myself. I don't need anybody else to say "shame on you for looking that way." But...why should I feel ashamed? I'm doing everything I know how to do to stay healthy. I'm keeping both my mind, and body, sharp and trying new things everyday to make me feel better about myself, whether it's standing in the mirror (and not picking myself apart) or getting rid of the super oversized (and super small clothes) that haunt my closet. I'm doing for me, I'm concerned about me; I don't need a stranger being faux concerned about me or my weight all under the premise that I don't care for myself when, if they knew me, they'd know I really do.

Folks find me attractive. Other folks don't. Neither of that really matters as long as I find myself attractive (well, me and Tarzan anyway). And most days, I do. And from what I can tell, he does too. And the day anybody else's opinion truly matters will be the day I say f*ck it and order me the biggest, baddest, bacon infested burger and start the damn downward spiral. But between me and you, I hate beef burgers, don't like pork bacon, and feel fine about me. And I refuse to be ashamed about that.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

I Smell Like Teen Spirit

I'm getting to that point in my life where everything smells like teen spirit.

I thought I was supposed to be out of this teen angst that seems to be plaguing my twenty-second to twenty-third year but it seems like the more I seem to grow up, the more disillusioned I get with the things I've already been told, the people and places I've already seen, that seem to never change as I keep changing. It's nonsensical; if I'm changing, why aren't they? Why is everything staying so still when I seem to be vibrating on this whole new plane of being?

There's supposedly this point in your teens where you realize everything your parents told you, for the most part, was bullshit. Sure, they got it right every now and then, but they didn't take into account a few things (I recall my dad thinking minidisc players were the new "thing" and would never go out of style. Do you have one? I sure don't.). I don't know about you, but I knew my parents were full of it around 8 or 9 when I saw them eating "Santa's" cookies. So why is it that I seem to still be grappling with the ideas, the traditionalism, that they kept trying to teach but never seemed to fit me? Is it that they were teaching to an archetype of a child and not to me personally? Is it that they never told me that it would be hard out here for someone like me, with all this inerrant good and big heart with so many vultures and scam artists circling?

Don't get me wrong, my life isn't a crap shoot by a long-shot. I've got a nice job, great friends, and a boyfriend I'm still madly in love with a year into our relationship. I'm happy, overall, but the disillusionment sneaks in in those small places where I'm unhappy and shakes awake that angry teenager in me. Why can't I have a better job? Why can't I go to a good school? Why can't my boyfriend be here, or me there, without so much fanfare/planning/logistical shit to deal with? Why?

It's nothing anybody can answer. It's nothing anybody has to answer to. It's simply the way things are. The thing becomes turning this angst into something workable, managing this generalized anger and disenchantment into something resembling a plan of action or a goal or a workout plan or something to occupy you so you don't lie in bed all day mad at the world.

Fresh back from an anniversary trip to see Tarzan, Jane is tearing apart her inner jungle in a frenzied fashion, trying to make sense of her emotions and the changed landscape within her. What does she do now? She rebuilds it (after she's done tearing it down of course) and cuts out those things that make her ask too many whys. Rearranges it so that the landscape is no longer foreign, the goals no longer hidden by the weeds and things that don't belong.

They always like to say that Rome wasn't built in a day, and they are right, but how long do you think it took a council (or even a single person) to come up with the idea that Rome needed to be built? For me, Rome is going to take maybe a week, give or take.

Wish me luck.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Sins of Our Fathers

The sins of my father...

Turns out, it's more than a really dope Usher song, but an actual thing that, until today, I didn't know effected me so deeply.

My father was a cheater. My father wasn't there for me when it counted. My father tried to make amends with money. I idolized him with the sort of idealism that only exists in those not young enough to know better, those naive enough to believe that all anybody has to be is good and good would come to them. I was the best daughter I knew how to be, and he still left me behind.

I knew my father was a cheater when I was maybe 9 years old. He told me I may have had a sister (and possibly a brother) that my mother didn't know about. Made me keep that secret for years, only for me to meet the girl and not feel any sort of sisterly bond. That didn't make it any better.

Unlike what Usher says, the sins of the father don't just fall on the son. After my father left, I spent my time trying to fill that loveless space he left behind. Filled it by chasing after a boy who couldn't give any less damns about me for two years, spent time on a future baby father of 5 hoping to be lucky number 6, and fell in love with a cheater. I became some spiteful amalgamation of the cheater and the cheated on, over and over and over again, never stopping to ask myself where this whole thing started.

The father's sins on the daughter are tougher to see. Sure, everyone is walking around wearing 'Daddy Issues' t-shirts, but the fact is it goes so much farther than any of us can really see with the naked eye or fully explain with superficial proclamations  My father molded me into a cheater's accomplice, a woman seeking love in all the places where a strong male figure should have stood. My father didn't teach me what to look out for when it came to wolves in sheep's clothing, how could he from thousands of miles away? My pride and hurt wouldn't let me ask him for a thing, making it so even now, when there's something wrong, I don't say anything to anybody; I handle everything on my own, because if my own dad could let me down, who can I really rely on?

Every man I've ever been involved with has had issues with their fathers, from the absentee father, to the abusive father, to the father that was there, but never there enough. We're all broken by our parents in some way; like priceless crystal glasses, from the moment we're let out of the box, we're smudged with fingerprints, dropped, cracked. Nobody's parents were perfect, and none of us will be perfect parents, but we all aim to be better than our parents were.

That gives me pause; my father's real father wasn't there. My dad's last name is different from the rest of his siblings. His mother treated him, and continues to treat him, as if God himself set him down in front of her and said "Raise him." Those things couldn't have been easy for him; he did the best he could, it just wasn't enough to prevent me from going through it with men, with myself, with the perception that I put forth of this solid ice queen.

One day, I think I'll forgive him. One day, I'll feel more sorry for him than angry. That day isn't today. Most likely won't be tomorrow, but it's coming. I can't focus on what he or my mother did wrong; I'm grown now, it's up to me to make whatever went wrong, right. I'll keep in mind though, that the cheating gene is in me. Keep in mind my propensity to run. Never forget the ease with which I tend to toss people who I find needless away. I will keep in mind  the rest of my life what it means, that the sins of the father are passed down to the son. Or in my case the daughter.

Friday, January 18, 2013

I Are a Poet

I have a noticeable Southern accent, even to those who are more Southern than myself. It gets worse when I'm nervous, which it did tonight; legit, I almost vacated the premise and my bowels at the same damn time.

I've been writing poetry since I was maybe 8 or 9 years old. I wrote about school, and boys, and stress and love and hate and bitterness and love and road trips and vacations and love... I read at the most wonderful, welcoming place, a bookstore/African culture hub called Under One Roof, for the first time when I was maybe 11 or 12. And it was love for the performing aspect of the art ever since.

But then somewhere along there, life starting becoming more tangible, more real. And one day I woke up and was not a poet anymore. Instead I was a young woman working through this life thing and didn't have time nor patience to work through iambic pentameter and alliteration. Instead I picked up a journal, choosing instead to write my thoughts in these books never to be released or read by another person until I had my own daughter one day who thought her mother didn't understand what she was going though; then and only then would I want those books read.

Occasionally I would foray back into poetry for a brief stint, expressing my boredom with my lackluster love life, or poems written with the ink of tears from some pain I hadn't wanted to explore. And then I got my heartbroken and you couldn't keep a damn pen out of my hand, but yet I still never read again.

Until tonight.

Tonight I read an untitled love poem to Tarzan, and to myself, in front of at least a good 15 people. I followed up a pair of Jesus poets with seemingly more swagger than actual substance but were still type dope in their lane. I brought my Mom, as I used to back in those early days, and she (as she used to) clapped and whooped the loudest before I even said a word.

I was introduced and said a sweet, country "Hey ya'll" and explained I hadn't spoken in awhile and that I was once a pretty good poet to which the MC Paul replied "Are!" So I said, "Okay, I guess I are a poet." I smiled, took a deep breath, and it was like I'd never left my hobby, my skill, behind. It was as if I'd placed my pen down between writing lines one day and had just picked it back up with new fervor.

I forget sometimes, in this life of being a worker for my employer, a girlfriend to my boyfriend, a best friend to my best friends and a daughter to my parents that I have to be a person. A whole, individualized, unique person with her own passions, fears and wants not attached to anybody else. I'd forgotten that, forgotten to release the poet in me, allow her to be who she wants to be.

She's like a friend, my inner poet, who went a long time without speaking to me, and now that we've caught up, I can't imagine why we stopped talking. Don't get me wrong, I'm no slam poet, I'm not the type of poet who remembers every poem they've ever written and can recite them on site, but I am still a poet. I am still a poet. I am still.

Sometimes I have to be reminded that I am still here, still breathing, still thinking and believing and still just being. I still am. Or in Paul's case, I still are.

Monday, January 7, 2013

I'm Stronger Than I Think

When I was ten or eleven years old, I had two titanium rods screwed to my spine to cure my scoliosis. The surgery was a success, and I was supposed to be hospitalized for at least two months. A little over three weeks later, I walked out of that hospital (okay, they rolled me to the car, from what I remember, but I could've walked...just very very slowly).

Today, at twenty-two, I'm starting to have this weird back pain at night. Sometimes, throughout the day, a part of my upper back will feel as if it's being pulled in one direction while the rest of me is staying still. My hips and knees ache. I'm like, thirty-eight, in a twenty-two year old's body.

I've been doing a little research here and there about the long term effects of these rods, and the outlook isn't very good. People's discs are crushed, some have trouble sleeping if they aren't lying completely flat and it all starts for most of them after the ten year mark, but they ignore it until it's too late. I'm done growing up, so I think the risk of my spine curving again is minimal. I want the rods out.

A friend of mine, Tony, has said I don't live for myself, and that I should start thinking about what I want. This is a big thing that I want, but I don't want it for my right now, I want it for my future. If you could read some of the stories from people who had the surgery in the 70's, even one's who had their surgeries the same  year I had mine, and read their pain and frustration with their bodies not holding up despite the promises and the "progress" they'd made.

It's a big thing to want, and I'm scared of it. Not the surgery itself, but the wanting of something seemingly so big for myself. I've always been afraid of wanting things for myself, afraid that wanting those things would put automatically make them not come true. But it's a new year, and I'm older now and have learned that wanting things is nothing without the action behind them. I'm old enough now to know the difference between wants that are possible and wants that are impossible.

So in the spirit of the new year, my goal is to want things, and go for those things that I want.

It started simply by seeing Django for a second time (I freaking love that movie) and evolved into "Where do you want to be years from now? What do you want to be doing? Who do you want to be?"

I want the rods out. And I want to live near my boyfriend. And I want to graduate college with a degree in English and teaching certification. One day, I want to be a mom and a homeowner. I want a life that's full. And today's the day I start wanting it more than fearing it.

When I was ten or eleven, on my way out of the hospital, my nurses said I was stronger than they thought. My father told me the same, a few weeks later when I tried (and succeeded) crawling my way to the bathroom instead of waking someone up to help me. I am a strong woman, a lot stronger than I know. And it's time to start testing my metal (no pun intended).

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Waiting For Confidence

I'm a modern day mystic. A gypsy. I do palm readings and tarot cards and carry around a rose quartz stone in my purse to bring me luck in love and a calm disposition.I studied numerology and astrology and Buddhist mantras. I believe in souls and spirits and ghosts and aliens and that one day, when I die, all of my beliefs will have been true. I believe in everything.

The one thing I don't believe in though, which is a sad state of affairs if I've ever heard one, is myself. I don't believe that my opinion or personage matters. And how sad is that, for a person who still believes in true love, and magic and the sanctity of pinky promises to not believe in herself?

I don't know why I don't. I don't know when I went from this over-exuberant  confident kid, to this sullen adult with nothing but fear and regret on either fork of her road staring her in the face. If poetic justice were true, I'd have blossomed into this beautiful, confident, self-reliant chick. Maybe it just takes longer than I anticipated.

I wish I did believe in myself. I wish I still held the belief that nobody would hurt me, and that wanting something and working towards it would mean that you get it, but I don't. Is that what growing up is, losing the magic and the security? Can I hold onto all these beautiful, tenuous things and still grow and become who I'm supposed to be?

Right, this about me, though. Me and my inability to see myself for all the flaws that I have. I want so many things, from the love of my life, from my family, from my job, that I'm too timid to ask for for fear of losing it all. But a friend once told me that a reward is nothing without a little risk, and that if I'm too afraid to jump, I would probably end up sitting on the side of the pool with the other kids too scared to fly or swim.

I hear that I'm wonderful. People say that I'm smart and beautiful, that I'm kind and something special. People tell me that all the time. Nobody has ever really proved it. I don't want to blame my lack of belief in myself on others, but you could see how that would confuse a girl: I'm every woman, but no woman at the same damn time. I should start proving to myself these things, but how do you define when "enough" is? When will I be smart enough, pretty enough, whole enough to please myself?

New year, new me, indeed. Nothing's changed. Still the same star crossed, lovelorn Virgo I've always been, and still, nobody seems to notice a thing. It's of my own making, this prison of doubt, and I've misplaced the keys, so what do I do now?

For now, I wait. I wait to either stop believing all together, or wait until my beliefs in myself are so full I can't deny them anymore. For now, I just wait.