Sunday, April 21, 2013

Coming in for the Kill

Okay, I'm about three weeks late (sue me), but here's week 3 of the #AprilWritingChallenge for ya...

Day 15: 

“I’m selfish when” is a hard phrase to get used to, because more often than not, I’m never selfish. And I need to me. Nothing’s wrong with a little me time. A little pampering and TLC. A little time where I turn off my phone and concern myself with my thoughts and my thoughts alone. I have to allow myself to say “I don’t care about you right now.” I’m such a giver and a carer and love to see when everyone else has a smile. It really does bring a flutter to my heart. BUT I often find myself wearing everyone’s burdens but my own, and don’t have time to sort through my own baggage. I check mine at the door and try to figure out how to make myself work for everyone, when I really need to figure out how to make sure life’s good for me. Maybe later on, I can actually continue to statement: I’m selfish when… 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Playing Catchup is the Hardest Thing (Sometimes)

Week two of the #AprilWritingChallenge. Legho!

Day 14:
Social media is the enabler of all things insane, obsessive, lazy and compulsive. It's got the same thrilling yet destructive effect as a line of cocaine. Sure it helps make things more instant and convenient, but it takes away the satisfaction that comes from patience, distance and working hard for something to make sure it's top quality. Think I'm exaggerating?

1. Think about how social media has screwed up how we enjoy our celebrities. I liked the 'from a distance' thing that existed a few years back; we had a good thing going. We had a chance to MISS celebrities so that when they made a comeback, it mattered.
2, Think about how we don't know how to entertain new acquaintances in a quiet space or a small function. Literally EVERYONE is staring at their phones, refreshing their Instagram every 12 seconds in search of the next likeable flick or in a GroupMe conversation with the person approximately two seats to the right of them.  Then you all look up and realize how dumb you all 20 of you look in that silent room, chucking to yourselves about irrelevant tweets rather than engaging in REAL time conversation.
3. Think about how the media (anyone that prefixes their new-found identity with "@") reports the news. People struggle to be first more than they strive to be right.
4. Think about how guys and gals ask for your Twitter and Instagram handles so they can compliment you there instead of taking you out on a real date.
5. Think about how nothing is a surprise or a secret anymore. There's literally NO mystery to anyone with an IP address. Person 1: Omg girl, guess what! I have some great news! Person 2: You just got approved for a study abroad program in France, your boyfriend proposed and you're having a baby girl. Person 1: Yeah... Wait..... how'd you know? Person 2: Facebook.
6. Think about how much you compare and second guess your own success/beauty/friends/insert-personal-accomplishment-here to others because you can see every humblebrag from here to Bethlehem.

Yeah, social media sure is awesome.

Day 13:
Kinky is actually a very strange word if you think about it. It either makes you want to scrunch up your face when you think of the X-rated deeds that affiliate with the word, or you suit up in all black, toss on your favorite tam tam over your 'fro and raise your fist in the air. Like, the way I'm expected to describe my hair is kinky, right? All of team au naturale uses that terminology to describe their mane of coils. But according to some Google-populated dictionary, kinky means "involving or given to unusual sexual behavior." Now, clearly hair type has nothing to do with intercourse, but the key word in that definition is unusual. Something out of the ordinary. Sometimes, something that is not right. That's hardly the way I want to describe my crowning glory. It's funny, because when black girls wear their hair, that's something they actually do, or strive to do. It's a hairstyle sought out and chosen. In reality, that's supposed to be the "normal" thing when you look at it technically. It's the way it grows out of our heads... so that seems pretty ordinary to me. When people's hair grows out of their head straight, it's normal, so for us to grow it out should be no reason to do a double take. You'd be surprised at how many people expect me to start a revolution or go on a mission trip to Africa (and I will establish my name one day and hopefully make a vacation to Morocco and Cape Town), but I'm just like, chill dog. I'm just walking to work. It's hilarious, really. One morning, a man  in a leather, ankle length trench coat walked onto the train car I was sitting in and pensively sat down across for me. I can tell he wanted to talk to somebody that day, so I made sure I did everything to avoid direct eye contact. But he took notice of me eventually dozing in and out of sleep, and proceeded to ask me if my iron was low and how many hours of sleep I got. I returned a couple of one word answers, and then silence ensued. After some moments, he asked, "What are your thoughts on black nationalism?" I know deep down I was ready to shoot him an incredulous look. Like, you spotted my high puff and decided to fire off these ethnically specific questions when I'm clearly only interested in the black shade of the inside of my eyelids. But showing a reaction would beckon for more conversation. I blankly said, "I have no thoughts on black nationalism." (Lawd, if he knew I was a Howard University grad and naturally equipped for these type of discussions, he would've had a fit. Thank goodness I didn't wear any nalia). He asked one more question, and I answered back with a similarly dead ended response. He got the point. I should really write a book of all my encounters like this. Man, "kinky" hair sure is an experience magnet.

Day 12:
My favorite part of childhood was spent in a dream. No, literally. Whoever did away of the idea of nap-time is a cruel, cruel person. After tiring myself with a long morning of recess, smashing a lunch served on a Styrofoam tray, and talking off my classmates' and teachers' ears (as an introvert, it's insane how much of a chatterbox I was as a youngin'), I could faithfully count on the forthcoming bliss of a mid-day nap. To a tired tot, those cots felt like the hands of Jesus after marinating in Jergen's lotion. I know I knocked out instantly, thumb in mouth. And then snack time was after that! Praise and worship! What I want to know is who authorized the cancellation of such a necessary daily recharge with the increase of age?? The school system had a pretty solid thing going with that. Sometimes being cranky will make a person act out. A couple of zZz's will knock out a crabby mood quick, fast and in a hurry. Do you know how many mass acts of violence (or your standard high school after school brawls) would cease to exist if stressed out people were allowed a little daytime shut-eye?? I'm pretty sure they still do that in Mexico. Isn't it called a siesta or something? I should just Google it, but that would kill my flow (I already took a second to look up the spelling of Jergen's). But anyway, I think America should reconsider that little nap thing. If they just added that to the work hours for employees too, that'd be amazeballs. Just think about it: an eight or nine hour day with an hour for lunch and an hour to nap. Sounds like perfection to me.

Day 11:
I was shocked [at how much I missed summer] when I wrote the last post. It came pouring out of me. Man, 2012 was so good to me. I feel like I grew so much and had the time of my life while doing it. I'm such a reminiscing young gal. I'm always taking a midday stroll down memory lane when I should be busying myself with real work. *Shrug* Let's hope this year's memories will be fun fodder for a Throwback Thursday on Instagram one day.

Day 10:
This summer CAN'T COME FAST ENOUGH. I rebuke the cold weather and switchy-swatchy weather forecasts in the name of the Lord. I may have been born in the arctic tundra of winter months, but I am a summer lover through and through. It's not just because of the abundance of UV rays (this sun baby needs a little bit of browning). It's the energy that comes with less clothes and less stress and more fellowship and more freedom. I'm amped for all the free concerts, the spontaneous and specifically themed Brooklyn cookouts. The "invite-only" rooftop soirees, kickbacks and day drinking extravaganzas. The Summer Fridays at work and First Saturdays at the Brooklyn Museum, where all of the city's blipsters, hipsters, artists and posers gallivant in all their bearded, dreadlocked and tattooed glory. Lazy beach trips and just because mini vacays to another state. Extended happy hours at Blockheads, or the spot directly across from it that accommodates crowd overflows (with the same exact drink specials), but no one quite knows its name... Cold coronas with lime, water with lemon, or whatever tickles your fancy. Short shorts and maxi dresses and more pairs of shades that we have eyes. Eternally crowded streets serving as an oasis for street style bloggers and "up-and-coming" rappers with their signatures etched on CD handouts. Warm nights and cold trains (oftentimes too cold). Staying out so late you forget you have work the next morning, but when you show up, everyone's on the same flow as you. Mr. Softee getting neglected for FroYo spots (Pinkberry!!!) and Mama Maria's Italian icee carts. Cold mangoes and chopped pineapples on the side of the road. JAMAICAN BARBECUES and Beres Hammond's greatest hits paired with a cool breeze and a Red Stripe. Biggie blasting in the streets by day, and Tupac by night. Music disrespectfully loud, yet it doesn't bother anyone. Pop up flea markets and thrift shops. Union Square skateboarders and break dancers that encourage crowd participation. Grits and Biscuits. Being idle every single day and loving every second of it. I can hear, see, smell, taste and feel it all already. This summer is calling my entire government name at the top of its lungs. I hear ya, baby. I hear ya. 

Day 9:
I get upset when I am trapped with only a narrow exit in sight. Or at least feel that way. Like right about now. I'm in a position where I know I'm being used, but can't actively do much about it. Nobody likes the whiny and ungrateful office co-inhabitant, but I've sugarcoated the level of toxicity for long enough. I've allowed myself to be disrespected, overlooked and/or taken advantage of soo many times (not sexually, thank ya Jesus), yet didn't speak up about it because I didn't want to be an inconvenience. I assumed I was supposed to stay in my lane. I figured this is the way its supposed to go until I've graduated from the bottom of the totem pole (*cue Drizzy's candid snow flurry, manic hands and "Started From the Bottom"*). But over the past couple months, I've really come to understand a mantra I never paid much attention to otherwise: Ignorance is bliss. That ain't nothing but the truth. I admit that, unfortunately, I lean a little-bit towards the gullible side. I won't realize something -- good or bad -- until you tell it to me. So I didn't realize the stagnant and potentially irritating situation I was in until my friend spelled it out for me. Then I compared that situation to another similar situation I'm in where I'm progressing exponentially and I'm being supported every day. I feel of use and like I am a valuable asset to the team versus someone's lackie. I understand that sometimes that's what comes with a certain position, but I already saw the light somewhere else and even earlier in that situation. By the time I had realized it, I was moving backwards and so was my positive momentum. And you know that feeling of once you realize one thing wrong, everything else seems to crumble after that on a downhill slope? Yeah. I'm currently falling like Alicia. I'm not learning and growing with this, I'm settling. I'm young and have moves to make, and knowing me, if I stand still too long, I'll lose the spark. I can't be content sitting in a dark room with a tiny lamp in the corner, with the rays NOT coming from me. My favorite Bible verse of all time (which comes from Matthew 5: 14-16) tells me otherwise:

"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

Boom, there it is.

Day 8:
Black is the sole ingredient of my existence that I have never questioned, combatted with second guessed or struggled with. At some point in my life, I've hated my short hair, my once towering height, my braces and teeth, my dancer's feet, my weight gain, my eczema-patched arms and neck, my huge boobs, my Dumbo ears, but NEVER, EVER my brown color. Being BLACK. One drop, two drops, 100 drops, all of which complete me and enhance everything that I am. From the confusion of adolescence to the confidence gained with age, this shade of dark has always been a stem of strength for me.  I proudly flaunt the chocolate ironically swapped with the description of tar, of dirt, of the foundation of the earth. Historically, my hues are supposed to be a magnet of negativity, yet in reality, it's the strongest cocky bone in my body. I am proud to share it with the people of my culture who fought hard to accomplish their goals and who barely fight at all to look like exotic bombshells. My skin is radiant and sun-kissed and smooth and full of God-given glory. Factually speaking, black is best, and I DARE anyone to challenge me on this.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Flowing Thoughts Like a Stream. But Not Really.

Oh, hello again writing challenge, #AprilWritingChallenge to be specific. Take part, because you have nothing else better to do than read my blog. Maybe you do usually, but 9 times out of 10, at this particular moment, you don't. Join the Young Writer Gang. It's better than the Beyhive, I promise.

Day 7:
The most annoying celebrity is one who does not keep his or her overly adorning fans in check. If all you're focused on is more and more promo and publicity and not curbing your followers' reckless acts of Standemonium, you're inching further and further towards my burn book. Using Beyonce as an example will be too easy; anyone who knows me knows I'm not scared to criticize her in the presence of her worshippers. But believe it or not, that's the only reason her very being irks me. Knowing she is the epicenter of the lives of a million too many blind-eyed admirers, and they fiercely defend her very name as if they passed through her mind EVER... it blows me to pieces. Smithereens. Chris Breezy too.  Bey's got the older drones while he has the young, dumb and horny at his will. But I shouldn't be surprised. How can I expect him to check his Stans when he can barely check himself (nor his constantly on vacay PR team)? I throw my hands up in the air...

Day 6:
At 40, I want no trace of this shy, overly cautious dreamer to exist. I want to be an expert wordsmith, a counsel of sorts. I don't want the word novice affiliated with my name. I want to be able to control my own fate, not wish upon it. Say "I want" and boom, so it shall be (with a bit of prayer of course). I want to be unafraid, move without inhibitions, speak without regret, write without premeditation, live without doubt. At 40, I will live.

Day 5: 
If I had a million dollars, that would suck because I'd either have to go into hiding or die. Come on, let's not act like we don't know what happens to folk who win the lottery. They end up sipping on cyanide smoothies or hit with child support claims or on the side of a milk box. Not quite my cup of tea. If course I'd want to use it to help better the lives of others. I'd want to pay off my college loans, pay for my sister's future college fees, pay off my parents' house and then donate a huge amount to charity, but once someone announces your name as the lucky ticket winner, no one cares about your philanthropic intentions. You're as good as gone. Now, it's crazy that I immediately jump to this theory instead of assuming that I'll one day earn it on me own. My friend's have previously checked me about my pessimistic mindset that as a writer, a million dollars sitting in my account at one time isn't feasible. There's no reason they should believe in that for me more that I believe in it for me. I'd probably aim a little higher if financial gain was truly my goal. But deep down, I know it just isn't. I'm a hippie in hiding who just wants to be loved and happy. And comfortable. Money usually assures that, but that trifecta is something I want to secure by my damn self using nothing but passion, perseverance and faith. Lawd, what a task....

Day 4:
In a perfect world, I would be able to keep my head on straight. Alas, today proved otherwise. Today, I learned that the water in the coffee machine at work is not that hot. And for that, I am thankful. Evidently, I’m not that amazing of a multitasker as I expected. My inability to wait silently on the phone for the participant on a conference call while simultaneously fixing myself a cup of tea is astounding. I placed my phone on the counter so I could watch it, in case the call got disconnected. Because then I’d be screwed. I was expecting a call from a singer in Cali. But I also wanted some tea to go with a piece of banana bread I brought for breakfast. And I spotted almond milk in the office fridge. I’m not sure who it belonged to, but I needed to hurry up and sneak some into my tea before someone joined me in the kitchen. So I hurriedly fixed my cup and tea bag under the nozzle, and used my other hand to press the “Hot Water” button. Mind you, my eyes kept darting back between that and my phone.  As the hot water streamed, I noticed the string of the tea bag loosely twirling, and in efforts to use my thumb to pin it down (I hate when the string and tea paper fall into the water. Nobody want to fish that out), I shifted the cup ever so slightly to the right. But of course, my lack of expertise in multi-tasking made me continue to hold down the “Hot Water” button as it flowed directly onto my hand, and into an obnoxious puddle under the machine. I yanked my hand out, and glanced frantically at my phone, and my right hand was STILL pressing the button. Idiot. I scolded myself and massaged my hand. With a sigh of both relief and embarrassment, I realized that there was no tingly sensation on my skin. No redness. No swelling. No damage. Just a river of a puddle I had to clean up. God felt my shame and thankfully kept everyone out of the kitchen during the ordeal. I cleaned up the mess, refilled the cup, and still snuck my drop of almond milk. It tasted great. 

Day 3:
Dear Future Husband:

Please don't judge me based on how corny this is. That fact that I'm writing to no one. To nothing really. This idea. Because quite frankly, that's all you are. An idea. A product of many nights' fantasy and many a classroom day dream. I've come across many who've piqued my interest. Prompted me to dabble in my sketch book so I could remember the crush. Take me back to the times I tried to guess how you'd look, imagine you standing next to me. None of them had faces. You're ungraspable. The very thought of being bound to someone and have someone bound to me (willingly) is thrilling. So many people start to plan the lives and weddings and future families (I've already named two and a half kids. You get to pick a middle name), but that's not real. That's just a woman planning a dream with herself. It's not real without tangible flesh, another source of warmth. I can't see that far. I see a mirage of whoever you are. That's scary because you never know if that paradise will ever come. But you cross that dry patch of hope like a trooper, canteen at hand because you have faith. That's all I got right now. Faith, a hazy image of what I think I know I want, swigs of water to keep me focused, and you on the other side. I think. I hope. I can't wait for the day that you prove my doubts wrong. Be something real, please. Imagining is getting old.  

The Girl You Haven't Found Yet

Day 2:
I fear I won't let myself be great. I can be my own worst critic sometimes. More to come after 11:59.... UPDATE: Okay, so I technically wasn't late for this one, but here's the continuation (#cheatcodes lol). And I rethought my fear. I really fear that I won't recognize a blessing when I see one, because I'm so afraid of a possible mishap and I shade myself from the possibilities. I'm such a cautionary tale with the way I go through life. I don't spend large amounts of money because I fear the feeling of looking at my Bank of America account and seeing single digits. I don't date because I think I may be wasting my time or his because I don't know what I want and don't know what I'm doing. If things are going sour in one area, I say oh woe is me, I keep messing up instead of thinking, maybe this is a sign that this is the end. I don't let people see things or put myself out there because I'm more afraid that it won't receive their blessings than I am excited for the doors it will more than likely open. I know I'm complaining, but I'm entitled to that time of complaint because I know what the solution is. I know what I have to do and how I have to do it. And when I should do it. But I know my pace, and it'll take a while.

Day 1:
I contradict myself when I think I have nothing to write about. If you were a good reader, you saw one of my latest posts about the disease called Writers Block. Can I tell you about how so much has happened that I could write about, but don't know how to approach it. Yesterday, if you engage in social media, you know about baller Kevin Ware's tragic mishap with his leg. As screen shots of protruding bone skated up and down my timeline, I was more intrigued by the GIFs of his grief-stricken team mates crying shamelessly on the court for him. The guy with the long B last name collapsing in a heap on the hardwood. The short one named Smith sobbing into the arms of the much taller teammate that held and consoled him. Then Ware himself, who you can tell was squeezing his eyes hard to overcompensate for the electric pain that was probably shooting down his mangled leg. Yes, it looked mangled. His coach didn't fight back tears either. It was a tragic situation with so much beauty tucked in each corner of the scene. The camaraderie, the brotherhood, real ass emotion. It was all there. You don't get to see that often. Nobody gave a damn that the cameras were rolling, sick paps and onlookers trying to sneak zoom shots of the wound before sideline help used towels to curtain the horrific scene. I saw the hurt and I clutched my stomach. But then I saw the love and cried. I really am too in tune with my inner mushy. I feel too much. Why can't I bring myself to write about that more often?