Four Sentences

This weekend,  I thought about Lance and couldn’t stop laughing.  He was a hurricane of animation.   Amongst our religious community, we bonded as outcasts:  Me for being, well…me; him for being both flamboyantly gay AND in the closet (if that makes any sense). We met when he was 16 and I was 18.  Having become so accustomed to judgment and scrutiny, we didn’t know what to make of one another.  Our friend that introduced us was in line at McDonald’s leaving us in the car.  He produced a hidden 40 of 8 Ball, and said, “You want half?  I’ve never had one of these.”  After we finished, and against sage advice, we went to the hood daiquiri shop and got two house specials.  As if that weren’t enough to cement our friendship, after my night of puking, I called him the following morning.  He answered the phone sounding like Dr. John and said, “I’mma call you back when I don’t feel like shit.”  How can you not love a person like that?

We weren’t sole hangout partners, but when we hung, it was ON.  The dancing was wild, the laughter was raucous, and the fun could not be contained.  And the hugs?  The best, tightest, longest hugs ever.

People liked to ask me, “Well, what’s his story? Is he GAY?”  I would give them my best version of, “The fuck should I know?” and keep it moving.  Now, his strut, manner of speaking, fashion sense, and insistence that we see “Too Wong Foo” opening weekend pretty much told me the story, but it was really a non-issue.  It’s amazing how, even when you’re very young, your elders will jump on you and attack because you’re different, and don’t fit into their norm.  I never got that.  It’s almost like they will force you to be something that you aren’t.

And that’s sort of what happened.  He got married and had a couple of kids.  I remember him working hard for his family (something a LOT of his heterosexual critics couldn’t seem to do). Trying to force something that doesn’t fit (and we were both doing it at the time) is an incredibly draining process, and we lost touch.  When we would see each other, we were both frazzled and distracted, trying to fit our square selves into these round holes of our own creation.  The hugs were tight, but more out of relief of being with a person that accepted and knew us as ourselves, not the facsimile.

We ran into each other at the store somewhere around the summer of 2005 and made tentative plans that included food and libations.  LOTS of libations.  Of course, tentative turned to never.  Those who know me, know how terrible I am at keeping in touch, so when I moved to Maryland, of course the plans faded to black.

So it when he crossed my mind this weekend, it was very random.  I kind of remembered hearing that he’d left New Orleans, but the details were fuzzy at best.  He lived here, he was moving there, no one had answers.  Our friend who introduced us didn’t even have a current number on him, as she was going through her own craziness.

Lance, though still married, had come out a couple of years back.  Additionally, my sister was not one to gossip, so when she asked me, “Have you heard about Lance?” though I didn’t know what to make of it, I knew it couldn’t be good. And when she told me the news, I couldn’t catch my breath.  And when I could catch my breath, I went to Google and typed my friend’s name in the search box, and I paused.  And my fingers hovered over the keys, because I couldn’t really type the word that would lead me to confirm the news about my friend.

“Murder.”

The very first link contained the news about my friend’s bullet ridden body being found in a parking lot.  They found him. No one knows who.  No one knows why.  Four sentences.  He was a husband, a father and a friend.  He was loving and would readily give you what he had or find it for you if he didn’t.  He got four sentences.  Five if you count the added fact that a man in a white tee and blue jeans was spotted fleeing the scene.  His grandchildren, whom he will not hold at their birth, will not be able to give testimony to the goodness of his hugs, or how his laughter would crack through the air and force you to laugh. What he means to people just really can’t be covered in four sentences.

That shit couldn’t be covered in four billion.

Thankfullness and Other Acts of Random

To those of you who contributed blog post ideas.  I will be writing them in the near future, and in the order that I received them.  Feel free, however, to drop me a line if you have something that you’d like me to address.  Or even if you want to say “fuck my couch.”  Yeah…do that.  That might make me smile.

But yesterday, I was just out of sorts.  Not sad or lost.  I’ve just been feeling like I’m outgrowing something – or everything. Sunday night I read an enjoyable book that ended so sadly, it kind of broke my heart.  I think that’s part of the reason that I woke up a little blah this morning, because I was so hopeful for the ending.  I didn’t need it to be happy, but at least holding the promise of possibility.  That’s just not how the ball always bounces, I suppose.

Lately, letting go has been a part of my daily life.  I’m doing it so often now, I scarcely knew what I was holding on to, or for, to begin with.  I’m not talking about giving up entirely.  I’m talking about giving up all this bullshit that just flat out hasn’t been working.  I’m talking about taking a page from my muse B. Scott and saying “Bitch.Boo.Bye.” to the stress, to what’s draining me, to what’s making me question what my next move should be.

People like to talk about becoming more selfish as a reaction to allowing themselves to be torn down.  I don’t plan to take that attitude.  I am of the mind frame of being more self-preserving.  The other day, I sat down and prayed for the first time in how long.  It had been SO long that I was shocked by the fact that I couldn’t remember.  However, I sat down and just started giving thanks for every single thing I could think of, without asking for anything. I’ve felt this negative energy in my spirit for so long, and I just felt like I needed to bring it all back and start, not quite from scratch, but from a place that makes sense to me.  I’ve been of the belief that it’s important to take stock of your assets, because remembering the things that you HAVE, makes pining over what you don’t seem so fruitless.

I think I need to see my dad.  Just because.  I need to sit down, crack some crabs with him, and listen to him spit trivia that you don’t expect him to know (because probably NOBODY should know it).  My dad and I have had our differences, and we’ve had our BATTLES (yes lord!), but he is THAT UNADULTERATED DOPE!  He’ll start talking, and he’s got these thick ass Buddy Holly looking glasses,  some sweatpants that may or may not be pulled damn near up to his chest, and of COURSE the fanny pack; yet in the midst of that, when you get past the comedy, you come to the realization that he’s blessing you with some REAL pimp knowledge.  I guess I need to make a visit happen soon.

The Expansion

My mother gave birth to me at 25 and died at 43; we had 17 years and 360 days together.  Her ability to take that 17 years and 360 days, and instill a wealth of wisdom tells me that I was not only blessed to have her as a mother, but I was blessed to know her.  Having four daughters, the potential for cattiness was astounding, so she took every opportunity to instill these words of wisdom in us:

Great people talk about ideas; small people talk about people.

Now, as I became older, I learned that there was something in there about average people talking about…eh, something.  Since Moms Duke pretty much had no interest in “average,”  I’m confident that she left that part out by design; however, I digress.

Part of the reason I started this blog was to give a fresh eye to my unapologetic take on life, yet NOT turn this into a “love blog.”  I wanted to climb the mountains and sing the songs that I want to sing.  I want to diverge from the beaten path of women-men talk.  The funny thing is, lately, when I start writing, that seems to be what comes out.  Complaints about love, complaints about men, the ghosts of penis past.  I don’t like to be boxed.  One of my mantras is that smart people don’t have all the answers, but they know where to find them.  Smart people effectively utilize their resources.

I fancy myself a rather smart chick (or at least I’m getting there…I hope), so I’m coming to you.  I’m apparently lonely and horny, so all of my ideas have a relationship base.  So this is my challenge, nay, my appeal, to you.  Please find it in your heart to think of something that you would like to see me write about.  The ONLY criteria is that it not be about love, sex or relationships.  I know that reading my words is the ultimate favor (and I really appreciate the thought that there are people who care to learn what’s on my brain), so I’m hoping you can do me this solid.

Smoocheration!

Bee Jack

The Wild Tangent

So, I broke down and watched The Hot Mess of Hotlan Real Housewives of Atlanta.  I wanted fights and beat-downs and shenanigans.  The show is what it is, so of course there was some ghetto in it, but I wanted fireworks.  I was slightly disappointed…until the last eight minutes!  Nectar from the hood gods.  There’s a ghetto heaven and it has a candy lady and somebody’s cousin braiding hair on the porch.

This morning, while chatting with my boss about the most talked about five minutes of last night’s episode (Sheree’s run in with the party planner for those who don’t know), he said, “I wonder how much of that is staged?”  Now, in all fairness, I consider 90% of reality TV staged, and that’s being generous.  Part of the reason I avoid most of it is simple:  Reality TV distorts reality.  Unfortunately, even if that scene was 100% scripted, we also know that it is 150% plausible.

Black people, show of hands, how many times have you had an incredibly similar experience.  How many times have you had an unnecessarily combative encounter with a black person in a supposedly professional setting. At a time where we argue whether or not we are in a post-racial society, nothing speaks more to the progress that still needs to be made more than black folks dealing with other black folks.

Over a year ago, my most esteemed colleague blogged about the challenges faced by his own wife in her professional environment, and all I could do was nod my head, sip my coffee and give the Sista Girl “Mmmm Hmmm.”  I’m going to say something that is hard for some of you to hear.  As a black woman in a professional environment, I am subject to harassment for no reason other than the fact that I am a black woman in a professional environment.  I believe that it is hard for some of you to hear, because it’s hard for ME to type it.  And this harasssment is almost invariably at the hands of the men I consider brothers.

Basing it on personal experience alone, there is a certain type of brother (NOT ALL) that will get in “just us black folks” mode, and make you wish you didn’t know them.  There was an occasion where my boss (white) and I were having a conversation with a coworker who is a black man (we’ll call him “Grumbles”).  While my boss was there, he was pleasant and charming and pronounced all of his “eeeee’s and arrah’s.” The tone was pleasant, amiable, and had all of that “we should be working but to hell with it” camaraderie that you need from time to time to break up the work day.

My boss went into her office and the brother hung around.  He got glassy eyed and talked about how attractive and nice she is (both facts) and how he would love to take her out to dinner, get to know her outside of the work environment, etc.   I told him that if he thought she would be responsive, he should ask her.  He then asked if that’s how it works with me, and I told him yes, if I’m interested in a guy, then I would want him to ask me out.  He then got this lecherous look on his face and said, “So what if I asked you what color panties you had on?”  He got the gas face, and I busied myself with work.  Undeterred, he said that I should make it a point to visit his place.

Now, I enjoy a cordial relationship with almost all of my coworkers, but I had long since dismissed this dude as lame.  I’m not a fan of workplace dating in general, and this cat was definitely did not inspire the desire to break that rule.  My boss gets crab cakes and stimulating conversation.  I get “what that thang smell like,” and a booty call coupon.  Pass.

I believe I would have taken it personally if he did not have a reputation of mishandling all of the sisters in our office.  I’ve even witnessed a certain degree of familiarity with a sister who actually ranks higher than my bosss, that he would never have expressed to one of her white counterparts.

Don’t get it twisted and think it’s an “us v. them” mentality when it comes to white women.  My boss had NOTHING to do with his inappropriate behavior.  I understand that black men feel that when around black women, they do not have to be “on alert” and to an extent, that’s fine.  But for those that cross the line into disrespect, there’s another issue entirely.

And why don’t we tell?  Guys make the rules, so you can’t believe that the proces of subverting the “boys will be boys” mentality will be made easy.  We face the typical stigma faced by all marginalized people (in this case, women) who speak out against ill-treatment.  But as black women, as we have made strides professionally, so has the notion of “The Angry Sista.”  So we have the additional potential of being charged with keeping a brother down or suffering from the “crabs-in-a-barrel” mentality.

So my question is, how can expect for others to respect us, to not profile us, to not aarrest us in our homes, if we can’t be respectful amongst ourselves.  I’m not going to address all of the issues, because we know it goes both ways, but we’ll start here:  Talk to a sister in the work force that you respect; your mother, your sister, a church member.  You’ll be surprised to find that she more likely than not contends with a similar situtaion.  So for the brothers who respect their sisters, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  For the ones of you that are caught up trying to prove something by being knuckleheads:

THE BLACK WOMEN AT YOUR JOB ARE NOT YOUR CONCUBINES!

Thank you.

*drops the mic*