The Healing Space

When I search for knick knacks to make hearth and home a comfortable place to be, one of my essentials is the perfect chair.  My use of the word perfect should indicate that I”m not just referring to a folding chair, or some glorified stool.  The perfect chair for me is deeply colored and plush, with just enough room for me and a plus one.

In New Orleans, I’d found the holy grail of chairs:  midnight blue with large pillows and heavily padded arms.  It was perfect for me to sit in and read on a winter’s day.  The plus one aspect was more for my babies.  At the end of the day, I would sit with them in that chair, one at a time, and listen to them discuss the woes of kindergarten and day care.  I’d brush Finge’s waves, and undo Ladybug’s braids as they purged.  Sometimes we’d all pile in that big chair together, despite the fact that there was a perfectly comfortable, and large sofa only a few steps away.  The closeness was the thing that healed what ailed them.  I loved that part of the day.  Thinking back, I’m grateful for seeming to take the time to enjoy them as tiny kids, since college will be here before you know it.

The right chair is still a household staple.  We still have our times to crowd one another, and we love it.  As they are both gangly and uncoordinated, I spend more time catching elbows to the eye and boob, but I wouldn’t really trade it.  I can’t explain how satisfying it is to fortify your child’s spirit.  I like being the healer – the fixer.

Admittedly, sometimes I feel the need to be “fixed.”  Saying that holds a carnal implication for which I won’t apologize, but that’s not exactly what I mean.  I heal.  I fix.  Rare is the time where I am healed or fixed.  Make no mistake, I’m immeasurably blessed, and I have great friends who love and cherish me.  I’m so lucky for people who can tell when I’m not myself, and they step in to lift my spirit.  I don’t mean to sound like an ingrate.  I’d love to experience the teeniest bit of more that accompanies intimacy.  I’d love to sit in my chair, with a plus one whose fingers are buried in my hair sharing secrets, fears, or silence.  It’s seeking a different type of satisfaction and fulfillment.

But I”m not supposed to admit that, right?  Because that’s “thirsty.”  Ah well.  *gulp*

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A Few Good Artists

“You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall.”
– Col. Nathan Jessep “A Few Good Men”

“For those who never had to deal w/addiction, incarceration, depression, mental illness a/or a hard life, collect your cookie & STFU.”
Beauty Jackson

 

A tiny girl, who sounded, and ultimately looked, far beyond her years, lost her life.  People will have varying opinions about whether or not it was deserved.  There will be calloused people who will scoff at her lack of self-care, as though the loss of a 27 year old life for any reason is not an immeasurable tragedy.  People will play her songs in tribute, and remember how her words helped them through tough times of their own.  There will be a barrage of tweets, articles and blog posts, attempting to make sense of this senseless thing.

There have been so many “blue eyed soul” artists with a soulful affect, but something was not quite there.  There were far too many “soul parrots.”  When I first heard about her, I dismissed her as another one of those wanna be soul artists.  I was at a Mos Def concert.  Mos was late, so the DJ entertained us.  They played this song that was vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t place it.  My friend Kalia said, “You’re bobbing your head, but that’s the girl you were shit talking.  That’s Amy Winehouse.”  Even without seeing her body language, her voice was deep, rich,raw and, most of all, believable.  The girl who looked like a 60’s coffeehouse reject was WHOOPING.

She wasn’t like Joss Stone, who was fresh and bright eyed, and sang as though her voice was an off-handed blessing.  Amy sang what she lived from her toenails. When I discovered her addiction, in an odd way, it made her voice that much more realistic to me.  Far too often, artists who possess such great talent often draw from a place of great pain.  Even for average Joes, addiction consumes and overwhelms.  Combine that addiction with an overwhelming pressure to be great, and you’re considered among the lucky if you hit rock bottom and live to tell the tale.  If you’re not so lucky, you get to be Jimi Hendrix or Kurt Cobain…and now Amy Winehouse.

The consuming public is a thankless lot.  We demand greatness from artists, with little thought to where it originates.  The pain the write through and about doesn’t matter, as long as we are entertained.  When they start to fall apart, rather than looking at the pressures of fame – the pressures we applied – we blame them, look down on them, call them weak and treat their pain as grotesque performance art.*  As a stranger, I can’t force a drink or a needle into someone’s hand, but as consumers, we MUST acknowledge our culpability.  The people around those artists too, the opportunists and enablers – they should be called to the carpet as well.

Of course, she’s already been added to the “27 Club” – the group of great artists met their end at that almost cursed age.  Theories about why this happens abound.**  One thing, however, is certain:  27 is far too young to be chewed up and spit out by the world.  Beyond the music and beyond your enjoyment beats a human heart.  As my friend Feminista Jones put it, as people become more accessible via social media, we’ve become increasingly dispassionate, and just so damned selfish when it come to the needs and pain of others.  I don’t have an answer, outside of employing The Golden Rule.  What if it were your friend or family member being overtaken by addiction?  What if the addict was you? Would you want people to reconsider their disdain?  Only you know the true answer.  I hope your conscience is moved to treat people as you would have them treat you.

*I personally stopped reading Perez Hilton blog when it seemed he would not be satisfied until Britney Spears ended her life.  If memory serves, I remember him saying something remarkably close to “she should just kill herself and get it over with,” as though she were a used commodity, rather than a human being.

** I happen to give great weight to the phenomenon known as Saturn’s Return.

So…about that boyfriend…

Fellas,

Women lie.  I know this isn’t a secret.  Most people are untruthful at one time or another, even if only to themselves.  That’s not what I’m here to discuss, so stop queuing up Maury clips to prove your point.  I’m talking this one simple lie almost every woman tells to one strange man or another:  “I’m sorry, but I have a boyfriend.”

You may ask yourself, “Well, what’s so difficult about telling the truth?”  Nothing about it is difficult, except…everything is.  Telling a person that you’re basically not interested in them isn’t the easiest thing to do.  It’s not that women believe your world will end by letting you down; it just seems a little harsh.  Especially if the guy seems like a nice dude.  If the chance is slim that we’ll see you again, “I have a boyfriend” is often viewed as a means to bypass an unpleasant situation with a cool person.

But not ALL of yall are cool.  There are seven types of fellas that warrant an unabashed lie:

1.  He’s old enough to be our Dad

…’s dad.  It’s unfortunate that you squandered your youth, and woman your age are over your foolishness.  It’s even more unfortunate that you’re looking for love at Love.  I’m 34 and consider myself too old for Love.  What are you doing playa?  You’re trying to get these young ladies’ phone numbers because what?  You presume that they’re not smart enough to be up on your tired game?  Or do you need a young pair of eyes to check your blood pressure monitor?   I  need you, your corn pads, your Grecian Formula and your “shote set” to evacuate the premises.  My fake boyfriend doesn’t like it when I come home smelling like Theragesic.  Please and thanks.

2.  He has all the signs and symptoms of a Bugaboo

Some of your brethren have that wild look in their eyes.  A look that says, “I can’t wait to call this woman until her battery commits suicide.”  Virtually everything about this type of cat seems normal, but something is just off.  That’s the part of their mind that has decided it’s okay to call, hang up and hit redial for 48 straight hours, and when you finally answer, say something inane like, “Hey stranger,” or “Oh…I didn’t expect you to answer.  You busy?”  I once mistakenly gave my number to a guy with this look in his eye.  Within fifteen minutes of meeting, he’d called me three times.  Then proceeded to call 37 times that day.  Once you give him your number, you’ve told him you’re free, so do yourself a favor. Lie!  You might want to make your fake boyfriend a Navy SEAL or something.

3.  He’s this guy:

You’re not even a closet bugaboo.  You won’t give a woman the opportunity to say they’re gay, straight, single, married, terminally ill or joining the French Foreign Legion.  This type of guy doesn’t even require further explanation as to why he’s on this list.

4.  He’s a Serial Thigh Rapist

It’s 2011, and thigh rape is still a rampant club activity.  If you are a man and are being told, “You know how to attract strange women?  Run up to them without introducing yourself on the dance floor, and start humping her leg like a sexy, but frustrated terrier,” punch him in the face.  He’s only telling you this so that he can collect the women that are running away from you.  If you’re dancing with a girl and yall are mutually bumping and grinding, I’ll let you cook.  But your erection should not be your calling card.  So yes, if you ask for the digits, we’re suddenly booed up.

5.  HE doesn’t even like himself

Sometimes people just present themselves wrong.  Almost every woman knows the self-proclaimed nice guy who is a chronic complainer.  If the first impression of you is someone who is irritable and ill at ease with themselves, we don’t want to be a part of that.  You’re not that nice…and you’re kind of boring.  In the spirit of sisterhood, we’ll make up a boyfriend to spare the NEXT sister from hearing your woeful tale as a nice guy that finishes last.

6.  He looks like he’d bust a cap in our ass

Some of you are flat out scary.  As a young woman, I was always taught to be cautious about how to turn men down.  In my family, there’s always been a story of some woman who was hit, stabbed or shot by being just a little too haughty in turning a dude down.  Sometimes, it was just a matter of having the gall to turn a dude down at all.  If you look like you know how to hide bodies or turn a bar of soap into a weapon, a fictitious (cop) boyfriend is a lady’s best bet.

7.  He’s some unfortunate combination of Numbers 1-6

And he looks like this

Some fellas take this alleged man shortage TOO seriously, refuse to develop any discernible social skills, and has decided that personal grooming and plummet back into the pit of hell from which it descended.  Not being interested is NEVER enough for this guy.  He demands a Motion and Order in Support of My Right to Deem You a Fuck Nugget.  Oftentimes, he’s making these demands with breath that smells like 25 pounds of GetBack.  For this guy, it is important that you not only create a boyfriend, but befriend some normal guys in the area, because you’ll need reinforcements.

If you, or someone you love fits one or more of these descriptions, take the steps to incite change.  Reach out to give or receive the help that is so desperately needed.  Friends don’t let friends remain leptons.

7/14/51

Today is my mother’s 60th birthday.  I can’t say “it would have been.”  It is.  I’m broken hearted about it in a million different ways.  The death of a loved one is not something you get over.  It’s something you take day by day and live through, at best.  Not everyone survives it, so I’m sitting on 6,081 personal victories.

On her birthday and the anniversary of her death, I get really sad, and understandably so.  I was in my car, and the first song that came on was “No Woman, No Cry.”  I switched to Beyonce, and “I Was Here” eventually came on.  No ma’am.  There will be other days to remember her with Gladys Knight, Carole King and James Taylor.  Today won’t be that day though.

One of my favorite memories was us sitting in bible study, and someone said something funny.  My mother was very well respected and many people saw her as an example, but she could not shake the giggles.  For the longest time, she stared at the wall, shoulders silently shaking, as she tried to compose herself.  Then, she lost it.  She erupted into this earth shattering laugh, and it gave everyone else license to do so as well.

I know that she believed firmly in people claiming their humanity, and there is no way she would not have wanted me to cry if I felt sadness.  But I was reminded today that Mama loved to laugh, so today, I honored her memory with joy and laughter.  There was a tear or two, but they didn’t overtake me. I’ll never be okay with her being gone, but today, I’m okay with being.  Here’s to 6,082.

Hurt People

I’ve spoken on this blog, and with one of my closest friends, about how we never know a person’s back story.  This holds especially true on the internet.  We only get glimpses of people.  I believe I approach my blog and Twitter with a great deal of candor, yet there are still chunks of my life that are private due in part to people’s ability to be cruel.  One thing holds true, especially in the social media age – great anger stems from great pain.

It had me thinking of my own circumstances.  My mother basically spent my senior year of high school dying before my very eyes.  My friends were at football games, prom and the mall.  My life was about home health nurses and hospital visits.  Once I was older, I went through a rather tumultuous divorce.  A few years after that, I lost everything I’d ever known.  Knowing that type of hurt and pain still did not give me carte blanche to punish others.

I’ll call a spade a spade here: many people go to the internet, and specifically look for a site or persona that gets their goat and wait for the opportunity to pounce on something.  Have you ever seen the comments on Youtube?  Their are people that will take time out of their day to watch the video of an artist that they hate, only to rip him or her to shreds.  Because Justin Bieber is an easier target than, say addressing their mother’s harsh criticism of their life choices, a bad relationship or just generalized loneliness.

I’m not exempt.  There are times where I am more critical or acerbic than is warranted, and I have to check myself and address the real issue.  I’m a human being that hurts like anyone else, and I don’t always deal with it properly.  Thankfully, even when I don’t have the ability to see when the ugliness is escaping, my friends and family will check me.  I have two Shauns in my life (one is a blood sister, the other, as good as one) and both of them have this hilarious way of saying, “WHAT is your problem?”  It makes me get myself together, or at least share with them and lighten my burden.

I’m not saying that when you are going through pain, you should “smile, though your heart is breaking.”  Feel what you feel.  Share those feelings in a safe space.  However, we don’t have the right to use our own personal misery as a projectile weapon.  Hard times don’t give you the right to be rancid.  If I consider you friend, my door, arms, ears, email, phone and IM window are as good as yours.  If you feel you can’t talk it out, back off from people briefly.  Not in isolation, but take a few quiet moments with your own thoughts to better help you articulate your pain.  Read a book.  Take a walk.  Don’t be one of “those” people.  It’s ugly, and it looks ugly on you.  “Hurt people, hurt people.”  G’on and get you some healing.

Remembering Foxy

The Greats

The weight of loss has been inexplicably heavy.  Along with missing my mother terribly, it dawned on me that the anniversary of Foxy’s death has come and gone.  Always gentle and unassuming when it came to her own interests, she wouldn’t have wanted me to make much of a fuss.  It’s strange how your subconscious reveals that things are more “wrong” than you imagine.

She got her nickname, because she ALWAYS had on a set of pearls and kept a mean pair of shoes at the ready.  Remembering Foxy means remembering full scale dress up: purses with faux fur and feathers; large stretchy rings with plastic “rubies” and “emeralds,” specifically bought for the delight of my sisters and I; all of the Clinique lipsticks she wouldn’t completely use up, so that we could play with the nubs when we would visit.  I can still smell her kitchen, richly scented with brown rice and a Sunday pot roast that no one has been able to duplicate.  Between my aunts, my mom and my sisters and I, she was the quiet in the family storm of rowdy females.  When she evacuated during Hurricane Katrina, the local congregation where she went to worship adopted her and all called her Grandma.  For a person so warm and loving, it was only right.

My grandfather, a very overbearing man, was the Archie to her Edith.  Except, she was brilliant.  I believe that she hid, and was slightly ashamed of her intelligence, due to my grandfather’s lack of education.  She was the valedictorian of Xavier University Preparatory; a Catholic school with a long history of educating young black women.   She had this amazing habit of quietly listening to the conversations around her, then interjecting something profound and going about her business as though she’d never said anything.  When my sister asked her about her high school achievement, she gave a sly look, asked “Who told you that?” then abruptly changed the subject.  However much she attempted to downplay her wit, her eyes always told the story of knowing just a little bit more than she was telling.

I miss her cushiony lap, and the way she knew how to calm all of us down.  They just don’t make grandmothers like that anymore.  Sometimes, I look at my family, and I wonder why God blessed me with these people that were so wonderful.  I’m grateful that He saw fit to give me the best of the best.  A week before she died, my sister visited her, and she said that she was just taking it day by day.  “I could go at any minute,” were her exact words.  My sister and I spoke on the phone that night about how she would outlive all of us.  Thinking about it now breaks my heart.

So much of the good in my family is attributable to her.  We are all so full of thunder, but she taught us that there was a gentler way to go about this life thing.  We make it without her, but each of us are a little different.  She was the event that brought us all together.

I miss you sweetest of ladies.  I wish we had more time.

Woo Sah

Smooches from New York

I have to get better about announcing this type of thing, but I’m taking a brief break dreamers.  You’ll hardly have time to miss me, as I’ll be back on Monday.  But this week, I took time to visit with dear friends and just enjoy life a bit.  The Bolt Bus is convenient, though I thought my back would never make it.  I attempted to add a post Thursday night, and it didn’t work at all.  I began to get a little stressed, then thought, “Aren’t you supposed to be relaxing?”  So, I did, and I am.  I miss yall, and taking this week off was actually a decision I wrestled with.  For little doses of my madness, mosey onto the right of the screen and visit my Twitter, as I still toss up a tweet here and there.

Smooches!

Beauty Jackson