Closer to Fine

Well darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable
And lightness has a call that’s hard to hear
I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
I sail my ship of safety til I sank it
I’m crawling on your shores.

And I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains
There’s more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine.

– “Closer to Fine” The Indigo Girls

There are less than 33 hours left 2011.  A year that frankly, has been full of surprises.  I’m published.  That’s really a BFD to me.  I also decided to walk out of my house and make the DMV my home.  What makes this amazing is that I’ve managed to make new friends from here to Cali (despite the foibles I mentioned in my previous post).  Life has been so kind to me this year, and I can’t begin to express my gratitude.  I feel compelled to work harder for it.  Earn some of the goodness that has come my way.

This summer, I wrote this.  It was a reflection on the fearless girl I used to be.  I mourned embracing the spirit that makes me hesitate; the spirit that stops me from jumping into shallow water and forces my eyes open when I roll down hill.  Prudence isn’t an awful trait, but we can overdo it.  I’ve got kids, so I can’t always go balls to the wall, but I made a conscious effort to let go the tiniest bit.

If reading my own past words wasn’t enough (it’s not – one of my largest goals this year is to really analyze other people’s thoughts) one of my favorite people shared this awesome piece on Twitter.  Number 7 stuck with me the most:

7 :: If my parents / my grandma / God / whoever holds my sense of personal propriety in check was GONE (poof!) and there was no one to offend, upset, or disappoint… who would I become?

What unspeakably dark (or exquisitely light) truth would I tell? What would I (finally!) allow myself to write, publish, announce or create? What kind of closet would I come out of? What would I completely, at last, and fully… forgive?

One of the largest things I’ve tried to overcome is the accepting the woman I am, and not the one I’m expected to be.  In no way are the people who shaped me wrong.  I just can’t continue to beat myself up over finding my own way.  I pray that I still employ the wisdom they’ve given me.

Life is so funny.  Sometimes it punches you in the gut so that you can take stock of everything; other times, it gently wraps its arms around your waist, whispering sweet nothings, while making your heart feel light. Recently, life affably plopped down next to me on a bench, threw its arm across my shoulder and said, “Yo, let’s look at this sunrise and give today everything you’ve got.”  I’ve said this before, and it bears repeating:  Sometimes we can be so fearful of our own success and happiness, that we cripple ourselves with the lie that we’re waiting to be unafraid.  We will ALWAYS be afraid. There’s a fear in the unknown.*

I don’t know that every decision I will make will be the perfect one.  In fact, I can guarantee you that I will fuck up.  I’m flawed.  So are you. I plan on respecting the consequences of my flawed nature and being wise.  But I don’t plan on being afraid.  Not of failure, success, joy or pain.  The truth is, there’s no one way to get to ANY of those things.  We’re taught to believe that if you do this, and ONLY this, that will happen.  This holds true for certain things in life, but not all.

And the less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine.

*  Much of the reason I quote myself is to hold myself accountable in my affirmations.  I don’t want to say the things that motivate me, then forget them.  Remembering that I have far to go is imperative.

The Pinocchio Effect

For those of you who have been around for the past three years, you probably know that I am an active tweeter.  I actually have my most recent tweets in the toolbar to the right of the screen, if you’re interested.  (You’re not.  I’m so horribly out of pocket there, you really don’t want any part of it.)  I’m just an interactive girl.  An extrovert.  I love speaking to those who address me regularly.  It’s not uncommon for tweets to become IMs, which become texting, which becomes hanging out.  Three of my CLOSEST friends I’ve made this past year, I met through Twitter.

A week or so ago, a young woman with whom I interacted regularly, was revealed to be a Pinocchio – not a real girl.  She and I weren’t necessarily friends, but we spoke regularly and laughed at one another’s jokes.  When she said that she got married, I congratulated her.  I also congratulated her when she said she was pregnant.  I prayed for her and her unborn when she told me she was going through cancer treatments.  It turns out that whoever was being portrayed in those pictures, was not her.  It’s such an odd feeling of betrayal.  What does one get out of faking an existence?

This past week, someone I interacted with regularly via twitter and IM TOTALLY went off the meter on me.  Since I respond to this person’s messages, as I spent time with my family, they proceeded to harass me not only all evening (during the Saints game), but all night, well into the morning.  I SPECIFICALLY asked that they stop contacting me, and yet they continued to insist that I speak to them.  Each time I shut off an avenue of communication, I discover another nook or cranny I didn’t consider.  In a way, he was a Pinocchio as well, because he existed in a mind state that was not rooted in reality.

I’m a very what-you-see-is-what-you-get type person, so when a person misrepresents who they are, what they want from me, and how they behave, it troubles me greatly.  What those two situations have done, is made me question the way I navigate twitter.  Is the mystery girl someone who still follows me?  It would stand to reason that “she” could be one of the people she regularly tweeted, to lend credence to her existence.  Maybe the person she ACTUALLY is follows me as well.  Do I tweet them regularly?  It makes me worry when it comes to my e-stalker.  Who’s to say that the next person I follow, that attempts to befriend me, isn’t him in disguise.  I do not like being made to feel unsafe.

I joked earlier about having a stalker, but this actually has me low key shook.  When a person misrepresents who they are, you are somewhat defenseless in how to approach them.  It makes me sad, because I’ve met some AMAZING people through Twitter.  But I need to feel secure, and I’m responsible for the security of other people.  I’m hoping that people who attempt to be “creative” with reality, whether it’s lying about who they are, or deluding themselves into something that isn’t, give consideration to the people they impact.  They should also give consideration to the fact that I am currently in the market for a weapon.  I don’t believe in living in fear, so something has got to gie.

Most of all, I hope that those people leave me alone.  Go right ahead and sell crazy somewhere else.  I’m all stocked up.

 

Drew Dat

When I was a little girl, the New Orleans Saints weren’t such a hot team.  They were bad.  Abominable even.  As a born and bred New Orleans girl, that was my team.  Paper bags, “The Ain’ts,” you name it, I was there for them.  Manning is a hallowed name in my home.  But, come playoff and (definitely) Super Bowl time, I had to…explore other options.   My options were Bret Favre (Gulf Coast boy) and Dan Marino (amazing by any measure).  And I still love those guys.* Among the best to EVER do it.

But I’ll let you in on a secret:  I’m a bigger fan of I TOTALLY stan for Andrew Christopher Brees.

Graduate of Purdue University, formerly of the San Diego Chargers, currently the bearer of jersey Number 9 of the New Orleans Saints.  He is a badass.  More than that, he’s just a nice guy.  People can’t say nice enough things about Drew.  He and his family have become New Orleans citizens.  I will get in arguments over him like he’s my play cousin.  Without him, we wouldn’t have won the 44th Super Bowl.  He is GOLDEN in the book of any Saints fan.  If he never did another great thing, we’d love him.  And then last night this happened:

It couldn’t have happened to a nicer, or more deserving guy.  Deserving because he is driven in practice and doesn’t see this as HIS game or even HIS record.  He simply wants to do his best.  It’s the most elementary concept, one that most parents and teachers instill in us as quickly as possible.  He does this for his fans and his teammates.  He motivates and pulls the best out of eery one of those guys on the field.  His teammates’ reaction to breaking the record tells you everything you need to know about how they feel about him.  So when I read this article by Pete Prisco, I was more than a little annoyed.

The old “running up the score” bit.  Drew Brees is not that guy.  Nobody LIKES watching their team lose, much less be eviscerated on a nationally televised game.  I get that.  I spent many a game watching the Saints get stomped out, and every game sucked.  The year the Colts won the Super Bowl, we played them in the opener.  They beat us.  Badly.  It sucked.  We LOST our opening game this season to the only man standing in the way of Drew Brees and the MVP trophy.  But the onus is upon MY team to play better.  Not the other team to make them look good.  Drew Brees doesn’t play for the Atlanta Falcons (it hurts to type their name sans snarky misnomer), or Pete Prisco.  Drew doesn’t even play for his own ego.  In fact, Prisco’s article lets you know exactly who Drew plays for:

“I kind of got emotional before the game,” Brees said. “There was a kid as I was signing autographs who said, ‘I’m here to see you break the record.’ It made me think of when I was a kid.”

And none of that matters.  Let’s discuss the fact that the other guys on the field, the ones NOT wearing New Orleans Saints’ uniforms are also professional football players.  They play defense.  It is their job to DEFEND the end zone.  When you do not defend your end zone, the other team will score on you.  It is not the other team’s job to make you feel good about it.  If you’re tired of him scoring on you, stop him.  Stop Sproles.  Stop Graham.  Stop this guy:

Yeah, he scored two years ago. Haven't heard from him since.

But to complain about running up the score?  Ridiculous.

And I would be remiss if I did not share this tidbit:  The Atlanta Falcons played the Jacksonville Jaguars on the 15th day of December, 2011 in the year of our Lord, and scored SEVEN times in the first three quarters, before the Jaguars even sniffed, not only the end zone, but the scoreboard. Feel free to verify.

But what about this unconscionable show of disrespect:

This comes a year after the Saints danced on the Falcons logo at the Georgia Dome after beating Atlanta last year with one player [Remi Ayodele] from that team that night saying, “I pissed on the Falcons logo.”

“That’s just who they are,” the Falcons player said. “We’ll see them down the road. We won’t forget any of it.”

Our boys don’t forget either.  They don’t forget that Atlanta is not only a division rival, but a division rival with a player who likes to make disparaging Katrina comments shortly before facing the Saints.  Sound familiar, Roddy White?

So, there will be no tears for the Falcons, their coaching staff, or their belief that they have earned some sort of extra consideration when their defense decides to phone it in.  Play the game.  Every drive counts.  Every inch counts.  If more Falcons had the drive of a Michael Turner or a Tony Gonzales, maybe they’d be a bigger threat.  But the school yard taunts mean NOTHING if you’re not putting in the work to back it up.  Until they do as a unit, the Falcons will ALWAYS come up short in the league.

In fact, I’ll just say the thing I’ve been erased three times in this post:  “The Atlanta who?  Fuck those guys.”

*  Even now, I have a certain amount of sympathy for Favre, who found it so hard to leave the game he loved, and how he went out.  What would I do if I was told I had to stop writing?

Spring

Dear Spring,

Hey boo! When are you coming around?  I know winter just got here, but I was hoping you would accept a personal request from a long time fan.  What?  Of course I love autumn, too.  Let’s not speak in absolutes.  We’re better than the filthy sith.  The point is, I could go for the watery eyes, sneezing and all the other sinus distress you bring with your emerald glory.  I just want some lush, dewy grass blades between my toes.  That’s not too much to ask, is it?  Christmas has come and gone, the New Year will soon be here, and football season is almost over.  I’ve had my egg nog latte, Southern Comfort spiked warm drink, and the obligatory cold.  Winter’s usefulness taps out pretty early.

But not you, Spring.  You come in with pretty blossoms and brightly colored winged and buzzing creatures. You emancipate the body parts that have been oppressed all winter.  Kids get to play a little longer and boys seem a little cuter when you’re around.  Nobody complains when your temperate beauty hangs into summer just a little bit longer.  Bring your gentle rains, your bees and your hay fever. Your berries, al fresco lunches and outdoor concerts make those things well worth it.  I’m anxious to bare shoulders and throw on flip flops.  Get here soon.

Your biggest fan,

B Jack

In the Mirror

What faces me in the mirror, is a woman who has a completely different idea of life, than she did one year ago.  I did a lot of letting go, of everything.  Expectation, resentment, stress and mostly fear.  This past year, I found my voice and learned so much about who I am.  Some of it worried me, other stuff made me proud.  In many ways, I’ve finally embraced the DMV as home, and I think that was an important part of developing a sense of normalcy in my world.

I was also incredibly sad this year, for a lot of reasons.  Rather than putting on a brave front and faking it until I made it, I just let the feelings flow until I was tapped out.  I didn’t stop myself from crying.  Every single thing I’d spent YEARS suppressing, I let those emotions fly free.  I am so much better for that.  Allowing myself that space to just be has helped me cope with things that would have reduced me to inconsolable tears a  year ago.  Giving myself the freedom to feel, and confronting every feeling, has helped me not have to put on a brave face.  I actually cried more out of joy than sadness this year.  I don’t believe I’ve done anything to deserve it, of course.

As far as the matter of love, I have so damn much.  I have yet to meet my Chupacabra Hunter, but I opened myself to vulnerability, and loved the results.  When I gave up the fear of being hurt, I recognized the true capacity of love.  I’ve decided to spend the next year exploring what type of love will work for me.  I plan on taking each day, tender moment, kiss, caress and, um…etcetera, as it comes.  If it’s a feeling that lasts for five minutes, five days or five decades, I plan to savor the existing moment.  Joy should know that I’ll be grasping it with hands and feet.

And then there’s the matter of friendships.  There are people whom I let go of completely.  There are people who I had to relegate to another part of my heart.  There are also people who…we’re just on a different path right now.  Each one of these situations are interesting, but they are also a part of life.  I felt the slightest bit odd about that earlier today, but friendships, like any other relationships, go through evolutionary stages.  No amount of pouting will change that.  I spoke to a friend today and we discussed how the people who are supposed to be in your life, will be there.  I can’t worry about who won’t be along or the rid.

Another thing I plan on claiming in the next year: a good night’s sleep.  In fact, I plan on having several.  I don’t think I’ve had one since I went home last holiday season.

This past year, I REALLY let my hair down.  It was much needed and well deserved.  But now I have to write the ship and balance my life.  I know I can work hard.  I know I can party hard.  Now let’s combine the two into a well adjusted system.  So this year, I plan on recapturing each and every morsel of my me-ness.

 

“Lil ole boy…I just love that lil ole boy”

I don’t remember not having a mom’s life.  There’s never been a significant part of my life, where I didn’t have a baby on my  hip, or I wasn’t preparing snacks.  When my friends were at the mall, I was usually fixing dinner.  Such is the life of an oldest daughter in a large, Southern family.

When I found out that I was pregnant with you, I didn’t have the panic that a lot of expectant mothers have.  Was I ready?  It was be a struggle, but I was nothing, if not prepared to take care of a child.  My lack of worry spoke to my lack of clear understanding of what was actually involved in being a parent, but I think I’ve caught on.

Thirteen years ago, right about this minute, 7:09 a.m. I was getting my Pitocin drip to induce labor.  I won’t go through your birth story (17.5 hours, LOTS of pain and ultimately, a C-Section).  How you got here, while important, isn’t the point of this post.  The point is, on December 17, 1998, I gave birth to you, a son.

People always say they count fingers and toes first, and I don’t recall doing that.  I’m sure I did at some point, but I really wanted to just see your face.  Even if it was the face of a four-fingered kid, you would have been the most awesome four-fingered kid ever.  My December boy, born with size 2 feet, was this mixture of brown and hot pink frustration.  Your APGAR score was a 9, and I’m pretty sure that he aced the crying portion of the test.  “I’m naked, it’s cold, you’re strangers and not one of you gawking bastards are gonna get me a blanket?  I see you.”   The funny thing is, though your speaking voice is loud now, you hardly ever yell.

It’s important that we look at our children through the eyes of the world every now and then.  As parents, and especially mothers, you guys can frustrate us to no end.  I often see the kid who leaves toys on the floor, leaves the refrigerator door open too long, and never places a new roll of TP on the holder.  I take the time to realize that you’re so much more.  The world sees this boy with warm, brown eyes, who holds doors open for everyone, and always says “please” and “thank you.”  They see this gangly kid, trying desperately to fit, who doesn’t quite understand that you are way more awesome than the caricature you’re trying to be.  They see that once you hammer out the chinks that come with growing up, you are going to be a great man.

People would like to say that I’m partially responsible for who you are, but I’m not so sure.  I always knew you were going to be a good kid.  I tell people all the time, I’m lucky to know you.  If you weren’t my kid, I’d still want to hang out with you, my pensive boy who so deeply wants to be cool, you whispered that you wanted a telescope over any other “normal” teenage stuff.  The glint that you got in your eyes when you said it, like an echo of your father’s expression, will always make me chuckle.  You are so special, and a blessing to us all.

Happy Birthday, my star gazer.  Thank you for being.

 

About a Girl

I know a girl who shares my face; in my opinion, a more beautiful version of my face.  When she was young, she had these wide searching eyes, and would snuggle up to me in the most endearing way. Even as a kid, she was one of the most hilarious people I knew.  She would also go through these incredible bouts of sadness.  She would bang her head on the wall, and perpetually had black and blue marks on her forehead.  Barely able to talk, she learned to articulate her problem, “I’m ‘pressed.”  She first spoke of contemplating suicide at 10.  When her parents were notified, they turned to church.  When you’re black and southern, you don’t get therapy.  You get Jesus.

At 22, when her suicidal ideation became too real, she sought help.  At 22, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder II.

I love this girl like she is my own child.  I do what I can to make sure she is focused on her own wellness, and let her know how worthy and necessary she is in our lives.  I applaud her bravery in seeking and sticking with her treatment.  If she were gone, our unit would be incomplete.  She is bright, hardworking and driven.  I love that girl who shares my face.

We all have reasons that we support good causes.  My love for this girl and her face is my reason for supporting The Siwe Project, a mental health non-profit organization headed by my favorite poet and mental health advocate, Bassey Ikpi, tonight at Tabaq Bistro at 9 pm.  For any of you in the DC area, I would love for you to join and show your support.  A small $10 donation is requested.