So, Tommy, Andy, Kyle, Peter… Sue Me!

I was watching a Judge Judy episode the other evening where one of the litigants was a mother who was being sued by a homeowner for damages to their home. One of the charges against her was for repainting as her children (boys) had written and drawn on the walls (and apparently one of the drawings was of a swastika). At the end of the case when conducting the wrap-up interviews that mother made one of those statements that never fails to have me shake my head in wonderment, “My kids were just being kids…”. Translated in this instance to that other foolish statement, “Boys will be boys…”

Not sure your feelings on this, but let’s address mine. What?!?!? What the hell does that mean?! What the fuck is a boy being a boy?! Oh… does that mean that because they were born with a thing dangling between their legs they are incapable of being well-mannered, respectful of others’ property and possessions or gentle? Do children get a pass on being well-behaved because well, they’re children?! Call me stupid this beautiful Sunday morning, but isn’t that just another way of saying, “Irresponsible, indulgent, lacking in respect, lazy parents will be parents?” Because where I come from, only the behaviors that are left unattended to are the ones that are continued. Shiiiittttt!

Okay, I will try to calm down a bit here. Let’s address this. Are there behaviors that are truly inherent? Or, are most, if not all a product of our environment? Of nurture? When babies enter this world, do their cute little selves know anything? Or, do they develop, because of our positive and negative responses, their personalities and actions? If you believe as I do that this is the case, then there can be no validity in statements such as, “Boys will be boys…” the correct phrase will have to be amended to, “Boys will be influences…” Truly. Test it for yourselves – look at two toddlers, one of each as they fall – the little girl falls and the parent rushes over, picks them up, rubs, kisses, and holds them until the tears stop. A little boy falls, the parent will still rush over to ensure nothing is broken, but once that is ascertained, this may then happen: the parent will put them (literally) back on their feet and say, “You’re okay” or, “shake it off,” or, “who’s my big boy”… something of that nature. Same fall. Same parent. Same possibility of harm or not. But, different gender; hence, different responses.

We’ve had the nature vs. nurture conversation before; we probably will again. I find it incredibly fascinating. Naturally therefore we have had the parenting conversations as well; it is impossible to have one without the inclusion of the other. I continue to be rendered speechless at the excuses some conjure up in their attempt to shirk responsibility for their offspring’s behavior. I am completely flabbergasted that so many parents indulge their children at other people’s expense – literally and figuratively. That mother being sued because her children defaced someone else’s property truly believed that in the realm of childhood was their freedom to express themselves… that way. I wonder if writing and drawing in a more appropriate way, say, on a piece of fucking paper would have in some way stunted their development and hindered their expressiveness! Ridiculous!

“Kids will be kids…” yes, the will. That means in part they will be clumsy and drop/break things. They will, because their brains are not yet fully developed (and for some, Lord knows that never happens!) make stupid or wrong decisions. But this is where good parenting is supposed to step in – to address and correct behaviors. To implement right from wrong. To guide. To set boundaries. Absofuckinglutely not to make excuses! Taught behavior. Nurture. Sigh.

Listen, all yall with cute little bad-ass monsters take this beautiful Sunday to start implementing changes in your behavior. Seriously. Understand that when you buy into that, “Boys will be boys…” crap, allowing and teaching them to barrel their way through walls or furniture, when you allow for the disrespect and disregard of possessions in a misguided attempt to toughen them up, you are invariably stamping on their too-young-to-discern-and-process-the-difference brains the penchant to adopt this behavior not only outside your home, but with people.

I’m done. Enjoy your Sunday. I’m about to go behave how women behave

 

 

“Isn’t She Lovely? Isn’t She Wonderful?”

I love to write. Or maybe it is more accurate to say, “I love to communicate;” and for me, stringing some of the absolutely spectacular words that have been invented for my use together on paper, watching them waltz in union, is just another avenue open to me in my desire to share and to understand. So yes, I love to write.

But every once in a while (okay, it happens more often than that), I sit down to write about either a person, a place or a thing that has touched me just so. Something or someone with a resounding impact. Today I am thrilled to be sitting with my tab on my lap, cup of tea at my side, ready to share something incredibly special with you all.

If you’ve been paying attention, not just “following” you would recall last year approximately forty days after I started this e-journal, I finally remembered to count the number of dresses I had worn consecutively – remember, it was a dress that started this entire thing. Once I had done so (counted) and realized I had worn a different one for each of those days, another idea sparked – I decided to give away a dress (because, well… who needs forty-plus summer dresses, right? Sigh. Let’s not even address the fact that I have since acquired more; shhhhhhhhhhhhhh!). The winner of my dress-auction, DeDe magnanimously suggested I donate the option and dress someone more in need; and, with your suggestions and the Universe’s help, we found her.

Marveling at and confirming the power and beauty of words, the word spread. Conversations obviously started to happen… literally around the world. But as amazing and magical things often happen, the young lady that would eventually allow me the honor of dressing her, walked into my life, oblivious to my intentions.

A friend suggested I think about dressing someone from my alma mater, Holy Name Convent in Trinidad (yes, yes, yes, I know…. my mouth and I DID go to an all-girl convent school!), as graduation was fast-approaching and maybe amongst the graduates there would be someone (I am certain, many) who could/would be worthy. I immediately loved the idea! A few days later she again got in touch to tell me of a conversation she overheard while waiting on her daughter after school between two other parents about the impending exams and graduation. I want to get to the fantastic part, so will skip the minutiae and get there…

I got in touch with the young lady’s mother and introduced myself. I shared with her some of my life-history, culminating with my blog. I invited her to read it – it kinda sorta is my digital resume. I asked her to please allow me the honor of being a part of the process of getting her daughter ready for a celebration she would so deserve. We both cried; quite a bit. Subsequently when I flew to Trinidad to spend the Christmas holiday with my own daughter last year, I met them all – the entire family! My God… each child with a more beautiful spirit than the next, smart, funny and absolutely gorgeous! More tears then. The parents? Their father had me rolling on the floor with laughter all through dinner and their mother? As gentle, gracious, warm-hearted, driven, supportive, loving…

Since that meeting, through a series of calls, messages and pictures, we found a dress we all liked J I admit that with a back-drop that is this beauty, anything (and everything) she chose would be stunning. She studied, sat and passed all her exams (we knew she would) and I admit to feeling like a very proud parent! Don’t tell her I told yall… but she got four Distinctions!! Naturally when I heard of her I as yet knew nothing of her character, ambition or abilities; I went on faith – and naturally, faith came through once again. Her hard work paid off, paving the way for whatever dreams she may have for her future. My hard work paid off, allowing me to be a part of an evening she would never forget.

received_739349502876904-1Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Giovanna on her graduation night. Her parents thanked me for blessing them. But what they may never fully understand is I am the one who is blessed. Being allowed the honor to share in such an intimate occasion, being trusted for my opinions, sitting and breaking bread with them all, the laughter, the tears that flowed from being overwhelmed at the amazing turns this journey called “Life” can reveal… the reality of one dress, one day that sparked one thought that brought me here…the honor, this honor will always be mine.

 

 

Stupid Trumps Black Every Time!

Finally I agree with all those who have been opposed to the presidency of Barack Obama. Those who have maintained he should never have gained access to the Oval Office. I agree with them because it seems as though his being elected – a black man – has now opened the door to a nation of people believing that office is now accepting applications from the unorthodox (aka unqualified). Listen, I have always maintained that other one, Bush, was a complete (as opposed to partial) idiot. But what I had to respect about him was his and his supporters and staff’s determination to attempt to hide same.

However, I am truly flabbergasted, amazed, stupefied and ashamed at the thought of living in a country where Donald Trump is not only responding to the ad placed for a new president, but that the perspective employers, we, are even entraining it. The mere thought that someone so full of hate, exes, prejudice, antagonistic qualities and arrogance and so lacking in finesse, diplomacy, qualifications and the ability to inspire confidence, answering the “secure line” in that big white house makes my very nappy hair stand straight!

Are we truly so far gone and committed to sensationalism that we are seriously entertaining the notion of placing this particular idiot in a position of such power? And, even if he never gets there, aren’t we taking this “Freedom of Speech” business a tad too far by allowing his right to do so usurp our right to only listen to all things and people credible? Especially with something so very important?! Imagine how the rest of the world and especially our enemies must be both laughing at and rooting for his victory!

I grew up with the adage, “Never air your dirty laundry in public” and, as much as clearly I believe there are those instances where doing just that is what is in one’s and other’s best interest, where, “Making your mess your message” does a collective good, Donald Trump has surpassed “dirty” and is in the realm of stink!

The man is a joke; and I sure do hope the joke doesn’t end up being on us!

Here I Am… School Me.

Today marks the start of my (un)official end to summer – school resumes this week for me. Now, before you work up some commiseration on my behalf, please know I am extraordinarily excited! I realize I may be the only person I know looking forward to placing my ass in yet another institution-colored room and raising my hand to denote my presence there, but, in this, I am quite okay with being an anomaly J

My time off has been good – I got to spend time with some folks who are important to my life. I was fortunate to find my beautiful new home and settle in. I had some amazing and amazingly funny experiences, some of which I shared with you all. I got to dust off the dresses and believe I wore slacks possibly only five times since June. As the sun beat down on us and warmed our weary winter-spirits, I was able to clear my head and my heart of some old hurt and I allowed the heat to dry some tears. I worked hard and rejoiced in that. This summer I wrote to and heard from you. Thank you.

Now I buckle down again and resume that part of my life that demands 100% focus; and in many ways that is a very good thing. As much as this time away from school has been good for me socially, it has also allowed for the seeping in of realities and emotions that quite frankly, when academically focused, I ill-afford. Now, that is over. On Thursday I get reacquainted with those that are needed to get me to where I have determined I am headed. I am excited because as each semester begins, it lessens the distance between me and my ultimate goal.

So today I will be quiet. I woke up and realized that what I needed today was a few moments of silence; peace. You see, even as I chomp at the bit to get going, I do recognize the sacrifice being a student – especially one at my stage in life, costs. I acknowledge what is needed and more importantly, what is required to be left behind to ensure I come out where I demand of myself – on top. I accept this path as one of the loneliest I will ever travel.

I have read, seen shows and movies and heard about that other college-life – the one where it’s a continuous party, peppered with periodic appearances in a classroom. Where one’s social life seems to take precedence over your academic life; and, I wonder if it’s all happening right beneath my unsuspecting, oblivious, old nose? Ha-ha. Is it possible I am the only one so hyper-focused on the academic benefits that I do myself a disservice ignoring and negating the social ones? Am I missing the true lesson that school/college/academia is equal parts scholastic and community?

Sigh. When in school I keep my head down, primarily over some book or the other. My interactions are mainly limited to what I do for money and what I do for education. Very little else is allowed to penetrate or disrupt (well, except yall). I confine my physical energies to ensuring I can manage the demands of my commutes and my mental one to guaranteeing I am able to acquire, retain and process the onslaught of information I am given. I guard both with the ferociousness of a lover who recognizes and appreciates what they have been fortunate enough to have and share.

I head back to school this week. Thank you all for your contribution to my break; I had a blast! My blood tumbled, my smiles exploded, my brows relaxed, my heart raced, my tears flowed, my pain surfaced, my anger quieted, my confusion rose, my worry ceased, my words tasted sweet, my laughter pealed, my excitement danced. Thank you.

I wish everyone a very safe end to the summer and a very successful semester. Do yourself good!

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear…”

 

 

Black May Not Crack. But It Sure At Times Can Be Whack!

I sat down to address yesterday’s very unpleasant encounter on the subway with one of those black women – you know the ones – the weave down to there (don’t start with me – I have absolutely nothing against the weaves; but you must admit, there is a culture and thus attitude adopted by the women who wear them), light-skinned, colored contacts and a screwed-up mouth feigning a sexy pout. I sat down to address her because said mouth twisted even more when I dared to ask her to move over so I can sit in the space that was meant for two. Honey took one look at me, up and down and it seemed her day/life got even worse and, she refused to uncross her legs and remove her (quite possibly) expensive purse from the seat. I exhaled. Yes, I opted to exhale instead of opening my mouth to address her.

I sat down to address yesterday’s very unpleasant encounter on the subway with one of those black women – to address the fact that historically the worse treatment I have ever gotten has been from those with my skin color (shade notwithstanding), but with a racist’s insides – but have now decided she/they are not even worth my ink or your time.

Have a fantastic weekend yall!

Love.

“I Cried Because I Had No Shoes, Until…”

Last night while on the bus, at a stop there waiting was a woman sitting in a wheelchair. I admit to being a bit grumpy when we pulled up, because, well, I worked late, one train went out of service at Bowling Green, waited approximately twenty minutes for another one that did bring me into Brooklyn, but because that one was not going to my stop, had to switch to yet another and that wait was another fifteen minutes. Finally got above ground and waited forty minutes or so for the bus. So, just the mere thought of being delayed yet again for any reason, did not bode well.

We picked up the passenger and got moving again quite quickly (thank God) and, this is where this finally becomes important (because I know damned well not one of yall truly care about my commuting woes!) – she was absolutely adorable! The passenger in the wheelchair was of indeterminable age (as black adults can at times be) and, her legs were very very short. In fact, the tips of her feet barely reached the edge of her chair. For arms she had, not prosthetics, but that plastic mold that simulates the look but does not move (please excuse my ignorance if are indeed still called prosthetics). From tip to toe she was approximately the size and height of the average eight year old. And, I could not stop looking at her.

From the moment she came onto the bus, she greeted the driver with the biggest smile and then giggled when her companion pointed out to her that he (the driver) was the same one that dropped them off at their earlier destination. For some reason this tickled her, which made those of us within close proximity of her laugh as well. The sound from her was delightful! I could not stop looking at her. And, I am unsure why. She is by no means the first, nor the hundredth person I have encountered on my journey that required a wheelchair or some kind of assistance; but there was something about her that stood out… wow; that word! Yes, even sitting, she stood out above us all! She certainly did me.

So I forgot about my prior grumpiness and lost myself in her. She had a smile on her face that reached and kissed her eyes the entire ride that absolutely fascinated me. I kept looking for and wondering about the source of that smile. I kept thinking, “How is she so happy… sitting there?” And, as I watched her, she kicked off her little shoe that sat near the edge of her chair and all of a sudden I saw a phone there – she was using her toes to navigate Facebook! I was dumbfounded! And, she was quite adept and quick too!

My mind was completely blown at that point… she had me! I watched in fascination as this woman-child did exactly what I have done countless times – commute home and peruse the internet to pass the time. I admit to my ignorance in thinking/expecting her reality to be so very different than mine. I own up to being shocked that save for where/how we sat, she had similar interests as I (with probably more “friends” and followers– considering I am only now at a whopping 228!).

I watched a woman on the bus yesterday whose presence taught me so much; I thank God for her. I watched and heard joy as it emanated from her – joy I thought her handicap would/should have negated. I looked on in utter disbelief as she demonstrated skills I never imagined; never envisioned. I secretly cheered as she made my common abilities, well, common. Of the two, she ran circles around my walking, touching, grasping, taking-every-blessing-for-granted ass!

I, like most of you have been extremely fortunate – oftentimes my biggest worry is what pair of shoes to wear – not wishing I had (natural) feet to put them on. I stack accessories from wrist to elbow without a thought – this young woman gets up and attaches something false in the hope it minimizes our stares. For years people have commented on my walk – some may call it a “strut” – for me it is simply a stride I value because it helps to assert my strength, my independence, my pride, my will. Her view? Well, it’s always waist-high.

Yet I watched her and what shone from her eyes and tripped off her tongue in laughter were shrouded in a joy that I, for all my “advantages” envied. It was pure. As she sat and went about her life leaving me to stare in wonder and awe, I saw true peace. I was looking at a woman for whom I am certain life has not been as kind or as accommodating as it has been to me, but who seems to have arrived at a wonderful place of acceptance and gratefulness hence tranquility – unlike anything I arrive at on a continuous basis.

Isn’t it just downright funny (and embarrassing) how the more we have the more we crave? And, the less we’re grateful? At exactly what point do we lose our sensitivities with regard to just being satisfied and sated? How often do you wake up and just thank your God, the Universe for having done so? When was the last (or the first) time you ran for the train, missed it and instead of cursing the MTA or the person in front of you slowing you down at the turnstile, you just acknowledged with infinite gratitude that you are able to run?

I watched a woman who I thought had so much to be unhappy, angry and bitter about smile through the ten minutes of my commute. And in doing so, she  showed me I was the one with the handicap and taught me that giants can indeed be little.

Do not pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one…”

 

My Littlest Love Letter:

My Darling Lost Baby Boy,

This morning I woke up and you have been crawling through my mind. As I write to you now, the tears that live in my soul that bear your name, seep though my eyes and run down my face. The thing is though, no matter how many of these tears I cry, there are always more – I guess there will always be as many tears as there was hope, joy, plans, excitement and love.

I remember the day I was told you had come, for what I hoped then would be a very long time. I also remember the worry I immediately felt that your stay may possibly have been brief. My baby, I am so very very sorry that I was not able to hold on to you – to hold you. But please always know that that was my intention; it was my greatest dream as the adult, the woman, the mother I am. I cannot begin to tell you the visions I had of your face – wondering, would you look like me or like your father? Whose personality would be the one that would win dominion through you? I know that I prayed your smile would have been his – a beautiful smile for a beautiful little boy.

This morning I woke up and you have been tiptoeing through my soul. So many may think enough time has passed for me to be “over it,” for it to have somehow miraculously become “okay.” I understand their sentiment. I understand those who care wish and pray the grieving process attached to any loss is one that is quickly abbreviated… it makes them feel better. I understand. But what I have realized is, for those of us that do grieve, there is no “process” there is only “managing.” “Process” dictates there is a beginning and it follows a systematic series of steps that then lead to an outcome, a resolution. We however consider ourselves victorious if we manage to get up and get through every minute of every day. And, when with time we manage to stitch the periods between the gut-punches further apart, we consider ourselves very lucky.

The periods between my outward tears have gotten further apart, but they continue to drip down the walls of my inside.

I miss you. I miss who you could have been and what you should have done. I grieve for your missing out on a fabulous life. I think of you often and I smile… as I do now through my tears. But my God! I would have loved the opportunity to look at your face, to look into your eyes and see the reflection of my smile there. Sometimes I swear I can smell that new-baby smell that I just know you would have perfumed our air with. That you should have perfumed our air with.

Baby boy, here is what your brief visit did do for me – because of you, I learned to believe in miracles. Because of you, I remember there are few things more beautiful, peaceful and hopeful than love. Your brief visit was like a hug – from my inside, out. You showed up at a time when life was difficult, when there was hate, prejudice and destruction all around and you hugged me. With your leaving, this is what I learned – your presence demanded I focus on me and when you left, that lesson remained. The devastation of losing you, even as it brought me to my knees showed me I can rise up from pain. The rawness of your loss removed the blinders and revealed the things I needed to see (I guess the tears washed away the specks). Because you left me I am no longer afraid – to love or to walk away. Your loss necessitated I educate myself… about miscarriages. It left me in awe at the number of women, at the number of my friends who have experienced a similar loss.

Today is no anniversary – there is nothing about today that marks any relation to your coming or going. All today is, is another day that I miss you. That I cry because I was not able to ever hold you. Today is another day I wish

My son, thank you for coming. Thank you for what you have taught me and for what you continue to demand I keep on learning – about myself, those around me and this life. I am so very very very sorry I lost you; but please always know that that loss will never be in vain. You live in my heart, through my soul and always in my thoughts.

I love you.

Mommy.

I woke up and needed to write… this. I decided to share it for much the same reason I share everything else – through our communications we both learn and teach. There are many coping with loss – let those of us fortunate enough to have never experienced it, or those that have managed to arrive at a place where they are stronger, find a way to reach out and to prop up. Please appreciate that no matter how strong we are, how independent, there is not one of us that is able to navigate this journey called life, alone.

Love.

Frayed In America!

My friend, Wendi and I were speaking… about Afropunk (if yall don’t know about it, check it out here: http://afropunkfest.com/. You’re welcome). When asked if I planned to go, I admitted to still being unsure. There is a part of me that appreciates the idea of festivals such as these, but, and here’s where we’re going with this today, there is a bigger part of me that absofuckinglutely shudders at the thought of, (1) so many people, (2) so much noise and, the reason that trumps them all, (3) the confluence of thousands of personalities, including my own, in one place! When I think of the inevitable sightings, the conversations… when I think of the intrusion and the call to performance that some believe occasions such as this demand, I am already exhausted!

Now, don’t get it twisted – my fatigue is in no way age-related, but it is decidedly stage-related. At this stage in my life, of my journey, I have come to realize, appreciate and honor both the limited and the limitless nature of the possibilities and experiences open to me. I grant myself the absolute freedom to indulge in or refrain from any person or activity I believe will have tiring or trying long-lasting effects on my peace.

I have been invited to Made in America (sigh… here you are: http://a.madeinamericafest.com/); my feelings are the same. Let’s address this: have you stopped recently and checked-in with yourself to see how you’re doing? No, really. Do you do that? I do, very often. In fact, on a daily basis; and sometimes, a few damned times a day! I need to. I promised myself a few years ago (after I survived a very heart-breaking time), that I would take the time to conduct my own wellness-check-ups. I promised myself I would never let the outside, the appearance of things cloud my vision as to the truth. I vowed to both recognize and acknowledge when being called on to participate in the performance of life, when being drafted as a cast member in someone else’s story.

So I check in. And, here is what I would like to share: so often (and I would be generous and say mostly subconsciously), we drag people into being the character we either perceive them as or need them to be. We impose our realities unto those we do not even know. We take souls hostage and superimpose caricatures. We never bother to read the jackets and constantly judge books by their covers. We demand those around us become supporting cast in the plays we have written for ourselves.

I was sitting with a friend yesterday, doing nothing but speaking together. A woman approached, with both her camera and statement ready, “You guys are such a gorgeous couple!” she exclaimed. “Can I take a picture of you?” Before either of us could even respond – to either address about being a couple or offer permission or refusal with regard to the picture, she snapped away! Sporting a huge smile of accomplishment, she tossed out a, “Thank you!” and walked off; leaving us with nothing to do but laugh at both her audacity and assumption. See my point? This woman looked and then drafted a version of reality that worked for her; that made her life better/more interesting/ sexier. But for the fact that the intrusion was visited on us, it truly had nothing to do with us!

This happens quite a bit; people demanding, by their verbal or non-verbal actions that we play along. It seems all some need as consent is your stepping outside your home. Too often I shake my head wondering, “When exactly did I sign the Universe’s release form to use my physical image or emotional likeness at will?” Who decided that the moment I cross the threshold and lock the door to 443 East ___ Street behind me, I no longer belonged to me? That one of my purposes would be that of a performance actor? I swear, sometimes the encounters are so ludicrous, we can forget the afro part… I must just be getting punk’d!

It’s tiring. And, as such when I give thought to outings that should be about my being a spectator, I automatically then build into that equation the reality of also being a spectacle. I think of whether I am/will be in the mood to have my privacy invaded, for no other reason than I showed up. Think about it – because I know this is not unique to me, it also happens to you – don’t you also get tired of playing the role of an “extra”? Do you ever stop and realize how many times and in how many ways those around us use us to fulfill their fantasies? Their realities? How by tossing out what, on its surface may seem as an offhand comment or gesture they have then imposed and altered the course you had mapped out for yourself, if even for a moment?

Today I’m thinking of the responsibility we owe to those around us to simply let them be. I am thinking of the many ways we invade their spaces, dragging them kicking and screaming into our interpretations of their uses in our lives. I am certainly not advocating for the demise of experiences and encounters – I thrive on those! What I am addressing is the fact that even for a woman like me whose heart pumps the blood just so she can continue to taste these experiences with you, I always need to be cognizant and respectful of the fact that sometimes, possibly even oftentimes, my need to comment or even to compliment can as easily make as it can break the day for others.

I asked if you “checked-in with yourself” because I need to encourage you to do so, often. Never underestimate how much of yourself you leave on the table every day for strangers to consume. As much as can be controlled, ensure you have enough in emotional reserve for the spaces you place yourselves in. Remember that encounters can be but a brief moment in time; but the effects? Well, those can last a lifetime.

Maybe I’ll see you there. Will let you know if I feel like getting it up

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