April 1, 2015

Love, Sex, and Losing my Mother

"She taught me the birds and bees! She taught me how to be a woman. When it was that time of the month, I didn't go to my mom. I felt comfortable going to my big sister".

My aunt Kerri said those words at my mother's funeral March 21. She stood there in her regal church lady's hat and suit, talking about her relationship with her older sister.  They shared secrets and things I didn't with my mother: parents, clothes, and heartache. My aunt spoke with tears in her eyes about her sister teaching her about sex. About love. Poignantly in the funeral home amongst others who nodded and appreciated her candor.

Mama died March 13.  Heart failure. A combination of things associated with her 35 plus years battling Lupus. But she was more than that. She was a survivor. Tiny but mighty. My father said she fought it until the very end.

She had only been married to one man but I got the feeling from our intimate conversations that she had fallen in love more than once. Although her marriage was no fairy tale by any means, she stood by his side. "My reward will be in heaven" she would say.  She often said that I was her "miracle baby"  (the pregnancy and delivery were complicated. Lupus was new and births rare)...and the best thing she ever did.  She schooled me on how to nurse a broken heart, how birth control worked, how to empower myself, that masturbation was ok, that love will happen more than once,  and by all means, that "no means no".

My mother was my best friend. I shared things with her and she never made me feel ashamed about anything. Love. Sex. My mother. Seems like an odd pairing. Most daughters don't share that. When my ex husband had an affair, it was her arms I cried in. When I was starting back on my feet, it was her love that sustained me. When I started the PhD program, she would sneak into my house and cook entire meals and leave. Sometimes with a note. Sometimes not. But even as I turned the key, I knew she had been there.

Love.

Love was our standing Saturday hair appointments, usually accompanied by Denny's when I was a little girl. Love was hustling Girl Scout cookies in front of the grocery store even though I knew she was sick.  Love was teaching me about makeup and being girly. And even how to use curse words properly. Love was fostering in me a love of music, arts and most of all, books. She let me read anything. No questions asked.

I had my first real love in high school. I was head over heels.She cautioned me that "this will not be the last man you love...".  I didn't believe her. And when we broke up before college she told me "It's ok... college will be an adventure". and it was. I loved and lost and loved again. I found myself and she allowed that space. She never judged me. She listened to my guy stories and laughed and shook her head. I got married and divorced. She was the first person to tell me I was brave. My mama, the lupus survivor, telling me I was brave.  When I traveled she would listen to my stories and close her eyes, imagining every detail. She would say "you've gone places I've never imagined". I would shrug it off and say "Mama it was just DC" but that was big to her, this woman who had only been on a plane twice in her life. When I met my current husband, she knew before I did that I loved him. Because she loved him. He cared for her like his own mother. He met her and took great lengths to handle her fragile body with care. Pushing her wheelchair. Opening her door. Never rushing her slow, paced walking with her crutch or cane. Taking her to doctor's appointments. Even they started to have secrets. Secret lunch dates. Secret talks. They started to grow into love. When my husband first met my mother, she had just had heart surgery (a very risky procedure given her health). My aunt Cherry, seeing this care my husband had, said "Keep that one! He loves your mama already".  When I got engaged, I grabbed her and hugged her teary eyed and she said "oh don't cry!".  And when I picked out my wedding dress, she was there, taking her face in my hands asking "is this the one, baby?" and walked with her cane to the register to pay the deposit. When I said my vows, I looked over and saw her smile.  She got to see that. She saw me love again. She taught me how to love. Mama , not my high school boyfriend, was my first love.

Sex
She was my best friend. She taught me the proper names for my private parts  very early because "you need to  know just in case". Just in case something happened to me. I got the feeling maybe my mother had experienced hurt or come close. Black girls often go unprotected.  But that was one secret she never told me. And she fiercely protected me. When I had my period, she was celebratory. She told me, just like my aunt, the blunt truth about the birds and the bees. There was no sugar coating it.  Mama told me being a woman was special and being a black woman was unique. She told me sex and having it was ok. She never used words like "whore or "slut". When I lost my virginity, she only asked was I safe. She took me to get my first birth control pills and exams.  She said girls carry condoms too.  She was on me about breast exams, having two sisters diagnosed. And when my aunt died, she was even more fervent about mammograms. She was with me when they thought I had blocked ovaries which would make me incapable of having children. She said quite fiercely "that's not gonna happen". She told me stories of her own mother, and my great-grandmother having children well into their 40s to put me at ease. She was proud of that.  Tests were negative. And she was there the entire time. She and I shared that secret.

When I started this blog and told her it was about sex positivity, my journey through divorce and dating, she was the first person to subscribe. She would say "I  liked that post about..." or "you never told me about..." or "You taught me something! I always wanted to know about..." She came to my Pure Romance party and had everyone laughing. She made raunchy jokes about my honeymoon. Hilariously bawdy.... my mother.

As I cleaned out her bedroom, I found things a daughter probably shouldn't. But I wasn't grossed out. I laughed and it made me happy to know hat despite the illness, despite her handicapped status, she was still a sexual being.  Capable of pleasure both emotional and physical. She loved and she got mad. She taught me to revel in that. She taught me that it was ok. She was ok. She still loved. She still had passion.

Loss

My mother didn't lose her battle. I didn't lose her either. Lupus didn't win. Heart Failure didn't win. I gained a role model. I often tell myself if I can be half the woman that she was then I know I have lived a good life.  I lost the last person I talk to at night but I think of her now morning, noon and night. I listen to her voicemails when I want to hear her voice. And despite the tears. Despite the anguish. I am not filled with loss.

I didn't lose my mother.

I won because I had the best mother in the world.




Marcelle Chaney Mathews
5/30/53-3/13/15




Copyright © 2015 T. Michelle Richardson

February 24, 2015

Random Thoughts of a Black Newlywed Woman.....

I do not know where I went wrong with this blog. I got married. (LOL). I dunno... I guess this blog was supposed to document my "reinvention" after divorce. And it did...but what now? Where do I go from here? Am I still "reinventing" myself? Where am I going in this 36th year of life? I do not want to be that girl that "vlogs" and documents every bit of minutia in her marriage.Because shit just gets boring. And I am not going to do that. I learned my lesson the first time I got married with sharing too much. I wont be documenting my pregnancy (if I get pregnant) or anything like that. I want it to be about me... but where do I go from here. What can this blog be about? Can it be about sex positivity with a "soul"? Or something else.........I dunno.When I started this blog, I also focused on different self-improvement/spiritual improvement and thoughts for the year. I had an entire "Bliss" movement. Now...I am not sure where to go with that. We all can use constant improvement. Whats my next step? Where do I go?

*****

I am plagued with feelings of self-doubt. I am still in my PhD program but everyday I want to quit. Everyday I am tired. I get up at like 4:45 every morning to get to work by 6:30 am. I leave at 4 pm, get home by 6 and I am exhausted. Over 12 hr days... I read for school at lunch (or try to). I read when I get home. (or try to).  But most days I want to veg-out on the couch, reconnect with my husband and just chill. To even get caught up..I'd have to take some vacation days from work. So..something has to give. I feel like this is in the way of my life now. I got other shit to do. Like get my house together. Care for my family. Get my finances together. Work on my vehicle situation. Right now I just want it over. And I don't even think I'm that smart or good of a student anymore. Each time I talk with my advisors...I feel dumb all over again.

*************
I don't even get it..........I feel like my feelings get dismissed for just being "overly panicked" about things. I do not feel that's the case. And if that is so... I'd much rather just keep my feelings to myself. Sometimes everything doesn't need a "solution" or "fix". Just let it be. Let me work it out.

****
I am bored with myself. I cut about 6 inches from my locs  (mostly because I had ragged, color-damaged ends), experimented with new styles, and I still feel like I need a makeover. Maybe I will color my hair dark brown all over. Maybe I just need to get off my ass and get back into the gym  but.. (SEE ABOVE). I am just tired most of the time. There is not even enough time in the day. My makeup stays beat..that much I can attest to Partly because makeup always "fits". I do not have to worry about making it "work" or wearing a "girdle" or some other fat-sucking undergarment.. But the rest? My clothes look boring but I am trying to be much more of a saver....  So..I can't just be walking in the house with a bag of clothes because I'll get a side-eye. Maybe I just need a new routine. Speaking of looks...wassup with the attacks on black women's looks and bodies these days?? Our hair. Our skin color. Our body-types.  It's draining...

****

I think when you become a newlywed (even for the second time)..your single girlfriends think you don't wanna hang with them. That's not true! We married women still need girl time. I hate finding out about cool places my "friends" and even my family members. It's lonely. I do not even hang out with my own mother anymore (but at least her issue is health related/logistics and not just avoidance)... I mean..I cannot talk to my husband about everything. He doesn't get the things I enjoy. Women need women-circles for support. (See my previous blog on BFFs ). Nothing has really changed. I do have a husband but I am still me...ya know?

***
Speaking of lonely, what do you do when you are one of the youngest minority women in your work environment? I have no children. I am in a different "educational" level than some of my colleagues. It feels isolating. Once a close co-worker passed away several years ago from Cancer, I lost a work ally. You feel left out of even the most mundane of news if the culture of your work environment is female, white and fairly older. And the younger, white women co-workers tend to stick together. I feel like a unicorn at times. DO not get me wrong..I have colleagues outside of my immediate department that I conenct with on a professional and personal level. But it would be nice to just sit and have a lunch with someone IN my department. I am sure someone can relate to that..........


****

I turn 36 in a month and 4 days. I am not excited as I usually am for my own personal holiday. I do not want any particular gifts. I do not want a party. Last year I combined my 35th w/ my bachelorette party so that was fun.  I get very introspective around this time of the year. I start to evaluate everything I did post-undergraduate (because let's face it...after college is when the real decisions start happening).  Where do I go right? Where did I go wrong? Often times the Wrongs outweigh the Rights. 2014...a lot of rights were going on. I got married. I settled into a new home. I got a raise at work...a lot of rights. So tell me why I still feel like I haven't done anything? Maybe because those weren't necessarily my goals for my 35th year. I havent accomplished half of what I wanted to do in 2014.... I am not done with this degree. I havent gotten back on track in the areas I wanted to focus. I didn't travel to the places I wanted to go (aside from a lovely Mexican honeymoon).  I am lacking focus. I wonder how I get there. Maybe I need to yoga or meditate or something.........

February 16, 2015

Our #FiftyShades Movie Review





My normally camera-shy husband and I review Fifty Shades of Grey. Needless to say...we weren't truly feeling it! LOL.

January 30, 2015

Feeling/Not Feeling: Feelings on 2014....

A Recap



FEELING

  • Happy. I am truly happy.
  • Kendrick Lamar's "I". It's my theme for 2015
  • Like my life is just getting started That's a good thing.
  • Proud to be all the things I am in my life: wife, daughter, daughter-in-law
  • Wigs. I am so into them now which is wild. I have my locs still but I do like the change
  • Makeup. Always will love a good lipstick. And aside from most shoes...the only thing that will never "not" (I know that's a double negative) fit.
  • D'angelo has come to save Black Music
  • and Jazmine Sullivan will soon follow
  • Making Wish  Lists on random websites. I mean I will prob never buy half this stuff BUT it allows me to "shop" w/ out spending money. SPeaking of which...
  • Like I am making some great strides financially. Lots of sacrifice but it's paying off.
  • Nude Lipstick
  • DARK lipstick. Like super plummy
  • Makeup Dupes..because I am cheap
  • Supporting black businesses. Esp black  beauty Lines.
  • Being married. It is truly a lot of fun. 
  • a low key Christmas holiday
  • Christmas cards from my friends featuring their cute kids and families.
  • a new Camera so I can do better YouTube videos. I def wanna do videos again on this channel. Sometimes it is easier to talk to a camera than right things down









NOT FEELING

  • The fact that I will have to get rid of a lot of heels. Arthritis is no joke. So a sale will be up on my Pinterest Board really soon!
  • Motivated to finish school. I've been sick most of 2014. Hiding it quite well. I just want to chill
  • That I accomplished thieving I wanted to. There is always next year. But time isn't on my side.
  • This dumb ass "Sorority Sisters" show. I mean... you gotta draw the line somewhere. I love rachet TV as much as the next girl..but I just refuse to watch if it means you getting famous off the backs of organizations that support women. Some bull
  • But Sororities have their issues. Issuing mandates not to wear colors or letters during protests? Thats just.............. foolishness
  • clothes. My weight is so wack I just dont even care anymore. SOmehow I gotta get this weight under control. *sigh*
  • waking up so early. But it's a sacrifice that I am making #NEwlywedLife
  • Like I know where I want this blog to go. I say this every time I do one of these...but this time I mean it. I need a "theme" for the next blog series. Any ideas?
  • like Maxwell will ever come out with music
  • Speaking of music.... why are all these yt people nominated for the Grammys? Black folks get no love
  • Iggy Azalea...nuff said
  • That we've lost Kanye for good I think...........that's sad
  • That every MakeupGuru wants to look like Kim K. Cmon ya'll....carve out your own style.
  • Speaking of makeup.... So you don't wear makeup?? That's fine and good..but do not try to clal out my wearing of makeup as being "deceptive" or doing the most all because YOU wanna remain on plain Jane and basic status. That's really lame....
  • Cancer. It's plaguing too many families. Including my own
  • that black lives matter. Too many lost this year over senseless police violence.

January 27, 2015

Empowered


Things just don't bother me the way they used to...


Case-in-point.


I was online reading for class, minding my own business when I received an instant message.

"Hey you".

I literally had to pause for a second. I saw the screen name and was instantly flooded with so many emotions.  Anger. Sadness. Confusion. Disgust. Worthlessness. But most of all... I was all like.."Really dude?"

Picture it.... North Carolina..... 2002....

Once upon a time I cared for this dude. And I don't even know why. We met haphazardly one summer.We had one less-than-romantic-mostly-lustful encounter over 10 years ago.  When I wanted more he said he was "an asshole" who "just wasn't built for a relationship". Although only being 35-40 minutes from me, he never would visit me again. And despite all of that..we kept in touch off and on ...all through Grad school...even when I was married...even after my divorce. He was the dude who was some ideal of what I felt a guy should be: fine, smart, accomplished. But all of that didn't want me.

But every now and then he would show up. He even showed up 2 months before my first wedding at my job. I almost was about to call it off because of the mere sight of him. Because he had kissed me goodbye. To him...it was all a game. He knew there was this girl down South who adored him...regardless of how he had treated her. Somehow that stroked his already inflated ego.

As my first  marriage was failing, this dude would show up. Filling my head up with these ideas that maybe there was a chance. Maybe my "dream guy" had gotten away.... that is... until he dropped the bomb on me that he was getting married. I vaguely knew of this girl but.....I just brushed her off. He admitted that she couldn't cook. Her makeup was always greasy. Her baby hair was more annoying than Chili's. And she always dressed like she was in an Abercrombie ad. I figured it was a phase. It wasn't. He was getting married because "we are great on paper together": a medical professional, in his "Sister" sorority, from money and oh.... "she looked good in lingerie". Those were his words "we was great on paper".

Immediately I internalized this to mean I "wasnt good enough". I'd never be the kind of girl who'd be "good on paper" for some guy who was in the right orgs, had the right job, and the good looks. I felt worthless.

And here he was..showing up over a decade later. He was trying to have small talk. Telling me that "marriage is hard". Telling me that he has a son (which I already knew). Telling me a lot of random bullshit that I wasn't interested in hearing. Just random talk to keep the conversation going. All I did was reply in one to two letter phrases. I didn't mention I was remarried. I didn't mention anything personal about myself. I could tell he was leading up to something more "intimate" to talk about....

Finally.... I had enough

"Listen. I think it's best that you do not contact me again. Ever. Have a nice life."

I could tell he was "stammering" to think of something to say. He replied something that was haphazardly thought out . But I closed the window of the IM before I could even be tempted to reply.

And just like that...the nail was in the coffin. I had closed an over 10 year chapter in my life. I felt like Kate Winslet in The Holiday



I even let out the same yell that she did at the end of her monologue!  I was free. I was empowered to say leave me the hell alone.  I was happy. I was over dude completely. And I wanted no parts of him. No need to compare the next dude to him because I realized he was simply a "shell" of what I thought I'd like. No need to hold him up on some ridiculous pedestal.

Empowered.

When my husband came home that night, I grabbed his bearded face and kissed him. He smiled, pushed his glasses up,  and said "What's that for??"


I said...


"For thinking I was enough."


He smiled.

"You'll always be enough............"

January 5, 2015

Where Have All The Besties Gone?



When I was younger... I remember my first best friend..or the person that I called my best friend. Her name was Winter Kingsberry and she was in my 3rd grade class. I think we were drawn to each other because we were sorta outcast. The more popular, bitchy girls didn't care for us, picked on us... and we sorta hung tight, sharing dolls, playing on the playground and reading books in the Library together... I thought surely she'd be my maid of honor in my fake wedding to El Debarge.

...then I transferred schools and we lost touch.. A school where I was intellectually challenged but here I was alone.  Hell..everyone was some kinda kid genius here. For the most part, even if I wasn't friends with them, I had known those people at my first elementary school since Kindergarten. It was a close knit neighborhood school. Now I was being bused across town to attend a very elite Magnet Program school. But I was alone. I tried to make friends..but I don't think it gelled that well.  But I was trying to fit. I thought I was a good friend. I thought I even had a best friend....or two. Some black. Some white. Some biracial. But if you asked them if I was their best friend....I doubt they would return the sentiment. I went to high school with a lot of those folks.... and yeah.... we def weren't besties by then. Cliques had formed, especially among the small black population.. Those kids who had big houses and cars. Those Jack and Jill types.... they hung pretty hard. And here I was... an outlier.Despite having good grades..being a cheerleader...and such...I wasn't what you'd call "popular".  I guess I had a few friends who would declare that they were my best friend...but it wasn't reciprocated. Most of high school was being picked on or teased. It woulda been nice to have a "true" bestie in my corner.

I do have a friend, N***, who is still my friend today. I would, if I had to, call her my best friend and one of my oldest friends. She was my next door neighbor when I was 13-19 years old. But we went our separate ways: I went off to college, then grad school. And she stayed behind, working and raising her 3 kids. We lived worlds apart it seemed and had such different life experiences. And although we still talked, I wouldn't say we were "bestie" close. She wouldn't consider me her "best friend". She has one- a girl whose life experiences closely mirrored her own. Worlds apart we because....but I still love her.

Don't get me wrong. I have friends. Some very CLOSE friends (sorors, friends, cousins) most of whom live out of state...but I am not their best friends. They have never uttered the words "T***, you are my best friend".  They share stories with me and will say "you know my best friend so and so...." and I get it. These are long standing relationships and I am sorta the "new kid on the block". Which is fine..There is no jealousy at all. If anything, I wished I had that too.  I am glad to have them in my life regardless and would do anything for them, That's a true statement.. I even had my two cousins as my bridesmaid and maid of honor in my wedding because cousins are your (supposed) first best friends. And family will do anything for you...because they love you.  They kinda have to love you.... you can't pick your family.

I think the revelation that I had no real "bestie" came this past weekend. I was planning a NYE party and I made a pretty healthy guest list. But only my husband's friends showed up. I tried not to be upset or sad...but I was hurt. I did hear from a few..but most I didn't hear from. Just no-shows. I even had someone who lived literally 4 minutes from me not even show. My husband wouldn't say he has "best friends" (esp not here in the States because he grew up abroad) but he does have frat and friends he hangs with from time to time when he isn't working. I don't have that really.

I am dreading the day when I will utter the words. "My husband is my best friend". It's not that I dislike that phrase... but the fact that it's true for me kind of makes me sad. I don't want to be that girl whose life revolves around her husband and (eventually) kids. Those are the kinds of folks people groan at on Facebook and Instagram. I would even dare to say I am the girl who says her "mother is my best friend". Which she is. Even my mother has declared she has no "best friends".... and she's 65 almost. But what happens when my mother is gone? She will be gone one day....... what then?

I live a very insular life for the most part the revolves around work, school and family. It leaves little time for anything else. But I would love to have a friend who I could run to Sephora with and try on loads of makeup.  Who tells me my hair looks wack and I need a wig... who will cry with me over a bottle of wine when I am mad at my husband....Who meets me for luncheon dates and pedis. Who I can vent to about "girl shit" because it is utterly frustrating to try and explain to my husband my anger regarding the lack of "women of color" friendly makeup. Or my fluctuating weight. Men have a one track, one-answer type of mind. Women are able to look at all perspectives, agree and disagree, and let you know the real deal. A bestie would lament with you and say "Well...let's not do that then! Let's do this". I have sorority sisters but...the way my schedule and life is set up...trying to connect with them is utterly impossible. It takes money and time I just do not have. School is eating that up.

I think part of (or a contributing factor to) my lack of bestie is also my lack of transportation. Atlanta is a vast city. We are not NYC with trains that go everywhere and a lot of my friends live far. The idea of coming to get me is just a bit too much. My one friend who did live VERY close to me that did not mind getting me,, that I hung out with almost every weekend, has now moved to California. I really miss her. And because we talk everyday on GChat..I know she misses me too. That in itself is pretty comforting. I live in Atlanta and hell..I don't even have a "gay bestie". That's sad (LOL...j/k..sorta)

Maybe it's a bit too late. I will be 36 in two months. I suppose my focus should be my family and possibly raising a child. But it does sting a bit to think "Well gosh...if I DO have a baby..who will be the godparent? Who is that close to me to even throw me a shower?". I have no clue.  I am not desperately seeking a best friend. And I am well aware that I can make friends at almost every new stage of my life...  I am just wondering... I know Drake is quick to yell "No New Friends" but...

Is it too late to have a best friend? I guess that's the real question I am asking.

November 25, 2014

Pretty Baby: Two Letters To My Child(ren)

***written at 11:00 pm after the Grand Jury's decision to not indite Darren Wilson for Mike Brown's Death***

ETA (11/26): My husband wanted to add his letters too. So here is the updated version
Dear Son (from Mommy):

You are not born yet. You haven't even been conceived. But do know I've wanted you since before I knew you existed or will exist. You are already awesome and wonderful and beautiful. You have been willed by the Holy Spirit to come to be. Everyone is praying for you, our baby boy.

You will be nice and kind. You will be articulate and smart. You will have a a style all your own. You will have my eyes and your Dad's towering height. You will have manners and be a fine, young gentleman. You will make good grades and say your prayers before bed. You will open doors for ladies and carry bags....You will spend time in the kitchen with us because food is our love language and you need to learn to feed yourself. It is a life skill. You'll love sports just as much as you love reading. You'll make friends easily without being a pushover. You will do things that are "different" and "atypical" of a young black man. Your father wants you to go to Morehouse but I'd be glad with any college. You'll be an Alpha man just like Daddy. You'll be handy like Grandpa. You'll be a snazzy dresser like your Uncle. 

You will be light and love. 

These are my hopes at least.

But I do want to let you know that others will not feel that way. Some will look at you as some threat....as some other-worldly, ungodly "thing" to be dealt with. They will hate you for no other reason other than you being black and male. You won't get to make "typical teenage mistakes". They will clutch purses in your presence. They will avoid you in elevators. Eye contact is missed. They will follow you in stores. They will accost you on the street for no reason. They will pull you over at nice because your car is nice. They will say things like... "Why do black guys do.....????" and want to have you as their "token" friend.  They will want all your "coolness" without realizing that our "coolness" is a coping mechanism. They will question your existence and why you are even in their "spaces" where you clearly aren't invited yet have every right of being there. Son. they are going to paint you as a monster. They will kill you because you are black. They will fear you because they do not understand. They will think that you are "magical" and fear no pain.  Yet, they will want to examine every  part of you, even those intimate parts because of stereotypes. They will envy it yet fear it. Do not give into such base realities. This will hurt you although you may not confess it. But I know you can and will hurt. They will expect you to be beaten and not fight back.  They will have you ready for the prison as soon as you exit my womb. They will play respectability politics and police your moves.

I  will send you into the world with only the hopes you will return to me the same way. They expect that you will be a sacrifice...and I just am to accept it.

I can tell you to be a good boy. Sit up straight. Speak when spoken to.Listen before you respond.  Do no harm. Do not cause a ruckus or agitate. But I just do not think that would do any good. You can be the most perfect boy and all they will see is imperfection.

Just know Mommy and Daddy love you, Son. 


My son, from Daddy:
Son, you haven’t been conceived yet, but I love you and am already proud of you. You are the descendant of beauty queens, seamstresses, amazing cooks, scholars, doctors, law enforcers, military vets, prayer warriors, servants, and fighters. You, my son, have also come from greatness, and will be greatness.
Son, you are born into a world, where you will already have a strike against you. Many people may not understand that, but, it is your reality. You will work twice as hard as some of your counterparts, yet not progress, or earn as much. You will be asked to be the linebacker, but never the quarterback. While I don’t mind if you sought the Heisman trophy, don’t be used like livestock. Others will make money, while your body is sacrificed. Use whatever opportunities are given to you to your fullest advantage. Do not be discouraged. Keep your head up, and your eyes opened, and don’t take a 6 for a 9. I wish I could paint you a rosy picture, but I’ll be doing you a disservice. The best that I can do for you is to tell you how to live.
First: Be respectful of others. Learn people’s names. Keep your word. You are no better than anyone, but you are MY son, and loved by God; therefore, you are, in my eyes, a King to be.
Honor the women in your life. Treat them as you see me treat your mother, and your grandmothers. Understand them, and know that they are your equal. Listen to them, even when they’re not speaking. Listen with your ears and your heart. Never stop courting… that’s how you got here. Give from your heart.
Son, be humble, and of service to others. Help others along the way, as others have directly and indirectly helped you. Say Please, Thank You, and I’m sorry. Always tip well, and never look down on anybody. Never accept late invitations, never be anybody’s fool, and never borrow. Work and Study Hard. There is nothing in this world that you aren’t entitled to, but understand “No”, when it is said.
You will be brave, and stand tall amongst kings, yet not lose the common touch. You will stumble and fall; be strong enough to get back up and start over. You will be struck down, excluded, discriminated against, and discouraged. Keep that bloody head unbowed. Wake up every day, ready to go through it all over again. Do the right thing. Always. Stand up for what is right, and never turn a blind eye. Sometimes, you’ll be unpopular, sometimes, alone. Character, though, is what you do when nobody is watching. 
And even after you do all these things, you will still be described as, thought of, and judged, prefaced with the color of your skin. You will be told to tone down when you speak; to not be intimidating; to be passive. You will be told to learn your place. It’s a harsh reality. Stay encouraged, stay in the faith, and stay true to yourself, without compromise. 
Son, I wish the world to you. I wish you happiness, success and love. But, most of all, I wish for you to live.
*************







Dear Daughter (from Mommy):

Unborn, not yet conceived, yet gorgeous beyond words. Smart and talented. We've wished 1000 wishes for you. You have your Granny's wild and woolly hair, my eyes and your Dad's complexion. You are the perfect mix of everything and everyone we love. You are beautiful but do know that you are more than your outward appearance.  God granted all our wishes when you were blessed to be our child. You will always be our baby.

You will be mannerable and respectful. You will have a servant's heart. You will be smart and sassy. You will speak your mind and never back down. You will not have limits on you  just because you are a girl. You'll make up stories and have tea parties.You will inherit your father's love of all things techy and my love of all things girly. You will cook, not because you are a woman, but because it is an essential life skill. You'll love to be a woman and cherish it. You'll go off to college. You'll major in what makes you happy not necessarily what makes you money. You'll be a Zeta I hope. You'll love reading as much as you love your Cell Phone (or whatever new contraption comes out). You will be your own person. You will be confident, self-assured, and self-possessed. Even after the awkwardness of teenage years. You will not try to conform to what others thing is beautiful. You will love your skin. Your hair. Your body. You'll want to be the coach, QB and the cheerleader.....

I can only hope for these things...

But I want you to know, dear heart, that there will be people who will try and tear you down. They will brand you "angry" if you speak your mind. They will say you are "bitter" if you are just sad a day or two. You have a right to be sad! They will dissect your body into parts. They will not see you as the standard of beauty but some sort of deviation.  You will have to fear being attacked and assaulted simply by virtue of your existence. You. You will be a "double" minority in so many ways. If you are attacked, they will victim blame/shame you. They will pay you less for all the hard work you do. They won't believe your words. They will fear you simply because you are different.  If you get pulled over by a cop, esp a man, you must be in fear.  They will eroticize and exoticise you. You are fetish to them, wholly and truly.They will say your curves and size are "outside of the norm" and to be reviled. Other women will want to BE you without being you: the body, the lips, the tanned skin. You will feel their privilege in subtle ways. They will say you are wrong even if evidence proves you are right.  You can be jailed for defending yourself and kids. You can be harmed for just protecting them or wanting better for them. They will tell you to swallow pain without complaint.  They will not hold you in the same light of virtue that others are given.  Virtue is given to those deemed worthy, whose sexuality has a price. Yours since the days of slave cabins has not...

I can tell you to be a good girl. To speak when spoken to. To sit properly in skirts. To make your Grandmas' dumplings and collard greens. To not wear too much makeup. To not wear short skirts. To not be TOO loud or too brash.  But I can only pray.... so you have my prayers.

You are love and light most wonderful. But everyone will not see you this way. But Daddy and I see you, honey....we see you.

Dear Daughter, from Daddy:
You are not here yet; not even conceived, but I love you beyond measure. You are the descendant of beauty queens, seamstresses, amazing cooks, scholars, doctors, law enforcers, military vets, prayer warriors, servants, and fighters. You, my love, have come from greatness, and are destined to burn a trail in this world. You will have a heart of gold and ambition beyond measure. Let nobody or thing stand in your way. 
Daughter, you will work twice as hard as your brother, and may not earn the same. In fact, many will tell you that you can’t do it, simply because you’re you. Baby girl, you can show them, better than you can tell them. Be brave; be feisty; be unapologetically you. Be of service, yet not subservient. Be thankful, yet not settling. Be humble, yet know that the riches of the world are yours. 
Sweetheart, do not accept anything but the best from yourself and from others. Treat people with respect and dignity. You may not always receive the same, but you can’t control that. Always do your best, and then some, and have the courage to start over if you fail. Never give up, and never stop dreaming. You can kick down doors, but, if you find a guy like Daddy, he’ll open it for you, like your dad still does for your Mom. Nevertheless, work hard for what you want, even if you go at it alone. 
You will always have my heart; I will always be with you. When things go your way, and when they don’t, I’ll be here to listen. You’ll always have the love and guidance of your heavenly father. Trust in Him always.
Respect others. Love God. Keep Pushing. Live.






To our unborn child (ren). You are a pretty baby. You're pretty,baby.  You will forever be our baby even if the world won't see you that way. Before you are born, I've already sacrificed you. May you return to me whole.........

October 30, 2014

Street Harassment, Cat Calling, and Why I Can't Take Compliments from my Husband



This week the internet was all a-buzz about a young woman whose viral video depicting a day in the life of "street harassment" for women in New York City. The video has its flaws, as Roxane Gay has so eloquently pointed out. Most of the harassers are black and Latino. Nevertheless,...it's all harassment.

Brave black women such as Feminista Jones and  artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh are telling and shouting from the rooftops that this is not OK. ESP not OK to do to black women, whose bodies are targets of ridicule, objectification, and subjugation.

Now, I am sure you are thinking:  what on earth does street harassment have to do with my husband and his compliments to me?

I think everything.

If you hear "hey beautiful" everyday as you walk the busy Metro streets, as you try to go to work or just take a jog around your neighborhood, you just brush it off as some tactic that men use to get in your pants. As a woman you think, "sure I am beautiful but dude...stop using that tired line". You start to dismiss "beautiful" as some sort of annoyance. You see that and many other things that street harassers say as "dangerous" and misleading; as something to get into your pants.  And you rarely reclaim the word as something magical for yourself. In turn, you just stop feeling beautiful. You stop believing that you are.  You become desensitized to the sincerity of those who truly love you. You really do think you are beautiful, attractive and even look good "in those jeans". And who truly want nothing more than for you to feel great about yourself.

You cant even take a "hello" at face value as a woman walking on the street. 10 times out of 9 it is an invitation for conversation. And if you do not entertain folks, it means that you are a "stuck up bitch" who was "ugly anyway" and "should be glad someone is calling you beautiful/commenting on your body/wanting to talk to you", etc. It makes you afraid to be out in the world. A "hello" or a "hey beautiful" can turn ugly really fast and escalate into violence if not reciprocated. Just the other week, a Detroit woman was KILLED for not giving a man her phone number? Now you can't even say NO. Being a woman has now become a living night mare.  So yeah.... sometimes I cannot even stomach a "hey beautiful" from a stranger. You don't know WTF to do t and you can't differentiate crazy from sane in a chance encounter. No one is that quick...

But anyway.... back to my husband and I.........

Everyday in some sort of fashion my husband tries to get me to say I'm beautiful. Everyday I rebuff him. HE will say "Good Morning, Beautiful!" and I just roll my eyes.   Just yesterday,  he runs down a list of my friends and goes "don't you think so and so is beautiful? What about her? And her?" I say "sure" (because truly I do have beautiful friends of all shades, shapes and sizes) then he quickly tried to throw in "and you? Aren't you beautiful?" I just sat silent. I swear this happens at least twice a week. I keep saying one day he'll stop but he doesn't. Once he uncomfortably held me in front of a mirror butt naked... And I just cried. I felt violated in a way. Emotionally transparent and assaulted. As if some dude off the street cornered me on the way to work.... I couldn't differentiate.

 If you tell me I'm smart, I can accept it. If you tell me I have this talent or that ability, that's great. But I do not take compliments about my looks well. I guess these are just lingering scars from childhood and even young adult hood.  What do compliments even mean? It's just empty words from creepy dudes of past.

I'm desensitized to the absolute beauty and sincerity that is in my husband's words because as a woman, I've been howled at, cat-called and harassed since I hit puberty at 9 years old. It has greatly affected my self esteem. I cannot distinguish between absolute adoration and lustful wantonness. I cannot have the luxury of just existing and walking and minding my own damn business without being harassed. I can't feel beautiful without thinking someone wants something.

I should always feel beautiful for and around my husband and I do but hardly ever for myself. No new hairstyle. No amount of makeup. No living in the gym can do it, it's sad. I often feel like just balling up in a corner and hiding because it's easier than to bring unwanted attention to myself. And as much as I love trying new makeup and getting fresh clothes, compliments to me just get brushed off. And I can't even compliment myself.


I say all this to say. If we keep normalizing the pure fuckery of patriarchy, we will not be able to see the shining, bright spots of humanity. The people who TRULY love you and just admire you. The people who treat you with respect. MY husband never approached me in a foul, rude way. Not even we first began dating. He's never said anything  with malice or ulterior motives.

We have to teach young men to stop thinking with their dicks and thinking women OWE you something for simply walking near your space. We have to unlearn this behavior for our young men so that women can freely walk the streets, no matter where they walk, what they have on, our the countenance on their faces. I shouldn't be told to "smile" and I shouldn't be told how "fine" I am or "look at those titties" on my commute to work.

...and I shouldn't rebuff my husband for just saying how beautiful his wife is.  This is what happens when we normalize street harassment and cat calling. We take way the beauty in sincerity.

October 17, 2014

Feeling/Not Feeling: New Life Chapters

(It's going to be great)

FEELING

I am incredibly childish for feeling this but...........Ms Donna Goudeau. We gonna hold you down, sis! We know you are legally blind.

How to Get Away with Murder. Viola is all that!

My wedding photos. They are so bomb (although I haven't seen the rest of the). Thanks Montoya and crew!

The Read. I listen to those fools religiously......

Honeymoons like mine. I wish I was there. Unlimited food and drink. Jacuzzis....EVERYTHING


So many weddings over the past couple of months

All these new movies coming out. Dear White People. The Equalizer.. Top Five (w/ Chris Rock)

Couple Dates. Apparently we are acceptable to hang out with as a unit again. Going to see Dear White People w/ another couple.

My new hairstylist. She's everything and like an older sister. The best.

Makeup organization. My husband thought I was nuts for obsessiing over it. But anyway...take a look at my collection over on my style blog HERE.

All the awesome black webseries that are coming out

Issa Rae's new book. I pre-ordered it.

Mindy Kaling. She's so the Indian me sometimes

Like another tattoo. I got some ideas now..........where to put it???? Hmmmmmm

My Iphone 6. It's bigger. It's better. It bends but who gives a sh*t.

Cold mornings. Curled up next to HubbyDude.....

I still love wedding videos on Vimeo.

LOoking forward to the holidays. My first Christmas married. *EEK!*

My new photography habit. Just bought a Tripod. Can you say.."Cheesy Family Christmas Cards??" YEP!!!

Sam Smith. That entire album is WHEW!

Earl Sweatshirt...........

More Vacations. The fact that my husband is from a tropical island automatically means TROPICAL vacations! YES!

Being Financial w/ my sorority! I DID IT! I wont be able to come to meetings but I at least can pay dues.

Instagram is way better than Twitter. Facebook is better than Twitter. Pinterest is the best thing ever!


NOT FEELING
I already don't like Beyonce but her new bangs look like Blue Ivy Cut them w/ plastic school scissors. LOL

People who constantly record at weddings. All in the aisle on yoru smart phone, interrupting photos from the photographer. We had a no camera rule at the ceremony (didn't care about the reception) but hey.........doesn't stop most folks. Not even family! *tsk*

Addiction the movie was so trash. Just bad all around....

My neighborhood. IT's a quiet, quaint town but...the fact that it is that way it is attractive for movie crews (Like The Walking Dead) and fun-runs and sh*t....causing us to be stuck in the house, streets cut off. Not cool, dude.

Old Ex's popping up in the pic to say "Congrats". Go choke on a d*ck............

Like I am close to my mom anymore. *sigh*. I think she's giving me "marital space" but I miss her.......

Shopping. Which is really cutting into my Style blog. I need to get back to shoes and clothes and such. *sigh* I will just have to shop my closet.

Like I have a good grip on this PhD thing. Part of me wants to stop...live a regular a** life w/o this obligation. But Part of me wants to complete this goal. I am not superwoman. *sigh*

I need to get my shopping habit under control. which is why I don't feel like shopping. Hell I got everything I want.

Hand writing thank you cards. JESUS..........

Most Music these days....

Excessive hashtag abuse..... Grow up!

My house...it needs a bit of organizing and redecorating.........I mean if I did get pregnant...Kid would have to sleep in a closet. LOL.

Scandal this season. It's sorta BLEH!

Like buying a new MacBook but looks like Imma have to. Son of a B*Tch.......

That I am so old now. Time is ticking.........

Like working out. Imma just stay fat....it's so much easier. (But Diabetes and Dialysis isn't cute so..I may wanna reevaluate that..........esp given my current health situation .)


Like I am young enough to enjoy Homecoming at my college. I feel so stuck in between. And I really wanted to take my husband (who didnt go to an HBCU but def wanted to...). Maybe next year

October 9, 2014

And So The Baby Talk Begins...


*sigh*



HubbyDude and I haven't been married a solid month. And already..folks are trying to find our baby registry at Target, plan showers, and talk to us about "you ain't getting no younger...you might as well do it"

Actually...all the baby talk started as soon as we got engaged. And continued well into that phase. Even at the wedding, his Uncle gave a speech and said  "And please....make some babies". His sister wrote in a card to use that said "I can't wait for our kids to play together".... All this pressure!

Sure we've discussed children. And yes..my age is certainly a factor (as is his quite frankly). But, I know that most fertility studies aren't accurate and most certainly are outdated. How do you explain a 45 year old Halle Berry having a kid? I don't think it's science...sometimes it's Jesus (LOL).

I am not naive. I know fertility drugs and infertility are a possibility. I have health issues that may make it a bit hard to conceive. But hard is not impossible.

Whats the rush? I don't feel that pressure to have a baby just yet. I want to enjoy my husband. I want to be able to run around the house naked and not trip over toys. I want to enjoy my sleep without being awake at 3 am for a feedings. I want to be able to make love and not hear "Mommy..I want a glass of water" just a few years more. Or worry about Daycare. Or Diapers. Or breast vs bottle.


see.. now my head is swimming.

But mortality and reality are a very real issue.  So are finances. Money will forever be tight. Parents are getting older. I am getting older. Infant mortality rates for women over 35 aren't that great/ We just don't know. It's a crap shoot.

But let me enjoy my husband first before I throw my hat into the baby making arena. The foundation of any great kid is a set of great parents. Let us be great spouses to each other first.. I'll let you know when you need to start planning for a shower. OK?

Until then....let me go love up on this really hot dude? :)

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