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? :)

October 7, 2014

Married...Divorced.....and Married Again

(Photo courtesy of Montoya Turner and Made You Look)


Well...well...well.

I know. I had the nerve to come back to you all married...and not without a single HELLO or anything!

Well.........let me fix that.

Hello, darlings! :)

After one heck of a fun wedding (I know...says the woman who was adamant about not even having a wedding) and to one SUPER romantic honeymoon....(whew chile..if a baby was made from that I wouldn't be surprised), I realized I've neglected my blog for a minute. I wrote a rather somber piece after the whole Ray Rice incident. But enough somberness....let's celebrate.........

I think I may do a bit of a  quick and dirty "recap"..... and throw in a few pics here or there.......just a few.


The weeks leading up to the wedding were def more hectic than the wedding weekend itself.  I even had a shower in my office after I told them NOT to go through all the hassle.

It all started on Thursday when I met The Dude's extended family who had traveled from Canada and the tiny island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis to see him get married. There was much sorrel. Much ginger beer and "goat water" (which I didn't eat...........LOL). But I got to meet his Dad who hugged me warmly and I felt SO much more at ease. That same day, we dropped off these cute little "welcome to Atlanta" Boxes w/ GA Guide boxes.
(cute ,right?)



Friday 2 days before, my Mother-In-Law threw a very west Indian party to celebrate the "joining of two families" because by this time, everyone who made it was here in Atlanta to celebrate. There was so much food: rice and peas, goat, MORE Sorrel (LOL..those Kittitians love their sorrel!), jerk chicken. stew chicken, plantains...whew! I can go on and on about the food. Speeches were made. My bridal party came....and my family (Mom, Dad and Aunt K) and everyone had a great time

Saturday was the rehearsal. I got my hair done. I got my nails REdone because my stylist hated them (LOL).... And After losing my phone in a frantic rage (LOL) and being late due to that, I made it down to the hotel ballroom and we rehearsed. My planner, LB of Savvy House Events was ON IT. I highly recommend her to anyone in ATL. But I truly had made her job easy by being easy going, no fuss, and pretty much had planned all the details down to the timeline. We rehearsed, We had a buffet of Tacos to celebrate our Mexican honeymoon/First Date Meal (to which my friend Tee exclaimed that this wedding was the "best ever" because she truly had been eating since Friday night! LOL)  Later on that night....I went out w/ my girlfriends for one last Bachelorette shindig! (CENSORED). Fun was had by all..but I paid for it the next day w/ a hangover that was a beast! Oh BTW..I found my phone. It was at the Hotel front desk *smh*....

Sunday: The Big Day. I wasn't nervous. I wasn't anxious.  Even the hangover went away after brunch. I had so much peace. I had a hustle and bustle of folks coming in and out of my suite at the hotel but I loved it. Mimosa was flowing. My brother had far too many glasses. My mother looked on in her wheelchair very full of emotion.  I got my face beat and got my girls involved in the wedding beat. My Dad was every there, getting help w/ his bow tie from my brother and snapping pics. He snapped my fav pic of the ENTIRE wedding:
(My little cousins: 2 Flower Girls, Broom Bearer and a Town Crier)

I got some very special gifts from my husband to be...one of which was a Journal where he had been chronicling our relationship from the moment he decided he wanted to propose..until the wedding Day. I had to hit an ugly cry. Best gift ever. I told my cousins that this is the manifestation of being true to your word, not giving up, and just letting God handle it. They, in jest, got on their knees and started praying all hard LOL

(I just was bawling for several minutes, darn my Dude! LOL)

I was running about 10 minutes off schedule because my makeup artist, Nikki, in true perfectionist ways, had to beat my face JUST so. But it was worth it. My two aunts helped me into my dress and I was off. It was such a blur. A whirlwind. One minute I was walking off the elevator with my Brother. The next minute I was walking down the aisle to Robin Thicke's "Angel"...and then BAM... married. I said my vows. It made everyone cry. We have no ceremony pics because we asked folks to not take pics (although some violated that rule.........smh). But it was very beautiful.  We exited to September by EWF (because we got married on the "21st Night of September")  Then after that it was a big party. Lots of cake. Lots of food. Soul Train Lines. and Dancing (my Uncle, the pastor, really showed out). Lots of soca and flag waving Our DJ Tay kept it poppin'! My friend Trice said she "came in w/ straight hair and left with an afro) she was dancing so hard! LOL.  Lots of speeches. Sorority and Fraternity stuff...the Wobble. (You know, a typical black wedding LOL. ) My cousin, my Maid of Honor made me cry. It was just an awesome night. We ended it w/ sparklers.........and got back to our suite. It was so great............
(Pic courtesy of Made you Look)


Honeymoon: After taking 1 day in between to rest, pack and catch up with family who was in town.........we left that Tuesday for Mexico, My travel agent Marissa, of Inclusive Voyages, really did her thing. A Five Star, Five Diamond resort in Playa Del Carmen. IT was awesome and all inclusive. We ate. We drank. We danced. We beached. We got super tan (despite the initial 3 days of rain). We spa-ed (is that a word?) We went to the Mayan Ruins and Dude climbed it....visited a Mayan village....tried to make clay pots and ate some more. We walked around the downtown of the area and ate some more (LOL)  We took in some awesome shows. Most of all we talked. It was our first trip solo together in the almost 3 years we had been together. We just really connected.. AND I had never had a honeymoon the first time and this one, thanks to the generosity of our friend and family, was paid for all by them via an awesome site called HoneyFund (and some gift cards too). It was a truly awesome experience!
(The 6000 year old "Pyramid" In Coba where my HubbyDude climbed it! I was NOT gonna do that!)

After 6 days and 5 nights of all of that...naturally.it was hard to adjust to our life in Atlanta. Who was gonna make our bed? Get our drinks?? Make sure we ate everything?  And pour rose petals out like we were in Coming to America? *sucks teeth* LOL


The Journey to Bliss

Truthfully, the journey to bliss isn't over. It just got started. I started this blog almost 4 years ago...as a place to heal me but not sure how long I'd keep it up or where it was going. To get ME to where I could be a fully, functioning and productive divorcee.....only to have me end up being a Mrs. Again. But in that time.... I've started another degree...God job promotions...moved and bought a home....gotten healthier and wiser....lost and gained friends.. and all because I made the conscious decision to be BLISSFUL and not do it for a guy..but do it for me. The road had its ups and downs....frogs and toads on the road to distract me.........shots to my self esteem and self-worth.... but it was worth it in the end.I learned a lot. I came out the fire only to be forged better for myself...and for my husband. 


So where shall this blog go? Who knows.









All I know is that I hope you all stay along for the ride :)



September 8, 2014

"Why Doesn't She Leave?": Ray Rice, and Why Victim Bl/Shaming is Stupid

(Ray Rice, wife Janay, and their daughter Rayven)

My parents have been married 37 years. My parents are still together.

My father, an ex-cop, returned from the military shortly before I started 5th grade. Before that, I had a dream like vision of my dad, a super strong military man who visited on leave. I didn't know they had technically been legally separated since I was about 3 and his stint in the military was for him to "get his life together". 


My father beat my mother more times than I could remember. Or that I can remember because I've blocked most of ages 8-18 out. My father was abusive,neglectful, controlling, manipulative and in some ways still is. He had several children outside his marriage. He had no remorse, felt no guilt, and did what he pleased. When he got out the Army, he was underemployed and drank a lot. That's stopped......(the drinking that is). When he became gainfully employed, money made it worse as he could exert all his control with his purse strings. 

But despite all of this...despite the fact that he'd pulled a gun on her and drug her into the yard.....despite the fact that he's torn doors down in the house....despite the fact that he's made a scene more than once in public (most memorably at my maternal Grandfather's funeral).... my mother remains with him.

My parents, again, have been married 37 years. Maybe 1 of those years was a "good" year. I wouldn't know because I never bothered to ask my mother.

As I saw the Ray Rice video leaked from TMZ today flood my FB timeline, I thought, "Surely, now with THIS type of evidence, something can be done". This man got a slap on the wrist. Poor Mike Vick is still being assaulted by PETA , paid his debt, but this man, Ray Rice was only sitting out two games. Another dude was busted for weed. Let's face it..he's a habitual weed smoker and got 1 year suspension.

 And then it was over. His contract was terminated. He is banned from the NFL. My thoughts quickly turned to his wife Janay. Would she feel the wrath of him not having a job? Would she leave? Or would she just stay?

On FB, the court jesters of opinions, folks are weighing in. Some are blaming the media. Some are blaming the NFL for perpetuating and condoning the behavior. Why did they sit on this tape for months and it wasn't until TMZ supposedly leaked it that they wanted to take a harsher stance? But most disappointingly, most people are blaming Janay Rice, who stood at a press conference just months early,  basically apologizing for causing shame to HER husband, for getting herself knocked out, and for causing a stir with the Ravens organization. People, especially women, were of the belief that she provoked him. Even if she shoved him, his frame and body are built and conditioned to hit hard and with force. Those are no excuses. I wept as I watched Janay sit there with her eyes downcast, rubbing her hands together feverishly, as if she was going into her own cocoon. As if she was rubbing a genie's lamp, hoping she's disappear. She avoided all contact and just felt as though she was reading from a script like a mindless zombie.  The fact that Ray Rice said (in the press conference w/ his then fiancé)  "I won't call myself a failure. Failure is not getting knocked down...it's not getting back up". Sometimes you gotta laugh at the irony to keep from crying cause this fucktard is just........... clueless.

Shameful.

 We will never know why, even after that incident, she chose to marry him. We will never know why Janay stays (if she stays at all) or why any woman in abuse stays.  Everyone has a different reason. But what I do know is that we cannot blame the victims. We cannot say the media and Janay are "trying to bring a black man down". He brought himself down by laying hands on her. No matter how much counseling he will get, he will always be a woman beater.  Even those in "recovery" still get labeled... A recovering drug addict is always one relapse away. 

It has taken me most of my life to realize that. I harbored so much resentment toward my mother for staying with such a lying, cheating bastard like my Father.  But she had her reasons. I remember her once saying "I take my vows seriously. I know when I die, I did what was right". So serious she is in her devotion that she was willing to subject herself to more than I could bear. She grew up in a 2 parent home. Her father, to my knowledge, wasn't abusive but he did drink in his older years. Perhaps my mother wanted the same for her children. My mother has been chronically ill most of her life and mors recently dependent on my dad for, among a lot of things, health insurance and as her health increasingly gets worse, she is more and more dependent on him as a care giver no matter how poor he is at it.  "DEPENDENT".  That is the key word.

Men are saying "Well Janay got a baby and is staying to get that check".  I know a lot of people have endured a lot for money  and sold their souls but to reduce to her a gold digger willing to be a punching bag is absurd. Even Evelyn Lozado left Chad Johnson when he headbutted her. Gold digger or not..she had good fortune of leaving with her life. Perhaps Janay doesn't have that option. Perhaps her family is saying "but he's a good man" "think about the money or "Dont anger him .. stay for the baby..." or whatever rationalization they can think of. This is all speculation.

What I am sure of is that we need to pray for Janay, her safety, and the safety of their child. And for Ray's sanity.  Even if she leaves him, she isn't completely safe from his wrath of abuse or worse. 

No matter how many times my mother stayed at my aunts house. No matter how many times my father yelled or screamed. And no matter how much he lie(s)d ...my mother always goes back. Well... went back. Right now she's there until she death does them part. She once lamented to me "where will I go? Who will want me?" She was a disabled retiree with no college degree and no savings.  Janay's dreams may be wrapped up in the same packaging-- a woman who sees no other options. Who knows...

I never really have talked about this part of my life. And if you ask my mother, she has a "selective memory" when it comes to those darker days. I remember some. My brother remembers as it was part of the impetus for him moving out at age 18. But I do know it's affected me in a huge way. Will I ever be in Janay's position? Or my mother's? I pray to God that I am not.


But I also have the insight and foresight to not judge or shame the women who are. 

We have to have empathy. We have to be compassionate. We have to be better human beings.

For Janay and all the "other" Janays. 

Even those who are old enough to be your mother....

August 21, 2014

Let Onika (Attempt to) Twerk!

*blows all the dust off this sucker*


I am 30 days away from getting married so I haven't been able to post as much!

HA! Yeah right! I just don't have sh*t to talk about... until today...
*********

So Nicki Minaj released the video for her song "Anaconda" which samples Sir-Mix-A Lot's" Baby got Back".

If you do not remember that song....................take a look here




It was a gloriously cheesy song that celebrated the black woman's backside in a time and era when big butt were not en vogue. Sistas around the world enjoyed shaking their rump to this song and just having a good time.

Fast forward almost 20 plus years and we have Onika "Nicki Minaj" Maraj sampling Sir Mix A Lot's song in all it's campiness. The song is trash. Pur and utter fluff and trash, void of any real substance. LOL and the video is deliciously lame. Take a look. Warning it may be NSFW (unless work is Magic City....but ok........... really it isn't even that bad! lol.)



I was on the treadmill at LAFitness and I am sure they thought I was crazy because I was watching it on my Iphone and laughing SO LOUDLY. OMG..poor Nicki. All that (allegedly paid for) DUNK and she can't twerk for sh*t. Not to mention.... lots of the folks in there don't have THAT much dunk. It's like..average black girl booty. The lyrics are bad. The scenery is just loud and visually is is doing too much BUT does a good job of adding a lot of Sir Mix's came lameness. Nicki herself looks beautiful and glowing. The part with her trying to twerk it on an ever willing Drake...... a struggle in itself. LOL. Isn't she Caribbean? That's sad, yo..........

But now folks and feminist are in an uproar for the twerking nature of the video and all the butts and Nicki's own butt being at the forefront of this video (which it really isn't............the promo for it...however is another story.............) Nicki went on an Instagram tirade, posting pics of thinner (whiter) bikini clad models and asking "is this acceptable?", a retort which was in direct response to those who are saying her pic was unacceptable. Whatever........ I see her point totally. But folks weren't trying to hear it, saying she was objectifying herself for record sales.

Look, Nicki has a big ass. It's her body. She has the right to flaunt it however and to whomever she damn well pleases. I think Nicki believes in girl power and all that jazz, but she is a woman who knows that sex sells and while she has the body, she's gonna use it. I mean, she's not some pseudo-feminist jumping on a bandwagon (a la Beyonce' ) but she is just a girl in a male dominated industry, scratching and surviving. I don't care what she does. The real problem for me is that she even HAS to defend this or that she has to DO this in order to survive in Rap.  What happened to the girl rapping in sweats and Timbs w/ a bad weave and a cheap bag??  That's the Nicki I miss. "Mixtape" Nicki. The girl can rap. She flat out can.............and doesn't NEED to do all this. But the rules of the game don't work that way. She's trying to get these checks. But let's not label the girl some kind of "sex worker". She sells sex............but not her p***y! Feel me?

Folks were calling her a modern Venus Hottentot, telling her she needs to go and view Kara Walker's "Sugar Sphinx" and get her life. Ya'll............please. Let the song and video stand for what it is: a cheesy, celebration of the black woman's ass. A butt, mind you, that white women are now spending a LOT of dough on to get.

When Sir Mix A Lot made "Baby Got Back", we rarely had any celebrations of our bodies. The "waif" look was in. It was the 90s and heroin chic was all the rafe. Nicki is in an era now that still objectifies and yet glorifies black butts.Strippers are rock stars. JLo gets love for her butt. And Nicki.... She loves her butt (real or not). She loves her curves. And most importantly, what I took away from the song was men LOVE women with curves. And that in itself should be celebrated.

So let Onika attempt to twerk till her big butt's content! *shrug*

But for me... I will continue to laugh at how bad this song is. It's not that deep to me



.....and I'm a feminist, sex-positive person :)

May 23, 2014

Beauty and the Boudoir



As part of my wedding photography package, I opted against doing traditional bridal portraits in favor of bridal boudoir photographs. I had done something "similar' in my first marriage but my ex husband was involved...and I hated the fact that he was in most of the shots. Needless to say...these would be different.....I'd be totally alone.

I was so nervous. I spent days and nights planning and picking out outfits.... I had been working out but I was self-conscious because I wasn't as fit as I wanted to be for these photos. I was going to call the whole thing off but my mother seemed excited for me...and my aunt thought that this would be the perfect gift to give my fiance' on our wedding day. I had a room and floor full of Lingerie and Louboutins.....everything that seemed "sexy" or bridal...I had it out.

I labored for hours over my hair and makeup and nervously paced the floor waiting on our wedding photographer and his wife (and thank God she was there!). I opened the door and they were so excited. They put my at ease. They made sure things would be tasteful and that my fiance' would love them. His wife fixed my hair in every shot...she even adjusted my boobs. They kept saying "it's just the simple things that make it work".... We had music going and I even had a "shot" to ease my nerves. He was creative and a patient....he and his wife eased my self consciousness and after a 2 hour shoot....I was relaxed.


Then it was over.

 It happened so fast. All I heard him say was "I think we got it!" and he was packing up his camera bag! His wife hugged me and said "You're gonna be such a pretty bride! See you in September!".....and they were off.

I didn't get to see many of the images...the photographer would teasingly flash the camera's screen at me then laugh. I had trust in him...but the truth is...I didn't have trust in myself. What if my rolls were showing? What if I looked crazy? What if I was sweaty?

Weeks and weeks went by...until finally my photographer sends me an email simply stating "they're ready"....with a link to a Zip file of the edited shots.

I opened the first picture..............my mouth fell open.and tears dropped from my eyes. I was speechless. I realized after about 15 minutes I was simply staring at my Ipad....

Was that really me??? Was I truly that beautiful? Is that was Jay sees when he sees me, stripped down and just with raw emotions? Or glammed up in this way?   It was the first time in my 35 years of existence that I had seen myself like that: beautiful, glamorous, elegant, sexy...... 

I shot my photographer a quick email with the exclamation of "OMG...is that really me!?" He said "Yep..that's all you! I'm just the dude with the camera!" The photographer and his editor/assistant had done amazing job! I scrolled through picture after picture...amazed at what I saw before me. Sure they were edited...but it was me! It wasn't to the point where I was unrecognizable. Just as my photographer had said.  Yep....it was all me. They were edited but not perfect...just me.... I was really beautiful. I mean...I was stunning....

I am itching to show my fiance'....but they are a total surprise. Once he opens the book as he gets ready on our wedding day...I am sure he will be amazed that his wife looks like that. And be in total anticipation of the wedding day....(and night! ;) )

But then again....he's always felt that way. And all it took was a photograph to make me really see what he saw in me....




PS: If you are interested in my photographer and you are in the Atlanta area or Southeast, look him up!

Montoya Turner of Made you Look Photography!

*and no....he isn't paying me to say this or even giving me anything free!! I just love the man for his work!*


:)

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