Phuck “back to school”

Here we are, that time of year again. The end of long days spent at the water park, late movie nights, eating rice for breakfast and sweet frog frozen yogurt for dinner. The end of camping out every night in the family room and watching the sky from the second story windows, wearing polka dots with stripes and tie-dyed accesories and miss matched socks and shoes out of the house. The end of summer, the end of freedom. For some it is a relief. And for me it should be. Being the sole counselor/instructor/operator of Camp MoM is not easy. Responsible for all meals, snacks, activities, keeping the peace, keeping minds fresh, keeping them entertained all while keeping my sanity has not been a walk in the park. But it has been a time to do “Us”, without consequence, without remorse. Though I’ve had no me time and barely time to write, I’d have it no other way. Back to school for us means getting up at 5:45am, fighting traffic to get to and from a “special” school across county. I’m tired already. And it’s not that being tired is a problem. Exhaustion is our baseline as mothers. What bothers me is being tired when it ain’t even worth it. (Yeah I said ain’t). So once again, wanting something different and not knowing what that different something is. Is it homeschooling? Private school is expensive, but is that the solution? I’ve realized that as a nonconformist, the restrictive and confining structure that public school provides is a constant irritation to the harmony and peace of my whimsical lil world. I want more for my children than learning how to sit still, follow rules, take orders, and learn what they are being taught. I want them to bounce around, question the rules (bc let’s face it, they don’t always make sense), think outside the box and for themselves, and learn what interests them at their own pace. Perhaps that’s a lil indulgent on my part….but is it though? Perhaps public schooling or any schooling isn’t the answer. Maybe it’s un-schooling all together….?????

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Are we not worth the trip???

My mother is truly a piece of work. She and my father live an hour and a half (or more depending on traffic) away from me. After not visiting them at their home for a lil over a month, I decided that I’d drive myself and the girls up yesterday and spend the day with them. They were pleasantly surprised of course. We had snacks on the deck, had some good laughs, then my mom’s famous pot pie for dinner. All was groovy until…the lecture. Why don’t I come to visit more often? What’s keeping me away? I’m depriving my children of time with their grandparents AND I missed the family reunion so I’m even creating distance between myself and our extended family. Are they not worth my time? Part of me wanted to tell them how I’ve managed feeding, entertaining, and cleaning up after three children every day while feeling like shit up until a few weeks ago, mind you with little to no help, and missing writing gigs and deadlines. I wanted to express the hardships of running camp mom and motivating my children to get up and stay active despite my desire to sleep until 12 bc this pregnancy is kicking my ass. But I didn’t. It would’ve only been received as an excuse and in those moments, people don’t wanna hear those. They want your time. Instead I told them the drive was a pain and if I can avoid it, I do. Momma said she wished her mom was only 1.5 hours away. To that, I had no suitable retort.

I planned to leave late, like say 9 or 10pm-ish. Of course my kids didn’t want to but I was ready to get home to my bed. Instead that plan turned into my mom delivering on the promise of fresh baked cookies that went into the oven at 9:30, extra time with my little sister and nephew, and an all night conversation with my mother. And no, that’s not an exaggeration. Never making it upstairs to bed, we literally talked from 11pm until 5:30am. We talked about everything!!!! From my youngest child being a total brat to homeschool, the summer my cousin and I terrorized my mom getting into constant mischief to life lessons in motherhood, gossip to finance, hair to gardening. Generational curses to mental health. She reminded me of odd childhood friends and times she went with her maternal protective gut, and said no. We laughed reminiscing about how we accidentally got locked out on a 100 degree summer day. I remembered being her little girl, what that felt like. OMG we blabbed nonstop….until finally the light began peeking through around 5. My mom opened her blinds then commanded me to lie down so we could get a few hours. She curled up on the other couch across from me and we chatted for another 30 min (about what, I don’t remember). Before dozing off completely, I glanced over at her. The blanket I attempted to drape over her but she snatched off refusing to be covered up, was being used as a pillow instead. She was snoring lightly and it made me smile. How cute she looked. She looked like her mother and I wondered if one day our roles in one another’s lives would reverse. I turned over and thought about what she’d said about time not standing still. Things change, people change. You never know how much time you have with people so you have to enjoy them while you can. That 1.5 hour drive it took to visit, wasn’t only worth it, it seemed so trivial in that moment. A moment that some day I may wish was only a mere driving distance away, and not impossible or no longer available. We get caught up in the hassle of the trip and totally miss the value of the journey. Lesson learned. 

An experience of a lifetime

So today I did something awesome! First let me say, I am a writer. Have been since I was a child. But rarely have I shared any piece with anyone. As a writer, I’m an artist…”and I’m sensitive about my shyt” (Miss Badu). This past February,  I auditioned for the “Listen To Your Mother” DC show and became a cast member alongside some of the most incredible women I’ve ever met. Women from all over, with great stories. We made each other cry, laugh, reflect, and hope. Today we all got up on a stage and shared those stories with an audience consisting of friends, family, and LTYM alumni. Now that it’s over, and the high from the adrenaline rush that perfoming provides has come down, I’ve had time to reflect. 

This wasn’t small. How often in today’s time, can you have 5 black women, 6 white women (+2), come together in love and just one commonality, motherhood? Color was recognized (we even had a joking moment about segregation) but was never a big deal. The ugliness of the world couldn’t reach us as we became sisters of storytelling, all there to support one another and share. (That’s a lot of S’s). It was amazing. Wouldn’t it be great if the whole world operated this way? No political correctness, no being overly sensitive, interaction without fear, and just truth.  Our director, probably the most authentic human manifestation of pure sunshine, said that storytelling “makes the world feel smaller”. And she’s sooo right. How close do you feel to someone who has bared their soul in the spirit of transparency, sharing their grief, happiness, fears, and desires with you? I feel pretty damn close when I am the sharer as well as the receiver. It helps us not only understand one another better, but also appreciate one another. With appreciation comes respect. If only the world were the LTYM stage. 

I wonder why do women…

I attended an event recently with several other women, which as a gal’s gal, is something I enjoy. I love when women get together! It was a great gathering and opportunity for not only networking, but just hanging out in an estrogenically charged atmosphere. But there was something else amidst…a negative vibe circling, waiting to spark a petty flame that would lead to catty behavior. 

In a conversation, a woman revealed that she’d been having an affair with a much younger man, whom she was also offering financial assistance for school. She became a joke, almost instantly. A discussion with a another group of women revealed that one of the ladies was a stay at home mom who had 5 children and rarely ever had time to herself. This event was her first time out in ages. She also stated that her husband was in charge of ALL the finances and she didnt ever have to worry about bills. She was pitied. One lady who spent most of her time at the bar was ostracized the minute she got there due to her tight fitting attire that barely covered or supported her voluptuous body. She joked that she was on the hunt for husband number 2 and needed to “dangle a lil meat to attract the lions”. 

Why do we women give each other such a hard time? Why are we so quick to judge one another? Lady #1, the cheating cougar…what if I told you her so-called husband has been living in their basement apartment for the last 3 years, refusing to move or give her a divorce even though he’s had multiple affairs and even impregnated one of his side chicks. As the true earner, divorcing him would cost her more making it not worth it, so she stays. For the last year, she’s been dating this young artist who has,completely brought her back to life and lifted her spirits, offering her the happiness she deserves. 

What if I told you the 21st century June Cleaver is actually a published author, has 3 degrees including an MBA and law degree, and does consulting from home? She’s not home because she doesn’t have options or a career path. But because her roles as wife and mother mean more to her than her corporate job and she chose to make herself more available to care for her family. Does her accolades make her more valuable as a woman? Apparently she wasn’t worth talking to until that info was shared. 

Our hoochie…what if I told you she’d just gotten out of a 12 year verbally and emotionally abusive marriage with a total jerk who constantly bullied her and taunted her about her weight. Her self esteem was at an all time low, when he left her “fat ass” for one “that could actually fit in a chair and not be an embarrassment”. His hurtful words drove her to make changes and she lost 70 pounds. Wearing fitted, revealing clothes for the first time ever, she felt sexy and confident. 

The reasons shouldn’t matter. We shouldnt judge but we do. We fat-shame, slut-shame, mommy-shame, career-shame, body-shame, success-shame, money-shame, bash, hate on, gossip about, compete with, antagonize, and fight against one another. We talk shyt about the woman with tight clothes just as we clown the one with the righteous turtleneck. We fat-shame our fluffy sisters and call the skinny ones anorexic even when they aren’t. We shame the woman who doesnt want children while criticizing the one who wanted 5. The career driven woman is shamed by the moms. We are never good enough in our eyes. Perhaps because we ourselves as individuals aren’t good enough in our own eyes. We find fault in each other as we find fault in ourselves and our lack of sisterly love is a reflection of our own self-doubt and self-hatred. The love we fail to show each other is only an extension of the cold shoulder we offer ourselves. Think about it…we fat, slut, and success shame ourselves. Why wouldn’t we do the same to another woman?

How awesome would it be if we as women just stopped the shaming and loved, supported, and empowered one another? My inner goddess is charged when I’m in the presence of femine energy. Something happens when we come together, something electric, magnetic, cosmic even. We should strive to operate in that goddess energy, and that only. When we learn to 

love ourselves unconditionally, collectively, the world will know. Bc we will start loving each other the same way. 

Why I Don’t F@#% with Disney princesses…

Apparently, the “normal” aspiration of little girls all over the world is to some day become a princess. However, me being the weirdo I am, never had any ounce of a desire to become a princess, especially thanks to Disney’s misogynistic portrayal of princesshood. The classic tale of a troubled but sweet girl clothed in innocence, dangling from the lowest hanging branch of the family tree, trying to find her place in a world in which, 9 times out of 10, she doesn’t fit. I can appreciate the story of the odd female out’s empowerment and a rise from gutter to gold, and even the occasional I finally found the man of my dreams love story. BUT, why I don’t eff with Disney princess stories is because they make it a point to reduce the story of new found self awareness and appreciation to a man fixed me (and usually it’s a man at the center of the problem). They have consistently, and in my opinion very intentionally, opted to eliminate the powerful influence of a strong woman or mother. Each conflict is paternal and the mother is either deceased or so quiet/passive she’s invisible to the plot.  Let’s take a look so you know I’m not crazy and just another Disney hater. 

1. One of our latest crazes: Frozen. Let me just say, I love the message of the power of sisterly love. BUT did you hear their mother say a word? Wasn’t it Elsa’s father who locked her away and convinced her that her powers were something to fear? Separating her from her sister and the world? Imagine if he (or better yet her mom) had empowered her to learn to control her power rather than try to hide from it? It was daddy’s fault things got jacked up. Yeah…next

2. Sleeping Beauty….did you hear her mother speak? Her father was dumb enough to beef with Maleficent which ultimately caused his daughter to be in her slumbersome situation. And even with the help of 3 fairy godmothers, only a kiss from some random dude on a horse in the forest who she met years ago could wake her up. I call BS. According to the actual folklore, the boy’s kiss wasn’t what woke her, it was one from Maleficent herself. Of course disney changed the story to suit their own need to prove that if a woman is powerful, she must be evil. 

3. Snow White…where was her mama? Her daddy married some crazy evil woman with a bad case of two deadly sins, vanity and jealousy which she poured all over this poor unsuspecting child. All she wanted to do was sing to the animals and skip through the forest freely. She shacked up with 7 strange lil men and immediately committed herself to servitude while she waited for a prince (some dude she’d barely just met at the well with a serious bravado) to come for her. In the end, he was the only one who could save her (again a kiss from a stranger) and he whisked her away to what appeared to be his castle just beyond the pearly gates of heaven. 

4. Cinderella….who names their daughter “cinder”-ella? Like she was born to remain among the cinders, cleaning. No mama, instead an evil step mother and 3 nasty sisters. The prince had to swoop in and give her a better life. See how that happened. Abused by women, saved by a man. Ok, granted, the fairy godmother stepped in. But did she empower her to fight back or stand up for herself? No, she made her pretty for the ball and provided tranportation to get her man. Thanks. 

5. Belle….of course as an avid reader, she was my fave for a while. But where was Mama Belle? She had a great relationship with her father, “crazy ‘ol Maurice” and that’s how she ended up with the beast. She sacrificed herself for her father. A friend of mine argued that had she not done so, she wouldn’t have found love. To that, I would like to point out how dysfunctional and stockholmish that sounds. She fell in love with her captor. The same one who had her father locked away. Aint nobody that thirsty. 

6. Except maybe Ariel. Aside from the fact she married prince Eric at 16 (not sure how old he was), there were several things wrong with this story. Where was her mama? Like Aurora, the strong female presence in the movie was vilified. Accoding to the tale, sleeping beauty’s dad took Maleficents wings but we dont know exactly why King Triton and Ursula were beefin so hard. And what about all her sisters??? Her closest friends were a seagull, a flounder, and a crab, all male. You got like 20 sisters and you don’t rock with any of them???

7. Mulan. Wasnt a princess but still, sacrificed herself for her father. A father who’d initially expressed disappointment for her inability to act normal and obtain a husband. Her mother and grandmother were both present but in the usual context, not empowerment, but educating her on how to make herself desireable wifey material. Granted, her actions did bring honor to her family and eventually a fine man to her, but look what she had to do. She had to be a man. Smh 

Two movies I will give Disney props on are Brave and Moana. Aside from the fact they both made me cry, they made sense and for me, were relatable. Merida, in all her Scottish badazz glory, donn-

ing a mess of untamed red curly hair, was a fighter and a gal who sought to control her own destiny. The scene where she decided to compete for her own hand in marriage was awesome. Not just the fact that she beat all of her would be suitors, but her arrow ripped through that of the finalist, the message of feminine independence resonating for generations to come. Same as Moana when she took off on that boat. Fueled by the wisdom and spirit of her grandmother, she fulfilled her destiny and restored her people to their true selves. These are the messages I desire for my girls. The damsel in distress narrative is so played. We live in a time where women are proving themselves as forces to be reckoned with yet are still having to fight for equality. Those among us who are too strong, are called manly (Serena). Too smart, cunning, or powerful are vilified (Hillary). Too sexy, talented, and proud are slut-shamed (Beyonce). Too vocal and right, are silenced (Elizabeth Warren). When we exhibit our independence, the world hones in on that which liberates us and uses it to strike us down. Our words, our bodies, our minds, our deeds. Disney should utilize its global platform to combat this and stop minimizing our contributions and the power of our presence. Our very loud, feminine, strong, presence. 

“Get Out”

Everyone and their mama are talking about Jordan Peele’s film “Get Out”. I know I said I wouldn’t do movie/show reviews but I couldn’t resist this one. My friends and I went to check it out one day around lunch time and to my surprise, the theatre was packed. I thought “it better be good. Only marvel gets this type of turnout mid work day”. 

First, the opening scene I found interesting for a few reasons. It gave us a look at Chris’ apartment with Childish Gambino’s “Redbone” playing (which I’ll discuss in another post). The camera panned over an array of photos that Chris had captured, black and whites, in what appeared to be an urban area. This gave us an idea that he was possibly a photographer (with a good eye), obviously something that would later have some significance.

Since everyone has already weighed in, I’ll keep my interpretation short. Ultimately, it is everything that we as blacks in America feel and experience. It’s presented in both subtle and obvious ways. Even the boldest among us are, if not fearful, at least feel some sense of anxiety when dealing with our pale counterparts. We’ve seen what heinous acts they have historically been capable of so there’s no limit to their level of evil or ability to dehumanize. For many of us, upon hearing stories of white men hiding behind bed sheets, riding around with their homeboys of hatred, burning crosses, the white American has become the boogeyman. He’ll catch you sleepin, so you gotta stay woke. 

In addition, the ever alluring white woman. The temptress beckoning our black men to a fate that involves being cast into a sunken place, a horrendous demise. Any interaction with one can result in torture, the loss of freedom, and/or life. We’ve seen this many times. Emmitt Till comes to mind. I know many white women married to black men who have a beautiful family and are totally happy. But, in the back of every black woman’s mind is this throbbing reminder of what has happened in the past when our men partake of that forbidden fruit. Mmm,hmm.

Lastly, is it true? Do white people look at us and desire our presumed genetic superiority? We are magically melanated so I don’t blame them, but is this the true source of the hatred that fuels white supremacy and racism? People do often hate what they envy, detest what they can’t become as it serves as a reminder of shortcomings. What do yall think???

I’m a punk, yeah I said it. I rarely do horror or anything remotely scary. So my experience with horror films to relate this to is scarce. What it does remind me of is the Skeleton Key, starring Ashley Judd. Yall remember that one? It was a black couple who basically did the same as the white people in Get Out, only they took the entire body, swapping out an old worn one for new and vibrant in an attempt to stay young forever, making them essentially immortal. Is this what the bingo players in Get Out seek? Some form of immortality? Does their preference indicate that greatness is best achieved with black skin??? 

Happy New Year, or Scary New Year!!!

It’s 8:35am, January 1, 2017. The morning after the new years celebrations. As the ball (or acorn in my hometown) is dismantled and the remaining bits of confetti are blown in the wind or settling in sidewalk cracks, we as the human race all share the same feeling of anticipation for the year ahead. What will it bring? For me personally 2016 was an emotional roller coaster ride. Wait, roller coasters are fun, it was more like being caught in a violent vortex caught in the Twilight zone. I lost a child, yet attained another degree. I took the final steps in distancing myself from religion but grew immensely in my spirituality. My grandmother spent over a month in a hospital after nearly burning her house down. Ali died. Prince died. Princess Leia died. And so did lord Voldemort, Willy Wonka, and many others. Terrance Crutcher and Alton Sterling were both were murdered by police on film and as usual, justice was redefined as “paid leave” and the desensitivity to police brutality deepened. I watched in horror and disbelief as America elected the orange faced poster boy for white supremacy, misogyny, intolerance, and the epitome of all that’s wrong, as president. I think in that moment, we all died a little. Ha! 

Heading into 2017, I imagine alcohol sells have increased. An upside is that Marijuana is legal in many places and I’m sure those sales are up as well. Gun sales certainly have increased, which is a scary thought. It’s difficult heading into a year where the only thing certain is uncertainty itself and that we are indeed on the cusp of a shift. I would say we need to be prepared, but how do you prepare for the unknown? Buy more guns? I can’t lie, they make you feel safe, but they don’t protect you in every situation (like say nuclear war, an alien invasion, or global warming). Buy more stock? Invest? Create more financial cushion? Perhaps. My response to the threat of the unknown (particularly when that unknown seems to be of evil or dangerous origin), is to connect. Connecting to others improves my hope in humanity. I feel that together we are stronger and can change those things that are unjust and fight evil. Collectively, unified we the people are stronger. When we allow ourselves to come together as one race, it delivers a blow that leaves hate on the ropes and clinging to consciousness, desperate for the bell to ring, like Nunes had Rousey (I’m sorry that was easy). In addition, connecting to the universe helps me realize and hold on to the notion that everything happens for a reason and in the end, it will be as it should. Getting to the end, or what the end actually means is the conundrum that gives me pause. My hope for 2017 is to simply be better. And I think that is all we can do as individuals here on this beautifully flawed rotating rock, take each day as it comes and be better than we were the day before. 
Peace and blessings!