When it all falls down

I started this blog two years ago with the thought that if I could be painfully honest,  I would get past the writing block that I suffered before I had even started.

Well it worked, and I started writing more freely, about topics that I wanted to talk about and about things that I wanted to say, in my own words.

It felt good, it felt refreshing, I felt alive.

I felt like I had finally found a voice, and a stance about things that I cared about.  I was stressed, but it pushed me to do things that I hadn’t even thought of and helped me to believe in myself .  In essence, I became more confident in myself and in my abilities.

But this past year I haven’t written hardly anything.  I kept wondering why i’m having a brain freeze.  It’s not because of a lack of issues to talk about.  I think of things to write everyday.  But I never follow through anymore.  I was trying to figure out what mental block was I suffering from that left me stagnant, as I talked over and over again about how i’m “starting over.”

Then I realized I still has some lingering issues that needed to be resolved.

Don’t you hate that? Here I was, thinking I was above it all, thinking that I had transcended.  But I hadn’t.  I was still stuck.

 

 

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Burying our black bodies in the age of Obama

I recently went home to celebrate my father’s 70th birthday. My son and daughter delighted in seeing their grandfather light up with excitement as they ran around him in circles. I felt a sense of nostalgia going home. It was the first time that I had brought my children to the city I used to call home, it was the first time that they were in my childhood home and it was the first time they were able to see various generations of my family in one spot.  I grew up in Rockford, Il. and extended family lived nearby in Chicago where the indictment of officer Jason Van Dyke took place last year for the shooting of LaQuan McDonald. I kept thinking about these various generations of family that were gathered together for my father’s birthday, there celebrating a joyous event, but over half of us could probably share stories of police misconduct, false arrests, mishandled cases and other similar stories. I’m sure half of us could point to a time where we were stopped and arrested by police arbitrarily. I’m sure we could all have our “police stories” to share. But we didn’t.

We were celebrating the fact that a black person lived more than 12 years like Tamir Rice, more than 16  years like Trayvon Martin, more than 18 years like Jordan Davis, more than 22 years like Sandra Bland.

We were celebrating the fact that we are more than our tragedies.

I have heard countless times what it means to raise black children. How hard it is to teach them how not to die in the presence of police officers. How to not look menacing or suspicious. I just have a hard time understanding how you can not look suspicious if the color of your skin is the very reason to draw suspicion in the first place.

As a mother, I can teach my children everything about life that I know and understand. I can show them a quality of life that can make them understand and appreciate life. But how do I teach them how to be defensive against police at the same time that I’m teaching them to trust them?

My heart hurts regarding the gun violence against black people at the hands of police officers.  As a mother, I truly fear the racial climate I’m raising my children in.  I understand as an educated black person where my privilege ends and begins.  I also understand how far my hands reach at protecting my children from harm.  And that makes me fearful.

Make no mistake, this is not a new phenomenon. The stereotype of black people being mistrustful of officers is not a new trend just like kale and collard greens are not a “new trend”
To look for solutions would mean you would have to look at the origins. I am a person who like to look at the root and its health before I venture to see if the problem is the stalk, the branch or the leaf. If the root is unhealthy, the outer tree remains unhealthy too.

Hello

I love my friends.

New and old, I never tire of developing the kinds of connections with people that can’t be replaced by even the best movie, or idle laptop time, or whatever.  Lately I have been thinking about this more and more and I have been neglecting this blog because I have continually made the excuse that ” I have nothing to say” (which is false). In truth, I had a lot to say, and even the time to write it. But I haven’t been “feeling like it”.  You know how you get when a friend calls you up to get together, and they pick a date and time, and the closer it gets to that date, the less you want to go?  Not for any reason other than “I don’t feel like it”.  Well that was me in regards to this blog.

I wrote a lot last year because I was going through a lot, and had a lot to say.  Mommyhood was weighing on me, workerhood was weighing on me, and it was too much to process.  I like to think I take things in stride, but that was a type of stress that I don’t ever want to have again.  So in a sense, this blog was a stress reliever, a way to get out frustrations that I couldn’t process in real life.

But lately, I have had the space, time and emotional clearance to get together with friends on a regular basis instead of write in solitude.  So the other day I met up with one of my best friends.  It was one of those cathartic, emotionally charged conversations where she pulls stuff out of me and by the end of it, we were both talking about how we will always “have each others back”.  I don’t quite know how it got there, but with best friends all topics are fair game and I usually don’t shy away from exposing myself to people I am really close to.

Which got me to thinking.  More and more, I’m coming to understand that I develop a love with friends that I don’t necessarily have with loved ones.  Not better or worse, just different.  Think about it.  People always say that friends are deliberate, family isn’t.  It’s true that with family, you can’t pick getting out of being a part of someones family.  You could technically “divorce” your parents and become “estranged” from relatives but you don’t choose to love them, it just happens because they are your caretakers.  I think about my role as “mom” to my son and daughter and am constantly reminded that my love for them is displayed in the way that I nurture them and the acts of service that I do for them which is why they in turn love me back.  Unless you want to turn uber spiritual on me however, this isn’t my son or daughter picking me out of a line-up of possible parents.  This isn’t going out on several playdates to see if we “match”.

With good friends, you get to know them, the love for them develops over time.  It’s a slow simmer, an acceptance of the complete person whereby, no matter what they do good or bad, your place in their world as their friend never changes.  It can and does end sometimes and it’s always heartbreaking to see, but when it lasts, it can also contribute to the best part of you.

Writing Again Pt. 1

I recently went to go see an old professor of mine to bury a hatchet.

I felt like I was constantly at war with my film professor.  He never validated anything that I wrote, produced, directed, filmed, edited.   I remember the first time I submitted a script to him, he took two seconds to look at it and threw it back at my face to say that it was garbage.  After I picked up my pages off the floor in front of the entire class, I sat in silence for the rest of the class.  After class was over, I went and cried in a bathroom stall.  It was the worst.  I remember him heavily critiquing any performance I directed.  People would come up to me after class and note my directing skills, my ability to pick a cast who meshed with each other, likeable characters and the ability to get the actors to “really go there” with their performance.

All he could do was question my abilities as a director.

He was a thorn in my spine and I couldn’t shake him.  He saw my confidence in my abilities and made it his mission to chip away at it.  The tension got so high that eventually I filed a formal complaint with the University regarding his behavior toward me.

By the end of my schooling, I was officially burnt out.  I knew before I ended my last class that I would never film anything again.  People often asked me after I finished to help them out with their film projects and I always declined.  So when I went to see my old professor to help him out with his project, my first thought  was that he was genuinely happy to see me.  It was a pleasant surprise and set the tone for a conversation that essentially reset our relationship.

So i’m attempting to reset.

If you haven’t noticed, I had taken a small break from writing.  It wasn’t on purpose, as there were a multitude of subjects (my son’s first year of school, me getting arrested…i’ll tell that story later) that I could have talked about.  I’ve tried to open up the page to start, but nothing seemed to stick.  I could never fully flesh out an issue or topic thoroughly to really post about it because I had this nagging thorn in my side that was 2014 that kept begging to be talked about.  So i’ll just begin again with my thoughts.  That’s how I started the first blog post on here, and I think it’ll serve me well if I just let you know how i’m really feeling.

Last year I had a lot to talk about.

My personal life was at war with my professional life and it was a mess, a pure mess.  I had opinions and I needed a release, especially since my need to retain some normalcy with my children generated negative attitudes at work.  It didn’t help that I developed coping mechanisms that weren’t helpful (no kittens were harmed in the process) which didn’t get resolved until just recently.

But by the end of the year, I was emotionally burnt out.

But it’s hard to talk about what doesn’t work in your life, and it’s especially hard to type it out.  You don’t know how many times i’ve revised these last two paragraphs in order for me to be okay with letting the world see that my world was a bit messy last year.  So again, i’ll release the shackles that prevent me from writing to give you the truth.  And it hurts a little bit.

But in order to go forward, dealing with the past is a necessity.  So I will continuously strive to walk in truth.

The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change

It’s amazing what happens when you accept change.

In 2010, I decided to cut my straight, shoulder length hair all off.  Friends and family were both surprised and shocked.  I’ve grown it out since my initial “big chop” but I essentially wear it in the same curly fro all the time.  So when I recently decided to straighten it because it badly needed a trim, I received praise for the new look.  My change in appearance feels almost like the last bastion of change for what last year meant.

Because my 2014 was a pretty remarkable year.

I embarked on a writing journey filled with fear, doubt, hope and determination.  I’ve always been a writer and I’ve always kept a journal, but I never wanted anyone to see what I wrote about.  I was too scared for anyone to know that place where the confidence facade fades and where my true self lives.  That place where I sometimes wish I was a teenager then realize the awful time I had in high school.  That place where people now look to me for advice and I feel like i’m not good enough or smart enough for whatever they are looking for.  That place where I look in the mirror and can feel pretty and unpretty in the same breath.  I often hide behind those thoughts because I often care more about what other people will think of me versus what I truly want to say.

So in 2014 I decided to let my thoughts live in print.  I’m a very private person.  I like people, I like being around people, I even like meeting new people, but I usually don’t tell my life story to everyone I know or meet.  In fact, it might take a probe or two or three to get me to even open up.  So for me to talk about feelings and thoughts and all the mushy stuff I would expect to talk about with a therapist? Kill me now.

I’m glad I did though.

Because it made me look at a lot of things in my life that needed to change.  It made me open up about those thoughts that hide in the back of my mind.  It made me live in a way that I haven’t in a long time.  Did I make mistakes? Of course.  I’ll continue to do so.  I ruffled a lot of feathers in the process as well.   But I began to look at myself as a person who had a voice that other people wanted to hear.  All because I opened up about life.

It also smoothed a lot of bumps in my life.

If my life journey could have been displayed in a chart, it was definitely on a downturn last year.  People talk about having work life balance.  Mine was completely out of whack.  I felt like I had no time all of the time.  It wasn’t true, but whenever I feel like my life is in constant motion I stress. Last year was a year of constant motion.  The stress was high and the ball was moving too fast for me.  I honestly don’t even know how I kept this blog going.

I was also scared of change.

Some of my greatest life events happened because I decided to step out of myself and take a chance.  So I’ve been perplexed at my general reluctance to dramatically change my life in these recent years.  I’ve often wondered why I felt like I needed extreme stability.  I have taken risks in the past knowing that they produce the greatest rewards, so why was I unwilling to take risks now?  Were my motherly instincts craving stability?  Did I need to feel like things needed to stay the same in order to feel like my life made sense amidst the chaos?  Whatever the reason, I learned that the only thing that is constant is change and I need to accept and embrace it.

Now that things have settled down in my personal and professional life, I can’t wait for what’s in store for 2015.  It’s just begun and already I feel like this year is on an upturn.  I’ve removed a lot of the stressors and I feel free.  So here’s to a new year filled with constant change.

What really matters in life: A Life lesson from Jessie Spano and Claire Huxtable

Lately I have been feeling a little down. Not in the “woe is me” sort of way, but in a “how did I get myself into this” sort of way. I’ve been feeling unlike my self and as a result, a lot of things I have wanted to write about just aren’t finished because I haven’t given them the complete thought that they need.

Which brings me to Jessie Spano.

I don’t know if you all will remember that Saved By the Bell episode, but it is etched in my head like a microchip was inserted. Elizabeth Berkeley captured a moment I have been feeling for the past few months.

In trying to show my dedication to my work life, I have felt like my home life has suffered. No I haven’t felt. I KNOW my home life has suffered as a result. Missed Dr.’s appointments, kids being late to school or being picked up late, arriving home late so I don’t have time for my husband and overall spending zero time with my kids are all things that have happened over these last few months. Like Jessie in that Saved by the Bell episode, I keep feeling like “There isn’t enough time”. I never have enough time for any of the things that interest me outside of work. I’m not talking about selfishly galavanting around town (although that would do wonders for my inner being right now) I’m talking about spending quality time with the people I love most in the world. Even though I like what I do professionally, to me family and friends are what make your life, not what you do. This is also what makes me a little sad. Because I know I can’t get these moments with family and friends back. If I don’t keep in touch with friends on a regular basis, they go on with their lives and close friends all of a sudden become distant, no matter how many drunk nights, close secrets and clothes you have shared. As we get older, those relationships need to be maintained, not forgotten about.

My time with family definitely can’t be recreated. Did you ever see the movie Click?

This movie made me cry at the end. AN ADAM SANDLER MOVIE MADE ME CRY. Let’s just think about that for a moment. The point being, I love my kids. I don’t want to fast forward through their existence only to find children I don’t recognize anymore and children that don’t know me. That’s not how I grew up and it’s not how I envisioned my life as a parent to be.

So why am I referencing Saved By the Bell and The Cosby Show in the same blog post? Because they were my existence growing up, that’s why.  I don’t really need a reason other than they were two of the best shows on air as a kid.  That I would reference both in the same blog post is like a dream come true. Sorry, I digress.

The enviable and unattainable Claire Huxtable, that’s why.

Searching-For-Clair-Huxtable-vol1-1267153396

She was the supermom we all aim to be.  Claire was and still is regarded by many as the epitome of womanhood.  A strong feminist, a lovely and doting wife, a supportive and caring but firm mother, She was everything. But trying to be her will kill us.

In my idealistic nature, I remember my mother as the doting parent.  She was the person who dropped us off and picked us up from school. The person who attended all of our school theatrical performances, attended all of our athletic sports games, was part of the PTA, and even accompanied us on numerous field trips.  She was the person who helped us out with homework, talked about bullies and did our hair.

But guess what?  She was also the person who fed us TV dinners for months on end, who took us to her university classes at night so she could get her degree, and gave us Gheri curls because it made it easier to do our hair.  Those pictures are in a guarded safe and will NEVER come out.

But real moments like those that showed Claire as not being picture perfect were never aired on the Cosby show.  The kids showed up and showed out from time to time, but never Claire. Why?  Because Claire ALWAYS had time. If she didn’t, Cliff was right there to pick up the pieces.  What happens when your Cliff or Claire fails to pick up those pieces?

I’ll tell you what happens.  Resentment. Disappointment. Feeling like a Failure.

She was a black woman who was a partner at a New York law firm back in the 80’s.  I’m sorry, but if anyone knows of any black women lawyers who were partners and worked in NY back in the 80’s who had ample time to raise and impart knowledge on her 5 well adjusted children, then I will erase this blog and everything I said in it.  But if you don’t, then that would make this read by Mychal Denzel Smith at least interesting.  I don’t believe we need to kill her as Brittney Cooper suggests, but we need to give the real life Claire’s some REAL slack at work and at home.  Parents aren’t perfect, they are far from it. But damn if we aren’t doing the best we can.  When work life and home life both demand you give your everything, something will inevitably fail.  Which is why Claire as a character made for great TV, but in real life, she can never be attained.

Let me set the record straight.  I’m not trying to set low expectations for how people see themselves or how people want to be seen.  I’m saying, in the real world, the expectations you have of your career woman who has 5 children and who has ample time to devote to raising, caring, spending time and nurturing those 5 children will be quickly shattered because it’s not humanly possible to be both.  Something will fall.  There have been ample publications that suggest this.  Trying to live up to what Claire embodied sometimes makes me want to have a Jessie Spano freak out from time to time.  Do you want your wife to have a Jessie Spano freak out because she’s trying to be Claire and “Do it all”? No.  So it might be a worthy read to ingest differing opinions on how we view this mythical Cosby Show goddess and adjust our own beliefs as partners and parents about what we can and cannot do in life.

Family is very important to me.  So if that means I might have to re-adjust my own inner Claire to tame down the Jessie. So be it.