Roller Coaster

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It was the mid 90’s, driving to school; moms bumping 95.9. Anita Baker, Sade, Temptations, Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston, and countless other R&B and Soul artist fills the void with the art of story telling. My first tapes, Salt n Peppa and Tevin Campbell, for my parents anniversary- Tony Toni Tone “Anniversary” played on the record player while they entered the house and were greeted with dinner under “candle light.” My first crush; we connected on Musiq Soulchild and Carl Thomas. The Chevelle and Ludacris would feed my emotions when driving on the road. Floetry would later confirm what I already knew to be true. Sadly, Keri Hilton would give me subtle hints that I was heading in the right direction. H.E.R and Alina Baraz would give hope that life’s greatest goal could possibly land in my lap. So, what am I saying? Am I talking about music and the journey it can take you through? Am I talking about affection? Or, am I speaking about both? My mom did always say I was living in a fairytale (Anita Baker).

Each of the artist specifically mentioned resonate most with me because of life’s events and the story behind them. Good and bad. But, that’s what is good about storytelling – music can do it if done right. It can make your life a melody. I mean, that is what songs are, “keys to life,” right? Something personal happened to someone, they sang about it, we related, and now, our instances are forevermore connected. “Poppa was a a rolling stone,” “Mr. Messed Up,” “Lie to Me,” “Make You Feel.”

There are a lot of things that happen that make you question life, friendships, real luv. An associate of mine said, “Don’t fall in luv with the face and body. Fall in luv with the spirit, heart, and character.” In reality when you meet someone for the first time, you fall in lust with their face and body (booty work, buddy, push it). You meet their representative. It’s not until a few “sessions” In do you get a glimpse of the their true identity (secret: catch them at an off moment, when they’re sick, had a bad day, you go out and they lose at a game you guys mutually chose to play (Outkast-Take off your cool) to see who they are) and hopefully their guard will come down, become “vulnerable” to the idea of a beautiful relationship (friends or maybe more), become vulnerable to the idea of luv. My motto, “Keep it real from the beginning. No pretenses.”

Oops I did it again. How did I get on the topic Loveeee, Love and Affection? I thought I was talking about music… “makes you lose control (Missy).” Ah! I was. They are synonymous so, it’s only right that I got confused and in turn confused you. Since we are here, Riddle me this: When did you first fall in luv… with music?

1-Luv

D

P.S. I hope during the time you read this, not only did you sing a long with some of my references but, also took a journey down your past, assess the music and life’s events that happened- good or bad and enjoyed my vague attempt of giving you a shimmer of my personal.

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Becoming Cultured

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As a society, we can sometimes become wrapped up in what is acceptable actions, religion, music, activities, etc according to our nationality. Not realizing, what makes us different and what another culture does can sometimes unify the different races. Over the last few weekends, the togetherness I have seen amongst those I have encountered at Comicon and Renaissance Festival have been a reassuring sign that there is still awesomeness amongst us.

Fantasy Does Exist!!!

I went to Comicon and immediately became overwhelmed by the hero’s, the cosplay, the artist who cater to our need to escape reality. I met legends, saw Vader (I wanted him to say ‘Luke, I am your father.’ but jumbled my words and could only say ‘LUKE!’), purchased pieces of art that expressed me. I was amongst my people – not “black people” but, my people, those who enjoy comics and movies and fantasy. The cool thing was, there was no shaming, no judgment of the color of your skin; it was meant to be fun and fun was had.

Then, I had my first experience at the Renaissance Festival. It was full of pirates, wenches, nymphs, fairies, and pride and guess what?!?! Again, the crowd was diverse. We came to enjoy the artist and be entertained. Again, I was amongst those who luved fantasy, the era of the Renaissance, amongst culture; I was amongst my people.

Look at Me Becoming Cultured!!!

So, what does this mean? Experience is what drives perspective, gives new outlooks on life. Being cultured is not just about learning the history of your race but also, being willing to learn things from other cultures. We don’t have to stick with only “black culture” because that’s the only thing we know or that’s the color our skin. As a society, you can’t grow that way and have a full understanding of what life is through just one set of eyes. Accepting differences, interacting with other communities is what makes the human race great. And for the first time, I finally understand it completely.

My challenge to anyone who reads this: just as you would go to the museums to experience pieces of history, read the required books while in school – don’t stop there. Find local festivals to attend, don’t be afraid to try something different because it’s not apart of your comfort zone, if your children speak to you about religion or other cultures, don’t dismiss them; rather encourage their inquisitive nature. You never know, you too may find something fascinating – I know I have.

Next stop…New York Comicon

Tryna Get Chose

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From movies, to songs, to our parents pressuring us to settle down, someone to spend the rest of our life with; it has been engrained in us to find luv. We often try to find luv in a hopeless place, attempt to complete a puzzle with missing pieces and when it doesn’t work, we curse luv, ask the Lord why He chooses to have luv elude us, sink in to a depressive state because of one failed relationship after another, we begin down the road of jealously of those who are in luv, all the while not understanding the real reason behind why relationships didn’t work…we never fell in luv with our lesson.

Finding Luv in a Hopeless Place

I met this dude who I thought was the yin to my yang. We would have conversations for hours about poetry, music, movies, “loose” philosophy, fiction to non fiction – I found my match. Every morning I would wake up to words of affection, during the day words of encouragement, and at night poetry to bed. I was in luv with the idea of being in luv; the idea of having met my soulmate or kindred spirit (whichever one you subscribe to) even though, in the back of my mind or should I say in the front of my mind, my intuition was telling me to let it go *sings in Frozen.* I tried to find alternative facts to provide answers to the questions I already knew the answers to.

Missing Puzzle Pieces

You reconnect with a guy from your past, you pick up right where you left off, the two of you still take interest in the same passions – you motivate each other to pursue their dreams. You talk about marriage and a future but, there’s a piece missing. You can’t put your finger on it but, you can feel its presence as if it was a dense fog holding the weather hostage or, maybe you didn’t notice it because you were wrapped up in euphoria of being with the familiar. Until one day, the missing puzzle piece is found; only this puzzle piece is missing a connector and as small as it may be, that missing puzzle piece does not make the puzzle complete.

The Curse of Luv

We end up blaming the person we fell in luv with, we curse them for making us feel luv’d and then taking it away from us – they took a piece of our soul, why? We try to analyze those around us who are finding luv – what do they have that we don’t have? How is it, I have made sense of my life and still “don’t deserve” to be in luv? Why do I even want to be in luv, it feels like it is nothing but heartache? Should I lower my standards?

Falling in Luv with Your Lesson

In reality we are the one’s to blame, to an extent. We meet someone, we here the voice/intuition/gut telling us he or she is not the one; we mistake it for our comfort zone being tested. We see all the possibilities, the potential – we plan our future with the person we are with before we allow any substance to be formed, to verify or denounce the little voice/intuition/gut. We never fall in luv with the lesson. Hence why repeat the same mistakes (relationships) over and over again. I can’t say what you are supposed to learn from your life’s lessons, I can only speak for myself. As much as the familiar feels sound or the guys shows signs of being the perfect fit for my life; listening to the inner me, paying attention to the signs, learning to be okay being single, not lessening my standards so I can be “happy,” and not giving up on Luv because it’s hard are signs of me falling in luv with my lessons.

Impression

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We search for acceptance from our friends, family, co workers, children, husband/boyfriends, the person walking down the street, the waiter at a restaurant, not realizing that an impression has already been made.  A person has already looked at you and assessed your actions based on their standards.  It’s not until one decides they want to know you that their initial impression ranges from dislike, content, and/or admiration.  Questions: “So why?,” “Why should you care?” and “What is the fix?”

So Why?

Why do we try to make an impression? Why do we care so much? Why? Why? Why? My five cents…we do it because we were conditioned this way.  Think of when you were a kid; before you left the house your parents would warn you not to “act a fool,”  “your actions are a reflection of this household,” they would say.  What about your first date?  The unwritten rule, “Don’t show him/her who you really are.  “Wait a few dates/months’ or the crazy one “until you are married and he’s trapped.”  You go on a job interview, wear certain clothes, you speak and conduct yourself in a manner that is so uncommon that you have to coach yourself days before the interview; then you get the job and the first few months you are on your best behavior and once you feel comfortable you become a little more relax.  Restaurants – same thing, there are even social etiquette classes on how to conduct yourself in a social setting; as we speak, there is a format on how to engage your audience when blogging – “Social Norms” we call them.

So…why should we care?

I have a coworker who wants a James Jean “Crayon Eater” tattoo, however, is hesitant because of the social stigma that blinds our creativity and individuality.  She’s not sure how she would be perceived.  In speaking with her, this is one of her favorite artist, his work describes perfectly what is in her head.  Why should she care?

My son, a young black boy growing up in a “free”  but racist, discriminant, world.  Why should I care? Especially when, as much as you try to ensure they speak /respect others, peoples hate can sometimes affect how they treat people of color.  Why should I care?

The Fix

If we were meant to be the same, we would all be the same color, height, weight, sex; we would speak a certain way, conduct ourselves as a “Collective.”  My response to my coworkers hesitancy about getting the tattoo, “Tattoos are extensions of art, an extension of you.  If this is something you luv, do it.  When you luv it, you don’t regret it.”  In her situation she should not care what others thinks.

Me, I am 7 of 9.  I was once part of a collective: I had to think, act, and dress a certain way until I realized there was a way to construct my social etiquette without losing sight of who I am.  As I mature, I realize there is a need to “instruct” others on how they conduct themselves.  Every action will have a reaction.  We as individuals choose how our first impressions to others will be and should accept the reactions given.

My son, I should care.  I want him to make an impression, his impression.  So, what do I do?  I explain to him what I have learned, show him what happens when he goes left, or goes right, I teach him to think for himself, I provide him with the good, the bad, the ugly; I explain to him my idea of life and what it’s about, and as he grows/matures I pray that his impression is a positive lasting impression.  I pray whatever path he chooses, he thought about it and accepts the journey he will take.

As long as we are aware of our actions, impressions though needed should be our own.

Un – Traditional Thanksgiving

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Over the last month, we went from “this isn’t real,” “this just happened,” “WTF,” “to Anger management and needing counseling,” and finally, reality setting in – what’s next (in regard to politics) and Oh! by the way…it’s Christmas!  Let’s rewind that last word; it’s Thanksgiving.  While mainstream media wants to “gloss” over Thanksgiving and go straight to Black Friday and Santa, I want to take it back to the good times. Back to when all of your family came under one roof and cooked, laughed, slept (itis kicked-in), and reminiscing took place.  I missed those days.

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Growing Up

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day my mom would begin the labor intensive preparation of making sure I didn’t eat all the cheese for the macaroni and cheese and let me lick the bowl the left over pie filling was in. She allowed me to help her prepare our Thanksgiving meal.  We didn’t have a traditional Thanksgiving meal we had an awesome one.  We had crab legs, shrimp, stuffed salmon, mac n cheese, ribs, greens, sweet potato pie and “itis.”  Thanksgiving Day, we would sit around the table and express our thanks, commune as a family, sleep, watch tv and repeat.  The Friday, Saturday, and Sunday after, we did not rush to the malls to buy Christmas presents rather, we continued our family time together and went to pick a Christmas Tree, hang decorations, decorate the tree, and watch movies.  Those were the good times.

Now

I have dinner with my family, some plot on which stores they will go to right after dinner and those who aren’t shopping either still sit and connect with the family or go back home.  Me, I go home and now that my son is old enough, he and I will do like my mom and dad did me, put up a Christmas Tree, hang decorations, sit and watch movies and enjoy the company of family.  This the one day out of the year where you would actually sit with family (which I intend to do) and now, it has become a day of spending money on “great deals” when most “great deals” are generally the day after Christmas.  I’m Just Saying.  Thanksgiving Day is not the same and I am blame Mainstream Media. 

What I am thankful for…

Now, in the spirit of things I would like to start back to how things were and where they should have started by being thankful for the blessings that happened to me throughout the year; reflecting on the good things.
I am thankful for staying “consistent” with my blog – I generally start something and when I get stuck (hit a barrier in creativity) I don’t go back to it for awhile.  So, I am proud of myself for my unrelenting determination.
I am thankful for my son who is challenging me to be a better me, mom, and a human being.
I am thankful for my wonderful Support Group who understands my struggle and helps out in any way they can.
I am thankful for each struggle that has come my way and I did not let it beat me, instead, I fought it and prevailed.
I am thankful that “Conscious Rap” is making a comeback.
…this is just to name a few
Thanksgiving was that one day where you were forced to be thankful, hence the name.  If we continue to lose sight of ourselves, our family, and our community, how will we ever unify and pay it forward to those who need help?  To help the next person we must work on ourselves, we must luv one another, we must stop and appreciate our blessing and through those blessings help someone else.  As I leave you with my wonderful past and my present and my thankfulness, I also ask you, “What are you thankful for?”

Single Black Female

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Being me is not easy.  I am supposed to speak a certain way, dress and date conservatively, wear my hair “traditionally,” and succumb to societal norms.  I am not defined by my actions and character but, my outer appearance or the tone of my voice.  I am told I have to work twice as hard as any other race.  And no matter how much I tried to concede to the provided standard, acceptance never chose me.  So…what do I do – I go back to the drawing board, the real me.

What did she say?

You go to school and taught to speak properly, annunciate your words and speak with diction and conviction.  Subjected to peer pressure, you defy what authority states you do and become creative with your words.

In 1999, Aaron Peckham created the Urban Dictionary for fun but, unbeknown to him, it became more than just fun; it became life.  In 2012 there were more than 6.3 million untraditional words defined – proving urban terminology carries as much weight verses the conventional way of speaking.  Proving vocabulary is meant to be colorful and explored.  I say “Good Morrow” or when asked how I am doing, I say, “Well” and mocked in return.

Which is it, do you want me to speak properly, speak with urban dialect, merge the two or…? I sure as hell don’t know.

What is she wearing?

I could never dress the way society would socially accept me because of the contour of my body.  I learned what best fit my figure and made it work for me.  However, if I wore a pencil or skater skirt, I was condemned or said as being too racy for the clothes I wore. “Oh! She’s trying to get a promotion.”  The only way I could get away with appearing professional was by wearing clothing twice my size and who wants to do that. The same with the African American female teacher in Atlanta, who wears bodycons to work with sweaters and is still chastised where as others wear body cons (no sweaters), mini skirts and see through shirts and they are viewed as professional.  Still confused.

Why does your hair look that way?

As I began to embrace the skin I am in, I also began to luv my hair in its natural state.  The versatility it yielded.  But I had to be different; it wasn’t enough to have natural hair, I also had to dye it red.  How dare I?  My cousin said one day, “My mom won’t allow me to dye my hair red because she said it is ratchet and ghetto.” Hmmm.   I guess I am ratchet though none of my actions exemplify it.

Then, I arrive to work one day after I changed the style and color of my hair and my coworker says, “Oh! Your hair is nice.  The color is more inviting/welcoming. (My current color is more of a natural “dark brown” color with burgundy/auburn highlights)” versus my fire-engine red hair.

Basically saying that I should succumb to the standards of society – blend in. However, Marc Jacobs can appropriate our culture of having all white females on the runway with locs because if “black females can appropriate their hair by straightening it then, why can’t I do the same.”  Oh! Aight.

Doesn’t she want to succeed?

If she wanted to succeed, she should listen and do what is asked of her.  “Sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture.  Do you your job.  No more, no less.” He said, “As long as you are providing steady income, what does it matter if you are right and they are wrong.” He exclaimed definitively.  “You will not elevate your success if you keep ‘bucking’ the system.”

Okay…

Well you know what?  “I reject your reality.”    I’ve tried fitting in and “keeping up with the Joneses.”  It failed.  I am not your ideal truth.  I am a black female, with curvy hips, natural hair, poetic speech, determined mind, and person who does not accept no as answer.  I grind, for what I want, I have conviction for right vs. wrong.  I may not always make the best decisions but, I try to a fault.  My hair is red, my skin is a beautiful chocolate brown, my accent has a hint of urban in it but, she speaks proper; this does not define me.  What defines me is my humble personality, my luv to help others, my thirst for knowledge, the want to make a change – a positive change, the need to laugh and in doing so, make others smile.  I am a single black female who is succeeding on her own terms.  It may not be the traditional way but…I am doing it my way (in my Sinatra voice).

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picture courtesy of Pinterest