Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Threat, the FBI, and Tammi

Dear Bloggers,

To me, I believe that humility is being able to place your pride aside and being able to help others, regardless of how you feel. I also believe that humility is a great indicator of what true friendship is.

My freshman year of college, I met a girl who became my best friend. Tammi and I always hung out together, and our sophomore year, we decided to be roommates. We figured that we would have a blast, and it would be a great transition for us. However, we didn't exactly make a good fit as dorm roommates.

Tammi is very neat, and focused. Whereas I'm a bit of a slob, and I need distraction to help me stay on track. Tammi I did have a lot of fun with each other that year, but we also found ourselves arguing alot as well.

The day after a particularly horrible fight, while walking home from class I called my sister to see how she was doing. I only got her voicemail. Resolved to use my cell phone minutes one way or another, I called my home to see what new was going on. My mother answered the phone frantic.


I stopped in the middle of the street, and traffic started to come. cars started honking at me, and drivers started yelling. A guy dragged me out the middle of the street as I looked stunned. I stood in front of my dorm, with my cell phone still in my hand and didn't know what to do. Horrible thoughts ran through my head: "Is she dead?! Is THAT why she didn't answer her phone?! What type of situation is this? Can I get to her school somehow? Should I call the school?"

I continued to call my sister, and kept on getting her voicemail. With each unanswered phone call, my heart sank a little bit lower, and I cried a little bit harder.

After walking aimlessly around my campus (because sitting around made me feel as if I was about to jump out of my skin), I ran into a friend. Like I was hypnotized I quickly explained my sister situation and kept on walking. Within five minutes, my cell phone was ringing, and I looked and it was Tammi. I answered my phone with a myriad of emotions running through me. I was still upset from the argument the night before, but I really needed one of my best friends.

"Kendra, where are you?"

"I'm at the Union."

"I'll be there in three minutes."

Two and a half minutes later, Tammi found me, and gave me a huge hug. The night before, we both said things that truly hurt each other, however, when Tammi heard what I was going through, she immediately put our argument aside and found me.

The gun threat turned out to be a hoax, but in the midst of the terrible tempest of emotion, I learned how much of an amazing friend Tammi is. Tammi and I still best friends, and we've had good luck being apartment roommates later on. But, I will forever be indebted to Tammi for showing me what a true friend is. Her amazing show of selflessness, in a time that I needed someone the most, cemented our friendship and taught me the true meaning of humility.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Running for Humility

Dear Bloggers,

What would you consider to be your greatest test of success? For some, it's having that title of being number one. Others would consider that having genuine joy is their greatest feat of entitlement. But for some, I've realized that their greatest call to success is being able to beat someone else.

Now, I'm not speaking in the sense of competing in a race and winning, or being picked for a job over a list of other candidates. I'm talking about specifically picking a person and making it a goal to beat them.

I was watching an old episode of "Ren and Stimpy" where Stimpy had a fan club and began receiving letters telling him how he was their favorite, and they hated Ren. ("What is he, some type of mosquito?")

For Ren to deal with his feelings of inadequacy, he decided to become Stimpy's Fan Club President. However, that just impacted his feelings, and almost drove him to insanity (and murder... should I have been allowed to watch this as a child...?)

This made me think of instances in my own life where I was put in a position of being around someone who made me feel insecure, or vice versa. I remember staying up late in college looking for obscure quotes from anyone, Nietzsche, Marx, Shakespeare, John Lennon, Bugs Bunny, just to one up this guy who would smugly answer every question the professor said with: "Well, as Robert Frost said..."

I remember in high school girls telling me how they were going to get hair extensions and "it's going to be so much longer than your's." I'm sorry, but when did we start competing? Can I at least stretch first?

It wasn't until I realized that the time I spent to one up certain people in my life, could be used for so many other important things. I decided that instead of seeing this person as a threat, to see them as inspiration to better myself. When I made that decision, I was able to focus more on where I needed improvement. In class, I focused more on what the teacher said, and my own obscure and "deep" quotes and comparisons came much more naturally.

So to you, dear readers, you will always find someone who could challenge your position as top dog in one aspect of your life. However, if you focus more on encouraging yourself, instead of trying to beat the person next to you, you could still win the race your running.

Humility, it's like Gatorade, but for the soul.


Monday, September 7, 2009

The Heart of Humility

Dear Bloggers,

Happy Labor Day, and welcome back!! I thank you all very much for having a lot of patience with me while my relationship with my blog teetered due to work. I truly appreciate it, and I thank ALL of you who decided to give me another chance!! To show you just how much I appreciate you all coming back, I’ve brought you something, A NEW TOPIC!!

I moved back home, and finally got a job in publishing. However, with this move came the fact that I had to resubmit myself to the law of my parents. Having my job, and feeling as if I was a grown woman was always fleeting whenever I had to ask my parents for rides to places (because I’m saving up for a car… and a studio apartment in New York City… whichever one comes first is fine with me).

The transition living back home has been admittedly difficult, due to the fact that I feel as if my parents treat me as if I was still in high school, rather than the college graduated, Corporate America working vixen I have become. I was very used to living in a world that whenever I wanted to go somewhere I could, and didn’t have to explain where I was going, who I was going with, how did I know this person, how long was I planning on being out, and why did my head just explode? This has caused tension between my parents and myself, so whenever there’s an opportunity to leave the house, I jump on it like a grasshopper.

This weekend, my friend Jocelyn and I decided to go to a street wide celebration in St. Louis. My alma mater (University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign) played the Missou Tigers. Jocelyn and I decided to go, at the last minute. While she lives very close to where the celebrating was going down, I had to vie for a ride from my father to take me to the metrolink station.

When my father dropped me off, he made note of a man standing in front of the station, and told me to watch out for him. After rolling my eyes and feeling frustrated that my father doubts my abilities to take care of myself, I got out the car. My father then proceeded to speed off, to catch a tennis match that he was late for. The moment I stepped towards the station to buy my ticket, the mysterious man mumbled something at me: “Ma’am… please call for an ambulance, I think I might be having a heart attack.”

“WHAT?!” I immediately looked back to where my father’s car used to be, and I realized that he was long gone. Time was critical and I needed to do something to help save his life, so I did the only thing I could think of. I asked stupid questions. “What’s the number for an ambulance?!”


“Oh, yeah…”

I called 9-1-1, and proceeded to answer all of the questions for the man, and then after getting very overwhelmed, I just handed him my cell phone, and proceeded to look aimlessly while he described his history of having a bad heart to the 9-1-1 operator. I frantically looked for an ambulance, and listened for a siren that I was sure to come, but never did while I was there.

After he gave me back my phone, and the operator hung up on me, I stood stunned. I looked at the man expectantly. Was his heart going to jump from his throat? Was I supposed to stay there with him? Should I elevate his feet? Should I give him ice chips? Where in the CRAP do I get ice chips at a metrolink station?!!

After a few awkward seconds, I guess the man got tired of me staring at him like he was in a sideshow at a carnival, and politely told me to go away (“Ma’am… I don’t need you anymore. Thank you for helping me, but you can go ahead and catch your train.”)

As I waited for my train to come, I couldn’t help but think about my first reaction, to have my father save the day. I immediately realized that I wasn’t as adult as I thought I was. A strong sense of humility covered me like a wet blanket, and I began to feel as if I was a little girl again.

Humility can be a tough thing to handle, especially when you’ve convinced yourself that you already know all the answers. However, on the other hand, humility could be something to help liberate you from your ignorance and enhance your growing abilities. Regardless, you’re never too young, or too old (like I painfully realized) to receive a lesson that humbles you. When that lesson comes, will you be a willing student? This week, LET’S DISCUSS!!


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

When Good Birds Go Bad

Dear Bloggers,

I once heard that there are three sides to every story; one person’s perspective, the second person’s, and the truth. Now readers, how many times have you been sitting around, had a friend come into the same area that you were in and give you the silent treatment? Confused, you confront them, and they say: “You know what you did!!” When rethinking about the situation, you remember your friend being in the wrong, not you. Then, YOU get defensive and begin to get upset. You’re poor mutual friends don’t know which way to go, because both of you have very legitimate reasons for your anger. But, there seems to be something that’s missing, an integral part of the story that makes each side stick together to reveal that it was all a big error.

I’ve had this happen to me many times in my life, but I’m going to share the most ridiculous one. It was all a big misunderstanding, but they didn’t want to listen to reason…

One morning during the summer going into my freshman year of college I was awoken by the beautiful sounds of a bird singing on my window ledge. Feeling extremely blessed that this bird picked my windowsill, I woke up feeling refreshed and happy. I felt even more uplifted when her husband joined her the next day or so, and they started building a nest on my ledge. As I witnessed their eggs appear in the nest, I felt as if I was a distant family member with this bird family.

One afternoon, there was a horrible storm, and the next morning, I found that the bird’s nest was no longer outside my window. Feeling a little sad that the storm took the birds away, I discounted it and returned to my passion of watching television. However, the birds came back…

The birds began attacking me and my family, and actually holding us hostage whenever we tried to leave (*opening the garage door, and seeing one of the bird’s shadow hopping in front of the door, just waiting…*). They began diving after us, and they actually CHASED ME down the street!! I could see why they were so upset, but they couldn’t comprehend that the storm was the reason for their abortion, not me.

Right when my family and I thought that we would be prisoners in our house for the rest of the summer, the birds committed suicide!! SERIOUSLY!! Those kamikaze birds did a straight nose dive into the ground, breaking their own necks.

Now, due to the wrong misperception of that bird family, I can’t stand any birds now… unless their cooked on my plate.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Diving In

Dear Bloggers,

There are very few things that scare me. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not totally fearless, and I’m easily startled (my fight or flight reflexes are constantly on alert). But there are two things that seriously causes me extreme anxiety and the thought can bring me to tears.

The first thing is DEEP water. When I was in seventh grade I took swimming lessons, and while trying to learn to do a dive, I started drowning. If you thought that that was the end of my drowning escapades, then you would be wrong. I almost drowned a total of five times. Due to those moments, I have an extreme fear of deep water. So, I stay in the shallow end of pools, lakes, and oceans.

The second thing is dating. Now, I’ve never had this fear before, but after my last relationship (which ended with me having an eating disorder and going to therapy), I’ve also found myself staying in the shallow end of the dating pool as well. But, it’s not only that relationship, but the molestation I dealt with when I was younger, or a HORRIBLE thing an “ex” did to me after we broke up (he was the first person I told about being molested, so when we broke up, he not only told everyone in his class, he also told me that I was “a slut, and that’s why you got molested”). Then, on top of all of that, I’ve witnessed people close to me have their significant others cheat on them, or beat them, or viciously verbally abuse them.

Now, whenever I feel myself becoming attracted to a guy, I feel myself experiencing panic attacks and second guessing everything. There’s a fear of “what type of dudes do I attract?” “What if it’s worse than before?” “What if I can’t get out?”

I stand out on the docks of the lake and life while my friends try to encourage me, with promises of: “This time it’ll be different. Just jump in, and you’ll be fine” However, that fear leaves me paralyzed, wanting to trust them, but still unsure of what diving in would mean for me.

Just like the beautiful HUMONGOUS lake that finalizes the scenery around my job, I look at it and dating with a combination of desire and fear. The desire of wanting to jump in, experience those blissful first days of getting to know someone. Spending time with someone and realizing all the interesting things you have in common. Swimming in those feelings of first attraction and succumbing to the waves of realization that you’re not just physically attracted to this person, but you’re attracted to their personality as well. Kicking through the tumultuous times, and overcoming the ebb to realize that not only you, but your bond is strong than it was when you first started.

Everyday, while I walk to the office, I look at the water, a sense of longing in my eyes, thinking that one day, I will conquer my fear. One day, I’ll be able to let those past incidents be just that, past incidents that doesn’t necessarily dictate my future. In the same sense, I have the same hopes of dating. One day, I’ll be able to dive in, not only in the water, but in love, with the trust that the water/ my boyfriend will catch me, comfort me, soothe those fears, and reassure me that this time, I won’t go under. Until then, I’ll work on moving from the shallow end.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

S-U-C-C-E-S-S Spells Fear

Dear Bloggers,

Success seems to be the ultimate landmark for many, the ulitmate form of immortality. But for some, even though they crave success, they also fear it. With the ultimate contradiction of human nature, many people sit on talents, and great ideas in fear of "What if it ACTUALLY works?"

My buddies, I have to admit, I sometimes have this fear too. I find myself hesitating, on ideas (it took me months to even start this blog, because of fear of no one reading it, or worse, EVERYONE reading it) or people (making new friends, or dating). There's a never ending paradox that runs through my head sometimes of "What ifs."

"What if I fail? Will people be expecting it? Will people look down on me? What if I'm not as good as I thought I was? What if he hurts me? What if I hurt him?"

Then, my questions of: "What if it DOES work out? Could I handle all of it?" This constant form of questioning put me in the mindset of Sisyphus. Constantly rolling a boulder up a hill, just so it can roll back down again.

I'm beginning to get to the point where I see how ridiculous constantly rolling a boulder up the same hill is, and I decided that I was going to roll it past the precipice. Do I still have the fear of failing AND succeeding? OF COURSE!! But now, my fear is being immobile. Stuck like Atlas, carrying the worries of my world on my shoulders.

Well readers, instead of being immobilized by my fear, I started to become empowered by it. My hope is that you can all do the same.


Monday, June 15, 2009

A Deer In Headlights

Dear Bloggers,

This week’s discussions will be on fear and the resulting emotional and physical paralysis that comes along with it. Now, Bloggers, fear affects others differently. When I was younger, on my family’s weekly movie night we watched “Child’s Play.” Everyone else found it hilarious, but me, I almost wet my pants while watching it. After that, I was positive that Chuckie was hiding in the bathroom, which lent itself to some actual pants wetting action. I couldn’t use the toilet until I looked behind the shower curtain, under the cabinets, in the back of the toilet, everywhere.

Even though I’m no longer afraid of Chucky, due to the habit of my fear, I can’t use the bathroom until I look behind the shower curtain. That’s one of the crazy things about fear, even when you overcome your fear, sometimes you develop habits due to them, and those habits are sometimes hard to break. Whether it’s looking behind a shower curtain before your cheeks can hit the seat, or avoiding letting someone of a different race on an empty elevator with you, fear can cause you to develop those idiosyncrasies that can affect your life.

Fear isn’t always over miniscule things (like an animatronics-activated sociopathic doll). Many times, our fears are based off of our own horrible personal experiences that couldn’t come from the imaginations of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, or Edgar Allen Poe. Those fears are logical; indulging in them could cause a person to freeze in a time they should be jumping in action.

Like a deer caught in headlights, it is not only a split decision for the driver, but for the deer as well. Driving on highways, the sidelines are littered with deer that were too afraid to keep moving. Dear readers, it’s easy to let our fear consume us. It’s easy to become immobile when the time requires us to behave like our favorite action stars. However, I encourage you to not let your fear allow you to miss out on the amazing opportunities that life brings your way. Even when YOU stop moving, the world doesn’t.

This week, let’s discuss!!


Friday, June 12, 2009

Do as I Condemn, Not As I Do

Dear Bloggers,

We’ve talked a lot about the normal views of maturity, but there’s another form of immaturity that I would like to talk about. Even though I’m giving a Christian perspective on it, it truly is something that I personally believe is true for ALL religions, or lack thereof.

Many people ask me, why is it that I went through so many tumultuous events in life, but still seem to have a smile permanently attached to my face? Well, when I was younger, I became a Christian. For me, it truly did help me out in life. I no longer felt depressed, or angry.

The joy I felt was something so tangible, and I NEVER felt anything like it before in my life, and I began to become EXTREMELY excited, and EXTREMELY dedicated to spread the Word. I became a mini-Evangelist, and went around with my Bible, and tried to talk to my peers, teachers, and even principal about Jesus. The only problem is, when people expressed a dislike for my beliefs, or didn’t want it crammed down their throats like I was trying to do, I would begin to condemn them.

“Well, if you don’t believe in Jesus, you’re going to Hell!!” Instead of fighting with my tiny fists, I began to fight with the Word of God. I truly thought I was winning the “Good Fight,” but little did I know that not only was I losing it, but I was losing possible recruits due to my own actions.

When I reached high school, I became worse. I would walk around my campus, and would observe all the “lost sheep.” People would enter class on Monday mornings and would laugh about their drunken escapades, and as I glanced at my “won’t have sex until marriage” promise ring, all I could think was: “I’m soo glad I’m not like that.” My other Christian rhetoric quoting friends felt the same way, and I actually felt pity for my classmates.

It wasn’t until I reached college that I got the RUDEST awakening. I realized that the only reason why I never really participated in the rambunctious actions of my peers was because I didn’t have the opportunity to. My parents, being the extremely protective people that they are, would not let us hang out with people that they didn’t personally know. Not only did my parents have to know my friends, but they had to know their parents. So, if I came home on Friday night asking to go to a party at Joe Somebody’s house, the answer was immediately “No!!” It was easy holding on to my purity pledge because right after school I had band practice, and immediately headed home where my mother was waiting with a barrage of questions. It was easy to seem like a good girl, because I never had a true opportunity to be a “bad” one.

It wasn’t until I took my promise ring off and had sex that I realized how flawed everyone is. The next morning, I felt horrible. Not only because I broke my vow, or the fact that I was the one who truly pursued breaking it, but because I had now felt like I was the same as the people that I condemned. Then when I decided to straighten my game up, I went to hang out with a friend at her campus for Spring Break and got drunk at the age of 19. WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO ME?! Then, when I was SURE I was going to get back on track, I ended up having sex with my NEXT boyfriend.

By this time, not only did I feel uncomfortable at church, but felt uncomfortable just saying my blessing before eating my dinner. I was the same person who I condemned in high school, but in my eyes I was worse. I KNEW that I shouldn’t have been doing the things that I was doing, but I did them regardless!!

It wasn’t until someone called me out and asked me how could I call myself a Christian and still do the things I was doing that I had an “a-ha!” moment. I realized how unfair it was to expect perfection from others, and then have the nerve to expect people to have grace for me whenever I messed up. While in college, I was able to become extremely humble, and realized that NO ONE is perfect. I also realized that I have NO Heaven or Hell to throw ANYONE in, and anytime I want to point out someone else’s imperfections, I’m reminded of my own.

As a Christian, I acknowledge that I’m a flawed individual, and everyone else is too. The same things that EVERYONE struggles with, I struggle with as well. It’s hard for me to not want to go to a bar and get completely plastered, then when I do, I do struggle with condemnation.

The same thing is true for all religions. There are many times when you want to be the best representation of your religion, and sometimes that might cause you to condemn others for not following as rigorously as you are. Or, you could be an atheist, who will point out other’s flaws, or the times they fall in their religion. Both ways are signs of immaturity. You will never be perfect, and just because you accept a religion doesn’t’ mean that it erases the fact that you’re human, and you ARE going to occasionally fall. If you do not want people to expect perfection from you, then do not expect it from others.

As I try to work on myself, I’ve made a new pledge. I pledged that I would never judge anyone due to their past, present, or future. As I’ve moved forward with my maturity in Christ, I still have my moments of Christian immaturity (doing things I KNOW I have no business doing). However, I’ve matured since my first finger pointing days. Now, the only person I’m pointing a finger at is me.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Behind Old Eyes

Dear Bloggers,

One of my duties at my new job entails going to stores, picking things up, returning things, and so on. Yesterday I was asked to make a trip to Walmart and return some cake pans. While standing in the Customer Service line I saw a pregnant woman sitting down. Sitting next to her was a woman who looked very similar to her, so I assumed that she was her sister. Sitting on her “sister’s” lap was a little girl. The two sisters talked, and when I looked over, I saw that the sister with the “daughter” sitting on her lap had bruises on her face. A few of her teeth were missing, and her black eye encompassed most of her face. Her daughter caught me staring, and looked at me. The similarities in facial features and bruises were incredible, and within those sad brown eyes, stared the eyes of an old soul.

I wanted to walk over, hug the little girl, and let her know in eyes just as old as her’s that things would be better. The desire to offer the promises from another hurt soul to a jubilant future, despite a dolorous present or past.

Childhood is expected to be a time of carefree zealousness. The only time in life that you can be ignorant, and not only is it expected of you, but it’s encouraged. But what happens when that time is torn from you. You’re forced to grow up faster than even you expected, and your ignorance is replaced by the injustices of the world around you? How do you go back to what’s expected of you, and would that even be possible?

As I made my return, and left from the Customer Service area, I offered a small wave, and a smile. It might not have been a lot, but the girl smiled and waved back. Deep within those tiny brown eyes of her’s held the soul of an old woman, eyes that mirrored mine. As I left all I could hope for her was a better future that would help erase the bruises from her past. I know that the pain would probably never leave her, and within those beautiful sad brown eyes, a part of her childhood would be gone, but hopefully she could take those missing pieces and create a beautiful future.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Parental Guidance

Dear Bloggers,

A wise woman once told me: "It's hard raising good parents." I thought the quote was so poignant, and was a testament to the trials and growing pains that both child and parent deal with simultaneously.

When you're younger, your parents seem to know everything. They have an answer for all your questions ("Why do I have to wear this coat? Why can't I play in the street? Where do babies come from?"), and their authority reigns supreme.

But, when you get older, and hit that teenage stage, you slowly begin to realize that they don't know everything. They can't explain to you why your boyfriend/girlfriend left you. They don't know how long your acne will last, and they have difficulty explaining some of those intimate things (that menstruation talk was BRUTAL!!).

For some people, this is when they begin to lose respect for their parents. People I knew in high school would say comments about how their parents were such hypocrites and how everything was "do as I say, not as I do." More people lost respect for their parents for the fact that their mothers or fathers just wouldn't admit whenever they were wrong.

It got me thinking about maturity, and the struggles a child has while trying to mature her parents, and vice versa. No one will ever truly know all the answers, and no one truly likes being culpable of their own mistakes. However, the moment you begin to realize that you're parents are growing the same time that you are, it'll make your ascent into maturity a lot smoother.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Why Me?

Dear Bloggers,

There are any things that can categorize a person into being a "good friend." Many people would say things like: "they're always there for you," "let's you borrow their car," (my friends aren't THAT good), "good emotional support." Well, dear readers, I think there is something a little bit more important that constitutes a good friend.

My definition of a good friend is someone who loves you when you're unlovable. Let's face it, a lot of us (well, not me, of course, I'm perfect, baby!!) aren't always happy, dancing people. We get angry, dolorous, and extremely pissy on a daily basis.

Now, a good friend is a person who can take us in ALL of our faults, and still make the decision to stay with us.

It amazes me sometimes when I think about my friends. As you all have read, I've dealt with a lot of things in the past, and sometimes those issues have caused me to not be the best Kendra I possibly can. When other people, family members, frienemies, even myself, pushed me over to the side, I was always amazed that my friends always stuck it through.

When I wanted to give up on myself, my true friends never let me fall. My hope to you, dear readers, is that you're as lucky!!


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Spitting Distance

Dear Bloggers,

What type of person would you consider to be naive? Would you consider a small child, whose trying to deal with the bad decisions of others by trying to make her world a better place? A person who separates herself from her family and tries to create her own by making a new family with friendship. Is she naive? YES!!

Like I've said before, it took me years to deal overcome the hurt that was put on me by some family members. Because I thought in my small, child-like mind that no one in my family could be trusted, that left me without a support system. So, at that time, I tried to create my own family with friendships. The problem was, some of those "friends" were open enemies, I was just too naive to accept it.

A group of girls who did not like my sisters and I came up to me one day on my front lawn. My sisters were in the house, and they always warned me against the girls. I figured that out of the two groups, I would trust these girls over my sisters. They asked me where my sisters where. When I told them they were inside, they then all took hand fulls of ranch flavored sunflower seeds. They asked me if I wanted any, and I jumped up from our stairs to get some. The wind blew through my pigtails and I put my hand out to receive these seeds that I thought were so symbolic of a blossoming friendship. Then...

They SPIT THE SUNFLOWER SEEDS IN MY FACE!!!!!! .....Yeah, I'm gonna let you read that one again.

I stood there stunned, as they ran away. It was as if all I was frozen in surprise. All of the sound became muted. I could no longer hear the wind rustling the leaves of the trees. I could feel my legs itch due to my dry skin. The only thing I could feel was the sunflower seeds and saliva sliding off my face.

I felt sickened, and very embarrassed, thinking that no matter what I would do in life, I would never find a group of people that I trusted.

As I've gotten older, I've gotten tougher, and less naive. I've learned that not everyone can be trusted, and not everyone is looking to hurt me. I have a group of friends and family that I finally have trust, and love with. Even when we're physically apart, they always feel like they're a spit distance away.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Flying on the Wings of Friendship

Dear Bloggers,

This week's post will be about meeting new people, friendships, and frienemies. This weekend I moved to work at a new office for the summer in Minnesota (I'm hoping to run into Prince while I'm here). While driving the 16 hour drive, my boss reassured me that I would have no problems getting along with the other members of my office.

Now, honestly, I've never been too worried about making friends. Being a naturally gregarious person, my friendships come very easily. But every now and then, I'll be flying on my wings of friendship, and then suddenly the extreme heat of the Frienemie Sun would melt my wax. Then, like the tragic Icarus, I come crashing.

I could never truly understand the concept of frienemies, and why people continue to associate with someone that they do not care for. It just seems natural to distance yourself from the things that make you cringe, or makes you look negatively at yourself. For some reason, humans will stay "friends" with someone who is batantly trying to bring them down, or hurt them.

For the next couple of days I'll be meeting new people, and solidifying my wings with feathers and wax, in hopes of leaving Minnesota with a few new friendships. Sometimes, all you can do is take flight and hope for the best.


Friday, May 29, 2009

My Last Chance, to Lose You

Dear Bloggers,

As optimistic as I am, there are times when I have no choice but to be realistic. Like the time I was training for a triathlon. As much running and biking I was doing, it wouldn’t matter, because I can’t swim. Granted, my body looked SICK while training, but if I couldn’t swim, I couldn’t participate.

The same thing is applicable for relationships. The person you’re with could be extremely nice, attractive, but if you do not have chemistry, or that chemistry has left, sometimes you need to cut your losses.

Now the problem comes in when you TRY to leave, but the person refuses. I was watching “Snapped” yesterday, and on one episode a man tried to break up with his girlfriend, but she kept on appearing butt naked in his house. You know, it’s kinda hard to break up with someone you keep on sleeping with, but maybe that’s just me. Another episode showed a man trying to divorce his wife, but she drug him back in with lies of having cancer, shaving her head, and offering to pay for his prostitutes. You know, it’s kinda hard to break up with someone when they’re financing your prostitute addiction. Sometimes, you wonder, why won’t you just let me go?!

But in the same instance, why won’t we just leave? For some people, leaving is a lot harder; due to mental or emotional abuse in a relationship, but what about the rest us?

One day in group [therapy] I came in upset. My ex, who was that extra shove into my eating disorder, contacted me. Now, it wouldn’t have been that much of an issue, if I didn’t tell him before that I no longer wanted to communicate with him. (Me: “I think we should cut all ties of communication.” Him: “Okay, I understand.”) Apparently, he didn’t understand, because he was contacting me AGAIN!!

We ended up talking on the phone, and it was a very pleasant phone conversation, but I was still uncomfortable talking with him. He made comments about meeting up and going to dinner, and all I could think was: “Do you REALLY think I’ll feel comfortable EATING in front of you?! After EVERYTHING?! REALLY???!!!!” But, I just became quiet and did something that I heard of guys doing. I just stopped calling and answering the phone.

But, alas, I’m a person with a heart, and sent him a message apologizing for being so rude and abrupt with cutting him off. I explained that I felt uncomfortable and the important people in my life who knew about his destructive force backed me on my decision. So, for those reason, I had to cut communication ties again.

I thought that that would be the end. But NO!! It OPENED the doors for communication AGAIN!!! I sat there while I read his message back to me asking if I had finally received a cell phone so we could talk again, and I immediately felt as if I emotionally just participated in that triathlon. I just felt exhausted and sunk into my chair, feeling like no matter what I tried to do, he was going to keep on coming back. Until… I got a STROKE of genius!!!

Yesterday’s blog I addressed an ex who constantly kept tabs on me, but didn’t want me asking him any questions. Well, this was the same ex. I decided that I had to “play this like a grown girl ought to” and SCARE HIM AWAY!! I sent him a Facebook message describing the things I’ve said before, with how uncomfortable talking to him made me and how my feelings of insecurity would come back. Then, dear readers, I just let out a STREAM of QUESTIONS!! Most of those questions didn’t even MAKE SENSE!! I asked him why me? Why was he re-contacting me? Did he contact any of his other ex girlfriends? Yada, question, yada.

Did I care about the answers to these random questions? NO!! All I knew was, he HATED being asked questions, and the more questions I asked him, the better!! To be completely honest, I had to stop myself from asking the obscure questions I wanted (What’s the meaning to life? If a tree falls in the woods…? Where do babies come from?) because I knew he would have caught on.

But oh, in that moment, I wasn’t just “Jordan, fourth quarter in ’92,” I was also Pippen, Armstrong, Rodman, AND Phil Jackson!! I was the WHOLE freakin’ team!!

I laughed hysterically when I checked my messages the next day and saw I got a message from him. “I think we need to cut all ties of communication.”

Yeah, fool, I think so too!!


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Like a Boy... and a Girl

Dear Bloggers,

Beyond the kissing, hugging,… intimate fondling in a relationship, there’s the underlining issue of control. For some reason, with many couples there is a power struggle. It’s not bad enough that you deal with power struggles in school (trying to one up that Marx-quoting-know-it-all-punk that sits right next to you), at your job (shiesty coworkers), or just walking around outside (conniving women and insecure men trying to bring you down), but you have to deal with it in relationships as well.

You come home from a negative, competitive atmosphere, and you expect to be greeted at the door with a kiss, the remote control, and no worries. However, you’re greeted with double standards and bogus expectations. Now, I’m not saying that this is true for ALL relationships (like I’ve said before, there are some good, and GENUINE relationships), just addressing those double standards that comes in SOME relationships.

Now fellas, have you ever found yourself running late to meet your woman at a restaurant, and you find her sitting at the bar? You try to go to her but she’s surrounded by at least two men, buying her drinks, and she’s flying her head back while she over exaggerates her laugh, and gives the men coy touches on their arms? But, when you get your table and the waitress comes, you find her attractive and end up doing a double look at her, your girl’s ready to set the restaurant on fire and ring the alarm?

Women, have you ever dated someone who wanted to know EVERYTHING about you? Wanted you to give him a schedule about anytime you did ANYTHING? From seeing your friends, to going to toilet? But the MOMENT you ask him ANYHING, he immediately flies off the handle yelling things like: “STOP NAGGING ME?!” (“Ummm… fool, I just wanted to know if you wanted to meet for dinner tonight or not….”)

Things like this are other reasons that makes me shy away from relationships. These two above examples are things that have happened to a guy friend of mine, and me. What is up with the double standards, people?!

I had a boyfriend who wanted to break up with me because he found someone better for him, but instead of just SAYING that, he used the excuse of: “Well, I don’t like the fact that your best friend is a guy.” But, when I reminded him that HIS best friend was a girl, he started stuttering.

But not to seem like a total male basher, so, like always, I’ll put myself on blast. I was dating this guy, and for our first date we were going to my favorite restaurant. When he came to pick me up, he was EXTREMELY agitated. He had a horrible day at work, and really wanted to just head home, but he knew I was looking forward to dinner.

We walked to the bus stop, while I talked a mile a minute about the wonders of the world; he just stared at me like he wanted me to shut up. So, I finally did. We get on the bus, and we’re not talking, when a guy friend of mine taps me on my shoulder. He was an English grad student, and sort of like a mentor for me. The same grad school I was thinking about going to, he went, and at the time I was studying for my GRE. We got engrossed in conversation about favorite authors, dream vacations, and foreign language studies. I kept on trying to invite my ex into the conversation, but he just shook his head and looked out the window.

I realized then my guy was feeling like I was openly flirting in front of him, because as a woman, it’s more acceptable. If he would have done the same thing, he would have been considered a dog, but since I was a woman, I was just considered overly friendly (which I am, and NO I was NOT flirting). I never realized that type of double standard until my guy told me… then to get back at me went to a party and did God-knows-what. Either way, the relationship was established by a double standard, and ended through the frustrations of them.

I think that a lot of relationship issues could be absolved by just being more empathetic. You hear these songs about how would it feel like if a girl acted like a boy, and how some men want women to buy them things and “trade places” with them, so these feelings are unfounded. Everyone can relate to having extremely high expectations brought on them, and feel the pressure of double standards.

But, whatever, I can talk to whoever I want to on the bus now!!


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The 2, 3, 4 Theory

Dear Bloggers,

To be completely honest, today’s post was going to be COMPLETELY different. I got half-way through, stopped, and decided to revamp. What caused this sudden change of topic, you might ask? It occurred to me while watching “Black Men Revealed” this morning that “attraction” is a more poignant topic than what I originally had planned.

Well, the topic today on “Black Men Revealed” was: ‘We’ve Got Issues Too.’ On this great episode they talked about their insecurities, and how they feel that certain things led to their downfall with women. Some of the men expressed that they probably wouldn’t be desirable if they didn’t have certain cars, with certain rims, or money in general.

Listening to the panel reminded me of a conversation I had with my friend Wayne in college. While philosophizing at the cafeteria table, Wayne expressed a theory called: “The 2, 3, 4 Phenomenon.” He explained that the 2, 3, 4 theory is conducive to college campuses, and it emphasizes women’s attraction to men. The theory dictates: “to get a woman in college, you need to have at least one of these things: 2-numbers on a jersey, 3-Greek letters, or 4-wheels on a car.”

When he first said this, my girls and I immediately howled at how wrong he was, but he then began to name names of guys on our campus that honestly, probably wouldn’t have gotten much play if they didn’t fall under the category of the 2, 3, or 4.

Years later, I had an epiphany about the theory, and couldn’t wait to tell my NEW theory to disprove the “2, 3, 4.” I realized that it’s not about having certain things, but the main thing that attracts women is CONFIDENCE.

It seems like, for men sometimes, that if they are lacking in fiscal amenities, then their confidence begins to drag. If a man has confidence, it doesn’t matter what he has, he’s somehow intriguing, and may I say… attractive. So, having his name on the back of a jersey, the closeness of a brotherhood, or a new ride will cause a man to have a little bit more of a sway in his step, and hold his head a little higher than normal.

One summer while working at Busch Stadium, one of my workers started talking to me. It turned out that we went to the same high school, but I honestly never realized that he existed. We started talking, and realized that we went to elementary school together. After talking, he reveals to me that he FLUNKED KINDERGARTEN (how in the CRAP do you flunk kindergarten?! Couldn’t get the nap schedule down?!), had a POLICE RECORD (“I can’t really travel, until I get approval from my parole officer), had a CHILD, and a CRAZY baby momma!!

After hearing all of this, I was mentally planning my escape, when he smiled at me, and with a confidence I’ve never seen from a man, asked me out. It was as if having that confidence just over-rid ALL of the things that he said to me!! How was it that a college student was about to go out on a date with an ex-con who graduated from high school when he was 20?! That confidence, or lack of an overused word, that SWAGGER, drew me in.

Not only did it draw me in, but it would have me overlook all the negative things during our [EXTREMELY] short time dating. He would stand me up for dates, and when I would go to talk to him, that bizarre confidence that he had just kept me coming back!! It was like a drug, and I was jonesing for it!! Tony didn’t have a 2, he DEFINITELY didn’t have a 3, and he BARELY had a 4, but because of his C-O-N-F-I-D-E-N-C-E, it kept this addict coming back for more.

So let it be known, men. You do not have to have to drive yourself to the poor house to catch a woman. You don’t even need to drive, honestly. If you have an amazing personality, the ability to make her laugh, and those 10 letters, you can get a woman for a date… maybe even two.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I Know What You Want

Dear Bloggers,

Do you know what saying really aggravates me? The “I’m not the average girl” quote, just hearing girls say that makes my skin crawl. Why, you might ask? Because it lends itself to the bigger question of: What is the average girl? Does her room look like “Build-A-Bear” vomited in it? Do her outfits usually contain multiple versions of the color pink? Has she been planning her wedding since she was seven years old? Is her main goal in life is to fall in love and have children? Is she void of intellectual thought, and can only talk about fashion and makeup?

The reason why this “average girl” saying bugs me is because it seems to reinforce how men see women. It seems as though guys think that every girl has this insanely loud biological clock that’s ticking, and the only thing that’s on her mind is falling in love, getting married and having children. Every single guy I’ve dated has made a comment about what they THOUGHT I wanted, when it was completely opposite than my true desires.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are those… girls… that seem to want to fall in love so bad. She spends her time watching those nauseating romantic comedies (“Forget Paris,” and “When Harry Met Sally” are not included, those movies are AMAZING), and hope to have a relationship just like the protagonists in those movies. However, I would think that these movie-recreators make up a small population of women. But still, why do they seem to be the landmark that men measure ALL women to?

I have two sisters that are married. My sister’s husband, Watson, is known among people as the “King of Cake.” (For those not familiar with the colloquialism of “Cake” it is an expression that signifies when a man and a woman are showing affection for each other.) Watson and Kelli express their love anywhere they possibly can, and especially in the realm of Facebook. One year, a couple of Watson’s friends and myself were trash talking Watson about his Cake status while my boyfriend walked into my room. Asking me why I was laughing, I explained to him about my awesome comment to Watson and being such a cheeseball. My ex looked at me, rubbed my hair, and said: “It’s funny when people make fun of other people when it’s something that they secretly want.”

“Ummm… excuse me?!” He just walked away with a smug grin on his face as if he had pinpointed my deepest desires. No matter how my actions proved that that type of open affection made me uncomfortable, it didn’t matter. According to my ex “that’s what ALL girls want.” When in actuality, all I wanted HIM to do is start picking up the bill sometimes when we went to dinner, not propose!!

So to you, wonderful readers, every woman does not have a wedding dress hiding in her closet, or has her perfect ring picked out. Not every woman’s biological clock is ticking, and honestly, I don’t even know if I HAVE a clock. But what I do have is a lack of tolerance for having this “average girl” status put on me and other women.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Infatuation Fatigues

Dear Bloggers,

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!! While you wake up this morning, start your bar-b-que, go to parades, and visit the grave sites of the amazingly brave men and women who fight for our country, please remember to celebrate AMERICA!! But, don’t discount yourself too much, you’re just as brave, and just because you don’t have your own pair of fatigues with your last name embroidered on them doesn’t mean you haven’t fought your own share of battles.

This week’s discussions will be on relationships. Getting into them, falling in love (which I’ve never done before, but I’m still optimistic), the double standards, and finally getting out. Not to sound like an R&B song, but for those who have good relationships, please make sure you cherish the person you’re with, you don’t realize how lucky you truly are.

For me, I have a small aversion to relationships. It started years ago when someone close to my family molested me. Now, please, don’t feel sad, I’m 23 years old, and I’ve had 18 years to deal with it. It took some time (kept it a secret from certain people for years), but I’m fine now. However, this incident in my past has shaped how I deal with men.

I have NO problem being friends with the opposite sex. As a matter of fact, when I meet a guy, I don’t think of our potential romantic union, I think: “HEY!! A NEW FRIEND!!” The problem comes in when the guy shows interest in me that immediately makes my guards go up, and makes me wonder about his intentions. Is this a joke? Are you going to hurt me? Will I have to go to more therapy because of this? Am I prepared to accept the ramifications when this will eventually end? Is it normal that you like romantic comedies?!

Then to make matters worse, if it’s someone I really like, I can’t talk to him. It’s as if he’s an eclipse, and I can’t look in his direction. In fact, I can’t even acknowledge him, it’s better if he doesn’t even exist. It takes me around a year and a half to finally acknowledge him, and sometimes, the opportunity for the relationship has past. But, for those men who were willing to stick it out that year and a half ignoring basis, he earns a stripe on his fatigue. Good patience, soldier!!

But, here’s my main issue, I’m a little commitment phobic, so I don’t date for YEARS. Honestly, people, I LOVE being single!! There’s no one hounding me about where I’m going, who I’m with. No one to veto my outfit, or have me to ask permission to talk on the phone. No petty arguments…. Hmmmm… let me marinate on that fact for a minute…. No. Petty. Arguments…. Yeah… that’s nice….

It’s just me, hanging out with my friends, just loving life. But every now and then, I do enter into a relationship union, but not until all my baggage is gone. For some reason, call me considerate, but I can’t date someone if I’m still struggling with something else, I find that it’s not fair to my counterpart. Too bad that’s not the norm in relationships, but I tend to earn my stripes on my uniforms by dealing with my exes’ baggage.

Well, while I’ve become a Lieutenant in the relationship’s army, I couldn’t have moved up in ranking if it wasn’t for all the battles I fought. So, to you, cadet, soldier, MP, retiree, reservist, even if a relationship has left you feeling like an amputee, doesn’t mean that you can’t recover. Those battles scars are reminders to a past filled with amazing up, and hurtful downs. However, take those scars as learning lessons. You got one for going too fast? Slow down next time. No matter what it is, those bruises will subside, and those scars can be landmarks for what you want to change for the next time.

Unless you avoid the draft by becoming a priest, nun, eunuch, or monk, you’re going to be in the war anyway. So, why not have fun discussing it, am I right?! You BET I am!!


Friday, May 22, 2009

Hey There, Red Sheep!!

Dear Bloggers,

I mentioned last post that my [immediate] family would never do anything to purposely hurt me, with that being said, it doesn’t mean that certain family members haven’t. I love my family, and the same way how I do not want people to expect me to be perfect, I acknowledge my family’s flaws and love them regardless. But for years, when I was younger, I did whatever I could to separate myself from them.

I wasn’t always the happy go-get-‘em girl most of you know. While I was younger, I dealt with a lot of depression that stemmed from certain injustices that I personally encountered or witnessed. Some of these things will be shared in later posts, while others will probably be between me and the ones who were unfortunate to share these incidents with me.

Things like my skin tone (I’m the darkest one out of all my sisters), intellect (my sisters received good grades in all their classes, while the only classes I truly excelled in were English ones; thus my major), and speech impediment made me feel insignificant in comparison to them, and furthered the gap between us.

In elementary school, I wasn’t allowed to play with most of my friends, because they were boys, and the boys and girls had to be separate. So, sometimes during recess, when I would begin to feel depressed I would sit by the gates and watch people play. One day a guy walked past, and engaged me in conversation. For the next few days, we would meet, with the playground’s fence being our barricade and we would talk. He must have picked up on my loneliness and offered a new family setting to me. The only thing was, I couldn’t wear certain colors, and I would have to learn how to secretly sell crack without being detected. Yes, readers, I was offered a spot into the elite family environment of gang members. All I had to do was meet at an abandoned house in the middle of the night, and I would be in!!

The only problem was that by this time, my family and I moved out of East St. Louis, and I couldn’t find a way to get to the abandoned paradise where all of my loneliness problems would be solved by a few black eyes, and rapes. Later on, I would meet more and more gang members. They would come to the school campus to meet their possible new acolyte, and try to figure out how they could get me to the house for my initiation. However, due to the eagle eye of my mother, and my sisters and I sharing a room at the time, proved to be a roadblock. We finally found a time, and I was excited to finally be accepted into a family that hadn’t scarred me for so many years.

It wasn’t until the true consequences of what my joining this institution would cause me. I had dreams of being a great writer. Were prison walls an appropriate canvas for talent? I had dreams of travelling around the world, not from state penitentiary to state penitentiary. I wanted to be accepted by my family, but realized that I was blaming them for the injustices brought on me by others.

After announcing my decision to change my mind I got harassed for a few months, but at that point, I was fine, and no longer felt a fear of wearing the wrong colors. I decided that instead of working on a COMPLETELY convoluted plan to meet up with a bunch of guys who go shopping for potentials at elementary school playgrounds, I decided to work on my relationship with my family instead. It took years to get over many things, and to finally be able to trust certain people, but the work was well worth it. My family might unintentionally hurt me, but I’ll rather be the black sheep of my family than a red one any day.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fussin' Cousins

Dear Bloggers,

What do you typically do to toxic people in your life? If you’re like me, you cut them off. I don’t know about you, but I can make myself feel bad without anyone else’s help, I’m just saying… But what do you do when these people are related to you? When you feel that no matter how many things you accomplish in your life, it’s never good enough? When the whole world applauds you, your family seems to boo you, or at least wish that you’d trip on your way to receive your reward?

I love my immediate family, and no matter what they do, I could never cut them out of my life (seeing that my family would never do anything with the purposeful intent on hurting me), but Lord have I tried to cut out those toxic aunts, uncles and cousins. But, no matter how I try to get away from them, they come back, just like that stray cat in that creepy song (“The cat came back, he wouldn’t go away. The cat came back, the very next day!!” That song always scared me for some reason…)

I have aunts and uncles that would act elitist and condescending to me and my sisters. (“What do you have to be so snobby about?! Your expensive liquor?!”) There were aunts that would always try to downgrade our accomplishments and one up them with their own children’s or grandchildren’s (“Well, you just graduated from college? Well, ______ just bought a new car AND discovered the cure for AIDS!!” “You want to be a writer? Well, ______ just penned the great American Novel and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize AND a Grammy!!” “You’re sick? Well, _____ just got bit by a vampire, and every night she transforms into a bat and flies away. Last night she bit a cow, and now has mad cow disease!!”) WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?!

But if you think their parents are bad…

I had a cousin who moved to Champaign, to get out of East St. Louis. I was happy, and offered to do anything to help him get his life on the right track. However, he was content on bringing his foolishness from southern Illinois to MY college campus, and drug my name through the mud along with him.

He regaled people on his tales of drug totting, grenade tossing, gun shooting LIES, and within the same breath constantly claimed me as his cousin and accomplice!! I would walk into a library, and have a group of people call me over to ask if the stories were true. They looked disappointed when I told the truth about a man that caused so much fear in people’s heart who used to be afraid of my ventriloquist dummy (“WHERE would he buy grenades from? An Army surplus store? And you say you’re a Ph. D Candidate? …I’m just asking…”)

After he purposely ruined my reputation with lies to a weak minded aunt, I finally had enough. Taking him to dinner, and talking to him, I explained that he had to stop the foolishness. Or at least stop telling people I supplied him machine guns and machetes (“A machete? What’s that? Some type of taco??”).

I would hear my friends tell stories of toxic people in their lives, and the horrendous things they would do, and I would feel a little sad that I could put a family member’s face on each of the stories. It gets to a point in time that you have to accept your family for how they are. A psychology study I learned in one of my old classes has shown that by the age of four, the personality that people have is basically how they’ll behave for the rest of their lives. There’s nothing you can do, except accept it. Well, I accepted my ignorant aunts, my condescending uncles, and my delusions-of-grandeur having cousins. When can they finally accept me?


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Oh Brothers, Where Art Thou?

Dear Bloggers,

I feel as if I’ve been misleading you all. For past posts, I’ve mentioned my sisters, but I’ve never mentioned my brothers. I have two half brothers named *Jamie and *John.

My brothers are the sons of my father with a past girlfriend. Since my brothers have a different mothers from my sisters and myself, I never got a chance to really spend time with them. I feel like sometimes they were distant cousins rather than brothers. We lived in different households, and that caused a chasm in our relationship. Moving to Illinois furthered those rifts, but whenever I saw them I was always filled with such happiness and a small sense of reserve.

Reserve, not because I didn’t want to see them anymore, but because they where my brothers, yet to an extent, strangers. I had a desire to get closer to them, but fearful that we might get torn away.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten closer to sisters, but still have that child-like reserve towards my brothers. One day, I hope and pray that I could get to the point where I can call my brothers on a daily basis, the same way how I’m able to call my sisters. That one day, as three adults, my reserve could be gone and the familial bond can be tightened.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"I'm Not a Baby Anymore!!"

Dear Bloggers,

Sometimes, reality is a hard thing to accept, but no matter how long you try to live in denial sooner or later, you have to accept the truth.

Today is my baby sister Kayla’s graduation. For me, it’s an unreal day. I’m six years older than Kayla, so I’ve seen her in most of her walks in life. My sisters and I used to talk to my mother’s pregnant stomach while Kayla was incubating in there. We saw her as an infant, and she was my nemesis for years (stole my “baby” status and stole my thunder, it took me some years to get over that). I watched her take her first steps, and now I’m privileged to watch her take her first steps into adulthood.

However, whenever I look at Kayla, I don’t see a blooming adult, I still see a young toddler with “rosy cherubim-like cheeks” (my sister Kelli’s description), and sucking a pacifier.

But, Kayla has traded in her pacifier for make-up and multiple college acceptance letters. Still, I haven’t fully traded in my protective sense for reality I instead find myself shielding her from the cursing in some of my favorite movies (“NO!! You can’t watch Fight Club!! How old are you? 8?” “I’M 16!!”)

While I watch her start to get ready for a landmark in her life, I plan to work on a landmark for all older siblings and start trying to accept her for the wonderful person that she is now, not the child she used to be.


Monday, May 18, 2009

You are your Parents' Child

Dear Bloggers,

This week we'll be discussing family and the cold chill you feel when the first time you realize: "Wow... I AM just like my mother and/or father..." Or the time you realize that your baby brother/sister is no longer a baby, but an adult. Or what about those family members that make you want to skip those tedious reunions? We'll touch it all this week!!

Last weekend was Mother's Day, and what did Mother Nature bring my mother? A big, nasty basement flood. All of the crap...errr... I mean, antiques my mother has down there had the potential to be ruined, so it was up to me and my baby sister Kayla to try to salvage as much as we could. We lined the couches and tables ("Why do we have so many tables down here, it's not like we EAT down here...") with plastic, and began to flip chairs on top of them to get them out of the water. We moved lamps, and "antique" radios that didn't even WORK, because to my mother, "EVERY THING'S worth saving!!"

While picking up a speaker that went to a radio that moved from the house YEARS ago I began to have a flashback. Last summer, I was moving into my BEAUTIFUL/expensive apartment on campus for my last semester of summer classes. I called my cousin and two friends to help me move. After packing many of my things, my room and entire floor was covered in random sheets of paper and knick-knacks. My friend Torrey came up to help me, entered my room and got this look of surprise and disappointment when he realized that the "30 minute moving excursion" I falsely promised him was going to take HOURS. As patient as he is, he still helped me without complaining, and helped me pick up the crap... errrr... I mean knick-knacks and paper off my floor and put them into a random shopping bag I had, with the intent of taking them to my new place.

"Kendra," Torrey had just picked up a shoe that didn't have a mate off my floor. "I hate to say this, but I think you're sort of a pack-rat." The moment he said these words, my life flashed before my eyes. I saw my grandmother sitting down in her living room with things askew and a random tile lying on her hardwood floor, amiss all the other things. I saw my mother proudly put some "California Raisins" figurines on the desk in our office saying what a great find they were, and she would sell them on "Ebay" (five years later... enough said). Then, I saw me in my potential future, sitting in my living room as an old woman, hair a mess, glasses missing one arm and slipping down my face. My grand kids would come in, and look confused as to where to sit, because all of my crap....this time, I really mean crap.... was inhabiting all the chairs and couches. As they stood, I picked up a sheet of paper and explain: "Babes, this paper was stuck to the shoe of Barack Obama, ain't that something, babes?!"

I looked at Torrey, and gave him a huge hug. I grabbed my trash can and started dumping things in. I was visibly upset, not just for the fact that in the future I would no longer have my perfect 20/20 vision (which, to be honest, was already beginning to go now), but for the times I ridiculed my mother for keeping things that seemed so irrelevant. Now, here I am in the same boat!!

I was able to get rid of three bags filled with my "knick-knacks" and actually shortened my moving adventure. I promised myself that was a future I could not, WOULD NOT allow myself to have!!

While picking the speaker out of the water, I began to wonder if I was relapsing back into my pack-rat syndrome, and mentally made a list of things to throw away.

So to you, readers, no matter what family disposition you might have a potential of inheriting (addiction, abuse, or a lack to throw things away), the good news is: that does not have to be your future. For every locked window, there's a door, and the key to open my door was to throw away my random shoe (that I ended up finding the mate for in the back of my home closet). For all of you, I hope you can discover your keys as well!!


Friday, May 15, 2009

The Short Rebel

Dear Bloggers,

Every now and then I find myself extremely mentally fatigued due to being overly aware of how people see me. There’s an unbearable pressure I find people put on me to adhere to a type of perception they have.

The pressure started my first day of high school. When I first moved from Alabama, my family moved to East St. Louis. We lived there for a while and then moved to another town in southern Illinois. Even though we lived in a predominately White town, we continued to go to school in East St. Louis (from first grade until eighth grade).

Besides learning about reading, writing, and arithmetic we were also taught society’s perception. My teachers would sit us down, and explain to us that when we go outside the realms of East St. Louis, people are watching us. They expect us to be ignorant, but we had to prove them wrong. You could get in the same amount of trouble speaking “Ebonics” in class as well as being disruptive. I thought that my teachers were being too harsh, until my first day of high school.

Being at the predominately White school I didn’t necessarily feel out of place, but I did feel a need to prove myself. Most of the people in my high school went to elementary and middle school together, so they already knew each other. Because I was new people preceded me with caution. Then, when word got out that I was enrolled in East St. Louis schools prior to coming to my high school my first year I was treated as if I was deficient in intellect. The teachers would explain things to me slowly and loudly, and then look at me with a sense of sorrow as they imagined my life walking past dead bodies, dodging shootouts, and standing in line with my drug addicted single mother at the Welfare counter. People didn’t want to accept that my life was the complete opposite. I grew up in a two parent household that was upper middle class. No matter how many times I said it, my teachers and classmates thought I was trying to hide my shame.

Some of my White peers ACTUALLY expected me to know how to freestyle (“What, you don’t know how?!”), and teach them the “Black hand shake.” (“Ummm… WHAT HAND SHAKE?!”) Instead of being called my name I would be called: “K-Dawg,” and asked to “go off” on certain people (“like a Black girl does.”) Surprised looks came across some faces when I could not perform expectantly, explain that I’ve never been shot at, and “no, I did not know where Tupac is.”

Then, when I thought that I would find refuge in people of my own color I got the “You’re not Black enough” comment. Because I spoke properly, and refused to go with them to “hang out” in East St. on the weekends (Who does that?! On the weekends, people from East St. Louis come to MY neighborhood to hang out, go to the mall, and go to the movies). Comments would be shot my way, and then a look of surprise would come across their faces when I said something back at them (“You sound like a dude.” “Well, you look like one.”)

I was lucky enough to have a group of friends that didn’t hold me hostage to the bonds of stereotypes and accepted me for the person that I am; not how people would have liked me to behave. These people made my time in high school priceless, and I will be forever indebted to them.

But when I entered the realm of college, the color line seemed smudged and I didn’t have to try so hard to break people’s perception of me color- wise. But, I did have to deal with perceptions on my demeanor, my beliefs, and the way I look. I’m a happy person, but people tend to think that because I’m happy, I’m void of intellectual thoughts. Then, if I’m having a bad day, I would ACTUALLY have people come up to me and tell me that I shouldn’t frown or look angry, because people expect me to be happy (“Maybe I would be happier if you got out of my face.”)

I’m a Christian, and because of that people assumed that I am close minded and judgmental, when I’m the complete opposite (now I am). I cut off 16 inches of relaxed hair to be fully natural, and I find myself paranoid going on job interviews because studies have shown that people with straight hair are seen as more professional.

Sometimes I feel as though people expect me to put on Black face, smile obsessively, grab a slice of watermelon and tap dance next to a young Shirley Temple. If I do that, would I finally be able to be fully accepted? When can I finally get to be me? The girl who has imperfections, insecurities, and sometimes doesn’t have all the answers?

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I think I’m going to wash my face and retire my tap shoes…


Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Coke and the Mouse

Dear Bloggers,

Being aware of how you’re seen to the public can become a burden for some (I’ll explain this more tomorrow), but for others, it can be your ticket to freedom. Knowing how society sees you can give you opportunities to do things knowing that you have the agency to get away with it. There’s an autonomy I have as a woman I know men do not have, and there is a freedom that some of my White male friends have expressed to me that literally left me speechless.

I’m 5’3. At a young age, I knew that I would NEVER become a supermodel, due to my lack of height and large hips. I’m okay with this, but while in college I was given an opportunity to address my model pipe dream and finally satisfy my urge to walk on a runway accompanied with Gwen Stefani music playing. I tried out for a fashion show and made it.

During practice, if they were working on a skit I wasn’t a part of, I would engage the other people into conversation. A lot of the time it would be me in a group of predominately White guys talking and laughing. One night we were discussing what we find ourselves doing while bored. Some of the things were: going on Facebook for hours, having Dr. Pepper chugging contests (okay, that one was mine, but I’ve only participated in two chugging contests, okay?), and just walking around the campus aimlessly. With the topic of walking around campus, one of the guys tells us:

“Yeah!! One day, me and my frat bros were bored, so we decided to go for a walk around campus. We ended up seeing this dead mouse, and we wanted to see what the effects of cocaine would do on its insides. So, we opened the mouse, poured some coke in him and watched.”

I sat there stunned. There were so many things in that conversation that baffled me, so I started asking questions. “Coke, like Coca-Cola?! The soda? Or coke like Tony Montana’s coke?!”

Then, another guy in our group explained how him and some of his frat brothers did the same thing, but with ecstasy pills. My mouth is hanging wide open. I’m thinking in my head: “So… you just walk around with hard drugs on you? You aren’t even afraid that the police will randomly pat you down?!” My heart started pounding and I’m looking around paranoid, because I was SURE Johnny Depp, in his “21 Jump Street” garb was going to jump from the vents and arrest ME for just being around them.

Now, I’m sort of a square, I’ve never done any type of drugs in my life. Not saying this to make myself appear so pious, but for the fear that the ONE time I decide to experiment, that’s when the cops are going to be following me like Henry Hill in a helicopter and have a raid (“Goodfellas” reference).

Am I being completely paranoid? No. There were many times that walking from another dorm, or from the gym wearing my hoodie (on a campus were EVERYONE wears hoodies) a cop would stop me, ask for my ID, and ask me which way I’m going, while my White peers walked past without being questioned (or if they were, I never personally saw it).

I’m not too sure if my Fashion Show fellas were completely aware of the freedom that they had. I was in awe of the fact that they could walk around society with the liberty of knowing that being educated, upper class White males made them exempt from pointless police questionings, not being followed while going shopping, and going to a restaurant with the freedom of eating and THEN paying.

After practice my coke-wielding friend offered me a ride home, and I declined citing my love for riding the bus. When in reality, I just KNEW that him driving me in his beautiful red Mustang was going to be the day that he would get pulled over, searched, and we would get thrown in jail. He made it to his frat house without any problems. While walking from the bus stop to my dorm, I got asked for my ID…


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Missing Identity

Dear Bloggers,

Is there an advantage to losing your identity to be able to fit into the norm? To be accepted, or to make a persona for yourself that’s more popular? I personally do not see the advantage, because anytime I tried changing myself, I was always shunned. I learned years ago that being myself was the only way that I would be socially accepted.
It seems as though people do not like anything counterfeit. The same way how my father refuses to buy food that is not name brand (“IT’S NOT REAL FOOD!!”), people do not seem to take kindly to a person who has a missing, generic identity. Though this is true, there are many people who go out of their way to lose their identity in lew of trying to create a veneer to impress others, or to behave the way they believe they are portrayed. I once lost a friendship due to this same issue.

For years I was friends with a girl who had an AMAZING personality. Whenever I THINK about her personality, I smile because it brought not only me, but those who were blessed to know her so much joy. Seriously, this girl was GREAT!! The only problem was whenever she dated someone she would change her ENTIRE identity to fit his lifestyle. She dropped any and all individual interests and picked up his, even if his interests were things she has previously claimed she hated.

She once dated a guy from Texas, and EVERY time we drove in her car the radio was on COUNTRY MUSIC, even though two years early she would describe her hatred for country music (which was something that we bonded on). Dating a guy who’s in Rock music, we would go shopping to find her AC/DC shirts. Then, I would have to describe the certain music they, Poison, or Guns N Roses made (I told you, I have a VERY eclectic music taste). Wanna date a gothic boy? She wore nothing but black clothes, large amounts of eyeliner and refused to smile while they dated. She normally hated blue collar comedy, but with her new man decided to get tickets to see Larry the Cable Guy on stage!!

WHERE WAS MY FRIEND?! I would become so disappointed, and I would often find myself praying that she would find a boyfriend that gave her enough confidence to just be herself, the same person that attracted him to her in the first place. I would want to tell her this, but she was such a hothead that there was a possibility that an argument would ensue, and I didn’t want to take that chance. So, I (and anyone else who was associated with her) suffered in silence while we PRAYED that our friend was still alive, somewhere underneath the façade.

It wasn’t until she met someone who did not care for MY personality that things began to change for us. Though he and I never had a full conversation, he made a decision about the person I was, and I would find out that he would later say things to her about me. I remember asking her if she truly believed these things seeing that she knew me for over nine years, while he only knew me for around nine days. She looked confused at me and changed the subject.

I realized that our long running friendship was coming to an end. I saw my friend constantly lose herself to save a relationship, was I willing to do the same? No. That friendship was extremely important to me, and sometimes it makes me sad that I lost it. However, I become extremely overjoyed when I realized that I refused to lose myself.

So to you, dear readers, even if you’re imitating your favorite stars, or the most popular person around, the only person that is worth being is yourself.


Monday, May 11, 2009

A Lack of the Looking Glass Self

Dear Bloggers,

This week’s topic is about self-perception. The theory that my blog has its basis on is Dubois’ “Looking Glass Self” theory. This theory dictates that minorities tend to behave in the way that they are perceived; however, in my life, I realized that this theory is not just limited to minorities. I believe that all people have this sense of self-perception and behave in a manner that reinforces how society sees them. Some people have more freedom than others, while some (like myself) are too knowledgeable of how they’re viewed and is constantly nervous of how they are being perceived.

About a month ago I arrived back from visiting a friend in Chicago. I got off the bus, and walked over to the train to head back to my home town. While waiting on the platform a group of Black teenagers walked onto the same platform. Wearing their school uniforms, they began chasing and hitting one another. They were screaming, throwing “Sour Patch Kids” candies at each other, and the boys were hitting the girls in their faces while the girls giggled with excitement.

Besides the rambunctious teenagers, I was the only other Black on the platform. People of other races were looking petrified of all the action, while I just stood there looking annoyed. It seemed as though the teenagers were purposely trying to scare some of the people. They yelled things about how the town was named most dangerous city a year ago, and purposely hit viewers with their candy. The teenagers never approached me, and never got too close into my own personal bubble.

Their train came, and they continued their shenanigans while riding North Bound. The others on the platform looked relieved that they were gone, but still looked cautiously my way as if I was a ticking time bomb of ignorance waiting to happen. An adorable White family, wearing their Cardinal garb waited patiently for our South Bound train to arrive. Their cute son with his bowl hair cut still looked afraid and stared at me. He then looked at his father and said: “Daddy, do they ALL act like that?” The father nervously looked in my direction, and promptly escorted his family to the opposite end of the platform from where I was. The son kept looking in my direction, scared and nervous, while my frustration level grew.

I wasn’t frustrated with the little boy, or his squeamish family, or the other people on the platform. I was angry with my race. An endless stream of questions ran through my head that I still try to answer them on a daily basis. Is this REALLY how we’re portraying ourselves to others? Why is it considered BLACK to behave ignorantly? Is this some people’s normal behavior; or do they only behave in such a manner because they believe they are expected to?

This week, we’ll discuss this on not only a minority basis, but on a Caucasian basis as well. Is there a privilege that comes with knowing that your skin color makes you less culpable of things in society?

This week, let’s discuss!!