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!!


Friday, May 8, 2009

Won't You be My Neighbor?

Dear Bloggers,

There was a point in time that I believed the gap between the sexes was widened past my own understanding. Maybe men are the more sensible sex, and maybe women do tend to take more verbal low blows than their male counterparts? I began to believe the adage of “Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus.” It wasn’t until I looked at popular culture that I saw that not only do Black men and women live on the same planet, but we’re also next door neighbors. Living in a “neighborhood” that finds it acceptable to berate any and all people of opposition.

Now, is it just me, or does it seem like immature feuding and “beefs” are the norm in African American music right now? Particularly rap. I’m a person who listens to a plethora of music, and I have to say, I don’t really hear Bono taking swipes at Chris Martin. While U2 and Coldplay make great music and use their popularity towards the global good, you see rappers using their popularity and their music to bring the rapper next to him down to feed his own popularity.

The act of purposely trying to lower someone else to make yourself feel better is not only transparent, but illuminates your own insecurities. I personally feel sorry for some of these rappers. You can tell that all they want is attention, and just like the new kid on the playground, they feel like they have to prove themselves.

But amongst my pity comes a sense of indignation. Black people, do you NOT realize that we live in a society that already has a negative image of us, and every time one of these “diss tracks” come out, it just reinforces the negative stereotypes? Is it not bad enough that we are portrayed in popular culture as ignorant, lazy, and overly aggressive? Do we not see an issue of having some of the world’s ill’s thrust upon our shoulders (Affirmative Action, Welfare) when we’re not even the main recipients of it?!

Why do we continue to reward this immature behavior with album sales, or attention?

As these weeks’ topic comes to a close, it is evident that we all have insecurities, and that is fine. What is not acceptable is resulting to childish behavior to excel in life. I moved out of my old neighborhood, where are you living now?


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Pimpin' Ken and the Joys of "Orgism"

Dear Bloggers,

During the times that I’m not reading Nietzsche, doing freelance writing, or embedded in deep thoughts for this blog (‘So, if I add the soda to value meal, then it’ll be cheaper…?’) I’m watching TV. One of my favorite shows is Black Men Revealed. This show comes on TVOne, and it consists of a panel of five Black men who discuss issues that are prevalent to the Black community. These topics range from sexual attraction to women, the dark skinned-light skinned debate, or Black men as fathers. I personally enjoy the show because it offers a perspective that (being a Black woman) I am not entirely privy to.

In an episode entitled: “Bed, Bath and Beyond: Fantasies and Frustrations” the panel included a relationships expert, a comedian, and for some reason a former pimp. Now, I understand the logistics for making the choice of having a former pimp on the show, due to the fact that his former [despicable] profession lent itself to aiding men with their sexual fantasies by selling women. I understand this. However, I do not understand Pimpin’ Ken.

Pimpin’ Ken, who is a self-proclaimed relationships expert spent most of his time on the show belittling the other men on the panel. He started off with the relationships expert (Hasani Pettiford). When Hasani was asked for his advice on what makes men stray from their wives and significant others, before he could finish his thought, Pimpin’ Ken tried to discredit the man (who has multiple degrees) by addressing his concern that Mr. Pettiford probably had not been in many relationships in his past. The former pimp (really, Black Men Revealed?! You HAD to get a pimp?!) then begins to condemn Hasani on the way that he talks (“You trying to talk all proper, talk like a brother!”).

After Ken finishes with the expert, he moves on to the comedian, Special K. The comedian, who in my opinion, finished telling a hilarious anecdote, had Pimpin’ Ken turn to him and say: “You’ll never make money like Will Smith. You’re not that funny.” Before I realized it, the words: “WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING?!” came spewing from my mouth. I was annoyed. First Hasani, now Special K?!

Once Pimpin’ Ken is convinced that he has discredited everyone on the panel (even though he did the complete opposite) he begins to tell his theories on sexual attraction and the gift on the “orgism.” No, I did not misspell “orgasm”, he actually pronounced the word as “orgism,” and my closed captioning reinforced what my ears heard. He gave his theories on the proper way to steal another man’s wife, and then plugged his book. He sat back in his seat with a satisfied grin on his face, as if he had won the title of Alpha Male on the show. Pimpin’ Ken did not realize that with his display of ignorance and obvious show of insecurity, he portrayed himself to be the weakest male on the panel, and just reinforced to the many viewers of Black Men Revealed how when a man is feeling weak amongst strong men, his insecurities will cause him to try to bring others down with him.

Pimpin’ Ken, good luck on your never ending pursuit to try to find a woman to orgism for you, whatever THAT is.


Monday, May 4, 2009

Crabs in a Barrel

Dear Bloggers,

Last week was a hard week for women. We came off looking malicious and petty. While this is true for some women (and everyone has their moments), I’m an equal opportunity blaster. This week is for the men.

Now men, for some reason, you’ve been able to slip under the conniving radar. You’re seen as the more sensible of the sexes, least likely to resort to the tomfoolery that women are categorized for. However, men become self-conscious, and indulge in a different type of behavior that’s not as overt as women.

This syndrome is commonly referred to as the “Crabs in a Barrel” syndrome. With crabs in a barrel or bucket, you could watch one crab try to crawl out of the bucket. Before the crab can complete his escape, another crab grabs him and pulls him back down.

With my friendships with men, I have witnessed men indulging in this syndrome. I would have one friend (Friend A) who was doing well in classes, and had a healthy relationship. Another one of those friends was slowly flunking out, and felt self-conscious around women. Instead of bulking down at the library, and working on his confidence with women, he began to bring the other friend down. He began to encourage Friend A with alcohol, and other women. He held impromptu parties at friend A’s house, and insisted on embarrassing friend A as much as possible in front of women. Now, was friend B the crab trying to pull the other down, or is the adage true (“misery loves company”)?

This week we’re going to explore this syndrome. When one man is trying to better himself, does another purposely try to bring him back down? Or is it that when one man is trying to pull himself out of the bucket, the other man is so zealous to get out as well that he grabs on to help himself escape, but ends up pulling the other man back into the same pit they started in? Why does this syndrome seem so prevalent in the Black community, and even in popular culture?

This week let’s observe and discuss.