Things I Like Include: Muskateering- For my Four Best Friends

I’m in a strange place between not being able to accept the inevitable. I am not ready to grow up.

 

Adults around me listen to me say this, and they scoff and mention something about how the real world will put me on my ass. I am not afraid of this ominous and mysterious “real world.” I think I can handle a budget and some ramen (even though I do have a propensity towards nice things). I am more worried about compromising my friends and myself.

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A few weekends ago, I had the opportunity to spend time with my three best friends in the entire world in one of my favorite cities, Washington, D.C. Alyssa, Alice, Grace and I have been friends my whole life. Alice and I met in the first grade, and Alyssa and Grace came to me around the third grade. These women know my soul. They know what makes me tick and what makes me cry. They have been around to celebrate some of the most beautiful and most sad times of my life. It was Alyssa’s house I stayed at when my mother had surgery on an invasive tumor when I was in the 7th grade. Grace and I rode to travel Rec League soccer every Saturday from elementary to middle school, and Alice has been a rock that has gotten me through failed relationships, failed tests, and the past 12 years of school, and three years of college. They are all so important to me on a level that I can’t even begin to describe.

 

And I am terrified of losing them.

 

I am crying even while I write this because I worry that College graduation will bring us new jobs in different parts of the country, relationships that will lead to marriage, and houses with picket fences that are so far removed from our lives in Windsor and Suffolk. I am terrified of never being able to sleep in Alyssa’s huge bed- all four of us lined up in a row- ever again. 

 

Life is changing, and it is taking me in a direction that I anticipate with great reverence and terror. 

 

There are moments when the terror overtakes me (mostly when I’ve had too much to drink), and I get overwhelmed. However, I always remember:

“Don’t let life pass you by :)”

 

This phrase (smiley face and all) was graffittied on Pitchkettle Rd. in Suffolk, VA, the way I rode to get to Alyssa, Alice, and Grace’s houses. This phrase became a staple in our high school life and friendship. Whenever we were in a car, we stopped whatever we were saying when we reached Pitchkettle in order for us to be able to read the phrase aloud.

 

Life is changing for us. We are morphing into four different people with four different lives that may take us to four completely different places. Instead of living in fear of a broken friendship, I vow to celebrate every single day that we are together. Alyssa, Alice, and Grace live in my soul and run through my veins. I cherish every moment I have and will have with them. I cherish the fourth grade slumber parties, underage beer, soccer games, and Christmas Break reunions as much as I will cherish the husbands, wives, weddings, babies, houses, paint samples, and phone calls of the next forty years.

 

“Don’t Let Life Pass You By :)”

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I love you.

 

 

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Things I Like Include: Pictures of Summer

My summer so far, as told by my Instagram pictures:Image

 

Basil, dancing on bars, BBQ, and running. Pools, margaritas, and Memphis. My summer has been painted with the sounds of saxophones, tequila in mason jars, Nikes on pavement, gelato, and “One Day.

 

What’s your favorite part of summer?

Things I Like Include: Standing Your Ground

I have tried to stay away from any and all forms of media today.

I cannot stake a claim to this experience. As a white woman, I do not know anything about being on the receiving end of racially-based injustice. I have never been discriminated against based on the color of my skin. No one has ever locked their doors when they’re riding through my neighborhood. No one grimaces at the off-chance that they will touch my hand in the exchange of pennies and quarters for a cup of coffee. I am innocent until proven guilty: I am Mayella Ewell, who will live to pick up the pieces of a busted chiffarobe.  There are people who will fight for me because of where I live, what I look like, and who my parents are. I am cloaked in privilege, often blindfolded by my own blonde hair, pale skin, and zip code.

However, I will claim this sadness, and fury, and confusion and injustice. I can’t help but feel heavy when I scroll down the timelines of my social media accounts. I am haunted by the ignorance that surrounds me: “Racism is over in America- we have a black president,” “Zimmerman was Latino, so this can’t be about racial injustice,” “Trayvon Martin was armed,” with people citing the street that he walked on as a weapon easily at his disposal.” These ideologies are a threat to our ability to coexist. They threaten and challenge notions of progress that we, as Americans, and myself as a self-identified female Democrat, have come accustomed to believe. We have got to stop shielding ourselves with the notion that we live in a color-blind society where race doesn’t matter- where we are all humans. That is an idealized version of our reality. To not acknowledge race is to inherently devalue the cultural and racial experiences of masses of people. To put everyone on a racially blind playing field, whether in our courts, our schools, or our neighborhoods, fails to recognize our past and our present- a place where we are still making provisions to keep certain people from voting, a place where blood dots the leaves. Further, to not acknowledge that race plays a role in the George Zimmerman trial is to ignore the history of injustice and hatred that paints the current schema of our nation, our legal system, and the mindsets of many of our parents, our grandparents, and ourselves.

We are threatened by those things which we can’t (or refuse to) understand. George Zimmerman felt threatened when he saw seventeen year old Trayvon Martin walking through a gated neighborhood on a rainy night. He felt threatened because he believed Martin to be ‘out of place.’ I am not doubting the presence of his emotions- Zimmerman may very well have felt threatened, but we have to dismantle the baggage surrounding this threat. Why was he threatened by a boy- an African American boy in a hoodie- who was walking home at night? His mindset, like hundreds of thousands of people, even the most informed and accepting people in our country and our world, was skewed by his schema for order and justice, a schema that works consistently and systematically  against people of color.

He was threatened because Zimmerman, like so many people, has learned to operate within the realms of a society that is fueled by the ideology of white supremacy. Though he identifies as ‘Hispanic,’ Zimmerman possesses passing privilege, which many people have pointed to as justification for his acquittal. However, I read a blog today that helped to provide me with some degree of explanation and clarity: When Zimmerman was acquitted, it wasn’t because he’s a so-called white Hispanic. He’s not. It’s because he abides by the logic of white supremacy, and was supported by a defense team—and a swath of society—that supports the lingering idea that some black men must occasionally be killed with impunity in order to keep society-at-large safe” (The Nation Magazine). We must work to physically and mentally dismantle the white supremacy that governs our mindsets, our actions, and our legal system.

Last night, my friends and I were trying to process the trial and the verdict. Being in Memphis this summer, I have been inundated in the history of Civil Rights in this country. I have walked on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spent his last moments. I have walked down Beale Street where sanitation workers striked for their right to an equal wage. I am still haunted by my memories of last summer riding over the West Tallahatchie River and feeling the presence of Emmett Till surround me. I am humbled and outraged by the words of one of the most genuine and kind people I have ever met here in Memphis: “I am Trayvon. I have to walk outside every day, wondering if I were killed, would my mother’s tears even mean anything? Or would I just be another dead black man?”

I am infuriated and I am sad. I weep for our country, and I pray for understanding. I pray for the people of this world that will never understand why this verdict is wrong, and I pray for understanding for myself- a white woman who will never own the pain and injustice that can often come with being a person of color in this country.

I will however, stake a claim to peace and progress. I claim my role as a witness for the good in this world. I will stake a claim to the power of my own voice and my mind. I will be a vessel for peace and equality. I will power my sails with love for my brothers and sisters, and fellow children of God. I stake a claim to a better world in 100 years- the world Dr. King envisioned. I will claim love unabashedly and without shame. I will dismantle hate with my vision, and I will use my vision to create the world in which I want to live- where I want my children and their children to live.

 I am claiming peace and progress. I am standing my ground.

Things I Like Include: Wandering Words and Memories of You

My Most Recent Poem:

______________________________________________________

Finding You in Every City: On Becoming Well-Traveled and Less in Love

It’s been some time since your boots met my dirt

Casting lines through my dust- my bones.

 “I have filled this void with things unreal”

 Furiously, I’m still stuffing the cracks with books and cheap frames

and bluegrass music that you never knew how to play-

You were searching for Memphis, New York- a city, a naked lightbulb with a rusty pull-switch — the whiskey woman whose lips could live on your shoulders while you were see sawing the same four stale chords with perfect fingers that were once acquainted with my face.

and I was only pretending.

 “I spend my night dancing with my own shadow” and looking for milk in a stream of splinters.

___________________

I have only been in love once.

I’m not even sure if it can truly be considered love. It was more abject infatuation. After a particularly rough split from a serious three-year relationship, I met a boy who played the guitar and looked at the world through cynical eyes. I was confused and intrigued: I wanted to kiss every single one of his eye lashes and open them and show him how beautiful the world was. I was blessed with the naive optimism of a seventeen year old girl, and he already had someone kissing his eyes. He also already knew how beautiful the world was. He spent time knowing me in a way that most of my closest friends still don’t know me. I guess I realize now that we didn’t really know each other at all, at least I didn’t know him at all.

There’s not too much this boy ever gave me. I still have a book he leant me- Salinger’s Nine Stories (which I love and read at least once a year), an old t shirt, and a dried corsage that I wore to prom that hangs on the door knob in my bedroom. Perhaps the best thing I have, though, is the poetry that made a nest inside of me after he broke my heart.

I’m not sure how the heart-breaking even went. I think I found out that he had a girlfriend, got really sad, and cried a lot (the more I think about it, the more ‘right’ that sounds). My best friend, Alice, came over to my house with Finding Nemo and a sleeve of Double-Stuff Oreos, and we talked about what a jackass he was. That didn’t seem to do it justice, though. So I started to write.

I never felt compelled to write poetry until this boy. After we stopped talking, the most beautiful, terrifying and sincere strands of words started to crystallize and crawl out of me. I wrote about every single emotion and memory that he pulled from me: the beauty, the pain, the walks in the woods.

Not all of my poems are about him- Most of them are. I can’t ignore the adjectives that my memories of him bring out of me. I harvest them, and I let new things grow in their place- new words that I never knew were inside of me.

Thank you for this gift.

Love,

A (still naive, but poetic) twenty-one year old woman.

Things I Like Include: R & R

 

R & R: or as I like to call it, Relapse and Recovery. 

Life in recovery is so very hard.

 

I don’t want to sugar coat anything. I know I’ve written about my personal struggle with bulimia in the past. I have come a long way from where I once was. I no longer struggle with the physical part of my eating disorder. However, the mental part is an entirely different story. There is rarely a day that goes by when I don’t spend roughly 50% thinking about dieting, exercise, food, or the way I look. The sad thing is that this is what seems like pretty normal thinking. In conversation with a few of my friends, I realized that this pattern of thought is fairly normal among teenage and twenty-something young women (*note: I am sure this exists in other populations of people as well, I just haven’t had the privilege to speak with anyone but my lady friends). When I’m not eating, I’m thinking about what I’m going to eat when I actually have to, and when I’m not exercising, I’m thinking about how to have a more productive workout. 

 

Life on the internet doesn’t make this much easier, either. I am by no means blaming the internet for my eating disorder, or my personal experiences with food and exercise. All I’m saying is that it is so easy to go on the internet and find communities that have the potential to be damaging. What’s worse is that these communities are often disguised as really great and constructive places. 

 

How many of you have ever read a fitness blog? Have you ever pinned a thinspiration picture or a workout plan to one of your interest boards? Ever looked at a picture of Beyonce and cried a little inside because her body is just THAT perfect (my own answer- yes, about three times this week). 

 

These seemingly constructive communities can become consuming: I know they fill my thoughts every single day. Am I less healthy because I don’t know what a chia seed is? Kale? Should I do 50 crunches or 45 burpees? Why don’t I have a thigh gap? Will people think I’m lazy if I only run 3 miles instead of 5? There are also so many triggers on the internet. If looking at Beyonce’s ass wasn’t bad enough, I have the option to look at my 17 year old facebook pictures where I weighed a total of, oh, I don’t know, 110 lbs.

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There are triggers everywhere, and I have to constantly remind myself that they are not worth my time or my mental stability. I love myself, but we live in a world where it is hard to do just that: love yourself.

 

 

Today, as a part of my work, I got to attend a session on inclusivity. While most of the session focused on racial diversity and socioeconomic status, there was a lot of different talk about cultural and physical difference. One person in the session brought up that she was worried that her actions would always reflect how people looked at her in terms of her identity. For example, she is a mother and a professional. She said that whenever she is late to a meeting because she had to pick up her kids, she feels like she may be judged because people may think she can’t be both a mother and a professional. This spoke to me in terms of health and weight. I often feel the need to be very public with my exercise and diet because I am worried that if I’m not, then people will think that I’m just fat and lazy. We place so much emphasis on physical appearance and impressions that people give off. I feel like if I weren’t actively working to combat this stereotype that overweight people are lazy and eat all day, then people would look at me and think just that (which, by the way, is a fallacy).

 

There is no real thesis to this blog post. More of a ramble. Thanks for ambling with me through this post and this day. Tomorrow will be better.

 

 

 

 

Things I Like Include: The Real World

This is not a post about me finding myself in the throws of adulthood. Don’t get me wrong, this 8-6 job is definitely making me feel more and more like an adult. That big girl paycheck ain’t so bad either. But this post isn’t about me “making it” in the world of coffee thermoses and power suits.

It’s about these people:

Yep, where “people stop being polite and start being real.”

I am obsessed with The Real World. I love the drama-filled hook ups, the awkward townie encounters, the fifteen minutes of fame for a cast of eight nobodies who all prove to be grossly entertaining but also grossly the same from season to season. Honestly, what’s not to love about a good train wreck with some sentimental issues of love, class and identity sprinkled into the mix?

I can pinpoint my obsession back to a specific season (true fans measure their age and wisdom in seasons). Season sixteen of the popular MTV show took a cast of fresh-faced late teen, early twenty somethings to Austin, TX.

from left to right:

The Real World: Austin Cast

I was in the sixth grade, and I had just traveled to Austin to be in a wedding. Twelve year old me felt a mature connection with and a mature sadness for these “characters” or people, however you choose to view. I remember seeing a little piece of myself in all of the characters. I had Nehemiah’s coolness, Lacy’s kindness, Johanna’s fear of love, Rachel’s insecurity, Melinda’s confidence, Danny’s heart, and Wes’ temper. These people were all representations of my sixth grade self, and from that point on, I was hooked.

The house has since been repurposed as a restaurant and bar.  image courtesy of: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/77/Real_world_austin_house_2009_2.jpg

The house has since been repurposed as a restaurant and bar.
image courtesy of: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/77/Real_world_austin_house_2009_2.jpg

Although The Real World changes cast and location each season, the plot and the characters stay relatively the same:

Get drunk, hook up, throw things, yell, get in the hot tub, etc.

Additionally, there are several character archetypes that The Real World must continue to fulfill if they plan to keep their fan base (myself included).

The Hot Rebel:

The “Hot Rebel” has become a fixture in MTV’s hit television show. The H.R. is responsible for being, well…simply stated, hot. She is usually responsible for unintentional drama within the house among other cast mates because of the sheer perfection of her body or her abject stupidity. She is always the first in the hot tub and the first to take a handle to the face. Perhaps the most perplexing thing about the H.R. is the ratio of her body. She usually stands at about 5’6″-5’7″ and weighs in at about 110-115 lbs. Her torso is toned and her legs are long. However, her breasts are of epic proportions, easily D-DD. This biological anomaly leaves her male housemates in heat and her female housemates in denial of the phenomenon. She probably has too many teeth for her mouth and they are so white it’s almost blinding. Her hair is usually tangled (lezbehonest, she could use a good brush), but it doesn’t really matter because she’s so hot, she could seriously go out in a garbage bag and still get a man. She will sporadically make out with girls, and she has the alcohol tolerance of a German soldier. Her favorite lines include: “I have way more guy friends than girl friends,” “I don’t understand why (insert name of female housemate) doesn’t like me,” “I’m just here to have fun,” “Shots?” and “Who wants a lap dance?”

The Closeted/Recently “Out” Gay/Bisexual Guy:

The Real World is semi-famous for addressing historically controversial issues on TV. In fact, they were one of the first network television shows to address the AIDS epidemic at a time when the disease was very new and terrifying for a lot of young people in rural and metropolitan areas, alike. LGBTQIA* topics have made their way into The Real World season after season. The Recently Out Gay Male serves as the unofficial “cuddle buddy” of every insecure/straight woman in the house. On any given night, he can be seen laying on a pile of bean bags (come on, MTV, bean bags are NOT still a thing) with a hot housemate (but never the H.R.) talking about life, love, sex, and hair products. There is always at least one episode dedicated to the R.O.G.M’s sexual escapades and/or a all-house outing to a gay bar. In these instances the L.A.W. (more on her later) will serve as the wingman while the cisgender, straight males will sit at the bar, slamming back jagerbombs and watching some girl on girl dance floor action. The H.R. will empathize more with the R.O.G.M since, she has subconscious lesbian tendencies (let’s be real, she’s just really sexual), and they will have in-depth discussions on the pool table, at the kitchen counter, or over a Saturday morning hangover brunch at a swanky spot about why true love evades them, blow jobs, and DFMOs. Overall, the R.O.G.M is typically one of everyone’s favorite characters. He is kind and smart, affectionate and “real.” He makes the less attractive women feel beautiful and puts the bombshells in their place, all while being able to drink a brew with the house bros. Bravo, R.O.G.M!

The Less Attractive Whiner

Ladies and gents, meet the Less Attractive Whiner, also known as the L.A.W. This woman is, by no means, unattractive. However, compared to the H.R. and the handful of chance townies and tourists that the cast encounters, she is definitely less attractive. Her physical flaw may be as small as a gap in between her two front teeth, one boob that is slightly bigger than the other, or Brooke Shields eyebrows. Whatever the case may be, she is sightly less attractive, and therefore resents both her male and female house mates. She will try to pin them against each other through a series of devious tasks and covert missions. Whether she is stirring the drama pot between an established house relationship (another MTV favorite) or a visiting significant other, she is always looking for trouble, and she loves it. She will sometimes get picked up at a bar by a townie who hasn’t yet seen her room mates. She’ll usually bring him home, resulting in a slew of insults and snappy one liners from the C.D. and F.B.M. (see below descriptions). She will then assail them with random household objects, use the rotary dial phone in the bean bag pile to call her mother or worse, her gay best friend from home, and sob endlessly. For the rest of the season, you will see camera pans to her eating Ramen alone in the kitchen, drinking in her bedroom, and a lot of solo day excursions. She will rarely participate in confessional.

The Cocky Douche:

Semi toned muscles? Pooka shell necklace? Hollister graphic t-shirts? Look no further, Real World enthusiasts. It’s the Cocky Douche! This guy is usually living in 2005, no mater what year it really is. His fashion sense is appalling, and he normally comes from somewhere in the midwest where it’s still kosher for men to wear Abercrombie and spike their hair. For some reason, women tend to fling themselves at the C.D. His ego is usually bigger than his penis, and he is forever getting on the L.A.W’s nerves. In fact, most conflict in the house comes from the interactions of these two. More than likely, it’s because the C.D. is super attracted to the L.A.W His favorite activities are “slamming bar hotties,” going to clubs with the top two buttons of his AE button-up undone, and coming home at the end of the night empty-handed. He’ll end up having sex with a girl who has self-confidence issues and then he’ll talk about it for the next 5 episodes.

The Grounded/Faithful Black Man

Alton from the Real World: Las Vegas image courtesy of: http://cdn.madamenoire.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/alton.jpg

Alton from the Real World: Las Vegas
image courtesy of: http://cdn.madamenoire.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/alton.jpg

There has to be at least one or two people in the house that are coming from a genuine and grounded place. The Grounded/ Faithful Black Man is often this person. Sometimes he is leaving a long-term, serious relationship at home, and sometimes he is just getting out of a serious relationship. Whatever the case may be, he is extremely loyal to those around him, whether it’s his boys, his best girl friend, or his woman back home. He gets attached really easily, and he doesn’t deal well with foolishness. He also usually gets emotionally attached (either on the friend level or a romantic level) with one of the house party-girls. Perhaps the best example of this is the relationship between Nehemiah and Johanna in the Austin season. He doesn’t want to see ladies he respects getting too drunk or dancing on the bar, but he doesn’t mind seeing them in his bed. He is usually quick to state what he thinks, even at the expense of other housemates. He can unintentionally cause conflict. At the end of the day, he is usually the most normal person after the season is over. He usually goes on to have a successful career, a family, and a life free of reality TV drama.

The Cr@zy B!tch:

Nia from the Real World: Portland photo courtesy of: http://news.mtv.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Real-World-Nia-Lamp.jpg

Nia from the Real World: Portland
photo courtesy of: http://news.mtv.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Real-World-Nia-Lamp.jpg

Hold on to your hats…and really any kind of blunt household object. The Cr@zy B!tch is one of the most common and complex characters. She is usually beautiful in an unconventional way. She lacks the All-American “girl next door” look, and she is usually very smart and very well educated. This only serves to fuel her biting tongue and her propensity towards mind games and general bat shit craziness. She instigates fights with other house mates and then she reaps the benefits of their reactions, usually falling into the “poor victim” category. The Grounded/Faithful Black Man is usually the last to catch on to the craziness of her antics. She is able to fool him because she comes off, at first, to be very genuine and kind. Her favorite activities include: walking around scantily clad to show off her hot body, day drinking, and laughing manically. Her catch phrase? “I’m not here to make friends.”

The Weird Girl

Bird from The Real World: Portland image courtesy of: http://thedamper.com/images/1857.jpg

Bird from The Real World: Portland
image courtesy of: http://thedamper.com/images/1857.jpg

No season of The Real World would be complete without the Weird Girl- normally an indie/punk rock kind of girl who really just wants everyone to get along. She normally wears really heavy eye make-up and bright lipstick. Her hairstyles vary between long black weave-like tresses and short choppy pixie cuts. She is really chill and low-key, and very few people in the house have a problem with her. She also usually has a boyfriend back home, which leads to a life of limited partying and virtually no hooking up. There will almost always be an episode where her boyfriend flies into town, they fight, almost break up, and then end up re-proclaiming their love for one another by the end of the episode. The W.G. is super into the job that the Real World cast works, and she takes herself a little too seriously. Her favorite activities: girls nights with lots of wine. Her catch phrases: “why hasn’t anyone done the dishes?” and “you guys, I wish we could just all stop fighting.”

There you have it. Without some variation of each of these, the Real World would just be another 3 season reality show bust. Because of these characters, MTV has managed to keep the show running for 28 seasons and counting.

It may not be perfect, but it’s real.

Things I Like Include: Love Letters

A Response to Total Frat Move’s A Letter To the Girl You’re Hooking Up With But Will Never Marry

Dear (insert WASPy Family name, e.g. Collins, Campbell, Patton),

I’m flattered, truly I am. I am so undeniably pleased that I am the one that made such poetry seep from your fingers. You’re even using big words like ‘acknowledged’ and ‘vengeance.’ I’m seriously speechless.

But let’s get a few things straight.

You never took me out on dates. Sure, I carried your drunk ass home from a few bars, a date function, and a Carrie Underwood concert.  I’ve sat around with your brothers and listened to your “clutch ass speakers” bump overplayed techno kendrick lamar remixes  and encores of Wagon Wheel until I thought I would literally strangle myself with your chodey ‘Raised Right’ Republican Vineyard Vines bow tie. But let’s be clear, you vomiting on me, licking my face, and then rubbing the crotch of my jeans until I tell you that we aren’t having sex tonight is definitely NOT a date.

Bear with me here.

I know this is going to be hard for you to hear. You seem pretty cool. You know at least 200 words. You’re only a little annoying, and the sex is definitely decent when your whiskey dick isn’t getting in the way. You’re the real deal, BMOC, the shit, so to speak. But this thing- this thing where you think that I even WANT to marry a P.O.S like you, has got to end.

Sure it was fun in the beginning. I liked getting the ever-eloquent “wanna fuck?” texts at 2 am, every woman’s prime. I even kinda liked your overeager follow up texts:  “?”,  “??”, and my personal favorite “8===D ;).” I’m not mad about our 30-90 minute chance encounters. I’m not even mad that I never stayed the night, because, honestly, I never wanted to wake up smelling like lime Burnetts, dick, and B.O. Sure, it was fun while it lasted, but a lady’s got to draw the line somewhere- and I draw mine at mediocrity.

Let’s get real.

Despite what you may be telling yourself, my Pinterest wedding boards were never about you. You look too much like a gorilla to be holding a mason jar, anyway, and he truth is, I’m bored of you. I’m really over evenings spent in your bed, pretending not to notice you masturbating (to Bravo, of all things). Quite frankly, I’m over you thinking that you are marriage material. My bank account and my tits are too big for you to think that someone as small and insignificant as you can break my heart.

So, WASP. Have a good life. I hope its filled with alimony, children in therapy, and heaps of Viagra.

xoxo,

The Girl You’ll Never Marry

Things I Like Include: Mississippi

A Prayer for Mississippi:

 

Mississippi, I pray my feet touch your earth again some day.

I pray that I feel what it’s like to breathe in still, heavy air and to run through the Delta. I pray for your bugs and the sweat on my eyebrows, and the curls that formed on the side of my face from your sweet, sweet heat.

I pray for the love of the Delta to occupy every corner of my soul. For the feeling of a front porch Sunday afternoon and the “ah” of a rare breeze. I want to meet the Devil at the crossroads, and dismantle him.

Mississippi, what I want most is the innocence I felt before I landed in your Delta. I can’t go back to not knowing what chalk less classrooms and children without books look like. I have tried to shake them from my nightmares and my every day intentions. 

 

I can’t.

 

I can’t forget the heaviness and guilt and holiness I felt while riding over the West Tallahatchie River, the very spot where Emmett Till was carelessly and senselessly and violently sacrificed in the name of hatred and racism. I can’t forget how my soul aches for the injustice and the love that weave together the fabric of the Delta. I cannot go back to who I was before I rode over that bridge. I don’t want to be that person anymore.

 

Mississippi, I pray that you open your arms with opportunity to me. I hope you bring me back to the rice and the blues and the children. I pray you keep calling me as strongly as you have for 379 days since I first met Cleveland, MS.

 

Thank you for creating purpose within me.

Amen.

Things I Like Include: Words For Da

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Memory, Sunday mornings 1994 until 2000

My Da and I spent every single Sunday morning shaving, him bristly hairs on his face and me, smooth baby skin with a capped razor. It was our Sunday morning ritual. After waffles, we would head to his bathroom in the back of the house. He would turn on Gene Chandler’s Duke of Earl, and we would start to lather up. He helped me put the white foam all over my face and get ready to shave with him while we got ready for church. I would stand at a chair in front of the her side of our his and her sink. We would sing and dance and get ready for church.

Memory, 1996

Sitting on my Da’s chest in bed, he methodically and slowly teaches me the Lord’s prayer. Every night we learn a new line. He tells me how important this prayer is because it came from the mouth of God himself. He is patient as I try to remember the words. He repeats them over and over, filling my head with knowledge and my soul with grace.

Memory, December 2009

“I got in.” I cried over the phone on a call to my Da, telling him I had gotten into the College of William & Mary, a goal I had been working toward for years. He cried. He came home later that evening with a W&M cup in his hand and a W&M hat on his head. He later told me that he had bought both a long time ago, and was waiting for the right time to use them. He was so proud and happy to see my dreams actualized. Congratulations, Mom and Da. We did it. Three years later, I’m beginning my last year at the College, and the joy my father had on the day I got in still persists.

Thank you, Da, for always letting me chase my dreams and supporting me endlessly all the way. Thank you for teaching me grace and routine and the payback for hard work from an early age.

I love you.

Things I Like Include: Memories for My Mother

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Memory- 1996

My mother is a teacher at a local high school, and she’s been a Senior class sponsor for as long as I can remember. When I was about three or four years old, she took me along with the rest of her Seniors to Baltimore, Maryland for the day. On the agenda: the aquarium, the zoo, and an Orioles game. She was pushing me in my stroller when we entered the giraffe house, a large building dedicated to giraffes and only giraffes. The house was circular with a pathway going along the outside, and the giraffes in the middle of the building, separated from the onlookers by a tall circle of plexi glass. Three year old me was wildly perplexed and in awe of the greatness that stood before me. So much, in fact, that I stated to the entire giraffe house constituency “Momma, look at the size of those testicles.” Naturally the adults around me broke into an uncontrollable fit of laughter. I was upset because I thought I’d done something wrong. My mother comforted me by assuring me that they were, indeed, testicles, and that yes, they were also very large.

 

 

Memory- 2006

I skipped soccer practice.  My coach told our team that practice that day would be optional, and I wanted to go to my friend’s house instead, so I slyly told my mother that practice had been cancelled, and I would be going over to Mary’s house instead. She agreed to pick me up from there, and I thought the issue was settled.

On the way to Mary’s house, my mother drove by school and saw the JV girls soccer team practicing on the practice field (or at least the sadistic overachievers who agreed to go to an optional practice…I mean, COME ON). She drove furiously all the way to Mary’s house. When I got in the car, I didn’t even have time to explain myself. She yelled and rambled expletives the whole way home. When I got home, I was told to put on my tennis shoes and get in the car. She drove me up to the track at our local high school, and she told me that I would be running until she determined that I had run as much as I would have at practice that day. I must have run up and down that football field 60-80 times and crawled at least 4 times. I was throwing up by the end of the evening and cursing my mother all the way up and down the field. 

Memory- 2004

My seventh grade class was participating in a mock election in celebration of the Presidential election that was going on at the time. My seventh grade social studies teacher informed our class that there would be an essay contest to determine who would be able to represent the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates in the mock election. She also informed us that the boys would be allowed to run for the President and Vice President positions and the girls could run to be their wives. Enraged by this, I went home and told my mother the bad news. I wanted more than anything to be President, and I had no intentions of settling to be the first lady. My mother talked through my emotions with me, but she charged me to do something about it instead of sitting around and griping about it. I was mad at my mother and I was mad at my teacher. Why didn’t my teacher know enough to understand that these project qualifications were wrong, and why didn’t my mother care enough to fight for my right to play President? That night, I wrote a letter to my seventh grade teacher that ended with the phrase “I do not aspire to be the first lady. I aspire to be the President.” That year, the mock election was cancelled. 

 

My entire life, my mother has been teaching me how to thrive and exist in a world that would not always be fair to me. However, through her actions, and often, her silence, she has taught me how to work to achieve justice and what is right for myself and others. Moreover, she has taught me to never apologize for my intelligence (giraffe testicles), that hard work is never optional (skipping soccer practice), and to achieve justice for myself and for others by peacefully and articulately fighting my own battles (the mock election).

 

For these things, I am forever grateful. 

 

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