Left in the Snow

I randomly remembered this story and I like to share stories, so here we go...

Shortly after the crazy blizzard in early 2010 that hit the east coast, I stumbled my way out to the street and my car to begin the terrible task of digging it out from under 20+ inches of snow. I had never had to shovel snow before this blizzard and while this particular day wasn't my first go and shoveling, it was my first time having to dig a car out.

A few things to know: my car was (is) a 95 Honda Accord Coupe. The doors on the car stretch back fairly far on the body of the car.

After being stuck in the house for what felt like years, I was definitely ready to spend all day outside shoveling my snow clean, if all day is what it took.

10 minutes into it, however, I recognized that I'd do myself a favor to make good use of physics, or chemistry or common sense and find the easiest route to getting my car out. I had taken stock of some of the other folks also shoveling their cars and noticed many of them only shoveling enough to maneuver their car out, so I figured I'd do the same. All I had to do was clear from the front of the car to just past the passenger door. With that plan, I had a snow patch a foot wide, 3 feet tall and 2 feet thick to get through. Nothing I couldn't handle, but by this point, I'd been outside working at it for close to an hour. My energy was dropping.

Just about that time, a car that was rolling down our street (why any cars were rolling down side streets at this point was beyond me, but I guess they wanted something to do too) slowed down right behind my car and a man got out.

"You need some help there young lady?"

Now, I gotta be honest with you. I wanted to give him the side-eye to end all side-eyes, but I was getting tired. "Yeah. I suppose I wouldn't mind-"

He cut me off. "Look, if you'd just shovel enough to open the door, you'd be fine. You can drive the car out from under the snow," he said as he grabbed the shovel from me. He added, in his best 'I know everything' voice, "you're doing more work than you have to. Here. Let me show you."

So I, as I always do in these types of cases, stepped back to let him do his work. He stuck the shovel in the snow with expert force only to find, just as I had, that the snow didn't give as easily as one might think. Of course 20+ inches of snow doesn't fall overnight. That takes time. And during the day the snow would melt on top and at night freeze over. So what I, and everyone else, was digging through was both snow and ice. It wasn't as simple as sticking a shovel in a few times.

Mr-know-it-all took a few more stabs at it before a car pulled up behind his, also wanting to get through. The man looked up and then promptly handed me my shovel back. "Here, let me go find parking on the other block and I'll be right back," he said quickly. He hopped in his car and headed down and around the block -- or so I thought.

I returned to what I had been doing before Mr Helpful arrived, but with a little less fervor. I didn't want to do too much of his work, of course. About 7 minutes later, I was pretty sure he wasn't coming back.

Guess the snow was a little too much for him.


Living in the Past

...all I can think about is a frame for our future, and pictures of the past...
-Beyonce "Dance For You"

In the upcoming school year, I'm going to be like a chicken with her head cut off. I have NO idea how this is going to work, but it will. It always does. One opportunity I was eager to accept is a chance to interact with the undergraduates at my alma mater, and current school, in an advising capacity. I adored my time in undergrad and anything I can do to help others have a great time, I want to.

But in conversations with fellow alums and just general reflection, I'm realizing that I might need to check some of my eagerness.

When I was in undergrad, we didn't really care for our alums too much. It felt like any interaction with them found its way to an opportunity for them to tell us how we weren't as good as they were when they were in our shoes. We (the black students) weren't striving for a better school for ourselves like they had done. We weren't militant enough, we weren't close enough, we weren't loud enough -- we weren't enough. In turn we shied away from having to do anything more than listen to them drone on and on about their boring lives on a panel.

But now that I am an alum, I get it. But what I get is that those alums hadn't done a lot of self-reflecting or bothered to get to know us and what issues mattered to us so they could help. Instead, they wanted to re-live their undergraduate years through us. Accomplish all the things as alums they weren't able to as undergrads.

I realized this in full strength this morning when I was thinking about a meeting I have tomorrow to begin finalizing a program I'm really excited to be creating and running in the fall. I started thinking about some of the underhanded things that went on when I was in undergrad that discouraged my participation in some organizations and how easy it would've been to change those things if enough people had gotten together and refused to go along to get along. These things were so disgustingly reckless that in hindsight, I'm embarrassed to say I didn't do anything about them. But because I was silent, and others were silent, they're still happening and even as an alum I'm still feeling some of the repercussions.

And then I started thinking about how I wanted to remind the undergrads I'd meet with of several things along those lines...

That was about the time I had to slap my own fool self and recognize how I was quickly turning into the type of alum I'd always said I disliked and didn't want to be: trying to change the things that I didn't feel empowered to change back when I was a student. There's a fine line here, between illuminating things for these students that I didn't know back when I was in their position and forcing them to fight a fight I should've fought.

I think we all do this in various facets of our life. It's true that hindsight is 20/20. I speak so assuredly now of any number of things that are true for people younger than me, in any setting but I have to realize that if I knew then what I know now things would have been different. Not only did I not know what I was doing, but I didn't know that I didn't know. That comes with age and experience and I just as I didn't have the wisdom back then to make some of the choices I'd make now, neither do folks who are in the shoes I just left a few years ago.

My job is to show them the potholes I fell into and give them tools to avoid them. What I can't and shouldn't do is try to push them around the holes. If they fall in, they fall in and they'll learn, like I learned. I can't live in the past because I can't change it -- I can change tomorrow though.



Why everything that's supposed to be bad make me feel so good? Everything they told me not to is exactly what I would. Man I tried to stop, man I tried the best I could, but...
-Kanye West "Addiction"

As most everyone with an internet connection knows by now, Amy Winehouse was found dead today. There's no official word on cause of death and last I saw authorities in Britain are treating it as "unexplained." Even with that being the case, most people have assumed, and with reason, that her death is most likely related to her infamous drug use and abuse. Based on what I do know about Amy Winehouse, I'm sure that she wasn't a heavy drug abuser, I'm sure she was heavily addicted.

I saw a few folks on twitter pondering the difference between addiction and heavy drug use or someone using drugs a lot. There is a difference because one is poor self control and the other is a disease.

I was once in love with a guy who lied to me almost non-stop about almost every thing. You name it, he lied to me about it. I was in love with a guy, same guy, who after blowing through his own trust fund, stole thousands of dollars from his parents, accused his beloved nanny of stealing the money and refused to return it. This same guy, this guy I was in love with, totaled not one, but two cars. He did sneaky things like disabling his brother's car so he could use it while his brother was gone. I once loved a man who put himself in harms way regularly, to satisfy his own needs (once, he drove 2 hours to another city, parked in a WaHo parking lot and when he woke up the next morning had no idea where he was, how he got there or what happened -- he called me in a panic).

He did all of these things because he was addicted to drugs. Namely alcohol and opiates. I have stories for days about the things he did or said or put me through that revolve around his usage. If you've ever known someone, much less loved someone, who was addicted to drugs you know that the things I listed above only scratch the surface of what can happen. I know addiction has to be a disease because I can't believe that someone would do the things an addict does, on a daily basis (and I'm not even referring to injecting strange liquid into their blood streams), and not have some type of disease. Poor self-control can surely lead to someone falling victim to an addiction disease, but the two descriptors are for different types of people.

I'm not going to pretend that addicts shouldn't be held responsible for the things they do and maybe that's what makes it hard for some people to differentiate between a person with poor self control and a person with a problem. Being addicted to drugs or alcohol does not absolve you from responsibility in the same way we might not judge an end-stage terminal cancer patient who can no longer care for their own hygiene. But even as we lock up alocholics who hit kids with cars, we can't forget that they have a problem that requires specialized treatment.

I watched J's downward spiral from having poor self control to full blown addiction. It was really easy for me to pretend that he was still just a selfish man who wanted what he wanted when he wanted it, even when the signs pointed so clearly to addiction. But now that it's been several years and I can look back with much more clear vision, I can see the clear line that he crossed when he went from just wanting to forget his problems to needing it to function.

I hope that if you have never known anyone personally who was addicted to something, you never do. It's not an experience I think any one needs in this life. However, regardless of whether or not you have that personal connection, I hope that your sympathy for those who really struggle with addiction increases. They made choices that put them there, yes. They do really bad things and should be held accountable, yes. But being addicted to something is far different from using it or doing it a lot. Addiction is a whole new ball game and causes you to do things that in your sober mind, you'd never imagine doing...


Odds and Ends on a Saturday Night

Because she loves me in a publicly secret sort of way, @Reads4Pleasure tagged me to do this, and because I'm too lazy to go switch out my a/v cables on the tv so I can stream some netflix and nothing's on tv and I refuse to do any of the other work I need to do, I'm about to fill this out.

*cracks knuckles*

Seven Random Things About Me

I broke my leg when I was 2, the doctor set the cast wrong and so my hip turned out and now I walk funny (with my toes pointing out).
I've never been to a domestic beach. Was supposed to go last week, but got kidney stones so I guess I'm just not supposed to. *shrugs*
I don't like fruit. Any kind. I used to, apparently, but as far back as my memory serves, I never have.
I fenced in high school.
When I eat onion rings, I don't eat the onions. Just the fried, bad for you, high in cholesterol part.
I sucked my thumb until I was 9.
Scottie Pippen is my 4th half cousin, 2 times removed.

Q&A Session
Favorite color: Purple
Favorite song: NOT a question I enjoy. One of them is "Cupid" by 112.
Favorite dessert: Red Velvet Cheesecake
Biggest pet peeve: People who waste my time. In the immortal words of one, @whatuwontsay, "waste something that belongs to you..."
When You Are Upset, You: Nap, write or listen to music
Your Favorite Pet: Umm... one of the goldfish I fed too much to and killed?
Black or White: Why so harsh??
Biggest Fear: My mother's death or drowning...
Best Feature: This weird ability to stay calm when most others are freaking out.
Everyday Attitude: "Be me, do what I believe and to be myself..." - Left-Eye
What is Perfection: Anything that allows me to laugh, sleep and eat... simultaneously. Anything else is a cheap effort at it.
Guilty Pleasure: watching bad black movies.

I'll tag anyone who reads this to do it.


Why I'm Not Going Back to THAT Church...

A few disclaimers...

One, it's a SHAME that my first full post on my churchin' activities is going to be negative. It really is.

Two, I hate when people use random acts that happen in churches they've never been to as their excuse for why they don't go. Er'body ain't into church, but to act like you're not into church or by some extension Christianity because some screw up like Bishop Eddie Long got accused of abusing boys is RIDICULOUS. So this post is by no means that. This post is a little talk about how there's a way to do everything and it's using the setting of a church I recently attended and is why I'm not going back to THAT church; not why I'm not going back to church. I church, so I'll be back in one on Sunday.

We good? Aight then, let's go.

One of my most major beefs with the black church is the uber traditionalist ways. That's for some people, and that's fine, but there's so much done in the black church because of tradition that is not biblical. Now, I'll be honest and say that my issues with the traditions are less with that they're non-biblical and more that they feel self-serving, arduous and pointless.

I say all that to set the stage for the following statement: It's already a lot to get me to go to a traditional church, so when I do, let's don't give me reasons to further be disappointed and irritated.

This past Sunday, I attended church with my mom because I've missed a few weeks and I know she likes for me to go with her when I'm in town. From the word go, even though there was really nothing initially amiss/different from what I usually experience there, I wasn't feeling it. The pastor, who is a good friend of my mom's, made the unusual ask that the choir sit down in the congregation so he could see everyone. This church isn't big, it's two aisles of about 8 pews on either side. Not big.

This particular preacher is well-versed in the Bible. He knows his stuff. More than that, he's passionate, which is a good thing. He really wants to serve God and he wants to expose people to Christ. It's awesome... in theory.

His passion tends to display itself in a very whiney, y'all suck, lecture manner. That is to say his sermons tend to end by lecturing his small congregation on all their many shortcomings. I'm not above that. Sometimes we need people to get real with us and say "Yo, you messin up, b..." but EVERY SUNDAY?

This past sunday, the thing that set him off was so miniscule that his being set off pissed me off so bad that I considered walking out. My mom's relationship with him is what saved him.

He was upset that so many people (and remember, this is a SMALL church) weren't reading along in their Bibles.

That's it.

He was mad that not absolutely everyone in the congregation bothered to follow along in their Bibles.

In 2011, churches are posting twitter feeds up behind pastors, putting up the verses being read, encouraging people to use their mobile devices to access a Bible -- church is going high-tech in 2011 and for a myriad of reasons. For one, the idea is to attract more young people, for two going high-tech suggests a willingness to expand and meet our society where it is. Within that, I see also a recognition that there's an easy way to reach people you might not otherwise reach.

So here we are, faced with a few people who aren't reading/following along in their Bibles during the sermon and the first reaction is to lecture. That didn't sit right in my spirit. Have we addressed some of the possible seed issues? Maybe the folks who weren't following along don't have Bibles. There are none in the pews. Maybe these folks can't read. That's still an unfortunate reality in 2011. Maybe these folks don't know the books well enough and feel overwhelmed by trying to flip back and forth. And then maybe they don't care. Maybe they just show up for the look of it. But until the issue has been determined, who are you to stand up in a powerful spot -- behind the pulpit -- and yell at them?

I was so disappointed. God and I had to have a chat. I needed to calm down on that Sunday afternoon. This isn't the first time something like this has happened and so what I thought was a fluke is apparently a regular occurence. When I walked out of the door, however, I didn't even pause as I thought to myself, "won't be stepping back in here..."

Please don't mistake what I'm saying. Anger, and forthrightness and in your faceness has a place in the church. Jesus went all up and through the temple overturning tables and yelling and being very angry because folks were in there acting up and being disrespectful. Jesus was no meek and mild mannered man, and Christianity isn't a meek and mild type of situation. It's not his anger that bothers me -- it's the what are you doing about it question that goes unanswered that's bothering me. Church is where people come for help and it seems our churches are doing that less and less...


Tomorrow I'm headed to the beach with a longtime friend, her boyfriend and one of her other friends. To say I'm not particularly excited about the trip is to understate it. I've backed out of this trip several times, but my need and desire for a few days away from anyone who can place a demand on me or make a request of me lures me back in.

This friend and I have known each other for just under a decade. We've been good friends almost the same length of time. I've considered her a good and close friend for a while now and so now that I'm beginning to realize, or at least think, this friendship is coming to a crossroads is a bit of a shocker.

I can't tell if it's her new relationship, if I'm a hater or if we really have just become two different people but I know that I have almost no desire to have a place in her life. There's no ill will, she hasn't done anything crazy to me and as far as I know we're both on great terms with each other. I just don't care to have her around or be around her.

Maybe my word choice is harsh, I'm not sure. It's not that I don't care about her or this friendship, I just don't get what I'm doing anymore. Our conversations feel elementary to me (another piece of evidence that we're growing apart) and I feel like with good reason, her priorities and focus are everywhere but with this friendship.

I know that what I definitely need is some time to step back from it and take a breather. Whether we continue on as friends or not, I surely need a break to not be worried about anything that has to do with her and me and us. So I'm thinking, ladies and gentlemen, this trip -- amidst all the issues I've had with it from jump street -- will be our last hoorah for a while...

Not sure she'll really notice.

Everything I Know About Cheating I Learned From 90s Girl Groups

This post has been bumping around in my head for several days now. It all started when my iPod got off on some old Destiny's Child and played "With Me." I guess I hadn't ever REALLY thought about the lyrics, but take a look at the chorus:
Do you ever wonder when he dont come who he goes to see?
And why in the middle of the night he leaves you alone, leaves you alone?
Do you ever wonder when he dont come home who he goes to see
And why in the middle of the night he leaves you alone
Everything he likes is with me
What REALLY got me was a line in one of the verses where Beyonce sings that if SHE were the woman this song is directed to, she woulda been told ol' boy to get gone. Destiny's Child had the nerve to have Parts 1 AND 2 to this song, just in case you needed to be told again that your man had stepped out on you.

Anyway, I got to thinking about the way Alicia Keys got ethered by the general R&B fanbase when she married Swizz Beats and how so many people felt personally offended and let down that she would write a song like "Karma" and then date a married man (and later marry him before his divorce was final enough for us outsiders). Ok so yeah, maybe she was wrong... would we have loved her more if she'd been like some of our favorite girl groups and been 100 with it?

Take our favorite Unsung girls, SWV. They had a few questionable songs, including "You're the One"
I know that you're somebody else's guy
But these feelings that I have for you
I can't deny
She doesn't treat you
The way you want her to
So come on stop fronting
I wanna get with you
What your girl don't know won't hurt her
Anything to make this love go further
An admitted favorite song of mine is Xscape's "My Little Secret," which, as we all well know is all about the fun in creeping...
I like being in the same room with you and your girlfriend
The fact that she don't know, that really turns me on.
She'll never guess in a million years that we got this thing going on

TLC, an all time favorite group of mine is of course famous for their song "Creep" which, while about creeping on your man cause he's creeping on you is still about creeping...
Though I might mess around, it's only cause I need some affection
So I creep, yeah just keep it on the downlow
Said, nobody is supposed to know.
So I creep. Yeah, cause he doesn't know what I do
And no attention goes to show...
A little known fact is that LeftEye didn't like this song. She disagreed with the premise all together (recall she [accidentally] burned her boyfriend's house down because he was cheating). In fact, her raps on the remixes to this song are the antithesis to the point of the song. She raps about the consequences to creeping instead of the causes.

In 1996, a forgotten duo called Changing Faces told their neglectful man they had somebody else in, yeah... that's right... "I Got Somebody Else"
I got somebody else
The one I've waited for
He gives me loving, all that I wish for
I got somebody else
Someone who's really sure
I'm so in love
He's all that I wish for
We seem to like it better when the lady has a reason to step out, no?

Bad Boy's bad girls, Total, got right down to it with "Bet She Can't"
Am I badder than your girl?
I hit you with the yes-yes-y'all
Bet she can't do it like I do it,
'Cause when I do I throw my back into it.
And if you doubt me then let me prove it,
'Cause I can turn you out.
If you're the girlfriend, I don't know how you compete with that.

I know I'm missing a few. Something about the 90s pulled out every type of girl group you could think of and many of them sang something about stepping out on their man, while also having a few tracks about their man stepping out on them. Did I miss any of your favorites?

Cross posted at Time In My Brain


Coming Home

Ever since I left my hometown 7 years ago to attend college, I've been struggling with the proper decorum for visiting when I'm back in town. That is, how do I prioritize who I visit and what's the best way to avoid seeing people I deem not important enough? As the years have gone by, this struggle has only intensified.

I was amazed, during my first few visits back home, how many people I didn't even think knew I had left were pressed to see me. I'd get home to a list that seemed a mile long of people who had called my mom and asked when I'd be home and then requested a visit. At first I tried to comply, but eventually I got fed up with spending hours at people's houses who a)weren't checking on me during the year and b)quite frankly bored me. Plus it was seriously cutting into how much time I had to spend with my friends and the other people I did want to see. Not to mention a lot of these people were friends of my mom, not friends of mine. I just stopped feeling beholden to them, especially once my mom gave me her blessing on it.

And now, when I come home, I pretty much just want to spend time resting or hanging out with my mom. There are definitely friends here I want to see but we're all getting older and so many of them have busy lives that they can't just stop because I'm in town. Funny -- that doesn't seem to be holding true for some of these other people, but whatevs.

I'm thinking about this stuff because I just got an email from a longtime mentor and friend. She and I have been emailing each other regularly since I was a junior in high school. I'm very close with her and her family and see them as family in a lot of ways. Lately, she's been asking me a lot about coming down to spend the night with them when I'm in town. I've had legitimate reasons in the past for having to turn down the invitation and I imagine that I'll continue to have legitimate reasons, but her request this time was less asking and more "I know I keep asking and I keep asking because you haven't said yes..."

I could've made time to acquiesce and it would seem that I would want to given my relationship with them. Her husband is like a father figure for me and her sons are like little brothers. I owe them so much and they exposed me to so many things for which I'm forever grateful. But thinking about spending a night just doesn't excite me the way it used to.

I've grown a lot in the last 7 years, which is how long I've been away from home and thus away from them. I've matured, been exposed to new things and situations and people and I have a larger world view. Though I love them, when I'm with them I can't help but feel like I'm being closed in. The things they worry about, think about, joke about and even judge feel so small and miniscule to me. This sounds like such an exponentially ridiculous thing to use as why I don't want to fulfill a simple request, but it's still my truth. On the times I have visited, I couldn't get back to my mama's house fast enough.

Having the background that I do, I'm frequently around less, shall we say "cultured," individuals. This means I've had to dance around the line of acceptable and unacceptable. How much ignorance do you put up with before you hip people to game. Like when my uncles refer to gay men as "sissies" -- not out of malice, but out of ignorance. Do I remind myself that just because a white person tells me their grandmother calls black folks "nigger" out of ignorance, that doesn't change the offense or do I tell myself my uncles just don't know any better and let it go. When I'm with them -- this family -- and they say something left of center, I feel like my silence okays it, but I know that my speaking up won't do much to change what they think. Most times it's not worth it to me to cause an issue when nothing will change, but it still plays in my mind that I know better, but didn't say anything.

Maybe my sensitivity to this has more to do with feeling like I'm outgrowing them and not being ok with that, than any actual ignorance. I don't know. But I do know that I've got to figure this out. I can't keep avoiding the issue.


Have you ever done something with the best intentions, or maybe with no intentions, and it just got away from you and turned into something it was never supposed to be?

I remember one time in high school I tried to dead an issue between my then-BFF and another girl. I made a LOT of innocent mistakes, but a simple conversation between myself and the other girl somehow turned into the most devastating betrayal ever. The then-BFF called me a bitch, accused me of stabbing her in the back... she did everything but face punch me, which at the time I wished she would've done instead of laying the verbal smackdown on me that she did.

Being a teenager and having my hormones all out of whack, that simple misunderstanding sent me spiraling into a teenaged depression. I was on an emo kick for real. I was DEVASTATED that not only did someone I consider a dear friend think I had tried to hurt her but she thought I had tried to do that when I was really just trying to help her!

The more I tried to explain what had really gone down, the worse it got. I can't quite explain how this worked, but I know that the more people who approached me wondering what was happening, the more fudged the story got even though I explained it the same way to everyone. Eventually I figured out that it was easier to just let the story run it's course and hope that she and I would have a chance to clear the air.

We never talked about it again and I know that it was one of the MANY things that contributed to the ultimate end of our friendship -- if you want to call what we had a friendship.

I've had a few more similar instances, but I've learned something valuable through them all. At this point, I take a pretty immediate and hard line stance when things like this happen. I apologize to the effected parties, shut the hell up and have several seats. It isn't easy to do that when inside I'm thinking of how the fact that things reachied this point wasn't even my fault but I remind myself that regardless of what I meant, I ultimately played a part in things ending up as they did and so I need to own that and move on.

The thing about your words or actions getting away from you is that you can't get them back and if you spend too much time trying, you'll lose a lot of opportunities to dead an issue. Some folks are just absolutely impossible to appease and nothing you say will change that; in fact it will only give them more fodder for their anger. Say you're sorry, and lay low -- let it blow over. If anybody wants clarification, they'll find you and ask for it.