Taking Notes and Doing it Right

Bey is pregnant...

She was married first....

Apparently this is precisely how all women should carry about their business, and those who do it differently do it wrong.

I suspect that if doing it in that manner were easy or even plausible for all women, maybe we'd see more of it. But somehow women are supposed to successfully date, marry and get pregnant with no onus being placed on men. The same men who are told by our society (whether they act on this or not) that they are inherently better than women and therefore entitled to whatever they please, especially where women are concerned.

A woman who wants a child but doesn't want to deal with the things that often come up for heterosexual women who choose to involve themselves with men in long term and serious relationships is at a loss, I suppose, as we've determined that the only way to do this is to date, marry and then get pregnant.

A woman who makes her best effort to use protection, but is failed, as no form of contraception is 100%, is losing and should have an abortion -- but wait, no, no -- don't have an abortion as that too is a terrible thing for her to do.

A woman who thinks she's met the man she wants to be with forever and gets pregnant only to find that he's unable or unwilling to be a father (or maybe even get married) is hella screwed, I suppose.

Or what about the woman who just doesn't want to be married? So she can be with this guy for her whole life, she just can't have a baby? Oh. Ok.

And I've been very clear on this very blog about my feelings about having 2 parents who raise a child. I think that a child should have both their parents in their life if it's possible. I think a child should have the regular (practically every day) influence of both a male and a female, whether the male and female are biologically the parents and whether or not both the male and female live in the home. Period.

But those are the ideal settings and I say all of this as the child of a single parent who worked her ass off to make sure I had what I needed and I actually had all types of male figures in my life, but I still am painfully aware of the chasms that my father's absence created in my emotional landscape. It's not pretty and working through them has been everything but exciting, fun or easy. I see what it's like for folks like me who had even slightly lesser situations.

And then my final issue is WHERE IS THE ONUS ON THE MEN? I'm not sure how women are supposed to date, marry and then get pregnant when so many men want to do everything BUT marry you and are more than ready to impregnate you. We may not have a shortage of eligible men, but I sometimes feel like we have a shortage of eligible marrying-minded men. Ironic too since most of the commentary I've seen on this has been from men and women who are already married (and have even said that if they had to date today, they're not sure how they'd make it).

You know, the other thought I had when I first saw a comment on Beyonce doing it the right way was of her sister. Both of them were born into the same household (though it's a well known-fact among anyone who studies family inner-workings that the family dynamics for one child is never the same for the other) and she got pregnant then got married and then got divorced... She did it wrong, too, I suppose, but it appears, to someone who doesn't know her or him, that her son is doing just fine.

We treat marriage like the panacea that it isn't. Marriage doesn't fix problems just like having children doesn't fix problems. If a woman plans to bring a life into this world and then raise it, the only thing she MUST do is put forth her best effort to provide the best life for her child -- giving them the most opportunities she can, to excel. If she can do that alongside a life partner, that's all to the good and I'd argue for most women preferred, but if she can't it's certainly not our job to police her womb and tell her no kids. We don't have any place in a womb that's not ours.



Making Time

Yesterday on Black 'N Bougie, OneChele wrote a post about doing the relationship juggle. That is trying to find time for your girls (or boys) once you're in a serious and committed relationship. We all have things going on aside from relationship building -- work, volunteer activities, family -- so trying to find time for your folks when you're also making time to get to know someone on a significantly more (or maybe different) intimate level is really hard.

After reading through all of the comments and leaving my own, I really started to think a little bit harder about the friend I'm taking a break from. I said in my post on it that I"m not sure if I'm hating on her relationship and choosing to pretend that we're "in different places" or if we really are just in different places (and maybe her relationship is proof of that).

It also got me to thinking about my previously expressed opinions on friends that go months without speaking and then claim to "pick up right where they left off..."

And finally I had to think a little bit harder about what is really happening when a friend feels ditched because her girl got a man.

First off, I do need a break from my friend. Whether I'm hating or not, I clearly need to just take some time. I do feel ignored and taken for granted by her and I'm struggling with what it says that I haven't just called her to talk about it. Truth is, she's not doing too much differently than before she was in a relationship, she just has a good excuse now (and or an extra somebody in tow when I want to just hang out with her). I don't think I'm hating or being jealous, just honest, at least with myself (and only myself) about more of my friendships and what's really going on.

I've changed my mind about this general disbelief that you can go periods of time without talking to someone you're close to and then think everything starts right back up where you left off. Even when I wrote all that, I was doing the very same thing with my BFF. We don't talk every day, our schedules just won't allow it but when we do, it's like we just spoke yesterday and we do drive by texts and HeyTells and even fb messages occasionally. I think what I was really thinking about are the people who use that rule of thumb to be a bad friend. It's one thing to just have a lot on your plate, it's another to choose not to nurture a friendship because you take for granted that it will always be there. And only the two people in a friendship know which one it is so I can't really call bullshiggity on any of 'em except the ones I'm in.

The big one here is the relationship vs relationship piece. I think that both sides of the equation -- when an individual is feeling ditched for a new beau and when someone has a new beau and spends less time with their friend(s) -- spend a lot of time playing victim instead of remembering what it was like for them and/or trying to put themselves in the other person's shoes.

If we're honest about it, being in a new relationship is a lot of fun. It's new, for heavens sake and we all like new. It's not fair to expect your friend to have the option of spending mroe time with this new person in their life and not take it. Especially when you consider that we expect to, in just a few months, have a similar level of trust and connectedness with a s/o that we do with some of our oldest and closest friends (similar, not the same). That stuff takes time and energy and when you're trying to make it work long term, you just don't have extra to give out.

But on the flip side, after a certain age you know that s/os come and go. And it's hard to relinquish a prime spot to someone who might not be around in 3 months. Not to mention it's one thing to not see your friend as much as you used to and something completely different not to see them at all. That can be hard -- we rely on our good friends for support and what do you do when one is MIA.

Now if we're honest, we also have to admit that some people are just going to want the world. They're going to be the ones who think it's ok to not call you for 6 months and then pop up because the new boo is now the new ex. And you're going to have some people who think the whole world should revolve around them regardless of other people's lives. Those folks don't deserve true friends if you ask me and if you got one of those or are one, that's not ok. Change. That is unless, of course, the consequences are ok with you.

I just wonder. Is it so hard to let your friend have her booski? Is it so hard to let her be happy and work on her relationship? I also wonder if it's so hard to let your friends know that you still care about them, they still matter to you and you're still willing to give up a night to chill with them even though you have a new boothang (and might even lowkey rather be with them...)? A little compromise never hurt nobody, right? I can say that one thing I know is that when I've given my friends space to cultivate their new relationship, in a lot of cases, I've found that they didn't disappear on me. On the flip side, when I'm tied up in something important to me (as of late that's school) I'm more inclined to make time for the folks who give me breathing room and less inclined to have anything to do with folks who are always in my (enter communication method) whining about not seeing me. That's sweet the first time, cute the 2nd and irritating as hell every other time after that.

Just thinking out loud here, folks. It's a navigable situation, I believe, as long as both sides are willing to work it out.


The Bottom

My BFF called me just over an hour ago to tell me about his life since I saw him last week when he was in town for a conference. The highlight: he was diagnosed with major depression.

There's the obvious reasons he called to tell me about his breakdown on Monday and subsequent diagnosis: I'm in mental health, a counselor-in-training (practically a counselor at this point). I care a lot about mental health in the black community. I'm his BFF, I love and care about him, etc... but the more he talked the more I realized there was probably a bigger and deeper reason for his sharing. He didn't want me to experience it too.

My BFF and I are BFFs because we're so much alike. He pinpointed his ability, from both natural origins and because of our shared undergraduate major, to read people emotionally as one of the major causes of his illness. The more he talked the more it made sense to me why lately I've just been so tired. Why I pull away when people reach out to me and just want to be friends and do friend things. It's weird because as I've posted before, I think I understood it, but his situation made it real for me.

I'm damn intuitive. Like freakishly so. I can tell if something is wrong with a person, regardless of how well I know them, right off the bat. And then I have this strange need to take that burden off them and handle it myself or make them feel better, and I'm very adept at making people feel better. I've come to despise this about myself, but it's a double-edged sword. It's why people, especially people in need, are drawn to me. Why I'm going to make a good counselor. Why I always find myself in the middle of craziness. One of my attributes, really one of my blessings, is also a curse.

But all of that work is tiring. It is HARD to deal with my own stuff and go through a whole day taking on everyone else's stuff. It's exhausting and so it makes sense that sometimes I just want to be by myself. Sometimes I don't want to answer the phone. Sometimes even a simple request to hang out is just too much as I immediately know, even though it's sub-consciously -- that it will require me to be "on" and being "on" is too much all the time.

I know many of my friends might be surprised to read this. I also know that many of them aren't and have tried to get me to slow down and take better care, but it's hard to change something that feels like a gift -- a calling, even. What I need is to control it, not stop it.

My BFF's call today reminded me that if I'm not absolutely careful, I'm going to end up in his shoes and much more sooner than I suspect.

However, I'm so proud of him for being open about his struggles and being willing to grab this tiger by tail -- but then again that's him. It's one more thing that makes him amazeballs and I don't doubt that like everything else he tackles, this'll be handled effectively and in what'll feel like no time.


Private Decisions, Public Consumption

A running joke amongst me and a few of my friends (although sometimes I wonder if it's not believed by some of them) is that I'm involved in some... let's say unsavory and less than legal activities. The proof they say lies at least partly in my tendency to be sketchy. Ask me where I'm going and I'm probably not going to be specific. Ask me where I've been -- nope. Non-specific as possible.

In fact, just this weekend, one of my friends looked over and noticed that I had quite a bit of cash on my person. "Why do you have so much cash?" she asked. "Uhh. I have stuff to pay for..." I responded initially. That's the kind of sketchy responses I give. It's not that I'm purposefully trying to be hard to deal with. It's just that I don't deal in details when I don't think details are necessary.

And maybe I also avoid details to avoid scrutiny and having to explain and whatever else comes along with people knowing the intimate details of any one decision.

I thought about this as I popped in and out of the twitter conversation around Fantasia's announcement that she's pregnant. The basic assumption is that the father of her child is Antwaun Cook, the same man she reportedly had an affair with and the same man who's wife is still suing her. On her popular reality show we watched her confront him about the drama and seem to insinuate she wouldn't continue to see him. Not too long after a rumor surfaced that she'd had an abortion and not to long ago so did reports that she had been seen with him.

And now people are expressing some disappointment in Fantasia ('Tasia Mae as I affectionately call her). Of course, where there's an expression of one opinion, there are just as many expressing the opposite and wondering why the other side feels the way they do.

I get really annoyed with people who want to live the celebrity life, but don't want to pay the cost. I actually feel bad for celebrities. I don't want people I know making snap judgements about the things I do and expressing disapproval, so imagine having thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of people you've never met and probably won't ever meet who get to know every detail about your life and every good and bad decision you make is put up for them to judge and comment on in public forums. I couldn't do it.

That's why I'm not going to be that famous.

So for individuals who find themselves in fame's arms, loving the experience: appreciating the money, the prestige, the validation but then are surprised and angered by the flip of that: the negative blog posts, the poor record sales, the jokes by late night show hosts, I can't conjure it up to feel bad for them. You gotta take the good with the bad in almost every situation.

Plus, we live in a time where celebrities are marketed to us to make us love them personally. There used to be a healthy separation between a fan and a celebrity. We used to get, even if we didn't realize we got it, that they produced something we liked not so much that we had to also like them personally. I think immediately of Tupac. Tupac was attacked in the media, like a lot of gangsta rappers from the early to mid-90s, but qualms with 'Pac were often over his lyrics, even though he was shot and accused of rape and spent time in prison. I don't mean to suggest he didn't receive ANY criticism about those things, but I don't think a rapper today could have those things in their history and continue to sell records. Someone would make sure that didn't happen.

So after celebrity machines do their work and make us feel like we personally know these celebrities so we'll watch their movies and tv shows or but their albums and go to their concerts, there's suddenly surprise that when even when a celebrity isn't performing fans expect them to be a certain way.

Is it fair? No. Should it be expected, though? I think absolutely yes. I think that if you want the fame you need to know what the downside of it is and you need to know that you can deal with it. It's not my fault if you don't do that...