Whenever I think of my father, music starts to play. Read more
My clunky Dell computer, the one that took up so much room when I packed it the year before, would stay behind. “I’m getting right back on the road Tuesday.” My tiny car couldn’t spare the space for what would ultimately be a round trip. When I locked my door that was the last time I turned the key as a New Orleans resident. Read more
Where were you, the moment you knew it was time to stand tall and walk in your purpose? How old were you? Did you hesitate and ultimately give in, or did you act without hesitation? Read more
When women are pregnant, everyone is full of advice. Mothers, aunts coworkers, and friends are fountains of (at times, unsolicited) input and advice. Being pregnant is like being trapped in a Google search bar with someone else at the controls; beset with questions you never asked. Read more
My home has been full of children for almost my entire life. My brother was already there when I was born and I’m the oldest of four girls. Read more
Mondays eat the unwashed butt. Or at least that’s how it feels when the alarm goes off signifying that the weekend is officially over. I thought of a thousand reasons to stay in bed and never leave, without any great difficulty this morning. But I had to get out of bed, so instead, I came up with ten good things to get me out of bed today.
- Bob’s Burgers – If you haven’t watched this quirky slice of Americana, you’re losing. Bob’s droll resignation is balanced perfectly by his wife Linda’s (ever annoying) upbeat attitude about everything. Each of the kids are gems and every character adds spice to this show. Netflix binge worthy. It will also make you want a burger. Or maybe that’s just me.
- Obnoxious Bows – I love bows. That’s one of the things I miss since the advent of gift bags. This weekend I saw a purse with a huge pink bow and it altered my entire weekend’s trajectory.
- Chicken – I shouldn’t have to sell you on this.
- Finn Balor – He’s an Irish wrestler with a wide, smirking mouth. This is enough.
- Trapper Keepers – I estimate that an old school Trapper Keeper would improve my quality of life by roughly 7% (13% if it is galaxy themed).
- Baby High Fives – Those chubby hand slaps are stamps from the universe telling you that things aren’t so bad.
- Cartwheels – They’re symbols of freedom.
- Ballerina flats – You can wear them to work, happy hour, a date, or a street fight.
- Incense – They always make a house smell like a home.
- You – You’re made it. You could have given up in the night and no one would have blamed you, but you didn’t. Do something nice for yourself today because you’ve earned it.
That’s my list. What’s on yours?
Productive standstills are the worst. Even when I’ve accomplished something, I always feel like I’m two steps behind, because I’m accomplishing what I intended to accomplish the day before. I survey my day by asking, “What did I do today?” My brain may tic of one or two accomplishments, then it goes into overdrive into all the things I failed to do. (Beauty Jackson – Chronic Self-Flagellator.) I had a great conversation with a friend last night and he said, “I think you need to stop coming down on yourself regarding the things you don’t do and look at the things you do.” And then I totally missed a deadline for something.
But I had an epiphany and being the helpful sort, I’m going to pass it on to you. I approach the day with no plan. I wake up, brush and wash things and places, verbally jerk off on twitter, fly out the door, then I just let God sort out the rest. I’ve already set myself up to fail that night’s “What did I do today” quiz. How can I not plan to do something, then beat myself up for not doing it, when I never once told myself that I wanted to do that thing today? (Say that shit five times fast.)
So today, I’m getting ahead of things and asking, “What do I want to do today?” I have a list:
- Not get fired.
- Finish this survey I’m working on before Classick kills me.
- Finish my filing at work.
- Not call anyone “the most annoying motherfucker this side of creation.” (You would be astonished at how difficult this is.)
- Do one thing to help a friend.
I can literally do everything on this list (except maybe the first one, because they truly hate me and the feeling, as the prolific El Bloombito would say, esta hella mutual). So tonight, before I go to bed, I can look back at today and put it in the W column. Because your girl desperately needs one.
Today is your 65th birthday. Would you already be retired? Would you spend your off days going to IHOP, telling the waitress about Jesus and inviting her to learn with you? Would you hair be grey just at the temples, or would you have a full head of salt and pepper like your mother? I’ve filled the last 21 and-a-half years with questions that will always be unanswered, because you died when you were only 43 – just a little more than three years older than I am now. You passed away when I was ready for you to teach me everything. I fought through my teenage angst and finally believed you when you told me that you were my friend.
Fortunately, you gave me a good enough foundation to piece together the things I believe you would have taught me. I’m not the person you raised me to be, Mama – not entirely. There are vast swaths of my life that you would categorically disapprove of. This is the first year that I realized that’s okay. Perhaps it’s because my own kids are approaching adulthood. I won’t always like the things they do or the choices they make, but I will always be their mama. I think through our fights, my stubbornness, and your tight-lipped disapproval, we would have found our own rhythm.
You never get used to not having a mama. My brilliant friend Deesha said it best in a Facebook post last week:
I just sighed a long, long sigh and suddenly had the urge/thought to call my mother, as if I really could. I actually sat up to do it. As if I had forgotten that my mother died in 2005. The last time I had that impulse/urge/thought was about 5 years ago. In joy and in sadness, I guess it’s always there.
My brain is wired to do things that don’t make sense. Sometimes I scour my brain trying to remember your email address, despite the fact that you’ve never had one. I wanted to call you to tell you that BB made the cheer squad and that Tyson performed at the Gene Kelly Awards, despite the fact that you’ve never met my children. We had a full-blown argument in my head when I moved to Maryland, though you had been gone almost eleven years by then. This is because you’re not really gone.
They always say the Devil is in the details, but Mama, it’s you. You’re everywhere. You’re in Shaun’s love for God and Kelly’s fighting spirit. You’re in the set of Chloe’s jaw when she realizes someone is trying her and she’s ready to let them know she ain’t the one or the two. You’re in the shape of Tyson’s finger and toenails. You’re in BB’s jawline and her elbows and knees when she dances. You’re in my compassion. And when the world is falling down around my ears and I want to crawl under my bed, YOU are right there saying, “Keep getting ready, Melanie,” because you know I have a goal. Right before you died, you said, “At least I know Melanie will be alright. And if Melanie is alright, the rest of the girls will be too.” So, I’m alright, Mama. I refuse to make a liar out of you.
I love you and I miss you, even though in a million ways, you’re still here. Today, rather than feeling sad, I’m basking in that blessing.
My depression feels like a defeat before I swing my legs out of bed. I open my eyes, look around searching for a reason that makes getting out of bed worth it. I don’t want to quit. I don’t want to end things. I want to quietly slip into the void. So in the morning, I have to find a reason to get out of bed. I count them: Read more
Or Here’s Why You Should Shut Up
Dear Oblivious Caucasia:
You woke up to the news of another black person being murdered by the police. You woke up to a sea of hurt, outrage, and arguing. You woke up to another hashtag. You woke up once again thrust into a world that you may well never have to deal with solely because of your whiteness. You woke up to discussions of police brutality, white privilege, and why #BlackLivesMatter. The world around you is in a tizzy and you don’t completely “get it.” As the day wears on, your tolerance of the topic may wear thin – because you’re a good white person. You’ve had nothing but great encounters with the police. And sure, some of them may be bad, but not all. And don’t all lives matter? And oh yeah, what about black on black crime? It’s gone too far. Someone has to speak out. You are ready to be the hero. Dear White Person, I implore you:
Some may cite statistics about how black people are disproportionately affected by confrontations with police. Others might point out the numerous incidents of actual murderers and attempted murderers (who just happened to be white) who were coddled while in police custody. Another person might mention how the all lives matter crowd only seems to raise its head to shout down #BlackLives Matter, but have barely whispered the name Dylan Noble, murdered by Fresno police while on the ground. Still others might point out that not only is intraracial violence common among all racial groups – not only black people – but it differs because once apprehended those perpetrators are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law (hello disproportionate sentences handed down for black people). But I’m not going to do that. I am not here to “incite dialog.” I’m here to
I want you to be quiet, because now it’s your time to listen and acknowledge that maybe this racism jazz has gotten a little out of control. It’s your time to recognize that there are things that you will never have to face as a white person, and black people don’t need your advice on how to stay alive in confrontations with the police. It’s your time to realize that if you can see this endless stream of black bodies murdered by the people ostensibly sworn to protect them – often for the most arbitrary reasons – and not feel outrage, then you are on the wrong side. The police operate under the same rules as the gangs and mobs they fight against. You don’t speak against the family. You don’t snitch. The Fraternal Order of Police is the largest and most fearsome organized gang in the United States of America.
Be quiet, because it is the decent thing to do when people are hurting and you don’t know what to say. And while I understand that talks of white privilege may cause you to feel guilty and indicted, YOU must understand that this is not the time to play “What about my feelings?” In less than 24 hours two black men – Alton Sterling pinned to the ground, Philando Castile in compliance with police – were murdered. One of them was shot in front of his four-year old daughter. The flood of images of black people being murdered by agents of the state is played and replayed on the news until we choke on it, because in 2016, black pain is theater and we are going to discuss that shit. THEREFORE WE CANNOT WORRY ABOUT HURTING YOUR WHITE FEELINGS TODAY. So before you bring them up
Before you feel the need to let us know that you are a good white person, as though our problem is with individual white people and not a centuries old system established to oppress the people who built it
Before you passive aggressively ask “Don’t all lives matter?” while completely ignoring the centuries of actions and countless hashtags chronicling murdered black people in the past two years alone
Before you see an entire race of people in pain and anguish, expressing simply that we don’t want to have to fear being killed in the streets for our blackness and part your silly ass lips to say “Well…you’re the real racist”
My goal is not to “win you over to my side.” I’ve learned that right-minded people don’t need extensive convincing to see what has gone terribly wrong. People of all races who truly want justice don’t need Alton Sterling’s twitching body played ad infinitum on the news for his child to see. They don’t need pleas. No one is born aware of the needs of people outside of the groups with which they identify, so you’re not expected to get it all at once. It takes time and patience on both sides. But the onus is not on black people to address oppression with niceness. We are not your tour guides. So, when you don’t know, or don’t understand, just do yourself a favor: listen and
Because black people do not have time to coddle you in your gossamer blanket of Caucasian oblivion today.