Nineteen, Twenty.

One night I walked into my building and someone came in right behind me. I held the door open for him and pressed the up button to wait for the elevator. He waited there with me. When the elevator arrived I got on and pushed 19. He got on and pushed 20. At this point, I looked at him. Who was this guy I just let into my building? What a coincidence that he’s going to the floor right above mine – that never happened. He was about my height, he was slim, and he had locs. Those are the kind of guys I like. He was definitely my type. Especially the hair. I love to run my fingers through some locs. I kinda smiled at him and then fumbled with my keys wondering why this felt like the longest elevator ride I’d ever taken to my floor. When the elevator announced I had finally arrived at the 19th floor, I promptly got off and went on my merry way. There’s a cutie in my building, I thought to myself.

I saw him a few more times and the scenario was almost always the same. He would come into the building right after me or he would be there before me, we would wait for the elevator, I would push 19 and he would push 20, but maybe once I said, “good night,” as I got off the elevator instead of just looking at him and all his cuteness. I never introduced myself or said hi or anything. I mostly just peeked at him and if he looked at me I smiled and looked away. My hair was probably styled different each time he saw me or should I say each time I saw him. I don’t think he would recognize me as the girl from 19. I don’t think he even noticed which floor I was going to.

Blondie

Real Blonde

One night I was sitting outside of my building with my friend in her mom’s car listening to DJ Self’s topic time and getting ready to get high as a kite. Possibly higher. I was officially 26 and I was sporting a new image – straight inches of strawberry blonde hair flowing all over my shoulders and down my back. It was different than my usual look. My hair is black now but I used to have blonde curly hair and it was a fabulous time in my life. I figured I would give blonde hair another try except straight and see what would happen.

Blondish

Fake Blonde

What happened was the guy, about my height, slim, with locs, walked by the car and looked at me. Well, he was looking towards the car. It was freezing outside and he was strolling along with his hands in his pocket trying to stay warm. He was looking towards us like he recognized us. “I think that’s the cute guy with the locs who lives on 20. He’s so cute, right?” I said. At that point my friend rolled down my window and said, “Hey! Do you know her?” “No,” he said. “Come here,” she said. He turned around and headed straight to the car to my open window.

“If you don’t know us, why are you looking over here?” She asked him. I laughed. I didn’t know him but I thought I did. He had a hood on and I couldn’t be sure this was the guy with the locs. It looked like him. He had on the same jacket. Along with creep and weirdo, I also have an amazing memory. It was freezing outside so we told him to get in the car. He told me his name was Brandon. He was 26. He lived with his Aunt and his brother. He had two dogs. He moved here from Georgia a couple of years ago. Among other things I asked him if he lived on 20 and he said yes. We exchanged numbers then he got out of the car.

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Me on our first ‘date’

The next day, or the day after, he wanted to meet me on my floor. He didn’t want me to come to his apartment because his aunt is nosy. He came to my floor and we went in the staircase and we smoked together. It was like 2 am so I had on my pajamas. He kept trying to touch me but I’m ticklish and he could see it from how I was reacting. Finally I had to say, “stop grabbing me, I’m ticklish,” and he said something about me squirting & how he could make me wet the bed. I never knew the two were related but I was slowly realizing that I’m not a kid to be talking about sex in the staircase. Did he think I was gonna fuck him in this staircase? No matter what he thought, that wasn’t gonna happen. “I wanna go home,” I said. I was getting paranoid like the weed was laced or he thought I did stuff like this all the time or I would give in to his advances in a fucking staircase if I stayed there. I’m 26 in a fucking staircase with another 26 year old who lives in my building one floor above me. This was more of a scenario for high school kids.

One night I came home and I was tipsy and lonely and Brandon invited me to chill in his car with him. I didn’t like the idea that he wouldn’t show me his apartment. I always invite people over when my mom’s not home. If he couldn’t invite me over when his aunt wasn’t home I just assumed he was hiding something. I got to the point where I was still obsessed over this other guy who was in a ‘complicated’ relationship but trying to get over it. The same guy who didn’t understand why I would rather he wouldn’t text me. So I took Brandon up on his offer thinking maybe he was in a ‘complicated’ relationship too but I had no way of really knowing.  Even if I asked, most people aren’t very honest, how would I know if he was telling the truth or not? 

It was freezing outside but I figured I was just going to his car so I didn’t need to be bundled up. I put on a crop top and some leggings with my boots and threw on a jacket. I found his car, which kinda pissed me off because we live in the same fucking building and I wasn’t understanding why he couldn’t meet me in the lobby and walk me to the car so I wasn’t wandering around like an idiot. I still got in. We talked for a while. He mostly told me things about himself and I listened. Then he kept insisting that I lay down and get comfortable. We were in the middle seat of his mini-van. My mom used to have the same exact mini-van except it was green instead of purple and we had black to sliver tints, not just plain black. It felt strange to be getting intimate in a mini-van. Mini-vans are for people with kids like soccer moms. There was even a stick figure family on the back window. His explanation for such a car was his mom left it to him. He had no explanation for laying me down, removing my leggings, removing my panties, performing cunnilingus, and licking my asshole. That was the first time anyone’s tongue went there on my body and by there I mean my ass. I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy it. I also can’t say that I did.  I was too busy thinking should a tongue really return to my you-know-what after it licks my asshole? So I didn’t orgasm or anything and I asked him if he wanted to have sex. All the licking he did was like a warm up even with all the thinking. I mean it still felt nice no matter what hygiene questions my mind had. Turns out it was a warm up to sexual frustration as he didn’t have any condoms. I wasn’t even expecting his tongue to go down under unless I would’ve brought my own condoms. I thought we were gonna make out. Turns out he doesn’t like to kiss. Too bad as I’m an excellent kisser and I love to kiss. 

 

Anyway, when we got out the car and were headed into the building I went towards the front door. My building has a front door and a back door. I didn’t notice he was headed towards the back door until I heard him repeating something calling out to me. “Babe,” he said, “Babe. Babe. Babe.” I turned around and I saw him headed towards the other door. “Come this way,” he said. “What did you call me?” I asked even though I knew. “What?” he said, “you don’t like that?” “No, I don’t.” Maybe I was giving him a hard time. I wasn’t being my carefree self. I was being my most frigid self. An, I don’t trust anyone, self. I can’t deny, the places he decided to put his tongue made me trust him less. Then when he called me babe I thought maybe he forgot my name and I trusted him even less. Obviously it reminded me of the first night we were texting and someone else sent me a text that said “babe” by accident. I don’t know what made him call me that but I’m just glad it was at the end of the night and not the beginning.

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One Question No Answer

When I asked him if he had a girlfriend he didn’t answer right away.  “Wait what? You think if I had a girlfriend I would be talking to you[?]”  Eventually I reminded him, “you still didn’t answer my question.” “What question?” he asked. “Do you have a girlfriend?” “No. I don’t have a girlfriend.” he finally said. He never actually asked me to go anywhere with him or do anything with him. He barely ever text me and he called me randomly. I have horrible reception so we never really had conversations. I wasn’t in a position to be in a relationship anyway. If he would have gotten to know me better, I think he would’ve realized that on his own. I only realized that after the way things went down between us. I don’t trust anyone, I don’t know what I want, and I have a high sex drive – I don’t think I’m fit to be in a relationship with anyone right now. What’s a relationship without trust?

It’s hard to say what Brandon actually wanted from me. If he just wanted sex, he was taking forever to get around to it. He would text me at random hours but usually after midnight. If I was awake I would text him back but he never really had plans for us. I think maybe he thought we could have sex at my house while my mom was sleep. That was a definite no. He would text me in the afternoon around 12 or 1 but when I responded he wouldn’t reply until hours later. What the fuck? Even my guy in his ‘complicated’ relationship would communicate with me in a timely manner. I hated the idea of him being so close to me physically but so distant emotionally. So now I just see him around. I ran into him on the elevator once on my way to smoke. He was obviously high. He smelled like it and he looked like it. He looked so good. Always. I was on 19, going to 27 to smoke with my friend & he was getting off the elevator thinking it was 20. He smiled when he recognized me and stepped back into the elevator. When we got to his floor he said “be good,” while he was getting off. He always said that & it reminded me of the True Blood theme song, “I wanna do bad things with you.” Whenever he said “be good,” I obviously just thought of all the ways I could be bad.

 

Brandon met me at a time when I was transitioning. I was messing around with my friend who was in a ‘complicated’ relationship and trying to justify it and get over it at the same time. I actually met Brandon the same night he sent me a text he was trying to send his ‘girlfriend’ and it didn’t seem complicated to me at all. I was getting high constantly before I went to work and as soon as I got out of work. I was half moved in to my old home with my mom and half living out of my storage filed with stuff from my old apartment in Albany. There are three bedrooms in my apartment and I was staying in my sister’s old room that had a bed in it already. My mom was renting my old room out to a tenant. I had my mattress in storage because I planned to move back into my old room once my mom moved out. So my mom moved out. The tenant moved into my mom’s room. Now it was time for me to move into my old room, but I needed someone to help me get my big ass mattress out of storage.

So one night when my mom was finally moved all the way out but before I had my bed in my old room, Brandon came to the apartment. I showed him my room: pink walls, dark blue ceiling like a night with no clouds, and plush pink carpet. I’ve never had sex in my childhood room. I left home when I was 17 & a virgin and came back when I was 25 and a novice. I thought it would be great to have sex right on that plush pink carpet. Brandon didn’t think so. So I grabbed a cushion from my sofa and we did it on top of that. Not even close to any fantasy of mine but it felt like a dream. I was actually kinda satisfied when we finished. That’s the first and last time I think I’ll be having sex for a while.

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Valentine’s Day

What I wanted to actually happen between Brandon and I was for him to drive me somewhere in his car and maybe teach me how to drive. For him to call me and ask to spend time together. For him to invite me upstairs when his ‘aunt’ wasn’t home. For him to come see me in my apartment. For us to watch movies, make out, cuddle, play video games. We just small talked via text and phone calls with bad reception. I wanted us to date and form a relationship like normal people. We weren’t on the same page. I never expressed any of this to him. He never asked me out so I never bothered to tell him. The sex on the sofa cushion ruined any chance of that happening. I was embarrassed after the fact. He asked me if I was really 26 and I have no idea why. Was I immature or too mature to be 26? Was he really 26? Hmm. I realized I had rushed things because I felt like it was now or never. After the sex he tried to give me something. Earlier I told him my mom said I couldn’t have weed in the house. He brought me some bud with papers and a grinder. I didn’t take it but I thought it was so thoughtful and sweet of him to bring me anything at all. I wanted to have wild sex with him in my actual bed but I just didn’t have it when he happened to be in my room. I took what I could get from him when I could get it. That was my mistake. I’m not fucking anyone else unless we actually date. This was a learning experience for sure. I wonder what could have been but I remember what actually was and I’ll never do anything like that again.

He saw me while I was moving my mattress out of storage and I thought we would definitely get it on for the second time that night. I have a king size bed and 2 twin box spring. I had to ask a guy from my church to help me because I don’t drive or have a car and no one else would help me. I wasn’t gonna ask Brandon, he never fucking texted me back. So it was a Thursday night and we we’re bringing everything through the back door because it was easiest that way. Not only did Brandon NOT help, he asked me who the guy was that was helping me and when I answered him he said I ‘didn’t have to lie.’ Why would I lie? I mean if he would’ve helped me move my bed, I would have had him in it as soon as I put the sheets on. But I realize now that he just didn’t like me or anything I had to offer, even sex on a pillow-top king size bed. So I told him when we see each other we don’t have to speak and he never responded to me so I figured he agreed.

Once I was in Stop & Shop near my house. I was looking for mayo and couldn’t find it but I saw a guy with a Stop & Shop shirt bent over a box & figured he could help speed the process up. I went over to him and said, “excuse me, can you tell me where the mayo is?

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Drunk Text That Got No Reply

Like which aisle?” The guy gets up and turns around and it’s Brandon. I was embarrassed so I was like, “oh, forget it.” He still tried to help me, which I thought was weird. He basically took forever to text me back like I wasn’t worth a prompt response. He also didn’t want to spend time with me which I took as an insult since I had an apartment to myself. I wished I never gave him my number. More importantly, I wish I never let him be the first person I fucked in my pink palace. After I ran into him I texted him and he didn’t respond. I drunk dialed him but he didn’t pick up. But every time we see each other he says something to me. I just nod or wave or something else non-verbal. I think he’s just being polite but I have no idea why he bothers.

The other day I was walking towards my building and I see this lady walking towards me and a little boy, maybe 1 or 2 years old, walking behind her. She crosses in front of me like she’s going to cross the street or get into a car, but at first I think she’s coming right towards me and it startles me because I was looking at the kid and not really paying attention. I kinda move to the side and I wonder why she’s not holding the kids hand or anything since she’s going towards the street. Then I see a guy struggling with a scooter and I figure oh okay maybe he’s with them and he’s watching the boy to make sure he doesn’t run into the street. “Hi,” he says to me. I’m focused on the scooter because it looks kinda big for the kid as the guy is kinda struggling to carry it. I look up and it’s Brandon holding the scooter. I just smile and wave. I wonder if that’s his family. His kid. His girlfriend. Probably. That would explain the 4 am texts and phone calls at random hours. I loved to hear him talk though. One day I was outside walking to my friends mom’s car and someone yelled my name so I looked and it was him. I was shocked. Why could he talk to me but he couldn’t text me consistently? I liked to hear him talk. I liked his voice. I just could not stand to wait hours for a text. It made me feel like I wasn’t important. He wouldn’t like it if I kept him waiting for hours.

 

I keep running into him and he keeps speaking. I never speak, only gesture. When I realized it was him who said hi, even though he was struggling with that scooter or whatever, I imagined having him in my bed, sitting on his face like he suggested one time, and seeing if he could really make me squirt seeing as he thought that was something he could make me do since I’m ticklish. Maybe one day I’ll run into him on an elevator again and I’ll press 19 and he’ll press 20 and we’ll be alone but, instead of me standing there like an idiot, I’ll get real close to him, corner him maybe, whisper something in his ear, and see what he does. I still think he’s so attractive so I’ll probably never have the courage to do anything but wave. I’m okay with that. Sometimes I wonder if Brandon is even his real name or if that really was his kid and why he never told me where he worked so I could avoid it and if the sex was really bad and he just didn’t want to hurt my feelings or why he didn’t help me move my mattress and why he never ever responds to my texts or phone calls. I may never have the answer to any of my questions for or about him because I’ll probably never ask. I’m okay with that too.

Elle

Honor or Free Churro 4.28.19

“Children, you belong to the Lord, and you do the right thing when you obey your parents. The first commandment with a promise says, “Obey your father and your mother, and you will have a long and happy life.””

Children, it is your Christian duty to obey your parents, for this is the right thing to do. “Respect your father and mother” is the first commandment that has a promise added: “so that all may go well with you, and you may live a long time in the land.””

Children, obey your parents in Our Lord, for this is right. And this is the first commandment of promise: “Honor your father and your mother, and it shall be well for you and your life shall be long on The Earth.””

When I was a teenager I found a sex tape on my mom’s laptop. Someone was having sex with a guy I knew. He was a married pastor who preached at my church sometimes & went out to dinner with my Godparents. The woman in the video wasn’t his wife. Once I realized what I was looking at, I turned it off & never said a word.

Today, after a sermon on being honest with your children about who you are and who you used to be, my mother called me nasty and the worst person and some other insults I’ve heard before from her and just block out. All through the sermon I was thinking, this is a sermon for people with kids. I guess she was too busy on her phone to listen to the words. A lot of people don’t understand that my mom is a hypocrite. We’re all hypocrites in some ways. I have a strict diet but I indulge in beer & ice cream from time to time. Anyway, my mom pretends to be a christian. She divorced my dad because he wasn’t money hungry enough for her. She sleeps around with single & married men. She denies people jobs or gets rid of them for personal prejudiced reasons like they have tattoos or they’re not straight. She’s a bad friend like don’t call her if you need help moving. She’s self centered and I recognize that because I see it in myself.

I can’t tell if she’s jealous of me or just bitter I was born. People always say, but she’s your mother. AND? 1st of all, my mother never even wanted me. I don’t even think she wanted my sister. She just wanted to have sex. There’s no such thing as 100% safe sex so here we are. So she ended up getting pregnant, and my dad wanted to marry her, and I don’t think she was ever in love with him. She kept in touch with all of her ex’s. I even know some of their names, Sean & Patrick. My grandmother keeps a picture of her and her ex-fiance (Sean) at her house but she took the family picture of my dad, my mom & my sister down. All I’m saying is, just because someone is dumb enough to get pregnant & agree to a loveless marriage doesn’t mean I have to worship the ground they walk on. You don’t want a kid? Don’t have sex, or use birth control, or get an abortion.

So my problem is I guess I don’t care that she’s my mom because I didn’t ask to be born. It appears I was born to be a pretty little fool as Daisy put it.  My pastor said Honor your mother so your days may be long because it’s one of the 10 commandments. I never asked for this life, let alone the longevity of it. If I were as disrespectful as my mom claims, shouldn’t I be dead by now? What about the part that says don’t exasperate your children? What about me being a person with a working brain who has opinions and emotions based on interactions and experiences? Every Sunday at church women tell me how much they love me. Every Wednesday at prayer meeting women pray about how thankful they are for my life. My mom doesn’t go to prayer meeting and my parents never tell me they love me. Once I was leaving to go to a sleepover and as I said bye to my dad I felt like something was missing so I said, I love you & he said wow, I love you too buddy. After that, he made it seem like saying I love you was something I invented, “I love you! Remember when you said that buddy? I got that from you.”

Honor – high respect; great esteem or regard with great respect or adherence to what is right or to a conventional standard of conduct.

I feel like honor for my mother would be honor for Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian or some other third person who made it to the top off of her looks and sex and a minuscule or nonexistent talent. The Bible also says to love one another. Are some scriptures greater than others? Whatever the case may be, my mom is the reason I lived in Albany for 4 years after I graduated. For a while I didn’t contact her and I was content. Once she said, you never ask me for money. So I started to ask her for money & she said, “all you do is ask me for money.” So I just stopped answering the phone.

This whole thing started over a phone. I paid $30 for a phone with free service. My S7 edge was broken so I had to use my old S2 which has a cracked screen, can’t get group text messages, isn’t compatible with Uber or Lyft or Tidal but I can see the screen, make phone calls, and send text messages which I can’t do on my S7. As soon as I told her I got a free phone she said she wanted to cancel my line. So many problems the 1st being if she cancels my line I will lose my phone number that I’ve had for 10 years. 2nd being she’s had an active line for the last 8 or 9 years that goes straight to voicemail when you call it because she can’t find the phone & she hasn’t cancelled it because she doesn’t want to lose a number that no one can even reach her at. 3rd being the service is only free for a year because I lost my job & I’m on Medicaid. 4th & final point, the phone doesn’t actually work. So she keeps asking me about the phone & I keep telling her – it doesn’t work. Then she comes back up to me to tell me someone had the same problem (which probably isn’t true because she has no idea that by it doesn’t work I mean it doesn’t have data and I don’t want to connect it to WiFi & I don’t want her to cancel my line & lose my phone number) so I asked her, can you please stop asking me about the phone? & she just loses it.

She’s worse than any friend I ever had. She makes me feel like I owe her and I don’t owe her any more than a pet owes their owner. If she could have abstained from sex, I wouldn’t even be here. For a long time I wanted children so I could show someone love and compassion and communicate with them – something my mother never did. She thinks living with my dad until 2010 makes her a good mom but if I wouldn’t have known the genuine goodness of my father maybe I could find one honorable thing about my mother. When she kicked my dad out, my sister was away at school in South Carolina, it was just her & I. It was the worst time of my life. The only experience worse than that was living with my mom & my sister who also thought she was my mom. They would gang up on me (on topics like why I don’t clean up after my mom) but that was before my sister found out my mom took out a bunch of student loans in her name to pay her tuition & never told her about it. My mother’s response was – how else did you think it would be paid for?

I told a friend once, I think some people have kids so they can control someone or elevate themselves to a higher status. Let me tell you, if you look at the evil in the world today it’s being done by someone’s kid. You are not automatically honorable for creating a life.  You’re still the same person you’ve always been just now you have another life to be responsible for. Your child is not a reflection of you rather they are a product of you & the other parent. You can let your best self manifest in them, you can leave them to their own devices, or you can berate them with snide comments but whatever happens is either your success or your failure. Who is responsible for Hitler? Who is responsible for Trump? They all came from somewhere. Orphans and foster children are usually the most extraordinary of us all. Malcolm X, Ray Charles, Simone Biles, John Lennon, Babe Ruth, Ella Fitzgerald. Maybe that means something and maybe it doesn’t.

Right now, the biggest hater in my life is my mother. When I lost my job in February I told her I was going to be a writer (I have a BA in English with a minor in Communications & Writing) & she said something like sounds like a starving artist. It sucks but it’s true. She has a lot of qualities I just don’t like. She’s one of the people that fuel the ‘perception IS reality’ outlook which is dangerous because she hires people for her school. She supports Bill Cosby but doesn’t like Anita Hill. She said she won’t go to my Aunts house, who is recovering from cancer, because she has roaches in her apartment. Every time someone says anything positive about me she scoffs and acts confused. So when she told me to shut-up, loudly, at church, because I quietly asked her to please stop asking me about my phone, I was actually not surprised. She never wants to hear what I have to say so that we can understand each other. Even when I ask her a question she says I have no right to tell her what to do – I’m not telling you anything, I’m asking you something that you can answer & we can continue on with the conversation based on that answer.

So when she scoffs at people who compliment me, I understand – she doesn’t know me so how can she even like me? All she knows is what she is – a girl from Harlem who got pregnant before she could even buy beer and agreed to marry someone she wasn’t in love with & then have another kid and struggle financially for years. All I know is who I am – not her. I made my own choices so my life wouldn’t be like hers – never go through with an unplanned pregnancy.

I have to say, I do enjoy my life without kids. I get to travel, change jobs, move around, hang out with friends, & only be responsible for myself. I think my life would suck if I had 2 kids & a husband at 26 because I don’t even know who I want to be, how could I know the right decisions to make for my kids? I don’t want to be the person with a baby crying on a plane, train, at the movies, at the grocery store, anywhere in public. I’m against vaccines, how would I protect my kids from them? I’m against racism, how can I ensure my children will have a better life than me? I’m against politics, law enforcement, social media, kids with smart phones, and how exactly would I shield my child from that if I can’t be there 24/7, 365, 366 in a leap year, to make sure they live the best life possible? Yoda said, “Do or do not, there is no try,” but most people I see are trying to raise kids and they’re not doing it. The phone is doing it, the tablet is doing it, Baby Shark is doing it, Elmo is doing it, the baby sitter is doing it, the grandma is doing it. I don’t want that to be the case for my child. My reason for not wanting kids used to be because I didn’t like kids but my mom would say, “So what? I don’t like kids either.”

Of course during conversations I’ll make a face & someone will say I looked like my mom just then or I sounded just like her. But I would never do the things she does, like take birth control pills in front of my kids. Or fist fight my teenage daughter for talking back to me. Or declare loudly that I don’t want my daughter to speak to me in the middle of the aisle of my church. Or tell my kid they’re bi-polar or something because I keep trying to force them into a profession that they simply don’t want to be in. Or save a video of myself having sex with a married man on a computer that my kids have access to.

I don’t hate my mother, I just never grew to love her or even like her as a person. It really stemmed from her allowing my 15 year old sister be ‘best friends’ with a 20 year old guy. We all make mistakes in life. I just haven’t made the mistake of getting pregnant and starting a life I don’t want and verbally abusing my kids because I’m bitter they haven’t made the same mistake & are living life on their own terms. I pride myself on putting myself in other people’s shoes. I really try to understand what they must be feeling or going through. But I can’t understand why someone wouldn’t want to respect the life they spent 9 months creating. If my own parents don’t respect me then why should anyone else?

When I was a kid my mom used to say I thought the world revolved around me. Along with saying I’m miserable & self-destructive. For all that, she should’ve gotten an abortion. Let me drown in the bath. Given me expired medicine. But don’t let me continue to grow while you poison the soil and get confused when I don’t blossom into little miss sunshine. Of course I thought the world revolved around me as a child, why else would I be here if no one wanted me? As a child, what world was I supposed know outside of my parents? I was the center of my dad’s world – he taught me how to read and write when I was 3 or 4 and he would usually be waiting for me when I got home from school with fried chicken or lasagna all through high school. My mother was never around. After work she went out with friends or something but she never came home until it was dark outside and I was going to sleep. She only spoke to me to tell me I was inadequate. When I started the 5th grade at her school she would drive me to school and say a prayer out loud. I never understood why she wanted me to hear what she had to say to God. Her prayers were usually attacks on me for being a kid – lord please stop my child from being mean and nasty and disobedient – things of that nature. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you I’m a sweetheart. Ask her and she’ll say the opposite.

Last week when I got off work I called my sister while walking home to discuss what we should do for Mother’s Day. I’m glad I won’t have to participate now since she doesn’t want me to speak to her. I never intentionally disrespect or dishonor my mom – all I did was ask her a question – but if it’s disrespectful to ask a question in a calm voice then so be it. I just hope one day she can come clean about her sins instead of pretending she’s a saint. Then maybe I can begin to ‘respect’ her the way she wants & maybe even give her honor.

“Parents, don’t be hard on your children. Raise them properly. Teach them and instruct them about the Lord.”

“Parents, do not treat your children in such a way as to make them angry. Instead, raise them with Christian discipline and instruction. ”

“Parents, do not anger your children, but rear them in the discipline and in the teaching of Our Lord.”

Elle

LP

One day, years ago, I got off the 5 train at Gun Hill Road. The 28 bus stop near the train station usually gets crowded so I would walk down Gun Hill & wait at the Young Avenue stop. There’s a big Presbyterian church across the street from that stop. That day as I approached the bus stop I saw someone I knew. He was hanging out in front of a stoop with some guys or a guy, I can’t remember. “Hey,” I said, completely embarrassed because I wasn’t expecting to see him. “Hey,” he said. I waited there facing away from him & towards the church across the street thinking unholy thoughts about this guy behind me. Where was the angel on my shoulder to tame these wild thoughts? My bus came, I got on, and that was that. That was one of the only times I ever ran into him unexpectedly. I only expected to see him on Sundays, if that. Fast forward, too many years to remember, I asked him something & it brought him right to me & the front of my building. I trusted him enough with a secret that not many people knew – I was a stoner. Then something happened that I didn’t expect. He wanted to have a conversation with me. He offered to smoke with me.

On my quest for bud in the city, he came to mind. Could he help me secure some weed in my neighborhood? I don’t drive & I didn’t have any connects. When I used to live in the Bronx I didn’t have a ‘drug problem’. Now I averaged an eighth a week and only got clean to secure a job. Smoking is such a lifestyle & I knew plenty of people about that life. But no one in NYC knew that was my lifestyle. So I turned to him in my moment of desperation and he came through. I was super nervous & planned to just give him the money & run but he asked me if I wanted to smoke so I said yes, of course. I’m terrible at rolling up and I hate to smoke alone and I liked him. It was an unexpected trifecta. The stars aligned in the day time. While we smoked I talked about how my life was and he mentioned how my mom would kill him if she found us. We were sitting in his car in front of my building. After that he began to text me for no reason at all. I continued to text him and ask if he could bring me bud.

He didn’t really know I was an insecure little brat whose life wasn’t going her way. Not yet. No one noticed that except my dad. He said “I thought you had it all together but, where’s your confidence?” It’s gone. Confidence for what? Here I was, living with my mom & her creepy boyfriend, completely in debt, working a job a monkey could do, hopelessly uninspired, & kind of lonely. I may look like I have it all together but that’s because no one’s really looking. I rarely speak about myself. If you ask the right questions you’ll know the real me. I love when people know the real me and they love me. I’ve met two women like that in my life & I pray to God I never lose contact with them. In my darkest moments they have been there for me in ways I never imagined they could be. Then here comes this guy who asks the right questions and…And? And I don’t know how to explain it other than I thought he liked me. He was so interested in me for a person who had a life more brilliant than mine. A day job, a stage name, a kid. I mean an adorable little baby. A family. That was my main mistake. Thinking he was interested in me or he liked me when he was just bored.

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At one point I felt like he was living a double life. Entertaining me when his real life got dull. Forgetting what he said to me as soon as the day was done. Like a show with no continuity, what happened last episode doesn’t apply in this episode. Unless I’ve had too much to drink, I usually remember everything & I don’t take the words I say or text lightly. I’ve never lived a ‘double life’ but I feel like I’ve lived multiple lives. Never simultaneously though, I live one life at a time. Right about now I’d say I’m trying to end my 6th life and start my 7th. It’s a longer process here in NYC than it was in Albany. Sometimes I choose when one life ends and a new one begins. Sometimes I don’t, like now. When I don’t choose it, it’s always harder to transition. I thought this would be my last life that I would grow old in but it simply isn’t. You know the saying, what’s done in the dark always comes to light? I thought this would be the life where everything would come to light. It just isn’t.

My relationship with him began to grow. He said our car sessions were like therapy. I started to call him Guru. We talked about everything and it always led to sex. He asked me out once, I think, but I turned him down. I couldn’t figure out what he wanted from me. My friend said it best, its like Fences. I make him feel good. At first he said I was like his annoying litter sister and then I was his chocolate bunny. My Chocolate Bunny. “gm my chocolate bunny.” I told him it reminded me of Easter. Each time he called me that I said, “don’t call me that.” I liked it though. Maybe he just gave me a nickname because I gave him one. I only called him Guru ironically. I figured he was trying to f**k me but trying to make it seem like he was giving me advice on how to f**k other people. I have trust issues.

He wondered if his flirting would break down a wall. It did. “What would be the reaction then?” he questioned. I think this is it. At first I told him I wanted to look different & I showed him exactly how I wanted to look. I halfway went through with it but I just felt like I needed my own look. Plus, what was the point if someone I was attracted to was attracted to me just the way I was? Another mistake was thinking he was attracted to me just because he said nice things about my appearance. I felt like he was always gushing over me, how awkward & cool I was, how pretty I was, whatever. Once when I wore sweat pants and a hoodie he said he was turned on by me. That night I remember trying to look my worst.

Once he picked me up from work when I asked. A couple of times he picked me up from the train station on my way home from work. He would if he was in the area. At the gym or his grandmother’s house. Once he was taking care of her so he came to me and we stayed out all night into the morning. Almost every time we got together we stayed out for hours or talked for hours, unless he had to go to work. Once he even smoked with me before he went to work. That was our shortest session and it was cool. I don’t think he remembers.

He always initiated contact with me. At least once a week. I think he used to text me every day. One time he said he was in my neighborhood & thought of me. He would text me and say I was in his dream or he had a dream about me. Another time he asked me how was the weed (it was actually trash that time). “You miss me?” he asked one day. Whenever I thought about him he would text me. I never missed him until it was too late. I asked him to stop texting me every damn day. I felt guilty with that much attention. I didn’t deserve it because I wanted it. I wanted so much from him. He just couldn’t understand that. I don’t know how he could have. I never explained it to him because I couldn’t explain it to myself.

He said he was always honest with me during our car sessions but I don’t think he was. Besides my trust issues, towards the end he said casually, “I like to lie.” Towards the end I asked him to stop texting me when he was bored. I don’t know for sure if that’s what he was really doing. Once he texted me when he was at some studio. I sent him some songs I recorded in my apartment. I wasn’t bored the entire time in my living room studio. Was he really bored in a professional one? In any case, I never texted him when I was bored. I would text him when I found a picture of him around my house or when I wanted to sext or when I had a question for him. He wouldn’t text me back. I started to feel like a woman scorned after he sent me a text that wasn’t meant for me. I felt like he was getting everything he wanted from me but I wasn’t getting everything I wanted from him. “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.” But I never let him know that. I kept changing my mind about how I felt so I barely let myself know. I would tell myself I didn’t even want anything from him so what was I upset about? I felt it was my duty to keep things light for some reason. I felt like I owed him something so much because he gave me attention no one else would. Feelings are so complicated I usually avoid them in the moment and write about them later. Now I feel everything, every day, & attempt to put it into words.

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One night I was eating and drinking and celebrating with my family when someone mentioned he got married. I was devastated. I was shocked. I was devastatingly shocked. Who knew I cared so much about his marital status?  I repeated the words in my head like a mantra, a chant, a sick dark prayer. He got married he got married he got married. When I got home I began to hyperventilate and cry. To be fair, I was drunk and to be honest, I cry when I’m confused. My dearest friend let me cry on the phone with her and she comforted me from miles away. “I can’t believe he got married. What the f*ck. What the f*ck!” I called my one friend who had spent time with both of us. “F*ck him,” she said. “I can’t.” I said, “that’s the problem. I can’t believe he got married! What the f*ck!” She took me to a movie that was supposed to be about a funeral but it started out being about a wedding and I just couldn’t bear it. I was so delirious I cried for about a week every time I thought about it. I took myself to the movies & he sent me a text. I rode around on the bus and he sent me a text. And I kept responding to every text he sent me.

Congratulations! That’s what I said when he confirmed he got married. I asked if he proposed to her because my friend asked me and I realized I didn’t know because I didn’t ask. Who cares? You see, in a way, he proposed to me too. He proposed we smoke together that very first time he brought me my bud. After he got married (he actually texted me the day after and never mentioned it) I asked him if he wanted to smoke with me and he said of course. When was he going to tell me he got married? My guess is never. Why didn’t he just tell me? I can’t figure it out because I know he wasn’t gonna f*ck me while he was married so maybe he just wanted to tell me face to face. That probably would’ve worked best as I would’ve just acted like everything was normal and asked him all the questions I wanted until he kicked me out his car. And he calls himself my friend. He called what we had a friendship. After I found out he got married he said he didn’t take advantage of me & he didn’t have a goal with me. I don’t know what prompted him to say that; I already knew that. He’s not a man with a plan. A man with a plan would never sleep with me and not tell me he’s getting married. He’s just a guy that goes with the flow. And I can be like a lazy river. What a match.

I first met Guru when I was a little girl. My first memories of us together are of him, my sister, & I in the hallway outside of my family’s penthouse apartment in Harlem. The penthouse of our building was 14 and it was 1 of many apartments on that floor. I was young, in pre-k or kindergarten, but from what I remember my mom would pick us up and bring us back to the apartment. She would send us upstairs while she looked for parking maybe but my dad would always be sleep. With earplugs. So we would ring the doorbell. Then we would bang on the door with our fists. Then we would turn around and stomp on the door with our feet. Then my mom would come upstairs and let us in. I think maybe sometimes she left her keys at home which is why we spent so much time in the hallway. I can’t be sure what was going on. But he was there. I would say he was my first brother but I’ve never had a brother so I don’t know what that relationship is really like. But, like all of my ‘brothers’ he liked my sister. He was 5 years older than me & 2 years older than my sister. I don’t know the origin of our families relationship but his mom would come & pick him up after a while, when we finally got into the apartment, & his grandmother went to our church in the Bronx where my dad was the Minister of Music. I’m not sure if my dad knew his mom first or if our mothers were friends but some kind of way he was in my mother’s care & around my sister & I. Maybe my parents were his babysitters because we lived in Harlem & so did he. He was cute. He played basketball. He could sing. He was older. I just liked him.

Once he was with me & my mom for some reason & she left us in the car after she parked. He was sitting in the passenger side and I was in the backseat behind him I think. I was in 3rd or 4th grade I think. Annoying as ever I asked if I could tell him a joke. “Why was 6 afraid of 7?” “Why?” “Because 7 ate (8) 9!” “What?” He said, “sixty-nine? That’s so nasty. I’m telling your mom!” “What? Nooo! 789 not sixty-nine!” I don’t remember how old I was. When I think about it, I laugh. When I told him, he didn’t remember. Now, sixty-nine is something I’d bring up but, we never got around to it.

During our sessions we would talk about how compatible our signs were. While I was at work he would text me and ask what color panties I had on. One night, we had a normal conversation and I got turned on. That night there was an energy between us which I’ve never felt before with anyone. But I’m young and dumb. My body on fire was probably a result of finally being with someone I had a crush on. I’ve never been able to talk to a crush. I’m like an idiot. So I mostly settle for cute guys who like me. Now I was still an idiot but he still kept inviting me to smoke. I liked him so much I overlooked everything like the obvious – he lived with the mother of his child.

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On my birthday my friend asked me, “so…what happens when they have another kid?” I was at a loss for words and I felt strange because I couldn’t answer the question. That never crossed my mind. So I told her, “I don’t know. I mean, I don’t think anything would change, he already has a kid…” But I realized what she meant. Were they f*cking? I had no clue because I didn’t think it was any of my business and obvi I just didn’t want to know.  She went on to say I should stop whatever I was doing because, “they live together, they have a child together, what do you think is going on girl? They’re happy & in love.” I could only reply with, “he said it’s complicated,” and as I said it, I felt idiotic and a gut feeling that the father of my child would be f*cking someone in his backseat one night who wasn’t me. When I kinda told him about this exchange he said, “I don’t have to explain myself or my situation.”

Soon after that I told him we shouldn’t hump anymore. It felt like the right thing to do in terms of karma but the wrong thing to do in terms of my life at the moment. He made me feel good about myself. He made me feel good. So when I heard he got married and confirmed it was true I knew that things would change even more between us. Unless I was gonna hang out with him & his wife I don’t see how we could stay ‘friends’. He said I made him harder than he’d ever been. That I make him smile. That he likes when he’s around my energy. That my fellatio was great. That he was curious about me. In a text he said, “you match my sexual drive I think or maybe even more.” I meant to ask him what he meant by more. Now it doesn’t matter. I listened to everything but when he said, “just don’t sleep with [me] guru is gonna teach way more than you know #sprung.” So here I am. Definitely not sprung. Just confused.

My main confusion being, how can someone who I was planning to f**k in their new car come back from vacation married and completely unf**kable?

Obviously him getting married has not a damn thing to do with me. It’s just I was still waiting to live out some fantasies with him. I think it was delayed by me feeling weird about how we were communicating or him getting into a car accident. “Don’t tell anyone but I got into a car accident,” he said. Who the f*ck would I tell? His backseat was destroyed. It is so crazy how things happen – it’s fantastic he doesn’t have to ride around with his wife in a car he was f*cking me in.  Which reminds me. I would make him playlists on Tidal. He didn’t like the first one. Too much singing. I kept making them & sending them but he didn’t listen to them. I started to realize either he didn’t have time or he just didn’t want to. Once he said he would listen to one on his way to work. I enjoyed making the playlists so even though he didn’t like them or listen to them I would play them when we were together. So when he told me his new car was gonna be white I sent him a song that said, “mayonnaise colored Benz / I push miracle whips.” I don’t think he ever listened to the song. I’ve never been in his new car and I doubt I ever will be. The accident destroyed our sex space. The replacement is white like a wedding dress. What could we possibly talk about now? I just want to know everything about his relationship that I never asked before. But like he said, “I don’t have to explain myself or my situation.” So we really don’t have anything to talk about.

I always thought it didn’t matter if a girl f**ked a million men, she’s only wrong if she’s f**king someone else’s man. I am dead serious when I say, if he’s not married he’s single. I never saw him as someone else’s man so I never really felt like I was doing anything wrong. Obviously how I saw things was different than how he saw things and  different than reality. I saw him as a dad of course but he never really wanted to talk about that with me. He would say things like, if he had met me or if he had known me and I always reminded him that, he did know me and he had met me before he had a son. The worst text he ever sent me said, “Lauren, if I would’ve met you before all this kid stuff you would’ve been mine.” It’s the worst because it made me feel something for him. It made me feel like there was an us or something. Like I could find a way for him to be with me even though he had a family already. I think that’s where my shock & general sadness from his marriage comes from. He said so many words to me but I don’t think they meant anything to him. I failed to make a plan for us to be together so now he has a wife and I knew him before he met her too.

The biggest secret I ever kept from him is my guilt over vows I made at my purity ceremony when I was 16. It makes me feel like I’m supposed to at least try to have a relationship with every guy I hook up with. The second guy I ever slept with, my first baby daddy, the sex just wasn’t good, except the one time we did it in his car, but I could never say it to his face and always answered when he called me. One guy was just so vain but I always responded to him simply because we f**ked. It just helps to ease my guilt for having sex without being married. That & prayer. But with you…with him, I had great conversation and sex so I never really felt guilty. Maybe if I didn’t like having sex in cars I would’ve felt like what I was doing was wrong.

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Later he made things simple. I asked him why he kept texting me and he ended up telling me he didn’t want anything from me. But he did want something from me even if he didn’t want to admit it. He wanted to smoke with me. To talk to me & text me. To flirt with me & feel me up. To call me chocolate bunny. I asked him once if he wanted to make out with me & he said yes. On NYE I asked him if he wanted to get busy in his backseat & he picked me up within 30 minutes. Maybe he didn’t want anything because I gave him everything. Like someone who answers a question before you even ask. But he got married and the first time I saw him after that I couldn’t look him in the eye or hold a conversation with him. So he decided he wasn’t going to text me any more and that was that. 

I think we were great companions. It’s just that I’m so shallow & he’s so deep. I know I’m selfish. I wanted that deepness so much for myself. I wanted so much from him and if I would’ve asked I wonder what he would’ve given me. I cherish what he gave me but I want to let it go. One night he said someone was going to fall in love with me. When I brought it up after he said he didn’t remember. I’m sure he doesn’t remember anything at this point. Like how he would let his hair out and I would run my fingers through his locs. Or when I kissed him on the shoulder while he was rolling up one night. Or how I would get strawberry frosted donuts with sprinkles. Or when he told me he was going to Cali (or did he say Vegas?) in March. The rain always reminds me of us and it’s been pouring lately. This just feels so excessive because we didn’t even have sex that many times but the fact that we had sex and we’ll never do it again – never wake up to a text from him, never go to sleep after smoking with him, never have an honest comfortable conversation with him or any of that so unexpectedly- just seems so tragic to me. By writing this and getting it out, I hope I can’t remember too.

I prayed that the Lord would reveal to me the best way to deal with whatever was going on between us. So aroused by a guy ‘working’ on his complicated relationship with the woman he had a baby with. It was never my intention to tempt him but the fact that I did drove me crazy. I didn’t think someone like him would ever be interested in someone like me. Let alone spend hours texting and talking with me. One night he brought out a side of him I never saw, his alter ego I called it. Even consumed with lust, I would never change like he did that night. Weirdly, how he was that night was how I expected him to be that first day when I wanted to give him the money and run. It was like he had something else he needed to do so he would just do me first & get it over with. Why can’t people just be who they are all the time? I mean I have mood swings, not personality shifts. But he changed like a chameleon. I should’ve expected that from a Gemini. For the entire night he was like a stranger. I would never do that to him. Or, maybe I did the first time I laid eyes on him as a newlywed. Anyway, that night I decided we were more different than we were alike. Maybe that’s why he liked to spend time with me. Who knows?

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The answer to my prayer was him getting married. I’m just someone he f**ked & had a cool time with & that’s it (his words). He didn’t want anything from me that he couldn’t get from someone, anyone else. He doesn’t regret anything because he didn’t learn anything or lose anything. He got a new car & a spouse so he gained a lot, even if it was by accident or whatever the case is.  Sometimes I regret everything because I feel like I didn’t learn anything and I feel like this is going to happen to me again and I feel like I lost something. I feel like I should’ve said no I don’t want to smoke when he asked me that very first time or any time after that. I feel like I should’ve never responded to his texts. Have you ever heard everything happens for a reason? “Sometimes that reason is because you’re stupid and make bad decisions.” I feel like I’m stupid & this was a story of some bad decisions. But feelings are complicated and they’re not always accurate. In spite of my feelings, I learned that you can’t lose something you’ve never even had. But, you can mourn over what you feel you lost…and that’s exactly what I’m doing.

 

Elle

The Real 10 Year Challenge

The 10 year challenge couldn’t have come at a worse time for me. I don’t like trends. I’m not a follower. I planned to post pictures from my 16th Birthday & take pictures for my 26th birthday wearing the same clothes and talk about 16 and what I think 26 will be like. In light of the “10 year challenge”, if I did that it would APPEAR I was doing the most for some challenge, no matter my intent, because Social Media is about APPEARANCES – it can’t even capture real life on LIVE. So, I posted my lil layout on Instagram for people to scroll past & see I still look 16 in the face. Now I’m posting on my lil blog because it’s way too long for a Facebook post. Here is me trying desperately to turn the 10 year challenge back into my original idea without hopping on the trend.

10 years ago I celebrated my 16th Birthday by inviting my friends to a sleepover in NYC (the hotel slips my mind) followed by a tour of my city (with a photographer in tow), ending with a family & friends dinner at Benihana. I’ve been trying to find the photos from the sleepover & the professional photos but I haven’t yet. I just have the one I posted with the link to this blog.

The other side of that selfie included my Mom, Godmommy, & Aunt Pat along with my different groups of ‘friends’ : my best friend Ariale, my SLD clique, my real friends Esnita, Amanda, & Alexis, & my friend from church Brittney.

What transpired when I brought my friends together? We had a good time. It wasn’t great because it was freezing and we were walking around taking pictures but everyone got along which made it a success.

What happened after was your basic Mean Girls story. I found out that at MY sleepover my clique was discussing MY crush and it had nothing to do with ME! Shortly after, he was taken off the market by the very girl who branded the clique ( on some ‘keep your enemies close’ vibe I guess. Hindsight is 20/20!).   I told everyone who would listen how we met him at the same time & how I started to like him & how I  talked to her about everything from what I should write him on AIM to how I should dress to make him realize he liked me too – White, tight, V-neck shirts…because who doesn’t like boobs? (Now, I’m looking for someone who likes me for me & not my body.)

One day, my crush walked up to me & said: Lauren, I feel like you hate me. He might have said Lauren, why do you hate me? At that moment I knew we would never date each other. He viewed me as his girlfriends friend who didn’t like him. Who hated him. I was actually his friend who wanted to be more than friends but was too scared to admit it. The only thing I wanted from guys I liked was to go to the movies & make out and we never got to do that. To this day I would take him to the movies & make out if he asked me to. I doubt that it will happen now but I don’t know the future…

So my friend dated the guy she knew I liked and he cheated on her but she stayed with him & we became friends again when she explained she got cheated on & I explained I had a boyfriend. That is the only reason I believe in karma. That is the only reason we began to talk and hang out again.

Throughout their relationship, which lasted because she would not let him go, she would tell me stories that usually began with: OMG, you guys are so alike, he just sent me this text, picture, etc & it’s just like that thing you sent me! Since I had agreed to forgive & forget, I couldn’t respond with: OMG, I know, that’s why I had a crush on him and think I should be his girlfriend & not you!

Was her boyfriend my one that got away?

Yes – We met him at the same time. When I told her I liked him she had a boyfriend of her own. She led me to believe she was helping me turn my crush into my boyfriend – I did not know how to let guys know I liked them & could only be mean to them. I thought I needed her help! She was actually helping herself which is how they ended up together.

No – he never liked me. If he did he would have dated me instead of her. To this day he has never tried to get in touch with me. He’s the one that never was.

This incident has always made me question what kind of friend I am that someone would betray my trust in this way. So about 2 years ago I officially stopped talking and hanging out with her. Besides the fact she ‘stole my crush’ she was actually a bad friend for the most part. She asked me and I helped her look for 1br apartments & when she asked me to help her move she was moving into a 3br with another friend. The main thing was she was a hater & made it seem like I was too sensitive. She said I couldn’t dress. Her sister told me I only looked cute because I was skinny but my outfits were actually bad. Me being skinny was always a topic that started with eww you’re so skinny. She always introduced me as her best friend & each time I wanted to say: why are you calling me that? At a certain point I felt like Cady & Regina and strangely enough, I was Cady!

I don’t want to tell this story anymore but I can’t forget it even 10 years later. Am I the same person at 16 that I am now? No. I’m also not a completely different person. I’m 16 year old me with 10 years of experience. I’m 26 year old me & I’m ready to start making new memories with the family & friends I have now.

The real 10 year challenge is the struggle to hold on to my old self because I think it is the real me & being my current self who has learned from mistakes & won’t keep making the same one(s) over & over again. It’s hard to grow but I’m up for the challenge this year, next year, 5 years, 10 years, as long as the Lord allows me to live.

If you read this, thank you!

Elle

LaG and the D: A Success Story

I never wanted to go to college because I didn’t like the competitive application process and was scared I would be rejected. I’ve always been insecure about my talents since I started High School. I’m from a musical family, my grandmother, my parents, and my sister are all musicians but when I auditioned for the high school my mom and my sister attended for voice (Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts or LaG), they rejected me. Since then, I never gave my all at an audition. I never entered competitions. I was discouraged. I put so much work into that specific audition, & I considered it my best one, only to be told I wasn’t good enough.

My attitude became: you can’t fail if you don’t try.

During High School, while all my friends were getting A’s, I was getting B’s. When it came to college talk I told my friends I would just join the armed forces so I could go to college for free. The truth was I didn’t want to compete with the students at The Bronx High School of Science and Stuyvesant High School when it came to Higher Education. If I came from a family of musicians and couldn’t get into a music school, I thought my chances were slim getting into a regular college based on my academics.  One of the school guidance counselors asked me why she never saw me in the office getting help with my college applications and I told her point blank: I’m not good enough for college, I’ll just join the army or something. She seemed shocked because although I didn’t get into LaG, I got into a school called the Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music. While we were having this conversation, I was a section leader in Women’s Choir, an alto saxophonist in Concert Band, a student in Advanced Placement English, Advanced Placement US History, as well as a member of Yearbook Committee and the Prom Committee.

She told me I was selling myself short & I needed to let go of my failures in the past. She explained that even though I didn’t get into LaGuardia, that didn’t mean I would be rejected from everything else I wanted in life. She told me that I was one of the brightest students at my high school and I would regret it if I didn’t give myself a chance.

Realistically, my mom wouldn’t allow me to join the armed forces anyway, and at the last possible moment to apply to schools, I did. I was accepted into 7 of the 8 schools I applied to. One of those schools was Penn State Hazleton. Everyone wanted me to attend but out of fear that I would flunk out of such a prestigious school I declined their offer. I realize now my failed audition all those years ago really did some damage.

Then, in the summer of 2013, I had a Film Arts professor who detested my writing and made me question if my Communications minor was worth it. We were writing film reviews and because he did not agree with my opinion of certain films, he gave me low grades. That professor changed my ‘you can’t fail if you don’t try’ attitude. I wanted to try. I wanted him to give me high grade because the quality of my writing was good even though he disagreed with the content. In my last semester, spring 2014, he became the only thing between me and my degree. I realized I wasn’t just there because I got accepted or because my mother wouldn’t let me join the armed forces. I was there because I had a love of literature, writing, and a new found interest in Communications. I worked so hard with this professor, going so far as to meet with him before and after classes whenever I could, only to get a D. While I really wanted at least a C, I cried tears of joy that it wasn’t an F. I had succeeded and reached my goal of fulfilling my communications minor even though the professor and I did not see eye to eye. I would have never thought a D would be part of my success story but, even though I didn’t get an A, I was able to complete the course and earn my degree. I also learned that degree is not only an accomplishment for me, but an accomplishment for my family. I am not the first in my family to attend college but, out of my five older cousins who attempted school before me, I am the only one who graduated.

Until that moment, until that D, I always felt like a failure because I wasn’t a great musician like the rest of my family. It seems I was never meant to be a musician. While I’m still trying to discover or create who or what I’m supposed to be, my degree gives me a confidence I lost when I was rejected all those years ago. I’m no longer scared to take chances and explore opportunities. My years in college made me realize that I have drive, ambition, and passion and I needed to focus more on what I can do and less on what people think I can’t do. Just because one path didn’t work out does not mean that no path will work out. I did not even realize I had succeeded until I reflected on when I failed. I’m proud to say that I attribute my success to the realization that just because I did not reach one goal doesn’t mean I should never have goals. I attribute my success to the passion and drive that I discovered I had when I finally started to try to reach new goals I set. Most of all, I attribute my success to my failures, because they led to my greatest accomplishment in life so far: My Bachelor of Arts.

Elle

#OurPresident & accurate caricature of this Nasty Nation.

I’m a native of a nasty nation whose president is a pure reflection of how nasty we really are.

In the grand scheme of things, if this were a baseball game, we’ve been out since we got in.

Strike 1: We slaughtered the Natives.

Strike 2: We went to Africa, bought & brought people back on a boat like cargo (not even like animals, like cargo!) & just to be nice, I’ll include the Civil War (a war between humans (demons) who want to control other humans(slaves) like property & humans who want to be treated like humans) as part of this strike. If each tragedy had it’s own strike (internment camps during WW2, ‘domestic’ terrorism, Salem witch trials, lynching, & did you know Kenneth Boss, who killed unarmed 23 year old Amadou Diallo was promoted to sergeant? Soon Zimmerman will be spokesperson for Neighborhood watch…), I would be using a different analogy.

Strike 3: Segregation.The 3rd strike has to be separate but equal. So, after these humans who were your property raised your children, cooked your food, cleaned your house, picked your cotton, tobacco, some other third thing, took your rape, bore your children (after being raped), & finally said they want to live like humans, YOU decide that they can live among you but now they must be separated? They must be kept a part from you when you eat, party, go to the movies, grocery store, church, you name it, you need a separate one for whites? Slavery wasn’t enough. The war wasn’t enough. Your thirst for dominance can never be quenched.

Now, what makes America a Nasty Nation? The fact that we continue to celebrate every 4th of July. The fact that we honor the armed forces who carry out the tradition of killing & brutalization in other countries. The fact that people say Freedom isn’t free as if natives asked to be slaughtered & Africans asked to be enslaved(also, you’re paid to be in the armed forces). The fact that our president vows to make America great again and no one has told him America was never great for everyone. The fact that we have the Statue of Liberty but men are paid more than women & we no longer want Mexican or Muslim immigrants. The fact that saying grab her by the pussy and having 2 baby mothers and an un-american born wife do not automatically disqualify you from being president (if you love America so much, why not marry an American? is all I’m saying, I have no problem with an English as a second language 1st Lady but for her to sit by & watch Green Card holders be detained is horrific.) The fact that most people don’t know that the Democratic party was PRO slavery and the Republican party were abolitionist and somewhere along the way things changed. The fact that when slaves were freed they did not receive a free trip back to Africa or counseling or anything to get their post-slavery life started. The fact that Native Americans live on reservations. The fact that my grandmother was alive during segregation and her mother was alive during all that blatant racism. The fact that people will disagree with me even though facts don’t change based on how you feel.

To be clear, I started school in 1997 when I was 4 and I finished in 2014 when I was 21; ignorance is not my thing. I still have a lot to learn but with all the hatred in this country, I don’t want to keep digging.

What I intended to post was: As a Black child, I’m gonna keep it a buck. I’m gonna keep it real. Y’all gonna teach me that humans from my land bought and enslaved humans from Africa and didn’t free them until they revolted. Then y’all segregated them until they went to court. Now, you want me to believe that another country has evil people? I’ll believe it when I see the slave ships come to port…The thing is America is the terrorist. They terrorized my ancestors and before I leave a country my ancestors helped build, I will reveal the straight evilness they keep trying to cover up with 4th of July (The day Whites were free from England & said Whites owned people aka Slaves) and MLK day (a civil rights activist whose family won $100 in a civil case against the USA for his murder).

Dammit, some people have so much power it’s sickening. They benefit from the oppression of my ancestors and so many others, it’s disgusting. They hate for no reason. Do you know what it feels like to feel hate from your own country for no reason? Do you know what it feels like to be a native of such a nasty nation?

Still don’t think Donald Trump is the living representation of America? Well, that’s because you’re an American who hates Trump, but you probably also celebrate the 4th of July, what’s your deal? You may hate to admit it but, after the 8 years of nice & charismatic America, we’re now faced with the real nitty gritty America. Remember the Great Gatsby & the American Dream. Well, Trump is the Greatest Gatsby of them all, living the dream with his name on buildings all across the country & now living in the White House but most of all believing in his green light: money. However, there are very few Nick’s in this story. We see who Trump really is, and we feel powerless against him.

I am not a registered voter. I just pay taxes. I don’t participate in any other way because the entire system is corrupt. You cannot fix a system that you continue to uphold by participation. Four year will pass and the Electoral College will still be here. I don’t waste my time at the polls because my vote has no effect on who occupies the White House. I think people vote to feel like good citizens. But, being an American , you’re born bad. I’m positive the only reason I was born here is because my family didn’t have enough money to get the hell out. & if they did have the money, I wouldn’t be here writing this post about how the president finally represents America in it’s true light.

Elle

Special Project

Maybe I should explain why I said I’m Chewbacca.

I work in a call center and I was assigned to a special project in the Mail Room. That meant I would be off the phones and I was super excited.

We started out in the Mail Room but then we were relocated to a smaller conference room. It was very intimate and there were 10 of us. We sat there sorting through return mail, prepping it to be scanned into the consumers’ accounts. We were welcome to listen to music but, due to my Eustachian Tube Dysfunction, I can’t really use headphones without getting a terrible ear ache. So I sat there and for once I socialized with my co-workers.

I never ever talk to co-workers.

I work in a call center talking to strangers all day long, and it’s a thankless job. So, when I finally don’t have to talk, I chose not to. Someone mentioned how people who work in my building are stuck-up and don’t talk.

I said right away, “Yea, that’s me. I hate talking to people because I’m required to talk 8 hours a day. I need a break.” They understood where I was coming from. But as time went on, I began to open up more and talk with them.

We were able to laugh and joke about a lot of things. At one point, we were all given stripper names. Now, I think stripper names are highly inappropriate to give out at work, even if we are not doing our regular jobs. Also, there was usually someone from the Mail Room supervising us. But, nonetheless, we were given stripper names like Cherry Thunder, Fire Cracker, Bunny, & Magic Mike. At one point, they tried to tell the main supervisor I had a stripper name & I had to shut it down, “Do not tell anyone I have a stripper name. I don’t think that’s appropriate for work. You can tell them yours, but do not say I have a stripper name. I don’t.”

So, the special project was set to run for the entire month of March 8am to 4:30 which was a great improvement for me from my regular 8:30 to 5 shift.

I didn’t make it past the 2nd week.

On Tuesday, March 15th, we were scheduled to have a meeting at 9:30am. Our supervisor told us the meeting would run for about an hour and would go through our regularly scheduled break, which was 10 to 10:15. Since we would miss our break as a result of the meeting we were told to take our break after the meeting from 10:30 to 10:45.

The meeting lasted from 9:30 to 10am.

So, when we got on the elevator to return to our special project, about 2 people said, see you at 10:45! I explained to them that I didn’t think that was correct as our break should only be 15 minutes and the meeting ended early. 3 people pretended not to hear me, and another 3 saw the logic in what I said and returned to the conference room.

After everyone returned to the room there was a lot of tension. For one, it appears the idiots went & told on themselves. So, when they came back to the conference room they were grumbling about how they answer to their supervisors and they don’t have to explain themselves to anyone. So I said, “you do know we were assigned to this project by someone right? We don’t work for ourselves, we’re working for the mail room” or something along those lines. Again, they pretended not to hear me.

So, a few hours later, almost everyone was in the talking mood again, except for two to three people who were listening to music. So, Magic Mike proceeds to start making fun of his hairy cousin, “This dude is so hairy he has hair all over, on his hands his arms, it’s so disgusting. He’s like Chewbacca. One time he grew this beard & it was just like woah oh my God (he made gestures with his hands to indicate it was long and wide” Eww he needs to shave that off, he needs to get rid of that, were some of the comments said by others during the story. & here’s the kicker, “I tell him all the time, your mom must have cheated because you have Black people hair.”

Of course, one of the girls who was grumbling because she took a 45 minute break and got in trouble when I told her we were not supposed to do that starts laughing hysterically, “Oh my God he said Black people hair ahhahahaha” she said it more than once.

I was not amused. So I said, “just to clarify, you’re saying Chewbacca hair is like Black people hair?” & Magic Mike responds, “That’s exactly what I’m saying”

& it was so weird because he wasn’t even one of the people who took a 45 minute break. & as soon as I asked, Ms. OMG he said Black people hair started sighing all loud as if to say, way to ruin the joke you annoying POS (did I mention this is the same idiot that busted out laughing during the mail room training when the trainer told us, in regards to lifting large boxes of mail, “always size up your load,” real mature).

Anyway, I was so upset, I started to cry. I gave him a chance to clarify his comments, & he was unapologetic. These white people talking about Black people hair was way out of line. Especially since I was the only Black person in the room without a full sew-in. I’m au-natural all the time & I took offence to those remarks, especially when she kept repeating he said Black people hair. So I left the project and returned to my desk. I told my friend it brought me to tears because that’s really how people think of us, like we’re animals, or less than human. There is no reason you should be talking about Chewbacca and Black people hair in the same context. Just describe the hair without comparing all Black people to your gross hairy cousin that you’re making fun of saying he needs o get rid of his horrible disgusting hair. Also, you may find it crazy but Black people don’t have the same kind of hair, just like White people don’t have the same kind of hair. Maybe this is Black people hair? Or maybe this is what he meant by Black people hair?

Maybe I overreacted, but my feelings were hurt. What did I do to deserve that kind of remark and when is something like that ever appropriate to say? (Maybe when you’re at the bar, drunk, with your close friends but, even then it’s not ok.) Sorry but you don’t know me like that to make offensive hair jokes when I’ve only sat next to you for like 7 days.

I did feel bad when I explained what happened to my supervisor. To be fair, I brought up Stevie Wonder’s parody Instagram page and we all had a good laugh.

Elle