Sunday, June 21, 2015

On Gratitude, Part Four

My favorite poem that I've written thus far is about my relation to my own herpes. I don't know if I've ever written a poem that captured my internal sentiments so concisely.

Basically,
I state that if I wanted to have a husband or children -- within the context of marriage, then I should have acted like it.

This is a daily thought of mine.

There is a look and a behavior pattern of married Black women. It's not like I didn't have examples.

Perhaps there is a look and behavior pattern of writers, intellectuals, philosophers, activists.

In my youth, I chose the latter.

And less than six months before my 23rd birthday, I tried to jump ship! I tried to cut off my dreadlocks and get a perm. I really wanted this promotion at my job; and, I really wanted to transition from inside to outside sales.

I figured, if I cut off my locks, get a perm and maybe even a long weave maybe I could transition into the Black woman corporate and leave the Black woman writer behind.

It was already too late.

When I cut my locks, I couldn't bring myself to actually get a perm. So I started wearing invisible braids. Invisible braids are when the braid is so short that it looks like you are just wearing a long weave.

The funny thing is,
about 6 months after I cut my dreadlocks,

I saw a man who I never had a second date with. He had told me that I was like a really bright star that died immediately. Or perhaps, a really fast star that fizzled out. Or perhaps a really big star that faded away. I can't remember his exact words.

When I saw him again, he looked so shocked and traumatized that I had cut off my locks.

In my head, I was thinking, What the fuck? As if my dreadlocks mattered 6 months ago.

Now,
I wish I would have cut my dreadlocks off immediately after college.

That is,
if I wanted to go the married-Black woman route.

Once,
an older cousin of mine told me that she was going to go natural. My eyes expanded; inside I screamed. (There is this Andre 3000 song that stays in my head... he says, "No! Don't Do it! Reconsider!" I can never remember what song that is, anyhow. But whenever someone talks to me about going natural or wanting to be a writer or wanting to do anything remotely similar to what I do... I always have that song in my head: No, don't do it. Reconsider)

I'm okay without how things turned out.

I'm happy that I was able to have my daughter. I'm happy that she's her.

Of course, there is no other way that I would have her, without her father. And honestly, there is absolutely no way that I would have any child at all, if I had not met her father.

I'm pretty happy that I'm a writer, now. Semi-professional.

I think, if I hadn't gone bi-polar via the exhaustion phase of my adrenals then eventually I would have mustered up the courage to perm my hair and wear a weave. It would have taken a bit of time, to make the psychological adjustment... but I would have. Especially if I was moving up the corporate ladder.

There is a part of me that knows, that even if I had changed my look into that of a successful Black woman, that is successful at dating or marriage or motherhood or corporate-America, whatever, there is a part of me that knows I would be a failed-professional.

I can't press my own hair or perm my own hair, I can't use a curling iron or a flat iron. I can't put on foundation without getting it on my clothes, or other's clothes. I can't do smoky eyes, or any other visual technique.

I think there would have been a depression that would have settled in... if I would have given up my natural aesthetic (I really do prefer natural looks) for a traditionally successful look. I would have been depressed when I gave up myself and I was still single without any children.

So, it's better for me to sit alone in a house and write blogs or novels or random poems in grammatically incorrect German, because at least I'm halfway decent at that.

I would be slightly traumatized if I gave up both my writing and my preferences for nothing.

I think about this daily.
I contemplate my decision making.

I tell myself that I can't get angry about anything. If I wanted to make money, I could have gone to class more and applied to business and law programs. Especially law. If I wanted to be married, I would have taken my sister's advice. All of it.

I, of all people, cannot say that no one ever told me or taught me.

If I wanted to work on wall street, or at a law firm. If I wanted to own a business. Or travel.

I can't say people didn't teach me how to do what needs to be done. If I wanted to own houses. Or anything commercial for that matter.

If I wanted to go into politics.

But, I chose to write. And with that choice came, those results.

Now if I want to write and be married and raise children and not be poor. That's very possible, but I think it involves a level of balance and perfection that I haven't mastered yet. It might be outside of the realm of my feasible capabilities. Honestly.

Thus far, I've been successful at not being jealous during weddings or pregnancies or promotions and things way outside of my experience. I do check myself, internally, though. I check myself when I am around women with husbands or women raising children, or of course both.

At this point, it might be catastrophic if I met the love of my life today.
Sometimes, I think I have the energy to try again.
Most days, I don't.

I think about this daily.

Milowz said that when a writer is born in to a family, the family is ruined. I agree. Even when I write about myself, I'm still writing about what it means to be a Copeland or a Christian or a Not-Christian or a Delta or a Black Woman. Even when I only write about myself, I'm writing about much more than just myself,

Aren't I?

On Gratitude, Part Three: Father's Day in the Black Community

Not raising my daughter has given me a new understanding of "the deadbeat Dad".

Today,
someone posted on Facebook a meme of sorts suggesting that dead-beat dad's shouldn't try to celebrate Father's Day.

I don't know if that's true or not: I am not the one to judge.

A month ago, on mother's day,
I found a card that my daughter had made for mother's day,
I presume at school - I didn't ask,
and had given to my stepmother.

As always,
I was slightly traumatized for a second. I almost couldn't breathe when I saw that my daughter made a card for mother's day and it wasn't to me, her mother. Or at least, her biological mother.

Then rationally, I had to get over myself. If I wanted some sort of Mother's Day card, then I probably needed to be raising my daughter.

And so, over the past 3 years that I haven't been raising my first-born child,
I have a completely different understanding of what a father that's not inside the household feels like.

It's really not so Black or White.
There's a billion different circumstances that could take place:

Sometimes the man wants to be present, but the mother is angry that the man isn't in relationship with her.
Sometimes the woman has a right to be angry, because the man was physically abusive.
Sometimes the man doesn't have the money, so just figures he won't come around if he can't bankroll the kid's existence. A man's pride with regard to the whole masculine-provider role can not be overlooked.

Sometimes, it's a matter of geography if the mother moves away.

It's complicated.

I can't talk about "dead-beats" dad's who don't pay child support because I'm not paying child-support.

I know it's a double standard. If I were a man, they would have been beating my door down already and deducting money from my fixed-income disability check.

But I'm not a man, so no one mentions that I'm not paying child-support payments.

And so I'm thankful for all father's today. Especially those who are outside of the household those who don't see their kids every day.

It is possible to still love your offspring even if you aren't there.

I don't know if it's possible to explain that to a child. Hell, there are still some adults who wouldn't believe their father's if their father's said that.

But even though I only see my daughter once a week, I'm still grateful to have had her. Even if I never get the opportunity to live with her. Even if I'm not paying child support, or Montessori tuition, or grocery bills, or clothing expenses.

Even if I'm not doing anything, I do love my daughter.

I don't know if that matters or not to a child that needs to eat.

So Father's Day is complicated in the Black community. A lot of Black folks just don't celebrate it at all. I get that, too.

On Gratitude, Part Two

I spent five years talking to my child's father. About everything.
He's twice my age (and I'm 30, ha!).

A leitmotif of our relationship was him saying, "Will you stop saying 'He's a really nice guy!' "

Apparently, I would talk to him about men I went to school with, men I had crushes on, men who I never had second dates with, men who I never had sex more than one time with. Apparently, I always described them as "really nice guys."

My child's father would get frustrated to no end,
not at the fact that I was speaking about other men.

But at the fact that I could speak highly of men who rejected me. From his perspective, they couldn't have been that nice.

It's funny,
last year I went to lunch with a peer. We were catching up over the previous decades. And, as always -- okay not always -- as usual, I'm pretty honest. In her honesty, she said: "Oh my gosh he's a bum!"

In response to my child's father.

I wasn't offended per se. There are a lot of nouns and adjectives that could be used, I suppose.

But now that I've finished my novel, I have a lot of time to think. Meditate; reflect.

Lately, I've been feeling really grateful for the two old men I had relationships with. Both of them were twice my age. They weren't really relationships; they weren't really leading towards marriage.

But they were experiences. I guess, as I age. My feminine hormones give me strong desires to be around a man and play house or something. Have kids. Both of the experiences, gave me a chance to pretend. On one hand, I was pretending to be desirable as someone's wife. On the other hand, I wasn't pretending I was giving my all.

And so, I probably gained about 6 sexual partners last year. At first, it sounds like a lot. At the outset, it seems like... damn, Lhea you really out here ho-ing it up.

But then when I think about it. Even when 6 sex partners, I had sex less than 10 times in one year.

When I interviewed Black men for the novel, all of the men said they would be unhappy in a relationship if they received sex less than 3 times a week. Perhaps they didn't need sex daily, if that's not realistic; but at least three times.

I thought that was reasonable.

And so after last year's attempt to date men my age, in their 30s... as opposed to men in their 50s and 60s, I realized that I'm really grateful for the two old me who I spent my 20s with.

If I hadn't paused to spend time, sexually, with each of these two men (not at the same time).

Every year of my twenties would have looked like last year.

A man would have taken me on one date, realized that I'm unmarriageable... and never called. Or a man would have had sex 1-3 times, realized that I'm unfuckable... and moved on.

Through a series of one night stands and first dates, I would have gained 5 - 10 partners each year for about 5-8 years.

If I had 50 sexual partners, that would sound like a lot. But when you only have sex once before a man leaves you, it's really not that often. (1-5 times a year.)

And so it seems strange,
my willingness to date men without college degrees or without a house or a car or a job or a bank account or a line of credit.

It seems strange that I would be willing to date a bum.

But man! I've been hoed so many times by men with Ph.D's and JDs and MBAs.

I mean, it looks nice on paper. The resume. But I don't know if that matters at all. At least not to me.

I'd still be with my child's father, if we could have found a nonviolent solution. Trust me, it wasn't the money or the squatting or the university affiliation that made a difference.

And so, I'm grateful for the two random older men who wasted a bit of their mid-life on me.

It slowed me down,
it slowed the rate at which I would get rejected by professional men my age.

I was really suicidal before I started dating older men. I was really close to the edge.

Sometimes, I have to pull myself out of the dating pool and give myself a chance to breathe. Recooperate. Recover.

On Gratitude, Part One

 Last fall, I had my first "Crisis of Faith."
It's laughable now.

As a child, I always read about white men having their first Crisis. I always thought it was exaggerated or overstated. But last year, I realized the gravity of the notion.

I had met a man, online of course, who was called into ministry. And trust me, I have always stayed very clear of dating ministers. Some women are attracted to power; I am not one of those women.

It only took a few conversations for me to realize that I do not believe as he believes. And I suspect, I never will. And since I don't, I can't lie about it.

Then there was the crisis.

 If I don't believe deeply, do I believe at all?

He did teach me a very thorough definition of Gnosticism which was one of the most important lessons I've learned in the last decade, at least.

About a decade ago,I went to a church service. And there was a man who had been celibate for about 20 years. I nearly had a heart attack or stroke or some form of paralysis in my chair.

Perhaps that was my first Crisis of Faith and I just didn't know it yet. That was one of the first times I realized I wasn't as Christian as the Christians. I had the impression that everyone in the church felt that being celibate for decades on end was the most noble undertaking a person could undergo. As always, I said nothing.

Being celibate for years has always been one of my greatest fears.

In fact, that's how I lost my virginity.
As a child, I was raised to save sex for marriage. Sounded great to me. Sounded like an excellent idea. So I decided, I would wait for marriage to have sex.

Then, six months before my 21st birthday, I had a quarter-life crisis.  I realized, at the age of 20, that at the rate I was going, I would never marry. At the age of 20, I had never even been asked on a date. (Let alone gone on one.) And so I decided, not to wait for something that would never come.

Even after the decision in January, it still took me a decent 6 months to get laid. And after that, it took a year or two before I found another willing partner.

Now that I have Herpes,you'd think that I would be full of regrets.  I'm not. You'd think I'd be sitting around saying to myself, "Man, if I had only waited."

Waited for what?

Having Herpes actually stops me from going through emotional rollercoasters with me which could ultimately lead to suicidal tendencies.

Having Herpes helps.
I mean, how much rejection can one person take? Really?

So now, I have an excuse not to throw myself at men.
So now, men have an excuse to leave.
It works out quite well.

It's only a matter of luck that I got Herpes at the age of 30 and not the age of 20. In retrospect, I'm pretty happy with the first 10 years of my sex life.

It's not the most religious stance in the world but I have no regrets.

 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Allusion is One of My Favorite Literary Techniques, and other things I did not intend

Even though I've never been published proper, I'm getting to the point where I actually have a body of work.

Perhaps it is a body of childhood poems, collegiate slam poetry, a lifetime of unread blogs and a novel in progress. Nonetheless, it is a body.

So, I've started to re-evaluate my own writing.

I have a horrible memory.

I only have one piece of work memorized: "Will he Lynch us again?" A spoken word piece that I wrote around 2004.

Other than that, I can't remember shit.

Recently,
I've discovered that there is all types of hidden messages and unintended symbolism in my writing that I did not plan, structure or create.

ONE. The most startling example is in my 2007 father's day poem. My father always told me that the way he survived Mississippi is because his "grandmamma prayed for him." So I took that thing my father always told me... and I wrote a poem.

In the poem, I pretended to remind my father of advice his grandmother would have given him.

In the poem, in 2007, I said "remember your grandmother's legacy" and "remember you grandmother's maiden name".

Really, when I wrote this, I was really just going for the rhythm at the end of the poem. I didn't have anything concrete that I meant by those two statements at the end of the poem.

Now, when I read the poem, I realize that one of my father's grandmother was a Star and the other grandmother had the maiden name Baldwin... my favorite writer.

In 2007, I didn't know anything about any Stars in my bloodline. I knew about Baldwin, but I wasn't thinking about that when I wrote the poem.

TWO. Way back in 2005, I took an intensive German class. I learned German so well that I began to think in grammatically incorrect German sentences.

As a final project, my group had to do a video. Of course, I suggest that we pretend we are at a Berlin Poetry Open Mic. (Are there's poetry open mics in Berlin? in Germany? Ich habe keine idea!)

So of course, I wrote an entire 3 minute spoken word poem
in, of course,
grammatically incorrect Deutsch.

There was a moteif... or at least a repletion

"Du shaust an mich mit trauig augen
Aber du weiss..."

You look at me with sad eye
but you know

I don't even have the poem anymore. It's somewhere lost in my IFS space at Michigan...
All I remember is that line that I repeated "You look at me with sad eyes, but..."

When I wrote the poem... I was making a statement about being Black in a white space. Black in America. Black at the University of Michigan. Black in a German class...whatever.

But now that I think about that poem...

I realize that there is an unintended biblical illusion.

Leah, according to Genesis, had sad eyes.

In fact,
when I first experienced my nervous breakdown...

THAT was what I experienced.

Everywhere I went in New York City... it seemed like everyone in the entire city was looking at me with sad eyes. At work (before I quit)... On the subway... The strangers in Harlem...

Every single person that I saw.. looked like they were about to cry when they saw me. Or it looked like they had just finished crying because of something that I did.

I wrote the German poem in 2005 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

I had the nervous breakdown where everyone looked at me with sad eyes in 2007-2008.

THREE. This next thing isn't symbolism. It's just weird.

After Katrina, my sorority sisters asked me to perform a poem at the sorority ball. I did, I wrote a spoken word piece from the perspective of a fictional person who died during the floods of Hurricane Katrina.

Several of my sorority sisters after I performed walked up to me and said, wow that was a great poem.

I was flattered. But what I realized is the fact that several of my sorority sisters told me that the video in that was playing behind me show video/photographic images of what I was saying during my poem.

At the time, I don't even know if I knew that there was a slide show behind me.

If I someone did tell me... I definitely never saw the slide show before. I definitely didn't sync my poem with a slide show that I've never seen.

And because it was behind me, I didn't even realize when I was saying anything that mirrored what was on the screen.

FOUR. I'm finishing up my first novel. It's about being a Black man in America.

I've been brainstorming ideas pertaining to my second novel. Right now it's tentatively titled, Ruth and Rho.

I actually HATE that title. I've been trying to think of a better title for the last year!

I just realized this past week that Ruthenium and Rhodineum are right next to each other on the periodic table. Noble? I've heard of Noble gasses... Right now, I don't even know what a noble metal is...

And, sure... ten years ago I wanted to be a theoretical physicists. Sure, I even told Columbia that  I wanted to major in Chemical Physics.

But, I switched to philosophy after my freshman year at University of Michigan.

I didn't even get far enough in physics to know that an Ohm is symbolized by an omega ... measuring resistance. I didn't know that Rho measured resistance as well. Or for that matter, sigma being the inverse. (My novel is about a fictional Omicron Omega ... and a fictional Omicron Rho and a fictional Psi Sigma)

The only reason why I halfway recognize omegas in terms of wave lengths is because I still read popular physics books just for the hell of it.

Otherwise, how in the hell would I know?

And so, there is a huge possibility that there may be biblical and masonic and scientific symbolism in my own literature that I did not intend.

I'm not scared. And at the same time, I don't take delight in appearing smarter than I actually am. Some of those allusions ain't me.

Don't ask me how it got there,
that's a whole nother story.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Blog of Apologies and Reconciliations, Part IV

Recently,
I watched a writing advice video. And, the suggestion was... if someone took one sentence out of your entire book. Could that sentence stand?

At the time, I was searching for advice pertaining to how edit a novel.

This morning,
I woke up at 3am thinking about how I owe Sam Greenlee an apology. And how, I should stop being so damned angry at him when I'm really upset at my own circumstances.

And I thought about Hidden Colors which I love. I'm so impressed at how many people in the hood have access to information that you would really have to know how and where to look for...

But,
there was this one part...

where a woman said that feminism is about white issues. Black women ain't neva had no problem with a Black man!

And, every time I watch the video... I love the whole thing... and then I get to that sentence and in my head I think about every woman I know who has experienced incest, molestation, rape, domestic violence.

And it's not new. I don't know any women her age who haven't been cheated on, raped or hit by a Black man.

I know a lot of Black women her age lying.

Fuck it.

*exhale*

And she's right, Black women don't have any issues with Black men. Black women have an issue counting.

But white people are excellent at counting, statistics, algorithms, data mining and computer models.

And what I realized is she didn't really understand how Cointelpro worked.

She was under the impression that Cointelpro worked because the Black women joined the white women... and the Black men were alone.

But the truth is Cointelpro worked because when there was infidelity and lies about homosexuality in the Black Church and Civil Rights Camp and Rape in the SNIC camp and Rape and Domestic violence in the Black Panther camp.

The women stayed in the movements. They were trying to be feminists and figure out how to support oppressed Black men without getting their asses beat and being raped.

And, the women stayed with their husbands. And the children watched.

But Cointelpro among other agencies... they know how to count.

That's what they do.

So when the Black women forget how many times they can get hit and not talk about it. Or how many times they can get cheated on and not leave. Or how often date rape and spousal rape can happen and you stay in a marriage or relationship...

The intelligence community didn't forget.

So when the next wave of Black entrepreneurs and executives and politicians and activists come...

And this time when America and the rest of the world comes with 21st century technology.

They know exactly how faithful the Black woman is.

And they'll watch her saying, "Black women ain't neva had no problem with a Black man"

And they'll be there with optics and genetics and endocrinology and strategy and timing.

And they'll be setting the rapes and domestic violence(s) and the incest(s).

Because they know just how much damage they can do before a Black woman will open her mouth and say:

"Goddamnit this is a problem."

But don't we forget?

I ain't gonna lie.

I ain't neva had a problem with a Black man neither.

Part III White Supremacy over the fucking Mountain: Guns, Germs, Steel and Optics

Alright, maybe the first sentence of the last blog was a lie. Maybe I can't hold a grudge to save my life. Even when I try to hold a grudge... eventually the bottom falls out and I forgive.

One of my sands told me that Black people are too forgive. I agree. And, I'm one of those Black folk who forgive too often, too much, too easily.

In college,
I used to be a peace activist.

I didn't believe in violence at all.

I was one of those people who play Civilization to discover all of the wonders of the world. I just wanted to see how much scientific technology I could get before time runs out. In fact, if my computer declares war on me... I'll use my money to make my allies fight each other so I don't have to fight. Until the computer gets tired of fighting... And everyone is at peace again...

In college,
I used to be a peace activist.

I was one of those people who was like, "You know how much money America spends on defense! We need a department of Peace! Put money in that!"

Then,
while researching my novel.

I found out the Indus Valley Civilization was a society of dark peoples... and they can find writing that they can't decipher, they can find outdoor baths... but they can't find a single weapon.

And you know what?

The white people came over the fucking mountain.

And for the next 1000 years, they were untouchables.

I used to believe in dismantling the military.

In fact, I never got past the first two chapters or so of Franz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth because I thought it was too violent for me to internalize.

Now,
I think it's time for me to reread Fanon.

And I think even the peaceful need to be strategic... because history is littered with white people coming over the fucking mountain with guns, germs, steel

and this time

optics.

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