On Beauty and Living

For a long time, I had very real questions about my beauty.

I've questioned myself almost daily, for my entire life.

I've judged my "pretty" on other people's opinions and how I compared to those whose aesthetics I thought more appealing than my own, and determined my worth to the world on the basis of how long my eyelashes are naturally.

Meanwhile, I have kept tabs on several women who helped raise me and arrived at a question: What is "beauty" worth at 30?

(it still hurts to type that. i miss 29.)

And, what the fuck is aging if I will only grow to slay more?! 

When I was 12-13-14, they were 25-26-27. They were young and beautiful and had careers and apartments and dated people and did all the shit that seems sooooo cool when you're 13 and 26 is an impossible lifetime away. I wanted to be them, or be just like them, because 26 was exactly the age at which fun and living happened and that's all I was trying to do.

(allow me to take this moment to reflect on their importance in my life and express gratitude to God and the universe for placing real ass role models all throughout my life)

These women are 37-38-50 now, and I am amazed. 

Many of them have pursued really dope careers and degrees that allowed them to do really dope shit. They have moved and traveled and married and divorced and had children and quit jobs and bought homes.

They have glowed up to slay.

I spend time scrolling through Facebook albums and Instagram feeds sitting in awe of their beauty and their #blackgirlmagic, taking in all I can from the wordless exchanges I'm having with who they have become. Usually moments after I decide I've seen enough, I have a good deep sigh and some reflection time. I  check on myself and make sure I'm not trying to compare my apples to somebody's oranges (because I will do that).

Instead of inadequacy, in this space, I've found a Barney Bag full of my own confidence.

The age gap has allowed me to use some inference about who folks might have been in their younger years. 

For all of the mess that I was in my 20s, it is not unreasonable to extrapolate that other folks were also being a hot hell mess, and they turned out completely fine. 

Better than fine, even. 

Good enough for me to not feel like shit about not being who I thought I would be by now. Good enough for me to understand what "50" looks like, and how young 40 really is by comparison. Enough for me to know that aging is not about losing time, but rather about learning the best uses of all that you have, and being better able to maximize an opportunity.

I have baby fever, and that's ok. I'm not always the best partner, and no matter how bad I beat myself up about my shortcomings, that's ok, too.

The thing about living is that as long as you wake up, there is another chance to be better at it.


Self Work

I owe myself some work.

As I approach 30 (and I mention it every 20 minutes), this has become increasingly important to me.

I have called writing my addiction since I was 8. I have called myself a writer since I was 16. I decided then that my true life's work is to assemble words in ways that sound good and make other people feel things.

When I started trying to do that, I quickly discovered that it required me to repeatedly cut myself open and clean up the mess with lined paper and blog posts.

I quickly discovered that I did not like the healing process. Writing is work, and it is hard, and it hurts when you do it right. It is not like love in that way. But I don't think we write for ourselves. I think we write to make other people feel things, and to remind them that someone else knows them feels. At least that's what other people's writing has given me.

Creating space for other people to exist is a responsibility I did not ask for, and yet the universe keeps opening the door and standing on the porch like a southern grandmother, waiting for me to figure myself out so I can finally come home and act right.


I surrender. After 22 years of really trying to BE a writer, it is only now that I feel like I am. 

It is only now that I understand that writing is not a thing I can ever put down, and if I am ever to repay myself the debt I owe, I must start in this place.

The "this is not where i thought i would be" place.
The "secrets is heavy and i never knew how much they weighed cuz i never had any" place.
The place where someone wrote "i want to be a wife and mother but i also want to keep my hos" on the wall.
The dim corner, where i pore over Langston Hughes and Lucille Clifton and Toni Morrison and Zora Neale and call on my ancestors to help me dam up my tears long enough to still read what's on the page.

That is the space where I can hang my chrysalis until I'm ready to be who I am.


I cut the tag out of my hat because it was infuriating me.

It's still not really better.

I am wasting time on Pinterest, eating chocolate cake as though I'll never have another slice, and thinking that I should be writing something worthwhile.

Really though, anything is better than nothing.

I did not want to come here. I did not want to re-start this blog for the 10th time. I did not want to write, really, but as I get older I am developing a sense of obligation to my art. To the parts of myself that I can only touch through the looking glass of self-reflective memoirs and shit. Otherwise, they're too hot. Too electrified to get close to. Too delicate to hold without leaving them covered in fingerprints.

In 11 days, I will be 30.

I suppose it is time to honor my gifts.


Daytime Despair.

For the last few days I have not felt "good."  
I know this feeling, and I know what comes after.
Depression, crying, frustration, indifference, confusion, anger.  Weakness.
Last semester I was so overcome with my wayward emotions that I was unable to complete my coursework.
I have been without a steady job since August of 2012, and not for lack of trying.
For the first few weeks, everything was fine.
I would bounce back in a month or two.  School would keep me busy, right?
By the time one month became three, I started to panic.
By five, I was a wreck.
I've had interviews.  I've had a few short-term situations.  But permanent work that is also fulfilling has yet to present itself.
Of course I could take to the call center environment or sell things to make someone else rich, but when I work in spaces that confine or frustrate me, I do not succeed.
And of course I've considered freelance writing or trying to make my blog a more profitable space, but all of those things require time and right now I have rent that is due.
My family thinks I should just leave my apartment and move home, not realizing that moving home would not only not really help, the stress of living in a house with two other adults who think they have a maid might result in someone dying or at least some very hurtful exchanges.

I try to rely on what I know.
It's all about networking.
It's not what you know, it's who you know.
God will provide.
He never puts more on us than we can bear.
If I can be faithful over a few things I'll be ruler over many.

But right now, I just want to pay my rent.


Reverb 12.

I tried this in 2010 and it went nowhere. Here we are on December 8th, 2012 and I'm going to try again.

Day 8.

Prompt for December 8thArt: What was the most moving piece of art that you saw/experienced this year?  This could mean a painting or a sculpture, or a performance you took in, or even a book that you read – tell us about the kind of art you encountered, and the way that it moved you.

My first thought was "Seeing Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick on stage together."

But suddenly I remembered watching Casey Benjamin perform A Love Supreme on a motherfucking VOCODER with the Robert Glasper Experiment.

Those moments, in that club, with my eyes closed just taking it all in...there are no words.

I can still hear it, and feel the stillness of a room full of people in awe at their experience.

That was an amazing night.


I just came across a tweet attributed to Lao-Tzu that read "Muddy water, let stand, becomes clear."

What I read was "Chill."

In the moments where life is most hectic, it becomes imperative that we just be still.

Waters can never become calm if we are too busy trying to calm them.  We can't possibly manage everything all the time, so it becomes our job to just relax.

In the middle of tumultuous times that we cannot control, the only thing left is our selves.

While being still, then, we must take care of ourselves.

Start skin brushing or drinking green smoothies.
Meditation. Yoga. Prayer.

The situation starts to look drastically different when we attain and maintain clarity of mind.



I'm up to my eyes in it.

Since I was fifteen I've sought this one thing, and it crept up on me.

I was not looking. I had damn near given up for the time being and returned to reclusive life I once lived.

And yet, it has arrived, in the most inconspicuous package.

Inconspicuous...in the obvious way.

Like an unmarked box outside the White House.

Ain't no telling what's in it or where it's from, but I opened that bitch and got the surprise of a lifetime.

I am loved.

And sweet cream on an ice cream sandwich do I love back.

The joy in my day and the calm in my night. Hearing "I love you" is more soothing than chamomile