You will be Missed…

I woke up this morning and the first thing I saw on my Instagram feed was that Titi Branch, the co-founder of Miss Jessie’s natural hair products, had passed away in an alleged suicide.

Although she was a complete stranger, my heart instantly grew heavy because we lost another magical Black woman. Earlier this year we lost Karyn Washington.  I did not know Karyn but her movement to empower young Black women was  something all dark skinned girls needed.

When I was much younger, I started battling with severe self-esteem issues and exhibited what I can see now as symptoms of depression.  Mental health issues are not something you discuss in the Haitian community. You go to church and pray, God will fix it. You have clothes on your back, food on the table, and a roof over your head, what is there to be sad about? These things were drilled into my head and yet I could not shake the darkness that loomed over me at times.

I was very active in the church, I sang in the choir and attended youth group and yet I had these thoughts. I was ashamed; I lived with both my parents who loved me, I had great friends, and I was a Christian. Did that make me ungrateful?

I scribbled my thoughts down in my diary and I created a fictional world where my life was always better. Even at a young age, writing was my escape.

I had fleeting thoughts of suicide; I thought life would be easier. I am only here today by the grace of God.

I was a sophomore in college when I slipped into my longest period of darkness. I stayed in my room for almost a week, only leaving to attend the classes I could not afford to miss. I ate meals alone and ignored the knocks and the AIMs on my computer. I told everyone I was tired. My friends believed me and left me alone. That was (and still is) the loneliest week of my life and I just sat in my dorm room, crying. I had no idea what was wrong with me.

 I did not know who call; I didn’t even where to start.

We are conditioned to believe that as Black women, we are strong and we have to remain strong for everyone. It’s okay to admit we need help.

I definitely do not have the answers, but I do know that taking your life is not the solution.

You have to know, you will be missed. I know in the darkest hours, when the weight of the entire world is on your shoulders,  it’s easy to succumb to the feeling that life will simply go on without you.

It will not. Someone will miss you. There will be a gaping hole left in your absence because there is no one else like you.

I never thought about this when I was younger, but I know this now.  I truly believe, I would be missed.

Someone’s life will be affected by your death; someone will shed tears over you. You have to stay and fight, no matter what.

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Regret

*I first wrote this months ago*

Someone wise once told me that I need to make time for people in my life before they leave this earth and I’m left with regret.

I listened halfheartedly because in my mind I still had all the time in the world.

Until I didn’t.

Someone close recently passed away and immediately tears seeped in the corners of my eyes. I thought about her more than a few times over the past couple months and never reached my phone for various reasons. I can’t remember the last time I spoke with or saw her.

Like self doubt. Will she even want to hear from me?

Like procrastination. I will ask my mother about it later and maybe she’ll call for me.

Like perceived laziness. I hate talking on the phone.

And then all I felt was guilt. I never got to say “good bye” or “I love you.”

I was watching rerun episodes of Mary Mary and news hit of a family member who fell ill. Both sisters said they wanted to call their father but didn’t for multiple reasons.

I am left standing with the burden on my  shoulders, wondering what I could have done different.

Regret is a muthaf*ker. I don’t regret many things but this one…

I’ve been so busy trying to make sure I’m happy that I forgot about the people who helped shaped me.

I’m still not great with phone calls or visits. But I am trying to make the most of the time I have with my loved ones because you never know when it will be the last…

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I am who I am: 15 things that will not change

Yesterday officially marked the start of my birthday month. As I speed towards 31, I am finding new things about myself and accepting some things may never change.

I am who I am.

  1. I am pretty quiet especially in a large group. I like listening to people more than I like talking. I find you learn more about others that way.
  2. I never check voicemails. This seems to infuriate pretty much everyone but me. I am trying to do better but bad habits die hard.
  3. I am a tried and true introvert. I can fake it til I make it all I want; I will always be an introvert. For instance, I hate going to parties, I have never liked them and I never will. Growing up, I would spend the party holed up in a bedroom reading a borrowed book. And they literally give me headaches.
  4. I have always been naturally muscular. My arms have been the bane of my existence since middle school when one of my crushes told me I had muscles. As much as I hate to admit it, my arms look best when they are toned from working out. When I neglect my workout, my arms just look big. I still struggle with this when I am trying on clothes. It’s hard for me to look past my arms and see me.  Thankfully there is a woman out there who makes muscles look sexy:  Serena Williams in all her chiseled glory.
  5. I eat a lot. Sometimes I eat more than my husband. This used to embarrass me but now who the hell cares?
  6. I am happiest when I am wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and sneakers. Obviously I can’t wear this outfit on a daily basis but on the days when I do, I feel free.
  7. I am a bitch when I’m hungry. Hubs knows to run to the stove and whip something up for me. I don’t think I’m that bad but actually…I am that bad. She can’t control herself, she’s hungry. Lol.
  8. When I wear heels out, there are always flats somewhere in my purse. Even my most comfy heels are not comfy enough to run all over these New York City streets. Plus, I feel better when I know I can break into a run at any given moment. Maybe its because I’m married to man who loves to jet across the street at the last possible second, while holding my hand.
  9. The most ridiculously little things make me happy. Flowers, a comfy robe, lip-gloss, bacon, books, a purple pen. You can literally give me almost any little thing and I will be genuinely happy.
  10. I’m not a morning person. I chose to work in a profession where I always have to work in the morning. Coffee is the only way I make it through.
  11. It’s hard for me to say no. I hate saying no to people and especially people that I love. I am a people pleaser at heart, but I am learning how to say no for the sake of my mental health.
  12. I am an obsessive-compulsive control freak. Say a prayer for my husband, he needs it.
  13. I like ratchet reality television. I’ve tried to wean myself off, I’ve tried to ignore VH1, Bravo, and E, but life is too short to deny myself such simple pleasures.
  14. My natural hair will never look like Tracee Ellis Ross’. My curls may never be socially acceptable in my Haitian mother’s home.  I may never know what hang time is, may never experience the joys of pulling my own hair into a lush full bun, or rock a wash and go. I’m not happy about it but I accept it. However I can throw my own hair into a two-strand twist updo and install my own Marley twists. I think that’s pretty good.
  15. I am writer. Nothing makes me feel better than pouring out my heart on paper. You may never see those words but they are there. Even if I am never published, I will continue to write on my own terms.

 

What are some things about yourself that will never change?

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Stories behind their Black skin

I watched the announcement of the grand jury decision in Ferguson, MO along with the rest of America with a feeling of familiar dread in my chest. I knew what the verdict was before the Prosecutor even began his lengthy speech however a small part of me still hoped.

I have to hope despite the surmounting evidence. I have to believe despite everything that points to the contrary that Black lives do matter. I went to bed whispering it to myself as I drifted to sleep.

My 24-year-old brother is a Black man. I am married to a Black man who gave me two Black men as older brothers as well. When I look at them, I don’t see threatening, dangerous monsters. I see husbands, brothers, friends, professionals, and students.

When my brother was three or four, we went to the local park with my older cousin-sisters. They had just erected a huge slide at that particular park and once we arrived, we quickly dispersed. My sister and I were left to our own devices but we were left in charge of the youngest.

The details were hazy then and I certainly cannot remember them now but my little brother got on that brand spanking new slide and somehow fell out of the side.

He fell in slow motion and I couldn’t get my feet to run towards him fast enough. I could hear the whispers of the adults around us,

“Where are his parents?”

It was one of the scariest moments of my life when I realized how fragile his life was. It was also the first time I contemplated what life might be like without him around. Fortunately he was fine.

That little kid who fell out of slides and almost got caught in a merry-go-round once grew into a 24-year-old college student who slightly towers over me. He loves to lift weights, crack jokes, and eat a lot of food. He came over one weekend and literally took all of the food I cooked.

Mid phone conversation with him a few weeks ago, it hit me; he is an individual with an existence separate of being my baby brother. He has the entire world at his feet and I hate the thought that he is living in a world where they do not take kindly to Black men.

I met my husband at a party I crashed or was kind of invited to, depending on who you ask. I didn’t know him or his friends but I was with my girlfriend and we were young and fearless (or stupid). It wasn’t love at first sight, but something about him made me take a chance.

One night he went out with some coworkers and I sent him a customary text so I could go to bed knowing he was okay. I am a chronic worrier by nature.

An hour passed and nothing. I didn’t want to seem like a clingy wife but I finally broke down and called his phone several times. Each time the phone went to voice mail. I tried not worry, I tried not to panic. Odds were, everything was fine but I just needed to hear his voice. His phone was probably dead. But uneasiness gnawed at me and I called one of his brothers, mildly hysterical.

After seven years together with four years of marriage under our belt, it’s safe to say I am used to having him around. Needless to say when he finally walked in the front door with a dead phone, I was more than relieved.

It kills me that someone will look at this baby faced, wide muscled build and just see a dangerous Black man. They will never look past his skin color to hear his jokes, appreciate the biting sarcasm, or taste the cream of mushroom chicken that sealed the deal during our courtship.

I had a dream about my father once. The details have long faded, as most dreams do once you awaken. It was dark and the waves were lapping gently against the shore. Suddenly he was in the sky, practically swallowed in the clouds. I reached my hands up, trying to hold onto him but I couldn’t. I woke up drenched in sweat, my heart jumping out of my chest. I woke up screaming for my mother but as usual it was my father who came to the room. He was always stern but he was always there.

These are the men who America has painted as monsters. The men you should be afraid of, the men the justice system failed when they refused to indict the monster that murdered a young man who will never realize his wildest dreams.

Black men have stories behind their skin; they have quirks and personalities that set them apart from everyone else.

Michael Brown was his mother’s baby; he was someone’s friend. Trayvon Martin was a little brother and a best friend. Eric Garner was the father of six. These are just some of the names, unfortunately there are countless more.

The deaths of these individuals left a gaping hole in the lives of their families. They are not nameless, anonymous people who wandered around aimlessly.

There are stories behind their skin. Black lives do matter.

 

 

Posted in Events, family, father, In My World, In Television, In the World, memories, my thoughts, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Extremes List

If you have not figured it out yet, I love making lists.  I decided to compile a “tiny” list of the things that piss me off and the things I adore.  And just so you know, this is not by all means an exhaustive list, I could do this for hours.

Things that Piss me off

  1. People who talk to me in the morning before I’ve had a sip of coffee Unfortunately for me, hubs is a morning person so I’ve had to learn to be nice in the mornings.  Seriously, I cannot deal with people who want to have full-blown conversations before I have had my first sip. Life is so much sweeter with coffee.
  2. Men who push past women to get seats on the train AND men who conveniently look away when a pregnant or elderly woman boards the train. If I was still in the game, this is how I would determine who I would date because its says a lot about a man’s character. This morning, a man offered his seat to a young woman who was none of the above and I did a double take because that almost never happens.
  3. Men who think it is a good idea to speak to me on the street. I suffer from resting bitchy face so I almost never look approachable and I have learned not to leave the house without my headphones. What part of that encourages you to speak to me?
  4. Successive phone calls in a row. I hate the phone and multiple missed calls from you will not make these fingers move faster.
  5. People who make sly comments about my natural hair. It has taken me too long to appreciate the kinks and coils growing on my head and I do not need any negativity.

Things I adore:

  1. Cake on my birthday. I will never stop talking about that one birthday where I was forced to cancel my birthday plans and no one bought me a cake. Cake on my birthday is necessary.
  2. Hanging out with my siblings. We don’t hang as much as we probably should and I am really enjoying the individuals they are growing up to be.
  3. Reading books, having books delivered, buying books.
  4. Watching trash television shows with my husband. He is the funniest person I know and the endless commentary kills me. He needs to be on that Bravo show, The People’s Couch.
  5. Brunches with my girls followed by window-shopping. There is nothing like a good girlfriend, no matter how long it has been since we’ve last seen each other.
  6. Dance  parties. You never realize how much you needed a sweaty all out dance session until you are in the midst of one. Ugh, I need one in my life.

Tell me what pisses you off and what you adore below!

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Book Review: An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

image courtesy of amazon.com

 

I do not know how many times I have said this before or how many times I will say this again but Roxane Gay is my new favorite.

I picked up An Untamed State because my new favorite author wrote it, however I was unprepared for how much it would affect me.

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay is romantic, endearing, disturbing, and painfully raw all at once. Yes, all of those things. If you do not believe me, read the book.

Born in the US to Haitian immigrants, Mireille hears the stories of poverty and hard work from her parents. They describe a Haiti filled with poverty, sickness, and hardships. Mireille learns to love a Haiti filled with sunshine, beaches, and good times.

Brought up under the critical eye of her father, Mireille excels at everything, desperate to meet his impossible standards. She meets Michael and they fall in love despite the differences in their upbringings and culture. They live a fairy tale life in Miami, oblivious to everything but their love.

Mireille is kidnapped, snatched from the arms of her husband and family. She is plunged into a dark underworld where morality ceases to exist.  Mireille is introduced to a part of herself she never needed before, a part that will stop at nothing to survive.

She learns what happens when the have-nots have had enough.

An Untamed State is not always a pretty story and there are demons unearthed that are unable to crawl back into the closet. I had to put the back down multiple times, disgusted by what I was reading but also transfixed.

Intertwined with the horror are pieces of a love story, the coming together of two imperfect people struggling to make it work. You begin to fall in love with this couple, you want to root for them.  Then Roxane Gay plunges you back into Mireille’s nightmare. She has a gift not many possess, this ability to conjure a myriad of emotions within just a few pages. The glimpse into the mind of someone who is slowly going insane.

Mireille’s survival became my own and I had to remind myself to breathe. I love how Roxane Gay does not tie this story with a pretty bow, the characters stripped raw and left exposed.

It makes you wonder, what would you do?

Have you read this book, what did you think?

Posted in authors, black women, Book Reviews, books, fiction, haiti, haitian authors, reading list, women, writers | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Red Lipstick, natural hair, and self love

I thought turning thirty meant waking up possessing all the answers and regularly bending over for the world to kiss my ass because I was a Grown Woman.

I thought turning thirty meant finally releasing the demons plaguing me since childhood or outgrowing those pesky self-image issues.

Shit, I thought I would wake up one day and loving my natural hair would be as easy as loving anything with bacon…or avocado.

I still struggle with saying, “No.”

I still struggle with my self-image.

I definitely still struggle with these kinks and coils that refuse to behave. Continue reading

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Triple 7 Challenge

After reading Dara’s post here, I pretty much forced her to invite me in the challenge. Lol.

The Triple 7 Challenge is a fun challenge encouraging writers to share 7 lines of a Work in Progress from the 7th page, 7 lines down.

This excerpt is from a more recent WIP, something I have been playing around with.

I called my boyfriend, scarily calm. He was incredulous. “She told you via text message?”

My voice faltered a bit. There was a chance my mother might die, no matter how small the chance; it hovered over me like a black cloud..>. Continue reading

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When people pleasing goes wrong

I almost gave myself a mild panic attack over absolutely nothing.

I am a perpetual people pleaser and yesterday it reached new levels.

After a conversation that pretty much ruined my evening, I slept fitfully. I woke up exhausted with a persistent knot in the pit of my stomach. The familiar feeling of dread draped over my shoulders like an unwanted hand.

It refused to budge even after I arrived in my office and prayed silently.

I felt sick all day. The knot remained but was now accompanied with lightheartedness and nausea. I was literally sick to my stomach.

I wanted to talk about it. I wanted someone to tell me what do, tell me that I was not a bad person for wanting something for me..>. Continue reading

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What she sees in the night

I was very young when I first watched Nightmare on Elm Street.

I was asleep in the room I shared with my younger sister when I woke up screaming from a nightmare. I always yelled for my mother, but she didn’t always come.

This time she showed up, fatigued etched in her face and she snuggled with me in my bed. Before I settled in her warmth, I searched the room and I heard my mother’s voice,

“Don’t look for him.”

I saw him anyway, illuminated in the shape of a tiny doll on the dresser. I fell sleep as fast as I could, my only defense mechanism, a prayer in my throat.

I woke up screaming again, he was pulling my feet, dragging me away from my family into his personal hell.

I opened my eyes and he was standing menacingly at the foot of my bed. I screamed so loud my father stumbled in and then he disappeared while I was left crying and flailing my arms..>. Continue reading

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