do you remember the time

I’m applying for new jobs.  One of them asked me to do two things 1) have a kick ass sense of humor (yes!) and 2) create a writing sample.

Here’s a super rough draft excerpt from the latter:

“I remember the day my mother gave me away just as a child recalls all its memories: clearly yet stained by the inaccuracy of youth.  She, my brother, and I attended a function in a magnificent building I later came to love and call  “Founder’s Hall.”  Flags stuck out of the roof like an Afro pick in a freshly picked poof.  The marble floors felt fancy beneath my feet and brownness blew around me; dust clouds and tumble weeds in my season of desertedness.  Heels clicked then as they still do now.  My skin weighed heavy: as I wore my blackness differently then than I do now.  It was enrollment day.  My mother, a single parent from the Virgin Islands, had heard of a school where you could send your children.  This residential school, a Mecca, would pay for everything your child needed through high school and even through college at no cost to the parent or sponsor.  “At no cost to the parent or sponsor.” An unintentional and heavy lie still passed down like an urban legend through generations.  Attending Milton Hershey School cost me everything.”

courtesy of pennlive.com

Black people don’t swim

I had a conversation with a coworker yesterday.  At some point he said, “Black people don’t swim.”  I laughed.  For the most part he’s correct… I guess. I mean, maybe. When I envision the lap swimmers at a local pool I don’t picture a bunch of Black Americans doing laps for exercise.  That’s probably because I haven’t been to a pool in YEARS. As a culture, we don’t swim. I’ll embrace that.  We hang out in the pool acting a fool and socializing, but we don’t linger on weekends to perfect our butterfly stroke. Do some Black people swim? Of course.

We “don’t do” activities because historically we were denied access. We were marginalized into our own communities with little access to awesomeness.  Think about it.  Name something Black people “don’t do.”  Now look back at when it became popular in America. If, at some point we were denied access through legal or social infringements it’s probably not apart of our culture now and frankly Black people, that’s lame. We gotta do better.

I’ll swim.  I don’t mind it.  It’s not like I’m afraid I just haven’t had the opportunity in recent years because of work.  If I’m at the pool I usually supervising a bunch of excited youth from the sidelines.  Becoming a whitewater rafting guide, however, is on my “Do before I die” list.  I’m in this place with work where I want to quit but haven’t figured out my next step.  I like my apartment so I want to keep that, but I also want to travel.

Whitewater rafting The New River

That’s me in the back, by the way. No, not the white guy….

 

*Dance Break*

I just had a mini daydream about happiness.  In it, I went to the local co-op, bought bulked goods, and put them in a storage container in the back of my yet to be purchased vehicle with all my camping gear.  I pictured myself traveling with my dog and cooking food on my camp stove and sleeping in the back of my car with the hatchback raised so I could see the sky.

Why don’t I just do that?

Note to self: Answer the above question.

*End Dance Break*

One reason I haven’t swam/swum/what word goes here? in a while is directly connected to body image issues.  I haven’t felt at home in my body and I don’t want people doing to me what they do to women at the beach. I am uncomfortable when people remark on my body even if it’s for a compliment.  That’s why derby is so fantastic.

I can skate around in fish nets, panties, and a halter top and throw myself around for 90 minutes without someone saying ANYTHING about my body.  I love those spaces. I’m going to try to make “swimming holes” spaces like that for me.

Summer goal: Engage in the activities I want regardless of societal pressures.  (I’ll let you know how that goes.)  😉

Why are we still inside?

I facilitated conversations around diversity/cultural competency/intercultural dialogue/inclusion/any other term that means conversations around social constructs

I can’t ignore what happened today.

In the middle, just as the sun rose high and sweat began to form, my heart weighed heavy and settled in near my feet. I couldn’t move because I needed to speak.

*breathe*

The morning’s cooler discussions stepped aside to let the heat in; those discussions of race, power, privilege and “diversity” were tough, much like the gristle on a steak — extra and unwanted and yet digested if and when ingested. I looked across the room and felt heavy. There is so much that we cannot see and yet need for guidance. We have been constructed by external forces to be what makes sense. We’re handed boxes, bags, and miscellaneous containers and urged to put different pieces of ourselves inside until the compilation of our beauty is gone and only “what makes sense” resides. Even if we resist our assignments we’re still boxed along with other resisters. There is so much work to do and so few soldiers.

I’d been feeling mediocre for quite sometime. Today felt like success. Not just for me personally as a facilitator, but on a larger cultural level. I connected with young people in powerful memory crafting ways. These young people are entering into fields of work that are not widely occupied by people of color. Because they have positioned themselves on the fringes of culture their mere presence in this field is shifting the cultural norms of the youth of color with which they work. Their bravery is changing Blackness. Their bravery is changing the norm.

My new success are tied to new experiences that are not traditionally engaged in by people within the mainstream Black culture. Today I was able to serve as mouthpiece for some because of my childhood experiences. I often look back at women and “others” who were fortunate and unfortunate enough to be the firsts in their fields – Jackie Robinson, Huey P. Newton, Angela Davis, Zora Neale Hurston, etc…. My recollection of them was often associated with the longing for notoriety or at the very least the longing to be noticed. I’ve slowly been realizing that I am able to make a difference by just being myself.

Security System

I’m house sitting in a neighborhood that, well, isn’t on the top of America’s most desirable places to live.  The house is large and unfamiliar.  Last night I freaked out a bit.  This is an email I sent at 2am to the house owner’s and two other friends after having been asleep for only 2 hours.  Warning: Offensive language ahead:

Subject: If my life were an SNL skit….

“It would be called Security System.

So, I’m pretty sure I’m still listed as *Clarise’s and *Charlie’s somebody special in the alarm company database.

Let me share a little story.

I’m house sitting at *Louise’s and *Fred’s when and I awoke to a slow beeping much like a slow clap in an awkward 80’s rom-com only electronic at 1:30 something this morning.  I bullied myself out of bed because your neighbor’s dog (remind me to tell you a story about the mattress that used to be outside in their yard) was barking his adorable little face off. The keypad says “Check 10 basement door.” I’m freaking the fuck out because I SWEAR there’s some Columbia City ninja type shit happening at *1234 N. Snorkel and I’m about to die. I can only imagine that there’s a burglar downstairs who cut some kinda circuit and is waiting for my black ass to just open that basement door and he’s going to choke me out.  So I grab the key set with the pink nail polish panic button, my cell phone and stand in the doorway of the upstairs bathroom.  I call ADT and I’m ready to describe my last moments. So I dial 1 (800) ADT ASAP expecting to get ahold of someone relatively quickily. Because, you know, it’s an alarm company and the phone number has AS SOON AS POSSIBLE built into it.

I’m sent to some mutha fuckin prompt system and I have to make choices.  Here I am scared as hell about to crawl out the tiny side window in the bathroom and run screaming bloody murder down the street wearing a Steve Nash Phoenix Suns’ jersey and a headscarf and it wants me to make intelligent choices upon command so I can be directed to the correct operator.  Lawd a mercy. After pushing some arbitrary ass numbers I hear ringing and then there’s elevator music.  Uhm Hmm. ELEVATOR music like some shit from the Amelie soundtrack.  The system has put my black ass on hold (This is like a line straight outta some wrongfully imprisoned dude’s prison video diary).

Finally, it rings again and they’re like, “Hey, is this call about 739 Janky….something something? AKA an address that is clearly not Louise’s and Fred’s AKA Clarise’s and *Charlie’s address in Texas and I’m like nahhhh, not at all this is a call about Seattle, Washington.  The woman goes, “…huh. Okay well, what address are you calling from?”  So we get to where we need to be after she addresses me as a dude (we talk about that for 10 seconds too long) and I explain the situation.  She’s trying to convince me that this isn’t the emergency my scary movie watching behind is convinced it is. Bitch is all calm.  Me on the other hand while I may sound normal in a tape recorded version of this rendezvous  I’m sure I said the words, “Soo, is this something I need to attend to right now, or can it wait till a time with more light and I’m not fittin to pee myself? ” She says it can wait.  Of course she thinks it can wait, she’s not the one making final arrangements in her brain. Right. Now.  By the way, Garvey’s grey ass is Calm. As. Fuck. Throughout this whole ordeal.

I go back into the bedroom, lock the door and leave Rhesus and Church (the cats) to fend for their damn selves. I’m shooker than a mutha fuck. I’m hearing noises that sound like creaking doors, babies crying in the distance, and cat’s being slow murdered.   I feel like there ain’t shit I can do right now but sit on this way too comfortable bed and wait to die.  I heard a crazy ass shooting while walking to work today so my mind is already set to “Dying without cause” or “I knew I wasn’t going to make it to 80” on the PTSD dial.

I called my friend Amy and she talked me down from my perch on the ledge of unrealistic death thoughts. I barricaded the door with the dresser andmI am now writing to you from that same too comfortable bed with the pink nail polish panic button doo hickey in my lap, a juice box, my cell phone, and razor from the guest goodie basket. I’m not going down without a mutha fucking fight.  Not gonna lie, I was waaaaaay too close to calling Stan’s ass and having him come the whole the hell way down here. His girlfriend can get as mad as she wants — somebody was going to rescue my ass.


So there, if my fears are correct these are my final thoughts. If not, and I really hope they’re not, these are just the ramblings of a single woman house sitting, who watches too much scary shit on the Internet.

Fuck.”

I haven’t been this scared in a very long time.  Living and working in the ‘hood is not good for my long-term mental status.