poem: a writer

 

Behind my motherly exterior, I am a writer.

Cafe

Somewhere in there

A writer

plunking away in a café

Describing the flow of the wind

The glow of a smile

The tingle of a touch

The frantic, manic

Screams of happy children

Charged with youth

Energy

Of calcium rich bones

And

Adrenaline filled veins

Somewhere in there

A writer

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life vs write

Okay.

I have been unable to write for pleasure.  It has been about four weeks now since I’ve written a coherent word that was personal or creative and served my own purposes.  I’ve written a hundred work emails detailing an injured employees medical status and return to work strategies, but I haven’t written one sentence that caresses my imagination and drives me to smile.

life goes on...

life goes on…

I have reviewed my finances, planned the twins back to school wardrobe, written grocery shopping lists, called in prescription refills, attended parent-teacher meetings, helped my husband arrange for a out of town trip, swept the floors, moped the floors, washed dishes, prepared meals, washed hair, combed hair, dropped kids off at appointments, retrieved kids from appointments, and watched horrible television, yet I haven’t squeezed out a teardrop of imaginative writing.

This bout of writers block is further exacerbated with the obligations of young family life.  Some days I wish for old age.  I wish I was sixty years old and all the children are well adjusted grownups that still came by to visit but didn’t need me to prepare their meals anymore.  I would be retired and free to sit in my home library reading and working on a project that I’ve promised my agent I’d have done by an impossible deadline.

Dreams.

That’s my little pipe dream; to be mature, creative, and published.  I love my family life and I love my creative life.  The reality is that family does come first. Shared human experiences help pad my creativity, feed my soul, and keep me healthy.  We are here on earth to connect with one another and then write about it.

Attitude: the shield of protection

How did black women get their attitude?

 

blackgrlsThe origins of snappiness come from slave life in America.   Black women were brought and sold right beside the male slaves.  Many slaves were naked as they were auctioned; their body parts appraised and audited shamming them in front of crowds.

 

 

 

 

 

price

The black female body was a commodity.  The white female body was considered pure and feminine and worthy of protection.  Black female slaves had no right to claim femininity, thus they warranted no protection.  Black women were property and did not own their bodies which meant that anyone could do anything they wanted to a black female and not face any punishment at all.

 

 

 

 

 

foxbank-plantation-houseIf the slave master wanted to have sexual relations with a black female slave he did it without question or protest from anyone.  And as historical legacies go, a subculture that included the sexually ferocious black female was born.

 

Black women were considered uncivilized workers with vagina’s.  Anyone who wanted to quell their human urge for sexual pleasure could take up a slave girl who didn’t have a say in her own life.

 

 

As time passed the Constitution was updated, slaves were freed, civil rights were heard, and progress towards equality in America started to take shape. All the while black women were still being objectified.  Black feminist issues were not dropped in the American bucket of issues.  Our stories did not change much from slavery.  Black female issues still take back seat to racial profiling and other issues that deal with black males.  Even in modern times, black women and children are still being raped, touched, groped and fondled secretly in their homes and at their gathering facilities.

No one is paying attention.

Many black females will tell stories of their childhoods where they were repeatedly molested and taken advantage of by both strangers and family members.  Not to suggest that every black girlhood includes sexual exploitation and degradation.

Many black females have healthy molestation free childhoods. But many people will look at these women and assume that they have lived a horrid life comparable to Sapphire’s “Precious” character.  But one thing most black woman can identify with is being tied to a stereotype of having an “attitude”.

nene

This attitude was formed out of necessity to protect oneself.

 

Linking our ancestry back to slavery times we see that we had no recourse. No one shielded black woman from the force of brutality and labor. Black woman worked hard and maybe even harder than the male slaves in the cotton fields.

Since no one took us in, we took ourselves in.  We internalized our struggles and use the pain to fuel our verbal and physical attacks.

 

 

slaveladyBlack women slaves were brutalized and abandoned. Today I can say that we feel the same.  At least I do.

 

We still think that no one loves us and we have to “look out for our own”.

Today black woman are still viciously combating their attackers with tough language that makes even a manly man fall back.    We’ve learned that a “don’t mess with me” attitude aids in deterring unwanted people from our presence.  But there is a down side.

This use of power has expanded to any and every one.   We’ve turned on each other.  Girl fights in clubs and jealous rages have become the norm in black girl world.

 

I’ve spoken with many black women who said “I don’t let nobody disrespect me.”  I truly understand this.

 

 

attitude1

But we must be careful to remember that  Respect is earned.

 

The horror of slavery has shaped our ancestors thinking and behavior, thus shaping our grandmothers, and then our mothers. Now us…

I can see and feel the change in the American air.  Some say we are in a post-racial society, with the black President, black first lady, black kids in the white house, and self-actualized black women all around the country. I’m not sure if we are in a post-racial society or not but what I do know is that the fragile black female is a beautiful relevant member of American society and she can be herself without an attitude.

I am not against sass. I am against unresolved anger.  We should extinguish our anger and move forward.

 

 

 

The Void

My mother comes to me in dreams.  She is present in almost every dream that I have.  I wonder if this is just me missing her or if she is truly visiting me in this mystical way; perhaps it is a manifestation of both.

how do you move forward without anyone to nudge you?

how do you move forward without anyone to nudge you?

Fourteen years later, I still feel the shock of my mother’s death.  The pain of death never quite goes away, it dulls and numbs but it is still there.  The void of a missing piece looms over me raining its funereal rays down, following me around as I do life.  Most days I feel severed, like a feather blowing in the wind.  It started as soon as my mother’s funeral came to a close.

I became obsessed with job hopping.  I worked as a receptionist, a mail sorter, food service worker,  bus girl, catalogue customer service representative, credit card customer service representative, and a few others.  I thought that a job could give me the security that I needed to cope with my empty life.  No job seemed to soothe my aching soul.  I found all the positions boring and the environments hostile.

When I realized that a job couldn’t comfort me I indulged in an unhealthy relationship with an alcoholic.  My boyfriend I and moved in together and he helped me create a pseudo haven of security.  I needed something real and tangible to grab onto and hold.  He was there every day when I returned from work.  He stayed around never straying away from home for any reason.

I counted on him to be there for me and he was.  The drinking escalated as the years passed.  He was up to six beers per day and by nighttime he was so inebriated that he couldn’t speak in full sentences. One night I sat up thinking about how screwed up we both were.  Essentially we were two depressed people in isolation.

I began to see my boyfriend in a new way.  He wasn’t helping me to move forward, he was impelling me to stay put.  I was wallowing in my grief and I had company to wallow with.  Both of us struggled with abandonment issues, me from losing my mother and him from never knowing who his father was.  He said his mother, who was still living, refused to give him any information about his dad.  I thought this was very sad, he must have felt utterly abandoned by a father who is either dead or living some life without him.

We weren’t living, we simply existed.

I realized that a stable job and boyfriend wasn’t quelling my empty soul.  I was stuck, suspended in the air half way toward heaven but still close to earth.  After I rubbed my eyes and peeked out the door into the world I remembered that I had dreams.  I remembered that before my mother died, I was going to enroll in college and get a degree in social work.  I remembered that I wanted to work in the field for five years and then get to work on a non-fiction self-help book for urban teenagers.

I dreamed of the condo that I would live in.  I would buy it with the money I earned from book sales.  I was a young adult and I dreamed big.  Then I looked around and saw myself in this ratty old one bedroom apartment with moldy walls.  I lived with an unemployed alcoholic and neither one of us was working towards anything in life.

When my mother died, so did I; emotionally.  I went numb and stopped living.  I knew what I needed to do at this point.  I broke up with my boyfriend and asked him to find a place of his own.  I needed to be alone.  I needed to work on my plans for the future.  I needed to live.