SWB: shopping while black

Justice clothing store is apparently THE place where every eight to twelve year old must shop. My daughters bugged me for a month about this cool interesting store so I finally gave in and we visited this tween sparkled heaven.

 

Marketing executives did a superb job making all the products shiny in come hither gold and optimistic yellow.  Every tee shirt is a blindingly happy shade of neon green or smurf popping blue.  What the marketers hadn’t counted on was haughty racist counter staff who, with faux politeness, told me to step aside so she could help the woman behind me who looked more financially secure with her Burberry scarf, crisp brown trench coat and arms filled with long pants, shirts, a jacket, a bath robe, and so many other pieces that her credit card was either about to take a major hit, or she travels with a suitcase packed with cash; oh, and she was white.

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I am evil retail fairy. I keep social customs from advancing.

 

I only had three measly tiny toy thingies for my daughters, all braided and twisted and ethnic we stood in the line waiting for a little piece of glittery joy just like everyone else.

“This lane is closed and I think that woman was in front of you.”  Blondie said looking at me and my brood.

 

That’s when I turned to see Burberry lady who was miles away, her eyes glazed over with retail inebriation, arms overflowing with product yet she was hunched over looking at a key chain display not paying any attention to the line in which the sales woman insists that she is in.

“Okay?”  I said calmly as I watched the saleslady walk away pretending to tend to a stray dress someone left behind the counter, refusing to wait on me.

Burberry lady had walked away.  She was perusing the display of flipflops on a far off wall.

I stood there lips pressed, conscience of what was happening but keeping my back stiff and reminding myself to breathe.  My daughters were with me and getting mad at sales people isn’t something I want to demonstrate.  There are far better, worthier skills young black girls need to learn and emulate.

I stood there composedly and talked to my daughters about the fuzzy patterned diary with a lock that they wanted.  Maybe we’d come back another time and get those.

Finally, an African American sales lady called to me from a far off counter.

“I can take you over here.”

I went and got checked out by the nice young black girl.  I looked over and miraculously the unpleasant counter lady’s line was back open.  A customer to her liking had wondered over.

Undercover situations like these happen daily.  It is important that we not give them merit by attending to them but sometimes stupidity seeps into your pores and activates an unforgivable venom that must be purged.

 

With that we move onto better things and pray for God to open the eyes of the ignorant.

 

 

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.

Dear Writing

Dear Writing,
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Why do you insist on torturing me? I’m vacuuming the floor, doing laundry, and ordering a child to clean up spilled juice. And in even in the midst of all this chaos you’re whispering in my ear. You should be writing….

Writing what, exactly? I have five incomplete novels, a memoir, and countless essays. Which one of those should I devote my attention to? And even if I do plunge into literary dedication, where will that leave the laundry? Who will answer the seven year old who’s asking endless questions? What type of birds can’t fly? Why do they even have wings? Is the monster in that movie real? Is Santa real? A girl in my class said he wasn’t.

Trust me. The little girl wants her questions answered. She’s standing over me daring me to type a word before she gets her answers. I’m tempted to hand the laptop to her and let her go crazy on Google conducting her personal development research. So, writing, even though you’ve called I have to stop and be a mother. I must speak with my daughter and tell her that Santa should be real to her for at least the next two years. I will research why some birds have wings but don’t fly, and no, that monster in the movie is not real.
Now back to the laundry…or, the writing…um, which one? I think it was Anne Lamott who said that at the end of our lives no one ever says, “man, I regret not doing more laundry.” Something like that anyway.

Wow, this struggle is real. But I sigh, and sign off…

budding bohemian

The first time I felt terribly alone in the world I was about eleven years old and I was standing in The Children’s Place clothing store surrounded by orange, pink, and yellow chunky bracelets, black and white polka dot skirts, shiny black patent leather shoes, colorful striped socks, and plastic ruby red necklaces.

I was shopping with my cousins, my mother’s sister’s daughters. We had a sleepover the night before and they’d decided to go the mall and shop the next day.  I was excited to sleep over with my female cousins because being the only girl in my nuclear family I didn’t have any sister’s to hang out with at home.

As I stood under the recessed lighting in the sparkly mall store I felt the urge to shop.  My cousins were buying them back-to-school clothes.  I looked over and my cousin Michelle was trying on a brown chunky necklace and a cinnamon top. “Does this look good together?” She asked me.

I shook my head and smiled.  “Yes…it looks great.”

I was smiling but inside there was a prickly gloom under my skin.  I wanted to be girly and try things on too. Though I was with my cousins and my Aunt, I wasn’t “in” the way I wanted to be. I couldn’t buy anything. And since I couldn’t buy, I didn’t want to act delusional and browse.  My Aunt, who was known back then as being scrupulous with her finances, was on a strict budget and would not veer from that path just placate her tag along niece.

It wasn’t that I expected anything; it was just then, in that moment, I realized that I was different.  I felt separated from my cousins, my family, and from being a normal girl.

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If I didn’t fit in with my cousins, then who could I fit in with?  Most economically disadvantaged youth joined some type of social segment to keep them afloat.  As a kid I searched for a group to validate my existence and make me forget about poverty. There was the weed heads that skipped school and spent their days searching for money to buy more weed.  There were the open girls who were desperately trying to find a father so they slept with boys looking for love and attention.  There were the fighter girls who thrived on overly dramatic displays of anger and wild fist fights. There were the klepto-girls who loved to steal high priced items and then brag about conquests.  There was a smart crowd at my school, you know, the Honor Roll kids who took their education seriously. But I wasn’t on Honor Roll and unfortunately I didn’t feel like I was smart enough to hang with them.  None of those groups fit my personality.  And none of those groups appealed to a deeper truth hidden inside of me.  So there I sat, left out in the cold alone.  No group to call my own. There under the bright lighting of the mall store I felt like I belonged nowhere.

I followed my cousins out of the store that day with my head hanging low.  I sulked behind them as we waded through the mall.  They clenched their bright bags and talked excitedly about their new outfits meanwhile I felt like an empty handed alien along for the ride.  Walking through the mall with them was the walk of shame.  I felt like people were looking at me and wondering where my bags were. Why didn’t I shop like the other young girls?  Why wasn’t I smiling?  Why was I different?

 

I have contemplated many ways to fit in.  I didn’t know it then but back in my youth I behaved somewhat like an anthropology student.  I hung out with my different groups auditing their behaviors and testing the waters. I guess it’s just part of growing up and experimenting with different things.  I knew what the weed heads did because I was around them when they did it. The open girls loved to talk about sex and love and thought that both had equal meaning.  The fighter girls were plotting their next brawl while the Honor Roll girls were busy being ogled by adults.

I didn’t like any of it but what else did I have? That’s when I looked to books for comfort.  I started reading to escape the world that didn’t include girls like me.  I didn’t steal, or fight, or think that a boy loved me because I could give him an orgasm.

I was poor.

Check.

I was black.

Check.

I was female.

Check.

But what else was I?  I know at age eleven one is not supposed to know who they are but at least one is supposed to have some sense of fun, community and connectivity to a group. And forget about playing a sport, an instrument, or enrolling in a dance class.  I didn’t even know what an extracurricular activity was when I was a youth.

I don’t need a gun to protect me

Oh, America and guns. What a pity. I feel for those who cling to the 2nd amendment thinking that it would be a betrayal of America’s legacy if we alter this erroneous right.  All legacies don’t need to be upheld.  This country is built on murder and betrayal. Why are we proud of that? Just as we are expanding our thinking of racial tolerance so should we deepen our scope and liberate ourselves from our country’s sadistic past.

The definition of an amendment is to alter or update. Our country updated in the right direction with the 5th Amendment giving voting rights to all and the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. It would not be so atrocious to “update” the 2nd amendment as well.

I am not against guns. I am against Gun Violence.

gun

Protect Yourself

When I think about the Protection Argument in gun control it makes me roll my eyes. Really?  So if some dude breaks into my house in attempt to rob my family I should go to my lockbox take out my pistol and pursue this man. If he is armed and returns fire, I’m suddenly in a war zone having a shootout with a criminal.   Pass.  I’m not killing no one.  This is stuff of the movies.

I want to live. But I do not want to kill people to save my own life. I do not want to live in a war zone. If I wanted to go into battle I would have joined the army.  If it is my time to go…then, guess what? It is my time to go. I’m not going to create a warzone in my home trying to fight off some mad man.

My unwillingness to tote around a firearm doesn’t make me a cowardice it makes me brave. Some might say that it makes me stupid….well, I’ll be that…but hear this:  I do not need a firearm to provide me with a convoluted sense of power. You have a gun that will most likely be used in suicide, theft, or crime of passion…not “protection”.

Think of it like this…would you really want a person who thinks like me to possess a gun? Really? I hope your answer is no, because I certainly wish that you didn’t have one.

I don’t need a gun to protect me

Oh, America and guns. What a pity. I feel for those who cling to the 2nd amendment thinking that it would be a betrayal of America’s legacy if we alter this erroneous right.  All legacies don’t need to be upheld.  This country is built on murder and betrayal. Why are we proud of that? Just as we are expanding our thinking of racial tolerance so should we deepen our scope and liberate ourselves from our country’s sadistic past.

The definition of an amendment is to alter or update. Our country updated in the right direction with the 5th Amendment giving voting rights to all and the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. It would not be so atrocious to “update” the 2nd amendment as well.

I am not against guns. I am against Gun Violence.

gun

Protect Yourself

When I think about the Protection Argument in gun control it makes me roll my eyes. Really?  So if some dude breaks into my house in attempt to rob my family I should go to my lockbox take out my pistol and pursue this man. If he is armed and returns fire, I’m suddenly in a war zone having a shootout with a criminal.   Pass.  I’m not killing no one.  This is stuff of the movies.

I want to live. But I do not want to kill people to save my own life. I do not want to live in a war zone. If I wanted to go into battle I would have joined the army.  If it is my time to go…then, guess what? It is my time to go. I’m not going to create a warzone in my home trying to fight off some mad man.

My unwillingness to tote around a firearm doesn’t make me a cowardice it makes me brave. Some might say that it makes me stupid….well, I’ll be that…but hear this:  I do not need a firearm to provide me with a convoluted sense of power. You have a gun that will most likely be used in suicide, theft, or crime of passion…not “protection”.

Think of it like this…would you really want a person who thinks like me to possess a gun? Really? I hope your answer is no, because I certainly wish that you didn’t have one.

the psychosis of marriage

Prior to my marriage, I hated horror films.  I disliked all the blood, gore, and deep spooky music that made goose bumps scale on your arms.  Witnessing a beheading was a barbaric act and all those who found human mutilation entertaining were mildly psychotic.

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Then I got married.  I married a great guy, handsome, responsible, a good provider and in all of his goodness, there are also complexities that I cannot even begin to understand.  As I irritate him with my tendency to leave half empty glasses of water around the house, he irritates me with perpetual condescending questions.

As we tried to talk through our differences but sunk deeper into frustration, I began to feel anger building in my stomach.  I couldn’t understand why he felt the need to remind me seven times to mail the mortgage check and he couldn’t bare to see yet another forgotten glass on the nightstand. The tension in our talks sucked all of the air out of the room.  We could no longer breathe so we stopped talking.

Each day we go through the motions of daily living, caring for the children, running errands, reporting to work, and still I feel the bridge between us grow wider because we don’t take the time to discuss our grievances.

I know that our petty aggravations must be stress reactions put upon a fast-paced young family. Our fights are either stress related or they are motivated by some deeper issues that we would need a therapist to uncover.

The days rush by and we continue to plug away at our domestic duties in our suburban shell and I can feel the resentment tank filling to my chest now.  After helping the kids with homework, making dinner, giving baths, cleaning the kitchen, and prepping for morning, the house is finally quiet besides the snore of my spouse. I plunk down the sofa and take a breath.  I realize as I flip through channels that I could do with a little blood right now, and a healthy dose of gore would do me some good.  With all my frustrations and tensions, I can witness a beheading without wanting to gag.  I can yell at the foolish young girl who trips on purpose as her stalker gets closer.

A chopped off head symbolizes the severed bulk of connectivity in my marriage.  The monster hunting the teenage campers and slashing them one by one is the same evil that comes into my marriage flinging its machete causing chaos, confusion and unnecessary pain.

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