Tuesday, May 26, 2015

#JadedTurns40

Y'all. It's been about 10 years since I got my first tattoo. Since I decided to become a full-time writer. Since I told my then-husband to get the fuck on up out my momma's house with his bullshit. Since my return to my Brooklyn roots. Since I first connected with most of you.

And now I'm 40!

I mean, I don't look it, so it's all cool. But my brain knows its age, as does my eyes, back, knees, feet, and uterus. And The Voices. They're all very aware.

Here are some reflections I've had and continue to have as I think about this milestone birthday:

1. I miss having my extended family in my daily life. I miss my Grandma, still, always. I hope that, if her essence or spirit is really among us, she's more proud than ashamed of the choices I've made. "Sorry about the body art, divorce, excessive drinking, and indiscriminate 'dating'. You definitely raised me better than that."

2. It's OK to be selfish, especially as my kids get older. It was a blessing in disguise that I had them so young; it means I'm still young enough to enjoy my kid-free years now that they're pretty much grown.

3. The more Brooklyn changes, the more at home I feel in the Dominican Republic. In fact, when I travel there to visit family, I refer to it as 'going home'.

4. My Black Is Beautiful. And it's OK if my shade of Black is a little bit lighter than other folks' Black. And I don't care if you have a problem with that, or anyone else's Blackness. I don't have to overcompensate for that, or even explain it to you. Plus my 'fro is the truth and the light, so there's that. #BlackGirlsAreMagic #BlackLivesMatter

5. I can only be held responsible and accountable for MY actions. DASSIT.

What can I look forward to in my 40th year of life? My 2015-16 Bucket list includes finishing up my first novel, plus starting on a few other book projects I have in the works; traveling; growing my Pluma y Tinta family; reaching my health and wellness goals; mastering the art of frying chicken; redecorating my apartment; Becoming Queen Copywriter of the Marketing Department at work. Because why not?

My year starts now. I'm excited for it and all the changes that are in store.

With my grown ass babies. Ay!

Except that mammogram my doc says I need to start getting now that I'm entering the grandma years. Y'all can keep that shit. I don't wanna!

*smooches...for me and my fabulous 40 years of life*
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and I'm still accepting gifts well into the summer, so don't feel bad if May 23 came and went and you didn't get me anything :)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Don't Be Loud AND Wrong!

I'm coming out of fake retirement to share a little bit of Classic Jaded Ranting just for you.

There's a certain audacity and sometimes even an ostentatious quality about some 20-year-olds that you won't notice until you're older. K says it's condescending of me to think a 20-something can't have conviction or original thought, and meh, maybe that's true, but the fact is that with age comes experience and a broader perspective on things. So sometimes when I hear a 20-something try to preach or "drop knowledge" I always want to respond with "OK, sweetie." But I don't.

A lot of times I recognize their behavior for what it is--a product of youth and idealism. And listen, I've been there so I get it and it's wonderful to look through those glasses. But I'm sorry (not sorry), I'm entering my 40s and I know better.

This weekend I attended a perfectly lovely gathering with just such a 20-something who, in my opinion, wanted to shove her idealism (or opinions or whatever you want to call it) down everyone's throat, and her method for doing it was LOUDNESS, ala Kanye West. Just talking over everyone (most times as if she's reading from a rehearsed script) and not taking a minute to listen to the points being made, not realizing that she missed the point completely, and just plain ol' being in her feelings.

When people get like this around me, I've learned that there's always an underlying reason for the behavior. In this case it was a combination of copious amounts of white wine and a troubled and/or abusive childhood and marriage, as well as a desperate need to be applauded and validated (why YES, I did take psych 101 in college! How could you tell?). So I let her cook.

In the end I hate that I didn't leave before it got incredibly uncomfortable (honestly I thought it would pass!) because quite frankly, I'm too old for this shit. I've got but so many days left on this earth and it will NOT be spent listening to youngins with baggage and hurt feelings unloading their burdens on me. I'M NOT THE ONE. I barely sit still for my family's #HurtFeeFees.

Also, she ruined my red wine buzz, and goddammit, that's where I really draw the line!

Still, it gave me this story to pass on to you, sooooo, I guess there's that...

*smooches...and still not here for the bs*
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listen, I'm quickly approaching my Fuck-It Fifties; warn the masses!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I Guess That Makes Me Michael Bivins.

Two posts in one week? Shocking! Someone call the tabloids!

But I have something that needed to be written out, because y'all know that's how I solve things best, and I'm trying to depend less on The Facebook (even though engagement is BETTER there than here).

So I've been in a writing group since about October, and there were five of us. For the past few months we've taken turns submitting stories for feedback and giving feedback on others' work, combined with weekly meetings to discuss said feedback. Easy-peasy.

Well last night, sort of out of nowhere (and I'll explain the sort of later), the guy who organized the group, let's call him Ralph (Tresvant), told one of the other members, we'll call him Bobby (Brown), that he had to go. The actual equivalent of "You can't sit with us!" except among a bunch of nerdy, writing grown-ups. Before he handed down his edict, Ralph had started building his case against Bobby, asking him accusatory questions about the revision he had submitted, questioning his commitment and seriousness and work ethic. From what I gathered, Ralph implied that Bobby wasn't pulling his weight, and was mostly half-assing his writing and editing efforts, and Ralph feels it's a waste of the group's time.

You could have cut the tension with a knife last night.

And listen, those are legitimate concerns to have whenever you're in a group like this. If you feel one member is a weak link, address it before the whole group suffers. I get that. Where this went left is that, right before my eyes, Ralph channeled Rafael LeĆ³nidas Trujillo Molina, made an executive decision, and told Bobby to step. Another member, we'll call him Ricky (Bell), tried to intercept and asked Ralph, "Are we going to discuss this?" but Ralph was all "Nah. Bobby gotta go. And y'all can stay or go, but Bobby GOT TO GO." And I'm sitting there, locking eyes with the other member, Ronnie (DeVoe), who happens to be Ralph's partner, wondering if suddenly I had to prove I could properly pronounce perejil or risk getting chucked into Massacre River.

Y'all. I don't need this stress. I just want a safe space to share my work and get honest feedback so that I can get my work published. DASSIT. How did my life become fodder for a "Behind the Music Writing" episode?

And regarding the sort of, Ralph and Bobby have been clashing since Day 1, and I could see that their personalities didn't match up. And frankly, a lot of times Bobby needs to be wrangled and reigned in, and yes, if the personalities don't mesh in a group then YES, changes need to be made.

However, the way Ralph pulled rank and refused to discuss his decision, and basically implied that Ricky and I don't have a say--the equivalent of "If you don't like it, you can leave, too!"--did not, DOES NOT, sit well with me. Yes, he organized the group, but we're a group. Why can't we discuss this? Why can't you approach Bobby on your own with your concerns? Why the blow up at the table in front of god and everyone at the coffee shop? Child. I mean, is it me, or does that speak to an issue with Ralph's personality, as well as coping and leadership skills?

I've already discussed this with 2/3 of the Jaded Advisory Board, so now I guess I'll see what y'all think; I'm about 82.7% sure of my next move, which starts with contacting both Ralph and Bobby, and letting them know I won't be participating in a tug-o-war. Le sigh.

And quietly, I'm starting to feel more like Tamar Braxton, in that scene of "Braxton Family Values" when her sister Towanda yelled, "Every group you've ever been in has failed!" Every writing group I've been in fizzled. Is it me? IS IT ME?

What say you, lovelies?

*smooches...wondering if I should just create in a bubble*
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I like collaborating, but these hos ain't loyal... and sorry about the mixed analogies, by the way

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I Watched "Light Girls"

I'm paying for this URL, I might as well use it!

So I watched this documentary that aired on OWN, "Light Girls," that was the sequel, I think, to the "Dark Girls" documentary that discussed the pains and perils of being #TeamLightSkin and #TeamDarkSkin (or so I gathered. Y'all know I only half pay attention).

(To my Caucasian friends: yes, those hashtags are REAL things that exist. Go on The Twitter, The Tumblr, The Facebook, or The Instagram and you'll see this foolishness firsthand.)

A lot of the people I follow on The Twitter who were live-tweeting the show (yes, that's also a thing. Keep up!) were not here for it. There were many jokes of course and the usual NOT ALL [fill in the common noun], so I thought FINE. Let me see what all the fuss is about. I want to laugh and give in to my righteous indignation, too!

However, the documentary was...well, I'm still not sure what the main idea of the documentary was, but when I figure it out I will be able to tell you that it didn't stir anything in me. Only one woman, who explained that her grandmother preferred her descendants to have light skin because it meant they'd have a better chance of SURVIVING in the Jim Crow south, made me feel anything. Most everyone else was just there to talk about their hurt fee-fees.

And also, I thought I'd maybe see myself in the experiences of these women, but I didn't. My family is welcome to chime in, but I don't recall a time when I was favored for having lighter skin. More than anything, I was praised for being obedient and bringing home good grades; that's what mattered the most in my Roman Catholic, Latino home. Respect your elders, do your homework. Don't embarrass us in the street.

And I can't recall being picked on or being liked more in school because or despite of my skin color. Again, teachers liked me because I was a kiss-ass who earned good grades and never acted up. And my classmates liked me because, well, I'm not sure, but I like to think that it was my irresistible charm and sparkling personality. STOP LAUGHING. I CAN SEE YOU.

Honestly, I didn't hear any skin-tone specific talk until I got much older and started spending more time around my mother's paternal relatives. But that's a story for another day that I'll never tell you, because despite their lofty airs, I love them and won't speak ill of them (too much) on here.

Do I think I've succeeded or received any advantages in life because of my skin color? HONEY, if being nearly $100K in debt, barely earning enough to pay down that debt, raising kids on my own and being the captain of #TeamForeverAlone means I've succeeded in life, then I need to buy a new dictionary. Clearly I'm living this Light-Skinned life all wrong. ALL WRONG. I've had no advantages with this skin. Not an ounce. *gives useless skin the side eye*

I'm trudging through this shit like everyone else- by the grace of your judeo-christian god.

In conclusion, the only things I really took away from the documentary were a) the origins and definition of the term QUADROON (which is still the funniest word to me ever), b) I had never had the discussion with N that she's (racially, for lack of a better term) Black and (culturally/ethnically) Dominican, and c) Byron Nelson should call me. Soon. Watch the documentary to see for yourself why.

Yes, I still think primarily with my loins. What was your point?

*smooches...in all of my light-skinnded glory*
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I mean, it's the only skin I have. #minuswell be happy in it.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Of Course I Can't Quit You!

My loves, my darlings, my old faithful blog readers!!!

Did you feel abandoned? Forgotten? Discarded? I apologize for neglecting you this way. I have no excuse, just been in my own world and not in the mood to share myself via this platform.

However, I could not let the year end without writing something.

Has 2014 been my best year? Not even close. Has it been the worst? NOPE. And that's what I'm choosing to move forward with: I didn't do it all, but I didn't fall apart, either. And if you're a long-time reader of this site you know that's huge for me.

This year's highlights? Getting more stories published, making my very first (kickass) sancocho & homemade sofrito, and my family vacation in DR over the Thanksgiving break. JESUS MARY AND JOSEPH all knew I needed that injection of sunshine and family. It was everything.

I know, I know: we're awesome!

I'm going to make (the) next year(s) all of that, and then some; have more fun. That's my one and only resolution.



You should all do the same.

*smooches...and hugs on this New Year's Eve*
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love someone and mean it, especially yourself