Let’s Talk About S**t

On Friday I picked up my daughter from the sitter and walked home. The sun had a clear shot to earth and was blazing down in all its glory. Not a cloud in sight. I pulled the sun shade over her stroller.

Now, my daughter is a little cutie. Whenever I take her out people smile and wave at her in her stroller (she waves at everyone). This happens everyday. Except today. People squinted. Eyebrows raised. Heads leaned to the side. People looked at her strange. One gentlemen in particular walked past her and immediately, the “I smell old milk” expression settled on his face. 
“What the hell?”
I stopped the stroller and went around to look at her. I discovered that while we walked the two blocks home she’d pooped. Not only did she poop but she was reaching into her pamper through her little shorts, grabbing handfuls of poop, and smearing it all over herself. Doodiegate 2016. I cleaned up her hands the best I could with a blanket and ran the rest of the way to my apartment where I placed her, clothes and all, into a soapy bath. 
While I’m washing the poop off my little one I couldn’t help but feel annoyed. Not with the her. She was a baby doing what babies will do. I was annoyed with the guy. And all the other people we passed. Why didn’t anyone say anything?
Did they think I was aware of the poop debacle and co-signed her rubbing herself down with feces?
Did they think they’d hurt my feelings?
Did they think someone would eventually tell me or I’d eventually notice myself so they shouldn’t help the cause?
But why let a child wallow in filth for a second longer than they have to? This event got me thinking about the bystander effect as a whole and how our society functions primarily from a self preservation standpoint rather than a communal standpoint. Would it really have hurt anyone to tell me my daughter was covered in poop? No, not at all. But they took in this scene, processed it, and somehow put it in the category as “Not my problem”. 
How many other things are we leaving covered in poop? How many other issues could benefit from someone saying, “Hey, this thing you’re responsible for is covered in shit. You should fix it”? 
There can’t be this many of us crammed into one place for us to go it alone. There has to be a reason why other people were able to see what was obstructed to me. I want your eyes, your ears, and your perspective in most uncreepiest way. Get involved. Because it’s the same fear of getting involved that allows the wrong people to take the lead and push the stroller along with all of us inside covered in filth.
Please tell me if my daughter, or my life, or my words, or my actions, or my laws are covered in poop and I will do the same. If we do this we offer one another something invaluable. A choice. A chance to clear the poop away before other things…the flies, the maggots of this world get to it and breed new life. At that point it becomes more than we can contain. 

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“Your problem is, you think you shouldn’t have any.”

“Why is this happening to ME?” This is my favorite line when things go awry. I make an ugly cry face with it too. I wad up a piece of tissue and dab and snot and dab and snot until that thing is heavy enough to pitch at a Yankees game. What did I do to deserve this? What karmic boomerang did I throw out into the universe and when? I’m not a bad person so this should not be happening. I don’t understand how the scales of life can seem so unbalanced. So random. So. Un. Fair.

via giphy.com

I love self help books. Videos. Documentaries. Stories. Just because I always feel there is a way I can be doing life better. So, I watched Tony Robbins’ documentary “I Am Not Your Guru” on Netflix. I’d never consumed anything from Tony Robbins before. Not from lack of interest, but I had only come to know of him from one of my favorite movies “Shallow Hal” starring Jack Black. In the movie Robbins hypnotized self-absorbed Hal into seeing women for their inner beauty instead of their physical appearance. If you have not seen it, check it out.

Anyway, I watch this documentary and while most of it was what I expected, a little gem hit me.  I got a nugget out of it that kind of stop me in my tracks to be honest. At one point in the documentary he says…you ready?… “ Your problem is, you think you shouldn’t have any.” Pause. Break. Stop the Parade. You said what now?

I have this really beautiful fairy gumdrop view of good and bad. And in this world of fairies and stardust, a hard and fast rule exists– If I don’t do bad things and make poor decisions, bad things and poor circumstances will not visit my doorstep. Simple and true right? No– complicated and wrong. Very wrong. I am saved, but I am not exempt.

If bad things only happened to bad people, evil and wrongness wouldn’t be so damn lucrative. I know absolutely awful people [read: beautiful children of God] who have great things happen to them consistently. It’s unfair. But for the longest time, I’ve been thinking that it’s unfair TO ME. Once T-Rob broke down the break down I realized–it is very unfair. Unfair TO THEM. Lord knows, the person I am today was not the me, she, her of 10 years ago. I’ve grown. I’ve learned. I’ve humbled. Not by choice. But because I was forced to by my problems.  

I deserve my problems

To not have them would be a theft of my soul

To not be trapped in them

and be released from them

would be to never have left the womb

To be exempt from pain would be a death i’m not prepared for

My brain needs them. My heart needs them.

My breath needs to know that it’s made to labor at times

That the ease of expulsion is not guaranteed

Carefree is not a birthright

It’s not a goal to reach

Growth happens in between the broken

When my heart breaks, wisdom crawls into its cracks

Filling the spaces

Mending

It’s bigger. It’s better. It’s more.me.

Problems.

Hello.

No, I won’t throw a parade for the problems but I will acknowledge the purpose they serve in my salvation.

Featured image from hasim751.com

I’m a Down-Low Natural

I’ve been living a double life when it comes to my hair. In early July I cut my hair off. All of it. After almost three decades of relaxing my hair into submission it was damaged, broken, uneven, and unsure of what its natural state was. My natural coils sprang from my roots only to be immediately gelled down, filled with chemicals and changed into something else. I told myself over the years that I was doing it because straighter hair was more manageable. It was easier to deal with. This is partially true. But the overwhelming truth was. I don’t know my own hair and i’m not sure I like it.

Few people actually know I cut my hair and this is because I’ve been sporting wigs. That’s right- I cut my hair off in an attempt to save my natural hair and embrace its coils, just to put a wig on. I believed that I was doing it just to get used to my short hair. Or I was wearing the wig until my hair  gets a little longer. Or I was wearing the wig until I can have a consultation with a professional natural hair guru. Or I was wearing a wig until…The excuses really went on and on. But underlying all the excuses the truth hurt. I was uncomfortable. With my own hair.

As I write this I’m trying to be as blunt as possible and not hide behind poetic prose and metaphors. I think my natural hair looks unprofessional. Unkempt. Shocking. It’s so painful for me to say. I’ve gone on long diatribes about self acceptance. I’ve gone on about doing what’s best for your unique self. I rage against conformity. And yet I believe one of the biggest lies that have been told to my ancestors. I believe I won’t be taken seriously as an educated, professional, strong black woman.  That no matter what I achieve I’ll still be a “nappy-headed” girl from pre-gentrified Brooklyn underneath it all. This short natural hair exposes me in ways I never thought hair could. It brings out the little girl in me who yanked on her pigtails wishing they’d be longer. It brings out the teenager in me standing in the hair shop trying to figure out which hair would make me look best. Because I knew it’d never be my own.

And yet here I am. Being pulled along by my beautiful black sisters that I see out every day. Sporting their crowns. Curls reaching out in every way. Different lengths and textures. They’re saying that it is enough. That it is ok. That “nappy” is not allowed.

I have a little one-and-a-half year old girl who’s hair I love. I love braiding it. Putting it in pigtails. Putting bows around her baby ‘fro and leaving it free. Trying different moisturizers to see which best brings out the features of her beautiful curls. My love of her hair is a direct correlation to how much I love her. Point blank. I love everything about that girl. So I love everything that comes along with her. That same complete and full love I have for her I don’t have with myself just yet.

This is my lesson. My realization. Athena. The girl who took Women’s Studies courses in College. Who wrote the papers on slavery and the Civil Rights Movement. I played Rosa Parks in my school play. I know the story and the issues all too well. Yet, oppression sneak attacked me. I was participating in a centuries long system of oppression while at the same time being all things feminist, liberal, equal rights and self love. As the chirrens would say, “I was low-key oppressed!”.

How many un-challenged social constructs are really affecting my seemingly elevated and inclusive world? What about you? What haven’t you challenged? Check it out. You may find that you are low-key oppressed.

Thou Coins Art Loosed: Debt free or Bust

I’ve been kind of obsessed with Money lately. Not so much acquiring it but more so financial freedom. Managing what I have better. I looked at my credit card recently and thought “What the hell did I buy?” Mostly pastries and coffee according the transactions but I digress. I’m done with that. I want to DO better. So, tonight, I googled “Keys to Financial Freedom” and my web browser crashed. Bad omen.

There’s been a lot of talk, mainly since the financial crisis of 2007-2008 about the concentration of wealth among a small sector of the population. Along with my fellow Americans, I went through the stages of grief as I watched the news day after day and took note of all the bailouts (also known as the government giving away our money to business who fail because they’re shitty) and I got angry. And as my anger tends to do, it started with an overflow of complete irrationality that eventually resolved itself to something adjacent to reality.

I’d love to think that my last name will become Zuckerberg, I’ll have a closet full of Fruit of the Loom tees and bring the gift of the interwebs to little African children but that most likely will not happen.

I often talk about going “off the grid” but I know that I like my Chock Full O’ Nuts and HGTV too much to ever really go further than Prospect Park.

I’m pretty average. So i’ll likely do average things, that earn average money, which needs to be managed in an above average prudent sort of way.

Prudence? Did someone call my Dad?

Yes, the most frugal people I know are my dear old Dad and my dear old Dad-in-law. So my Husband and I went to them first.

Scene: Picture me. Sensible shoes. Maternity shirt, although thou art not pregnant. Sitting perched at the edge of my seat. Waiting with baited breath for the secret. Maybe an undetected yet intricate ponzi scheme. Maybe a drug hustle on the side. Maybe they invested in the market of stocks. Perhaps they trademarked the Apple name back in the 70’s and wala!

Scene: Dad stops watching TV for a second. “Stop spending so much. Pay off your debt. Don’t get anymore debt. Save your money.”

Jesus wept.

Patience? Follow through? Sacrifice? This big bad evil thing called money that’d i’d been fighting since I got my first tiny check from my cashier job at 16 years old. The nemesis that forced my acquaintance with Ramen Noodles and Easy Mac in College. The foe that made me have cancel MTV documenting my daughter’s first birthday on “My Sweet 16”. It’s not really the enemy at all…instead it’s me.

It’s not lost on me how shockingly Christian that advice was. Money is simply an extension of the people who control it. Money is not evil. Money has been used to do significant things (see: interwebs and African children). Alternately, it has also been used to place politicians and entire political parties into the pockets of a few who have a vested interest in self preservation instead of global conservation. Bottom Line: If a few of us (read: all of us)  get smart about what (and who) we give our few dollars we can shift the economy. Whether it feels that way presently or not, it’s the honest truth.

As a millenial, we are inundated with information about whats new, whats hot, whats needed and who has it. It’s everywhere. Decades ago you didn’t  know your cousin who’s 5 years younger than you got married and purchased a home until a carrier pigeon brought a note to the family home during supper. But today it’s instant, in your face, and the crappy feeling of failure is instant. We compete with one another and society as whole. When we compete we borrow. We spend more than we have. The cycle is vicious my friends.

Cash rules everything around me and it’s important to me that my average money go to extraordinary things. By saving–by allocating my money where it counts, I maintain control. Therefore, I’ve embarked on a bare necessities challenge for myself and my family. It loosely means that I will only purchase what I need, when I need it for the next year. My husband is not aware of this but I’m 3 days in and so far I’ve done my own manicure and pedicure and I’m figuring out how to tackle my own natural hair via Youtube Videos. I may look like Celie told Harpo to beat me for the next year but it will get better. But in the long run I, and my children, and generations will be better off for it. And you can’t take that away from me. Makidada.