Adult Friendships Are Tough

Have you ever encountered a celebrity, in real life, without their makeup, expensive couture digs, and entourage? Living in New York City this has happened to me a few times and it always progresses through the same stages:

  1. That person looks familiar. Did I go to school with them?
  2. No, not school. They’re from that thing on TV!
  3. Geez, they look nothing like they do on that thing on TV.

The last part is not said with disappoint or ridicule. They look like regular human beings, as they should. It’s just such a severe departure from the the persona they’ve widely presented and it takes time for me to adjust. I’ve had that happen a lot lately. Not just with celebrities but with people that know personally. Those moments when they reveal something or some part of themselves and I have that moment of “Geez, you look nothing like you did on that thing on TV.”

We all know these people. They live in the extremes. Either they present a facade of perfection when there’s really a collection of absolute hot mess going on in the background OR instead of presenting a farce they go completely Men In Black and you never hear or see from them until things are relatively stable again. “Who me? I’ve been gone for 7 years? Strange.” In either situation, I always wonder…what’s the big deal with the mess?

What is there to hide, really? Is it shame? Is it a desire to not appear weak? Is it jealousy? Depression? I struggle with this aspect of friendship because for the most part I’m a really open person. When things aren’t good I’m totally comfortable with saying that London bridge is falling the heck down. When they’re awesome I love to share it and celebrate the peaks in life. But I struggle to maintain relationships with those who don’t do the same.

Listen, I know there are some nuisances to this. I was raised in the “Don’t put your business out in the street” era so I totally understand keeping your cards close to your chest. But I think this has been taken out of context and a bit too far. What I believe is important is that we don’t allow our lives to become shows that people tune into daily for entertainment. You shouldn’t create an audience to misery. Audiences are not helpful. Spectators rarely step in to stop the show. Voyeurs will move on without pause, whether you lose or win, once the curtains close. This is something we all want to avoid. However, you don’t avoid it by shutting the whole theater down.

I’ve watched people abandon their closest friendships. Smile and laugh in public and then drown the pain later in private. Shut out their dearest family members because of pride. Or shame. Recluse by choice because admitting hurt is more painful than the living of it. What brand of brokenness is this? Where we claim to have such closeness, intimacy, and connection with others but become distinctly disconnected when we need support the most?

No, you should not be sharing with the audience. But how about sharing with the orchestra? The people who are down in the front, working right along with you, adding to the soundtrack of your life. They would be instrumental in changing the tune of your situation, boosting your mood, or at the very least keeping the audience distracted while you do a quick wardrobe change and get back right.

I’m personally fed up with seeing relationships that can bear awesome fruit, wither and die because we can not communicate during those tough times in life. It’s a filter that I’ve learn to remove as I get older.

Smile when it’s true.

Ask for help when it’s due.

Punch that Clock. Die “Team No Sleep”. Die

Happy New Year folks! Most of us are headed back in to work after a beautiful, long, amazing break in pajamas for the Holidays. If you’re like me, you probably gave yourself the returning to work pep talk last night. If you teared up a little bit, it’s OK. I know I sure did!

I connect people to jobs for a living. It’s a pretty fulfilling profession and I get the chance to work with diverse people and learn about a lot of different industries. Being in this line of work I meet the best of people and the worst of people. I’ve literary sat in meetings with some employers and taken notes on how to properly run a company that supports a healthy work environment. On the other hand, I’ve sat in meetings with others that make me want to run to the nearest Department of Labor office. It gets bad out there.
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Recently I met with an employer who, in our first email, ran down a laundry list of qualifications and attributes that their potential employee needs to have. Must be well spoken, great communication skills, positive attitude, computer savvy…the list went on and on. I was with it, all standard stuff. I read on to the end. Immediately my brow furrowed. “Must not be a clock puncher.” I scrolled back up to the beginning of the email to check the hours. The shift is 8AM-4PM. That’s eight hours. I scrolled down. “Must not be a clock puncher.” Commence stank face.

Now, I get the idea of not wanting an employee who isn’t committed or dedicated to the job. An employee like this does not benefit the company and it doesn’t benefit an employee who hopes to advance in their career. However, I do believe that you can be a dedicated, effective, and committed employee and still finish your job within the hours outlined. Eight hours is a long time. Forty hours is a whopper and yet that’s how much time we spend at work each week, if not more. I did the math.

post-58712-hangover-zach-galifianakis-cal-a7dnGiphy.com

I’m awake approximately sixteen hours a day. That’s one hundred twelve hours a week. I spend forty hours a week at work. That’s a little over 35% of my waking hours spent at work. And those are dedicated, uninterrupted hours for my employer. The rest of my waking hours are split between my children, volunteering, household errands, family, friends, and pursuing passions i.e writing my book. If it sounds crowded it’s because it is.

That’s seven other things that I have to split the remaining 65% of my time between. Meaning each of those things gets a minuscule nine hours of my time each week. That’s nine hours for my kids. Nine hours for my family. Nine hours to write the next great American novel (le sigh). I’m not in this boat alone. It’s what a lot of us are dealing with as we work toward success, and fulfillment, and roofs over our heads, and eating meals regularly. Literally just to make ends meet. For the most part we’ve accepted that as a necessary duty. We’ve even created a movement if you will. “Team No Sleep” has been become not only a popular hashtag but a glorified way of life. Working so hard that you literally cut adequate sleep out of your life to compensate. This is unhealthy. Operating on no sleep has been likened to walking around completely tipsy off the sauce. It’s dangerous and is not at all a sign of, nor attributed to,  increased success. Instead it’s simply putting “team no sleeper’s” at a higher risk for chronic health problems like high blood pressure, even heart disease, and stroke. Is balance too much to ask for? Can we be super productive for a predetermined, measured, and reasonable amount of time and then call it a day?

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are times that I’ve been so involved in a project that I’ve looked up, surprised to see that it was well past midnight. These are moments of inspiration that should be capitalized on. BUT making yourself work harder or longer into the wee hours of the morning when you’re brain and body are all but screaming for you to stop is punishment, not pleasure.

Which is why the whole “clock puncher” comment got me all in feelings. If you’re a good employee you give the best of yourself to your job and it’s only decent that an employer respects your time in return. An employee should be able to complete the core duties of their job within the time allotted. When clock out time comes, you should be able to bid adieu to your post, grab your bag and hit the doors with no worry of being judged or labeled. Long story short–I love my job. I love what I do. I’m damn good at it and when it’s time to leave at the end of the day, I’m gone. You’ve had your time dear job. Now, it’s time for me to spend nine hours killing off characters that I’ve made my readers love.

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A Mom’s Ode to 2016

This year has been pretty eventful to say the least. This nation has experienced some undeniable ups and downs. But nothing we haven’t seen before. Maybe not in my lifetime or yours, but this nation as a whole, has experienced far worse. This year has been the best of times and the worst of times. Why?

Direct your attention to my daughter. She’s 21 months old now and for a long time had been a fantastic sleeper. She’d abandoned the middle of the night feedings around five months and my husband and I were elated. We’d go to sleep and wake up feeling less like we sipped a laced drink and more like positive well functioning adults. It was heaven. And then it changed. Shortly after her first birthday she started waking in the middle of the night again. Unable to be settled back down unless we put her in our bed. We mourned. Rest peacefully sweet rest. More so, we were frustrated. What happened? We thought she’d grown. We thought she was capable of sleeping through the night. We thought she was past this.

Until the election, we thought we’d successfully put our major issues to bed. 2016 got real ugly, real quick. It took people by surprise. Not because we haven’t seen this before. The injustice, the poisoned politics, the warped media. We’re totally familiar with it (see this entire nation’s history for more info). The problem is that we’d gotten comfortable. We made so much progress through such heartache and bloodshed that we thought we’d never revisit these issues of racism, sexism, and religious intolerance. Like me and my husband, we settled into bed, pulled our covers up over our heads and failed to realize that the baby was stirring again. Growing and changing. Reverting. And it’s a real freaking thing people. We’re experiencing the mother of all sleep regressions in this nation.

My husband and I were not expecting our sweet little girl to turn into a midnight hellion. We scrambled on Google trying to find remedies to a well known issue with toddlers and babies. Literally, there is so much information about it I felt stupid. It doesn’t help to be informed about the stages of success if you’re not equally informed about potential pitfalls, risks, and regressions. If we’d done the proper research we would not have spent nights putting her in our bed to hush and soothe her and thus creating a whole new damned issue of having to wean her out of co-sleeping. We fumbled this shit bad y’all and for 2017 to be successful we have to hope that things positively progress but be prepared for the absolute worse and have a strategic game plan on how to deal with it. Evil wriggles in during weak times (see Donald Trump and this nation’s entire history for more info).

For 2017, I’m betting, nay, hoping, that the we’ll all get it together and think like a Mom for a second. What’re we going to do when our bad habits won’t get out of our bed when their thirteen years old? Are you going to get used to toes pressing into your spinal cord or are you going to sleep train that mess into submission?

Do you know the most important thing to master in order to nip sleep regression in the bud? Consistency. Clear goals, sticking to a schedule, and following through everyday no matter how exhausting it may be initially. If I can bottle this little nugget from parenting and send it out across the world…and charge a buck per bottle i’ll be a lot closer to clearing all my debt. That went left didn’t it? Feels like the right way to end this crazy year. Happy 2016 everyone and onward to 2017!

 

Don’t ‘Mannequin Challenge’ This Election

My son, a 4th grader, came to me yesterday and asked if tomorrow was Election Day. I told him it was.

“Are you going to vote?” He asked me.

“I sure am. Voting for Hillary.”

“Good, because if not we’ll have to move to Canada.” He shook his head and plopped down on the couch. Folks, the Election has reached elementary school. When I was in grade school I didn’t usually know who was running for office. I had no idea what their positions were and how important their impact really was on the country. I only cared who the current President was so that I could pass my Social Studies exam.

Something is changing this time around.This election has unearthed a new level of ugliness in people that I’d hoped was far behind us as a nation. Misogyny, racism, homophobia, and able-ism are on my news feed daily thanks to Donald Trump and many of his supporters. The comments that we knew were exchanged behind closed doors and around dinner tables out fear of retribution are now at the forefront. Being celebrated. “Tell it like it is!” they shout. More like, “Tell it like it shouldn’t be.”

It’s difficult to ignore ugliness that’s in your face and walking down the street proudly with signs of hatred and voices of rage. It’s unnerving but it moves people.The amount of posts I began to see that started with “I don’t usually get into politics but…” It’s fascinating. Our nation was FORCED to get involved. People that had been glued to their seats, silent behind their keyboards, and still within the world moving angrily around them started to bend and blink and move and speak. We’ve become comfortable because of that door that separated us sometimes from the hate speech. Because in all honestly it’s not directly affecting us, right?. It hasn’t touched our lives or caused irreversible damage right? Those people with those archaic racial ideologies were few and far between, right? In the words of Donald Trump “WRONG”.

During this election season I’ve seen conversations build and grow between children and adults. Generations are collectively saying no to walls; hateful rhetoric; violence; and running this nation like another corporation on par for failure. We’re moving y’all. Even if you’ve tried your best mannequin impression thus far you will have failed because it’s impossible to stand still and try not to blink when we are peering into the upside-down of a nation. We are peeking behind the veil of bad politics effect on a nation. I always wondered, “How did Hitler…literally one dude…gain so much power and do so much damage?” It’s because too many people mannequin challenged the hell out of their role and let him move among them without ever batting an eye.

The Donald Trumps of the world play an important role in making America great again. They are the ones who make us see that as bad as we think things are, they can always be worse. For every injustice we see there are a hundred more going on behind the curtain. Because of this, the election finally has the momentum and attention to rival an internet trend like the Mannequin Challenge. They make us break out of our roles, move a little bit, change the scene, and reset in a better position. We have experienced historical voter turnout, we’ve bridged those awkward conversations among friends, we’ve seen which of our Facebook friends follow Donald Trump and we’re better for it. Today will be a historic day in history either way it turns out but when the videos are shown to my sons kids and those kid’s kids of Americans casting their vote, I want them to see me moving. Unfrozen and fighting like a true nasty woman. Happy Election Day!

*featured photo courtesy of theodysseyonline.com

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. 

“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.

 

I Used to Love It

I’ve had a difficult time connecting with my characters lately. I started my project so long ago (back in 2008) that I’ve had to reintroduce myself to them several times. At times I’ve felt like I’ve outgrown them. Like my thoughts and beliefs have evolved so much since I first started writing that these figures are akin to a high school sweetheart. They were my figurative world, as long as I was home, but once I traveled and saw the actual world they seem so small and unfulfilling. I still remember what it felt like to be with them but I’m struggling to develop a future with them.

I thought of scrapping the project and starting something different. Something new, intriguing, different, and exciting. I’m still attached to the story and with enough attention i’m sure I can revive it and make them relevant to today and who I’ve become. I’ve spoken before about my difficulties with follow through and committing to a set schedule. But like any relationship, if you cherish it you have to make time for it. Right?

But you know what I love about writing? It has the ability to grow with you. As long as you’re, I mean actively engaged in it, writing you can always tweak it. The only way it stays the same is if you abandon it. In that way you force it to stay put. Stagnate and lame. Writing is a beautiful creative process but it’s just that; a process. It’s something that at times you will not feel like doing and we run into trouble when we become satisfied with the desire to do something but never actually take the steps to do it. As the saying goes, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

This relationship with my work is so similar to my relationships with people and I have to remember to apply the same care and time and attention to nurturing this book as I do to my own friends. My family. My husband. My children. I wouldn’t dare give my son two years of my time and then suddenly drift off onto things more stimulating. Even when he’s droning on. I listen. Even when he’s not understanding. I explain again. Even when he’s upset. I calm him. And while writing can be complex and challenging I don’t think it’ll ever been as challenging as the strong willed individuals that are my kids.

With all that’s going on in the world today- the murder, the terrorism, the politics, the discord- I’ve become hyper aware of my humanity. My time here on earth is limited. It’s precious. Instead of allowing lethargy to lull me into my bed or guide my finger toward that next Netflix original I will work on creating something that will provide an outlet and a perspective for others. Books, to this day, help me escape, learn, empathize, and hope. As my ode to the art I will get this done marriage therapy style. I am going to reconnect, put in the time, and remember why I fell in love with you in the first place.

His name is Alton.

I wonder what his name is. The next one. The silent one. Who can’t tell his story.

The one whose blood is on the pavement. Who’s always a threat. Because of his size. His height. His hoodie. His questions. His youth. Where he lives. Where he doesn’t belong. His blackness.

The one who has no breath in his lungs because of their feelings. Their fear. Their past. What they don’t understand. Where they live. Where they don’t belong.

Pick my men up off the pavement. Pull them from under the white sheet. Dig them up from the ground. Cut them down from trees. Put them back on the playground. Put them back in the stairwells. Put them back at the grocery store. Let them make it home.

I wonder what his name will be. He who at this moment is next to his mother. His wife. His children. His life. Will his name be the one I gave him at birth? The name I took at the alter? The name I took at birth? Did we share the same womb?

Right now his name is Alton. Next week, who knows?

*Graphic Video* https://youtu.be/pdGXhSQvTKc