With a glass of champagne in one hand and my phone in the other, I casually snapped shots of party goers as they chatted, played cards, or lamented the political climate. At the dining area table, one group had brilliantly blended all three. As I darted between both rooms of the suite my sister and I were only able to afford because we booked months in advance and used disposable flatware left over from my mom’s haaj celebration, I couldn’t help but feel like a curly-coiffed, glittering ball of black magic. At times I caught my reflection in the arrangement of beveled, hexagonal mirrors that adorned the wall near the bar, and paused to admire the new lines and curves of my arms and legs. All of it earned from several rigorous weeks of pole dancing classes. So this is 35? I let the thought wash over me in a gentle way this time, and the apprehension I felt when I celebrated my actual birthday in Costa Rica a few months back was gone. And that was a relief, because in the months leading up to the excursion I’d hit a down spiral so disorienting that I could barely discern up from down while inside of it: had I gotten better, or worse? The question itself was a wormhole, efficient enough in its pull to leave me feeling emotionally churned and altered as it sucked me in. Traversable worm holes are hypothetical, after all, and transmutative ones? Sci-fi entirely. Yet there I was, with questions swirling at me from all sides: am I a good person? Mother? Friend? Writer? Am I in any way…better? Read More
All routines need a little disruption, so the latest part of my journey involves dancing naked, saying what I need to say, and incorporating more mindful reading.Read More...
This birthday is a milestone year for me, and so far it’s been packed with enough revelation, accomplishment, and teachable moments for me to now comfortably say that I am not entirely fearless, but I’m as close to it as I’ve ever been.Read More...
I had a crappy winter that didn’t really turn a corner for me until late Spring. I felt realigned by the time May ended, taking Ramadan with it, but then my bike accident knocked me off kilter and I spent my last few months on an uphill journey to find balance again. But even as I followed my usual regimen of self-care, I still managed to slip into free-fall emotionally as I dealt with the aftermath of managing the physical and legal side of the ordeal. All of a sudden, everything felt piled on top of my head. My creative projects and social obligations started to feel like hostage situations with my sanity as the ransom. Worse, seasonal depression lurked on the outskirts of my thoughts, waiting like a sadistic yet patient lover to welcome me back into its embrace. A release was what I needed, so that’s precisely what I set out to get. And so I turned to the solace I often find in wild summer nights. Only this time, the nights weren’t filled with exhilarating, self-destructive behavior. Instead, for the first time in a long time, I embarked on a journey for pleasure that involved considerably more self-control.
Sometimes we move too quickly and pile too much on. This time last year, I spent my mornings in my grandmother’s basement writing furiously as I took on any freelance gig that would help me recover financially from my separation from my husband. After a few hours in front of my laptop, I’d crack the door that led into the laundry room and open the back door that led out the yard, just so the light would flood in and I wouldn’t lose my mind in the shadowy space. Fast forward to this year, and I’m making more than I’ve ever made at any other day job, working around the clock on creative projects while trying to scale a business, and juggling my fitness and parenting goals in between. Awhile back, I started feeling a little overwhelmed by my schedule, but I kept telling myself I’d take a decent break after Ramadan, which ends in mid-June. Only, I didn’t make it that far. The universe put me on my back instead…when I got hit by a car while riding my bike.
I went to New York to see a show and speak on a panel about afrofuturism last week. I hired a photog friend who recently moved up there to capture some shots of me speaking so I could use them for my personal website. After the panel, I rode the train with my photographer friend and playfully told him to delete the ones where I looked particularly fat.
I thought he’d laugh, but instead he said, “You’re serious? I always thought you loved the camera.”
“I do, but only when I control the shot.” Then, more shakily, I told him, “I just have a lot of stuff I don’t like about the way I look on camera, and plus I’ve gained weight. It gives me anxiety. It always has.”
He looked genuinely confused at that point. The train was coming and more people had gathered close to us, so he asked the question loudly. “But…why? I mean, do you ever ask yourself why that is?”
I just looked at him as I thought about all the horrible reasons that I know exactly why that is.
Before I could conjure a self-shaming joke to mask the tension, he said, “I think you should write about it.”
So here we are. Read More
Even though I got to see Eartha Kitt as Catwoman and Nichelle Nichols as Uhura when I was a kid, I can’t help but wonder if it would’ve been different for me if I had grown up playing with Dora Milaje dolls instead of black Barbies which back then, disappointingly enough, were simply Barbies made in brown.Read More...