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
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
Every time I hear a story about a young girl engaged in risky behaviors, I feel an urge to reach her in some way. Anecdotes about my past and the hard lessons I learned about womanhood and self-love always swell just behind my teeth, awaiting the brain signal that would springboard them from my tongue or inspire me to pen an open letter to the young women my grandmother would’ve call “fast girls.” Only, the world doesn’t really need any more open letters, and I’d rather be more of an advocate than a mentor for those girls. That works for me because I was once a “fast girl” myself, hurtling toward an uncertain future at warp speed.
Mini memoir of a Warp Speed Girl:
I survived Washington, D.C. in the ’90s with all of my fingers and toes, no crack addiction (if you grew up in Washington, D.C. during that time you’d know that this was no small feat), and no chronic or incurable illnesses. What I do have is a chemical batch of craziness that trickled down from my father’s side of the family tree like sugar maple sap. Other than that, I’m OK. I even managed to get hitched and give birth to a strapping boy with a penchant for video games, pizza, and Regular Show. So why revisit my past at all? Because under all my layers of spackled-on adulthood, I’m still bothered to my bad-girl core by what young girls have to contend with today. I’m especially bothered by this: Read More