All posts by Urban Eve

About Urban Eve

I'm a Black woman in a white washed world which is shifting gradually and beautifully into consciousness. I have an overdeveloped sense of play, a love of nature, art, photography fashion, literature, irreverence, irony. I am a late bloomer, a girly woman, a sado-sensualist, a pleasure cooker, a shedonist, a huge film fanatic, lover of DIY craft and the endless gifts of nature. I love that I was born a Black Woman because there are no limit to the potential I will unfold and manifest through my re-connection to my rich, broad, magical, spiritual history and ancestry, through research, community, nature, prayer, imagination and creativity. I like being still, moving swiftly and creating instinctively.

Dear Khalilah, It’s been weird…

My feelings are complicated. This whole thing has been surreal.

To say that I lost a friend is a glaring understatement. To say I believe it is even more of a stretch.

I haven’t been counting days or moments since Khalilah’s home going. There are other methods of measurement.

Text messages. Voice messages, Pictures. Email accounts. Social media.

Music…

Drake, The Carters, Nas, so many things I know she would love, that I would want to hear her thoughts about or get her feedback and approval on.

I worked for her. We worked together. Our things were close together. We did Soul Sistah Series together. Sometimes things were too close. It was what it was. We learned as we went.

She wasn’t an easy person and she knew it but her hard won approval was worth  everything. She pushed because she loved.

“Iron sharpens iron” she would say a lot. Arguments weren’t a big deal to her. She wasn’t scared of confrontation. She welcolmed it. It was the only way to grow she would say.

I’ve had so much other stuff going on. Heavy, grown, complicated stuff. Still going on. And all I can do is take everything as it comes and be thankful for everything, the pain, the uncertainty, the regret, the way that light affects my mood, morning showers that cleanse and rebirth me, keeping myself hydrated, taking in things that touch me and stretch my heart, know when to stop holding on to what no longer serves me.

It’s not easy.

Occasionally I will wake up angry, looking for a fight, clenched fists, impatient, ready to push. Sometimes I’m numb, on automatic pilot, didn’t even notice where the day went. Other times I hear the voice inside. I stay connected to what makes me smile, laugh, cry, feel anything. But it’s strange, painful, inconceivable to think that you won’t be around in my future. Not the way you were.

When I’m stalking you across time I stop short at a cliff looking over into infinity. Where did you go? Did you fall? Did you fly? What’s out there? Will you report back? You always shared so much. I honestly expect you to let me know what it’s like wherever you are. But I’m also scared. So maybe I won’t hear. You know me. Perpetually torn.

You know me.

Perpetually seeking…

Advertisements

5:32

 

All I’ve been doing is texting and taking calls and making calls and then sleeping. Just passing out from sheer mental and emotional exhaustion. Going through motions, not really in my body. And then sleeping. It’s 5:32. T. texted me. I had a strange dream that I can feel but not quite remember in detail but it was a far out one. It was in Brooklyn. There was music and a lot of Black people, dancing. And floating.

It’s only Monday. One day since I called your mom and she told me you were gone, suffered cardiac arrest. My body aches. I can’t put my feelings into words. I have not engaged with social media because I can’t. Every time I think I’ve called everyone I know you would have wanted me to, everyone that you connected me to while you were here on this plain, there’s one more. My heart aches. My chest is tight. There is a hole in me.

My eyes are wet.

I get up to write this. It’s all I know how to do right now.

I saw you on Friday at a beautiful event where you were both the host and the guest of honor. So many beautiful Black people, friends and educators gathered on a beautiful Friday evening to hear you speak. You moved around the room, networking, laughing, connecting, doing what no one else can do the way you do, a force of love sweeping through, fierce and full of integrity.

I saw you on Saturday at Mamajuanas, which is right by my apt. You texted me that afternoon to say you were having lunch with a colleague. I was on my way downtown with my husband but I came out and popped down to see you and we spoke briefly about a great visit you had to a school in the Bronx that morning. I had watched a video you made about it on IG and I remember thinking, wow she don’t stop. She don’t stop ever. I remember looking at your face and just feeling that energy of yours that seemed to come right through across the screen and into me as you talked about how Bronx schools always seem to be neglected. I remember what a huge response people had to the content we put up from the Friday event. Someone who taught in the Bronx said they needed this to happen there. You were like bet, let’s make it happen.

You made things happen. You made things happen all the time.

And I still don’t understand how this happened. I keep wanting you to call me, text me, send me something from wherever you are to explain. Explain yourself. I think I even know what you might say. That you didn’t plan for this. That you didn’t mean to leave in this way, that you wish you could be here to help us cope.

No one understands. No one can believe you are gone. A part of me feels you, ever present. A part of me waits for you to tell me, what to do next, how I should do it, what are we working on next? What do you need me to create, to edit, to put together, to send. I cannot conceive that you will not ever give me something to do again. I can’t.

It’s 5:50pm. I’m in bed with my husband as I write this. He has been the perfect supporting counterbalance to my grief. I don’t know what I would do without him and I don’t know what I’m going to do without you. But I don’t intend to ever be without you. In many ways, you are more alive than ever, and yet still, I cannot bare the thought, I will never hear your voice, your laughter, your Ago, Ame, or see your face, dip into hot spa pools with you, talk waist beads, coconut oil, shea butter and ancestors and Black liberation with you again. I cannot believe it.

It’s 5:54.

I didn’t go to work today and I don’t know how I’m going to be able to go in tomorrow. I’m afraid for emotions that I don’t have control over. I need to see the rest of the CREAD team soon. I need to see so many people who knew and loved you as I did. I need to be around people who understood how dedicated and passionate and unyieldingly loving you were. I need that and I need rest.

And I need you. I don’t think I ever expressed to you how much.

What I’ve been Reading

Women Code by Alisa Vitti

Woman Code

It’s lead me to have the fullest understanding so far of how my cycle works and to realize that my cycle is happening all the time in four very specific phases (Menstrual, Folicular, Ovular and Luteal) not just when I’m bleeding which is the only phase of a woman’s cycle that education usually focuses on after she begins seeing her period. The MyFlo app designed by Vitti is also like an advanced Period Tracker in that it notifies you of which phase you’re on once you enter your own period dates and of how you should be eating, exercising, loving, caring for yourself, working and planning during those times. It’s very much a game changer.

The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Beautiful Struggle

A few nights ago, I got in bed and found absolutely nothing I wanted to watch on television or the internet. Nothing. So I did something I haven’t done in a long time. I pulled a book off the shelf (The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates) got under the cover and  continued reading where I left off nearly a month ago before things got really busy.  I sat and I read and I read a few beautiful paragraphs aloud to myself which I also haven’t done in ages because Coates just writes some dope beautiful shit that has to be heard aloud.  Shit like:

Ma would arrange us into a giggling pyramid , with Menelik up top. Dad would flick away until Kelly, John, or Kris–someone at the bottom–would get restless and shook the core. We’d tumble to the grass like clowns out of a rainbow colored car, then shove, stumble and laugh. Ma would step back and pull Menelik close. Dad just flicked away, until these moments were encased in Amber.

That whole scene plays in my mind as if I was there. Makes me remember why reading was first obsession.

Fire Feels

Smudging prayer

Recently, in a Facebook status, I shared a moment I had one morning when I was greeted by the manager at my local Pret. She exclaimed about how nice I smelled after we hugged and then asked if I had smudged that morning. I’m pretty sure I did a double take. I was like…ummm yeah, last night. How in the heck did she know? No one has ever asked me that before. She told me that she smudges in her space as well, which I know that many Black people do. But I came up on a very Hotepy household attending a lot of cultural events, meditations and chantings so it was always around me and now I understand that though many of us don’t always talk about it, we do it.

I’ve just never had anyone smell it on me before.

“Do I smell smokey?” I asked.

No, she said. It’s that smell after the smoke has gone out. It’s a cleansing.

Okaaay….I kinda got but I was still stumped at her sensitivity in picking it up so accurately. I had a few people in my Facebook network ask what smudging was to which I googled and tagged a few articles. And this morning as I think more about smudging and smoke in general, it’s got me thinking about the overall sacredness of smoke and how my earliest memories of it were watching the smoke from incense sticks that my parents bought, seemingly in bulk from Rastafarians in Brooklyn rising, and floating, morphing into endless shapes before fading into the air in our apartment. It was meditation before I was conscious of it, like watching clouds in the sky.

Since man’s first fascination with fire, which remains at the heart of civilization, smoke has been seen as the embodiment of this powerful element. We can imagine early man sitting around life-giving fire, watching the smoke rise and appearing to reach to heaven when man could not. Rising into the atmosphere, into mysterious realms that man could not comprehend.

-Jenny Smedly

 Stove lit

It’s made me think about the double sided gas burning fireplace in the middle of the house where I grew up in the Bronx and how I loved to sit and watch it in the Winter (in the mornings I would sneak down and cut it on even though my dad was trying to avoid a large Con Ed bill) the large roaring bonfires on sprawling back yards that we would sit around during dorm parties when I attended Bard College and the pit fires we made when on the few occasions my husband and I have gone camping with friends.

Candlelight

Aside from a candle I burn regularly in my home, I often forget how much I love fire. Like smoke, it changes shape, only more rapidly, sometimes with more volatility depending on the air, but it also provides light, hypnotically vibrant color, warmth, fuel and power. It’s easy to imagine indigenous people watching objects and bodies burn and believing that the smoke has transformed the physical into the realms of the spirit world. So it would follow naturally that certain natural elements symbolizing earthly properties when left to dry would be burnt to transfer their individual properties to bodies and spaces and things as a way of blessing, honoring, warding away negativity or drawing attracting abundance.

The nature of fire and candlelight has always made it a little easier for me to get still inside and in some cases for me to forget myself and become one with its movement. From the act of striking a match, to building a fire, to lighting a stove, I have a very respectful relationship with it. When nature is respected, it will serve and when it is abused or neglected, well…

Burning can be both destructive and cleansing. Fire like all natural elements will reflect its traits in the intention of the user, but it will never stop being fire.

Retrospection

You ever look back at a situation or a relationship that caused a lot of tension and foreboding and recognize that you can no longer even remember what that felt like anymore? Something or someone you couldn’t even imagine getting over at the time has now faded into the background. You have let it go.

And have you ever looked back at yourself in a time when you were so unsatisfied with your appearance or so insecure about something, no one else even noticed and realized, wow I looked great. What was I worried about?

I’ve noticed a lot lately, because I’ve been busier than I’m used to and often in a bit of a zombie state that when I take a moment to reflect back at the past, things always seem like they were better. Now, I’m not going to lie. There are things that happened, situations I had to deal with and several people who I do not ever want to deal with in my life again. But I’m always amazed by how unsatisfied I was with things that now I would give so much to have again; health a sense of security, confidence, purpose…less weight. LOL!

Dwelling on the past is a waste of time, it’s true and it usually means that the present is either lacking in some way or you’re having trouble meeting it or yourself in it fully or both.

Maybe right now is not as challenging as I think it is. I’m certain I’ll look back and wonder why I thought it was so challenging, why I was so full of doubt, fear and insecurity. Maybe that’s part of growth. I just sometimes wish I could skip ahead to that part, the part where I feel like I know what I’m doing, where I’m going and that I didn’t feel so alone.

 

 

 

 

in a world…

White people huddled in the fetal position. White people frozen in defense poses looking up at something with foreboding. White people in tears, folded over and rocking themselves back and forth. They’re scared, paralyzed with fear. Something terrible is coming. Something that has been coming for decades. A major catastrophe, a plague made in a lab, a caged beast, a Jurassic creature resurrected for entertainment has revolted, the heart of darkness manifested in King Kong, in demons, in monsters, in aliens, in mutations intended for progress gone horribly wrong, immense power fallen into the wrong hands.

In a world…

Are we…

Are we not done?

How many times are we going to watch this movie? And look, I was born in the 70s. I once idolized the premises and characters in Superman, Star Wars, Back to The Future, Diehard, and any other great block busting White people movie you can name.

I have had grown ass men rattle on to me for hours about the positions of imaginary stars and solar systems in Star Wars and how the film prequel adaptations didn’t live up to the book and I, who am no stranger to the desire for escape through fantasy, have wondered….

What in all the heck does this have to do with real life?

I love Lord of Rings! (Just the first one)

But the first time I saw “Black Panther” I couldn’t speak afterward for a good ten minutes. Never had I imagined that a superhero genre film could so effectively bring the conversation of race, nationalism, Pan Africanism and technological optimism to the mainstream or at least mainstream social media conversation. Race? In a Superhero movie?

I can’t go back now. I can’t go back to deceptively benign “In a world…” trailer tropes where Whiteness stands in for the “every man” and Blackness is the tokenized exception, Like I was texting with a friend of mine today after he saw my reaction to “Infinity Wars” (I didn’t care for it) “Black Panther” set the bar too high for me to take 50 steps back into a “world” where Wakanda is just a tiny piece of an epic fantasy based on the usual White fears.

Stones, rocks, crystals, natural elements, super powers, talking apes….

White people just keep using cinema to reimagine their greatest fears over and over and over again and to position themselves in the collective imagination as the soul saviors from that fear so that Black people are indoctrinated to internalize the lie that we are the great monsters. Like James Baldwin said in “I am not your Negro,” we have never known what the hell they are so terrified of. We just want them out of our way because their fears have made them a real flesh and blood threat to us for decades.

To indigenous people, the monsters, demons, evil spirits, dark and unknown foreboding, pestilence and plague have always been White people. It’s never been a mystery to us, never some great case to be solved, some edge of your seat thriller or white knuckle ride.  That’s why “Get Out” is so fucking phenomenal, because we don’t need to use our imaginations to engage with horror. We face it or attempt to avoid facing it every single day. The great crafters of horror and chaos are behind every major studio in Hollywood, behind every cop car wheel, sitting in the halls of “justice,” the oval office, the teacher’s desk, the housing board and wherever access to equity, opportunity, fairness and wealth building have traditionally been monopolized by them.

But first, they were behind every Bible.

 

How many red lipsticks is too many?

With all the insanity that is going on the world right now, trying to figure out why I have so many damn red lipsticks is actually kind of offensive. That is until I make the connection to just how much insanity is going on to the need we often have to try and shop our depression away.

For woman in particular, retail therapy is very real. Women are heavily targeted consumers and we are marketed to on a very emotional an psychological level so that even when we are conscious that this is happening, it’s still a challenge to step back and take stock of exactly why we have 4 lipsticks in the same shade of red and are planning to buy another next week. The gratification, though short lived, is often prioritized over rooting out the what the real need or issue is.

Now there are times when the real need is a good red lipstick! Colors are such a powerful force in our lives and they play surprisingly significant roles in our ability to function. But marketing and advertising of color is a whole other beast. Nature ushers in Spring once a year. Advertisers promise it to you all year round or whenever you want it or whether or not you want it.

But I digress. I don’t happen to think all advertising is evil. But I do think that as ads seep more pervasively and intimately into our daily lives, we have to be more vigilant about  understanding what really drives us to consume certain things and at what cost to our actual well being.

Last month I gathered all my red lipsticks together and decided to try them all on to see why I have so damn many, why I never wore what I have and what needed to go. I think I let go of three out of 15? LOL!

As it turns out I had even more than that in total. I just forgot about them.

Starting this week, I’ve been wearing each red lipstick on and off throughout the week and will continue to do so until they are done so I can remind myself that I probably don’t need anymore red lipstick this year!

I have never even thought of myself as a red person! But red lipstick is like the little black dress of make-up. And like a little black dress you should only need like 2 or 3 good ones right? LOL!

Anyway, please learn what you will from my red lipstick hoarding and enjoy this video.

Spring Snow

I was near Central Park at 59th street very early this morning for a Dr’s appointment and the first thing I saw when I emerged from the subway was the magical winter wonderland of Central Park all covered in snow. I was early so I took the time to cross over and walk in just far enough to see how breathtakingly beautiful and quiet everything was.

When we lived in Harlem, during Winters where it snowed heavily, I would pack my camera and my dolls, take the local to 110 and walk all through Central Park, all the way to 59th street. It was so magical, relaxing, creative and playful. It just made me breathe deeper. I loved seeing all the families and kids sliding down the steep hill next to the conservancy and all the funny, sometimes haunting shapes the snow would make after accumulating in fluffy chunks on top of things we see every day like benches and trash cans, steps and water fountains. Snow just kind of takes over and transforms nature for a brief time into a kind of abstract version of itself. And somehow after it snows it feels like anyplace quiet is extra quiet. You begin to be aware of the sounds of small things moving, falling, melting, and dropping.

CP Snow

I know that Spring just started and that this snow is not supposed to be on the menu but somehow I still feel the Spring beneath it all. It doesn’t even feel cold. It just feels like a different way to usher in Spring. Now check back with me in a few weeks and see if I still feel the same pending another Noreaster. LOL!

40249643394_baaaeee95f_o

For right now, I just felt blessed to have been able to tromp around like a child in the snow taking pictures and exchanging smiles with a few other people who were feeling the same Central Park snow joy. I really just wanted to keep walking deeper and deeper into the park and just lose myself in it all. It felt very meditative and I haven’t had moments of peaceful stillness like that in some time. So I’ll take whatever I can get. All signs point to Spring beginning. Even magnolia buds covered in frost are a promise.

Yoshidoll Life

It’s been a hectic month. It’s been a heavy month. And It ain’t over yet.

This review by Yoshi of her mom Ellarie’s latest collaboration with Coloupop was just the right brand of light silly Black Girl joy that I needed. Yoshi keeps her opinion on her mom’s line of lip colors very real even with her mama right behind the camera. LOL! I love how playful and silly and confidently honest she is. And of course I love how passionate she is about her favorite color because color makes me feel really good as well.

Take a brief little break from adulting and enjoy.

 

Don’t Freeze: Love and Vulnerability in Black Panther

I remember in the trailer for Black Panther watching the scene over and over again where Okoye tells T’challa before he descends to from the ship, not to “freeze.” And of course he says, “I never freeze” before putting on his helmet falling through a hatch release into the night.

I kept wondering it meant. In what situation would a superhero freeze or let his guard down? I couldn’t imagine the scenario and I really wanted to know.

As a bonafide movie lover, I have a collection of moments in films that I love and adore and among them is the moment when a man looks at the woman he loves, the moment when he is just openly gazing at her and time stops no matter what is happening. I love to see his openness, his vulnerability, his total surrender. But then of course he needs to be equally capable of getting it together again and carrying on his duties. LOL!

When Black Panther descends on a van of girls captured by the Boko Haram in order to save Nakia who is embedded among them on an undercover rescue mission, the aforementioned freezing begins. But not before he and Nakia stealthily dispatch of the armed men.  Then, thinking they are no longer under threat he faces her and says…hi. His mask is on so you can’t see his eyes but you can tell that he’s no longer in Black Panther mode. Okoye then appears and kills a man that neither or aware of because they’re too busy sharing a moment. LOL!

To be immediately engaged with both the vulnerability and strength of Black Panther in this initial and pivotal scene was just one of hundreds of ways in which the movie has shattered previous notions about what it has meant to be a “superhero.”

There is also no Clark Kent/Superman identity crisis conflict to deal with here. Among his people, T’challa does not hide as the Black Panther. Black Panther is not his secret identity. It is who he is. So when he looks at Nakia and freezes as Black Panther in the midst of battle or as King T’challa walking leisurely through the marketplace with her, it’s all the same man.

With Nakia, T’Challa is able to safely express his doubts about being the kind of king he feels he should be and he entrusts all the women around him, his mother, sister, general with the responsibility to support, inform, guide, strategist, and help him protect and defend Wakanda. They are all uniquely necessary and equally committed to this mission.

T’Challa’s vulnerability is his strength and he never seems to be at odds with it. I have never seen that treated with such balance and normative reverence in a superhero movie before. To feel the burden of so many of the oppressive and conditioned narratives we’re used to in movies; Whiteness, the male gaze, hyper sexuality, and more,  lift away for just a few hours is indescribably liberating. When I first saw Black Panther, I froze as well. And after the third time, time still stopped for me. And each time I see it, I come back to the world slightly different.