Category Archives: Books

Real Life is Lifing…

As the kids would say…

And I’m officially living a life that’s more real than anything I’ve encountered so far. I’m journaling more than usual, remembering my dreams less but still listening to music all the time. I finished a book (The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry) I didn’t expect to read a few days ago, a book I would never have read if not for my childhood TV fave, Claire Danes. It’s strange how one can escape the pain and confusion of present day in the pain and confusion of a bygone era. It’s safer I guess. The book is written. Based on the Apple TV series I already knew pretty much where the story was headed and what it was really about.

My husband and I closed on our first home the beginning of 2022. My mom moved in with us a few weeks ago and is settling in nicely. I find myself in a new position of caretaker and personal shopper, and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it or even if it’s important how I feel. I just do. Because I have to. It does feel very satisfying when I can find things from my mom that she wants and needs. I’ve mostly gotten over that feeling of panic I get when I feel like I’m going to disappoint. Because I never want to disappoint anyone I love or even like. But I’m the hardest on myself when I “fail” myself. My husband is just the greatest with me. He really is. And for him, because he is patient and tolerant and endlessly helpful with me, I try harder not to be an a-hole. I try to temper my dripping sarcasm which is just compensation for being lousy with uncertainty and fear of facing the unknown.

I still have a weird hybrid work schedule that allows for some flexibility I really am grateful for. The world is in a tailspin of denial about Covid and it’s variants, the cost of which will not show up in concrete numbers until the Winter. And generally the country/world is up against the threat of an urgent climate emergency, unprocessed collective trauma, mass shootings, and an effort to back pedal into the dark ages to name just a fraction of our collective challenges.

Unmasked white men ask if they can “squeeze in” between me and others during daily commutes and I feel assaulted in a way unsolicited requests to smile from street strangers never have.

I made a list of things yesterday that ground me. Things I didn’t have to think about but which I know I enlist to immediately bring me to some center, peace and a sense of stability.

Music – It’s magic still works on me the same as it has since I was a girl. And there’s always more to discover. I will never hear it all and that fact baths me in relief and soothing, excitement and inspiration. Music is the free thing that contains an endless multitude of worlds and universes to access and they can lead you to places within that cannot be discovered any other way.

Skincare -In the morning but more so at night when I’m unwinding, my skincare routine continues to be the thing I do no matter what is happening in my head. It is the constant daily ritual I never skip. I’m usually playing music while I go through my steps. It’s probably the only time in my day when I’m fully conscious that I’m caring for myself and myself is grateful for it. An excuse to touch, wash, cleanse, exfoliate, rinse, massage, slather and apply to my skin lovingly, gently.

Reading -I used to be an avid bookworm. Reading was my first love, my first teacher outside of my parental instruction. Much like music, it helped me to escape, to discover, to understand, to broaden my understanding of differences, to travel and explore, to connect. I haven’t been reading in print anywhere near as much as I used to but while reading “The Essex Serpent,” I was surprised to remember how easy it is for me to disappear and forget the world outside while entering a strange, raw, muddy, foggy, tough but beautiful coastal landscape in the Victorian age. To be able to disappear into a book. I haven’t done it in a while, let alone in a book by a writer outside of my small cannon of favorite writers. And I needed it like a shapeshifter forced to remain in one version of itself for too long.

WTF with Marc Maron-I love listening to podcasts, and there are several that I love but none that I’ve listened to as long as WTF. Maron is raw. Maron is funny. He’s got problems and knows it and doesn’t pretend to something he’s not. He lays it all out and I continue to appreciate that. I root for his happiness even though he’s not good at being happy. He shares so much personally with his audience that it’s hard not to feel like we know him intimately. He’s taken care of cats most of his life and the two that remain with him play such a defining role in his life that they spill over into his show merchandise and comedy tour branding. Sometimes I’ll just listen to his opening monologue if I’m not interested in the person he’s interviewing because I just like hearing his take on things, even if I don’t agree. I’ve been listening to him ceaselessly for over a decade as my love of other podcasts come and go. I don’t like to think about what life will be like when he’s gone.

Water– Being in it, walking beside it, listening to it, seeing it. Seeing bodies of water is always a blessing to me. Water is a great rejuvenator for me. A powerful element of yielding, submerging and force. Hypnotic, mysterious, awe inspiring and sensual. My dream home includes a deep old copper or porcelain tub in a wet room with a skylight or a high landscape window letting in natural light. It also includes an outdoor path leading to a wide lake or beach. Water instantly takes me to peace. I don’t need to try to find it. It’s just there.

Cats- My cat can make me smile through just about anything. Me and my husband rarely fight or argue but when we have, it’s the cat that we lay down our disagreements for. The cat doesn’t give a shit what we’re arguing about. Watching my cat watch the world, clean himself, eat, drink from the tub faucet, meow at me, stretch, sleep, make biscuits, sit in my lap and a million other little things does wonders for my blood pressure. If he’s okay, I feel better about myself, about life in general. Brushing him. petting him, sparring with him, talking to him, brings me back to center, to purpose. He has his own inner world, motivations, irritations and things that sooth him which I will never understand. Cats are charming weirdos and I enjoy the routine and stability he has provided in our lives and the way my husband and I share time with him.

Nature– The difference between being depressed and looking at the view of the side of another building across the way vs. sky high pine trees in the yard is huge to me. Huge. walking through Isham Park every week during the Covid shut down saved me from total despair and engulfed me with hope and regeneration I needed to get through the pain of isolation and languishing.

I made this list of things I engage with often, if not daily as a way to keep things in perspective and also to remind myself that there’s so much to be grateful for as I navigate a path that for me is still unstable and unknown. Home ownership, aging, caretaking, budget managing, “adulting” and more is some real ass shit. Something always get’s missed, dropped, forgotten. God bless people who do this with children.

HERE I AM

How long has it been since I wrote here? I mean I write everywhere else. In journals, on the backs of envelopes in my living room, on social media posts, in my head. But not here. And there’s been a lot going on. And a whole lot of nothing as well. All at the same time.

Lets start with the fact that that I submitted one of the last pieces I wrote here to be published in a collection of writings by over a hundred talented souls of a writing workshop that I began attending last year when there was some really rough shit going on in my life which I never talked about.

The writing workshop itself was announced by Kevin Powell, a writer, journalist, activist, filmmaker, publisher and more whom I’ve been following forever, like since before “following” was a thing. I saw his announcement of the workshop sponsored by the Nuyorican Poets Cafe on his IG feed. It was free. I, like so many of us have been shut in since the beginning of the pandemic, employing various means of not losing my mind and when I saw the announcement I just thought, why not? I mean, I do write. I’ve been writing forever. My friend Cece who is friends with Kevin also joined the group so I felt that at least I would know someone there. I know it’s ridiculous to require peer support at my age but then again, maybe it’s not. What’s ridiculous is we’re all on Zoom in our PJS. How much more comfortable do we need to be? LOL!! But I’m still nervous, still want to be on time, still want to challenge myself the way I would if we were meeting in a physical classroom or space.

What Have I been Up to?

WELL!!!

I have been in Jury Duty for the last two months or more and that ended literally a few days ago. I finished a large book “Killing Commendatore” by Haruki Murakami in the first month, continued to record and edit content for my Youtube channel while also watching my faves to keep me from going crazy, started and finished “My Sister The Serial Killer” by Oyinkan Brathwaite which I really liked.

There has a been a period where I was really watching a lot of Youtube wig review porn and so the last two video on my channels are about wigs from Outre and Bobbi Boss. Like this thing happens to me last at night where I just am knee deep in wig porn and….ya know! Shot happens. LOL!! Next thing you know I’m cycling out wigs to make room for new ones and my husband is giving me the stink eye.

But it makes me happy! LOL! I’m a Gemini so any opportunity to change up my look at the drop of a dime is like slipping from one fun costume into another. This is one of many ways I keep my sense of play stimulated and engaged.

I’ve also been fascinated by Netflix programming like “Grace & Frankie” (which may be one of the only shows Francis and I watch together) “Civilizations,” “The Two Killings of Sam Cooke” and recently “High Flying Bird” directed and filmed by one of my faves, Steven Soderbergh wait for it….

Entirely on iPhone!

BISSSSH!

I read this dope piece on The Ringer today about the rise of filmmakers working outside of the Hollywood system using iPhones to make movies and I am so fascinated by this. Just last week I was at the Apple store charging my iPhone 6’s shitty battery and I started talking to a rep about the potential for an upgrade. According to the piece by ringer, the technology of iPhones is staring to slowly close the gap between its capabilities and that of a professional movie camera. This may be the only reason I stick with iPhone because most times I just want to toss it. Apple’s innovation has declined so much since Jobs passed. But watching “High Flying Bird” I just marvel at Soderbergh’s imagination and creativity with this little camera and it’s really inspiring. I’m not sure I would have known it was shot on an iPhone if I hadn’t discovered the movie by way of an article in a newspaper while I was on Jury Duty.

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I’ve been toying a lot with the idea of shifting the focus of my Youtube channel to express a little bit more of my interests but I’m not quite sure how yet.

Presently I’m off from work thanks to some dead White President so I’ve taken the opportunity to edit some video, take care of some personal stuff and generally power down, do a little research and stay warm with my bae because it’s cold af outside. There are a couple of trips I plan on taking in the next few months that I’m really excited about and despite the fact that Jury Duty did start to feel like a hostage situation after the first month, I am grateful to have been away from my job for awhile. It was an interesting change and allowed my mind the freedom to focus more broadly on some things I’ve been pondering. When I sort that out, I will report back.

In the meantime, there are a couple of make up launches coming up. I need to go scheme on buying a lip color by Fenty that I already have. LOL!!

Urban Eve “To Read” List

CitizenLast week at my job we had a wonderful Black History Presentation in which one of the participators read from Claudia Rankine’s “Citizen.” Her reading reminded me that it’s been on my to-read list the moment I learned about it and I have to purchase the book as soon as possible. Word of this “meditation on race” started circulating online like wildfire during the time two juries failed to indict cops responsible for the deaths of both  Eric Garner and Michael Brown, around the time that #blacklives matter and Black twitter in general became a force to be reckoned with.

SkinInc

For my own contribution to the Black History presentation, I read the poem, “All Their Stanzas Look Alike, a compelling work by Thomas Sayers Ellis from his book “The Maverick Room,” which successfully indicts a system of standards by which our work, our creative expression, our bodies are measured and assimilated into soulless White washed acceptance. I discovered Ellis as a result of googling contemporary Black poets and I’m not sure why I’ve never read of him before but I was so impressed by “All Their Stanzas” that I immediately ordered his book “Skin Inc: Identity Repair Poems” published in 2013. I haven’t been this excited about discovering a poet in years. I hope it doesn’t disappoint.

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“Bad Feminist” by Roxane Gay by has also been strongly recommended to me by several of my female friends and although it will not be the first book I’ve read about Feminism, it shall be the first book I ever read with the word Feminist in it’s title. I’m sure that Feminists all over the country are sighing collectively. LOL!

And of course anything that Chimimanda Adiche feels like putting out this year moves swiftly to the top of that list.