Friday, May 27, 2011
Throughout the history of music, there have been singing soulful couples like Ashford & Simpson, Donny Hathaway & Roberta Flack, and Marvin Gaye & Tammy Terrell. Whether their love was amplified with Soul Glo, genius + heart, or creative bliss, I always find my little bourgie soul stirred when a dynamic couple bears it all in music.
For years, I have hailed the sincere and down to the ruht lyrics of Kindred the Family Soul. Recently, I was digging through my CD crates and put their album In This Life Together back in rotation in the VDub. I found myself in tears but singing, shakily, along with this #TeamRealLove on the track "Do You Remember" and felt inspired to devote an entire summer blogging about the ups, downs, and the in between's of the family's soul.
I am often asked will I have another child. I introduced Noodle to the world 4 years ago when I thought I was having a boy and we lovingly called it Bug. I was starting a new job and was uncertain about this whole motherhood thing. Before the baby and marriage, I often joked I would devote my life to being a travel maven and international playgirl, settling down somewhere in England or Belgium. Meeting my husband online held me down to Americus terra firma with promises of biannual getaways. My friend Zenzile of the LoveJones Lifestyle Blog believes we were the last successful Black Planet coupling and I'll take that recognition. 9 years in the game, our love is just as strong as Kindred's truth.
Even raising her and realizing she is a reflection of me, I often wonder how she sees and feels about her life as the only child in the nest. I am the youngest of 4 and my hubby is somewhere in the middle of 9, so our melding of complexes was an act of faith and patience. Growing up in a family with siblings close in age is a priceless experience with the hurt, pain, happiness, and adventure that run in our memories. I remember running races and pretending to be part of a bike derby with my brother, watching my oldest sister come home from college and showing off her steps as a Delta duck, and my 2nd oldest sister painting my face and making my hair look like the Bride of Frankenstein. At various stages in my burgeoning adulthood, my relationships with them oscillated in closeness and distance and it came with lots of laughs and pain which often makes me wonder do I squirm at the thought of bringing another child into the picture because I may not be ready for Noodle to experience the same journey that ends with forgiveness.
I have often tried to minimize her pain whether physical or emotional because I've journeyed down that road where I was seeking to be validated because I felt pushed away from my family soul. So many of our families out there have been torn apart by secrets, pain, and grief and in this life together with my husband by my side, I was able to truly come into my true self by knowing the power of love. Is this some type of parental controlling of one's destiny jawn or just the residual pain my own disconnect...I want Noodle to be able to know Kindred's lyrics (from "My Time") in her heart to be true and know that we support her: I'm rich in love. I'm rich in peace. I'm rich in hope. I'm rich indeed. I'm ready...This is My Time...All that I'd hoped for is mine...It's mine, it's mine!
I always believed that siblings were our first friends and as my dear friend Laurie tells me, cousins are the second best and they can just go home afterwards when you've played and argued with one another into worry-ation (as Southerneres say, wurrayshun). But when forgiveness does not manifest in time in those sibling relationships, I struggle with whether the Bourgie Babe will still be able to live up to her dreams feeling that a sibling didn't show support for them. As a mother, how could I rectify that? How do these rifts become so detrimental to the family soul even though a bounty of beautiful, common, and shared memories are a part of our core foundation? Many of you have shared your own family's stories with me and forgiveness is a road that many of us take to the grave. I still wrestle with wanting another chap and creating and nurturing a bond from scratch. Perhaps I can teach and instill in them that they too carry the family's soul into the future by staying in this life together...
In Kindred's "Do You Remember," forgiveness comes at a time when you have to be vulnerable regardless of who says it first...
I’m sorry mother
I’m sorry father
I’m sorry sister
I’m sorry brother
And to my best friend I never meant to hurt ya
Can we get back to the way things used to be
I wanna get back to the way things used to be...
I’m sorry, for things that I said I don’t wanna say no more
Forgive me, things that I’ve done I’m willing to say were wrong
Its time things changed, sat around hurting for much to long
I miss you and this is the reason that I sing this song to you
Saturday, May 7, 2011
We all toy with the idea of pushing our limits and you may do this ordinary act every two weeks or one week, depending on how much protein, zinc, and calcium you take in. Cutting my nails is a delicate exercise of grooming and bedevilment. Cutting corners at strange angles has always been a difficult task for me. Why didn't I have long nail beds like my Sisters? Such short, drangled nails without much direction and inclination to dirt accumulation have passed over to my Bourgie Baby.
The precautions I know I must take when cutting her nails are obvious because lately, I've included a bit of skin on the sides. Cutting her nails is like mine: rugged kertainized slats that bend back into the skin with the pressure of the clippers. Blood and hurt feelings are hushed over as I quickly try to finish. Nothing a Dora the Explorer bandaid can't fix,but I'm sure her day school friends will hear terrible tales of how this bad Mommy caused "the blood"...that's what I gather from the hushed quiet looks I get from them when I pick her up at the end of the day.
Sometimes we cut too far. Maybe we scream too loud. Put them in timeout too long or not long enough. Other times we enjoy ourselves too much on social outings and we try to squeeze in 15 more minutes when we know our tot's witching hour approaches.
Recently, I've been having a more involved social calendar and I always tell folks I always come with kid. Like a woman testing a new lover's resilience by saying they come with baggage. Or an employer telling a desperate new hire that the job comes with a challenging work environment. You just don't know how much deep excrement you're in until a little gets on your face. It's always worse when it splatters just to the side of your mouth. Figuratively speaking, of course...
People assure me it's no problem but there I sit...the Mama with the only child at the table wanting to jump into the grown up conversation but obliging compliments drift into banal discussions on the cuteness of my kid. Lest we forget about the other distractions of IgottagopeepeeImthirstyGimmeSome at my far end corner. At some point, someone should feel sorry for me and find me a babysitter on location and bless me with a complimentary bottle of their best Chardonnay.
But I know my seemingly good times are waning into ascending, thundering clock strokes. Entrees haven't arrived and its 10 minutes till 8...OK, pee break in the middle of dinner...OK, I'm back...food is cold, alright, "What did you say? Oh yes, the island fox is native to the Catalina Islands." The bourgie baby's eyes are getting a bit moony but geez, this conversation on the Catalina Islands flora and fauna is just too much to turn away from. And then the wiggles and clinginess begin. A tot's strength and weariness grows as the moon arches through the night sky. I can only imagine having dinner with a werewolf on the night of the full moon, but pushing the limit of any child's bedtime to soak up some night life with obliging friends is a dangerous undertaking. A scratch from your moony tot could give you the fever.
Just tonight, I celebrated the graduation of a dear friend. After a stimulating tot-to-adult ratio conversation, crayons broken into pieces in the bread dipping saucer, TWO trips to the restroom, and over-turned sprite, I still managed to get legal advice for my mom, a creative writing exercise, and to dole my game-changing, conversation stirring question of how all of us represent part of my dear friend's psyche. It was good night until my tot complained of hurting feet..it began with the extraction of her flip flops...then the sliding out of her booster seat...and then the devouring of her cheeseburger (Wow! Didn't think she'd eat that much...RED MEAT!). I knew then that the werewolf needed to run free in her dreams. Eventually she wanted to sit in my lap.
Thankfully, God has blessed me with an awesome tot who knows, at times, to tell me when she's tired and ready to go to bed. She whispered it to me. Then after 5 more minutes of pushing my languishing time with adults, the Bourgie Babe stood next to the table pulling my arm and dress. "I'm ready to lay down...I want to put on my jammies, Mommy. Let's go." I love my friend but I love my sanity better. I must do what I can to avoid the werewolf's wrath.
This post is dedicated to my newly attained babysitter. Just remember to have her in bed no later than 8:30pm.
Friday, January 21, 2011
I've always imagined that one day my fro would be just as big as Thelma's from Good Times and as coifed as Jermaine Jackson's when he married Hazel Gordy. The curl, whisp, and poof of it all made me feel like it was hair-extraordinaire. After several kicks and spoots, my current fro has managed a reasonable amount of puff that I can be proud of. My bourgie babe admires my hair everytime I get it "did" and always wants to join me at the beauty shop.
Noodle enters and eyes my stylist with her coy and precocious eyes and does not waste time to jump into a chair to see some type of magic happen to my head. Trusting your stylist is about a precarious predicament as trusting your doctor before you go into surgery. Such worries as "Will my hair look good?" or "Will these braids hurt too much?" run parallel to thoughts of certain death or disability on the operating table. I love the fact that I can sit with my stylist and talk about the circles we live in and still manage to come around to our common humanity: our pain, our love, our blessings, our struggles.
Perhaps I'm running out of sacred spaces to ponder my beauty and existence at the same time because I feel most comfortable away from the stuffiness of academe. I remember sitting in grad school surrounded by the painted over cinder block walls, conjuring up theoretical and literary spirits and sparring over who's approach was right. It gave me a lot to think about and has directed much of my thoughts from beyond the classroom and into the streets where many of my students come from. The ills of cultural hegemony and perverse linguistic significations have overwrought the younger generations' landscape. Homophobia has replaced homosocial associations. Girl power has given way to socially constructed and varying degrees of the whore.
I've become a bitter, academic fart. I've been living beyond the academic walls for 5 years now and working in the trenches. The disconnect from what we did in higher ed is evident in the limited outreach our colleges and universities are not doing in secondary education. I grow weary these days of folks on the patriarchal boogie train and feminists ranting about sex being no good if the man doesn't cry at the end. I'm a womanist who is quick to say "Hoe, sit down!" but woman enough to know I got a bit of mother wit and countriness to care about people.
I say it with love, though. Its kind of like when your grandmother or auntie would get onto you about not speaking when you came in and she'd make you feel hella bad, and then offer you teacakes and iced tea. Or when your stylist gets onto you about putting bad products in your hair, and now its a mess, and it will take an act of GOD himself to fix it...and yet, they manage to work out a miracle and talk you through your troubles as you sit in the styling chair. It makes us better people and that wisdom will eventually lend itself to show compassion with another.
I'd like to see more professors keep track of their academic progeny after they graduate (and not just the ass-kissing ones) and mentor them even if they don't get that Assistant Professor position at Yadda Yadda University. I'd like to see more academic conferences do more than just intellectual round-robins and get out into the community and see what the people have to say about their paper. I'd like to see a feminist just say ONCE that they appreciate a male writer despite his/her own beliefs of patriarchal thought (hell, it gives us something to talk about). Academe is dying a slow death because we have forgotten the people and communities that live in the shadows of our universities. The hoots and hollers of our hegemony crickets have fallen on deaf ears because we speak our own language that is exclusive and oppressive in itself.
Repression. Oppression. Patriarchy. Matriarchy. Sacred. Profane. Sign. Signified. We can talk it all day. But what is the solution to fix it? Our communities shouldn't have to lay dying in order to help them. All they need is to give a little whistle...then you must set your conference paper or latest pedagogy book to the side and answer the call. "Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide...but I bet there is some angry feminist out there who has issues EVEN with that example.