Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Daddy's Little Girl...?

Najae never had to be the apple of her father's eye. All she ever wanted was for her father to look at her and speak to her without first consulting his wife. She wanted to no longer be placed under that same category of "disposable" that he placed her mother. After all, Najae came from him. Her mother was just the docile creature who let him leave her at the altar while she was still pregnant. Was Najae so wrong for wanting her father to love her despite his indifference toward her mother? Willing to accept that she would never be on as high a plane as her step-mother, acceptance from her father was the only thing Najae sought.

When her step-mother's jealousy drives her to do something that crosses the line, Najae hopes she'll finally be able to get some of the attention from her father she desires. Her mother is pretty much fed up with being treated like the "other woman" and  loses interest in parenting. In the meantime Najae doesn't mind looking for love in all the wrong places so long as the result is finding someone to care about her. Through her journey some painful revelations are made. Her soul cries out for one person to take the time to notice who she is. Will anyone ever love Najae, or will the pain of continuous rejection drive her insane?

"Love, Najae" will be available on Kindle for $0.99 January 1, 2012.

"Love, Najae" available on Kindle for $0.99 January 1, 2012

The women in Lorenzo's life were always docile, subservient creatures who lived to make him happy. That's why Jennifer always stood out to him. She came into his world and declared herself the leader. Following the plan she mapped out for his life was Heaven on Earth. When she was unwilling to bend on the one thing he dreamed of, though, it drove a wedge between them. She left to pursue her dreams on her own. He turned to submissive Cherisse whose only dreams were to become a biochemist, Lorenzo's wife, and the mother to Lorenzo's child. Just when Lorenzo and his pregnant fiancĂ©e Cherisse were heading down the aisle to their happily ever after Jennifer returned. She was going to reclaim ownership over Lorenzo's heart and mind at any cost.

Losing Jennifer the first time was a devastating blow. Losing her again was not an option. If it meant leaving behind the woman who wanted to fulfil all of his dreams along with the child they created together, then so be it. Forgetting the woman he never cared for was easy. Keeping his innocent child a secret wasn't. For fifteen years he allowed his wife to mistreat his daughter. He allowed her jealousy to dictate how much he interacted with his daughter. While he was trying to keep Jennifer happy, Najae suffered. While Cherisse tried to balance single motherhood and keeping the peace with Lorenzo and Jennifer, Najae suffered. All Najae needed in order to cure her suffering was someone to give her the love her preoccupied parents refused. All that was needed was someone to love Najae.

"Love, Najae" tells the heartbreaking tale of what happens when parents are more focused on making each other happy than they are on nurturing their children. The search for love is a torturous one when those who are supposed to give it refuse to give it. When anything will do see who Najae turns to. See what happens when rejection causes desperation.

"Love, Najae," available on Kindle for $0.99 1/1/2012.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Funeral

Some of the greatest people I've had the pleasure of meeting in my lifetime have been through social networking sites. I've learned so much through these people. Therefore I am grateful for the internet. Without it I would have never had the pleasure of learning the things these people taught. The young lady who inspired this post is hilarious, but she has been more influential to my growth this year than she will ever know. Just a few simple tweets from her have saved my life. Okay, that's a tad dramatic, but she did say some cool things that really helped me to get over myself.

The second most important thing I've learned from her was mentioned in this blog post by her: What Did You Just Call Me: In it she talked about never seeing her ex's again after they broke up. She said she had a funeral for them in her mind and it was like they never existed. It wasn't to be morbid or bitter. Instead it was used as a coping mechanism. There's only one person recorded in history who came back after he was buried, and I'm sure none of my ex's fit the description of this dude.

Well, that must be nice, because when I logged onto Facebook the other day I had a friend request from an ex I never should have dated, let alone hear from again. He was one of those people who was created only to have one night stands. Not two nights, not stand-in booty calls, not to have his number stored for taudry nights of drunk dialing, just a one night stand and nothing more. No one should even have more than one round of sex with this dude. The main reason for this was because his sex was only good the first time. After that he became an incredibly selfish poor performer. The only reason I even kept him around was because I was a stupid, hopeless romantic who felt like if I kept treating him right he would one day wake up and be wonderful to me.

The fairytale never came true. Instead I spent months of him driving chicks around town in my car while I was at work. He was always an hour late picking me up from work. When I protested (or maybe I went off) he would get his entire family to jump on me, attack my character, and point out every flaw in my personality. I don't think the man was faithful to me a single day of our relationship. He rarely wanted his children around me, and he rarely wanted to be around my children. When I asked him to spend the night with me he refused, saying that was too much like moving in together, and he was still trying to get over living with his baby's mother. (His baby was, like, four, and he and the mother split up when his "baby" was an actual baby). We went on two dates the whole time we were together. Of course I paid for them both, because I was stupid. Whenever I asked him for something as simple as a Whopper from Burger King, he got his mother to yell at me for being selfish with his money. If there was a night where he wanted to use my car while I was at work and I didn't feel like giving it to him, he would get his mother on me. His mother even came to my job one time, demanding my car keys for something or other. (Back then I was still under the impression that I couldn't say no to people's mothers, so whatever she said I did, even though I was 24). Above all, 5 months and three weeks into our relationship, he had the audacity to look at me and say, "Oh. You're a writer? I didn't know that." I was dumb enough to stay with him, because I hated failure, especially in relationships. Yes, that was the only reason I stayed with him.

This dude made me so angry that I tried to run him over with my car, which is what I have decided was his cause of death. I didn't do it, though. I only witnessed it via YouTube. After viewing it I got a phone call  asking me to write the eulogy. Somehow they remembered I was a writer (even though he never told them that) and figured that only I could put into words what needed to be said about him. So I strutted up to the podium wearing a form-fitting pinstriped suit, a fedora, and black boots with killer five inch silver spiked heels. As I walked I wondered why we were in a church. Dude was a Jehovah's Witness. They also waited a whole week just for me to say what I had to say. They even paid for my plane and rented a car for me to get around my home town in while I was there. Looking over the sea of faces - mostly females that I'm sure he cheated on me with - I saw a lot of crocodile tears. Those people didn't care about him. Honestly, I didn't care about him either. I just didn't want to fail. In this I failed myself epically.

"We're all here for one reason or another. Some of you genuinely loved this dude. I didn't. I only told him I loved him because he said it first when I bought him a cheeseburger for the eighth time and paid for a night in a motel. He treated me like crap the whole time we were together. I'm actually still waiting for the trip to the Chinese buffet and the birthday present he promised to give me for my twenty-fifth birthday. I'm sure he still has the canary diamond earrings I gave him for his. The sneakers I bought him are probably long gone. Shoutout to him for proving my aunt right: If you buy a man a pair of sneakers he'll walk all over you.

"I'm sorry the girl ran him over with his own car. I know she got tired of seeing it posted on Facebook with different girls on the hood. Stay strong, girl. I've been there. In fact, I was once behind the wheel of a vehicle, ready to end his life for every heartless thing he did to me. I was called crazy for that. The only thing that can legally bind me to crazy is the fact that I stayed with him. Even after ramming the hood of my Dodge Stratus into his back I still stayed. But to you, chick, I say 'kudos' for getting behind the wheel of the vehicle with his name on the title, putting it in gear, and flattening him like a pancake, crushing every single bone in his entire body. Not only are you understood; you are appreciated.

"Was this guy a good father? I guess. To the children he left behind I am truly sorry for your loss. He sucked as a boyfriend, though, and as a person. He died still living on the floor of his friend's mother's living room, sleeping under a Scooby Doo comforter. Even though he made enough money to buy a house, he chose to stay there, because he didn't know how to think for himself. Now who will the people who controlled our relationship dictate? Whose girlfriend/ex-girlfriend will his friends hit on? Who will his mother bully? I'm sorry he died without learning how to speak for himself. His life ended without him telling the best thing he ever had how he felt about her.

"In conclusion, I'm sorry your life sucked so bad. I'm sorry it came to an end. Please don't think of me as morbid as I stay behind at the burial and watch them lower his casket into the ground. I just have to see the dirt cover his coffin so that I can know he's gone forever and can never come back into my life. This way I know I'll never get a friend request from him on any social networking site. I'll never have to worry about him getting my phone number again and calling me at 2am, begging for a booty call. I don't have to think about him driving by my house, thinking he can just come over like he paid a bill or something. I need to know that I'll never have to fear hearing the words he said to me during the final seconds of our relationship: 'You a pussy. I see the bitch in your eyes every time you walk by.' I need to know that you'll never call me again, totally in disbelief that I was able to move on from you. When I learned that he only wanted to destroy me I had to see that he was destroyed first. I had to see that the time he wasted for me ran out for him.

"And then I need to say a brief word of thanks. Through this awful relationship I learned some very important lessons. Not only did I learn that I shouldn't stay with a person solely because I don't want a relationship to end. I also learned how valuable time is, because the time I spent with him was a complete and total waste. Since then I've learned not to get into a relationship that I'm not getting anything out of. I learned that when people show you they're nothing more than dick you use them for just that, if and only if it's worth it, and then you move on. Last but not least, I learned what a healer Monica's A Dozen Roses CD can be during a messy breakup with a person who is too arrogant to just go away."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

If Sex Ain't the Only Thing...

This morning after my daily dose of Joyce Meyer I opted to watch the next televangelist rather than changing to Sportscenter or CNN. Her show was about teens waiting until marriage to have sex, which is a great message. Biblically it is what we are instructed to do. Four our own health it is the logical thing to do. There are so many sexually transmitted diseases that keeping yourself pure is the only way of staying safe. Then they went into other reasons why premarital sex is a bad thing. Among their most repeated reasons was because if you aren't a virgin when you get married you have nothing left to give your spouse when the time comes. I highly disagree. Doesn't saying "You have nothing else to give," convey the message that sex is the most important part of you?

I feel that telling our youth that giving up sex before marriage leaves nothing to look forward to contradicts everything we should be teaching our young girls. That is, if we are shaping them into wormen. From the time they learn about the opposite sex they should be taught that they are more thn a vagina. Their whole package is the prize. Any man should find value in all that a woman has to offer. Her body should be the least important thing to connect with. Teach these girls that sex isn't important because there's no gaurantee it's going to be as good as it's advertised. Until they find that person with a mind-blowing performance sex is pretty much overrated. It is a weapon of manipulation and distraction. The most amazing connections are made within the heart and mind. Teach the girls how amazing it is to meet a man who you can have fun with, who can teach you something. Make sure they know that sex is one of life's perks and not the ultimate prize.

Likewise, teach these young boys that a dick only makes them males, not men. A penis doesn't control them. It is not to think for them. When you don't put as strong of an emphasis on sex you allow young men the chance to grown into the person they were created to be. They don't have to use deception to get what they want. What they'll really want is true love. They'll want to learn who a person is. They'll appreciate what sharing space and time with a person feels like.

The program also talked about saving yourself for marriage so that you won't be competing against past lovers or have anything else to compare it to. In my opinion that takes away from everything we teach our children about self-esteem. GOD made us all to be the best possible "us" we can be. There's no need to compare one person to another because when it comes to the person you vow to spend the rest of your life with there is no competition. Comparing your spouse to your past lovers also teaches our children to focus on the wrong thing. A marriage isn't about what happened before the two became one. People unite with the person who was meant for them if marriage is done properly. Everyone who came before was just practice. When we consider a person's past we tend to bring judgement upon a person's current character based on past choices rather than the processing and application of present lessons. If who a person used to be is the same person they are now, then there's a serious disconnect somewhere.

I don't dispute that sex should be postponed until you are married. However, this doesn't happen often. More sound reasons why should be given. Instead of saying, "Don't do this because it's in the Bible," give them alternatives that are more appealing. "The Bible says not to do it," is an argument that can't be taken seriously if the person saying it isn't doing everything the Bible says themselves.

If we stop treating sex like a trophy people won't be so pressed to get it. We are so much more than sex. It's a forbidden fruit. Stop dangling it front of the faces of the youth like you would dangle a carrot in front of a house's face. Guide them in the direction of better things by using better bait. Show them the best parts of being in a relationship and ultimately a marriage: When you, as a complete person, find another complete person, and the two of you complement each other. Then sex will be one of the many spectacular things you share.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sweet 16

I was sad to learn about the passing of rapper Special One of the group Conscious Daughters. I loved their song "We Roll Deep." Then again, in the early to mid-90's I loved any song that had the word Jeep in the lyrics. "We rolling deep/So bump it in your Jeeps/Cuz you know we rolling deeper than most..." That hook used to have me so excited as I listened to it at a moderately loud volume (for my mother's house anyway) on Rap City. I couldn't wait until I got my own Jeep so I could "bump" songs in it. When I turned sixteen I was going to have the hottest Jeep ever. It was going to be red with black tint and gold chrome. Yes, sixteen was going to be a fabulous age.

Listening to "We Roll Deep" after learning of Special One's passing took me back to the first time I heard that song. I was about to turn twelve, the awkward age where you're no longer a child but still not a teenager. The teenage years seem magical. Within them there was the most important age life had to offer: sweet sixteen. That was the year I was going to get a huge party where everyone I knew was going to congratulate me on being awesome for so long. That was the year my mother was going to allow me to wear makeup. More important than any of that, though, I was going to get my learner's permit and my driver's license. Because I planned to be the most awesome sixteen year old in this lifetime, I would get my license and permit on the same day. The next day I would get a car. I had to pace myself. After all, the DMV closed at 4:30, and the car dealerships closed at 5:00. A half hour wasn't going to be enough time to get my Jeep painted and detailed. I'd probably have to get the rims ordered too, and that would take at least an hour.

The pre-teen years, what a time! A time when the sky was the limit. A time when I was too old for dolls, too young to do anything but look forward to when I turned sixteen. When I turned sixteen I was going to have my first boyfriend. He was going to look just like Larenz Tate's character Andre on the short-lived TV show South Central, and I was going to wear and look fabulous in sundresses like his girlfriend Nicole, played by Maiaa Campbell. We were going to ride around town in my Jeep, and everyone was going to stare. Of course, they wouldn't be able to see us thanks to the dark tint. They'd only be able to marvel at the splendor of my vehicle. And it would be sunny and hot every day of my sixteenth year because GOD knew how badly I needed to show off. My boyfriend was going to be as smart as Dwayne Wayne from A Different World. He was going to be fully supportive of everything I did, even though he was going to have his own thing going on.

By the time I turned sixteen I was going to have a double platinum album. It was going to be written and composed by me. All artwork was going to be a product of my own phenomenal photography. All of my videos were going to be choreographed by me, and Jermaine Dupri was going to be the producer. At this time I was going to be the youngest person to come out with a magazine, Go Girl magazine. It was going to feature only brown and dark skinned women. And Aaliyah, because, well, Aaliyah had nothing to do with my color complex issues, and Aaliyah was the greatest thing ever.

At the same time that I was on Video Soul performing every song on my album in front of Donnie Simpson and Sherrie Carter, I was going to be nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and a Newberry Award. Howard University was going to be so impressed by my grades that they were going to wave my necessity to complete the eleventh and twelfth grades and let me take classes there and join the sorority of my choice.

It's funny what memories a song will trigger. That simple line, "So bump it in your Jeeps," reminded me of how much passion and ambition I used to have. It's important to tap into this from time to time. Childhood ambitions rejuvenate you. I accomplished none of the things I aspired to. Some of them were impossible, seeing how I dance like I'm having an uncoordinated seizure, and I sing like I should only be singing in the shower or in the car. Some of those things should have happened and still could. Being that gas costs what it does now a Jeep would be the dumbest mode of transportation to choose, but remembering when I wanted something and just knew nothing could stop me from getting it just gave me a jolt of energy. Sweet sixteen may be long gone, but the drive doesn't have to be. I still can have everything on that list and more. Don't worry. I'm not dropping an album. Right now. Or maybe I will...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Friends With Boundaries

Even though I've always found males easier to connect with than females, I personally am not a fan of people in relationships having an onslaught of friends of the opposite gender. By "onslaught" I mean more than one. By "friends" I mean nosey people you've known awhile who mean you nor your relationship any good. I don't dispute that adults of the opposite gender are a very valuable asset. They help us to see things from our mates' perspectives. I can be ready to call it quits, swear that I'm completely right (which I always am), lay out the whole issue to my male friend, and see things in a whole different light. (I often contemplate firing him because of this). The thing about this friend is that he's objective. He'll wait until after he's helped me work the problem out before judging me and telling me why I was wrong. (Did I mention he's delusional?). He won't place judgement upon the man in question at all, because he doesn't know him. This works well, because his motives don't include tearing anyone down, assaulting anyone's character, or trying to end anyone's relationship. That is a true friend.

Unfortunately everyone you call your "friend" doesn't have these intentions .And sometimes there are people who have good intentions but don't know their boundaries. People like Yandy from "Love and Hip Hop" fit this description. Every week the drama on my guilty pleasure for this season is fueled by her not adhering to her role and shutting her mouth. Your friends have to know when it's appropriate to comment and when it's time to let the happy couple duke it out on their own. Your friends may think they have your best interest in mind when they step in the middle of certain situations. It's nice to have someone on your team who has your back at all times. You have to look at the bigger picture, though. What does letting other people interfere with or insist their input on your relationship say about your situation? It says that you aren't adult enough to confront your own issues. It says that your relationship isn't sacred. It suggests that the one person you're with isn't enough for you. It suggests that person isn't satisfying you, so you keep these people around out of either resentment or fear that your wrongs will come to light. What people who don't set boundaries fail to realize is that if a mature person truly loves you they won't want you to look bad to others. You are a reflection of them. Any and all issues will be handled where no one can see or hear what is happening between you and your significant other.

In a past relationship the biggest issue we had was his female friends overstepping their boundaries. I can always appreciate that they wanted to protect their friend. He was new to the wonderful world of dating. To them his naivete and innocence were fragile. What I will never, ever be able to accept is the way they attacked me any chance they got without knowing the whole story. I'll admit that I do have the tendency to overreact. There were times, though, when I felt like he knew I wasn't going to divulge the root of the problem to a public audience, so he put on an act of innocence so that his friends would come to his rescue.
When two people are in a relationship their friends are on the outside looking in. No matter how many details their friend has recounted to them, they're still on the outside of that bond. Somebody forgot to tell these chicks this when they attacked me for the way I spoke to him. Even though they never knew why I was upset with him they called me evil, told him to keep doing whatever it was he was doing. They even had the audacity to tell them he did nothing wrong. I never divulged the entire situation when one did arise; my feelings for him never wanted him to be seen in a bad light. Because he was content with having an entire orgy of opinions dictating our relationship I was attacked constantly. There were tweets on Twitter, Facebook comments and inbox messages telling me how to behave for my man, and there were even e-mails to my professional e-mail address giving me unsolicited opinions on how I could treat him better. I spent the majority of that relationship being the villain. At first I didn't care, but after awhile it came to the point where I wondered who were all these people, why were they in my relationship, and when did I get to be in a relationship with the person I signed up to be in one with?

Then there were the friends whose favorite word was "insecure." Those of you who have followed my writing this year know how much I hate the abuse the definition of this word has undergone since the hoodrats learned it. Being upset with a female for asking your mate about what he did to you in the bedroom doesn't make you insecure. It makes you a self-respecting human being. I don't care who you are or how long you've been friends with a person. There are certain things you should filter your mouth against saying/ fingers against typing when you know your friend is in a relationship. Things like "come eat me" should never, ever be said, even in a joke. The girlfriend is not evil for getting mad about this. Seeing things posted on Facebook about your sex life, what positions you and your partner tried, and anything that went on behind closed doors with the clothes off warrant anger. The anger reaction doesn't deserve an attack from the female friends. That's a big boundary that shouldn't be crossed: the sexual one. These people are your friends. They claim they've always been there and are always going to be there. Why, then, do they need to be messy and slutty?

In a different past relationship, I always found myself fighting his friends and family. He would do something to make me mad, and his whole family would attack me for being mad before I could even say anything to him about it. There was an incident where he left me in his house with his children, took my car, and took his children's mother somewhere for hours. He never even told me where he was going or who he was going with. Whether or not I had "the right" to get mad is up for debate. Before I could think about which aspect of this I was more upset about, his whole family attacked me. They called me a stuck up bitch. They told me how wrong I was and how nothing good was going to happen to me because I was so selfish. This attack, launched by his mother, was one of many. I remember feeling so lonely, standing with my back against the wall, wondering when the verbal attacks were going to turn physical. The feeling I felt when I looked over to the side and saw him watching me being dealt with so that he didn't have to feel my wrath is one of the lowest feelings I've ever experienced. The absence of boundaries caused our relationship to disintegrate.

Being with someone, spending time with them, and trying to see if you are the two that are supposed to become one is difficult enough with just two people involved. That is why there should be a wall up that separates these two from the rest of the world. It's cool to take advice. I've learned that letting everyone in only adds confusion. Keep your friends out of it. Intentions are always super-ceded by perceptions. It doesn't look good to have a flock of people hovering over your romantic rendezvous.  Save the intimate details of what goes on between you and your loved one for your memories, GOD, and blog posts, in the even your relationship fails.

Friday, December 9, 2011

On LITerature

Reading and writing have been almost as essential to my existence as breathing. A pen and paper have always been my best - and at times only - friends in the world. When I was young my works were rejected. Critics of my children's story "Black Brown" said the tale of an accident-prone young man was too dark and unhappy. Still I continued to write. People seemed more interested in what I had to say on paper than when words came from my mouth. All of my thoughts and feelings went unfiltered onto the paper. Even if nobody else understood me, through writing I was able to understand myself better. That understanding brought acceptance. 

In the fourth grade I heard another student read Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman?" Poetry and I connected that day. At nine years old I went home and penned my first poem titled "Oh, and I Wonder Why?" Sojourner Truth's poem sparked a certain curiosity in me. All this black pride was instilled in me. However, I wasn't sure why I was so proud of my skin color. This poem reflected upon it and then drew the conclusion that being black was a part of who I was and I had to make it matter since people like Sojourner Truth fought for it to matter. This was the first of my works to receive a warm response. It was applauded and praised throughout the remainder of my elementary school career. That gave me the push to keep writing and to write as often as possible. 

Books have been as present in my life as rain drops and snowfall, but there is one author to whom my love of reading, writing, and words in general can be solely accredited. Her name is Mildred D. Taylor. She is the author of "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry." I was eight or nine when I read that book. That was my first time getting high. Her words took me to another world. My breathing changed when I became engrossed in her paragraphs. All of her books educated me, entertained me, evoked emotion, made me think, and caused me to want a change. I still read her books whenever writer's block tries to bully me into taking a break. Ever since my tear dropped on the final page of her book I had to do for the rest of the world what Ms. Taylor did for me. 

For three years after reading that book and hearing that poem countless marble notebooks were filled with song lyrics, poetry, plays, and ultimately novels. Had it not been for writing I think I would have died of boredom. Summers were spent at my grandmother's house with my brothers and my cousins. I was the only girl. We weren't allowed to go outside and play. (My grandmother feared a car would run off the road and hit us). So I wrote to escape the monotony of The Price Is RightThe Young and the Restless, Days of Our Lives, and crocheting. Through novels I was able to create a world where life was entertaining. Novel writing was my saving grace. 

I'll never forget the inspiration for the first novel I penned, "Yours, Til the End of Time" and the prequel, "Falling Hard." This day stood out because my oldest cousin, Michael, and I were allowed to walk to Mountainview Park for arts and crafts. At the age of eleven and a half we thought ourselves much too sophisticated for making people out of popsicles, so we went over to the basketball court. Michael went to play with this new set of older friends. They were upward of fifteen years old, and they were delicious. I knew they'd never give my eleven and a half years the time of day, but that didn't stop me from looking at the brothers Keith and Ken. 

The world seemed to stop for every boy on that basketball court when a certain teenage girl walked by. She was beautiful. Even in my jealousy of the attention they gave her I had to admit she was a stunning chocolate girl. I mentioned her complexion because boys my age said dark girls were ugly. They claimed only "high yellow" girls got boyfriends. The way this young lady grabbed the attention of every boy on the court made me wish I had a video camera for that moment. She had such a ladylike pose about herself. The attention didn't seem to phase her. 

"You go, girl!" one of the brothers, either Keith or Ken, shouted. 

Jealousy gripped my heart, but I was too interested in what was going to happen next to let it consume me. Was she going to die from someone so fine speaking to her? Was she going to melt? He was by then running up to her. Was she going to drool? I would have. 

Her response rocked my entire world. She gripped the books she was holding, stopped, looked at him as though he should contemplate his existence, and said, "You need to talk to me the way I deserve to be talked to. I'm walking down the street like a lady, not a girl. And my name is Iaysha." Then she stepped around him and continued where she was going like she never stopped walking. I was amazed. 

That day I sat at the desk in the back room of my grandparents' house and gave birth to my first baby, Iaysha. To this day she carries just as much class and is just as sassy as the girl who inspired her was. "Yours, Til the End of Time" was penned in a marble composition notebook in a matter of weeks, two months at the most. "Falling Hard," the prequel, was written after that. Since then people watching has played a strong role in my writing. 

My uncle came to visit for Christmas that year. He'd been a little disappointed in me that my dreams of what I wanted to be when I grew up went from fashion designer to singer, so when he found my writing project he was elated. He took the notebook back to New York City with him. In a matter of weeks I received a package. My first book was published, copy-written, and had an ISBN!

My mother was very pleased with the content. She said it was "too grown." One of the final lines in the story was, "Boyz II Men put it best when they said we went to the end of the road." She said I wrote too much about love. That wasn't the last time she made that comment either. But what was I supposed to do? I wanted love. Writing about it just came natural. 

Years later I won a gold medal in the poetry category of ACT-SO and was interviewed by the Syracuse newspaper. When the reporter reviewed my poetry she asked for a poem that wasn't about love. This catapulted a campaign launched by my mother. She even talked my therapist into convincing me that I needed to write science fiction. I had no interest in science or science fiction. My writing was either a reflection of what I was going through or what I desired to have/experience. Star Trek didn't have that. I ignored the critics and continued to write. 

Fast-forward to today I still write. The critics have prepared me for what lies ahead. Now I'm ready to share with the world what God has given me. It seems like I've been working on these books forever. Now I truly feel like it's my time to shine. Thank you for sharing my journey. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

He Doesn't Fit the Description

I think I've figure out why it's the single mothers who carry the burden of being "wrong." There's some generic prototype of a baby daddy roaming the streets. Women are to see him and immediately know he ain't shit. His name is "Young _______ (Chris, Paul, Jock)," "Lil _______(Beano, Audi, Gas Mask)," or he calls himself a self-defense weapon. Therefore, if you meet someone named Lil Young Pistol you know he's a deadbeat. He'll also be dragging  a woman by her scalp down the street, smoking weed, and drinking a forty. His pants will be sagging, and he'll be wearing a lot of gold and Gucci. His car has rims worth more than the value of the car. He lives in the ghetto with his mother.

In theory this all sounds great, but very rarely is any of this true. This is what is seen on Maury Povich, a television show. As adults we need to start determining the difference between what's supposed to inform, what's supposed to entertain, and what's supposed to deplete our brain cells. Reality is that deadbeat dads come wrapped in different packages. They range from the slacker on his mama's couch, to the fry cook at McDonald's, to the college basketball player, to the hustler, to the mail room clerk, to the executive. His name can be Raymond, Ronald, or Raheem. He can be educated, articulated, and gainfully employed. There is no physical mold. Stop telling women the actions of another person are their fault. If you can't control a person's actions you don't have to take responsibility for them either.

Procreation is a joint venture. Why, then, does American society go out the way to place the fault of single parenthood on women? If a man is a single parent it's because the mother of his children failed at being a woman. If a woman is a single parent she fails at being a woman. She "chose the wrong man to father her children." She should have seen the signs. She should have known him better before spreading her legs for him. Rarely is the comment made that the males involved in this issue should accept responsibility. Our society creates all these loopholes for men. These loopholes turn into burdens of shame for women.

I think it's absolutely insane to blame one person for another person's failure to be an adult. There's no way to look into a person's eyes to see the future. If that were the case there would be no divorces, unemployment, or bad economy.  They say women can see the signs. What signs? During pregnancy the man was present at every single obstetrics appointment. He expressed joy that he was having a child. How is a woman to know that months after their baby is born the man finds out he is not willing to make the sacrifices that parents have to make? He wants to chase tail rather than take care of children. How do you know this is going to happen until it happens? Why is it the woman's fault that it happens? The truth is, you don't know. Of course there are situations where the man already had three or more kids he wasn't taking care of, but I like to believe this is not the norm. What do you say to the mother of his first child? Do you tell her that she should have known he was going to leave her alone to struggle with a child and then have seven more after that one? During the course of their relationship, after they were engaged, should she have seen this person was going to change?

The reality is that people do change. They also come to a point where they decide adulthood isn't for them. Unfortunately our culture makes it easier for males to be comfortable with this decision. Excuse after excuse is created for them. If no one is going to hold them accountable for their wrongdoing, then why should they hold themselves accountable? By saying women should look at men and know which ones to stay away from we are not holding these men accountable. Instead of pointing the finger, we need to fix the problem. The problem is responsibility is becoming extinct. Whoever makes the babies should take care of them. All involved parties should take care of them.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

What's in a Name?

This is a subject I have to address.

Many times we laugh at the absurdity of the names people give their children. I heard tell of a girl who named her baby Sha-ia, pronounced Sha-DASH-ee-uh. According to her the dash wasn't supposed to be silent. When I was in the third grade a friend told me her mother had a student named Vagina. I will never forget that as long as I live. I've met girls who proudly named their sons Prodigy and Jadakiss. Not even I am innocent. If I had my way my oldes son's name would have either been - brace yourself - Keyshawn Latrell (after Keyshawn Johnson and Latrell Sprewell_, Devantae Shyheim (after a member of Jodeci and one of WuTang Clan's artists), or Nasir Jodeci (after my third favorite rapper rapper and my favorite R&B group). Let's just thank GOD my son's father stuck around long enough to make him a junior. Hell, if my oldest son would have been a girl his father wanted the name Monaysia. It was a combination of Monique and Asia. Later on I learned those were the names of two girls he was seeing behind my back.

I'll give you a minute to blank-stare at me and judge me before I get to my point.

The reason for this rant is that as ridiculous as these names are, I'm tired of hearing, "They'll never get a job with that name." The black community has taken the shackles that were removed from the wrists and bound their minds with them instead. Our masters win. The only thing they had to give up when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed was free labor. Mentally they still control us. When they took us from our land they took our rights to everything, including the right to name our children what the hell we wanted. Our names had meanings that tied us to our home. Now we say puppeteered things like, "Keep it plain." Why not finish the sentence? "Keep it plain so that our master will give us the scraps from his table." In a top government office we had a woman named Condoleeza Rice. Our president's name is Barak Obama. How, then, can you justify the necessity of a "plain" name?

There are a few problems with the name thing. I would like to know why we are asking anyone for anything. Centuries after being freed we are still bowing and scraping, going to our former masters, slaves to their time. Now we are denying roots, stifling our right to give our children their own names. Why conform to "their" ways? Either protest it, or change the rules so that everyone can play the same game.

"Gotta keep it plain," they say. "If you want your children to get a job in America gotta give them an American name."

Now it's my turn to black stare. Take the shackles off your brains. What are being called "American" names are foolishness. A true "American" name would be Pocohantas or Running Bear, the names of the natives of this land. Names like Samantha, Karen, and Edward are European in origin. It amazes me what people will and won't stand up for. We all have to flex and bend in order to survive. I get that. But to deny who we are in order to get what "they" will give us is disgusting to say the least. We'll boycott a Tyler Perry film in a minute, but we won't stand up for our roots. Boycott our own yet conform to meet the standards of others. That makes no sense to me. If discrimination is screamed when we are not hired because of our skin color then the same should be done when they discriminate against us because of our names.

Going through life with the name Kimani has not been easy. I have loved my name all but twice in my life. It never mattered that I was unable to find a key chain that said "Kimani." No one else was named that. Therefore, I learned the value of being unique from the time I learned what my name was. Never did I have to be called "Kimani S," or "The bitchy Kimani," or "The pretty Kimani." I was always just Kimani. Then my elementary school principal told me my name was too hard for outsiders to pronounce. Since 96% of the people in my life insisted upon calling me KUH-man-nee rather that my name, KEY-mah-nee, I believed her. So at the age of five I decided that she could call me Kelly. Then I wrote my new name, "Kelly Smith," on my lunch box. My father was livid when he saw it. After that day I learned to cherish my name or else. Then came the day my parents took me to an African book store, and a book of names announced to me that my name was a boy's name of Kenyan origin meaning "sailor." Another attempt at hating my name was made, but I was unsuccessful. My father gave me the same look he did the day I decided to name myself Kelly.

After that came the struggle of my whole name: Kimani Lauren Smith. It wasn't until my twenty-eighth year of life that I even told people what my middle name was. Lauren just made me feel so imbalanced. Why did my parents even think it was okay to attach such a plain cotton middle name to such a leather and lace first name? Later I became Kimani Lauren Nelson, which was not much better. My middle name was denied and despised until the time came I needed an apartment and a job. At first Kimani didn't get jobs. I couldn't figure out what the problem was. I was overqualified (whatever that means). Just for kicks I began sending resumes and applications simultaneously, one from Kimani L. Smith/Nelson and one from Lauren Smith/Nelson. The same contact info, same content was sent in each. Guess who got called back? Lauren was even offered jobs she never applied for. I resented that so much. No one took my point seriously, and my younger self didn't feel like I could make a difference. I took those jobs and apartments, grumbling all the way.

The sad part is my name has a meaning in several different languages. It means "pretty little flower" in West Africa and Hawaii. In Kenya it is a male name meaning sailor or one who likes being around water. In a language in southern Africa it means "royalty." In Jamaica it means "good." In Japanese it means "golden." I'm also told it has meanings in Indian and Arabic, but I have not yet found them. My name is a United Nations within itself. With all of this history, why should my name present success? Why is this allowed.

So the children's names are different. Some of them have more letters and syllables than we are used to. Sometimes they're downright ugly. I can't see myself naming my daughter Star'Qhuay-zhia, but I also can't stand for her to be held back because her name isn't Mary. Traymier shouldn't be overlooked for medical school just because his name isn't Donald. Take a stand for something that matters. If you can't discriminate against someone because of what gender they date the same should apply to what name their parents gave them. Stop letting society stifle our freedom to choose. Most of all, don't let the slave/slave mastmer thought process control what we can or cannot have. Name your child what you want. Make it mean something. Let the world be filled with CEO's name Caltreasha, doctors named Shanequa, attorneys named Iesha, and POTUS named Rashid.