Dear Universe

Okay Universe… you’re being real cute right now and I don’t appreciate it. I also feel like we’ve had this conversation before. It’s not cute.

Let’s talk about money. It’s been a relatively simple ask: let me have some money. I’m willing to work for it, but it would be more fun to have it fall into my lap. Either way, I want money. Cash. Windfall. Long lost relative who leaves me something in their will. A REAL prince via email.

No.

You send me exes. You sent me the ex from TEN years ago to creep my profile on LinkedIn (why?). You sent my ex from nearly two years ago to work down the street from where I live and work…right smack in the middle of my dog’s favourite walking route.

Really?

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Not cute.

One of my friends suggests that the universe is TRYING to tell me to recognize the signs and acknowledge that it’s trying to send me a man…

Okay. Let’s roll with this. It wasn’t what I was asking for – because I don’t think I’m ready – but sure. Why the hell not?

So. Universe? I’m guessing I have to be specific. Because if you’re going to send me a man so attractive that I momentarily forget how to use words, CAN YOU MAKE SURE HE’S 100% SINGLE?!

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This guy. Well. This guy seems sweet and funny, and smart, and OH HE COOKS… but is “sorta” seeing someone.

“Sorta”

Is this the kind of “sorta” where he means that he’s just started to date someone and things are great, but like any great romantic comedy moment, our meet cute causes him to rethink that relationship with the harridan* of a girlfriend, and pursue me…or is he a typical Toronto dude, in which case “sorta” actually means that he’s been with the same chick for over a year, they live together, and just got a dog…but y’know, he’s not looking to “define what they are.

WHICH ONE IS IT?

*(Yes. She’s probably a wonderful woman…but for my fantasy, she’s a harridan and an obstacle to overcome, okay? In my head, she is a MINOR TECHNICALITY.) 

Please dear Universe: send me the dude who is tatted, bald, with strong features, nice eyes, nice smile, wonderful voice, professional, close to my age, with a sense of purpose and a sense of style. Make him easy to talk to, a little bit flirty, loves to cook, and make him 100% AVAILABLE.

If that’s too much to ask, I’m willing to settle for cash.

Thanks

xo/rr

#mymothermademe… (OR DID SHE?)

DNA

No. Not Kendrick’s version of DNA… the actual DNA. Deoxyribonucleic acid, a self-replicating material present in nearly all living organisms as the main constituent of chromosomes.

The carrier of genetic information.

I’m planning on having my DNA mapped, y’know that ancestry.com / 23andme type shit. I’ve always had questions, so now I want to get some answers. I know both my parents. That’s not a question. I know I’m Black. THAT IS NOT A QUESTION DAMMIT. But, both my parents are from the Caribbean and if you know anything about the transatlantic slave trade, you know that means the lines back to Africa aren’t as straight as they could be.

My first question would be more of an explanation. You see, I don’t LOOK like either parent. It’s said that I look JUST like my father, but yeah…no. People who know both of us don’t see it. My mother used to say it all the time, but I think that was just the angry divorcee talking.

I don’t look like my mother and since I was raised by her, the “oh! That’s your mom/daughter” surprise was – and IS – constant. For example, the day after the parent teacher conference my gym teacher said, “I didn’t know your father was White.”

Me: He isn’t.

Her: But…I…your mom? Are you sure?

Me: BITCH I’M SURE!

I didn’t SAY that, but my face did. Annoyed, I asked my mother’s permission to take one of the three photos of my father she had to school with me.

My mom: WHY?

Me: Stupid gym teacher met you and assumed my dad is White. I need to prove her dumb ass wrong.

My mom: (handing me the photo) don’t swear! Don’t lose the picture.

Brought the photo to school the next day and said, “HOW YA LIKE ME NOW?!?”

Okay I didn’t SAY that. I said, “THIS is my father.”

Or IS he?

There was a joke in my family that I easily could’ve been switched at birth and that my mother actually wondered that when she first held me. I was born via C-section, so there was a curtain, and my mom was drugged up a bit, and they just kinda said, “here she is (held up), and she’s healthy! BRB!”

Later, when she was in the recovery area with the other new moms, they brought me over. She took one look at me and (allegedly) said to the nurse, “are you SURE this is her?”

As her second child, my mother was expecting me to look similar to my sister. My sister was an adorable little light brown bundle (our father is #teamlightskint) with a tiny baby afro (“so much hair!”), and chubby cheeks. Me?

Growing up I heard the story. One day my mother heard me repeating it to a friend and stopped to correct me. You see, I thought I was told that when my mom first saw me, she thought I was Puerto Rican.

My mom (to me an my friend): I NEVER said that! I didn’t think you were Puerto Rican when you were born…

I thought you were PORTUGUESE.

Yup. My mother thought I was some random White baby and Portuguese because that was the first type of White person she thought of.

Puerto Rican would’ve made MORE sense because growing up in my neighbourhood, I was mistaken for Dominican or Colombian on a fairly regular basis. My friends’ parents would speak to me in Spanish when they met me, and then I would have to awkwardly explain that I wasn’t Latina.

“Oh. So your parents didn’t teach you Spanish?”

“No. I’m not Dominican.”

“Oh. Really?”

This happened to me as recently as ten years ago. By that point I had picked up a few words and phrases. We had taken a trip to the Dominican for a wedding. When we arrived at the resort, the man behind the desk said, Hola y bienvenido, ¿quieres una bebida?

Me: whaaaaaaaaa? Did we pick a resort with no English speaking staff?

(Please keep in mind that this was the third person to speak to me in Spanish.)

The same gentleman, turned to my friend and said – IN ENGLISH – “welcome to our resort. Would you care for a beverage? If I can get your name I can check you and your party in.”

Me: whaaaaaaaaaaa.

For the rest of the trip, I had to correct people in town, the staff at the resort, and even GUESTS at the resort. I even learned to say, “No soy dominicana, soy canadiense” (I’m not Dominican, I’m Canadian) because it happened so much.

One of the guys who worked near the beach looked me up and down, laughed and said, “you need to talk to you mom”.

YEARS later, I take my beloved mother out to lunch. Over our appetizers she says, I was talking to your aunt the other day, and we were talking about how Daddy (my Bajan grandfather) would reminisce about his childhood in Cuba—

I snatched the edamame my mother was causally putting into her mouth and said, “woman what are you talking about?”

My grandfather had passed away 15 years earlier. At the time, I was confused about two things: the name on the program was a completely different name than the one I knew him to have and, in his last days, he only spoke Spanish. Both were explained with a hand wave and the words, “don’t ask me now”.

If you have West Indian parents, then you know “don’t ask me now” means, “never speak of this again”. Which is how #SecretsOfTheWestIndies are created. This is how people find out about long lost siblings, uncles who are really brothers, second wives, first husbands…

…and why I want to get my DNA mapped. Questions need answers.

My friends have already started taking bets. If you want in on the pool, there is an assumption that I have Asian blood.

HAHAH NO*

 

 

 

*pending results.

 

 

 

 

My Mother Does Not Drink…

My mother doesn’t drink. Yes. We call this Ironic.

I used to see her drink, there is photographic evidence, but one day in her 40’s, she decided to stop her weekly glass of white when she found out her thyroid was out of whack. That’s my mother’s way, if something isn’t right, in her life, she’ll just change it. She’s pretty good at change.

My mother left her home in her Barbados and the only life she knew to live in Canada in 1960. She was fortunate that her two older sisters had already come up here, but she was significantly younger than them – and just a wee bit rebellious.

My mother in the 60s… drank. There was a time she was out at every West Indian social club in the city (and the Scotian one for good measure). I’m still trying to find out more about the time she went to a club in Detroit and got stranded there when her ride – her friend’s boyfriend – got into a fight and he said “find your own way home!” To Toronto.

In the late 60s my mother drank Martinis at the Four Seasons Bar each Friday with the girls from the office. New dress every week. Standing in line at Azan’s to get her hair pressed and curled to perfection.

When her roommate introduced her to my father, she wasn’t impressed. She had a good life; what could HE offer? In fact, when my father rang my mother up to ask her out on a date, she declined saying she didn’t have anything to wear…

While looking at three dresses in her closet with the tags still on them.

My mother in the 70s spent her life living between Toronto and Jamaica for months at a time. The jet setter life was one my older sister experienced, but by the time I showed up, those days were done, and so was my parents’ marriage.

(Thank goodness)

Ask my mother about the time she “forgot” she was married, and instead of going home to cook dinner for my father, she went for cocktails with the girls. Came home to find my father struggling to make scrambled eggs on the stove at 11:30 pm.

My mother in the 80s saw her world crash right along with the economy. That’s when she started making changes and fighting back. She regrouped at her older sister’s house with her two kids. Got a couple of jobs. An apartment. A rhythm.

A survival system.

One day, my mother looked in the cupboards. She was between paycheques, and the cupboards showed how bad the situation was. She doesn’t know that I remember, but I watched my mother swallow her pride and call a friend for a loan. He was an old friend of my father’s who would check in on us. I remember him handing her the $50 and taking her to the Knob Hill Farms to buy food. My mother swore through gritted teeth and tears that the cupboards would never be empty again.

She’s kept that promise.

I don’t know how much my mother went without because I never knew we were lacking. I never missed a birthday. Or a Christmas. We had vacations. She sent my sister and I out to get our hair done (we had a lot of hair, and she didn’t have that much patience).

I never went without food, clothing, or knowledge. When I started asking questions she couldn’t answer, she bought the encyclopedia set in installments. Don’t ask me about stuff after F though.

My mother in the 80s saw that technology was going to make her job obsolete, she got a loan, went back to school, and learned what was next. When the layoffs hit, she was ready.

When I was in grade 4, I caught a vicious cold, the kind that lingers in your chest for weeks. Finally the cold was gone, along with my voice. About a week after the worst of it, my mom woke me up to get ready for school. I got out of bed and hit the floor.

“Stop playing. It’s time to get up.”

“I can’t. I can’t feel my legs.”

It was March. There was a lot of snow on the ground. My mom didn’t know how to drive. She called my doctor, called her job to tell them the situation, picked me up and carried me.

She carried my 9 year old paralyzed from the waist down body on public transit from Jane n’ Finch to Bathurst and Lawrence. For non-Toronto residents, that’s about an hour of travel. In the middle of winter. At the doctor, who couldn’t figure out what was wrong, she kept her cool while they put me in a cab to go to SickKids. She kept her composure while they poked and prodded. By four o’clock I could walk again, so we got back on transit and headed home. She made me my favourite foods and let me stay up late.

When teachers told her that her little Black girls would be better off in remedial classes or taking up trades, she took time off work to cuss them in person. You have not lived until you see a 5’2 Bajan woman cuss out a 6’2 school principal in the school’s atrium, waving proof of his lack of a high school diploma in his face calling him a hypocrite.

There’s flight and there is fight. My mother will choose fight every single time. So will I. So we’re gonna skip over the 90s because well…lots of fights.

In fact, there is only one time I saw my mother choose flight. When the doctor looked at the clock in the ER and called the time of death for my sister one New Year’s Day. She ran from the room screaming. It was the second time she lost a child and it was too much to bear.

She fought back from the lowest depths of depression for one reason: me. I overheard her say to a friend that she had to stay strong for me. I went into my room and cried silently. The irony was that I had been trying to stay strong for her, following her example that you must always fight.

So I do. In her honour.

Yes. #mymothermakesmedrink…

Each time I do, I raise a glass in her honour.

xoxo

#NOJULZ

 

No Julz.

No Kylie. No Kendall. No Khloe. No Iggy. No Kim. No Miley. No Rachel.

No.

No to all y’all.

This past week has seen Miley Cyrus “give up” hip hop, and Julz whatever her name is cancelled in my city for using the word “nigga” one too many times. Once again, Black women stared in collective confusion wondering (rhetorically) how these women achieved this notoriety in the first place.

WE know. So lemme try to explain it to those who don’t get it, or who are woefully obtuse.

BEFORE you grab a cape and tell Black women – or any other woman of colour, or hell, women period – that this is about race, it’s NOT about race.

This is about being rewarded for plagiarism. Remember that time you let a kid copy your homework and they got the better grade? Yeah. Exactly. Julz and her aforementioned cohorts are regularly criticized for their performance of Blackness. Let me be really clear: these women were NEVER “down”, they were NEVER “cool with us”, and they were NEVER given an invite to the cookout. We get mad with those of you who elevate their mediocrity because we know you only do so because it seems like a novelty.

Meanwhile, those who ARE, those who CAN, and those who will ALWAYS be, are told that they’re just “regular”, or worse, lesser than.

Julz and her ilk are not new. I knew girls like Julz in high school. They dated Black guys to upset their fathers. They even had “likkle brownin’s” that looked like me to further solidify their hood passes. Keyword: pass. Just like Black people have done throughout the years, these women were simply “passing” as a means to an end. They capitalize on the novelty, earning money, fame, and more money from it.

The money YOU give them. The money you won’t give us because we’re not enough of a juxtaposition to make it seem cool. Rather than recognizing the magic, you get excited by three card monte.

They co-opt our shades with buckets of self-tanner stopping just short of blackface. They braid their hair in intricate styles and post up on the Pinterest instead of the ‘Gram. They squat, inject, and twerk their asses to Hottentot proportions and you buy it every single time. But if we object, we’re jealous. We’re haters.

Shut up.

For every NO we say to Julz, there are yes’s to our White girlfriends who sing along to Beyonce with us at the club. For every NO we say to Kylie and her Khornrows, there are dozens of yes’s to our White girlfriends who have Black boyfriends and husbands and we HAPPILY stand as bridesmaids at their weddings. For every NO we have for Rachel, there are hundreds of yes’s for our White friends who stand beside us and shout, “BLACK LIVES MATTER”.

Sure, they sometimes have to get jokes and song lyrics explained to them. They know we can lose a whole day to getting our hair braided (properly). They love plantain even if they pronounce it “plan-TANE”. They body roll to Chaka Khan, think we are beautiful in all shades, and ask for cocoa butter beauty secrets. They watch Scandal and ooh over Olivia’s outfits with the same passion we do. We aren’t mad at them.

BECAUSE:

They don’t try to Columbus our lived experiences for their personal gain, because they are confident in who THEY are and what their relationship to us is in the world. Because they also know how OUR relationship to the world differs from their own. When they call to see how we’re feeling about the latest #INSERTDEADNEGROHERE hashtag, they don’t open the convo with “hey girl heyyyyy” or perform Blackness to engage in a conversation with us– they are our friends and they want to know how we feel.

But you don’t see those women, because they’re not injected and deep-fried for your misguided consumption. So instead, you accuse Black women of being mad that “White women are taking over”, and assume means every White woman.

WE are mad at the White women who are TAKING FROM US because they’re the ones YOU KEEP GIVING YOUR MONEY TO. Because once they’ve exhausted this revenue stream, they will cut their hair into a pixie, put on a long flowing white dress, and pose on the cover of Marie Claire with a doe-eyed expression announcing their return to virtue or if they’re not famous, they’ll submit a personal essay to Jezebel or Buzzfeed. They will talk about lost years spent with all the “wrong people” and detail that one morning they woke up and thought, “what am I doing with my life?” They’ll talk about how misogynistic the music was, and how they’ve realized that bodies shouldn’t be objectified. They will find peace and “real love” through a guy named Will. The main picture will be them sitting on their porch with their cocker spaniel named Daisy. You won’t recognize her at first because her name will be Julieanna, or Chloe, or Sam, her skin will be it’s natural shade of milky white (“SPF 50 is, like, so mandatory”), and her “thug life” tattoo will have been lasered off.

They’ll sit back and reminisce about “those days” with “those people” and they will chuckle softly to themselves while they count all that money you gave them.

As for us? We will go back to living our lives and comfort each other with reminders that these chicks never had the range. We’ll dance in a circle and celebrate our magic. We’ll braid our hair and revel in our melanin. We will say YES to all that is real and wonderful and ours. We will give each other OUR money and be enriched through our mutual support. But YOU will be denied entry from her world…and ours.

So you tell me: why do you keep saying “yes” when at the end of it all, you’re only going to be told, “no”?

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When the Shoe Doesn’t Fit…

If the shoe fits, wear it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that phrase this week. I was in a situation where the shoe most definitely did NOT fit. At the end of each day, my feet would be hella sore, I had blisters, and I swear a corn was forming on my baby toe.

By “feet”, I mean my psyche…my soul.

I had already taken measures to get out of the situation, but before I could make my move, I was told to move. You would think that for a person like me that being kicked out would set me off – I make the decisions in my life thank you very much – but it didn’t. It was the opposite.

That feeling of relief when you remove a pair of ill-fitting shoes? That wonderful ache when the blood starts to rush back to them? This was ten times better. It was GLORIOUS.

Now here’s thing, especially for women: you get these ill-fitting shoes – aka these situations in life that just DO NOT FIT – and after that first painful wear, you put them aside for a little bit. But you wear them again because you hope to break them in. Go look in your closet – go look at your life.

How many ill-fitting pairs of “shoes” are in there?

Mmmhmm.

These shoes SUCKED. I was miserable with every fucking step. Wearing bad shoes means that your feet hurt, yes. But eventually your legs cramp from hobbling about. Then, your hips go out of whack from trying to compensate for the hobbling. You lower back starts to ache. Your spine goes out of alignment, and you start to get headaches. All from shoes that don’t fit. You start walking funny and eventually your lopsided steps are the steps you take every day.

Because you put on a pair of shoes that don’t fit and continue to wear them.

What the fuck?

That’s what I said to my reflection one morning as I was getting ready to put those damn shoes back on to go through another day of bullshit. Constantly forcing something into my life that didn’t fit? WHY? I got to thinking about all the situations we put ourselves into that we COULD get ourselves out of, but we keep trying to force the fit. To break them in.

No. Noooooooo.

The shoe didn’t fit to begin with. When you tried them on that first time, you felt a twinge. You knew. You took a step. You might have even stumbled. Yet…

Maybe they were pretty. Maybe you got a good deal. Maybe they were a gift. Maybe it’s the “it” shoe that everyone covets.

But seriously, is it worth it?

Is it worth being hobbled? Is it worth stumbling through life? What happens if you need to run but you can’t because of these fucking shoes?

These shoes could be a job that sucks. A relationship that is only so-so. A life choice you’re not 100% satisfied with. But hey, they’re shoes right? Other people would love to be in them. Your boss reminds you that in subtle ways that you are expendable. That so-so relationship is better than being on Tinder, right? That life choice you made, well…there are hundreds of people who which they could have what you have.

So you hold your head up and try to walk tall in these shoes and you hope no one saw you trip on that crack back there. That’s what I’ve done so many times before.

This week, I’m going to get a pedicure and walk around barefoot.

Life is too fucking short to be wearing bad shoes.

xo/rr

p.s. The shoe in the featured image? I’mma need that shoe to fit. It’s Tom Ford. If anyone has an extra $1200 lying around and wants to buy me a nice pair of shoes… 

 

I’ve Been Writing…I’ve Been Writing

Just not here.

Ooops.

Hellohihowareyou? Darlings. I’ve been writing.

Episodes.
Short stories.
Stuff.

I have a bad habit of writing/composing in my head. I write and write and write. Then, when I’m happy with what’s in my head, I start typing.

I’ve connected with some amazing people over the last few weeks (how I’ve found time with my crazy work schedule I don’t know) and what was stuck in my head has started to come unstuck. It’s a great feeling.

Am I ignoring this blog? Kinda sorta. Which kinda sorta sucks. But I’m ranting on twitter on a regular basis.

Sidebar: I’m tired. I’m really tired. I know I’m overworking myself.

But…Tenet insanabile multos scribendi cacoethes.*

xo

Great writing music: