#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.

 

 

 

 

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:

I Am Not Your Feminist…

Yesterday, millions of women marched in protest against what is happening in the United States. My city organized a sister march in solidarity.

Yeahhhh….I didn’t go.

I watched Netflix. Played with my dog. Did chores. Tweeted. For me, it was any other Saturday. Because the things everyone was protesting about were the things that happen to me on any other day.

You see, when the event was first announced, it was called “The Million Woman March” and everyone got REALLY excited, but me? I had a “but wait” moment.

“But wait…didn’t the Million Woman March happen 20 years ago?”

But I bet y’all didn’t know about that one…do your googles.

The organizers changed the name. Then, I read that the “official” march excluded sex workers, and had partnered with a group who were anti abortion.

“But wait…I’m friends with sex workers and women who have had abortions. Who marches for them?”

——–

When I was about 8 or 9, I proudly announced that I was a FEMINIST. It was the 80’s and “Working Girls” were everywhere. My mom, my Aunts, and my friends’ mothers were all out there, every day, working. I only knew two stay at home moms during my elementary years.

My mother would kind of shrug off my “FEMINIST” declarations. She didn’t discourage them, but she never overtly encouraged them. I foolishly chalked it up to cultural differences and a generational divide. By the time I reached my teens, I was such a “FEMINIST”, that I could’ve been cast as the “progressive teen girl who inserts facts and figures into EVERY conversation (and wears glasses)” on any sitcom or movie. While writing a paper for my politics class, 17 year old me asked my mom if she ever protested; if she had burned any bras.

“I was too busy working to protest and bras are expensive. Who was gonna buy them back for me? Cha.”

(for those who don’t know, “cha” is a disdainful expletive used by West Indian women to express annoyance, my question was highly annoying)

“But those protests were important! Without them you couldn’t go to work!”

“I was ALREADY WORKING. What did you think we were doing?”

When one of my Aunts passed, her obituary read like a shopping list of achievements. There were a lot of “The first…” type sentences in there. In my eyes, she was my Aunt Jenny: a nurse who was the first in her family to come to Canada, and paved the way for her siblings. She worked insanely hard (nurses hours); maintained a household, raised two kids, and still managed to grow beautiful roses and fresh mint in her backyard. She was also very intimidating in a Maxine Waters kind of way. She didn’t come this far for any of us to come half way.

My mother was a divorcee. She had to move back in with the sister mentioned above, and then to get her own place, worked two jobs, raised two kids, attended every parent teacher conference, and cooked every meal. Every single one.* When technology changed in her chosen line of work, she went back to school at the age of 40, and upgraded her skills.

Looking back, I realized that the women in my family didn’t have to fight for the right to work, they were already putting in the work and then some.

By the time I reached adulthood, I realized that I too had put in a LOT of work. Plus, I had endured sexual harassment in the form of fondling by the guy who owned the clothing chain I worked for (he grabbed me by the ass). A boyfriend had assaulted me in broad daylight. I had been rejected from opportunities even though I had worked “twice as hard to be half as good” since I was child. I had put in the work and then some. I was out protesting for a better tomorrow…hell I was protesting for a better today.

But I didn’t see the results.

In fact, instead of results, I’ve had my citizenship and my parentage questioned by so many other women, and therefore my commitment to “the(ir) cause”. I realized that mainstream FEMINISM does not welcome me, just like it didn’t welcome my mother or my aunts.

So I followed her lead. I did the work. When I was invited to protests, or meetings, or groups. I just didn’t respond to the invites just like they didn’t respond to my questions about the(ir) cause.

Don’t ask me to lean in when you haven’t even invited me to a seat at the table.

But I will be here. I’m going to do the work like I have been doing, the way my mother and my aunts did, and I will support every effort simply becuase:

I am a feminist.

I’m just not YOUR feminist.

This photo perfectly captures my feminist experience:

 

*my mother is embarrassed by my lack of cooking skills and brings it up often.

My Fantasy #ObamaFarewell Speech – January 10, 2017

( “…” = “the Obama pause”)

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Who gonna stop us? We in this. 

Good Evening my fellow Americans…

As I prepared my final remarks as President for tonight’s address to the nation, I had the opportunity to…reflect on a few things.

Looking back on these past eight years, we, as a nation reduced unemployment…

Caught Osama…

Made health care accessible to more people who need it…

Improved our relations on an international level.

We…did a good job.

But then…I realized something.

(The President opens the top drawer in his desk and pulls out a pack of cigarettes. Sparks one up and takes a long drag.)

I… did this.

Yes. I had a Vice President. A cabinet. As well as…some other folks. But…

Let’s face it: I did the damn thing.

Now…you want ME to sit here and hold this seat for and unqualified…inexperienced…uncultured…simple…minded…and obtuse…mother…fucker

And give him this office.

You know what else I realized? I’m the leader of this here free world. Since you are so hell-bent on having an oligarchy…or a dictatorship, so I’ve decided to give you one. So tonight, my fellow Americans, I’m here to announce…

I’m…

Not going anywhere.

Myself, Joe, Michelle…Jill. We are not leaving. My daughters…Malia and Sasha. Not going anywhere. My mother-in-law, Marian Robinson…isn’t going anywhere either. Because we all know, Black grandmothers don’t believe in saving seats for anyone.

Soooo…

(pauses to take another drag on his cigarette)

Yes. I’m smoking. Who is going to stop me? No one. Just like no one is…going to come in here and ruin my legacy. No sir.

We’re not going. I’m not going to try and ratify the constitution. Or speak to the supreme court. Or congress. We are just not…going to go.

Simple as that.

(takes another drag)

Right now, I have the navy, the army, and the air force under my command. You wanna call Russia? You can. Because I’ve got bombs too. You…need to understand. I’m from Chi-raq. I got people. I still got Rahm on speed dial.

(ashes out cigarette and lights a new one; leans back and puts his feet up on the desk)

Whatchu want America? Call Amber Riley… because you…

And you…

And you…

You’re gonna love…

(takes a drag on the cigarette)

Me.

God bless you…and these United States of America. Because come hell or…high water. They will stay united. Y’hear? Thank you and good night.

The Worst Non-Tinder Tinder Ad. Ever

One of my friends sent this to a group of us for a laugh and so I introduce to you: Malik. The 40 year old sociopathic virgin.

Oh Malik…

Has it really come to this dude? REALLY?

AS creepy as it is that you’re basically advertising yourself like a lost dog, or some low budget focus group, it’s ever creepier what you’re asking for.

She must be White, Hispanic, Asian and or Native- American – specifically Apache. Now. MAYBE there are few Apache chicks running around New York for Malik to meet. But all I can think is that dude watched that Kimmy Schmidt show on Netflix, and didn’t realize Jane Krakowski is in Redface.

“Curvaciously”, “Thick-bodied” with “Thick, sexy legs” – but not fat. Guy. For reals? Thick thighs don’t have gaps; you’re going to need to pick a side and the FUCK are brown shaded thigh highs? Having had both a thigh gap and thick thighs in my life, I can promise you that skinny thighs won’t hold ’em up.

Points for kinda (?) knowing the difference between nationality and race, but uhm…

(NOPE. Taking them away. You’re more obsessed with Native Americans than Daniel Day Lewis and Mel Gibson combined)

Have long finger AND toe nails?

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Ewwww. Even though there IS a FB group with over 2000 members who love long toel nails. No. Also, Malik my friend, it’s hard to get long ass toe nails into 5” heels.

Pay attention class, notice how Malik is SO ADAMANTLY against “hookers” ,“trannies”, and “he-shes”, BUT he wants threesomes and foursomes?

giphy

Yeaaaaah. We know Malik. You SAY you don’t want ANY of them, but we know. Shhhhh. It’s okay…sit down. #WhoHurtYou? Because Malik you doth protest too much.

Your favourite show is Law & Order SVU. You watch it and take notes so you can avoid prosecution.

BE REAL/PORNSTARS ARE WELCOME

Malik, just because YOU’VE never had sex with a non-pixelated woman,  doesn’t mean porn stars aren’t real.

Unless you just jack off to hentai, then yeah, they’re not real.

“Employed and smart”. But if she were these things, WHY would she take your number?

No commitment. No marriage. No kids. Based on everything else you’ve said, I don’t think this is going to be a problem. You good.

Reggaeton?

 

The Culture of Comparison

Like many, this is the the time of year I start to reflect. I actually start in September, because I treat my birthday as my new year, and I give myself until December 31 to toss out clutter – both physically and metaphorically speaking.

One thing that came up in my refelctations (yes, I’m Wendy Willams-ing words), was that there were people in my life comparing me to them. Or comparing themselves to others. There was a lot of comparing. This… is not cool. Because the comparisons felt so different from my reality.

A few examples:

Comparison #1 – My Dating Life

It was assumed a few times that my dating life was filled with opportunity and privilege. That I had greater access to a wider pool of men and therefore, I had a better dating life.

say-what-gif_1

Reality Check

I have not been asked out on a date ALL year. Like, all 365 days of it. Unless you count the dude who thought of me as a side dish on his fuck buffet. The year before that, it was NOTHING until November. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

I’ve had “opportunity”, but I’m the opposite of Harvey Specter – I can’t close. I’ve talked at length to men I’ve found attractive and left with no number. I know their blood type, but I don’t even know a last name. Attempts to follow up? #FAIL

So please, stop assuming that your romantic/sex life is the worst. Enjoy a good date for being a good date. Enjoy sex for being sex. Don’t place expectations on yourself based on what you see on the ‘gram. You don’t know what that relationship is like when the filters come off.

Comparison #2 – My So Called (Bougie) Life

I have, a nice apartment in a nice trendy neighbourhood. I have a cute dog. I dine out. One time a friend walked in and said, “look at all you got”. I’ve been told that my life is parties, fun, and…I dunno, “cool”?

Reality Check

My apartment is expensive. I haven’t traveled anywhere in so long my passport expired and I didn’t even realize it. I have a dog that I bought on sale. He eats President’s Choice kibble – and table scraps. He is more therapy dog than he is accessory and yes, I was advised by a professional to get him to improve my happiness (and he has).

I have worked between 70 and 80 hours a week. (Trying to cut back to 50!).

While I truly enjoy my solitude, it would be WONDERFUL to come home to a meal because the thought of cooking (and cleaning) for ONE is exhausting. So I buy takeout instead of groceries. Laundry? Yes, it’s great I have en suite…because sometimes in order to have clean clothes I have wash a load at 12:30 am. I often come home and fall asleep in my clothes because I. Am. Tired.

exhausted
Me, almost every weeknight

I do not begrudge your vacation pics…do not envy my rooftop patio pics.

Comparison #3 – “Well you can find clothes easily. It’s harder for some of us.”

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Reality Check

I’m 5’3-ish, 150 lbs. My mother calls me fat. Old on the street call me fluffy. Cat callers will call me a fat bitch when ignored. The labels range from size 8 to size 12 and they all fit the same. I’m not built like a video girl and I live in a city with a disproportionate amount of video girls. So those comparisons are ALWAYS there and they annoy me.

I would rather eat all the foods and do all the nothing. But I can’t. I have a chronic illness. My diet and exercise choices aren’t determined the size of the clothing label; my illness has dictated that for 25 years. If I don’t maintain a delicate balance, I literally cannot walk. I’ve blacked out in the street. I often crawl on the floor of my nice apartment to the bathroom to throw up, because the soles of my feet are in fiery pain. There are days I scream and cry in pain until I pass out. I’ve missed birthdays, christenings, milestones, events, and work because of it. So I do what I can holistically, because pharmaceuticals aren’t effective. If that means the tradeoff is I’m a standard size, then that’s what it is.

Comparison #4 -You have it easier than me because gender/weight/skin tone/income

Reality Check

Think whatever you want. We could sit and play Oppression Olympics all fucking day, and no one is gonna walk away with a medal. We will sit and compare bad thing to bad thing to try and make the other person feel better about their shit until the end of days.

The facts are there are things that are good for me and there are things that are good for you. MY good doesn’t automatically mean that it’s BETTER than your good, or should be the good that you have. Get it?

You know how a bunch of folks will be saying, “leave x behind in 2016”? I wish we could leave behind this culture of comparison. Can we stop using other peoples’ #BestNine as our personal vision boards? Can we take our relationships with each other and focus on what we have in common versus what we have in comparison? I know what load I carry, and if you think this post was in any way some “woe is me” moment, you’ve missed the bloody point.

Trust. There is something that you have someone else envies. Compare what YOU don’t have to what you DO have. If there is something you want for YOUR life, go after it. If there is something in YOUR life causing clutter, GET RID OF IT. Make space for the things you want. DON’T look at someone’s good fortune, good moment, or good filter and think, “I wish I had that”.

“That” which you covet? You don’t want THAT.

You want how it makes them feel.Fill your life with the things that give you THAT feeling.

Because you don’t know what the tradeoff was for them to have that.

/rant