Category Archives: Other Stuff

ABM & DAI

A few months ago, a good pal named Tao from The Adopted Ones, reached out to me with news that The Donaldson Adoption Institute was accepting blog pitches. I enjoy writing, and I feel strongly that voices of people of color in the adoption community are woefully underrepresented.

So, I decided to submit some ideas.

I’m delighted that the organization thought my voice was important and valuable. I’m also totally jazzed that the good folks there have decided to feature my story in honor of Black History Month.

Gosh, I feel special.

I’m happy to post a link to the first of a two-part series from me over on the Donaldson Adoption Institute blog.  Be sure to stop by their Facebook page and hit them up on Twitter too!

HOW I GOT HERE

dai

And yes, I am using my IRL name in addition to my pen name. 🙂

 


What the Election Means – Real Talk

Well, I’ve managed to endure 4 of the 5 stages of grief post-election.  I skipped ‘bargaining’ because well, there isn’t really a reason to go through that one with a national election. I’ve landed in this place of acceptance about the presidential election.

I’m disgusted by it, but it is what it is. #resignation

It is an interesting dilemma when a candidate can win the popular vote, but not the electoral vote, but you know the way representative democracies are set up…

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So here we are, a nation that elected a candidate with no political experience, who has maligned bunches of folks and declared numerous enemies, puckered up to Putin, who is ensnared in multiple law suits, and after retweeting and reverbing countless racist tweets, memes and theory was openly endorsed by the Klu Klux Klan.

Yeah, we did that. #Murrica

I worked on Capitol Hill for a member of Congress early in my career. Many of my colleagues are Hill or federal government employees or alums. It is noble and can be difficult work. These folks are educated, hard workers, have a non-partisan depth of knowledge and expertise that is essential to keep things running—right down to the cafeteria workers and janitors found in many a hallowed hall.

They endure partisan changes with every election.

While I do worry about the governance implications of a Trump presidency; I am a student of government. I know that even when one party controls all of the points, our system is designed to resist a cliff fall. Oh, there will be change and there will be pork barrelling like a mug; I fear some of it will be very bad, very bad for regular common folk like me, but at a national, global, macro level, I’m not sure what that will look like. I do know that we’ve seen a trend in higher ed for years of bringing in corporate executives to run colleges and universities with the goal of making them leaner and meaner. The results have been mixed at best.

It is and will remain a mystery what will unfold here as we watch Trump’s post-inaugural 100 days of policy making beginning in January.

I’m more concerned about things at the local level.

All politics are local.

It’s not just the Trump presidency, it’s not just the down ballot races, it’s the local school boards, city councils and board of supervisors. It’s the judges, state and district attorneys, the sheriffs and the aldermen. It’s the appointments that they make over agencies like Children and Family Services.

It’s the ripple effect in my community that deeply worries me.

Do these folks embrace that rhetoric? Do they think it’s ok to “grab ‘em by the p*ssy?” After exonerating innocent defendants will they still, 20 years later, go to the media and claim they are guilty?  #centralpark5 Or do they think all that stuff is just a bunch of hogwash and that “he really didn’t mean it!”

Will they stop me? Will they treat me fairly? Will I be given the benefit of the doubt? Will I or my daughter die at their hands because, as an African American living in an urban area (though not the inner city) I was risking life and limb just going to pick up my prescription due to the all the hellish crime surrounding me in my quiet suburban neighborhood?

Did they vote for him? Will they vote with him and Pence in concept in the future? Will they infantilize people of color and women as though we are unable to make decisions for ourselves?

And that’s just within the system.

I never made a personal proclamation on social media to “unfriend” me if someone was a Trump supporter. I had one person troll me and I dealt with that in the manner that you would deal with a troll. Otherwise, I might vehemently disagree but I am willing to engage and I’m willing to try to see the world from their vantage point. #neverscared

And now, I wonder who I can trust. Did the unabashed abandon of “political correctness” or as I like to call it, home training, appeal to folks’ inner monologue about women, people of color, people with disabilities, immigrants, and whomever else got dragged during the campaign? Do they now feel it’s perfectly acceptable, nay, encouraged to say these things out loud to any and every one without shame of any retribution?

Was the America that they wanted to return to have me and mine using a different bathroom because my brown skin might give them cooties?

Was it a belief that black and brown people are ne’er do-wells who don’t want to work or need to be legally managed?

Do some of them think that I’m less than I really am?

These are the questions that will make me shudder during the next four years. It is the reality that we have normalized abnormal behaviors and speech. No, we didn’t normalize it, we either found it so meaningless as to outright dismiss it or we were cool with it or found it so meaningful so as to even lukewarmly embraced it.

Even with a lot of gray, we validated hate speech this week.

We made it so ok to be an asshole that we can now tell our kids, “Look, you too can grow up to be an asshole.”

And K-12 teachers are already reporting the increases in race and immigration based bullying after a year of campaigning. Oh, kids are also calling folks deplorable, but some of the rhetoric is, in fact, deplorable. My daughter talked to me yesterday about how worried some of her friends were; about their futures; about being bullied for being different.

Isms are learned. Hate is learned. This stuff isn’t innate. We bear the burden of having taught our kids that a large group of folks in this country believe that this foolish, childish behavior was ok.

It’s ok to have different view points; it’s ok to disagree.  Not every disagreement is hate speech or tone policing so we need to stop accusing folks of it when it’s not. Not every episode of poor home training related behavior is malicious. There is room for grace and the need to take advantage of teachable moments.

As mom to Hope, I try to teach her grace and how to respond to these moments appropriately, even as I quietly bemoan the need to do so. I hope that others are doing the same with their kids.

I often feel so stretched parenting Hope alone, but I know that my commitment to civic engagement is going to deepen as a result of this election. I need to start going to more community meetings, school board meetings, Board of Supervisors meetings, and the like. I need to be sure decisions concerning me and my family are not made without me.

This election is a sign for me to continue to work to create the world I want for me and my daughter. It is and always should’ve been a call to action for those of us who resist oppression in any form.

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President whomever, certainly plays a role in that, but #realtalk, that kinda change starts at home and in your hood.

 


Vote Your Conscience

It’s pretty rare for me to engage in direct political conversation on this space, and I gotta admit that this is really deliberate for me. I live in the DC metro area; we breathe politics here. I was a lobbyist for almost 10 years, with an undergrad degree in government and politics. Politics are my occupational first love. What’s happening in the US right now almost defies words. I often imagine that it is like watching the midpoint of the fall of a great republic, which is shocking given that we’ve survived a lot of other bull ish.

I know who I’m voting for next month, but I won’t publicly endorse the candidate or name them since I do think that it’s a deeply personal decision, especially this year. (Of course, if you follow me on twitter, you already know who I’m voting for.) So many of us are making voting decisions based on who we can tolerate more and hate less.

This is my first election as a parent, and things are different.  And in this election, that is an understatement. The crazy in the American election season this year is unprecedented.

Like many parents, so much of my political decision making is influenced by the future I want for my daughter. But even though this is my first political rodeo as a parent, I’m still voting in part based on who I think will eff up my daughter’s future less.

I am Black woman, raising a young Black daughter.

I’m guessing that you *should* be able to figure out who I’m not voting for in a few weeks.

Yesterday I was popping around a few adoption support groups when I came across a post by a parent who was defending her support of the GOP presidential nominee despite having children of color (though for me the argument could be made to just stop the sentence with “children.”). She posted about how she hated Clinton more. I get that.

What I couldn’t wrap my head around was the tacit acceptance of racist, homophobic, misogynistic, rapey, ablest, gutter language spouted by a candidate that has emboldened some pretty awful citizens to come out from their hiding places. I also couldn’t understand how that reality could be reconciled with the desire to raise children of color, or girls, or special needs children or just children to live in a safe country that values and embraces them.

What about our shared values?

Maybe we don’t have shared values.

Maybe we never did.

For me, ultimately, this is what a lot of the national discourse has been reduced to.

I’m not nearly as afraid of terrorists or undocumented immigrants or increased taxes or Russia as I am about my black daughter potentially being killed by American police, being sexually assaulted, being marginalized and bullied at her school, being accosted on the street by some crazy racist, sexist person who makes her feel threatened.

For me, the devil beyond the borders isn’t nearly as frightening as the one within them.

With each week, the discourse worsens and my fear escalates.

I genuinely worry for our collective futures.

I worry for our children.

I worry for my beautiful black daughter.

I worry for Hope.

I’m not naïve. I don’t expect everyone to vote the way I will. I don’t believe that we all share the same beliefs and values. I don’t believe that everyone hopes the best for me or people who look like me—both Black and a woman.

But I still hope that people will invest some critical thought into their votes.

If you’re really ok with a candidate who believes cozying up to White supremacists is ok, then vote your conscience.

If you’re really ok with a candidate who believes “locker room” talk includes descriptions of sexual assault, then vote your conscience.

If you’re really ok with a candidate who blasts his sexual assault accusers but can still fix his mouth to bring up the affairs of a candidate’s husband as though they are more legitimate and/or somehow different than his own narrative, then vote your conscience.

If you’re really ok with a candidate who openly mocks women’s looks and bodies and believes in punishing women in for having a voice, then vote your conscience.

If you’re really ok with a candidate who openly mocks those with disabilities, vote your conscience.

If you’re really ok with a candidate who conflates being Black with living in hellish inner cities, then vote your conscience.

If you’re really ok with a candidate who doesn’t include men and adoptive families in his family leave plan, then vote your conscience.

If you’re ok with a candidate who practiced housing discrimination, then vote your conscience.

If you’re ok with a candidate who has defended the killing of unarmed people of color by law enforcement, then vote your conscience.

If you’re ok with a candidate who cloaks himself in religion when it is expedient, specifically when there is a need to be forgiven, then vote your conscience.

If you’re ok with a candidate who lives on Twitter but doesn’t disavow a hashtag like #repealthe19th then vote your conscience.

If you’re ok with a candidate who embraces voters who actually wear racist and sexist paraphernalia with his name emblazoned on it, then vote your conscience.

If you’re ok with a candidate who waxes philosophical about a time when America was great and various citizens were legally subjugated, then vote your conscience.

I could go on; there is so much more.

Vote your conscience.

Or not.

It’s hard to focus on actual policy when the mud is so thick.

I need a shower after just comprising a list.

I don’t suggest that there isn’t mud on all sides, certainly there is, and none of it makes me excited about this election. But again, my fears are more immediate, more personal.

So, this post isn’t an endorsement of anyone, but it is a call for folks to really think about what their vote means, what their conscience is really saying to them, and what they really want for the future of America.

For me, I want something different. I don’t have many options, but I definitely, definitely want something different.

I hope you do too.

 

 


Black Exceptions

I am emotionally exhaustipated.

Hope has returned home from band camp, and we I am trying to get us back on our normal routine.  At about hour 38 this morning—not even 2 full days back home—I lost my ish dealing with Hope’s morning lag time that seriously makes me late for work every MORNING! I was an episode of Snapped and it wasn’t pretty.

I’m pretty keyed up and I’m not proud of it. Just lost in the throes of mourning, sadness, grief, and anger over recent events. I returned to work this morning and set about catching up and reaching out to colleagues in locations affected by death and protests. There is just a dark cloud of messy emotions.

Over the weekend I spent a fair amount of time on social media and ended up pruning my lists of friends and acquaintances. I typically keep the security settings fairly high on my personal FB page, only those close to me really get to see me unedited and uncensored. Amazingly, a lot of people don’t seem to bother self-censoring, editing or using security settings to do it for them.

I tend not to accept friend requests from colleagues or students, and if I do, most go on a special list of folks who get to see very little of what I post. #boundaries

So, if you follow social media you know that these spaces are still rather frenzied over the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and the five fallen officers in Dallas. There is an enormous amount of noise.

Some of that noise included “friends” and colleagues posting all kinds of tom-foolery about the shootings. There were racist memes, pro-murder/lynching memes, articles from less than reputable “news” (I use the term so loosely here) sites about how awful those black men were. There was absence of civility for a diverse group of folks, unless of course you think you are exclusively among like-minded “friends.”

Then there were the “friends of friends” who posted all kinds of utter non-sense on their “friends’” walls, which because of their lack of privacy settings, turns up in my newsfeed too.

The trauma don’t stop, won’t stop. Ugh!

It’s ok to disagree on many things, really it is. But the willingness to spew venom and nastiness into the world is just beyond me. How angry and discontented with your life do you have to be to do that? Is that really what you want to spend time doing with your life? You’d rather post a racist meme than share a silly sloth video? #Iloveslothvideos

Hate is such a hot and bothered emotion. Meh.

As I scrolled and scrolled through newsfeeds and timelines looking at the mess, I thought to myself, “Self, what would happen if I “liked” any of these posts?”

What would their reaction be?

Would they feel any shame?

Would they think I was really that self-loathing?

Would they realize that I got a peek behind their personal curtain to see who they really were?

And what would their reaction be when we saw each other at an event or meeting?

Would they expect that we would still be cool? Did they expect me to just let it slide as a momentary lapse into episodic racism?

Or would they think that somehow I would understand that they weren’t talking about ME, because well, I’m different. I’m the exception to the rules that governed their racism.

I started slashing and burning through friend lists on Facebook and announced that I was doing so. I don’t mind divergent opinions, but I have limits on acceptable levels of foolery.

This idea that I might be different is troubling.

Do I defy their stereotypes? Do I exceed their low expectations? Is it because, well, I’m one of like 3 black folks that they know personally and so that makes me different? Is it because I can code switch? Is it because I don’t scare them? Is it because I don’t make them uncomfortable? Is it because I don’t make a big deal about their whiteness and often maleness and don’t indict them on what I see as deeply rooted, systemic racism, sexism and ageism in the community I work in? Or is it because I’m just not really black, or what they perceive as black so they can just recategorize me into the reserved space for special, super cool black folk who will take you to, and keep you safe at, the soul food restaurant when you come to town so that you can say you lived a little while you were on that business trip? #seriousprivilegeatwork

I’d like to think I’m a bad ass, that I’m exceptional. I think I’m good at what I do. I work hard; I always have. I think that I’ve benefitted from good mentoring, from good counseling, from occasionally affirmative action to just give me a much needed chance to show my work and from extensive hard work.

But the problem with being “exceptional” in this case is that it allows people to justify having a poor view of folks who look just like me. It gives folks an out when they really need to squirm on the hook.

It also puts an enormous amount of pressure on me to live up to the Magic Standard—be everything, do everything and make everyone exceptionally comfortable while doing it.

It’s impossible to do that. Black exceptionalism is not the move. #blackexcellenceistho

So no one who thought we were close enough to post something off the wall and allow it to permeate my newsfeed got a pass this weekend. Nope, not today folks, not today.

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As Jesse Williams said, “The thing is though, that just because we’re magic, doesn’t mean we’re not real.”

jesse-williams


Thoughts on Infertility

I wonder if I will ever stop mourning my fertility. I imagine that there will always be a tiny part of me that will be sad and wonder what if…

What if I had done something differently?

What if I had tried to have a child earlier in life?

What if I hadn’t been selfish in loving my single, child-free life for so long?

What if I could’ve done something to prevent the surgery that closed the door on my fertility?

What if I could’ve, would’ve, should’ve…

What if.

As if, it would’ve made any difference. It probably wouldn’t have made any difference. But the thing is, I will always wonder, and I will always have feelings about it.

Someone close to me recently announced her pregnancy. Gosh, I’m so excited for her. Thrilled. Over the moon. She wondered whether this day would ever come.

I’m so glad it did.

But the news of her pregnancy…oh dear. I hate admitting the jealousy I feel. I hate feeling like I both want to hear more and hear nothing about it. I hate feeling alone in not being able to emote anything but joy around the subject as though it is the only emotion I feel.

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Joy & Sadness     Giphy.com

I both delight and loathe the gushing in our circle about the pregnancy. I can’t help but compare it to the emotion exhibited when I announced my adoption of Hope. It’s not the same. I don’t have much to compare it to, so I don’t know if it’s supposed to be the same. I feel like it should be the same, and yet, it isn’t and that brings its own set of feelings.

I also wonder if I really, really did not give myself enough time to mourn. I moved to adoption phase only 6 months after my invasive surgery and only 3 months after my specialist told me that a pregnancy wasn’t in the cards for me. I often wonder if I had it to do again, would I take more time?

I don’t know.

I know that so much of adoption can be about timing, what if I missed Hope? Or Hope missed me or we missed each other?

Right now, with all that I’m enduring with Hope, this unanticipated mourning of my fertility feels like the thing that has drawn blood. It’s the event that has pushed me right over the edge of sadness. It’s the thing that took my damaged, cracked heart and crushed it.

And, really it has little to do with the pregnancy announcement, it has everything to do with the fact that I will never make one. My body won’t do one of the things that it’s supposed to be able to do.

And I can’t fix that either. It just is. And like much going on these days, it sucks.

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It keeps raining here in the DC area. It’s doing nothing to improve my mood these days. The gloomy, overcast days…well, I can’t tell if they are reflecting me or if I’m reflecting them.

Sigh.

I’m headed for a change of scenery this weekend with work travel—cherry country. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to shake off some of these feelings while there. They are pretty heavy these days. Some work travel is probably just the thing I need to turn this frown upside down.

 


Good and Scary

I loathe doing trigger warnings on a space that I created for myself, but well, I rarely bring politics into this space and today I will. So, if you’re not down with reading this perspective, you might want to move on right about 5ish paragraphs in.

Surprisingly, Hope and I are doing well. Things are good. Things are so good that last weekend, I took Hope and a family friend (also an adoptee) roller skating, then on Saturday Hope went to a church event (alone), that was followed by lunch with the church friends (sans me), led part of the teen service at the church we attend (I was the geeky parent taking pictures proudly) and then hung out for 4—that’s FOUR—amazeballs hours at the home of a friend from school (that’s right, she finally got an invite to go hang) AND said friend even brought her home for me.

All of this meant that I got to become one with my new magic couch…alone. I snuggled on my couch with Yappy in a state of ecstatic glee.

Last weekend was nothing short of epic.

I’m hopeful again. I’m feeling better; I finally named the new car—Polished Polly. The couch…oooohh the couch, seriously, I can’t rave about the couch enough.

I’m on a business trip, which means I get a bit of time away. Hope gets a bit of time from me. Tonight when I get home, things will be all lovely for a day or two.

Things ae good.

And things are scary. Like, seriously boogey man scary. Trump? Really? Really? I west coast woke up this morning to find that this dude has now won the Nevada caucus.

As a Black woman, this dude’s misogynism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia…it sickens me and makes me very afraid. What actually scares me more is that followers pride themselves in having found a candidate who says all the awful things they haven’t the balls to say out loud in pleasant, mixed company. The fact that he has struck a chord with so many people helps me understand even more why I must be vigilant about my daughter’s safety.

I already worry about the police—who are jumping on the bandwagon by boycotting Beyonce because she has hot sauce in her bag (swag), slays and had the audacity to include a video shoot that asked cops to stop killing us.

I worry about how easily policy decisions that result in unpotable water and massive amounts childhood lead poisoning. #Flint

I was working yesterday, doing a meeting about diversity in professional schools. Someone asked me if I thought there was really more racial incidents occurring or if they just got more attention? I replied that I thought it was both.

What I really wanted to say is, “Does it really matter?” If there aren’t as many, but there is more attention, that only shows what people like me live through every day. If there are more events and less attention why the hell wouldn’t I be afraid of an uptick in hate crimes, especially with no more attention because no one cares?

Seriously, WTF? It kinda sucks all the way around, right?

So to have a candidate whose hate is being legitimized with each primary or caucus scares me and it makes me wary of my fellow citizens.

This doesn’t let many of the other GOP candidates off the hook; but few of them scare me as much as Trump. And while I am a self-avowed Democrat; I’m not really all that thrilled with my choices there either. I don’t believe in dynasties, even if it would mean breaking the gender ceiling and I love idealism, but there’s a reason it’s not practical—because it’s simply not.

Super Tuesday is next week and it could really serve to lock  down our choices for November. I am hopeful, prayerful even, that my country cares about my safety and the safety of my family as African Americans. I am hopeful that other choices are made. I am hopeful that the articulation of fears like mine don’t just echo in the darkness, but that they mean something.

My fear of a Trump presidency is real. My fear that an increasing number of people buy into his rhetoric and his “I know I am but what are you?” routines have a gut check about kindness, humanity, compassion and true American ideals and not our faux exceptionalism. I hope that we all have moments of awakening that allow us to transcend the political rubbish and allow us to make real decisions about our fellow citizens.

There’s no endorsement in this post, just a lot of questions and a lot of fears for our country’s future. Please remember people like me. Remember Hope. Think about us as we all make our decisions.

Things are good and scary these days.


New Car, New Chapter

Yesterday I bought an SUV.

Other than the exterior color, it’s really amazing. It’s fully loaded and pretty lux. But the truth is that while I am happy about the new car, and new car smell and all of that, I kinda hate my new car.

Or rather, I hate what it represents, which is another piece of pre-Hope identity kicked to the wayside.

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In recent months I’ve really embraced motherhood and really tried to meet Hope where she is. We both have benefited from this effort.

But there’s something about this car purchase that sits on me like a giant thud.

Yesterday morning I was the owner (free and clear by the way) of an adorable little red Mini Cooper that I called, the Chili Pepper. “Chili” was my dream car. I’d wanted a Mini for years, but really never thought I’d get one. I’d had a sports car right out of college and then I had a cute sporty wagon. So when I started my doctoral program, I took the plunge and headed to the Mini dealership, where I fell in love with Chili.

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I loved that car. Me and Chili had seen a good chunk of the east coast. Like all of my previous cars she was a stick shift. and I loved the handling and the power this little car channeled. She was distinctive with her little personalized plates. People would walk by Chili and  smile. People would ride in Chili and marvel at just how awesome she was. When Hope moved here, my ownership of Chili was definitely an indicator of my potential “coolness.” She was different.  Did I mention that I loved her?

I owned Chili for 5 years, almost to the day. Her warranties were just about up and repairs and upkeep can be pricey on Minis.  She’d just endured a repair that would’ve been about $6K but for the fact that it was covered under the warranty.

Then there was Hope’s instrument; she plays a tenor sax. The dang thing took up the whole boot trunk. If I ever offered another band kid a ride they couldn’t be from the low brass or percussion sections, that’s for sure. And Hope plans to take guitar lessons this year so there’s really a need for more room.

Finally, there’s the trip to Boston and Martha’s Vineyard of 2015. I had to get a roof bag to accommodate all of the luggage. We stayed at the sexy Boston W hotel for a few days, and when we drove up, we looked like the Beverly Hillbillies traveling in a clown car. It worked, but it was clear that it wasn’t optimal and that something was going to have to change. I was simply too cute to look like a traveling vagabond on vacation. The faces of the uber hot valets when they saw up pull up invoked all kinds of shame.

Sigh.

So yesterday, I cleaned Chili out and sold her out for an SUV—a Nissan Rogue. It’s gray, which I hate, but it is what it is since the deal was just something I couldn’t walk away from.

So, what’s the rub?

Losing Chili for a much needed family car is another way my life has changed since becoming a mom. It was the end of another chapter. It was another thing I gave up for the good of my family.

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I don’t regret it, but I’m so sad, so so sad. I’m all in my feels. Cause I’m a wee bit selfish and petty.

I knew trading Chili in would be hard for me, but I teared up as I stood in CarMax, looking at her one last time, reminiscing about our good times and how I was sad to close this chapter on my pre-Hope single, footloose and fancy free life.

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Since then, I’ll admit that I’ve had two all out snot-riddled sobbing sessions since coming home with the new car.

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Grief is a beeotch and it hits you in the worst ways at the worst times.

I know it’s not about the car; it really is about what the car represents.

Now, instead of this distinctive cute car, I’ve got a great car that is just like everyone else’s great and reasonable car. . Heck I’ve already tried to break into two other cars like it while shopping ,and it’s not been quite 24 hours since I signed the papers.

I always knew where Chili was in a parking lot. <snif>

And did I mention that Hope is unimpressed?  The source of disinterest in part stems from the fact that I deviated from my intended purchase plan.  In essence, she’s salty because I didn’t buy the car I originally intended to test drive and purchase and plan changes generally don’t make her feel safe. So, there’s all that drama left to unpack too.

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The new car is new and different in a cool way, but it’s another change, it’s another accommodation required of this life, that frankly I didn’t give a lot of thought about until about 6 months ago. Another naive parenting pothole for me, I guess.

I will fall in love with the new car. It will get a name and develop a personality, and I will learn to find her in the parking lot.  In time the new car will allow me to cart Hope and some friends around, take her to summer band camp and maybe even take her away to college. This will be a great chapter. I know it will.

And in time, I will be able to remember Chili and our time together and not be sad. I’ll remember it for what it is—a chapter in this life—and I will think about when I’ll be able to get another Mini. It will happen, and we’ll all be happy.

Until then, I’m a bit sappy about this required change.


Never Have I Ever…

Needed to vacuum at 7:30am before becoming a mother.

Wanted band seasons to end so badly.

Been so excited that Hope wants to go *away* to band camp next summer—several band camps actually.

Thought I would restrict Hope’s primary cereal choices to Kellogg’s Special K with Red Berries or Raisin Brand Crunch.

Thought I’d make Yoda so proud with Jedi mind tricks, by my mind game is #strong.

Needed a grown up vacation so bad.

Wanted or needed to figure out how to cultivate new friendships with a bunch of cliquish band parents.

Thought finding Flavor-Ice plastics all over the house would annoy me so very much.

Thought I would deal with hoarding.

Thought I’d sleep with a dog under the covers again after The Furry One, but then there was #Yappy.

See diversity issues through new eyes as an adoptive parent.

Faced the idea of having a primary focus on social development rather than academic performance.

Read so many journal articles on parenting children of trauma.

Thought I’d be so dang tired.

Contemplated the convergence of my many identities—Black, woman, sliding in to middle age, educated, single mom, adoptive parent, professional.

Missed so many deadlines.

Gone this long without reading a book for pleasure.

Drank so much wine.

Spent so much time looking for good wines with screw tops because I simply can’t be bothered with finding the corkscrew.

Been told my blood pressure is elevating.

Bought *this size* clothing.

Worked so hard outside of work.

Tried so hard to find time for self-care.

Been so frustrated that I can come home from a day and a half business trip to find a sink full of dirty dishes spilling on to the counters and stove, a dog with a less than clean bottom, the new bottle of juice empty, a strange pile of tooth picks on the coffee table, dog chewed glue sticks on the floor, Chinese takeout condiment packets all over the kitchen, dining room and coffee table and a dog who seemed extraordinarily happy that I was home just before midnight.

Actually paid a nanny—one of our best nannies—for the previously described welcome home without being really pissed.

Thought I’d take my teenage daughter’s narcissism so personally.

Thought I’d have the wonderful relationship with my boo, Elihu, that I do as a single parent.

Believed that I had the capacity to grind out this life like I do.

Believed that I could love like I do.

Believed that I could be as angry as I get sometimes.

Believed that my life could be full of so many decisions where there were no apparent upsides, just rocks and hard places.

Learned so much about invisible disabilities.

Had so many epiphanies about life.

Realized just how privileged I was growing up.

Realized just how much I took for granted before adopting Hope.

Had to sneak away to buy things for myself.

Had to carefully curate my online persona like I do now.

Been so frustrated about racism and sexism as I am now that I have a daughter—I was always frustrated but on a scale of 1-10, I’m now on 50.

Been so annoyed by how teen magazines spend so much time coaching girls about how to get a boyfriend/love interest.

Spent so much time trying to figure out how blended/complicated family structures can thrive.

Wanted so much out of life for someone else the way that I do for Hope.

Spent so much time thinking about what the second half of my life will look like.

Spent so much time thinking about how Hope will shape what the second half of my life will be like-who will she evolve into? What will she choose to do academically? Professionally? Where will she live? Will I be a grandmother? Will I ever breakdown and start shopping at Chico’s because I associate it with grandmotherhood?

Considered thinking about the need to move from my beloved condo like I do now.

Daydreamed about what living in a larger space with a yard would be like before now.

Spent so much time thinking about my personal politics and how adoption from foster care and motherhood have shaped them.

Spent so much time thinking about my own religious beliefs and needs before feeling rejected by my former church.

Felt *this* frustrated trying to figure out what kind of house of worship will be the best fit for me and Hope.

Questioned organized religion as much as I do now after being told that Hope and I don’t fit the “motif” of a cute family seeking a public dedication to the Holy Homeboy.

Never have I ever felt like my body betrayed me like I did when I realized I would never birth a biological child.

Confessed just how deeply that revelation hurt me because there are simply no words that can describe it.

Believed that life was fair.

Believed that we all get the same, equitable shot at the life we really desire—some of us have to work doubly, infinitely harder to get there.

Believed that a good fight wasn’t worth it.

Envisioned that this would be the life that I would have.

Been disappointed with it in total—there are some episodes I would change, but it’s all pretty good when viewed holistically, I guess.

Not been thankful for what I have, what I pursue, what I have achieved.

Not acknowledged the folks who have pushed me along, even if their pushes have been painful or served motivation to simply prove them wrong.

Not been grateful for my haters. #theyseemerolling #theyhatin’

Not been without flaws.

Not done my absolute best, sometimes to my own detriment.

Not been brutally real.

Not been authentic.

Not been just me.

Your turn…sound off.


The Truth about Yappy

Yappy is an adorable little terror, and a lot of that is my fault.

When I sought out the company of a new pet last winter, I searched for a maltipoo mix. The Furry One (RIP) was a shih tzu/maltese mix, and I wanted a similar mixed breed type to cuddle. I was expecting something like this.

Instead I ended up with what seems to be a yorkie-poo, whose great grandpa/ma might’ve, could’ve, should’ve, would’ve been a maltese…#maybe. #probablynot

Him cute though…but a tad scruffy and funny looking.

Don’t get me wrong I adore Yappy, who incidentally doesn’t yap much at all.

I’ve never had a terrier before, so I’m getting used to Yappy’s general temperament. Let’s see, he’s super smart, super affectionate, suffers from separation anxiety triggered by as little as me going to the bathroom, generally always happy, possessive, curious, stubborn, demanding and mischievous.

Oh and he hides stuff everywhere.

Hidden chewys in the couch cushions. smh

I have lost several pairs of shoes to his chewing. This weekend he ate the wrist band on my sports watch. Hope has lost nearly every hair tie that has fallen to the floor since Yappy has lived with us. Recently he got into a box of panty liners, and well, he shredded them to make his lair (under my bed) more comfortable.  Sigh.

I had him in training but the schedule during the week was kind of grueling, so I took the summer off. Yappy, despite full well knowing the commands and what’s expected of him, has reverted back to his pre-training wild ways. #feral

This weekend while being left alone for a spell at my parents’ house, Yappy managed to climb up on their kitchen table. #hangsheadinshame #Yappyhasnohometraining

Gotdern it! I should submit him to that dog shaming tumblr site. SMH!!!

Yappy is incorrigible.

He at least has the good sense to run under the bed when I screech, “Bad Dog!” Of course he pops out moments later with a happy-go-lucky bounce in his step and wagging tail. #sideeye

I wrote a couple of months ago that I seemingly had more patience with Yappy than with Hope, which is the source of much rivalry between the two. My patience is running out with both of these characters!  It’s one thing to have a surly teenager who has some post-trauma, psycho-social issues. It’s another thing to have that and a cute but unwieldly puppy running wild.

But gosh, when those little brown eyes look up at me…#weak.

My terrier is a terror.

Who am I kidding? My life is a bit of a terror!


Girl Bye

I am not here for Rachel Dolezal.

I am not here for her brand of blackface.

I am not here for the flippant and co-opted use of the term “transracial” to explain her choice to identify as Black.

I am not here for the ability to put down and pick up privilege at will and at the expense of an entire culture.

I am not here for a faux brand of “keeping it real.”

I am not here for the appropriation of color and culture.

So, check it, this week the parents of Rachel Dolezal, president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, went on local TV and blew up her spot as a White woman who’s been posing as racially Black for nearly a decade. Apparently, Ms. Dolezal has a special affinity for Black folk, culture, skin, hair, etc, etc.; so much so, that she simply put it on.

No really: She. Put. Black. On.

hellnah

She put it on like it was a sweater and carried a culture and history around in her handbag. She constructed a back story, you know, “of the struggle,” complete with a fake Black father. She darkened her skin. She permed her hair and/or scored some fabulous curly fro wigs, dreads and braids. She taught Black history. She painted Black and Brown bodies and stories, some she claimed to be autobiographical. She fought the power with a fro and an afro pick.

Oooooh weeee. Wooosaaaaa.

That’s what’s really interesting to me. She’s “committed to the cause,” with a clear interest, personally and academically, in Black life and Black issues; she has a compelling CV dedicated to civil rights, equity and inclusion. I’m here for White allies. I’m here for White folk who take a personal and academic interest in the African diaspora.

And I’m all down for inclusion…authentic inclusion.

But…I can’t with this chick. I cannot.

I’m not sure what her deal is; honestly I don’t even care, but this idea that you can just decide one day that because you like a culture so much that you’ll just…become a member…

#nope #memberapplicationdenied

#allthenopesinnopeville

But Rachel wasn’t about that life, she wanted a different connection, a different identity, so she just created one. Really girl? Really?

REALLY?

It takes mega-privilege, epic-privilege, next-level kinda privilege and serious cajones to just recreate yourself as a different race, especially since you still could just drop that identity when it suits or benefits you, and you know that folks who you knew “before you were Black” have receipts.

Rachel Dolezal is a liar, plain and simple. She’s co-opted stories like mine, being a Black woman, and actually profited from it. I just can’t!

I am not here for her foolery.

I’m not tripping over her being president of the NAACP—be an ally of any shade and be a leader—I don’t care; I’m tripping that she created a life and a set of experiences out of thin air, simply because she wanted to, because she “felt” Black, because ultimately “we’re all from Africa..”

Gurl… #smh

Race, ethnicity and identity are complicated things; they are. And lots of folks struggle to construct their racial identity, struggle to figure out what and how to acknowledge contributing heritages, struggle to either find a box to fit in or create a new box for themselves. And generally I’m not one to get too huffy on how people identify, but I do have a problem with racial and cultural appropriation, and I believe this is what Ms. Dolezal has engaged in. I’ve got a problem when you construct a whole false reality based on another race and culture. Where’s the respect in that? Imitation isn’t always flattering and putting on Blackness isn’t either.

Ms. Dolezal is expected to address the controversy in what is probably expected to be the most interesting NAACP meeting in recent history. I’m curious about what she will say. I’m curious about how and why she chose Blackness. I’m curious to see how the world responds (especially Black Twitter; I’m guessing the clowning/dragging will continue, just head there and search #AskRachel and commence to cackling).

I’ll watch, ‘cause I’m petty like that. But I’m guessing there is nothing she’s going to come up with that’s going to get drafted to my team.

I’m not claiming Rachel. #nopenopenope

I hope she puts that tube of self-tanner down and unleashes that sew-in and lives as I do, in her own skin, with some visits with a professional somewhere.

I am not here for Rachel Dolezal.

#girlbye


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