Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thirty minutes swimming, thirty minutes walking, 224. I feel great.

Free write for Wednesday, October 29

It's 7:29 pm and I am at home. I'm not sure about how I feel. I think I'm sad. There's no reason why. I'm not sad. I'm mad. Just a little. I'm back on the medication and the pills do help me sleep. But I need them to promise me. I fool myself into believing that being back on meds means the sinking will stop. It doesn't. I get so excited and I believed I could take on the whole world. I can do everything. I can edit a book and write a book and do my homework and hire an assistant and create a new chapbook and sew a dress and make a tote bag and edit my blog and teach a few classes and drive around the world in a day. I can't though.

The doctor told me to try taking the sleeping pills every other day. I like her. But she may as well ask me to sleep every other day.

The sinking after the high is the worst. It's not the worst. I hate that word. Worst. I don't ever want to know that the worst is. It is hard though. It is. Because I feel it coming and I pray and scratch and claw but I can't seem to stop it from coming.

I called a friend. Mostly to feel alive. I think I needed my voice to be heard by someone else. When I check on people it means they matter. I think I wanted to matter at the same time.

My insurance will only pay for one sleeping pill a night. Sometimes I take two. I take them early because I rest  better when it's early. I took the pills with the other one. It's working I think. I think. I think. I think. I'm tired of hearing myself say I think. What do I know? Know. Know.

I want meat. I'm craving crunchy bacon. Why am I craving crunchy bacon? I don't want to go and get anything. Can someone bring me crunchy bacon? Or crispy chicken? I don't even like bacon, or chicken really. But I want some. And super well done. Can someone burn some chicken and bring it to me?

I need a break. I need to not have anything to do for a week. But I have a lot to do this week. I want to cancel this show on Saturday. I want to not go to either of my classes tomorrow. I want to not go to my evening class on Monday. I want to not, not, not right now. I want to lie in bed for a week and eat crunchy bacon and drink orange juice and whiskey. I need a hotel room. I want to not be near other people right now. Except my son. I want to hear his stories.

I have to get some food. When I take these pills without food I get sick. I want to go to sleep. I want a wine cooler. I want grits and butter and crunchy bacon.

Gratitude

I am thankful for waking up this morning
For the energy to go swimming
I am thankful for being dressed for swim already
I am thankful for love and peace in my life
For my son
My friends and family
I am thankful for being thankful

Monday, October 27, 2014

It's 3:30 am and I am at Reagan National Airport headed to North Carolina and then to my final destination (for this trip) which is Los Angeles. It's been a great trip. Much work to do at home so I'm looking forward to being there.

I'm always the arrive at the airport two hours ahead of time woman so I'm here. My flight is at 5:40. But hey, it gives me time to get some writing in and I still have much work to do on the anthology I'm working on for my students.

Starbucks could be open though, and that would be cool. But not yet though, Dang.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

It's 4:47 pm and I am working in my hotel room. The WomanPreach event for this session ended last night. Overall it was great. It always is. My life is always changed in some good way after being in the presence of such phenomenal women.

Now I'm working on an anthology for the three classes I teach. I'm trying to have this completed by Tuesday night and I hope I do, but...

As it turns out asking for an assistant was a great idea. Someone agreed to get my stories printed and ready for me for my Monday night class every week. Huge relief. The classes I teach end at 2:18 and my class starts at 4:30 and getting some kind of rest and prepared for class and making copies has proven to be a bit of a joke.

Also someone else has agreed to assist me on the kagillion administrative things in my businesses and personal life. Another huge relief. The plan is that this will give me room to further create and generate. Mo' money!

I know the post is mad choppy. Whatever.

I got out for about twenty minutes today. I went out to get a latte from Starbucks and ran into a vendor's post across the street. I had to stop. I met a cool sista who was also a vendor. Her name is Maliquekah. She gave me permission to mention her on my blog. I wish I had my phone with me while I was out because I would have taken a photo of her and her beautiful jewelry. I didn't though. Anyway, she asked me to mention to all the D.C. folks who also might be readers here that every Sunday after 4 pm at the Eastern Market on 7th and Pennsylvania they have bags of veggies for only a dollar! Yep.

I'm trying to rush a bunch of work in right now because my cab is coming tomorrow at 3 am. There's packing to do. A bath to take. Why do I love baths so much? And rest to get because I get into L.A. at 10 am and then have to go straight to work. That's cool though. I'm super thankful for a friend picking me up from the airport instead of me having to wait on the shuttle to my car. I'm saying yes yes yes to ways my life can be easier.

It's water time. Plus I'm going to gobble down these grapes and turn in super early.

Love y'all. I do.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

In Washington D.C for WomanPreach this weekend

How many people get mislabeled when fighting for justice? - Valerie Hugsy Bridgeman

You can't talk about what you yourself are not burned by - Valerie Hugsy Bridgeman

If your preaching isn't about real people, who are you preaching for? -Valerie Hugsy Bridgeman

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rest Angel

Angel Hooper was in the first grade
First grade
Was
Was
No first grader should be referred to in the past tense
Angle Hooper went to a 7-Eleven gas station to get bubble gum
With her father
Her father
It was Friday
That's what you do when you are six years old on Friday evenings
You go jogging and you get gum
You blow bubbles
Bubbles steel and pink and iron and shield
Jesus be bubble gum all around me every day
Someone in a passing vehicle
Shot into a Kansas City parking lot
Before Booker Hooper
Bubble gum buyer
Hand holder
Jogger
Father
Could pull her away
She was dead
Dead
Dead
A six year old black girl
With braids and ribbons
And smile
And baby teeth
And twinkle eyes
And back pack
But no gum
Is dead
Dead
Say dead out loud
Let your jaw scrape the cement
Do not pretty up this tragedy
Ask yourself why
Remind yourself that
Angel Hooper is your daughter and my daughter
Tell yourself that Angel is too young to be an angel
Do not pretty up this horror with metaphor
There is gum for sale
And a bullet lodged in the head of a six year old girl
Who was not the intended target
Target
Target
Not the intended target
Like that makes it easier
Please let this trigger you
Please cry and see her face
Please think about her mother
Her father
Her sister
Her brother
Her gum
Her jogging feet
Her falling body
Target
Target
Not the intended target
Like that makes it easier
I am so incredibly proud of my brilliant, beautiful, handsome, amazing son. His grades are wonderful and the human spirit he is makes me just wanna scream to the moon how blessed I am to be his mother. I am thankful for him. I am thankful to God. I am thankful for the team of amazing people who keep him on path. I am thankful for his father. I am thankful for his stepmother (even though I don't believe in steps and fractions. I am his mother and so is she). I am thankful for all of his grandparents. I am thankful for his aunts and uncles and cousins. His teachers and friends. I am thankful to those of you who hold him in prayer with me. I am thankful for the ancestors who whisper love in his ear. I love you Uraeus.
Artists in Trenton, New Jersey created a mural of Michael Brown, the eighteen year old young black man who was murdered by Ferguson, Missouri police. The artists got permission from authorities but the mural was taken down because Trenton police claimed the painting "sent the wrong message about community and police relations."

Seriously? The mural was of Michael Brown in graduation cap and blue gown with white stars and red and white flap. There was also a quote that said "Sagging pants is not probable cause."

What wrong message?
I am incredibly proud of my son, Uraeus! I just am. His grades are great and who he is as a human being is even greater!

Post racial what?

This is what happened in Killeen, Texas last May:

Officers were climbing through a window and four of them were hit, one was killed. Killer was Marvin Guy who had a criminal record and was suspected of possessing cocaine.

Five months earlier and a hundred miles away SWAT officer was shot during no knock raid when "Hank" Magee grabbed gun to protect himself and pregnant girlfriend with his .308 rifle.

Guy is black, Magee is white.

They found that Magee acted in self defense but prosecutors are seeking death penalty for Guy. He remains in jail.
Just watched a video of a seventeen years old black child sentenced to jail for thirty-five years for credit card fraud. This young man looks all of fourteen years old. My heart breaks again. Credit card fraud!!?! If he were white I don't believe this would be his fate. What hurts almost as bad as this baby is jail for like ever is reading comments by folks saying they don't care about his sentences and he should be in jail for so long because somebody's credit is messed up because of what he did. Thirty-five years though? Seriously, how much of this sentences is because he is black?
forty minute swim, two packs of Mentos, strawberry / banana smoothie, bag of popcorn, venti vanilla chai latte, 1 liter of water, 221 pounds.

Monday, October 20, 2014

I need an assistant

A good friend asked me if I had an assistant, what would I have him or her do? That is such a great question because while I feel like I'm twenty people in a day I haven't given real thought to what having help would look like. So let's pretend here. To begin, I'm open to a man or woman but so that I'm not saying him or her / her or she throughout this list, I'll simply say she  / her. Yes, I could do this all on my own. But that's my problem. I've been trying to do everything all on my own. Yes, I knew these "needs" are wants. A woman can dream right? Having these things would free up so much time for me to write, paint, be. Free up more time for me to generate much more income.

And even if I don't have an assistant, this is a good list for me to start at the top of and work my way down.

1. I need copies of my stories every Monday by 3:00 pm for my CLI class.
2. I need art shipped to customers.
3. I need books shipped to customers.
4. I need copies of my latest chapbook, DEAR URAEUS.
5. I need contracts sent off on time.
6. I need someone to check my email every day.
7. I need back up files of my blog.
8. I need someone to book Jaha and Friends! every other month.
9. I need someone to book Red Stories every month.
10. I need my chapbook, MY BUS STORIES printed.
11. I need my project A poem a day for 2013 printed.
12. I need my photos printed.
13. I need my meds picked up every month.
14. I'm moving and I need help packing and unpacking.
15. I need my art framed.
16. I need a new eye exam for new glasses.
17. I need a website.
18. I need my photos enlarged.
19. I need (want really) a booth at the Melrose Trading Post on Sundays with my framed photos.
20. I need more copies of my audio book THE SOUNDTRACK OF MY TOGETHER printed.
21. I need more copies of my cd SIMPLE LIKE A DAISY printed.
22. I need THE SOUNDTRACK OF MY TOGETHER printed as a book.
23. I need my camera out of the pawnshop.
24. I need my flash out of the pawnshop.
25. I need my iPad out of the pawnshop.
26. I need my lens out of the pawnshop.
27. I need my other iPad out of the pawnshop.
28. I need locations scouted for Jaha and Friends!
29. I need to pay Mo $50 for the books I already ordered.
30. I need (want really) month to month chapbooks of my blog.
31. I need someone to figure out how to get my bottom drawer in the chest.
32. I need to figure out how to open the spare tire lock in my vehicle.
33. I need an ESTY account for my art.
34. I need someone to manage the ESTY account for my art.
35. I need someone to video my shows for me and upload them to my YouTube channel.
36. I want someone to set up a vine channel for me.
37. I want someone to manage an instagram page for me for Red Stories.
38. I want a social media team for Red Stories and Jaha and Friends!
39. I want someone to manage the advertisement on my Facebook page for Red Stories and Jaha and Friends!
40. I want Jaha and Friends! to have its own Facebook page managed by someone else.
41. I want Red Stories to have its own Facebook page managed by someone else.
42. I want an assistant I trust, like and respect.
43. I want an assistant who trusts, likes and respects me back.
44. I want my art and photos on the cover of journals.
45. I want my art and photo designs on shower curtains.
46. I want my art hung in restaurants, offices, banks and hotels.
47. I want to get booked painting murals again.
48. I want to own my own laundry mat.
49. I need a printer.
50. I need a fax machine.
51. I need an accountant.
52. I need an attorney.
53. I need a storage unit.
54. I need to see a dentist.
55. I need my bike fixed.
56. I need headphones to talk on my phone in the car.
57. I need my shoes to go to the show repair shop.
58. Find out how much money I owe Guarantee Bank
59. Find out if I can get my eye exam with medical.
60. Make an eye exam appointment for me.
61. I need to find out how much money I own Grady Hospital.
62. I need someone to take these clothes to the thrift store once a week.

Packing for D.C.
Glad it's getting cold.
How am I gonna fit all this in two bags?
Some things with have to stay.
What can I wear twice?
Why do I hate checking in luggage so much?

I need a belt.
I need to get my nails done. They look hideous.
I need socks. Why don't I have socks?
I need a bigger bag. CHECK
Remember to pack meds.
Cds CHECK
Journals CHECK
Poetry
iPad
Toothbrush
Travel toothpaste
Hat
Makeup CHECK
Phone
Phone charger
iPad charger
Swimsuit CHECK
Flip flops
Coat
Scarf
Underwear
Cash
Ids CHECK
Sunglasses
Pen CHECK

I knew I had a bigger bag, found it.

I'm forgetting something. I'm sure.

Go food shopping for Uraeus.

One hour swim, strawberry / banana smoothie, plus chicken cubes with beans with Spanish rice with avocado and light sour cream, plus three bigole glasses of water, 222 pounds.

Sunday, October 19, 2014



Banana / strawberry smoothie, 3.2 mile walk, plus a forty minute swim, small salad, plus three cups water and vegetable and bean soup, 221 pounds.
Tonight is Red Stories night. See you there.
It's 4:27 pm and I am at home. 221.

The meds make me dizzy and nauseous. Yesterday was worse than today. Thankfully. Today I had a large strawberry / banana shake, went for a 3.2 mile walk, a forty minute swim, had a small / medium salad and am currently finishing a half gallon of water. The meds are designed to make me stiff. They did last time, they probably will again. That's why I'm swimming. I figure if I mix swimming and walking and eating lightly I'll also lose weight. The pills also make you gain weight. I don't get that part. But they do. Gaining weight, especially if you are already 221 will lead to diabetes. And, no thank you. Food is gross to me. I have no appetite. I'm not mad at that. I have to eat something though or I will get headaches. And, no thank you. I'm working on it.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

I just watched half a video by a black man who will get no mentions here. He was talking about the life and suicide of an amazing young woman named Karyn Washington who was a blogger. Karyn had her ups and downs and fell on really sad times after the death of her mother. Her mother had cancer for five years. The man. This black man. This idiot was talking about the problems that black women have. Of course he failed to mention that he was the problem that black women have. He said he went on a show and there were also two black women as guests and as he "Knew, the two black women were the ones causing the problems. They were sassy and disrespectful..." Um, sir, shut all the fucks up. They were probably responding to your dumb ass assumptions about what's wrong with us. He went on to mention in his video (the half that I could stomach), that he tells black men all the time not to settle (because you know, hanging with your sister and helping her through her struggles while she helps you through yours is you know...settling). Then he mentions that it's not that he's prejudiced against dark skinned women or anything because his wife is a dark skinned woman. Now, she's not black but for her ethnicity (he doesn't mention what that is) she would be considered dark. Here's a seat sir, have it.

Karyn Washington was a young woman who empowered many women, young, older and women from many different backgrounds. She was beautiful. She was comfortable in her skin. She had her days. We have our days. Idiot mentions that she didn't really believe the things she said to encourage other people and that he believes that she looked at herself every day and finally couldn't take it anymore because she just didn't love herself. I take that back, old man, don't have a seat, here's a bed, rest sir. Rest.

Then, because apparently I don't like myself today, I started reading the comments and the first one is from another asshole whose name will never grace my blog and he said that "dark skinned Mexicans are very beautiful and so are dark skinned women of other races but dark skinned black women are ugly as fuck" and went on to say that she did the world a favor by killing herself.

I'm starting to hate human beings again. Really.

Black women have enough to fucking deal with without this extra shit. What is our problem? All of you are our problem. Is there a pill for that? I'm gonna ask my doctor. She seems really smart. I bet she knows.


A couplet a day for September 2014 - day 6 - What's so

Head spinning, stomach turning
Mind resting, body leaning

A couplet a day for September 2014 - for day 5 - Work day

I'm working from home today
Have laptop and juice, tomorrow I'll play

A couplet a day for September 2014 - for day 4 - Side effects

At night the meds make me feel sleepy
In morning I am dizzy, creepy
It's 10:43 am and I am at home. 221. My weight is heading in the right direction. Down.

Last night was my first night on the new meds. Let's just say I had zero problems falling asleep. Now, I'm dizzy and a little nauseous this morning but that will wane soon.

I have mad assignments to catch up on and so I'll be working from home today. Still don't have any appetite. I've been filling up on organic protein drinks and lightly salted rice cakes and water. Oddly, that's been enough.

Gonna dive into some work now. Love y'all.

Oh, Red Stories is tomorrow.

P.s. Rats in doctor's best guess was due to pills I was taking to self medicate and how they interacted with each other and my body caused itching and scratching feeling. That on top of have very little sleep, rats made sense.

Friday, October 17, 2014

It's 10:57 am and I am at home. 225. The scale is tripping, or I have on too many clothes, or I have to pee, or my sandals are too thick because I was 222 last night. Is traffic fattening?

I just came back from my visit with doctor. I love her office. She has art and poetry from her patients. I like that. She feels nice, kind, understanding. I felt gotten, heard. I need that. I got my meds. I won't take them until after my class today. I am looking forward to that because a good nap is going to be great. Although I slept very well last night and the night before. I called Valerie and asked her to pray for me. She did. I think that helped.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Gratitude

I am thankful for life
For the sun
For waking up this morning
I am thankful for a good rest last night
I am thankful for my friends and family
For work
For art and poetry
I am thankful for words
And love
I am thankful for love

From Wednesday, October 15, 2014

It's 3:59 pm and I'm sitting in my vehicle in front of my home. The sun feels good on my face. My students are testing today so my poetry class is off today. This free write will be choppy and probably not make much sense at times. Oh well.

I need to write. Writing is my therapy. Last night was a hard night for me. Why do I write about hard nights and good nights and mania and depression and the crazies that come? Well, when I see my emotions all spelled out in little black letters I honor myself by defining myself. Also I gain a sense of being bigger than it. Whatever it is. I will not protect another one of my abusers with my silence. I might have manic and depressive stages, but they will never have me. Also, I wish there was a blog I could go to where someone with bipolar 1 (specifically) was listing intimate details of her (specifically) day. It's a lonely disease because people don't want to tell. And I get it. I don't want to tell most things. But, as Audre Lorde said, "Your silence will not protect you." My silence did not protect me. My silence does not make me feel better. It does not make me feel brave, or protected, or happy no one else knows. My silence eats at me. It controls me, or it would if I let it. My silence makes me feel ashamed. My silence alienates me from my friends and family and health care professionals. My silence hates me. Only something that does this, hates.

Besides, my voice is balm. My voice through writing, my speaking voice shedding light to stories that are hiding in the lining of my stomach and breasts. Writing helps me feel better. Writing helps me fly. There is not just one way I have to tell my story. I can take as long as I want to get to the point and then I never have to get there at all if I don't want. Am I alone? Does writing do this for you? Do you have something that does? What helps you fly? I want you to fly.

Sharing here on this blog gives me power. I feel like if I can share it then nobody holds it over me. Whatever it is. My mental health is not my dirty little secret. I can't live that way. Sharing is my way of telling you that you aren't alone. I don't believe that I'm the only one on this roller coaster.

I stay out late at night. On purpose. I like late dinners in cozy restaurants. I like Merlot in long stemmed wine glasses. On purpose. I like easy dinner company with people who make me smile, laugh, let me be quiet, comfortable. I have that.

After my appointment has been postponed three times now, by the medical facility, I have another appointment on Friday morning.

I have been off of my meds for about four months. I went off of them as responsibly as I knew how. I said Fuck it, and stopped taking them. I needed a break. My left hand needed a break from shaking so much. My body needed to feel SOMETHING. I needed to be able to wake up and feel alert before 11:30 am. I needed to not draw a blank so much. I needed to feel like myself again. I needed that to not be such a big thing to ask for.

From day one, I never felt my doctor. I hated the way she talked to me. The way she looked at me. The way her office was always, ALWAYS, all of the ways looking like a lightweight episode of Hoarders. I hated the way I had to stand my black body on her white scale and listen to her lecture me before she would give me a prescription. I hated the time I excitedly told her I bought a bike and she told me I needed to walk. This bitch had no give. Hated the way her LSU diploma hung crooked on the wall. Hated her German accent. Hated that she had a calendar on her wall that was seven years old. And that was crooked too. Even if the artist was Charles Bibbs. She didn't deserve his art in her trashy ass office with the dusty bookshelf and books laying all shoddy. I hated seeing her dirty lunch fork and framed pictures (plural) of her dog. No partner. No children. No colleagues, just Rex (or whatever). Hated the time she looked at me as I sat across from her and she said, with her arms spreading wider and wider, "Have you always been this way?" They way she talked at me like I were six thousand pounds. Let her tell it, I was a walking, breathing miracle. And even if I were, I wouldn't have deserved that. Hated the way she rolled her arms and hands down the contour of her rail thin body as she told me what I should be eating. I loved the way I started referring to her as that body rollin' bitch. I'm fucked up. Whatever. Oh, and I hated the way she said my name. "RRRRrrrrrobin." Hooker, it's Robin (Jaha if you nasty).

I began to feel anxious hours before seeing her. I started treating her like I were in my twenties and she were some dude I was fuckin'. Sucking in my stomach (although my stomach game in my twenties was mad sexy - fuck y'all). Checkin' my outfit. Doin' last minute walks around the block. Trippin'. When enough meds were in my system and I was sick enough of seeing Dr. G. and feeling the side effects (from her and the meds), I told myself it was a good enough time to take a break. So I did. Was eating better and walking more and out to prove to the world that those pills could stay in the bottom of the flood control.

As time went on I felt myself returning to me. Waking up earlier and earlier. FEELING. My hand stopped shaking. Life started being funny and awful again. But then I started crying again. I started talking too fast and being all jittery again. I started being way too happy again. Like going up so high on a roller coaster, the quick fall was soon to follow. Then the depression again. Then the self medicating again.

Currently I'm in, I can't do this by myself no mo'! stage. I have audio and tactile hallucinations of rats late at night. I'm constantly waking up patting my legs and feeling under my pillows. I need some movie on or I will hear the scratches from under my bed and pillow. My room is on the second floor yet I am uncomfortable with the windows open (but they are open) because of course rats have nothing better to do than crawl up to my hot ass room and torture me. Funny thing is, I've never seen a rat or mouse not so much as a lizard in this house. But still doe.

I got home last night about 11:30. I don't take naps anymore in effort to save up my sleepy, maybe you understand, 'till the end of the night (early of the morning). Thankfully I was sleepy enough as I crawled into my bed. I finally dozed off but then kept feeling my leg twitching. And a twitch is just a twitch, but I damn near lost my shit because in my mind, the rats were crawling into my skin and running up and down my leg bones. Because you know, rats do this. I guess. Then every single time I closed my eyes I saw an ultrasound of my brain and there was a big rat moving around in there. So I stopped closing my eyes and spent most of the night (early morning) fighting sleep. Like something was mad I was gon have the unmitigated (somebody look that up for me) gall to have a good sleep.

Off subject a little bit here, I thankful for a good sleep in my gratitude logs everyday now. My way of defining my night by the good rest, however short. I get to say.

Anyway, I was scared again last night. The first phone call I got this morning was from one of the directors at the medical facility confirming my appointment for Friday (today is Wednesday). I asked her if I could please be seen today. "No, Friday is the soonest. It's not that far." It's not that far pissed me off. They know about the rats too. It's not that far. How she know how the fuck far it is?

I went to see V and talk for a minute. I called a doctor friend for some advice. Got a referral from him about an emergency facility who would give me meds same day. I drove through crowded ass Culver City (I'm such a hater) and they were closed. Not just closed, but shut down. How did I know they were shut down? Because when I walked through the doors with the same address but a different hospital name, and I told the security guard at the information desk the place I was looking for and he did a quick side glance and whispered to me, "That psyche place? They closed. They shut down." I guess the whisper was to preserve my dignity. I dunno. They didn't shut down though. They just moved. Because there is another facility with the same name in east Los Angeles. I know because I've been there before. The wait is forever though and they don't give meds after 4:00. It was already like 3:30. I'm gonna be cool.

I haven't eaten all day though. Thankfully I have zero appetite. Every time I think about eating something I imagine rats inside of my stomach eating the food. It grosses me out. Somebody tell my brain to shut the hell up for a minute.

I'm going to go to The World Stage tonight. I'm not reading though. It will be good, listening to words and stories from other folks.

Until later y'all.

From Monday, October 13, 2014

It started with Rev. Jerome Fisher. He was the pastor of Little Zion Baptist Church in Compton, California, one of the sister churches of St. Mark Baptist Church in Long Beach where my family and I were long time and dutiful members. I was probably nine years old when I first saw him. He led a revival at our church and I was inspired by the way he used words, moved his body, raised and lowered his voice, lifted his hands, spread his fingers and shuffled his feet. I wanted to do that. I wanted to move people with my words too. I wanted sweat to fall from my forehead. I wanted to hear people say Amen and Hallelujah and Make it plain! But in my way. I wasn't a preacher. I was something though. Just didn't know what.

I would later find out that I was a storyteller. I didn't even know that was a thing. Specifically, I was a poet who told stories. I was always a writer. When I was a very young girl I started keeping journals I called My Famous Stories. On those wide lined bright white pages I deposited my thoughts and worries and joys. Mostly my worries. I was young, Virgo, Christian, skinny, black, average student and only the seventh cutest girl in my third grade class. I had issues. My stories were poorly disguised tales of what was going on in my day.

Today there was a boy named Sommy (real name, Tommy) who was very, very
mean to me in the cafeteria. One day I will grow tall as the sky and be the queen
of the world and Sommy will be so sorry that he ever bothered me or anybody in
the world because his hands and feet will be tied up super tight and all the people
he ever bothered in the whole school will line up and he will have to tell them that
he is very sorry. I won't let him go though, unless I know that he means it and then
he will have to go to church every Sunday for a whole year and pray on his knees
to God and Jesus and see if they will forgive him.

In my journals I could be the queen of the world and destroy bullies. I could be anyone I wanted to be. My pen was a magic word wand I could wave and be heard, believed, accepted, courageous. Words were my therapy. I escalated to sharing my stories with my dolls, stuffed animals, mirrors, bookcases and other objects in my room with my red handled hair brush as my microphone. I waved hand, extended my arms, dropped to one knee, balled fists, lifted chin. The whole nine. I thought that's what speakers did. I outgrew My Famous Stories and my brushmicrophone and became a professional storyteller. I tell stories well. Sometimes on stage now, I find myself speaking, waving, fanning like my first public speaking idol, Rev. J. Fisher. After all these years I cannot seem to un Jerome Fisher myself, and I don't want to. I am a mixture of him, my grandfather, some old blue black women from Ghana, Louisiana, Alabama and myself. Myself. I came to this planet to tell stories.

Today I teach poetry to high school students and run an online adult creative writing workshop. I travel the country reciting poetry and telling stories in schools, churches, galleries, jails and other places. I live my life encouraging others to use their words. And I am thankful. Almost twenty years ago I was blessed with a record deal from Verve Records, a well known jazz label, to create a poetry and music album with an incredible singer. Together, we were a group called Res Ipsa, which is a legal term short for res ipsa loquitur meaning, the thing speaks for itself. And we did. Two strong black women in front of large and small crowds using our powerful voices, sharing stories, changing lives. When we were almost complete with the album we ceased working together and so went our deal with Verve. But so began my career as a solo professional storyteller. From there I spoke in more hotels, halls, clubs, funerals, parties than I can remember to count. And I loved it. I still do.

As an artist (storyteller) I believe that one of my major jobs is to report the news. And I do. My stories have advanced from Sommy the bad boy and are now littered with accounts of the string of murders by police on black men and women. I talk about horrific abuse against women that has now been given a prettied up label called domestic violence. I talk about bullied children. I use my voice as advocate for the homeless, hungry. For the gay community fighting for equal rights. For teachers fighting for fair pay. For mentally and physically ill. I talk about nature and love and my amazing son. I talk about the sun. While my passion to speak and perform publicly was sparked by an old minister I never said two words to, my desire was fueled from my own abuse and my hope that I could change the future for other children who were in harmful situations and were too afraid to tell. There are three quotes by Audre Lorde by which I have lived my life:

  1. “Your silence will not protect you.”
  2. “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” And
  3. “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”

Often when people ask me why I write and tell stories my mind goes back to an early moment in my childhood. I was four years old and my mother was pregnant with my sister Roshann. We had recently moved into a house in a neighborhood in Long Beach. We had come to know the family next door in the green house well enough. There was a mother and two teenaged girls, fifteen and seventeen. The girls offered to help my parents by babysitting me and after some time they were allowed. There was a white tent in their backyard and another teenaged boy who lived down the street. The girls went from babysitting me to forcing me, at four years old, to suck the boy's dick. I had never heard the word dick before. I knew boys had pee pees but dicks were new. Perhaps pee pees grew into dicks, I surmised. There was no sucking, only chocking. Then there was liquid that was not my spit anymore that I naturally assumed was his urine. I ran from the tent screaming “he peed in my mouth! He peed in my mouth!” Then the younger girl caught me and tied a thick rope around my neck and the other end to the t shaped steel clothesline post cemented into the ground. She held my body as it swung and promised incredible harm if I told. I believed her.

This is why I write stories for a living. For girls and boys like me who choked on a penis too big for her jaws, too long for her throat. For children who thought they had pee on their tongues and couldn't outrun a fifteen year old girl. For human beings everywhere who were threatened if they spoke. Telling my stories publicly came from a desire for people to put a face to people and issues they generally stigmatized. I wanted people to know that when they labeled abused children as broken, that they were talking about me. And I'm not broken.

There is sadly a misconception about the mentally ill in this country, and throughout the world. I speak a lot about this because I am bipolar 1, medicated but not compliant to my meds. I want people to know that when they say that someone who is mentally ill and has spent her days in the psyche ward, is not intelligent, can not be of incredible use in this world, they are talking about me. And I am awesome.

Another question I'm often asked by students and audience members is how to handle writer's block. What if you don't have a story to tell? What if you can't think of anything? What if nothing is going on to talk about? What if you haven't been abused? What if what if what if if if if? My answer is usually not what they want to hear. I don't believe in writer's block. When I have “writer's block” it is because I am not telling a particular story, for whatever reason. Now, there are stories I don't want to tell. As a writer and storyteller I try to challenge myself by Telling. That. Story. Not out loud at first, but in a journal. On some notepad. In the margins of some textbook. As the saying goes, better out than in. I live my life getting the stories out. The same one by one way they got in there if necessary. There is always something to write about. There is always a story to tell. There are times I don't feel like writing or talking, but that's not writer's block. That's a different story.

January 1, 2013 I began a project to write a poem a day for the year and post the work on my blog for others to view. The posting was more to make myself accountable to the community of people who read my blog. Proudly, I kept covenant with myself and completed the year. I continued into this year with a new goal to post a poem a day with a different kind of poem each month. I think I began January with haikus then sonnets in February and so on. I have some catching up to do because I ended the poetry every day journey early September with couplets and we are now in the middle of October. I will catch up. Though I am behind on writing poems every day I do write stories and other free writing exercises in my blog or journal. One day last year when I couldn't think of a poem to write, I wrote about the contents in my purse. The phone, ipad, camera, notebook, novel, lipstick, mascara... I talked about why I carried the stuff I toted and my attachment to those things such that I would carry them every day, every where. There is always a story to tell.

Four years ago I created a storytelling venue called Red Stories. It's once a month and I invite an artist a month to tell her / his story. The event is held in a coffeehouse / bookstore in Inglewood, California and the performance area holds about fifty people. The audience comes in and greet each other. I begin the night with a welcome, a poem, a joke, a story. Sometimes I bring up a poet or singer to further warm the stage, then I call up the featured artist. The speaker takes her / his seat and then the words fall. On these nights we, the audience, get to experience the artist in a way we won't get to on any other stage. Usually when artists are invited out to speak, the request is that they speak within their genre. For instance, poets are invited to recite poems. Singers to sing. Dancers to dance. I invite a wide range of artists and on Red Stories nights what they have in common is that they are invited to tell their stories. They can go back as far as they choose and give the detail they want. What always seems to happen is that the guests tell stories they didn't intend to tell. Often after the show, guests tell me that they didn't mean to say that or go that deep but they felt comfortable enough to let the words out. The show has been greatly enjoyed since the first month.

Being a storyteller, I love stories and words. Not just my own. I love quotes and listening to the lives of others. I have a strong belief in the power of words. They save lives. They saved mine. There are two quotes by Confucius that I also love.

  1. “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” And
  2. “Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart”

I don't know how much I chose being a storyteller and how much it chose me. I am this and would be a storyteller inside of whatever career path I followed. If I sold shoes I would find a way to share stories with each customer. Everywhere I go, I keep taking me and my passion for words and stories with me. With all of my heart.










Tuesday, October 14, 2014

It's 6:40 pm and I am at home. Just back from my second walk of the day. Yes! Facility made a new appointment for me with new doctor for Friday morning. They said that shit like Friday is close. Friday is far. Especially considering this is like the third or fourth time they've changed my shit. Anyway, I'm woosaahing things right now. It is fucked up though when you think about it. The treatment of the mentally ill community is crazy. If I were having issues with my heart they wouldn't have changed three (or four) appointments like it was nothing. How do you just say "Just hold on"??? Anyway...breathe, breathe, breathe.
It's 3:58 am and I am at home. I have way too much energy for 3:58. I wired. I feel like running and riding my bike and swimming and dancing. I'm happy. Probably too happy. My emotions are cycling so rapidly. It happens.

I'm not going running or biking or swimming. Mostly because it's 4:01.

Yesterday was really hard for me. I have made the choice to go back on my meds. I refuse to see Dr. G again though. I requested someone else and it was granted. The facility changed my appointment with the new doctor twice. Finally I was scheduled to see the doctor yesterday. I had been counting down the days to this appointment. I have been self medicating with over the counter meds and some prescription stuff. I know, I know. But sleep don't come easy, or at all these days.

I took off from work. Less money, less money! My appointment was at 11:00 am so of course I got there at 10:00. You know me. I sat in the car for forty minutes then walked up to the offices. Hold onto your seats, these fuckers were closed! Columbus day! I was livid. I got no call about my appointment being canceled AGAIN!  The woman who made my appointment was the supervisor and knew she was making it on Columbus day because I mentioned that when we were talking. FUCK! So what now?

Well, I'm going to call them when they open this morning and hopefully I'll get to see someone. I don't want to go to another facility but I will if I have to. Self medicating is never the answer. Mostly, it's not working. I went to bed at 1:00 am and woke up at 2:30 am. I'm up at some point at every fucking hour. Every hour. 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, 4:00, 5:00, 6:00, 7:00, 8:00, 9:00, 10:00, go about my day, come home, go to some class, meeting, poetry something, come home, 10:00, 11:00, 12:00 and start all over again. This has been going on for months.

Gratitude

I am thankful for seeing this day
For my son
My family and friends
I am thankful for food and shelter
Love and kindness
I am thankful for my health and strength
For words
I am thankful for words
For art and poetry and stories
For good movies on Netflix and
I am thankful for being thankful

Saturday, October 11, 2014

It's 9:45 pm and a stranger walked past my mother's house
And the dog barked
And I am house and dog sitting
And listening for everything
But I did not hear the stranger's footsteps easing by
But that is the dog's job
To listen for strange steps

I am a poet, a mother, an educator and healer
I am an artist
My job is to report the news
Tell the story
Tell the stories
Tell the truth

My job is to feel and remember
To teach and to teach to tell
And rest and care
And love myself and you too
My job is to cry and laugh
And feed the dog
Who will listen for footsteps
So I don't have to

Mary "Unique" Spears. Three bullets. Two in her head. Mother. Dead. He wanted her name. Her number. She said she had a man. Her no was not enough. Mary. Mary. Mary. Unique. Unique. Unique. Dead. Dead. Dead. We should not have to live or die like this. Black women matter. We get to say no. We should not have to be afraid to say no. No. No. Unique. Unique. Black woman dead. Again.
Man tries to talk to Woman at a funeral. Woman tells Man she has a man. Man starts a fight. Man shoots Woman as she tries to run away. Man shoots her two more times in the head. Woman dies. There are no rallies. No one will march. There are no songs or fists or signs. Only Woman dead.
You know how we get when white cops kill black boys? Well, same thing.
I don't have a man. I don't think adults should own other adults. But that's another story. I'm not going to say I have a man to get out of giving my number. I get to say no. I get to live after I say no. I'm not a bitch because I didn't want to continue a conversation.

I'm selling my journals. Stories, musings, poems, stuff. $100 each. Yep.


Friday night fun


Me as guest lecturer for Community Lit / USC last year


I haven't written a poem yet about Michael Brown or Ferguson
Or Mary "Unique" Spears
The woman from Detroit who was killed at the repass of a funeral for a friend

A man was coming on to her
She told him that she had a man and couldn't talk to him

The man started a fight
Unique's fiance came over to assist
Man pulled out a gun and shot
Fiance was injured
Bullet hit Unique in the back as she tried to run away
She fell and man shot her two more times in the head

Now she is dead

This mother of three is dead

I haven't written a lot of poems lately

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Free write

It's 2:50 pm and I am at home. Class was great today. Actually both classes were. Food 4 Thot and A Kold Piece were my guests in my first class. They were amazing. They were perfect for that class. I am incredibly honored to have such great men, poets, friends, artists in my life.

My second class went well also. For the most part. Can somebody please tell these children to stop talking so damn much though?

Free write from yesterday

It's 12:32 and I'm sitting in this hot ass car in front of the school because for some reason I fucking arrive everywhere fucking early. My class doesn't start until 1:15 and I live about twenty minutes away. Whatever.

Today is my first day back to school since that asshole substitute. Maybe I'll talk about that later. I dunno. He was such a douche!

I'm a little pissed that I had an appointment with doctor last Monday but got a call last Friday changing my appointment to this coming Friday, then got another call changing the appointment to next Monday. Fuck! Will somebody please tell these professionals that this shit is not professional?!

I'm creating a good class today in my mind. This is not my favorite class, but it is my favorite class to teach. Make that make sense to you. I love each of my classes for different reasons and each of my classes get on my fucking nerves for different reasons.

Today, these are my brightest students. Not that I get to be the judge of brightness (like that even makes sense). What I mean is that they are creative and good writers. Some of them though, including the most creative, talk to damn much! But hey.

I don't feel like it today. I really, really, don't. But knowing that these are the students I'm working with make it easier.

Welp, time to get out of this car and go see why the fuck there are so many cop cars in front of the school. This time.