Right? Write.

My time at Tisch and NYC in general, thus far has lead me to some realizations, startling and otherwise. Once the apartment hunting was done (The Bronx … who knew), the classes were paid for, and the first day had, it dawned on me that I had in no real way prepared for getting what I wanted. That’s right, I’d thrown so much energy into the fight to get here that I’d invested essentially none on what I would do once I was doing what I came here to do.  Hence, I have  spent the last four weeks flopping around like an epileptic at a performance of River Dance (I’m sorry, that was horrible). Moving on.

The first startling realization was that I was the only Black one in my graduating class. (Ok, so it wasn’t that startling. I sat down the first day, looked around, I was it.) I spent the first week and a half feeling like I, as one of my friends so aptly put it ,”the future of Black playwriting was on my shoulders.” This thought served to simultaneously stroke my ego; as I pictured myself doing battle with a hyper-villainous Tyler Perry driving my mighty quill through  his coonish heart, and scare the beloved shit outta me.  “Everything I say has to be so carefully laid out, my message clear and concise.  It’s so important.”  I thought as I lay around and wrote not a fuckin’ THING. I was stuck. This lead me to my second startling realization.

I had no CLUE what I wanted to write about.  I had a million lofty ideas that seem to do nothing but dance around in my skull 24hrs a day when was in Charlotte. In New York, I dunno, I think they were chased out by the sounds of trains, screaming vagrants, and  cholo cart bells (alas coconut icee, I shall miss you this winter).  The scrap of sanity I felt I had left lead me to seek refuge in my usual avenues. I met good people, did grounding things, got sound advice, and pulled my head just far enough out of my ass to have a moment of clarity which lead me to my third realization (or I should say re-realization because it always comes back to this for me).

Nobody gives a shit. I don’t mean this in that too-cool-for-school Bronx Tale kinda way, but rather people are far too busy worrying about their own real lives  to give a shit about whether I can generate words for this outrageously expensive graduate program I chose to attend.  This is my “dream car”.  I have to drive it.  I have to provide the fuel that determines the type of exhaust I put out. I use regular gas. I’mma get regular assed exhaust, the kind people choke on and does the world little good. However, if I use the brain between my ears and keep the pen moving in my hand, I might be able to produce something I can be proud of whatever or whoever it’s about.*

The ideas have slowly but surely began to repopulate. This New York life has started to feel more like mine despite the people and places I miss back in Charlotte.  I can make a go of this I think. Right? Write.

Rosie.

*where the hell did that car analogy come from tho?
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Shake the machine.

It’s happened to most people at least once.  You’re starving.  You’re on your lunch break, or a break during some godforsaken symposium, or between classes at school. Your blood sugar is about 10.  You gallop your ass with the intensity of an antelope to the nearest vending machine and HOT DAMN they got those jalapeño pork rinds you geek out over. You are Pavlov’s dog. The saliva is forming. Your hands tremble at a rate that would measure about a 7 on the Richter scale.  You shove the change through the slot. Finally it decides to accept the rusty dime that you found stuck in the cup holder of your car.  You hit C7. You watch as the mechanical coil loops lazily clock wise and stops. Then … SON OF A BITCH!!! Your jalapeño pork rinds are suspended in midair, hung by a 1/18th inch section of the lip of the bag. There’s a hallway full of people and a small cluster of salivating antelopes behind you. You wonder if its a good decision. You wonder if people will think you’re crazy, but fuck that. Shake the machine. 

Shake that bastard until all the jalapeño pork rinds in it along with the barbecue Fritos, glazed bear claws, fruit snacks, and packs of double mint gum have to surrender to the force you generate and come tumbling out of their individual mechanical coils.  Shake that fucker til they call security and make sure they have to call reinforcements for your ass. Shake it until you have not an ounce of energy left, your blood sugar finally bottoms out, and they have to call an ambulance to drag your prostrate carcass out the door. Get all the other insulin deficient antelopes and dogs around you to shake it too because after all there is strength in numbers.

Keep going.  Keep shaking. Til you get them damn jalapeño pork rinds, or whatever else it is you desire in this life.

“Stay Hungry.  Keep Grindin’ ” – Barack Obama

Rosie.

1-2-3 … Independence!

Confession:  I never learned how to play double-dutch.

Well I did, but I was often called “double-handed” (a reference to my inability to catch the rhythmic turning of the two ropes) and when I made awkward knock kneed attempts to jump in they were always dismal failures that ended with me bound up like a newly captured slave (yes it was that bad).  I was laughed at and almost always passed over for a turn when it was declared that there would be a game.

My transition into a life in New York has felt just as awkward and frustrating as my double-dutch exploits.  Today I have been away from Charlotte, NC and everything else that is familiar to me for one month and three days. I often feel “double-handed” trying to catch the rhythm of this new life. At times nothing feels “safe”, not even a trip to the bodega or Stewarts (my upstate balm in Gilead). Every now and then though … I catch a rhythm.

The click-clack of the subway harkens the sound of ropes slapping in perfect time against the concrete. The rhythm is steady and sure giving me the courage to jump in. Into Brooklyn diners with waiters named Carlos who flirtatiously offer rice pudding as an after thought to the gut busting meal I just ate.  Into the view of a gentrified Harlem from the Starbucks on 118th street where I find myself now. I smile at the kaleidoscope of skin tones passing the window to my left. I giggle a little as the men to my right discuss a friend who’s a “trust fund baby” that needs to get into filmmaking. I consider giving them my information should they need a screenwriter, but I think better of it. Missed opportunity? Who knows, time will tell. Guffawing maniacs cackle out the rhythm. Beautiful men bop to it. Breathtaking women with flip-flops and sandals that flap out the rhythm.  I’m feeling it. Until Tomorrow …

Tomorrow I head back upstate for work that I will gratefully be done with on 7/20. I will get that double handed feeling again I’m sure.  I will attempt to jump in only to be entangled in the ropes of Upstate New York‘s disjointed coldness. I know there is a rhythm there, I just can’t seem to find it.  There are microseconds, while I’m at a recovery meeting, or when I receive a genuine  “hello” or “good morning” but  this doesn’t happen often. I accept it any how because I know that part of finding my rhythm/my place in this new life is being off rhythm for awhile.

It is during the times when I feel “double-handed” or unsafe that I learn the most. Those are the time I use the tools I was given. Those are the times I experience the most growth. So I embrace my double-hands and knock knees as red light indicators that I’m alive and on my way to catching a new rhythm and doper beat, a faster tempo, a deeper groove. I’m on my way to this:

Ok, well maybe not this, but dammit I’ll be close to “1-2-3 Independence!”*

Rosie.

* “1-2-3 Independence” is a double-dutch chant that was used back in my time while jumping.  It was one of my favorites :). You can hear a few more here

Martyr May I.

The conversation usually goes like this:

Person: Wow! Congrats on getting into NYU! That’s an incredible opportunity.

Stacey: Aww, Thank you. I’m really excited.

Person: Is your son going?

(Here, as we say in theatre, is a “beat”. The length of the “beat” usually depends on how many times I’d been asked that question within 48 hrs. The extent to which I go to explain my choice is directly proportional to the level of maternal guilt I’m feeling that day, but it all boils down to this:)

Stacey: No, He’s not going (… insert excessive rambling here as needed.)

(Next, the reaction. It varies and is typically some combination of: 1. A “beat”, some type of facial grimace, followed by an expulsion of air … usually from the mouth and then 2: Oh … )

Person: … who is he staying with?

Me: …my mom.

(Now, the conversation either ends here or rambles on in some awkward dance between my guilt and the other person’s judgement/the judgement I perceive them to have, then dies an even more awkward death in pregnant silence.)

This post is not an explanation of why my son will not be moving to New York with me. This post is about the fact that this question is always the first to be raised with mothers pursuing lofty goals.

I have watched my mother, and countless other mothers “sacrifice”, martyr their peace, happiness, and in some cases their physical existence for children who didn’t benefit one way or the other from said sacrifice. In some cases this “sacrifice” was ultimately the child’s downfall. Why? Because all that additional motherly love was enabling, that’s why. Mothers and specifically single mothers have for far too long worn the badge of the martyr, forfeiting any dreams or potential they had before they gave birth. It’s as if your goals and desires for yourself can’t exist in the same space as parenthood, or if they can, those goals and desires had better damn well be minimal and involve a papoose. (I just pictured my 5’8” 155lb 14 year-old strapped to me as I navigated Washington Square and died a little.)

Ye verily I say unto all the mothers who think they have to give up happiness and personal satisfactions in order to be a “good” mother … fuck all of that … in its entirety. I am a 37 year old woman with a lot of life left (hopefully), and a lot of shit I want to do. I love my son immensely and will not cease to handle my basic parental responsibilities, while also continuing to do everything within my power to guide him into a successful life. That, for me, is what parenthood is about. I refuse to give up my life as a testament to what a wonderful mother I am. I would rather live a full and purposeful life that can serve to inspire and empower my child into a better way of living. My pursuit of a full and purposeful life just happens to involve me being away from my kid for a while. This is not an ideal situation, but it is not Life’s job to serve up ideal situations. Besides, I’m pursuing graduate education for baby Jesus’s sake, not smoking crack. (Unfortunately, the latter in the eyes of some, seems to be a more acceptable reason for a maternal hiatus :/.)

Then there’s the shitty male/female double standard. If I were a father, even a single father, I don’t think anyone would give a second thought to me taking off to school or even better enlisting with the military and leaving my son with family. In fact, it’d be encouraged. This, in the eyes of some, makes a father joining the army, potentially being deployed to war, and killed a better choice than me, a mother, pursing higher education. I don’t blame fathers. Hell, I don’t even blame the people who ask me this question. It’s kind of just the way things are. We exist in a patriarchal society where the man goes out hunts the meat, clubs us over the head then …

Maybe you think I’ve written this assuage my guilty conscious and maybe you’re right. Maybe I don’t give a fuck* what anyone thinks. Maybe I do, but I shouldn’t because it’s my life. Square biz, I don’t know a parent who doesn’t have regrets about choices they’ve made raising their children. I know I will have regrets a plenty, possibly with the decision to leave him in Charlotte for two years topping the list. Time will inevitably reveal the decisions that will land my ass in a shitty nursing home per my son’s request. However, If I look at my parenting job so far I can honestly say the danger of me stewing in my own juices while medical staff is on break is pretty remote. All I can do is check with my gut, check with Sonny Jim, and pray for the best

Rosie.

*Please read the linked article ad nauseum. You will either become completely reckless, stop being afraid of what people think and live, or both. Shouts to KNKYTHT for sending it to me, it was the highlight of my week.

Give it away now.

Ever since this post and the circumstances surrounding it I have been or have made an earnest effort to be less attached to material things. I’ve found myself giving away earrings I once thought I could never part with or losing some other “treasured item” but being okay with it, sort of like the baby who gets their pacifier taken away, after a few days they’re fine.

Alas, I think my tolerance for letting go is wavering. After conceivably the worse weekend I ever spent in a hotel (there were children, there was screaming, there were ungodly bodily secretions), I lost two of my favorite bracelets. Grounded me would be okay with letting them go, accepting that these items had had their time in my life and it was now time for them to move on to the next owner. The thing is, I’m not grounded me, and I can’t get those two fucking bracelets out of my mind.

So I ask my self:

Q: Is it about the bracelets?

A: Not likely.  It’s really about how tossed I feel with this impending move, my son’s general unhappiness and the difficulties he’s having in school, and the feeling that I have zero control over anything that is happening in my life right now. The least I can do is hold on to the things I love, huh Universe? Are you even fucking listening at this point?!

But I digress …

I am not going to return to the hotel in a desperate search for my two favorite bracelets that were so fucking awesome and made noise when I clapped and it seemed like I had musical instruments with me everywhere I went and fuuuuuck!!!!

Re-digressing …

The reason I’m not going back is because I, at my foundation believe that I am going to live and more beautifully simple and musical jewelry will come into my life. It’s just that I need to live with the uncertainty of when and how this new jewelry will show up.

Q: Am I even  talking about jewelry at this point?

A: Not likely.

I just want this transition not to feel so fucking crazy or at the very least once again enjoy and be willing to do the things that I know help me feel better. So when my new jewelry shows up I’m ready to handle the abundance of its beauty and musicality, but be willing to let it go … all the way … if I need to.

– Selah

Rosie.

Rosie’s CIAA cautionary tale.

Let the record show that I have not, in the time that it has been hosted in our fair city, chosen to participate in the activities surrounding the  CIAA’s (Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association) annual tournament.  The reasons are varied, but not limited too: Hating crowds, Hating myself in crowds, Hating crowds of drunken black people , Hating crowds of pretentious black people, and MOST important – I hate being in crowds of black people who’d spend $75-100 on a day party, but who will hem and haw about financially supporting local programming for children. This year I waxed sentimental and decided to go because all the buzz seemed so exciting, that one party sounded like what the business is (it was dope as hell, I won’t lie) and I won’t be here next year … so what the hell, right?

The night started out well enough. I did somethings to ground myself in sanity (prayed, burned incense, listened to the ATLien’s album), then headed out to an event called Grits & Biscuits. All southern hip hop, all night. Yessir! After I had sufficiently twerked away my cares, I exited the party into a sea of half naked self proclaimed “bad bitches” and the men who loved/lusted/thirsted after them.

As awesome as all of that was, my friend Danielle and I were ready to go and process the levels of ratchet debauchery we’d just taken in over artery clogging food stuffs. We’d ran across a group who was in need of a jump and I was glad that I was able to be of assistance (being the ever faithful good Samaritan I am) with jumper cables I had in my car.  However … when I got to my car I realized … I was actually in need of jump, as my car wouldn’t start.  Things promptly went to hell from here.

With the help of two eager young gentlemen I get the car started again, and head out into the mean side streets surrounding the NC Music factory that at this point looks a lot like Juicy J‘s rendition of Kolkata. I’m visually overdosing on bare tri-fold midriffs and men doling out piggy back rides to colored girls who considered crawling with them rainbow pumps became too much, when … my car stops in the middle of the street. Just stops. Right in front of this dude who is drunk out of his fucking MIND and believes, somewhere in his delirium that my car has arrived to pick him up.

I, distracted and disgusted, could not process why this man was getting in my car, and before I could say two words, he was in there. CHILLIN’.

I’m like:  Sir … get out.

No response.

To add to the fun, his drunk friends get into the act,  facebooking  and tweeting videos of all the festive shenanigans as I sit, mouth agape, looking on. The good times were soon to get better, when the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department gets involved, those champions of justice.  They actually SWEAR that my new friend is actually my estranged boyfriend/hook up and that I need to attempt to manage the situation.

This is when drunk man in my car starts flexin …
… like he’s on Instagram
He’s angry now …

He’s all: Get the fuck off me yo! Get the fuck off me son!

I promptly exit the vehicle, cause I wanna live and shit. There are now 3-4 officers in a heated debate with the drunken gent in an attempt to get his drunk ass out of my car. The officers are STILL swearing I know said drunk and disorderly negro, a fact I adamantly deny. After realizing the real possibility that their friend/brother may be tased or shot they beg the police officers to let them remove him from my car.

Negotiations are successful, the drunkard exits my vehicle.

CMPD: Ma’am I’m gonna need you to get back in your vehicle and move along.

Fuck. My. Life., I think to myself and am surprised by my ability to remain calm (probably had to do with my own non-desire of being tased or shot) and tell the officers that the reason why I didn’t take off and drag the dude down the street when he attempted to get in my car in the first place was because it would. not. start. (SIGH).

The officers FINALLY realize that hey … she really didn’t know that guy, and wait, her car won’t start! That’s why she was in the middle of the road! They determine that they will  offer me the assistance I need to get to the side of the road when just then, a clutch of ratchet pussy decides that my predicament is funny …

“Aw sheet that bitch done ran outta gas!”

“Ha. Ha. She slippin’!”

I verbally abuse the shit out of them.
It was quite satisfying.

The rest of the evening, that did not end until 5:30 am, ended with little more event than: me coming to the aid of two scantily clad “bad bitches” whose phone was dead and ride “had done gone” by allowing them to sit in my dilapidated vehicle, and me thrice having to give a Charlotte based tow truck driver direction to a major Charlotte landmark.

The lesson: I’m not sure there is one. Just a lot of individual shit that could have happened on any other day happening to me at the same damn time.

To all CIAA in CLT visitors: I enjoyed you, now please … go home. ❤

Rosie.

*Warning: The preceding song should only be enjoyed in controlled environments and under the clear understanding that you are probably not now nor will you ever be a drug dealer that … enjoys … two “bad bitches” at the same damn time.