I Do What I Have To Do

I’m consuming a lot of media that is purely for no other purpose than to make me laugh or smile. I’m talking cat videos, puppy pics, cute animals, and other silly stuff that just makes me happy. I think I’m following about thirty pugs on Instagram (check out Chico Maru Pug, he’s an all white pug with a sweet face). I have no shame about it either. Because in these times, in these scary, unstable times I don’t want to feel as bad as  reality would dictate. For all the violent and negative things online and in life that can’t be avoided I have to have those feel good moments where I can get to a laugh ASAP. It takes up a little time to scroll through the feeds, but it sure does help me get through some of these hard days.

I’m also reading, reaching out to folks, and catching up on TV. (I’m so over Scandal, but I can’t not watch it.) I’m getting out of the house more and breathing. I know that last bit sounds strange, but have you ever just listened to your breath? Do it. Listen to your parts, check in with yourself. Is everything feeling like it should?

I made myself a  letter box that I fill with kind words and uplifting messages. When I feel myself getting too low to function or social media isn’t having the desired outcome I reach inside the box and pull out a letter.

What are you doing to keep on keeping-on? One friend of mine doesn’t look at any social media after nine o’clock at night. Another friend has upped her meditation practices. I would love to know what gets you through a hard day. Leave a comment below.

Check out this cool cow that thinks it’s a doggy:

 

 

 

What Books Make the Writer?

Did you ever read Bridge to Terabithia or Tuck Everlasting? What about The Phantom Tollbooth? Any of the Ramona Quimby books?

I did. I remember reading all of those books. While some of the details of what goes on in those stories are hazy, I remember how they made me feel. Adventurous, brave, curious. I couldn’t get enough. I wanted to “do that”, create worlds and stories that readers just didn’t want to put down.

It’s funny. All I’ve ever wanted to do is write and I’ve managed to do so in some way for a while now.  I’ve been lucky, besides the time I got caught writing on the living room wall with a red lipstick, that my love of reading and writing has been praised and encouraged.

I know that I write because I truly enjoy it. I feel the most like myself when I’m actively putting words down to figure out what’s happening or could happen in a story. Writing is also therapeutic and healing to me.

But when did this love turn into the thing that I must do? When did it get serious for me? Was it gradually or all at once?

Recently the Lit Hub article The Books That Made Your Favorite Writers Want to Write came across my Facebook timeline. Writers like Sherman Alexie and Zadie Smith know the exact book that made them want to be writers. How cool is that? Something locked into place for them and they knew or decided that they wanted to “do that” too.

The last few days I’ve been wondering which book(s) made me want to write. Was it Ramona Quimby, Age 8? Onion John? Maybe a short story from the anthologies I read in high school. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, maybe? Was it poetry in college? Nikki Giovanni’s Ego-Tripping, perhaps?

At this point it would be nice to know what tipped the scales for me, but I don’t think it really matters.

I’m writing. I am a writer.

My Writing Group is Everything

I met with my writing group this past Sunday and it was wonderful. I’m always excited to connect with the members of the group because we get so much done. We share our writings, discuss the work, give feedback, and encourage each other.

I’ve been in other groups before, but none have ever felt as authentic and purposeful as this one. None have ever felt as Black, women centered, or queer. I’m not the only black person; I’m not the only lesbian. I don’t have to be one or the other or prioritize my identities. For that alone I feel like pumping my fist in the air and giving a “whoop, whoop” every month. And, it’s strange to say, this group feels writing focused.  I mean that’s the point, right? But I’ve been (briefly) apart of some writing groups that were more about dating than about writing and it was so disappointing.

Everyone in this group is smart, talented, and capable. We all want each other to succeed. Do you know how good that feels? Knowing that your sisters want the absolute best for you? That they want you to grow and improve so you can put out your best work? Maaan, that is some deep, deep love that keeps me inspired.

Essentially these writers save me from myself when I feel like my writing isn’t good enough. They encourage me, hold me accountable, and give me the perspective I need to see my work more clearly. I’m so thankful for all of the support.

Basically my writing group is everything. I love these black women writers!

Wait & See

The other night I dreamed I was five months pregnant. Sitting in the back of a cab, my huge belly pressed down on me while I looked at a severance check. The cabbie drove me around for a while. Then I stopped at a building, went inside to use the restroom, and stared at my reflection in a wide mirror.

When I woke up I reached for my belly. I was startled. I knew my dream wasn’t literal, but I felt so uneasy.

It’s a metaphor, I know. The severance check symbolism isn’t lost on me either. An ending leading to a beginning. Something is growing within me, around me, for me. What is it though? An opportunity? A thing? A person? An idea?

Guess I’ll have to wait and see. 😉

 

 

 

 

My Grandpa, My Angel

I saw my grandpa a few weeks ago. Despite him not being of this world any more I can say with 100% certainty it was him.

I was outside with my dog on one of our jaunts around the neighborhood. He was being particularly curious taking his time sniffing the ground looking for the perfect spot. I followed behind him at a slow clip, nothing too much on my mind when I noticed an older Black man getting out of his car, gathering his  grocery bags. He was dressed like he’d just come from somewhere important. A meeting, church . Sharp arctic grey suit, pressed and fitting well. His tie was a goldenrod yellow with a sheen to it.

Instantly I thought of my grandpa Oliver.  Us kids called him Boop.

He was an impeccable dresser. Unafraid of color, keen on what looked good on him and what didn’t. My grandpa turned heads with every step. Even in his grass cutting clothes.

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My grandparents, Mary and Oliver Pipkin

The way this well dressed man looked in his suit wasn’t the only thing familiar to me. When we made eye contact I noticed he held a striking resemblance to my grandpa. He had a strong, clean-shaven jaw, bright brown eyes, a crease of lines in his forehead. His smooth carob colored skin looked moisturized and clean. Even his salt and pepper mini fro was the way my grandpa wore his hair. Full and neat.

“Hello, young lady,” he said to me. Warm energy carried his voice. “How are you?”

A stranger’s voice can be a gateway to a memory, to a feeling, in the same way a favorite song can transport you. The rhythm, tone, melody can make you feel safe and loved even from afar.

“Hello. I’m wonderful. I hope you are.”

“I sure am. Thank you.”

“I have to say, that’s a sharp suit. You look very nice.” I refrained from telling him that he reminded me of my grandpa.

“Thank you. Thank you very much.” He smiled and told me to have a good evening. I nodded assuring him I would.

Ahead of me my dog tugged on the leash and I reluctantly took a few steps away from the man. I stepped into the grass where my dog licked at blades of grass and what I saw made me laugh. It was an angel.

A large paperclip had been folded into an angel. It was adorned with a pearly white head and a red ribbon. I picked it up and stared at it while my dog tried to urge me forward. Over my shoulder the man gathered the last of his bags and moved away from the parking lot toward one of the buildings.

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The angel I found on the ground.

“I see you, Boop. I miss you, too.”

I held the paperclip angel in my hand and continued the walk. Every time I glanced down at the angel in my hand I smiled. Not just on my face, but in my soul. I hadn’t realized that I needed that symbol, that acknowledgement from the universe that I am loved and cared for. That this world is holding space for me and I am supported.

My angel now resides just inside my door. I like to think of it protecting me and my home. I see it every time I leave and when I come inside. I even speak to it sometimes.

“Hi, Boop. I’m home.”