Wednesday, February 25, 2015

On Selma and the Vigorous Rejection of Nonabysmal Personhood

The cast of Selma. Photo: The Telegraph

So. I finally saw Selma. I sat there in Cinema Café with my mother and that $839 popcorn and watched Martin and The Gang knuckle up with change history by helping those dusty ass, shitborne, unsavory, old timey White people get their motherfucking minds right.

Hella Patient Black Excellence in motion and such.

Madame Ava DuVernay’s masterful dramatization of the historic voting rights marches from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama organized and led by the Dallas County Voters League, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Martin Luther King, Jr., the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and others was a joy to watch. Her portrayal of this pivotal moment in America’s history The Great Caucasian Reign of Terribleness captured the tense racial climate of pre-Janet Jackson America with a graciousness rarely deployed in the depictions of Black historical figures.

In this age of revisionist history and Butlers and Help, Black stories on the big screen not told with the help of a whip or a questionable cornrow wig are few and far between. I cherish any opportunity to see Us be fierce and unshakeable and imperfect and powerful. Go-Go Gadget: Humanity.

Madame DuVernay’s gorgeous film—a respectability junkie’s wet dream—is a Black Hollywood family reunion. A clown car of working, beautiful Black actors, if you will. This 127-minute journey into ancient TerribleWhitePeopleLand, America is jam-packed with magical melanin, legendary edge-ups, masterfully coifed Ebony Earth Goddesses and powerful lip liner aplenty. And Common.

I got to see Oprah whip out her famed fierce ass Pursed Lips of Tired Ass Black Elder’s Indignation as Annie Lee Cooper while contending with Mr. Fuckboy, uncle-daddy of Mr. Welfare, while attempting to register to vote.

You had Ledisi slinging hymns by phone in the heat of the night because it’s hard out here for a Revolutionary Negro, and sometimes you just need a quick conference call with Uncle Jesus before venturing out into the world to face Terrible Whiteness. You had Common in those overalls with that kufi looking like a good time on a Friday night as James Bevel. There was Carmen Ejogo who soared as Coretta Scott King, Our Lady of Boundless Imperturbability. You had Trai Byers, a brawny vision of love in scene after scene, wearing the hell out those polo shirts as SNCC executive secretary James Forman. Then there was Niecy Nash, one of my favorite LoudPeople and her wondrous deep wave situation as Richie Jean Jackson. And Wendell Pierce. And Tessa Thompson. And André Holland. And a slew of other chocolate wonders. 

Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King and Lorraine Toussaint as Amelia Boynton Robinson. Photo: Pittsburg Post Gazette


I kept saying to myself, "Shit! Look at all this good skin on screen in a No Madea Zone, for a change!”

It was a magnificent thing.

And then, a refreshing sight in the age of Mona Scott: two Black women (Lorraine Toussiant as Amelia Boynton Robinson and Ejogo’s Coretta) sharing a tender, shade-free moment, loving on and uplifting one another. (See, Mona, it IS possible.) As the two walked and talked before an important meeting with Malcolm X, Amelia shared a powerful word with a doubtful Coretta, telling her: “You are already prepared.” The night I saw Selma with my mom and niece, a group of church ladies behind us sang out: "Mmmmmhmm. Amen. Aaaaaaamen." 

I say all of that to say: I loved it.

I love that we got to see the fruit of a brilliant Black filmmaker’s tireless labor get the love it deserves. I love that Ava made plain a tenet of Terrible Whiteness that persists today: Placing the onus on Us to fix Their shit. Whew. Look at how They expect President Obama to make diamonds out of the steaming fuckshit They left behind. With Selma, Ava didn’t hold back. We got to see the Powers That Be as their morally bankrupt, rat bastardly selves.

When Ava stated that she didn't want to create another White Savior film, I rejoiced. We need more White Savior movies as much as we need more Ann Coulter sightings in the 2000 and the 15. Kanye puts in more than enough overtime deepthroating White supremacy on the daily, so I am thankful that Ava followed her heart, and put Black first.

I appreciate that Selma didn’t glamorize King’s doings and screwings by hopscotching over his shortcomings. Ava didn’t shy away from controversy, imagined puritanical legacies be damned. Yes, one can guide old timey White guys into the Land of Nonabysmal Personhood and share one’s Revolutionary Peen with the world. It is juvenile, laughable, and asinine to pretend that doing the former precludes one from doing the latter.

And, I appreciate Ava for not being as petty as I am and for resisting the urge to have Oprah hit one of those badge-wearing Oppression Operatives with a surly “All my life I had to fight,” even though there were multiple opportunities during interactions with aggressively terrible bipedal roaches to do so. 

Director Ava DuVernay and Selma star David Oyelowo. Photo: Variety.com
Frankly, Selma rubbed Benevolent Brock and Pestilent Patty the wrong way because it doesn’t suck any White dicks. President Lyndon B. Johnson isn’t the hero here, and seeing their skinfolk decentralized—portrayed as their frequently terrible selves—is unfathomable for countless moviegoers and Academy voters. Miss Anne MassaWife didn’t get to save the day with sweet tea and a kind, Christian heart. No downtrodden Black children were adopted and civilized by Nice White People. For many, Selma didn’t produce that necessary tingling in their bootyholes that they get when high on self-satisfaction. Martin didn’t lead protesters in a Debbie Allen-choreographed liturgical tap dance across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and that, too, was apparently unfathomable.

Never mind that Selma is a dramatization.

Naturally, David Oyelowo's performance as MLK didn't receive an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Madame Ava, while winning a slew of other awards for this wonderful work, didn't get the prestigious Oscar nomination for Best Director many feel she deserved. I'll let the brilliant Robert Jones, Jr. tell it:
And, quite frankly, history and experience have taught me to side-eye what any overwhelmingly white and male organization endorses. Because no matter how significant and progressive their choices seem on the surface, ultimately, those choices are self-serving. Between the Ku Klux Klan, the U.S. Congress, Wall Street, the Tea Party, and the Academy, social, legal, economic, political, and artistic standards in this country are set by white men for the benefit of white men—period.

Now that the consolatory award presenters of color have presented the awards, the thinkpieces have been thinkpieced and we’ve all tripped over ourselves trying to unpack the method to Massa’s madness, a few things must be stressed:

One. We must remember that 1965 wasn’t all that long ago. Many of these dumpster-hearted bastards are going to wake up tomorrow and stand in line behind you at Krispy Kreme when the Hot Light comes on. They praise Avatar for its excellence and plausibility (Gang of Whitepersons rescues a race of Bluefolk from extinction) and conjure, finance, and award ahistorical circle jerks like Cleopatra and The Help.

They have kids, nigger-loving granddaughters and defenseless half-black great-grandbabies.

The news reminds us daily that these cretins still run police departments, host Fux News shows, teach your kids, and live up the block from Aunt Shirley.

The scumbagginess persists. And it ain't going anywhere.

So, when Uncle Al Sharpton, the boredest Negro in America, gets to shouting at cameras and calling emergency Loud Talking Negro Summits to combat issues within the White community, I can’t help but regret not patenting those Logic Darts I once considered. That's like hiring me, HomoThug Número Uno, to wax poetically via essay on the joys of vaginal exploration. Where's the sense in that? 

Are we surprised when Suge Knight a serial killer kills? Would a dog’s barking mystify you? No. Because. It’s. What. They. Do.

As such, if a well dressed, married, employed Black President can’t inspire close-minded, shitborne political relics to retrieve their hearts and minds from their anal cavities and humanize their views of Blackness, and a Black woman serving as President of The Academy can’t inspire change, let’s cut back on the shock and awe when a gaggle of close-minded Hollywood relics fails to see Black Excellence when it stares kicks them in the face. Deal? Because it's what they do.

Two. We are over-thinking diversity and our approach to social justice in general. All this contorting and minimizing our natural splendor to assuage fears and remind empowered fuckboys how deserving of humanity we are? Exhausting and often fruitless. The issue isn’t that we’re not marching correctly or aren’t smart enough for a seat at the table. The issue isn’t your sagging pants or your “ethnic” name.

The issue, as with many of history’s great conflicts, is that a small, terrified group of White lifelong scoundrels simply refuses to get their motherfucking minds right. Slavery. Suffrage. The 2008 Bailout. Iggy Azalea. All byproducts of these scoundrels and their vigorous rejection of nonabysmal personhood. Dassit. Serena Williams penned a lovely essay detailing her growth and maturity after being humiliated and mistreated following her victory at Indian Wells. But what of Benevolent Brock and Pestilent Patty who booed her? We moan and march to "overcome," working ourselves to death for scraps of basic human decency when we are not the problem

But Oprah had a pretty stellar solution.

Three. These folks inhabit a world where expressions of Black or Brown pride equate to racial attacks and Jessica Alba can pass for a Hip Hop-dancing Hood Savior. The case for lunacy has long been made, y’all. Let go and let Iyanla fix it.

Four. With all of that said, if you can't recognize the collective geriatric White indifference (to this and other projects featuring Black faces telling nonslavey Black stories) as stage five Dick Melanin Envy, then I don’t know what to tell you.

-Alexander Hardy

Join me March 4 in New York City for Colored Boy and Friends.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Join me in March 4th in NYC for Colored Boy and Friends


As you may be aware, I have lived all over the place these past few years. I spent two years dancing in Los Angeles, ate my way around New Orleans, became the Czar of Panama, and I've missed New York City every step of the way. Two years have passed since I set foot in The Land of Cat-Rats. Enough is enough.

Though the phone, email, text, and butt-nekkid Skype sessions in the midnight hour make it easier to keep in touch while away from home, it's just not the same as stuffing your face and being drinky with someone. My writing career and network of eHomies both blossomed beautifully while I was living in Panama, and since arriving Stateside, I have been itching for some face-to-face time with those who I've connected with digitally over the past few years. So, I decided to gather all the coolest kids in the back room of a bar in NYC for a jolly time and such.

I want to meet you. I want to connect with readers, writers, friends, and colleagues. I want to shake hands, laugh, and sip (brown liquor?) with the many folks who've supported, encouraged, challenged, infuriated and inspired me for so long. Also, I feel it's important for me to have a space to share my work with a living, breathing, emoting audience and get me some of that human connection, yo. Infinitely better than contending with e-Rage via bitchass anonymous blog comments, yes?

I thought so, too.

Colored Boy and Friends will be an intimate, wankster-free experience. I will be reading and discussing a brand new essay (or two), answering some of the nosy, bold, wild, and freaky ass questions I've been receiving from readers and other internetpersons (here: Ask Me Stuff), and discussing literature, love, and life on stage with Darnell L. Moore​ (writer/co-managing editor of The Feminist Wire​), André D. Singleton​ (cultural curator and performance artist), and Shernita Anderson​ (host/personality/entertainer extraordinaire).

Special guests:
Shernita Anderson


André D Singleton



Darnell Moore

And I'm collaborating with master mixologist Blue Rivera​ of SO/YO CRAFT BAR​ on a dope drink menu. Woot. Woot.

I like having fun. You like having fun. Dammit, let's have some fun together. Merriment awaits. Join me.

Where: BAR NONE - 98 Third Ave, New York, NY 10003
When: Wednesday, March 4, 8PM
Suggested donation: FIVE WHOLE DOLLARS (but if the spirit moves you, don't stop there)

and

if you happen to have a radio show, podcast, classroom, workshop, panel, or dining room where you think I need to appear while in New York City during the first week of March, or if you have any questions, concerns, or ideas, let me know: here.

I'll be around before the Colored Boy and Friends event for a happy hour meet & greet situation, from about 6:30-7:30 in the bar at Bar None. 

Hope to see you there, player!

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Monday, February 9, 2015

New Kendrick Lamar - "The Blacker The Berry"


"My hair is nappy, my dick is big, my nose is round and wide
You hate me don't you?"

After winning two awards at last night's Mayonnaise Fest for last year's "i," Compton-bred wordsmith Kendrick Lamar has released "The Blacker The Berry" unto the world. I have nothing to add. Just listen.


After a second listen, I'm now three shades darker. And that's fine.

Get $30 towards your first Uber taxi ride with my promo code: ubercoloredboy.
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Monday, February 2, 2015

David Oyelowo: The Academy likes their Blacks subservient and dependent on nice White people.


Black strife is lucrative business. Just ask any old White record label executive, movie studio head, or sneaker store owner. On screen, in the eyes of the Powers That Be (Terrible), we are most valuable and palatable when downtrodden, despicable, and at the mercy of some all-knowing, benevolent White Knight who swoops in, Sandra Bullockly, to save the day by rescuing a poor Black beast from the throes of Blackness with boundless wisdom and Jesus-flavored good will. 

That sense of self-satisfaction experienced after watching a team of resourceful space-age Whitefolks save a race of Bluefolks from extinction? Necessary. That warm and fuzzy pre-ejaculatory euphoria felt while watching a brave Nice White lady venture over the river and through the hills into DA GHETTO to rescue a crew of emotionally stunted angry misfits from the brink of illiteracy, shanking and teen pregnancy? Necessary. It makes their booty holes pulsate with joy. It lubes and strokes their White Guilt. It helps them sleep at night. 

And, it's exhausting. As fuck.
Also from the White Savior Hall of Fame: Diff'rent Strokes.

So, it's fairly unsurprising that a flock of geriatric good ol' boys fails to get the brilliance of Ava DuVernay and David Oyelowo, the director and star of Selma. I know that the sight of a powerful Black man who opted against bowing to and tap dancing for aggressively terrible old timey White dudes is alarming. Cries of "WHERE ARE SANDRA BULLOCK AND KEVIN COSTNER TO MAKE SENSE OF IT ALL?" rang out from hipsters and ahistoric supremacist sympathizers alike. Selma isn't a celebration of Whiteness. DuVernay was adamant about that. Here, Martin Luther King, Jr's story isn't told through the eyes of the nice, White (and courageous) White House receptionist who changed history by connecting MLK's calls to the President, adopting a family of Black sharecroppers, and inspiring Maulana Karenga to create Kwanzaa. Thankfully. This ain't that.

And all of is is apparently too much for The Academy of Motion Picture Whiteness to bear. 

While being interviewed at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Oyelowo kept it all the way real when asked for his feelings on being snubbed for his Selma role:

"Historically — this is truly my feeling; I felt this before the situation we're talking about and I feel it now — generally speaking, we, as black people, have been celebrated more for when we are subservient, when we are not being leaders or kings or being at the center of our own narrative."



FACTS.
He added:
"We have been slaves. We have been domestic servants. We have been criminals. We have been all of those things. But we've been leaders. We've been kings. We've been those who changed the world. And those films where that is the case are so hard to get made."
Because Black strife is lucrative and White guilt is inconvenient.

Spike Lee said it best, when offering advice to DuVernay after she was overlooked in the Best Director category: "Fuck 'em."

-alexander hardy

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Monday, January 26, 2015

written elsewhere: "Are Black Movie Soundtracks a Lost Art?" (Saint Heron)


In my latest piece for Saint Heron, Solange Knowles' music website, I discuss the increasing irrelevance of the movie soundtrack:

When was the last time a movie soundtrack made you feel something? When was the last time you sought out all of the music from a film driven by a desire to re-experience the narrative musically? If you, too, were born before Whitley and Kinu dropped Patti’s prune cobbler, it has probably been at least ten years. Maybe even fifteen.

The thrill is gone. Copping that movie-based compilation—and maybe even the poster—was once its own necessary event. Having the music that played alongside your favorite movie scene was vital, and the soundtrack was often just as good and as successful as any other album out at the time. The Soul Food soundtrack, with Boyz II Men, Total, and Outkast, spawned four singles and went double platinum in just a few months. It still stands as one of the best R&B compilations of the 90s.

In a broader musical sense, it is rare for contemporary artists to put forth songs that make you feel the way the Love Jones soundtrack made you feel in 1997. That project, a LaFace situation, was much more than a few big names and a handful of indiscriminately chosen table scraps, as is often the case today. That album was a cornucopia of greatness. Those were the days of real music making, not vapid trend chasing. As such, achieving that same near-perfection with a dozen artists so many years after the 99 and the 2000 is, sadly, a fantasy.

Read the rest over at Saint Heron.

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The Minnie Riperton Express BustDown Playlist




Every BustDown needs a soundtrack. Take it from me: Hanky Panky Enthusiast Número Uno. Sometimes, an "Oochie Wally"-led humptape suffices. Every session doesn't call for Marvin, Jodeci and Janet. Sometimes, the sound of skin slapping and bed creaking is enough.

But if something more sensual is needed to drown out the moans, I invite you to let Madame Minnie Riperton—underpraised goddess of funk, folk, R&B, and whatever the hell else she wanted—accompany you and your BustDown co-participant(s) the next time Dr. Knockboot clocks in to put in work. 

I make no assumptions on the duration of your sexytime endeavors. I don't know whether your pumps in the bump will last a hook or a fortnight. I don’t know your life. Either way, it is simply not possible to end every night with a glorious, sweaty threepeat during a marathon overnight scenario. Sometimes boots must be knocked expeditiously.


Enter: this express BustDown playlist. 40 Minutes. In and out. In my expert opinion, these songs provide some stellar mood music for le huff and puff. Try this out and report back.

(If Spotify doesn't work for you, the playlist can be played here, on Youtube.)

Now, before we begin, my only rule is that this isn’t for the lunch break herk and jerk in the back of the Ac'. At the very least, Minnie deserves a sturdy bed. And some sheets. Damn. Have some decorum.

También, as someone well versed in the art of the Hump and Dump, this set would be a bit too...romantic for a session of the Meet, Greet, Skeet, and Street variety. Discernment, saints.

FADE IN:
INT. SITE OF THE BUSTDOWN – NIGHT


Why not get the hanky panky started with a luscious Stevie Wonder joint that lends itself to sensual butt-nekkid two-stepping down by the fire? Undress and pet heavily to “Perfect Angel” as you silently rejoice that you opted for a light and unencumbering dinner. Ahem. This—not “Loving You”— is the best thing Minnie ever did. Sorry, Maya. Let this Steveland groove kick off your evening or hour of booty rubbin’ and good lovin’ with a touch of class before the boogie down. This, the warm and mushy before the wet and gushy, is for the preamble.

When I hear “Young, Willing, and Able,” I envision a young and aggressive Lady Eloise whipping this song out on her suitors in the late 70s before she put that work on ‘em. And you know she put that work on ‘em. This is the song she played as she lit candles in her boudoir and strategically arranged her collection of clamps, chains, and bootyhole expanders on a table beside the swing. 

Here, Minnie F Baby purrs about how her youthful exuberance renders her capable of rocking your whole entire world. You see, she’s “too hot to trot” and asks that you “think of [her] as peaches and cream.” Ow ow. Those lusty grunts at the end of the second verse will give you wings, my dude/dudette. This is for the finishing of blunts and the gathering of props and such. (Or so I’ve heard.)

Just as it appears perfectly sequenced on the album, “Every Time He Comes Around” comes next on this nut-seeking expedition. As the title suggests, Minnie gets hot, bothered, and lustified when her main squeeze comes within sniffing distance. ¡Qué pasión! Like Saint Damita Jo instructed that juicy-mouthed young man, use your imagination like you’ve never used it before. Dig deeper. Do it to it. In the butt, even.

By now, at the very least, pants are off.

INT. SITE OF THE BUSTDOWN – MIDDLE OF THE BED

A lighter clicks O.S. Nag champa up in the atmosphere. Hands explore, grip, and pull. Teeth. Fingers vanish and reappear. Minnie resumes singing, draped in a majestic white faux mink situation. Luxury, ho.


“Baby, This Love I Have” is self-explanatory. It opens calmly, innocently. And then that motherfucker blossoms. That hook? If that yearning in Minnie’s voice doesn’t guide your hips to greatness, I don’t know what to tell you. Perhaps the Beginner’s course down the hall may be more your speed. Otherwise, make the team proud.

“Here We Go” is a pretty direct song about drinking chilled Zimas and making sweet love pon the veranda. It’s big, swirly, and features a few passionate bars from an earnest Peabo Bryson, who is way serious about crossing this finish line together. Pro tip: Our Lady of Whistle Register Enunciation shows out at the end of the second verse. A surprise deep stroke opportunity arriveth.

Next up: Minnie’s “run up, get done up” moment. Done up, in the freaky sense, of course. Per the song’s composer and co-writer, Leon Ware, “Inside My Love” celebrates the union of the sexual and the spiritual. That sanctified slobdown and what not. With lyrics like “You can see inside me/You can come inside me/Do you wanna ride, inside my love?” you had better be putting that damn back into it. Ain’t no half-stepping. [Insert preferred higher power] is rooting for you.

Elsewhere in Minnie’s basket of furtive fuckjams is “Gettin’ Ready For Your Love.” On its surface, this joint is about her preparing to be with her cherie amour for better or worse, through both ashy and prosperous times, and bringing her A game to this love thang.

But from my pervert perspective, this makes a great soundtrack for the home stretch. This is for the buildup, when the light at the end of the tunnel is visible and all parties are preparing for their big finish and flawless dismount. Minnie sings of how all paths have lead to this day, and “gathering up everything I know to be true.” Pervert translation: “Yo soy pulling out all my tricks.” He (or she or they) is ready. The camera is ready. You is ready. A sexual eruption cometh. Pro tip: Don’t let the tempo throw you off. Focus, boo. Slow and steady wins the race.

“Can You Feel What I’m Saying?” is the high note and key change at the end of “Oh Happy Day” when things gets all rejoicey. Welcome to the wet spot. Catch your breath, dry off, and float back down to Earth with this angelic climax of a song. She gets quite spirited at the end of the song, just in case a passionate reprise feels right in the moment.

But if your BustDown situation is not a sleepover situation, it may be best to cap things off with something brisk yet inspirational. If the goal is to encourage urgency in your partners when it’s time to gather one's things and dále on out to the street, Minnie has you covered with “Take A Little Trip.” She sings, “Take a little trip on a maaaaagic carpet ride [over the river and through the hills, back to where the fuck you came from].” It’s perfect.

And a bonus, for ye breasted ones (or, you know…whomever): “I’m a Woman,” because Minnie sings, “I was born to make love.” Now that is a memoir title.

You're welcome.

What's on your sexytime playlist
   
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Friday, January 23, 2015

written elsewhere: "I Just Turned 30, And, Well, How Does 30 Work?"


"Forty-one days ago, I turned thirty. I didn’t make a big deal of it. ‘Twas a lovely day, though. I had a quiet, masterfully seasoned dinner with Mister Man. Got me some birthday sex. Bought myself a serious person’s winter coat (that I hardly wear). The sky didn’t crash on my head. I’m still not on AARP’s radar. Dick still works like it should. All good so far.

But now that I’m 60 in Gay Years, I figure there are certain things I reckon I should start thinking about. Investments. Polo shirts. Metabolism. Tube socks. Unfortunately, life can’t be all about sex and delicious homophobic chicken biscuits.

So, yes. It’s time for me to get some grown up savings. Yes, I should get me some stocks and perhaps some prune juice. I need to learn how to play dominoes and knit du-rags for my grandbabies. I need a respectable suit. By now, I should know how to sew on a button and eat pussy (in a parallel universe), but everything in time I suppose."

Read the rest over at Very Smart Brothas.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hello, Thirty.


Isla Grande, Panamá
Today is my 30th birthday. Bust a nut in my honor on today. I have been here with mi familia in 1998, Virginia (aka Hampton) since August and have yet to backflip into traffic due to boredom. Clap it up for me. This is the longest I’ve spent here in my hometown since moving to New York in 2006. If I were 60 and down with spending my days in a town as vibrant as Sandra Lee’s spice rack, then Hampton would be the place for me.

Pero, no.

I need decadent food and a place to party where Top 40 Fuckshit is not involved. These things are not common here. You see, I am from the Shopping Center Capital of the Universe. Here, there are shopping centers inside shopping centers.

Hampton is THE suburb. For example: when Steak & Shake opened here this summer, the drive-thru line wrapped around the building TWICE for TWO MONTHS STRAIGHT, because these bammas folks ain’t got shit else to do. So, surely you can understand why I usually have night terrors by the 10th day here.

1998, Virginia Insider Tip # 351:
Local pastimes include posting up at Club Wal-Mart, getting in fights at The Alley, being wretched and quasi-Southern. When in doubt: Take a deep breath, lower your expectations, and reassess the situation.

I really miss Panama. I miss living the Tank Top Life. I miss eating fresh fish and platanos, and sipping Ron Abuelo, swamp-crotched and happy, pon the beach with The Blacks. That was the good life.

I miss the insane taxi drivers and Panama’s No Frills Fucks approach to customer service. I miss arepas on Via España, oxtail at El Caribe, the Pabellón Criollo at Los Venezolanos, my dope crew of Blacks, and, of course, the Panamanian boys. It’s hot as fuck in Panama right now. It’s cold as fuck in Virginia right now. I don’t believe in snow, so you must understand why, I masturbate to memories of that glorious Panamanian humidity I am not thrilled about the arrival of December, my birthday month.

Because: cold as fuck.

My homies are still there, eating greatness and uploading pictures from the beach while I am here in the Land of Bomb Ass Fish Sandwiches, ashy and bitter, jealousing those happy, sun-kissed Black bastards so damn hard.
My reaction after receiving a care package containing grits. Panama, 2012. 
Battling artic winds and Occasional Public Ashiness this fall has shown me yet another reason to hate Hot Chocolate Season: while having broad shoulders and long arms is great while bending boys over wearing a tank top, it is a terror for important, non-sexual things like purchasing coats, jackets, long-sleeve shirts and other cold weather Fuckery. Eight times out of ten, a fly jacket or long-sleeved shirt that flatters my cheese-grits-and-chicken-biscuits-fed frame will be no match for my orangutan arms. All Exposed Wrists Everything. Winter requires too many clothes. So, fuck Winter as a staff, record label, and as a motherfucking crew.

Pero.

I am enjoying myself here in 1998. The slow pace is exactly what I need right now. It feels great to be surrounded by my family and good friends. I sleep a few feet away from a fridge filled with love and empanadas. I get to watch my nieces be 16 and 17 and awesome. I enjoy scrubbing floors and smoking turkeys and dusting ceiling fans and watering plants and zooming to Chick-Fil-a in time for breakfast and peeling potatoes and rinsing greens and grabbing the Flavorwave Oven from the high cabinet and making breakfast for my mother. And realizing daily how similar my Dad and I are.

I am recharging. I am eating like a motherfucker, writing when I can, having wondrous sex, and doing the therapy thing. And, I’m almost out of the It’s Gonna Suck Before It Doesn’t Suck part of adjusting to an antidepressant, which is as fun as a seminar on Proud Blackness For People Who Do Not Live To Suck Whiteness’ Dick Daily, taught by Don Lemon. That anxiety in that second week? Unbelievable. I spent a few days calming myself down with deep breaths and “You’re fine. You’re fine.” That hysteria felt like the months leading up to my first departure from Panama.

A month in with Zoloft, the jaw clenching has ceased. My anxiety has mellowed, but it's still very hard to concentrate. I sigh a lot. I sleep a lot. I smile less. Some friends have told me that these dulled emotions fade. Others say no. This is the first thing I've written in weeks, because writing has been terrifying. Things are weird. But this is all temporary, so I shall deal.

Okay, so, therapy. Therapy is fucking terrifying. Therapy is terrifying and necessary and, I love it. Each week, I leave that session feeling like a super hero. But in the beginning, I didn’t know what to expect. Who does the talking? Does she keep score and does crying get me extra points? Will I be plugged into a machine and analyzed? How many DK coins does The Answer cost? Will there be chicken? And so on. Serious concerns had I.

Some suggested I push for a Black and/or LGBT therapist, so I briefly considered seeking out a fellow Chocolate Homo. But I’ve been doing just fine with my Nice White Lady. I was hesitant at first. I know she’s trained to be very into me and my issues, but I was initially spooked by her eagerness about my Bullshit.

“Why is she so excited about my Bullshit?” thought I.

Yes, the rumors are true: This is the first time, in 30 Years of Blackness, that I have intimately discussed ho shit and long-held secrets with a Nice White Lady. It’s not nearly as traumatic as I thought it would be. In fact, she’s down right fantastic.

Swan diving into my feelings—with the help of my Nice White Lady—has been has been freeing. Digging up and sorting out old shit in therapy has been freeing. Being honest, open and vulnerable (even when it hurts) has been freeing. But all those warm and fuzzies don’t make it any less harrowing of an experience.

Verbalizing lies that I’ve told myself forever is scary. Looking at my patterns and connecting the dots between all my Bullshit has been scary, powerful and helpful. Getting to the WHY of my Bullshit has been scary, powerful and helpful. It’s not easy to be honest with myself in front of a stranger.

The idea of therapy is strange. You employ a stranger to hand you a flashlight to go digging through all the Bullshit you’ve tucked away so masterfully and learned how to live around/without/despite. You know from the onset that it’s going to suck/hurt/make you stabby, yet you go through with it anyhow. You keep going back. And you hope for the best.

Six weeks in, I’ve been able to articulate why therapy is so scary for me: I am an impatient perfectionist and there is no finish line with this. I like margins and discipline. I make lists of lists I need to make. I like tangible, measurable goals. But how do you gauge a decrease in fuckedupness?

I have seen beautiful progress in the way I speak to and about myself. I’m working on unlearning this negative self-talk that’s remarkably effective at keeping a brotherman down. I’m the Janet Jackson of discounting my efforts and accomplishments, so I’m working on unlearning that as well, because all this greatness ain’t doing the world any good tucked in a box under all This Bullshit. Life is weird as a motherfucker right now, but at least I am can get excited about it, which hasn’t wasn’t possible a few short months ago.

SO: I’m learning to appreciate this journey. Even the parts that suck absolute Mississippi Republican Octogenarian bootyhole. Fighting lupus has made me incredibly resilient. It also taught me to cherish every lesson, especially the hard-earned ones. Normally, I’m all about that home run, not impressed by RBIs or singles. The gigantic leap was all that mattered. BUT. I am learning to value the daily victories that make the leaps possible. Those daily victories are just as important as that big, life-changing leap. Those bitches matter, too.

I can now give myself credit for LISTENING TO MYSELF, backing away from everything and being selfish with my time and energy. For the first time, I can recognize Clocking The Fuck Out as a necessary component of self-care, and not an action of a Lazy, Wallowing Rat Bastard. It works. It helped.

I’m hopeful again. I’m daydreaming again. I am getting to know a wonderful man who makes me laugh a lot. I can see my bomb ass future as one of the world’s leading voices on Culturethings and Telling White Folks About Their Motherfucking Bullshit and my books and my podcast and my juicy bank account and my Dude and my fly ass kitchen and my record player and my ginormous bookshelf in my dopely decorated brownstone situation with wood floors in Harlem or somewhere outside of Obnoxiously White Brooklyn. (If such a place exists in the Age of Obama.)

This is a big deal. Therapy is a big fucking deal for me. Much of 2014 year has been

A
MOTHERFUCKING
SHIT SHOW

and there were times this year when I didn’t expect/want to see this day, Wednesday December 10, 2014. So, I am elated to be alive to eat cheese grits in 2015 and beyond. Sure, some days reeeeally fucking suck, and it’s occasionally hard to even thinking about TRYING to DO, but I am loved and appreciated, and I know that I have just barely scratched the surface of my greatness. I’ve got a lot to live for, because if I don't provide a loving home in my belly for all the poor, uneaten chickens in this cruel, Ashanti-loving world we're in, who will? 

Today, I'm thankful for my life, my mind, my dick, and my community. And chicken. Happy birthday to me and shit.

And, just in case, here's le Amazon Wishlist. I am also accepting Paypal-based generosities, gift cards, nudes, and chicken recipes. 

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