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'm looking forward to my podcast and creating and having 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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