What About My Sons?

What About My Sons?

Am I the only mother who feels like her children aren’t scared enough?

Like I’m not teaching them survival skills?

I have two sons. Twins. One has a socio-emotional learning disability where he doesn’t pick up on social cues. It’s hard for him to get sarcasm or read tones of voice. What happens when the person who he believes is supposed to “help people” approaches him and he doesn’t understand what he’s supposed to do? He is big for his age. And much like #MichaelBrown, described as a gentle giant a lot… Very loving and extremely sensitive. In a stressful situation, he is frequently all over the place emotionally and physically. I know at only 11 years old, he and his brother should have the luxury of being children. I take pride in the fact that my kids are still kids. Adult things and conversations don’t interest them. They play hard. Their play involves lots of Imaginext action figures, castles, Nerf guns, wrestling moves and super hero movies. They are great little boys.

So what do I do? What do WE do? I don’t want to terrorize my children. I do not want to see their eyes fill with fear or wariness when walking down the street. This world snatches childhood away on so many levels and so quickly now. I want them to be able to be little boys, not little black boys, for as long as they can. They don’t see the ugly, they don’t see the injustice, I don’t want that for them. But how can I love them and protect them and not show them how to be? I’m torn. I cannot fail them. But I don’t know the answer. It’s not supposed to be like this. They are children. They are not expendable.

We watch the news in horror at the fighting in Gaza, weep over the slaughter of innocent lives worldwide. Schools full of girls kidnapped, tiny bodies and bones broken in the streets, casualties of wars fought for centuries. What about my sons? What about the carelessness with which police officers sworn to protect and uphold the peace at all times use excessive force to shoot down black children in America? When does it end? What do I do to protect my beautiful brown babies from this unfortunate unnecessary reality? I need an answer. I need a conversation. I need rules and repercussions for this disrespect and disregard for our babies’ lives. It’s basic. My children deserve more than lying dead in the street for hours. Who does that? Where is the humanity in that?

Inboxes from Hell: my life on Facebook

7/14, 6:03am

Strangerdude:

Hello! I would love to add you to my group

7/15, 8:58am

Me:

Hello.

who are you?

and what kind of group?

7/15, 10:31am

Strangerdude:

Hello. The name of my group is called women who only want 3some’s. I host parties both stateside and internationally. I personally hand pick all the members in my group.

7/16, 3:33pm

Me:

Ummmm…

No thank you

3:42pm

Strangerdude:

Aight

I have soooo many questions for this dude.

What exactly was it about MY profile that made you think that this was the group for me?

You handpick all members do you? Culled from millions of strangers on Facebook? Should I feel privileged?

You host parties internationally? So you are a worldwide sleaze?

Un-evolved gentlemen, for future reference? No.

better yet, hell no.

this is not the way grown ups meet one another on social media. If this seems like something that you, or someone that you know, would do stop and seek help. This type of reckless Facebook inboxing must stop.  Consider this your PSA.

 

Throwback Thursday: Morning Creep

I am a believer in online dating. I was using the personals way back in the way back. Meeting folks in the City Paper… With NO PICTURES in the 90s! So I know my way around a blind date. And I’m pretty proficient in weeding out the “crazy” prior to it showing up on my doorstep.

But even with all my dysfunction radar, one or two still manage to skip through the cracks from time to time. Usually via text or phone call, rarely in person.

The scenario that follows happened last summer.

image

My name is Hatiná.
Today is Friday, August 16, 2013.
It’s 6:47 am.
I have a story.

Yesterday I deleted my POF profile and created a new one. New name, new pics etc. I had to shake off the cray cray that had been creeping into my messages of late… So I get up early this morning to pee and see a message from a dude that I was supposed to have got in contact with a couple weeks ago. He had expressed how he didn’t want to just talk online and had left his home number for me to use at my discretion. I had every intention of calling, but somehow never got around to it. It’s now about 6 am.

The message reads, “hey there what’s your number?”
Since we have already chatted before and it is the ass crack of dawn, I send the number.
I cannot type when I’m half sleep, it annoys me.
He then sends another message, “you available this morning?”
I pause. “To talk? Sure.”
Him: “Boooooo”
Me: “Boo? Really? Just use the number. It’s too early to be typing.”
He doesn’t respond. I wait a few minutes then roll over to go back to my early morning slumber.
Of course as soon as me and my pillow get back on good terms, the phone rings…
“Hello”
Him: “you happy now?”
Me: “you asked for the number dear. Good morning.”
He laughs.
He’s like “well I asked to see you this morning and you just want to talk on the phone…”
What?
I say “First of all you asked was I available this morning. I said yes, TO TALK… Secondly, it’s like 6:30 am. I’m in the bed. And why are you trying to meet me so early?”
Him: “well I have to work later just wanted to see you before then. Do you drive?”
Me: “no.”
Him: ” I don’t have a problem coming to get you. I need to run to Walmart to take care of something really important. But that’s about it. What time were you getting up?”
Me: “I don’t know. Not now. But if you wanted to go to breakfast or something, I could get up around 8.”
Him: “We’ll I don’t know about breakfast. You could just come over to my house and we chill, you know, party. If you like what you see and I like what I see then we just go from there.. we could fix a little lunch a little dinner (!!!) and then I could bring you back around 8 before I got to work at 9.”

Okay.
Before I get to my response to this box full of shenanigans, lets break this down…

You. Stranger dude.
Want me to get up out of MY bed at the ass crack of morning. Ride with you to Walmart. Where I don’t have to come in. ( yes I skipped that part of the sparkling conversation)
Then go back home with you. In your car. Basically give you permission to kidnap me.
Where you have EVERY intention of fucking. (I’m slow, it took me a minute)
And this sex? It’s supposed to last ALL DAY LONG because in your grand plan you are dropping me back home at EIGHT O’CLOCK AT NIGHT!
Seriously?

And….. We’re back.

Me: “wait, what?”
Him: “what’s wrong?”
Me: “what’s right? You are expecting me to come to your house and take off my clothes? No intentions on doing ANYTHING like that.”
Him: “I mean, we both grown. If we blend, yeah, I mean, we ain’t on e-harmony or something…”
Me: “Nigga it aint a sex site either”
Him: ” well you expecting me to come and get you JUST TO MEET? That’s a long way for meeting somebody, I mean, we grown…”
Me: “And because you offered to come and get me because you WANT some ass, I should be GIVING you some ass because you came to get me? If you only knew how fucking crazy you sound. Boy, get the fuck off my phone please!”
Him: “so you don’t want to see if we blend? I mean, if we don’t, we could just be straight up…”
Me: “Straighten your damn self up, you lunatic…”
And I pressed END.

I’m never going to find a man.
I’m going back to bed.

 

“You Ain’t Got No Job, Man!”

Tommy

This is a rant.

I hate nigga shit. Not “black people shit,” strictly nigga antics. Ignorant folks doing ignorant shit.

But I live in DC, Nigga Shit capitol of the Free World. From the politicians to the police to the everyday citizens…

A friend calls the other morning to tell me about a job fair they heard about on the Russ Parr Morning Show. They have 400 positions to fill. The hiring event is being held at the Doubletree hotel downtown. The day before they had a great turn out, BUT the potential hires were a ratchet mess! The room they were using was reported to smell like weed, folks were super unkempt and/or high, so much so that basically they couldn’t GIVE the positions away.

So they decided to try again today.
From 10 am to 4 pm.

I called my sister, who is also unemployed right now, and she said she’d meet me at the spot. Mind you, I know nothing about what kind of jobs, who is doing the hiring, I am like “hey I’m going to check it out.” I reach out to another friend who recently moved here from out of town and he meets me at the metro station. Off we go.

Nigga shit #1. My sister is a no call, no show.
Exasperatingly annoying. I call and call and text and text. I call my mama, my other sister, nobody has heard from her. I know it’s her life, but I have an attitude.

We walk into the hotel, I ask the concierge about the job fair and he directs me to a room at the back of the lobby. It’s a fairly small room to be holding a hiring event for 400 jobs. There are maybe 100 chairs set up, in two groups with an aisle down the middle. There are at least 75-100 people in the room if not more. The 4 or 5 interviewers are at the front of the room behind a row of tables.

Nigga shit #2. There is no order. None.
There are no signs. Nothing is labelled. There is not one person at the door when you walk in to facilitate the flow of people. No one directing you where to go, which line to stand in, what jobs they are hiring for, who they are, if you should sit or stand, what the two lines with folks pressed against each wall mean… I mean NOTHING.

So I roll the dice and get in the line on the right. Simply because I notice the people standing in this line have no paperwork, while the people in the line on the left all are waving a couple of sheets of paper. Cool. My friend and I slowly inch towards the front of the line. This is where we run into…

Nigga shit #3. The Lady.
Yes, I’m just going to call her “the lady” because she NEVER introduced herself to us, but her job was to pass out the paperwork and also relay the ONLY semblance of direction we had received thus far. She was a short medium built light skinned African American woman. Anywhere from early 30s to late 30s. Her hair was all over her head. She looked tired. And disheveled. And behaved like she’d been #drankin. When we got to the front of the line, she looked at us and said, “Did y’all hear what I just told them?” And she pointed to the two people who had been just ahead of us in line.

Oh, I forgot to mention that she had a small glass in her hand filled with ice, which she was eating with her fingers. Her fingers!

Anyway, I said no, I wasn’t really paying attention. So she sighs and says, all monotone, “you take these two papers. Fill them out. Sit back down. Somebody gonna call you up. Don’t worry, they gonna tell you when to get up, move the chairs and all that. Depends on what you can do. Your experience. If you got cashier experience, you go upstairs… Right now, don’t wait. Second floor.” And then she demonstrates while she’s talking. “Get off the elevator. Make a left. Go to the hall, make another left.” Puts two fingers up. “Two lefts!” As if I was supposed to figure out where I was and what I was doing from that gibberish? The two sheets of paper she hands us are a W-9 and a Independent Contractor agreement.

So we sit. And as the people in the chairs get called to the front or to the side to “interview” we do a musical chairs version of the snake and keep moving chair to chair. The craziest thing I’ve ever seen. Mind you the only position I have heard anyone speak of is cashier. Then…

Nigga shit #4. The White Jacket.
One of the dudes at the front, who I later find out owns this bootleg company, stands up and queries the room: “Who in here has a white jacket?” Like two men raise their hands. Then he asks “Well who can GET a white jacket? You need it to be a server, like a serving jacket.” Oooooh cashiers AND servers, now we’re getting somewhere!

Oh wait… y’all hiring servers for God-knows-what but they have to bring their own jackets? Oh. Okay.

At this point I’m somewhere midway between irritated and flabbergasted… “Irritabbergasted” or “Flabberitated.” Either way, I’d had enough. I told my friend that I was going upstairs to see what the cashier position was all about. I take the elevator, make my two lefts and end up in a holding area with about 4 legal pads on a long table. Each pad has a different heading. “Cashier,” “Bartender (must have license),” “Porter,” and “Server.” To my left are double doors with no sign or guard but still, imposing. Like the holy grail is behind those doors…. I can feel it! They are literally pulsating and glowing (at least in my warped mind).

Nigga shit #5. More utter confusion.
So as I stated, “if you have cashier experience, go to the second floor.”
I have cashier experience.
I’m on the second floor.
No one on the second floor has any direction for me.
I’m told to put my name and number on the “cashier” legal pad.
Then I’m told to wait for the “guy in the blue shirt” because he will be right back.
So I wait. And ear hustle.
The chick at the laptop is talking to a dude who’s trying to “get on the schedule” but he doesn’t have his Social Security card. Apparently, if you don’t have your SS card, you can’t get hired. Because they (whoever “they” is) need it to put you in the system. So you can get paid when they cut checks THREE WEEKS from now.

Finally blue shirt shows up. I tell him how I was sent upstairs. He says, “oh I just sent a group of y’all back downstairs.” I’m like, so what are my next steps?
He says, “You put your name down?”
“Yes.”
“Did you talk to anybody downstairs?”
I sigh, “No, I was told to just come up.”
“Oh okay, well give me your paperwork. And is this your number on here?”
“Yes.”
“Alright. Looks good. We are going to call you by 6 pm to let you know what time to show up tomorrow. You got an ID right? And a Social Security card?”
“Yes.”
He says, “Well bring them with you tomorrow.”
I say, “okay.”
The last thing he says is, “Make sure you’re by your phone around six.”

Ask me if I have heard from the man with no name who works for the company with no name again?

I got hired by Tommy from Martin.

Hypothetically Speaking…

Ladies. Take heed. Hypothetically.

So even if you’re feeling comfortably frisky and tipsy on a first date, do NOT under any circumstances, either real or imagined, give your date head in the car afterwards.

Yes, you are both adults, and yes, it might be fun and a little risqué, but from that point on whenever you get into his car he will (more than likely) automatically expect some kind of sexual favor.

A conditioned response to you sitting your ass in his car.
Like Pavlov’s fucking dog…

Pavlov

Even if you’ve just gone to IHOP and had a totally pleasant breakfast, with mediocre coffee and decent conversation, once you return to the car, he might just reach over and try to pull up your maxi skirt. Or even attempt to place your own hand on your own crotch and ask you to “massage it.”

He may also try to put your hand on his dick while he’s driving.

And even if you tell him “Look dude, I know I created this shit. This situation where you see me as the sex in the car chick... But it’s uber awkward and not in the least bit sexy.”

At 11:00 in the morning.

In broad daylight.

He might even say he gets it and then ask you to ride with him to the golf pro shop to return a club, but somehow then proceeds to drive you to a remote location like a park where he stops the car and attempts to pull you closer.

You could possibly resist while explaining to him yet again, why this shit ain’t going down. And he could be pretending to hear what you are saying while he deliberately unzips his pants..

Yep.

That could happen.

But you know what might happen next?

You could take one look at him and his raging hard on sticking out of his jeans, and burst out laughing until tears are leaking from your eyes.

Then, and only then, might he finally get himself together enough to immediately drive you home.

In total silence.

That could happen too.

but only to me…  Hypothetically.

Moments in Love (Open Letter)

(this began as a free write to sort of my feelings after a particularly cathartic moment for me. it snowballed into an open letter that I just emailed before I totally lost my nerve. now I’m all in my feelings.)

This is what I know.

I want a love of my own.
Singular.
Someone who wants me and no one else.
One.
I love you.
Yes.
You love me.
No question.
You are a good person.
You make me laugh.
I know your heart. It is good.
You’ve never judged me.
Never been cruel.
Never purposely caused me pain.
But you are not for me.
You don’t want me like I want you.
I was over you once.
I had gotten you out of my system for almost an entire year.
But you reached out.
I smiled.
I remembered.
And I was lonely.
And you and I are so good cocooned from the world.
In the basement with your shows.
In the kitchen with our banter and conversation.
And the sex.
It is great. For a little while it wasn’t. For me.
But it’s back again.
So this is what I know.
I love your lips and hands on me.
I love touching you, feeling you, hearing you.
And then when you lost your dad, and you asked for my help?
My heart opened up so wide for you.
The “I miss you” texts.
More moments spent wrapped up in you.
Anything to have a little more time.
One more moment.
But it isn’t enough.
You’re good at making me feel special.
But you are good at that with everyone.
Every woman you let into your space, your bed, your mouth…
She feels exactly the same way I do.
If today will be the day that you make her yours.
She wonders if you’ll finally choose her..
But you won’t.
And that uncertainty, that fear of not knowing, is so much more hurtful than any harsh words you could ever speak.
Which you never will, because you’re such a sweetheart.
I know.
I do.
I used to be JUST LIKE YOU.
Every man I spent time with felt that he was chosen, special.
They weren’t.
I mean, they were special IN THAT MOMENT.
And I was selfish.
Even though I was good.
Even though I made them smile.
And cooked them meals and rubbed their backs and opened my legs.
Even though I wrote them poems and shared my bed.
Even when I told them I loved them.
This is not what I think.
This is what I KNOW.
Love does not live in the moment.
Love does not survive sealed off from the world.
Love is not celebrated in tiny moments broken off with this person and that one.
Love is big.
Love is true.
Love is the total.
All.
Everything.
Love. Is. Everything.
Love is more than great sex and years, literal YEARS, of my precious life… allowing myself to believe “if I did just one more thing maybe he’d love me beyond this moment.”
I said I wouldn’t cry.
That I had no more tears for heartbreak.
But tonight I cried.
I cried.
I was angry with myself.
But I forgive me.
Even in my anger, I have compassion for this tenacious heart of mine.
I know her intricacies.
She means well.
It is but a human heart.
A little bruised, but good.
And this is still what I know.
I love you.
I do.
But in this moment.
I love me more.
I have to.
I’ll never get to the love I deserve if I’m always waiting for the next moment with you.
When it comes to love, I want everything.

Armor. Chink 1.

Armor

On a good day, my armor, this thick skin, quick wit, easy laugh and sharp tongue I wield as a Single Black Woman with Kids is lightweight and flexible. I am Superwoman leaping tall buildings in a single bound, bringing home the bacon, frying it, serving it… All that.

Then the tables turn and what once felt like a pebble aimed at a steel fortress, becomes a boulder hurled at aluminum foil.

Today has been one of those days.

Now I get to bore you with the minutiae of dealing with Social Services in Washington, DC:  My kid got sick. She’s 4 years old. When I went to fill her prescription, the pharmacy wouldn’t accept my Medicaid insurance. I found out that even though I’d just applied for benefits in April and even though I’d just gotten new cards from a new provider in July, that it had expired in September. And now in December, I needed to reapply for medical insurance. On this same day, in the same office, I was also informed that I needed to RECERTIFY to continue receiving SNAP (i.e., food stamps). Fortunately (so I thought) it was the last day of the month and I was appreciative to get this information. I filled out my recertification form, the clerked looked it over thoroughly and deemed it correct, there were no changes or updates, and ISSUED ME A RECEIPT DATE STAMPED WITH 12/31/2013.

Stay with me now…

New Years Day was a Wednesday. On the 2nd I checked my balance for food stamps. Nothing. I thought, “well yesterday was a holiday”. Friday? Nothing. Now it’s the weekend, I have just lived through 2 weeks of four, 1-2-3-4, FOUR school age kids home on Winter break, eating and sleeping and eating and playing and eating and screaming and eating and fighting and eating. I’m tired. I don’t like them anymore.  Plus, the cupboards and fridge are bare. And so, I dip into my meager funds and buy food for the final weekend before we go back to school. I’ll take care of it Monday, I think.  Nope. Life intervenes. Over the next week I visit the hell that is  The District of Columbia Economic Security Administration (on Good Times it was known as the Welfare office) no less than three times.  On every single occasion, nothing gets done. I do not get seen. I am given misinformation. And finally I am told that my case was never transferred from the office I applied at WHEN I WAS TOLD IT WOULD BE back in June. And now I was required to trek from Northwest DC to Southeast and complete my transaction.

Meanwhile, kids still gotta eat. Momma begs, steals and borrows to make that happen. It becomes my every waking thought, “How do I feed my kids today?” Then, the polar ice caps relocate to the United States. Then, the snow comes. And I can’t do anything because I don’t have boots. Finally, TODAY is here. No snow. 40 degree weather. I can go take care of my business. I’m positive. What’s done is done, I won’t complain. I get to the Anacostia service center in SE, I get a number and wait. I’m still optimistic. Even though I’ve had no coffee or breakfast, the wifi is working, so I’m good. I wait about an hour or so. I go to the counter, thinking “Well it hasn’t been over 30 days, so I’ll fill out the recert and I’ll have food stamps tomorrow.”

pause

Yall know that didn’t happen right? Yeah ok.

unpause

I was told that unlike cash assistance or medical benefits, if you miss your recertification for SNAP —wait for it—  YOU HAVE TO REAPPLY! In my mind there was an explosion and I was turned into a pool of black, viscous bitterness that covered everything and everyone in that place in that moment. I was devastated. But wait, there’s more… And no more applications were being taken today AT 10:30 am ON A MONDAY, but I can come back tomorrow or Wednesday.

Yeah, when I got outside, I shed a thug tear.

…and that was only the first part of my day. I’ll be back.