A Year Out West

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    The Oregon coast is perfect

    A year ago last week, I wrote about lifting the couch and carrying it into our tiny new apartment in Portland, Oregon. I would’ve been completing this process in reverse, as we moved out of that apartment to a bigger one, which had been planned for months. But that didn’t happen. What sucks more than packing to move? Unpacking after not moving.

  • Since I’ve moved to Oregon, I’ve had three jobs: An insurance agent, an associate at Panera Bread & now an Adviser at a Call Center. Moving closer to my dream profession every day. (I do have some good stories though.)
  • It took me years and an MFA to call myself a Poet, but no time at all to stake a new claim in nonfiction. Poems were, for me, the most concentrated emotions and over time, I didn’t want to live in the head-space required to create them. When I write flash nonfiction I feel like the page is a meadow I have all to myself.

    When you meet a king in his palace all you can do is be humble and grateful
    When you meet a king in his palace all you can do is be humble and grateful
  • I stopped writing for my blog because I didn’t have anything interesting to share. I forgot about running my own race, about writing my own experiences. Luckily, I remembered.
  • With another writer, I created a workshop of five writers, all three genres represented. The first time I was workshopped since graduate school, it felt like coming home. There was criticism, but also joy over words I’d written, and the combination was life-affirming.

    Can we talk about this hair?
    Can we talk about this hair?
  • Relationships are work. Some days, I can’t imagine myself with anyone else but TJ and some days I think I’ll die alone amongst a pile of books and notebook paper.
  • Two months from turning thirty and I have never loved my body more than now. This lumpy, big-breasted shell has been the most consistent thing in my life, carrying me on size ten feet and sturdy thick thighs. I still drink too much, sleep too little and eat like I’m a freshman in college, but at least I know it.
  • A lot of the myths about Portland are true. My feelings about that change daily. But my love for beer is constant.
  • My 2007 Dodge Caliber is a few hundred miles from 100,000. Some of you will say — is that all? Together, we’ve seen a lot of road and hopefully, we’ll see a lot more.
  • A year ago, Mike Brown was killed by Darren Wilson. I will never forget watching the protests in Ferguson and wondering if I was witnessing a turning point. I still don’t know. But I do know that #BlackLivesMatter
  • Book suggestions? Okay! Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, Citizen by Claudia Rankine, The Martian by Andy Weir, One Plus One by Jojo Moyes, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, and Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
  • If you’ve read this far, I have a request: hassle me about writing. Ask me if I’ve written recently. My creativity responds to well-meaning inquiries from friends.
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Grief

Victims of Charleston

Sometimes it feels as if the universe is working against me, like in those moments when all I want is get to home, but I hit every single red light. And sometimes, the universe doles out small doses of relief like today when I just happened to have the day off, right when I thought I was going to completely lose my shit. Two nights ago I was lying in bed reading my Twitter timeline as the news broke about the attack on the Emanuel AME church. In a way it was like watching the tide pull away from the shoreline, knowing the wave was coming, but being unable to escape. The BBC broke the story first. And fifteen minutes a tweet from CNN. Within an hour it was the only thing Black Twitter was talking about, and then all that Twitter was tweeting about.  Continue reading

Why Can’t I Relax?

I lucked out with a three day weekend that just happens to be Memorial weekend. This morning, I woke up without an alarm, which was glorious, but that’s where my relaxation ended. Once I was awake all I could think about was all the things I should get done with my free time. I should clean out the refrigerator, go grocery shopping, finish one of seven books I’m reading and on and on. I don’t know when I started feeling guilty about doing absolutely nothing. Am I alone in this?

Closing the Loop of Christmas 2010

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I’m pretty excited about this Christmas. Not because of any presents, because we’re too poor for anything extravagant, and not even really for the fact that it’s a holiday, both TJ and I being fairly agnostic. What I’m really excited about is that one of my oldest and dearest friends, Kori, will be spending Christmas with us, an event in itself but particularly to close the loop on the impactful Christmas of 2010.

I don’t like to admit that I’m in to woo woo stuff like crystals and scented oils, colored candle with meanings inscribed in their wax. It embarrasses me to write life affirmations, though I’m the only one in my family who feels that way. At my mother’s home, at any given time, in any given bathroom, someone has written him or herself a note of encouragement in dry erase marker. “You can do it!” has never been written by me. But all this to say, there are some woo woo things that I believe. I believe in a very simple idea of Karma, and that the Universe is cyclical, and I couldn’t help but wish on the few falling stars I’ve seen.

Just before the Christmas of 2010, I’d moved from NC to Washington for graduate school, as had my best friend, Kori. She was in Seattle while I was in Spokane. In those first few months, we both threw ourselves into silly relationships, the only kind justified by a huge life transition like moving to a place where one is a stranger and wants to fit in as soon as possible. Thankfully, Kori never said that my relationship was much worse than hers, because I think in the long-run of our friendship that was an old conversation. But I had definitely done worse. I’d been dating a guy (from Portland, no less) who wanted to meet up in Seattle for the holiday. Two days before Christmas, I arrived first, parked by the Needle, and waited for him. Three hours and a dead car battery later, he arrived and we tried to carry on. But the next morning, Christmas Eve, I knew something was off but I paid it no mind. He jumped my car and told me to give it a moment to fully charge, while he just popped around the corner for some gas.

Twenty minutes and several unanswered texts later, I knew I’d been left. I called Kori, who was at work, but who quickly picked up on my hysteria, and directed me to her. We bought wine at Trader Joe’s. She made plans out of thin air. And like two single girls (her soon-to-be ex was out of town) we went out and met up with a group of friends who were also orphaned for Christmas.

We drank champagne. A lot of champagne. I’m not sure we knew when the night had slipped into Christmas morning. We woke at noon, in her soon-to-be ex’s bed, to the phone ringing: my mother calling. We tried to pretend we hadn’t just woken up as she spoke to us both on speaker phone.

It was, for all the comedy of the situation, a hard Christmas. For the next two years it would be the holiday I dreaded the most. But now, being back on the west coast, and able to spend this holiday with the person who was there for me before makes me excited for the first time in years. And in our woo woo way, we can say an affirmation, light a candle and enjoy our Christmas.

The Colored Girl Connection

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Of all the fears and doubts I have about moving to a new place, one of the biggest and most overwhelming is more than a little shallow. It was my biggest stressor about moving to Spokane for school and even made me reconsider Boston as an option. As a black woman I have to research if there will be a place for me to get my hair done.

Continue reading