Descriptions of People I Love, No. 2

This essay is apart of a larger, unfinished project in which I attempt to chronicle the people I love. When I write about people, I often do so in a faux-academic, flowery, but playful tone. I like to make bold statements and end with a string of words that haunts the reader long after it’s over. With all else staying consistent, today the haunting words come first: you killed yourself.

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After we first met, we went on to share a room, to smoke a million joints, to laugh, to viciously fight, to accidentally wake each other up in the middle of the night, to play tricks, and to plot the demise of the anal girl who told us to move out of her way twice. And sometimes things were fun between us and sometimes things were weird. Either way, our interactions were always heartbreakingly human.

While my heart hurts too much to get into details, there are things I will say about you:

You were an artist; an acutely positive, exceedingly jumpy human who couldn’t read social cues but had a flaming sense of sincerity. You were overwhelmingly eccentric and unapologetically queer. While I hate to romanticize your death, lately I’ve been recklessly thinking that maybe you were too rare, too wild, too ethereal to be loved by this world.

Anyways, I don’t know where you are or if you can read this: I just want to say thank you for February 1st– thank you for looking me dead in the eye on the worst day of my life and handing me your last shot of tequila.

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The artwork on this page is yours. Rest in peace.

Note to Myself: The Best Advise I Have Been Given (an ongoing list)

tumblr_myl0kzevsY1stirm3o1_500.gif1. If you feel lost in life, read the autobiographies of people you admire and see what they were doing at your age. (Nick T., my summer 2015 roommate who lived with me in the rugby house and is a notable lover)
2. You are not a number. You are not your GPA, your social security number, your tax bracket; You are worth so much more than that. You have a great sense of humor. (Mr. Crawford, my 11th grade economics teacher when I panicked over an exam)
3. Have courage. And be kind. (Cinderella, 2015)
4. You’re black. People will sometimes assume you are dumber, less eloquent, less than them. In situations such as these, do not feel bad for yourself. Pretend that you are better than everyone in the room. It will lessen the pain and you can continue your day. (My 77 year old father who grew up in the Jim Crow Era)
5. The 5 P’s: Preparation prevents piss poor performance (My 77 year old father, on the subject of hard work)
6. We live on a floating rock that circles a big ball of fire. It is all a magic trick. You are going to be okay. (Me, to myself on every occasion where my heart is broken or my anxiety takes over)
7. Baby girl, do not let a nigga half love you. (origins unclear, on the subject of boys and the love I deserve)
8. No does not mean “convince me”. (origins unclear, on the subject of sex)

I, also, Am Afraid of the Police

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A year ago to this day, I wrote a well-received essay titled “Am I a ‘house nigger’?” exploring the various privileges that exist in my life and how they are what I supposed to be a “rigid juxtaposition” to the stereotypical black experience in this country. I wanted to come clean about how the various privileges afforded to me have put me where I am today—at an elite university, living in one of the most expensive parts of the country, sharing champagne toasts with billionaires, with unpaid internships at my fingertips. (Note: My family is definitely not insanely rich, but I’ve always lived quite comfortably.) I hoped my essay would let people know that although I have worked hard, I am mainly a product of the privileges afforded to me—privileges that are not given to so many Blacks and other people of color who could be smarter, more qualified than myself; and yet are held back by the hand dealt to them by hundreds of years of history.

This is a different kind of essay. It is not an attack on white people, nor was it ever. It is an attack of the inability for many to acknowledge or even have the experiences to be able to recognize their privilege.

I am not special by any means, but I have had the unique experience of growing up in two worlds—one few get the simultaneous privilege and awfulness of experiencing. On one hand, as a middle schooler, I spent Florida winters drenched in Juicy Couture velour track suits paired with the sheep skin Ugg boots; My ‘Return to Tiffany and Co.” heart sharped chain necklace sparkling with the matching bracelet and ring set. For a casual $1,000, my little neck, wrist, and finger were happily drenched with silver. As described in a previous essay, I was given the education, the cotillion classes, the love from both parents to thrive in a world built for the white man. On the other hand, the same little princess dressed in Tiffany’s and fresh out of her winter cotillion class was called a nigger for the first time.

What I thought was an isolated incident turned into a series of heartbreaks over the years. Boys telling me they could never bring a Black girl—especially one as dark as me—to meet their mom, overhearing workers in my house asking my mom if she was the maid, violent words from golfers asking me how I got into the neighborhood when I walked alone, being told to look more closely at Black and Latino shoppers when I was working in a clothing store, seeing the fear in my mother’s eyes for my brother, being treated kindly whilst hanging out with all white friends and poorly whilst hanging out with Black or dark-skinned Latino friends in public. Things I was ashamed of admitting.

Merely human, people whose perceptions of Blacks were shaped by media rather than interaction use a semi-formed perception of my race to gauge my level of hostility, my socioeconomic status, and my intentions.

And shamefully enough, I harbored many of the same perceptions towards Blacks that I was struggling with combating myself. Poisoned by my environment, I was socialized in a very white world and, thus, had a very ironic view on the intersection of class, race, and socioeconomic status for years to my parent’s dismay. Regardless of my youthful ignorance, I was very much a dark-skinned black woman. I came to painfully understand how the negative stereotypes form in people’s minds because they formed in me– about myself.

Combing through years of self-hatred for the darkness of my skin, the kinkiness of my hair, and even the shape of my head, I was able to mentally combat (and am still actively combating) the perception of Blacks and other POCs spoon fed to me by the world. And, still, regardless of my personal journey to being better, I know that I am the only real-world interaction many of my white friends and acquaintances have with a black person:

I am bright. I am cheery. I am polite and as eloquent as can be whilst meeting and getting to know people because I feel burdened with debunking stereotypes that whisper that I am aggressive, unintelligent, lazy, and ugly. And, still, I know that there are many who do not have the distinct experience of getting to know, to really know, a black person to disprove these terrible things put in their mind. Many have not had the opportunity or seen the need to reach out and know that people of color have to navigate the world in a different way based on the perception forced upon them. And for that—although dwindling quickly amidst video proof, scholarly papers, and endless articles highlighting the mistreatment of African Americans—I am slightly sympathetic for the well-meaning racist (I say “racist” for lack of a better word).

To me, the well-meaning racist is the cherry cheeked, sunny personality that believes color-blindness and love, rather than paradigm shifts in systematic structures and mental brainwashing, are what will solve racism. They were taught to follow the golden rule, but never educated on how hundreds of years of history are the premise for how humans behave today.

To overlook how the unconscious racism in well-meaning people kills Blacks and Latinos at a disproportional rate is to contribute to a system that allows this to happen. To my friends and acquaintances who have navigated the world in a white-coated bubble, I am not here to tell you what to do or how to use your voice—that is up to you. What I am saying is there is a different world you’ve probably never seen– it is not made up. I know this, because I have seen them both. One of them can be quite scary*.

Admittedly, I am coming at this issue from a point of privilege that nearly invalidates every goddamn thing I have to say. Sure—I am called a nigger** every few months by angry men on the street, but there is much worse torture than being called a word. People with less privilege than myself certainly have it much worse than I, a little princess from the coast of Florida. But, doesn’t it make you think? If a little princess from the coast of Florida, sheltered from the worst of the world, is profoundly effected by racial politics, how deeply seeded is the racism that shapes the black experience?

In other words, if you want to know how pervasive racism is in our world– look back to me. Even in the land of sweater vests, sear sucker shorts, and country club memberships, I am still afraid of the police.

**(A big ole’ thank you to my incredible white and non-black friends who are woke a f and fighting the good fight every day. It means the world to us.)

*A Letter to the Boy who Called Me a Nigger: You Have Irked Me.

The Curious Case of Julian

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This essay was written in one sitting after a thirteen-hour workday, a conversation with a great friend, and three or four glasses of wine. It’s 1 am. It will stay raw and unedited. Clarity? Development? Consideration? Compassion? Fuck it. Who cares? We live on a floating rock and, therefore, everything is arbitrary.

“Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.”

Those words have lit every one of my body parts on fire for years—since some guy in some band gifted me the song when I was 16. Those words, they make me shutter with a poignant sense of something I don’t quite understand. What I do understand is that Janis Joplin’s voice is rough, unadulterated; it’s sexy, it’s dirty, it’s pretty. Its primitive nature reeks of such an emotional and sexual agony that is so fucking vulnerable that I know she’s not lying. There’s no way she’s lying about the pain when her voice cracks like that—that’s the sound of her frontal lobe snapping under the pain. She’s free of the mental chains.

And now, now that I’m feeling vulnerable and stable, I’m going to be like a Janis Joplin song. I’m going to tell the whole truth about the curious case of Julian.

I met a boy named Julian once. I plummeted into a special kind of hell of love with a boy who seemed to be able to keep up with my insanity. I expressed this in a series of letters some weeks later—was rejected. Now neither of us know whom each other is. It kills me regularly.

Why lie? I still feel pathetic for having put myself into the atmosphere like that—to write letters that took me hours, days, weeks to write, to perfect, to second guess myself, to reassure myself that this was the right thing and then send them to Europe, only to be subtly castrated through a painful silence.

Sadly enough, I wrote wedding vows in a wine bar on the Upper East Side on my 21st birthday to him—the one letter I never sent across the sea. It seemed like something that I would inevitably read to him—a cute, funny story I’d tell over a Valentine’s day dinner one day when we lived together in sin. (Damn. The unforgiving reality of the pathetic nature of my utter vulnerability last year really comes alive when I write it down and say it aloud to myself.)

The curious case of Julian is one that I revisit often. It is one that I look back on with a mild regret—I shouldn’t have been so inappropriately open. I didn’t understand how stalkers could lust after something that didn’t think of them back until Julian. I had to truly stop myself a million times from being too weird, too unsettling, too in love with this slight stranger. But, regardless, I love him or something about him, whatever; and I felt guilty about this.

But, then again, this is who I am. I love; I really love. I’m sincere.

I’d always been honest, but never this honest out loud until I sent those letters to Spain. I let my silly self be frivolous, uncalculated—a child.

After much torture, it’s time for me to give myself a fucking break.

Like a spanking on the ass, my fixation on Julian made me cry. But, the thing is, I’m ok. I’m still funny, silly, drunk; impregnated with laughter and vodka sodas. I’m still a child and that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s probably a good thing. Like in the Janis Joplin song, I have nothing left to lose. I watched the dreams I had in my mind shatter into a trillion shards of glass. My heart was broken. Hell, it’s still broken. But I have nothing left to lose; and that, and that alone, has given me freedom.

I am so happy. I love without abandon because nothing worse can happen. I’m apologetically dating a 44-year-old billionaire with a big house and no moral compass. I’m fucking free.

Hellish Bitch

image image imageIf you look close enough, you might find two little red horns sprouting out of the top of my head; I’m no angel, but I’ve certainly been pretending to be.

For every boy who has ever broken my heart, I’d like you to know that I’ve played the victim, the virgin and taken you down to hell in the process.

I’ve most definitely dragged your name through a pile of shit so dank that Snoop Dog would cough up a lung. Without you knowing, I’ve turned you into the small town junkie sucking off everyone’s uncle in the back alley for a nickel. I’ve told everyone that you have the Dasani Water™ of penises; I’ve told them how I’d rather deep throat a cactus.

Here I am, verbally destroying you from my crystal covered thrown; and yet, it’s starting to become evident that this princess is no angel.

You may have ignored my calls. You may have treated me like a cheap slut. You may have left me for dead like that bald guy in Jurassic Park left the kids. But, goddamn, I didn’t have the right to do it to anyone else.

I’ve been quick, astoundingly quick, to drag any boys who’ve hurt me down to hell; but, shit, how many boys have I inadvertently hurt?

I’m talking to you, the nervous boy who asked me out at the sandwich shop, and you, the nice boy who texts me every two months without fail to see how I’m doing, and you, the boy who loved me while I attacked him, and you, the boy with the tattoos and southern accent, and you, the boy who told me you’ve been in love with me since I was 11, and you, and you, and you, and you. I’m talking to all of you: everyone whose romantic love I didn’t want. I’m down on my hands and knees praying I didn’t break your heart the way my heart has been broken. I hope I put you down gently with a single slash to the throat or a gun to the head; I hope I didn’t let you suffer for long.

And if you did suffer? Oh God, if you did? Please, please feel free to drag my name through a pile of shit so dank that it sends Snoop Dog to his grave. I deserve it.

Smoking Pot and Sitting in the Dark

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Getting high and sitting in the dark with another humanbeing might be the most essential part of ensuring the survival of our species.

Unlike the pretentious exchanges of the daylight hours, conversations in the darkness of night are adorned with an infinite possibility. In darkness, both time and space are bent because they cannot be reasonably measured. So you let the idea of a timeless and spaceless world overtake you. You cannot sense anything but the stillness of the air and beauty of the voices and ideas around you. You loose your sight, but you regain the stark consciousness of your humanity.

Following suit, the insecurity of regular face-to-face dialogue evaporates into the darkness. You and your companion are only made of the penniless and luxurious ideas tucked within your deepest corners—no body to limit your blissful naivety. So you might fall in love somewhere in that darkness.

After your lungs empty of the smoke, you will forgive everyone for everything. All the while, you end up staring so hard at the ceiling that you start to see stars and dancing sheep until the last hazy statement is made. Then, you drift into the dreams of your own mind until you float to a peaceful slumber.

I swear, getting high and sitting in the dark could end wars.

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Am I a ‘house nigger’?

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It’s no secret that I have a bit of a wild side. I’m like a walking Lana Del Rey song on Friday nights; the only things I’m missing are a lover as old as my father, a heroin needle in my sock drawer, and traces of cocaine on my one hundred dollar bills.

On Friday nights, I walk out of my house in the illustrious Fox Hall drenched in red lipstick; or rather a more fashionable matte plumb lipstick, and an all black mini dress. I go out to parties and bars. I drink fancy cocktails I didn’t have to pay for and schmooze with America’s elite. I wear $1,500 bags and shoes. Weekend bus trips to the mountains to party with IFC fraternity boys were not something I thought to be particularly out of the ordinary in my life. Hell, I once threw up in the back of a finals club at Harvard when I was a teenager. If that doesn’t scream privilege, I don’t know what does.

I can only have a wild side because I have privileges that extend beyond my wildest imagination. Upon birth, I was given a popular 90s name. I went to a private prep school for my entire primary education and now I attend one of the most prestigious and selective universities in the world. I can recite Shakespeare. I was groomed to be proper; to speak structurally accurate English and to eloquently and strategically use my voice.

To top it off, I’m advantageously beautiful—not in the traditional Eurocentric sense—but in a way that makes it easy for people to relate to me. I have big, dark brown Bambi eyes, little pink tinted lips, perfect teeth, and a non-threatening nose.

That’s all right and dandy; but power structures—I’ve been thinking a lot about power structures.

Am I the white man’s fantasy? Am I… a fucking house nigger?

I can’t help but notice how people who are otherwise completely dismissive of blacks, will reference me as a sort of salvation for my whole race—MY WHOLE FUCKING RACE. For God’s sake, I’m one human.

I can party with the “bougie”. I can keep conversation at a polite level of interesting and provocative. I can blend into a room. I can tell a good joke. I can fuck without getting pregnant.

Is my very presence hurting the perception of black stereotypes by way of rigid juxtaposition? God, this is not what I intended. I love my culture; Am I brainwashed?

But, then again, we as black people are not secular. We are as dynamic as any other person is allowed to be. Perhaps, I am changing the perception of the limitations of black culture.

Can a house nigger change the perception the master has of the potential, ability, value, and preciousness of all the niggers? Does my wild side invalidate me as a credible source to the master? Am I a joke or am I changing the world with my unapologetic freedom?

This is going to eat me alive, isn’t it?

the little princess herself
the little princess herself