Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Love Looked at Sideways

Like many, I grew up listening to Lauryn Hill; I would belt out every word like I'd been in and out of love myself; I hadn't, but to some extent, I felt like I had.

When I was a kid singing Hill's "Ex-Factor," I had no idea what the word reciprocity meant, nor did I know that that's what she was saying when she broke it down in the song ("re-ci-pro-ci-ty")-- I would always just sing gibberish during that part, haha.

Although I knew that Hill was singing to a lover and talking about a romantic relationship, as a kid, I sang it with my mother and father in mind (as I did with lots of other songs that dealt with love).

A few months ago, I read a book by Bell Hooks, All About Love: New Visions, and within the book she makes the argument that love does not and cannot exist where there is abuse, neglect and/or mistreatment. She also addresses the fact that to embrace such a definition of love means that a lot of us will be forced to come to terms with the fact that we have not actually received love from those who have claimed to have loved us. Because I am currently in Switzerland and do not have the book with me, I cannot provide direct quotes, but I will insert them when I get a chance.

Nonetheless, what Bell Hooks stated in her book made sense to me and I began to understand why it sometimes pains me to be around certain people that I love.

After reading the book, I tossed this idea around in my head for quite some time: In the act of giving and receiving love, there must be care, but care alone is not enough to say that there is love. 

This means, for example, if a parent ensures that their child has food and clean clothes everyday, but also physically and verbally abuses the child, the act of feeding and clothing the child is not enough to say that said parent loves their child. In other words, both the mind and the body must be taken into consideration. 

Love can be exhausting work, which is why, if you are giving it in abundance, it is important that you are also receiving it. You will know when love isn't being reciprocated because you will feel exhausted and in extreme cases, you might even feel pain-- physically, mentally or both. 

For example, I once told someone that I love that being around them made me feel like dying. At the time, I wasn't completely sure what I meant by this. All I knew was that I'd done my very best to describe how I was feeling in that moment. 

Once we parted ways, the feeling slowly disappeared, but my mind could not stop wondering. Later on, I realized what the feeling was and why it pained me to be around them. The presence of the feeling had to do with old scars that existed within our relationship, but also, I began to realize that we possessed very different love receptors and neither of us could actually give the love that we needed to each other.  

There isn't much that you can do to guarantee that someone will be able to give you the love that you need and, in fact, the kind of love you need often changes depending on what stage of your life you are in. Just think, we struggle to give ourselves the kind of love we need, and we are thought to know ourselves better than anyone. With this being the case, I've begun to live in my body and exist within my mind like a child might live in the world.

I don't always know how to love my body or how to sustain my mind, but I've made it my sole responsibility to listen to and learn from them. Together, they've been teaching me how to go about living in a way that is true to myself and as a result, when I am not receiving the love that I need from those around me, I can use the love I have stored within myself  to carry on.

Loving is not easy, but when it is accomplished, something beautiful is created and can be sustained with both diligence and care.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018


"Yo mama ain't bathe you, child?
You always comin over here smell’n.”

Like the sex yo mama had
With you in the next room
Like cigarettes and weed
Like Mr. Steve
Makin yo mama scream 

Like yo mama
you smell
Like yo mama

You’ll be just like
Just like
Yo mama.
“Child, you hear me?”

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Why are so Many Cis Men Threatened by Femme Energy?

I was talking to a guy last week (we'll call him Jim) who is happily married (this will be important later). Jim was telling me how he started going to the gym with one of his friends, who happens to be a woman (we'll call her Jen). I've met Jen, she is very athletic and fit (some might even call her extremely masculine).

Anyways, Jim told me that he enjoys hanging out with Jen because nothing she does is done in an effort to attract men (paraphrased version of what he said). This raised flags in my mind and I began to see where the conversation was headed (Womp! Womp!). He went on to describe things such as, her (masculine) walk, build, and outer appearance/style. At this point in our conversation, my brain began to analyze what I felt lingered beneath what he was saying. Being that I've known Jim for quite awhile (understatement), I found that I was able to connect his statements to other things I'd heard him say about women in the past.

After doing so, I realized: "Holy shit! He's threatened by (women's) femme energy..."
Now hear me out (or not, w.e lol)...
After formulating this thought, I tried to come up with reasons why.
Said reasons include:
1. He's married and doesn't want to be in a situation where he may feel compelled to cheat on his wife.
2. He's been manipulated by women who've used their femme energy against him (possibly on multiple different occasions).
3.He doesn't like feeling like his masculinity is being challenged or tested.

What really struck me was the way Jim's language did strategic work to not only highlight Jen's masculine traits, but to completely erase/ignore her femininity.

I then began to think about how uncomfortable some cis men get around men who are gay. Cis men often say things like, "I don't care if the dude is gay, as long as he keeps that shit over there," meaning, "he can be gay (not really though), but I don't want him trying to make a move on me," (ignoring the fact that, not only is this what cis men often do to women, but the said gay man probably has zero interest in making a move on him anyways). Cis straight men who say stuff like this believe that it demonstrates just how "straight" they are when in fact, it highlight their insecurities; yet they continue to stay cloaked in toxic masculinity.

I thought about Jen too. Now to be honest, I don't know all that much about her because we haven't had any in depth conversations, but she seems like a pretty dope person. To my knowledge, she is not queer. Nevertheless, she comes across as someone who is herself, unapologetically, which is probably something Jim admires about her. My thing is, if she were unapologetically femme, I don't believe he would admire her quite as much.

As a queer black woman, I find that I am constantly moving along the spectrum of femininity and masculinity. I have become hyper aware of when I am exuding one at a higher frequency than the other. I feel most confident when I am radiating femme energy, reserved and to myself when I am exuding what I perceive to be masculine energy, and happiest when there is somewhat of a balance.

I do not believe that one (Mas or Femme) belongs to or should be reserved for any one gender. I believe that all people have it within them to be mobile along the spectrum; the reason why most cis men don't tend to/ don't tend to think so has to do with how they are socialized. As a result, cis men fear/are threatened by femme energy both internally and externally. This in turn makes it very difficult for them to not only love themselves fully, but to fully love those in their lives who proudly embrace their femininity.


Come for me gently. Leave a comment below so we can discuss.

Monday, January 29, 2018

A Dialogue: Lie Detector

"Why do you do that?"

Do what?

"You just asked me the same question you asked five minutes ago."

Did I?


I didn't realize.

"I know. You do it all the time. I used to think you did it because you thought my first answer wasn't believable... but then I thought, 'nahhh, cuz that would mean he thinks I'm a liar or something,' and I don't think you think that."

No. I don't.

"I know."




" I don't know. I'm just thinking."


"No because you only do it with certain questions. Like, when we meet up after not seeing each other for like a couple of weeks, you'll be like, 'So how have things been?' and then I'll tell you, we'll go back and forth for a bit, and then you'll ask me the same question, but instead of saying 'things,' you'll say 'you.' I mean I know it's different, but not really yuh know?"

Hmmm... Kinda.

"Yeah, and then sometimes we'll be out somewhere and you'll randomly look over at me and ask, ' Are you okay?' and I'll say yeah and then a few minutes later you'll ask, 'is everything okay?' Again, I know those are not necessarily the same questions, but still."


"Maybe you do think I'm a liar."


"Anyways. What do you wanna eat?"


"Cool. Me too. I'll get the thingy in the kitchen and place the order. Veggie Egg Fu Yung, right?"


"Cool. You can pick a movie if you want."

Kinda wanna watch The Office. 

"Okay, that works. Or maybe it doesn't, who knows?" 

You're never gunna let this one go, huh?



Sunday, January 7, 2018

A Dialogue: Kevin & Tiff

"See? Why do you always do that?!"

Do what?

"That! You mumble some shit and then when I ask what you said, you say 'nothing' or 'nevermind'. Like what the fuck? Im tryna talk to you-- I'm tryna understand what's going on."

I don't know.

"You do know. Don't give me that; don't tell me you don't know. What is it? Are you afraid to talk to me? I don't get it. I'm here. I'm trying and you're not giving me anything."

I'm tired.

Now you're tired? Well I'm tired too. It's like the more I reach out, the more you pull away. What am I doing wrong?

Nothing. You're perfect.

"Oh please. Just stop. Don't give me that, Tiff."

You are! You are, okay!? I'm not like you! I can't just say what's on my mind all the time. Half the time I don't even know what it is I'm feeling, okay? It's like I feel too much at once and I can't decipher which feeling is which or which to express first. It's exhausting, and then this happens! I love you. That's what I know, but I don't know-- I can't be like you. I can't. I can't give you--

"Give me what? I'm not asking for anything, babe. I'm not asking for anything.

But you are! You're asking for me; the parts of me I don't know how to give. I just--

" I just want you to talk to me. You come home and you're sad and I don't know why. I don't know if something happened out in the world, at work, or if it's me . Like do you not like coming home to me anymore? Is it the dishes? Cause I know I leave em in the sink sometimes. Is it my shoes? I can work on that-- I know you hate when I forget to take em off at the door. Gosh! I want you to want this as much as I do. I'm trying here. If it's not enough-- if I'm not enough--"

Oh, babe, you're more than enough. I don't care about the dishes or your shoes. That's ridiculous. I love coming home to you. I just-- I don't know-- something's off with me. Something's off. I don't know how to explain it. Like, sometimes I have these really weird thoughts--

"Weird thoughts...? What kind of weird thoughts?"

Bad ones. I don't know why and I never know when they'll come. They just do. Like, the other day, I was coming home from work-- I was waiting for the D train-- It was me. It was my voice.

"Oh, babe, come here. Don't cry. Come come come. Breath."

It told me-- it told me to jump and I saw-- I saw myself-- I saw myself do it, Kevin. I saw myself jump out in front of the train. It felt so real-- I couldn't stop crying. I couldn't stop. How was I supposed to tell you that? I just-- I didn't want you to worry. They're just thoughts. Just thoughts, but it's been happening a lot lately and I don't know why. I love you, I do. I love you so much and I don't know, I just couldn't tell you.

"I love you too, babe. You know that. I just-- you don't ever have to feel a way about telling me things. I don't care how bad it is. I'm here. I love you and this-- this is important shit, Tiff. Suicidal thoughts-- they're not just thoughts. Look at me-- we are going to get through this. We are gonna get help with this, okay? It's gonna be okay. I love you. Just don't-- please don't leave me out on this one. Please.

I'm sorry--

"You have nothing to be sorry about. Nothing. Please don't apologize.




"I know. I know. Come here. We're gonna get through this. I'll do some research in the morning. We'll find someone. There are tons of good therapists in NYC. I'll go with you if you want, or not, it's totally up to you."

I'd love that.

"Okay. Good. Thank you for telling me about this. I was so worried. I knew something was up, I just didn't know what. Thank you.

Thank you for-- being you.

"Always. I love you, Tiff. I do. I need you to know that."

I know.

"Good. Let's try and get some sleep."


Monday, November 13, 2017

Take the Woods

I saw your eyes
carved in the bark of a tree
Your heart
stitched in the throat of a breeze

How comforting

I had a thought:
Maybe you're the me
I never get to see
cause I'm always looking in the mirror
at distorted flesh

We can never really see ourselves
outside of ourselves
and that shit makes more sense than gravity

But you
when I look at you
I see me

And I wanna love meyou but
I'm scared to

I'm so desperate to give it
I starve myself
meaning I'll probably starve you too
and you'll leave
like I always want to
This place
This body
These thoughts in my head
that constantly ask questions full of

Yet still
I'm trying to make myself
make sense

So take the trees
take the river bend
take the smell of bird shit
and the gas from a skunks ass

You're too lovely for me to grasp

Take the woods.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A Free Write: Grammar Mistakes and All (no stopping no erasing)

Reach out into the corner
where I've hid the stone

I can't promise you that it'll work
   the stone I mean
I can't promise you love
    or comfort or mouthfuls
of empty screams @ night

I might run through flames
when the sunshines

I might leap into the oceans
spray and land ontop
    of my own throat

Im no magician
I do believe in ghousts

One called me a snow flake
Once cuz I melt so easily
I can not tolerate hugs
that harbor too much
  touching for too long

makes me want to swim
in the sea and drown
in seaweed soap

I don't believe in danger
because every breath is a

Stroke. A penny underneath
a cloud. I don't remember
being a child without
lonely thoughts or a
blankie that kept me
warm. I wish I knew.

Everything means nothing

no matter what we do, we
cant really change anything
that's already been done.

I think that's magic
that's probably the closest
we'll ever get to freedom

to toleration mid drift moans
and empty rooms full of

I wanted that once.
peace to roam beneath my
feet. All I'd have to
do is
reach down and
pluck it from a shard of
melted belt buckle stones.

I could be soft, but I don't
know where to begin or where
to throw my shoe when it

I hope I find stability in
your left arm. In the
way you lean down and
kiss my knee. I hope
I find you sitting
beneath some old tree
praying for me to sit
beneath it with you.
If only it could be so simple
we dont know how to sit,
how to count without moving our feet. we don't
know how.
We keep passing each other by
keeping missing when we
fall on the same count.

We could be magnificent.
We could be dead in graves
and still love the wind
that speaks.

We could never exist and
still be
     just fine and thats
cool. I think I like
that idea for what it could
be. I wish I knew you
a thousand yesterdays
     when I needed a friend
I never knew. I wish I
harbored you.
I'm so greedy so empty
so misfortunate.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

She Comes and Goes

My feminine energy
knows: stagnation is hellfire to the brain.

When she leaves,
she goes
behind an empty space in my face;
I have a hard time remembering names,
forget how to identify my own pain,
fill the hole in with a smile so fake
it splinters.

I am content with her absence
(despite Lonely)
scratching at the soles of my feet.

Too many men have grown
in me

so I scramble to find her stench drenched
in every place I've never been.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Common Ground: E-Books vs. Hard Copy

I've always loved books. I love the way they feel, smell, and sound, so much so that when I get a new book, I hold it up to my nose and shuffle the pages. If you are a book lover, you probably know what I'm talking about. It is a truly spectacular moment that you just can not experience with an electronic book.

However, I finished my first ever Kindle electronic book (via the app) the other day and, I must say, at first, I didn't really know how to feel about it. The days following my completion of the e-book, every time I looked at the physical books that I brought here with me to Jamaica, I felt like a traitor. To be fair, I read Animal Farm by George Orwell, a book I've wanted to read for a very long time, so I felt good about finally reading it.  I found the book to be extremely reminiscent of the current social and political climate in the U.S (you know, with Trump and all) so it was a very relevant read.

I downloaded the Kindle app because I have Amazon Prime and with Amazon Prime, not only do you get 2 day shipping (free of charge), but you get a host of movies and shows (via Amazon Video) and a host of books (via Kindle). At first, I simply took advantage of the 2 day shipping and Amazon Video, but out of curiosity, I decided to downloaded the Kindle app. As I began browsing through all of the available books that I could potentially read for free, I couldn't resist. I decided that I would give it a try and if I didn't like it, I would delete the app and that would be that.

Now, there are quite a few things that I actually really dig about the Kindle app. For example, once you download the book or books that you want to read, you don't need internet in order to access them. Even better, the app has features that give you the option to highlight and insert little notes. Not to mention, if you press down and hold your finger on a word, you are able to get the words definition and similarly, if you hold and press down on the name of a character or person mentioned, something will pop up that reminds you of the role the person or character plays within the book. I love these features because I don't always feel like googling a word I don't recognize when reading a book and sometimes (say if I'm on the train and I don't have service) it just isn't possible. Also, often times when I'm reading a book where there are lots of characters or characters within the story who happen to have similar names, I will mix them up or completely forget who is who.

Since finishing Animal Farm, I've started reading another e-book and I've decided that I shouldn't feel weird about it. Although I love physical books, it is the act of reading that I love the most. It would be foolish of me to allow my love for one to get in the way of my love for the other. Though the contents or words within a book can be freeing, it is the act of reading that sets it in motions. Just because I read and own e-books, doesn't mean I have to trash or get rid of all of my physical books. No matter how many e-books I download and have on my phone, I will always be that person with a book in their bag. Both e-books and physical books have their limitations, but my love for reading and words has no bounds and so I officially refuse to choose between the two.

Books I'm currently reading:

Hard Copy  


Saturday, August 5, 2017


Convinced that I would never be satisfied with just one storey, I begged for eight, twelve, sixteen, and was devastated when I had to settle for the median of the three. I got twelve storeys full of human beings, hunger and greed, plots and schemes, needles and piss, dime bags and shit, and eventually the antagonistic feeling that lives would be better off without me. 

The feeling began when an eighteen-year old girl was shot in the face outside my front door; it grew persistent when an elderly woman was robbed and beaten half to death right on my third floor. There used to be or sometimes there are moments of peace, but they occur so infrequently. One day, I noticed how the sun rises and sets— warning us of the inevitable. I've never been a consequentialist, but something in me shifted.  

I heard a young boy state to his mother once, “Ma, we should move.” and she replied, “This is the best that we can do.” The young boy didn't make it to see twenty-two. The day after his death, I looked straight into the eye of the sun and begged it to melt away my storeys, but the sun denied my request. I blame myself for the young man’s death, and his mother, she blames me too. I know this because she finally took her dead son’s advice, and she moved.