Saturday, August 5, 2017

Storeys

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. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Look

His eyes,
squinted to some incalculable degree,
tricks you into thinking that you've got something insightful to say:

"What?!" is all you chuckle up.
"Nothing," is his response.
He smirks and continues to stare.

What does this fucking look mean
and why does it make you want to measure his spleen,
clean his tongue to embrace the debri,
carve out a space in his heart
where you'd fit perfectly?

The Look,
looks the same on every face, but
We both know you:
Too afraid to stick around
long enough to discover
if what you believe the look to mean,
is true.

You always leave before they do.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Swim

my trouble is this:
I desire things in which I cannot give
my shortcomings
the evidence

my past:
consists of a mother
and many men 
and how she would bend
to their every whim

You will drown in me
so please

Take yo ass back to shore
and leave me be

The Thought of Having a Kid Scares the Shit Out of Me


For years, I have stated to my friends and family that I don't want to ever have a kid. My reasoning has always been something like, "because I don't like kids" or, "because this world is fucked up. The first response is completely untrue, the second, partially so. I actually love kids. Kids inspire me with their wit and vision, honestly, they're pretty dope. This world is fucked up, but it is also full of fantabulousness and kids know this.


However, the thought of having a kid does in fact scare the shit out of me.

I've thought about what it might be like to be a mother since I was little. I always imagined just me and my kid (in an apartment full of music and books), never a partner. When I tell folks this, they always seem so surprised, but it's true. I watched both of my parents struggle to maintain relationships with folks and so I grew up and didn't really care much for finding a partner of my own. I still struggle with this and I think I am slowly coming to terms with it.

I was raised by my mother up until the age of eleven, I would visit/see my dad on rare occasions. At the age of eleven, I moved to Florida to live with my dad and his partner (and her children) for four years and then moved back to NYC to live with my grandmother. Living with my dad and his partner was full of ups and downs. I often felt like the whole nuclear family thing was a hoax. I know it's probably not always like this, but the whole thing felt forced and unnecessary. I don't think I've ever seen a healthy functioning nuclear family situation and to be completely honest, I don't care much for the illusion of its functionality. I don't believe that a child needs a mother and a father in order to become some kind of full human being. I believe that all a child really needs is people that love them and encourage them to be the best human being that they can be.

One of my biggest fears, in regards to having a kid, is that they'll absorb all of the shit that I struggle with (anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, etc) because I don't believe that these things will ever leave me. I also fear that my kid and I won't have a good relationship. My parents and I are not very close and sadly, they aren't/weren't very close with their parents either.

As a kid, I was always worried about my parents, especially my mom. I have this really awful habit of biting my nails; I developed it when I was a toddler. Biting my nails is one of the many ways I tend to deal with stress and worry. It sucks. I love my parents, but often times, I find myself wishing that they were there for me in ways that I know (and now understand) that they couldn't be. 

In fact, sometimes I wish that my parents were there for themselves before they had me. However, I know that life doesn't always work out the way we think it should and that's okay. We do what we can.

My point is, I do want to someday have a kid, but for right now, I need to work to make my world (not the world) a place where they will be able to befriend love and not fear it the way that I do.

I applaud folks who are out there making the nuclear family thing work. I have many friends who seem to be doing the damn thang and I am happy for them. I get that just because I don't believe in something, doesn't mean that it doesn't exist in the minds of other people.

But, yeah, I just wanted to write this and share because a friend of mine got me thinking about it. They happen to think that I am going to someday fall in love and have the whole family, house, car, thing going on. I beg to differ, but ya never know.  

-xoxo-

Friday, May 26, 2017

Don't Let Her Stand Alone


The other night, I was on the D train heading home from the city; I had my headphones on and was in my zone. However, I love to people watch and am constantly observing folks. Three people in particular happened to catch my eye not only because they were across from me, but because I could tell that there was something weird going on.

There was a guy, who happened to be standing beside a woman who was sitting down in the seat closest to the door (Woman A) and another woman (woman B) who was sitting a seat away from Woman A. At first, I simply assumed that Woman A and the guy standing beside her were together because they were conversing. However, I noticed that Woman B kept looking at the couple with a queer kind of interest, almost as if she were amused by their exchange (her mouth was opened and everything).

I was thoroughly confused, but I continued to observe.

Suddenly, Woman A slowly started putting on her headphones while the guy was still talking to her. This is when I realized that not only were they not together, but that she didn't even want to engage in conversation with the dude. In realizing that she was trying to ignore him, he sat next to her, which placed him right in the middle of her and Woman B. At this point, Woman B looked at the guy with disgust because now he had also invaded her space.

The guy continued to try and get Woman A's attention. He gestured for her to shake his hand, which she did, but after the first handshake, he spoke and then gestured for her to shake his hand again. The second time, she refused, but he persisted. Mind you, both of her headphones were still on, a clear sign that she wanted nothing more to do with him. Next thing I knew, the guy reached over to touch her knee. She gently pushed his hand away before he could touch her. 

This is when my blood really began to boil and I told myself that if he did anything else I would step in and try and help her. Her gentle shove of his hand semi convinced me that maybe, just maybe, he would finally leave her the hell alone. In my head, I was screaming and cursing and just wanted her to get up and walk away, but I could tell that she was afraid to even move. I could also tell the guy peeped her fear and fed off of it. She stopped looking at him entirely and seemed to get smaller by the second.

In between rolling my eyes and giving him dirty looks, I began accessing him further. From what I could see, he didn't have anything on him, not even a bag; there didn't even seem to be anything in his pockets (his jeans were tight). Suddenly, he started to reach up to stroke her hair and that is when I felt my body jerk up and into action. I stood up and placed myself right in front of him and said "yo!" He looked up at me and gave a little smirk. He smelled of alcohol.

I looked at her, to assure that she knew that she wasn't alone. Immediately, a man stood beside me, looked at her and asked if she wanted him to call someone (mind you, we were in a damn tunnel). She shook her head no and then the man suggested that she change carts at the next stop. I agreed with the man and told her that that would be best because the guy was clearly intoxicated.

When we reached the stop, the man walked her over to the next cart. I stayed behind and stayed standing in front of the guy for a minute or so. He said nothing until another man came on and sat beside him. The guy then began telling the man sitting beside him some twisted version of what had just occurred. Of course, he painted me as the "angry black woman," but I was not phased because I was angry, and for good reason! I could tell that the man sitting beside him, half listening, was uncomfortable because he had his hands folded and his eyes focused straight ahead.

The guy had the nerve to wave at me and give a thumbs up as he left the train. I literally looked right through him as if he didn't even exist. I wanted to let him know that he had no real power. Like so many countless men who go around harassing women and making them feel unsafe, he was a fucking coward because as soon as folks stood with her, his bullshit ceased.

Even when he was gone, I remained standing because my blood was still boiling. A young woman, as the train approached her stop, came up to me and said that she was so glad that I had stood up and said something because she thought that no one would. I have always been extremely interested in Psychology so when she said this, I automatically thought of the psychological phenomenon called the bystander effect. This term describes or explains why folks are less likely to help someone when there are other people present. In the minds of folks watching, someone else will eventually step in, but rarely do folks believe that that person will or should be them.

I am not suggesting that we should all be willing to just recklessly throw ourselves into what could potentially become a dangerous situation. What I am suggesting is that we pay attention and lend a helping hand when it comes to stuff like this because it happens so frequently and it's disgusting. 

Don't let her stand alone. She may not be able to see the way out because she is afraid and probably shook by the mere fact that she is being harassed, but if you see her exit, help make her aware of it. Letting her know that she is not alone may just help her see it for herself.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

I've Been in My Feelings (Music)

Sadly, I've gotten myself mixed up in my feelings... yes, it is true, I too am a human being. I have fallen for someone who I may never be able to be with (It's all quite ironic and glorious... even moreso if you know me and know how horrible I am when it comes to relationships and romance). I sometimes expect things from folks that they will never be able to give me, but thank goodness music has never failed me. I've been switching between a handful of songs in hopes that they will somehow help me get over said person and said feelings. I'm getting there.

*Each song is accompanied by a link so feel free to click away and have yourself a listen (especially if you've never heard the song before).
 I hope you are able to connect with at least one or two :) 


Jessie ReyezFigures  And Shutter Island
Reyez is an up and coming Latina (Colombiana) artist from Toronto. Her Ep is entitled, Kiddo (both songs are on it). She's dope. 













SZALove Galore (Ft. Travis Scott)
If you haven't listened to her EP, Z, you really need to getcho life and click here. The song I'm featuring isn't on there, but you should know her stuff because her music is chill and epic at the same damn time. Okay, cool.









K.Flay: Blood in the Cut  
I gotta thank my wonderful mentor (Rhoda) for this wonderful discovery because she played it this weekend and I fell in love, instantly. I've since listened to a few other songs by K.Flay and she is pretty dope.






  
Kranium: We Can (ft. Tory Lanez) 


Gyptian: Wine Slow 


Halsey: Now or Never 
I really dig this song (gotta stick around to hear the beat drop haha). I haven't listened to her other stuff yet, but I plan to (just to see). Fun fact: she's mixed (her father is black and her mother is white). 








Ariana Grande: One Last Time 
I usually don't rock with her like that, but this song has been helpful.





Labrinth: Jealous
My homie (Diandra) put me on to this song and I must thank her for it because one, he/his voice is fabulous and two, this song is absolutely beautiful.










Julia Michaels: Issues
I love this song and I think she is killn the game. I really dig her live performance of this song (it sounds just like, if not better than, the recording... a lot of popstars don't got that). Not only is she a dope song-writer (shes like 24 and has written pop songs for folks like Justin Bieber, Gwen Stefani, and Britney Spears) but she has a pretty cool voice. 




That's all I got for now. 
-xoxo-
Yolanda 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Final Request

Oh! black birds,
do not look upon me
buried beneath
old memories.

I am gripping my flesh
in hopes of a quick
death.

Ode to the Absence of you and the Presence of Me

The absence of love
is how I came to be
so naturally,
I know not what it means.

I like to taunt
my emotional instability.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Summer Break Has Begun

Me (this semester) struggling
to finish a paper in time.
Captured by my buddy, Rebekah. 
I submitted my final assignment on Tuesday morning so now I'm free.The semester was extremely stressful, not so much because of my classes, but because I was worried about securing a summer internship and struggling to figure out what I want to do once I graduate.

I have one more semester to complete at Smith College and then I am done. During the semester, I wanted to just spend time sorting out my life, which often looked like me just lying in bed, crying, and panicking about the future, if I'm being honest. I struggled to work on homework assignments because I felt frozen in place half the time. I cried more than I ever have during my time at Smith. I looked and felt like shit and even experienced some rough patches with friends. I didn't feel like I could talk to anyone about what was bothering me most--the idea that I could fail, not so much academically, but in life. 

Not many people know this, but once I graduate from Smith, I cannot afford to not know what I plan to do next. The reason being, I have not been supported by either one of my parents in years and even if they wanted to help, they couldn't because they are currently still dealing with their own personal struggles. My grandmother has been generous enough to allow me to crash on her couch since my Junior year of high school. Her place has always been home, but I know that someday I'm going to have to branch out and find a place of my own. My grandmother has been trying to hold up our family for years and I can tell that she's tired. I often worry that no one else in my family notices and if they do, their actions don't show it. My point is, I cannot fail. I put a lot of pressure on myself, but I think it's necessary. 

I am thankful that at Smith, I have two best friends who I know (without a doubt) love and care about me. I also have professors/advisers who I know would go out of their way to ensure that I succeed despite whatever I may be going through. Not only that, but I have people back home, family and friends, who are constantly in my mind while I struggle through numerous obstacles. The people in my life who genuinely love and care about me, give me the strength to overcome on a daily. 


Good News

NYC summer. Let's get it ;)
  • Towards the end of the semester, not only did I secure a summer internship, but I secured Smith College PRAXIS Funding. I will be interning at Cave Canem ("A home for black poetry") as their Productions & Communications Intern. It is an unpaid internship, but due to the Smith PRAXIS Funding, it'll be as if I am being paid to work. Even if I was unable to secure the funding, I would have still been happy to accept the position because as an Africana Studies and English double major, this is a tremendous opportunity. If you care to learn more about Cave Canem feel free to click here
  • I have decided to pursue an MFA in Creative Writing so once I graduate, that is what I will be heading off to do. I haven't applied or chosen a school yet, but I think it would be pretty dope to get into NYU's MFA Program. I spoke to my Smith academic advisors, career advisors, and a number of my Africana Studies advisors about my future plans and this is what feels right. My goal is to take the 2-3 years and work on writing a book that will center around my grandmother's life. Thanks to my special studies professor... I think I might even have a title for it. 
  • This summer, I will be devoting my time and energy into thriving as an intern at Cave Canem, reading, writing, networking, exploring NYC, traveling, and working on this blog. I am very determined. I feel like I need this blog now more than ever because I am not the best when it comes to transitioning so I thinking writing and working on being consistent will be extremely helpful. 

-xoxo 
Yolanda 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Rumination

I've contemplated what it might be like
To give up and give in because I’ve been
Shattered bits for a time and two quarters,
All amidst angry ferocious waters.
Somedays I find myself trapped in a cave
That I’ve mistaken for a safe haven.
I’ve never before seen a blue feather
Beam across a night sky nor have I seen
An ole owl sing  and not been mesmerized by
The miss-tree that is infinitely cloaked in its his-tree;
I consistently interrogate my own vigilance.
Every story that I have yet to write
Stems from instances of intersection and digression;
My mind exists somewhere between an ocean and a stream.