Monthly Archives: October 2014

She’s my faveeee

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Be kind to yourself. Stop telling yourself that whatever you are struggling with “should” be easy. If something is hard for you, it is hard for you. There are probably Reasons, though those may just be how you are wired. Acknowledge these things. When you finish something hard, be proud! Celebrate a little.

And really, just stop saying “should” to yourself about your thoughts and feelings in any context. You feel how you feel. The things in your head are the things in your head. You can’t change either directly through sheer force of will. You can only change what you do. Stop beating yourself up for who and what you are right now–it isn’t productive. Focus on moving forward.

How to keep moving forward, even when your brain hates you

(via because i am a woman)

We writers – and especially writers for children, but all writers – have an obligation to our readers: it’s the obligation to write true things, especially important when we are creating tales of people who do not exist in places that never were – to understand that truth is not in what happens but what it tells us about who we are. Fiction is the lie that tells the truth, after all. We have an obligation not to bore our readers, but to make them need to turn the pages. One of the best cures for a reluctant reader, after all, is a tale they cannot stop themselves from reading. And while we must tell our readers true things and give them weapons and give them armour and pass on whatever wisdom we have gleaned from our short stay on this green world, we have an obligation not to preach, not to lecture, not to force predigested morals and messages down our readers’ throats like adult birds feeding their babies pre-masticated maggots; and we have an obligation never, ever, under any circumstances, to write anything for children that we would not want to read ourselves.

We have an obligation to understand and to acknowledge that as writers for children we are doing important work, because if we mess it up and write dull books that turn children away from reading and from books, we ‘ve lessened our own future and diminished theirs.

We all – adults and children, writers and readers – have an obligation to daydream. We have an obligation to imagine. It is easy to pretend that nobody can change anything, that we are in a world in which society is huge and the individual is less than nothing: an atom in a wall, a grain of rice in a rice field. But the truth is, individuals change their world over and over, individuals make the future, and they do it by imagining that things can be different.

Neil Gaiman, Why our future depends on libraries, reading, and daydreaming

(via the dopest ethiopienne)

On knowing “what ignites your magic,” in Ijeoma Umebinyuo’s words

You’ve got to know yourself. You’ve got to know what ignites your magic, what fires your soul into performing majestic acts of love. You’ve got to know yourself so much that not even a hundred voices will drown yours. You’ve got to own yourself, this journey is all yours. All yours. No one can do it and you decide whenever you are ready to embark on it. Unlearn, learn, master yourself and love yourself or else they will define you and that’s a poisonous kind of life. That’s death.

Ijeoma Umebinyuo

(via because i am a woman)

I’ve been having conversations with two of the people nearest and dearest to my heart of late, CC and [Booskie] — who, sidenote, I suppose I can just start calling JJ now — that touched on these topics, figuring yourself out and moving towards what ignites you. It seems to me that some of my friends and loved ones clearly know what they’re about, have specific goals of things they’d like to do and be and accomplish in the next 5 year or 10 years or at some point in this lifetime.  And then there are people who are sort of just floating, doing things and maybe enjoying them and maybe not enjoying them, but whose 5 and 10 year plans are full of smudged eraser trails and question marks. I think I’m in the latter category.

CC calls it “apathetic.” She’s sick of feeling apathetic about everything. She said that to me on Monday night and it has stuck with me all week, because maybe I identify with that more than I’ve ever articulated or even realized before. I’m so impressed by people who know what they want, even if they don’t know how to get there. I feel like I used to be that person. At the very least, I used to say I wanted things: to be a writer, to be an editor, to go to graduate school, to be a professor, to publish books. I used to say these things, like I used to be creative: at different points in my life, I have regularly drawn, written stories, played instruments, sang, written poems, worked on a novel, sculpted, and acted. I used to be this person who created things.

I don’t want or do any of those things anymore. Grad schools feels so much more like an “I know I should” than an “I want.”  Academic books went the way of academia in the things-I’m-no-longer-about category. I haven’t felt like I have fiction inside of me in years. I dabbled in all these different forms of creativity and never felt good at any of them. JJ is so encouraging. He says now is the time to hone my skills. But I don’t feel drawn to any of them in particular. If I had to choose, I’d say writing — it’s the one that’s been with me the longest, and if this space counts, the only one I’m still doing, but even this space is a thing I have mixed feelings about these days. I’ve been running this blog for almost 5 years now, and it feels like it lost its direction.

I feel like I lost my direction.

We had a party for one of my roommates’ birthdays in May, and someone at the party asked me “What are you about?” instead of making normal small talk. I struggled so hard to answer that question, or any of his follow-up questions that called me on my bullshitting. He didn’t want to hear about my job or my relationship, which are the two subjects I usually bring up when people ask me how I’ve been. He wanted to know about ME, and I didn’t know what to tell him. You never realize how boring your life is until someone asks you what you do for fun, right?

I told JJ, MJ, and NH about this guy and his question when we were at a networking event on campus a few weekends ago at the Black Alumni Conference that Princeton held, and each of them was able to answer it. I stood back and appreciated their answers while simultaneously being terrified that one of them was going to turn it back on me, because I still don’t have an answer. I care about a lot of stuff, but I feel like I’m not passionate about anything. If I won the lottery and suddenly didn’t have to go to my job tomorrow or for the rest of ever, I don’t know what I’d do instead. I don’t feel like there’s this thing I would love to prioritize but life or circumstances or fear or whatever is getting in my way. And that makes me feel sad and small and ambition-less. I can’t tell if the dreams died because I got comfortable doing other things or if they were never my dreams at all, but just things I thought I was supposed to want.

How do I find out what ignites my magic? I’ma be 25 in 3 months — is it too late for me to figure it out? I thought I had a pretty good handle on who I am. Over the course of the time that I’ve been running this blog, I’ve come to accept my queerness and my Blackness and my feminism. I’ve come to understand my sexuality beyond orientation, feel comfortable with myself as a sexual being, and every day I’m learning more about my relationship style. I’ve learned how relationships with family and friends grow and change with time, age, distance, and health. I’m never going to be done figuring myself out — I hope none of us ever feel like we’ve gotten to the day we can say we’ve understood all there is to understand about ourselves — but I have answers where I used to have a lot of questions and uncertainty. I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do with them.

I’m not unhappy. I’m just scared of feeling complacent. I want to have goals and dreams beyond going to Reunions every year and being able to take nice trips sometimes and something like stability.  I want to want things. I want to not be bored by who I am outside of my job and my relationships. I want things I do by myself for fulfillment outside of baking and books and bubble baths. I want to be passionate about things and devote portions of my time to those things. (To be fair there are areas of my life in which I am super passionate, but they tend to revolve around people, not things.) How do I figure out if it’s learning or unlearning I need to do to get there?

I don’t do fear very well. I try to push the people I love away. I worry that I’m not allowed human weakness, that this makes me not good enough, less attractive as a partner. And I may have met someone who can’t be pushed away and I know I cannot be pushed away and I want to say, “Don’t you see?” and I would be talking to both of us.

–Roxane Gay, “Accidents Happen” | Roxane Gay is Spelled With One “N”

We must leave evidence. Evidence that we were here, that we existed, that we survived and loved and ached. Evidence of the wholeness we never felt and the immense sense of fullness we gave to each other. Evidence of who we were, who we thought we were, who we never should have been. Evidence for each other that there are other ways to live—past survival; past isolation.

Mia Mingus

(via Queering the Game of Life)

It’s okay to be sad when you mess up, but don’t dwell for too long. The mistake has already been made, and you can’t erase the fact that it happened. You can either learn from it or mope about it. The choice is yours, but remember, we are only human; we were born to make mistakes. Simply put, if you have never made a mistake in your life, then that means that you have never taken a risk. Taking risks means that you go outside of your comfort zone – that you go outside of your boundaries. The most successful people are the ones who are not afraid to give it their all and possibly humiliate themselves greatly in front of others. It’s like that one saying, ‘The person who asks a question is a fool for five minutes, but the person who never asks and remains silent is a fool forever.’ You choose the way you want to live your life.

Cynthia Amy Tang

(via PolyamorousLife)

I said, “The only way I can play someone this hard is for something to be peeled away each week, and the first thing that needs to go is the wig.” I just wanted to deal with her hair. It’s a big thing with African-American women…You start when you’re just a young girl. Do you twist it? Do you leave it natural when it’s so hard to take care of? Then you start wearing wigs but every night before bed you’ve got to take the wig off and deal with your hair underneath. And it’s a part of Annalise that I needed the writers to deal with because I’ve never seen it, ever, on TV and I thought it would be very powerful. It’s part of her mask.

Viola Davis

(via The CSPH)

We are tired. We are tired of seeing our Black men get gunned down, we’re tired of seeing our Black women get gunned down, and particularly unarmed Black people get gunned down to an excessive extent—11 bullets, 21 bullets, 41 bullets. We are tired of it, and we know that it is not just happening in Ferguson.

Ashley Yates, of Millennial Activists United, speaking to democracynow about how the actions in Ferguson are an opportunity to speak out against police violence.

(via because i am a woman)