Leaving Home When It’s in Trouble

This week, I started a new chapter in my life. I got a new job in a new location; I still had my other 3 jobs so I never had to worry about income; I had a new support system in my new home. But two weeks before I left my hometown, my grandfather had his third stroke while I was sleeping next to him.

Earlier in the summer he’d fallen down in the garage and couldn’t get up, and stayed on the ground for hours until my cousin found him there. He fractured his lower back and couldn’t be as independent as he once was. My aunt, mother, cousin and I all lived there with him for various reasons, but the common one was to keep a lookout for grandpa. Over time, he grew stronger. Slower, but still stronger. The first two strokes he suffered in ’96 had delayed his thoughts, speech and mobility. Imagine a more articulate and handsome Frankenstein; that’s grandpa. Always a flirt with the nurses at doctor visits and cashiers at grocery stores. Always quick on his feet and will lie with a joke to save his hyde from my aunt. Always content with small-talk, sports or westerns on TV, and a bowl of beans and ham. But this last stroke from two weeks ago slowed him down even more.

The morning of his stroke, around 5AM, I could feel him shuffling around in the bed, so I figured he was ready to get up and get his day started. So I got up, ignored the darkness outside the window, and flipped on the light. I asked him if he was ready to get up and he couldn’t respond. All he could mumble was, “I gotta pee.” Seemingly, no one else was awake, so I started getting him up myself, which was my usual task so that my mom and aunt could sleep in a little longer. but his back was spasming, and his words weren’t making sense, so he’d just say “I gotta pee” over and over again. I handed him his urinal, but he wouldn’t use it. I looked down and noticed he’d already soiled the bed, an unusual thing for him to do.

My aunt was already awake and was coming back in the house from the smoke room. She, being the neurotic one, frantically asked him what the matter was, and got frustrated when he didn’t answer. In her frustration, she woke my mother up. My mother isn’t as frantic as my aunt, at least not when she’s half sleep. They’re both asking him questions he can’t respond to with anything but “I gotta pee,” and ignoring the fact that the left side of his face was twisting. I remembered an infomercial about strokes, and the signs were facial twisting, confusion and something about sweat. Well grandpa had all those symptoms, so I said “His face is twisting. He’s having a stroke. We need to call an ambulance.”

There was no delay when my aunt told the EMT that I would be riding in the ambulance with them. The whole ride seemed surreal. I didn’t say a word. I didn’t cry because I told myself not to, especially in front of male strangers. We arrived at the hospital, and all the specialists and nurses were looking to me for answers, of which I could handle, but there were maybe 2 questions I couldn’t. My mother came shortly after, coffee-less, and my aunt soon after that, complaining that she didn’t like the facility. As usual, mother and I tuned her out. We asked grandpa easy questions and he kind of answered, and kind of didn’t. He kept falling asleep, and for the next 2 and a half days, all he did was sleep.

I felt so guilty because I was still preparing for my move. My grandpa had done so much for me that I would never be able to repay him and here I am, abandoning my family when they need me the most. Had it not been for my (other) aunt, who also doubles as my godmother, I would still feel guilt in my heart. “Little Bit,” she started with (one of) my family nickname(s), “YOU take care of you. I know right now it’s bittersweet, but it will be ok…Now it’s your turn to spread your wings!” She assured me that if I needed anything, she’d be there for me, as well as my uncles.

I am an impulsive decision maker at heart, but this move has been brewing for approximately 2-3 months before I decided, which is progress for someone like me. Had I not heard those encouraging words from my family, or had my sister not given me The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho for Christmas AND if I never had read it, I would never have left home. And while grandpa is still moving slowly, he’s improving more and more everyday.

“My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer,” said the boy. “Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself, and no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams,” replied The Alchemist. -Paulo Coelho

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More Male Rape Scenes on American Screens, Please.

DISCLAIMER: Content may be triggering as it relates to the subject of rape. This post is not meant to be perceived as anti-male, or anti-male rape victim, but male rape culture/rape culture in general, and the social norms branded to the screens of American citizens.

Why is it that in most American television and movies that include a rape scene, that a woman is commonly the victim? Sure, there are allusions of children being raped, but the scenes are never seen by the masses. Khaled Hosseini’s Kite Runner shared the detailed rape of Hassan in his book, yet the film more so alluded to the rape and did not show it. Why is there a social stigma on rape as we know it, which is a man attacking a woman, not more widely explored in television and movies from a more realistic point of view? Have screenwriters forgotten that men, too, are victims of rape? Did they forget that women also rape other women?

Interestingly enough, the Hays Code was set into place as censorship in American film and television. This code included rules such as no nudity, scenes of passion or even miscegenation. The Hays Code, or the Production Codes were set into place in 1930 and were enforced four years later. So how did films go from overly cheesy storylines of wholesome morals and goodness to more developed misogynistic treatments of women?

In Last Train From Gun Hill, an American Western film, a Native American woman, referenced to as a squaw, that was married to a marshall and bore his son, was raped and killed by two men, one of which was the son of a wealthy and powerful cattle rancher. Her son escaped and ran back to town to tell of the events, and her husband fought, quite literally, for justice on his late wife’s behalf.

On Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, season 1 episode 19, women were raped on the train, and a witness did not stop one of the rapes, because he didn’t want to get his coat soiled by the assailant.

Foxy Brown‘s main character was raped, tortured and drugged, her brother and lover were both killed, but she overcame it all and executed a plan to bring down a prostitution and drug ring led by a sadistic madam.

American Horror Story: Asylum‘s villain raped and impregnated his final conquest.

One of the earlier scenes in The Book of Eli was that of a woman being gang raped after her male traveling companion was murdered, and while the main character could hear everything, he did nothing and hid in the rocks because it wasn’t his fight.

Of course you can google “male rape scenes” and be further disgusted in your findings, which will include a website that exclusively plays rape scenes–real or pornographic? I did not stay long enough to find out–but you will rarely see it in movies or on television. You can look into the public forums posted on host search engine sights that will direct you to certain films that few people have heard about such as American Me and I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, but who really remembers those films? There is also the popular television show Banshee, where the main character is faced with becoming another inmate’s bitch in prison, but instead of exploring sexual assault with the main character, the writers chose to kill off the assailant. Why is it that when viewers see male rape scenes, they walk out, and stay for when women are raped?

As a nation, we have become desensitized to the berating of women. It is a social norm to point the finger at women who are raped for the way they are dressed, or their irrelevant sexual histories, so much so that rape shield laws have to be set in place to protect victims from having said irrelevant sexual histories brought up in court. Many are criticized as cowardly for not coming forward initially, yet most of the female victims report their attacks, while a majority of the male victims stay silent. Ironic…

As a people, we have become used to the fact that women will be raped and/or faced with devastating and life altering violence like the women that get acid thrown on their faces by the men they said “no” to, so we create devices such as the rape-axe or anti rape wear. Just last year, Moroccan leaders amended their laws so that teen girls would be forced to marry their attacker, so that he can avoid jail time. Women are gang raped on public buses in India. With all of this information of women being the victim in real life, no wonder they are the victim in our entertainment too.

Yes, I have seen The Players Club where Ronnie raped main character Diamond while she was drugged. Yet no one questioned Diamond, fiction or not, “well if they were drugged, how the hell did they know so much,” like the uninformed are asking Bill Cosby’s victims. If more men–I use that term loosely to describe the knuckle draggers that are out of touch with reality and don’t understand delayed gratification–would “man up” like society told them to the day they were born and came forward with their assault, if more men experienced getting drugged and raped and felt the soreness and confusion the next day, if men were as desensitized to a woman’s suffering as they were to ignoring their own, then there would be no brash and oblivious statements thrown around on foolish memes.

I’d like to see more women raping men on my TV, please. I’d like to see men take it and live their day to day lives like nothing happened. I’d like to see a male character wake up out of his sleep because his repressed memories run rampant in his dreams about the night he was assaulted by his female best friend at her after party. I want to see him slink down the walk of shame. I want the social norms to be broken in a society that wags their fingers at women, and with the same hand pat men on their backs and gingerly slaps their wrists. I want equality in the shows and movies that I watch.

Snap Chat Chats: People Like Us

Recently I reached out to my followers on Snap Chat and asked what they’d like to know about. Only one responded with something along the lines of “How does a Democratic or Republican Presidential candidate effect someone like us?” Well you don’t need much research, only a little common sense.

I will speak for myself, because I have no clue what my follower’s situation is, and classify myself as a working class, female, college graduate serving her first year sentence in her student loan’s hellacious prison, two or more races that are not Hispanic/Latino (as far as I know), pro-choice, etc… With all this in mind, I usually vote for candidates that support my interests and needs, as should everybody else. Voters have to begin to understand that it is not all about the Presidential elections, but elections on the local and state levels as well.

Think of it as building your fantasy football team. You choose the players that will gain the most points so that you can thrive. The more your roster fails to makes sense, the less points you make and you lose. Comprehendible, right?

Point:  If you aren’t voting for your whole “team” to work together as it relates to the local, state, AND presidential candidates that are in accordance with your common interests AND are not getting your non-voting peers to vote as well, then you are part of the problem.

You know how Obama’s opponents seem to one up him on issues such as gun control despite the mass shootings of public places, out of touch politicians and racial/civil unrests, LGBTQ rights in some states but not the others (pre-Supreme Court voting it unconstitutional), and Women’s Rights, even in 2015? Or how recently U.S. Representative for Virginia Bobby Scott was outnumbered in the vote for GMO labelling of Virginia’s food in a 2:1 no vote? It is because as the new kids in the voting polls, we are still under the influence of our parents. We are still believing that voting doesn’t make a difference for our world. Our heads are still up our own asses. We are not doing our own research and choose to follow the masses.

To rid ourselves of this detrimental behavior, we must find time in our “busy” schedules to educate ourselves and one another about the various platforms that the candidates will try and sell us.

Please be advised: Do NOT feed into the media hype.

Yellow journalism

can and will confuse you when trying to choose the best candidate. Google is your best friend when it comes to finding information, but do your best to neglect the first four (4) pages of information. Learn each candidates’ stance on social issues before they were in the limelight. Should any of the best suited candidates’ platforms be in accordance with what caters to you and your needs, find and meet with others that are aiding in their rallies and political campaigns. If there are none, then start one. Get involved to better the future.

Fucking do something so that there can be an effective change for “people like us.”

Sadly and naturally, the older voters are dying out and we have the power to make real change in the world we live in, but we are not. To answer your question on how it effects someone like us, we are screwed until the rising masses come together for a common goal and vote for it AND create platforms for change.

As always, Love and Light

Be sure to follow me on snapchat: ca_bodacious

The She-Stache

I wrote this submission for an essay-contest about a month ago for the Anti-Diet Project, but I never heard anything. Maybe there were a lot of submissions and they haven’t gotten to mine yet. I’m both optimistic and impatient. I hope you like it.

The She-Stache

I’ve bleached it. I’ve waxed it. I’ve shaved it. I’ve tweezed it. Once, I saved enough money to have it removed via laser but chickened out. Genetics can be so cruel.

I am most embarrassed by my she-stache (I’ll explain later). I can’t necessarily hide it since it rests on my face as a haunting reminder that nobody’s perfect. I remember the first day I was teased about it. They were bored with my fuzzy arms and legs and my Frieda brows (which weren’t even THAT intense) and wreaked havoc on my upper lip. I asked my mom what I should do. She told me to leave it alone or else it would grow back thicker. “It’ll keep you humble,” she said. So I did the only thing a young girl could do when her back is against the wall: disobey and shave. I shaved everything. I had seen enough commercials to know how to do it just right. There were ample supplies in the house at my disposal, seeing as how my mother was neglecting the razor due to a shower mishap that she will never, ever forget about. I mean honestly, one tiny nick and she goes ballistic.

I started with the right leg. Neon-pink, single blade razor in one hand, berry scented shaving cream in the other. I applied the cream from the base of my ankle to the top of my knee onto my skin. Before I made the first stroke, I hesitated. I thought of the repercussions should mom find out since I was only about 11 and not allowed to shave just yet. Sweatpants, long sleeves…she’ll never have to know. Ignoring my fears, I made the first pattern along my leg. There were tiny speckles of blood left in the razor’s wake. Nobody told me my skin was supposed to be damp. I took a page from my dad’s book and stuck tiny pieces of toilet paper on the mini scrapes. I finished my legs and marveled at the smoothness and patterns of toilet paper. It stung a little but beauty is pain after all, or so I’ve heard. I finished my arms and armpits soon after without a scratch. The only thing left to shave was the dreaded she-stache–she-stache is a female moustache brought on by a random jumbling of phenotypic genes that decided to express themselves on my upper lip. I lathered the cream carefully onto my face. I felt and looked ridiculous. It was an empowering and powerless moment: I could remove it if I wanted to, but it would grow back and I would be teased about something else until it did. To make matters worse, when I finished with my lip, I saw that there was a light shadow hovering over it. There was a wave of shame that washed over me. Had I just done this for nothing?

That shame carried over into adulthood as I was constantly reminded of the feature by family members, friends, and even patrons where I worked. I have tried many remedies to rid myself of the burden for years, but nothing has brought me relief. My best bet was editing my pictures so that the whiskers were not as evident or making silly faces to mask my discomfort. Before anyone else could beat me to it, I would tease myself about it. But one day I decided that enough was enough. I took a good, long and appreciative look at myself.

I stared at the same features that I had blamed my ancestors for, and decided to appreciate them for once. There was minimal—if any—acne, while my eyebrows were unkempt, the shape was still lovely, my forehead size was average, my cheekbones were to be praised and celebrated, and my lips fit my face perfectly… I allowed myself to feel pretty. But because old habits die hard, the thought of getting laser hair removal resurfaced as I surveyed my lip’s miniscule companion. Then I had a thought: what if I have a daughter and she encounters the same thing? How would I be able to relate to her if I no longer have that “problem?” How could she accept my advice? And what’s worse, why did I allow myself to feel inadequate and damaged because of something I had no control over? There is no possible way for me to tell my genes to stop pushing the hairs through my skin. At that moment, I was not so much ashamed of the she-stache, but ashamed for not getting over it sooner. I was ashamed for not accepting myself as is for so long and for not feeling validated because of the opinions of children. Ugh.

I do my best to let those things roll off my back these days. I am no longer ashamed of the she-stache. I let it stay because my mother was right: it keeps me humble. I know that everyone has something about themselves that makes them cringe with discomfort. I choose to embrace my discomforts.

Love and Light,
Tuhli.

Loving a Black Man

The recurring argument that my partner and I have is about being a black man in America. It took me a long time to realize that I wasn’t so much upset that he was so anxious or concerned about being black and the struggles that come along with it. I was upset because there was nothing that I could do about it. There was nothing I could do to ease his suffering. There were no solutions that I could offer him. No peace for his spirit that I could give…

When I watched this poem, I was hoping that I could send it to him and give him some relief, but I was only visited by more assurance that the world does not love him. The harsh reality of this finding is unsettling. What can I do? What will I do?

Continue to wish for his safe return home whenever he leaves. Continue to tell him that I find him beautiful inside and out. Celebrate his successes and find victories in his failures. Remind him that he’s strong. Be there when he needs me and keep my opinions to myself when he doesn’t. Esteem him. Hold his hand. Rub his back. Grease his scalp. Stand in the wake of his awkward and powerful gait. Thank God for making him JUST FOR ME even if it’s only for a moment. Let him know that while most of the world does not love him that I do.

Another Poem About Love

I really love Instagram. I love the random memes that people make that call for a reaction. I love that everyone’s reactions are different. My reaction to a meme by The Meditating Chef caused my reaction to be a poem. Appropriate, seeing as how it is National Poetry Month. Well, here it goes…

Another Poem About Love

I find the truth amongst the lies that my mind releases
I have never felt an inner awakening like this
To know that my heart beats in near rhythm with yours is enough
It’s enough
You’re enough for me
I leave my ego at the door and you do the same
How can nothing but love remain?
I’ve been here and there and spent some time below
But nothing is sweeter than when we meet in the middle and I encounter your Beautiful glow

Wasn’t that cheesy?! I love it. I love love. I love my partner. Have an awesome day.

Gender Roles, Social Stigmas, and Patriarchal Societies…OH MY!

all that feminist empowerment is a bunch of BS. there are still gender roles to be filled because men and women are different. that doesn’t mean we are unequal, because you don’t have to be the same to be equal. if a woman got on one knee in front of me, i would take it as disrespect. real talk–Anthony L.

This is one of the comments left by a Facebook user on a video of a woman beautifully proposing to her boyfriend.

A little background before we get started…

I was raised in a Christian home where my father was the provider and disciplinarian and my mother was the homemaker and, well, was also the disciplinarian. My parents saw to it that I knew my place in the home and on earth as both a child and a female–seen and not heard. There was no:  swearing, street talk, secular music, cable, playing with friends (or even having them because that’s what siblings were for), arguing, deciding what we wanted to eat or where, soda, expressing feelings, having a job outside the family business, make-up, flashy jewelry…you get the gist. I was allowed Barney, Sandlot, Helen Baylor, Kirk Franklin, Jesus and all of His amazing grace. Long story short, I rebelled every chance I could and took every woman’s studies class that my student loans would pay for.

Coming from this background, I only knew one way of thinking and that was Christianity, the patriarchal society–where women were property and burdens to their fathers and men were in charge of everything–and all things gospel music. I didn’t start listening to white artists until I was 17 because I was under the influence of my father and he just could not get down to the white man’s music. The only books in our house were the bible, books by Miles Monroe, and I distinctly remember seeing something about prayers for the black man. I started public school filled to the brim with white people in the 8th grade which was completely different than my predominately (literally we had one white student and then there was my brother and I) black private school of prior years. In 9th grade I took Earth Science and was taught the Big Bang Theory. I was completely floored and wanted to cry in class because how could these people not know that God created the Heavens and the Earth and not some large rock? I told my mother about the course and she nearly had a damn stroke. In 11th grade I heard my first sexist joke–“Wanna hear a joke? Women’s rights! *cues series of snickers* Looking back on my childhood and the structure of the household that joke was disgustingly accurate. Disclaimer: This is not about my parents. All of this is so necessary to share to show you how I was raised to be an extremist.

Throughout my college career I have made strides to empower myself as a woman. I took The Pill, played the field, was engaged (twice), dated older men, younger men, went to parties, shaved my head, said “no,” swore in public, showed my ankles, etc… But most importantly I learned. I learned that everyone was raised differently. It was such a mind fuck to learn how to accept another person’s opinion based on their own personal mindset. How do you do that? By listening to understand, and not to respond. Unfortunately, that is not what this post is about either.

People like Anthony L. need to read all the books and ditch his mom who clearly stroked his ego a little bit too hard. “If a woman got on one knee in front of me, I would take it as disrespect.” I’m going to question both your manhood and common sense. How would you be any less of a man if a woman asked you to marry her? Would it be upsetting to you because you did not get to ask her first? Getting down on bent knee is one of the most humble positions a person can get into, so please explain to me, SOMEBODY, how that is disrespectful. You both have to exchange vows and rings but only one of you is expected to change your last name. Let’s stay there for a moment. A woman changes her last name to her husband’s once she is married because, traditionally, she would now belong to him so he gets to put his name on her. Why aren’t we both changing our last names, Anthony? Because tradition and social stigmas have such a foothold on the present that people like you are afraid to change it.

To the women that think a woman asking a man to marry her is out of order, humble thyself. My partner and I talk about this all the time. The era of the patriarchal culture is over. That said, women no longer have to be passed off to another family by way of a marriage; women are allowed to own property, have jobs (even if we still only earn $0.77 to a man’s $1.00) and money; women are allowed to vote and hold political offices…don’t you think it’s time women were able to ask their man/partner to marry them? And considering the fact that you could potentially be waiting for quite possibly a lifetime for your partner to ask you because he is afraid to commit, don’t you think if YOU asked him it would push things along? Communication is key in a relationship. When marriage is a common topic of discussion among you and your partner, and you both see yourself getting married and are both in the right place financially, physically and mentally, then it is definite that somebody is going to pop The Question. The way I see it, if we’re both taking care of business (i.e. paying bills on time via holding down a steady job, owning up to our respective bullshit, esteeming/loving one another, etc…) equally in the relationship and marriage is something we want to do, then it is a race to see who will ask first. What are you afraid of? The fact that he could say no? You also hold that right should he ask you too, boo. Because that’s just not how it’s done/been done? It’s 2015. Wake up. Use those ovaries and empower yourself and strengthen that womanhood.

And of course I’ll be bombarded with Proverbs 18:22 which says “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” because saints love to distort the Word. I get it. You’re just following the rules. But again it is 2015. We are no longer in the mindset that women are arranged to be married to a prosperous family by the time they are born. Also women weren’t writing these scriptures. Solomon wrote a good chunk of the book of Proverbs and while he was wise, he also had a harem

I respect everyone’s opinion until it breaches Stupid’s territory. “The lips of the righteous nourish many but fools die for lack of understanding” — Proverbs 10:21, just to keep things parallel. Do your best to educate yourselves before unleashing your immodest opinions on the masses and consequently making an ass of yourself.

As always, Love and Light.