Fascinating.

Fascinating. In my dictionary, it’s described as intrusive interest, dehumanizing curiosity, and something I don’t want to be. Why do you find me so…fascinating?

Why is my hair so interesting to you? Compliments leak from your tongue like too much wine. Stop it, you’re drunk.

It’s as if you feel the need to validate my individuality. I take advantage of the variations of styles that my hair happens to fall into, and you take care to remind me that it looks nice. Do you wish you could try it? Do you want to empower me to embrace my natural curls?

Well, then maybe you should worry more about the ways my hair has been discriminated against and less about how it feels between your fingers.

I can’t believe this chick just touched my hair. Like I’m some pet wandering her pen at the zoo. I’m trying desperately to think of an instance where I’ve had any interest at all in running my brown fingers over someone else’s strands and all I picture is…a dog. Thanks.

Do you think you could just, Stop Fetishizing Me? There’s a difference between recognizing my individuality and making it your object of study.

We’re both so totally different that you can’t even fathom all of the ways. I will never not be one of your “Black friends.” You should go ahead and introduce me as such. Such thoughtless omissions only make me feel more invisible.

My Blackness gives context to my experiences. Going to a white school system is different. Finding a hairdresser is different. Walking down the street is different. Succeeding at anything is different.

But you’re so blinded by my hair, my skin color, and the size of my brother’s manhood that you’re in no danger of enlightening yourself.

I am a human, not a physiology. I have a culture, not a race. And you should use my Blackness as a reminder to check your privilege and ignorance at the door. And be fascinated by the fact I didn’t break your wrist.

One Day

One day

A man is gonna look at me doing me and smile cuz he loves my energy

He’s gonna feed off my inner peace and beg to feed it back to me

One day

This man is gonna fall at my feet

Not in reverence, more prayerfully

Thanking God that we’re meant to be

One day

I’ll be walking down the beach

Feet in the sand but hands holding hands and thinking goddamn

I’m so lucky to have this man

One day

He’ll leave temporarily and I’ll smile as tears fall down my face because I know he’s coming home to me

Eventually

One day

I’ll hug and hold on to him so long that hours pass

I’m gonna make that shit last

so long as he’s my

One day

The man I will marry

The man I will carry

And one day bury

One day

I’ll say I love you

And he’ll ask “is it true?”

Then we’ll make a baby boy

Maybe a girl, too

One day

Dreams will be attainable to me

Impossible will become reality

And you will forever be

My one day

Made-up conversations

It’s been a rough week, hasn’t it? I know I shouldn’t assume, but I assume you don’t want to talk about it. So instead I’ve got some good things to distract you – I hope this isn’t getting old.

I’ve been taking care of my mom lately and it feels good. This week I mowed the lawn for the second time. I knew it was going to rain, the grass was low enough that I could use the chute, and it took maybe 20 minutes. I think my mom really appreciated it though. I’m learning to enjoy that feeling – making her happy.

I also finally stuck my ass to the couch to finish my mom’s resume. And she can’t stop reminding me it was right on time. Not in a bragging way, but in a spontaneous genuine way: “I got a reminder to finish uploading my resume. Can you help me?”

I feel like I should thank you. It’s fucked up that you inspired me to be a good daughter and not just myself, right? I’m choosing to believe that it was always in me but you just brought it out of me. You bring out the best in me sometimes.

I guess that’s all I wanted to say. Thank you.

The rest is a downer. Don’t worry about me. I’ll be OK. I always say it because it’s always true. (OK isn’t great though, either.)

So, please, tell me a story. Make me laugh. You’re always good at that. Or is that too much to ask right now? I just want to be careful, I know you’re fighting your own battles, so I don’t want to ask you for something you don’t have the strength to give.

(But I can’t wait until there’s room for me again, among the chaos that is life.)

20 reminders for blue days

  • Play music so loud it drowns out everything. Only what you feel, though.
  • You don’t have to do anything. Skip anything that doesn’t bring you inner sunshine. The world will not stop turning.
  • If someone hurts you, tell them later when you can be more “impeccable with your word.” Plus, there’s a chance it’s not them, it’s you, all you.
  • Don’t reminisce. Don’t open old photos or messages from “the good old days.”
  • OK. Edit: you can reminisce on random good memories, like that lady you met on the beach who also loves the four agreements.
  • Everything is temporary. Especially this feeling.
  • Do you remember that one thing that you thought you’d never get over? Well look at you now! Do it again.
  • You’re not actually alone, you just need yourself right now.
  • Don’t bottle it up. Talk, write, text. Just get (it) out of your head.
  • Be honest. There usually is something bothering you, you just don’t want to admit it.
  • If there’s a moment where you “accidentally” feel joy, like when your favorite song comes on and you’re singing and vibing like “oh shit,” embrace it.
  • Do that thing you’re afraid of. The wondering and worrying usually lasts longer than the experience: good or bad.
  • Stay off social media. Except Pinterest. Pinterest is cool.
  • Be careful of what else you’re digesting: cow milk, news, Game of Thrones. Instant mood killers those things.
  • You have a $100 spend limit. Rollerblades, bongos, knee-high socks are all acceptable purchases.
  • Studies have shown that moving yourself from one location to another – via car, boat, or plane – does not miraculously improve your mood. But if you need to unplug, hiding your phone is a start.
  • You know what does miraculously improve your mood? Exercise. I know – whomp whomp.
  • Meditations are boring, but you should do them all the same.
  • Sometimes you just need sleep.
  • If your favorite movie is Sex and the City and you just watched it two days ago but it brings you peace, you should definitely watch it again right now.

Things I’ll one day understand

This post isn’t about happy hour.

Today I found some friends and sat on a patio in the sun only to be told that the happy hour menu was bar only. The waitress was extremely apologetic but also firm: even though we could see the bar, we had to sit AT the bar, in the shade, for happy hour prices. But we did to save $1.50 here, $3 there, $4 elsewhere. And it wasn’t half bad sitting at high chairs on a warm humid day.

About thirty minutes later, the sky grew dark, and the rain that the forecast had threatened us with all day finally fell torrentially. And I just watched it all with pleasure from the safety of my covered seat at the bar.

When the waitress, now bartender, returned, she laughed at it with me and said, “Everything happens for a reason.” And I told her, “Yes, I believe that!” I even added umph when I said it. Like that was THE thing I live by.

How ironic it is that I find myself now wondering why the universe saw it fit to place you in my life. That phrase, “everything happens for a reason,” requires a certain amount of faith. It’s so easy to say after you’ve learned or gained or shared what you’re meant to, but the real power in it comes when you can look at life like, “It’s gonna work out because everything happens for a reason even if I don’t understand that reason.”

I feel disingenuous placing emphasis on those words and then later seeking explanations for things I’m not meant to know.

But I try anyways.

My favorite thought is that I’m meant to protect you. You have enough guardian angels I’m sure, but maybe I’m the only one who can protect you from making my recent mistakes. Maybe you’ll hear me when I say “chill out” or “be kind to yourself.” Maybe if I’m around enough to say it enough, eventually it will stick with you enough to keep you from suffering in your mind the way I did for years.

I’m not naive enough to believe you’re the one who’s really being saved though. At the least I can try to repay you in words. You’ve taught me to see the beauty in myself. I’m flattered by what you see on the outside but I light up from what you see on the inside. The fact that someone can see and appreciate all the bare bones, cellular fragments of me gives me courage to be me every single day.

You make me want to shine, and work hard, and spread love. Partly, for myself. But, to be honest, it’s also to live up to your expectations and to lift you up when you need it.

Together we create magical memories. And sometimes I wonder if it’s those moments alone that I’m meant to take from this. Where we share music, and stories, and goals, and fears, and dreams, and plans. I would say that would be enough, but I’d be lying.

Why allow me to create so much good in not enough time? Why force my expectations for future happiness so far past the ceiling? Is it truly better to have loved and lost than never loved before?

I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. To be on the other side of this time, missing the hell out of you but with no string, tape, or glue, nothing that will fix it. And I’m also praying for the rain to fall to give me some true indication as to why you were placed in my life with such a force. But somewhere deep, deep down, I’m terrified at the possibility that life operates without any reason at all.

Who I am.

I used to hate being called a “happy” person.

It felt icky. It felt dismissive. Like I was some rare breed of human without problems. Like I could get smacked by life over and over again and never fall to my knees.

Not that I wanted anyone to actually know the truth. Nope. I worked my ass off to keep people from seeing what I really felt like. When the going was good, sure, I was dancing about wearing a big ass smile, laughing and shining and living unbothered. But that wasn’t my normal.

My normal was depressive episodes. I just hid it well. When the going was tough, I mimicked my best self. I forced bass-thumping music in my ears, reminded myself to pull at the corners of my mouth when I made eye-contact, and pretended that nothing could touch me. My normal was fighting to be happy.

And I resented that many people couldn’t tell the difference.

No one asked if I was okay. No one pushed me to talk. And I learned to assume people didn’t care to hear it. Nobody wanted to see downer Bri. They liked fun Bri. Do more of that Bri.

So I did. And no one noticed, except when it got really bad. Except when I collapsed in on myself during phone calls, lunch dates, meetings…I would literally have to remove myself to hide the worst of oncoming panic attacks.

Then, I couldn’t deny to myself the real truth. I didn’t like who I was.

So, I decided to change things. I sent an email to a therapist I found on the web. I just liked her face. I downloaded a meditation app. I called someone I could trust, my mother, often, for reminders to breathe. I talked to myself. I took time off when the world was too much – told myself I just wasn’t going to make that meeting and it was OK. I took my therapist’s advice. I wrote out how I felt. I read a book she recommended and others. I learned my values. And I started to reframe my thoughts.

And then I felt like I had enough strength to take chances on myself. Chances that lead to a job I enjoy, my favorite vacation, and my first live show. And then…

More challenges hit. And I started to question myself again. I started to question if I was even meant to be happy.

It was like getting everything you wanted in life and realizing that you forgot to ask for the most important thing: the thing that would actually make you happy.

But this week, my coworker called me a happy person anyway. And I opened my mouth to argue and had nothing to say. Zip, zilch, zero. Nada but a smile.

I am a happy person. That is my natural state. I lean into sunlight and get nostalgic when the moon is full. I smile when I hear birds chirping in the morning. I hug my dogs every day hoping they’ll understand how much I love them. I watch movies about unicorns because who doesn’t love unicorns? And I beat myself up for being unhappy because it keeps me from spreading more joy.

But yes, I abso-freaking-lutely work at keeping being happy. I count my blessings, and I look at my tattoos of words like “faith” and “resilient” to remind myself what I already know: God’s plans are greater than my understanding. Life was never meant to be easy, but I have to believe it’s worth it.

When I remember that, it makes it easier for me to be the person I’m meant to be. Happy.

Creating space.

I tried to create space by unplugging. While I often praised others for disconnecting from social media, I’d habitually talked myself into selling more and more hours to it. But that was changing.

It’s now been four days since I last logged onto Facebook or, more dramatically, Instagram. The first day was hard; every day since has me wondering when I’ll look back.

I solve problems differently now. When I think about activities or my face or my clothes, how they will appear on Instagram is no longer a question.

I move in silence. All the things I do and places I go remain unrecorded, at least in real time. There are no spontaneous reactions to my choices.

I hear my own voice more. So have some other humans. Mass communication has been replaced with targeted messages. If I want to talk to someone, I can’t do it subliminally anymore. I have to reach out to them express, direct.

Today I don’t miss social media. But it is uncomfortable being so in tune with myself. Signing off makes it harder to be mindless, to temper my emotions, to distract myself.

Earlier this week, I told my coworker that I wanted to be mindful, but only sometimes. I said that I still needed moments to be mindless. I’ve since changed my mind. My “passive” time spent scrolling through images of familiar faces was feeding my thoughts, whether or not I chose to acknowledge it. It’s time for me to control my emotions by embracing them. I need to be plugged in…to me.

Oh, I gave up alcohol this week too. At least for the time being.

I haven’t set I timeline. There’s no telling if this is a one week thing or a forever thing. I’m thinking not forever, though, as it would be pretty hard to convince folks to read this blog otherwise, ha.

Instead, I’ll refrain until it feels right or I’ve reached my goal. Until I’m so comfortable with myself that social media is merely a thing I use and has no more power to use me.

Laughter is good for the abs.

Lately, I’ve been spending an awkward amount of time around folks in their early to mid-twenties. As someone who’s just two years and two months from her thirties, it makes me feel ancient and amused.

There was literally a point in a conversation with my coworkers where I was talking about “us millennials” and got a rude awakening – they’re Gen Z. Shock and awe.

I should’ve known based on the number of concepts I’ve had to explain to them lately. Why Gucci Mane and Petey Pablo are important figures, how your day job loses significance after three years being a model employee, and how all post-college milestones are a grand myth engineered to train you to be overly critical of your own unique progress.

I feel old, but I hope these young folks appreciate me the way I appreciate them. The more I talk to them, the more I realize how much I’ve grown, especially since my quarter life crisis. (I try not to talk to them about it – preparing is futile.)

Anyways, things got much more interesting when I went to the mall with my “niece.” Biologically, she is my niece, but at the ripe age of 24, she’s more like a baby sister. But sassier.

You know those moms you see getting berated by their daughters for dressing like a grandma? Those moms who ultimately end making a few questionable decisions and misusing new colloquialisms in an effort to be “cool”? That was how my niece made me feel on this trip.

First, she took me to a bunch of stores I’d never entered before like Vans and Zumiez. What is this new skater, nerd culture that was spreading? And why is NASA, at its least effective, suddenly a clothing staple? Was it because of that one Ariana Grande song?

But could I buy a NASA shirt and join in? No! “One word: Amazon.” My niece took me from store to store picking out cute clothes and then telling me I should order them online. Why buy those hot pink biker shorts in store where you can confirm the quality when you can spend $10 on a three-pack of an off-brand’s version, have them shipped in two days, and pray they aren’t made of tissue paper?

Also, should I be buying Champion brand clothes now? I could’ve sworn that was one of the cheap sweatpant brands, not high fashion. Ultimately, I ended up just buying a few dresses. I thought it’d be safe, but I still fielded loads of critiques. My niece has the gift of being both good-natured and savage at the same time.

The mall trip was only half a bust. Our shopping lists were no shorter, but we still managed to leave a few dollars lighter. Yet somehow we had loads of fun. At least I did finding ways to pick her brain and annoy her – picture a long car ride listening to a new female rapper just because I thought she was provocative enough to hold my niece’s interest. (My niece was uninmpressed.)

There’s a fun challenge being friends with people several years younger than you. You know things they don’t, but they know a thing or two you don’t too. Half the things you think are important, aren’t important to them yet, or never will be, and reminiscing is wasted on them.

But that’s what’s so great about my young friends: the differences. The differences pop up so often they’re impossible to ignore, so being with a youngin’ is like a journey of discovery. I learn about their world, they learn about mine, I learn more about mine.

And then we end up having a lot of fun. Because eventually none of the things we thought were that important – even the Toonami lineup in 2001 – end up being all that important. We’re all just living.

P.S. The irony of me calling adults in their twenties “youngins” while also being an adult in my twenties is not lost on me.

all i want

i don’t want your words of flattery

you tell me i’m beautiful as if i never see it

and remind me that ambition is sexy

i know

i know any man would be lucky to be with someone who shines as bright as me

capable of conversation, challenge, and creation

i’m one of a kind

in this, i don’t need validation

in fact, there’s only one place where i’m lacking

a space you can’t comfort me

a void you can’t fill

i remain afraid that despite all i have to offer…

i belong to no one

water

You might say I’m like fine wine

But I’d rather be water

Refreshing, healing

Giving you LIFE

Some people crave wine

Indulge and overindulge in it

And when they’re done, what is it they NEED?

Water

I’m not talking the kind that’s tainted

I’m acid-, cocaine-, and sugar-free

I’m not addictive, baby

You want me because

I’m more than a temporary fill

I make you look good

I keep you healthy, strong

I wash away the dirt and the hurt

But most of all

I quench your thirst like nothing else

So hold onto me

Most don’t realize how goddamn special I am

Until they lose me.