Updated: Sep 15
Wooo... I've been gone for a while. It's been a mental battle over good and evil. So so so many things have happened. One of my most recent constant requests to the Universe has been to meet someone wonderful face to face. Not on the internet. Digital hookups are not for me. I need authentic romance. The kind that you read about. The kind that you see in the movies. Old school love. A few times I thought I was on the brink of being swept off my feet and I quickly realized that they were all just tests to see how serious I was about this journey to take extremely good care of myself first. Needless to say, my block game has becoming very strong, but my emotional resolve is still like mush. The ups and downs of meeting people, liking each other and then flop does something to your heart. It becomes a little more difficult to hold onto hope. When it's not men trying to waste your soul and your time, it's other things like the constant juggle of work and being a mom. Lately though, those two things have taken a seat behind me. I didn't stop doing them really, but they're changing... Big time.
First, my favorite Aunty died. She got sick for a while and longer than that if I really think about it.
Wait...let me say this... life just keeps happening and I don't pick up the phone when it rings and I don't call to find out if anyone else is okay. I'm just busy holding on and bracing through my own stuff that seems to look so smooth to everyone else. Just like everyone else.
So, my Aunty calls me all the time...literally my whole life, or she used to. One day I decide to do better and pick up more consistently. It's easier during a pandemic, because life is on a general pause for most of us.
Every time she called I tried to be there. We talked more often than ever before about A N Y T H I N G. It's such a good time. Especially because of my project. She wants to tell me every story that she can remember and I want to listen. "Listen to me! I will tell you the truth chile", she'd say in her strong calm way.
One day, my aunt sounds unusual. Her only child, my cousin noticed as well and she discusses it with me and another favorite cousin. We are honorary daughters #2 and #3. We try to be there through a tough time, but it's super difficult. Especially for my cousin and her dad. They are doing everything humanly possible to keep their family going. There's all the things that being sick brings. All the noticeable things and others that remain out of sight, but the most unbearable. Time is long, but it's mostly short. However, what is worse that strange late night calls from my Aunty that lasts for hours on a work night...? D e a t h... death when she finally got to travel back to one of her most happiest places on Earth. After braving a very long, quiet and painful pandemic. She finally made it to St. Croix, her home away from home. One day, she just slipped away quietly in her sleep. I was so shocked.
Fastforward to the summertime: I just came back from a trip to Antigua and while visiting with some family, my Aunty Norma touched my face and said that I reminded her of Aunty Jen. She had such a comforting smile that it brought one to my face as well. Me, Aunty Jen?! She said yes, it was my style and my way. I beamed, because Aunty Jen was the best that ever did it. She was the first in her family to leave Antigua in search of a better life. She met the man of her dreams while golfing, they got married and had a baby.
She was impeccably dressed every single day. I feel like she was well dressed even as a child. My grandmother was a seamstress and my Aunty could sew too. She traveled the world and lived life on her own terms til the very end. She wasn't shy. She was social and clever. She was strong in the softest of ways. She was smooth whether she cursed or praised you. Her skin was beautiful like butterscotch with faint freckles. My aunt kept perfect manicures and well dressed homes, this included my Uncle and my cousin. Still to this day. It's just their way. She told me in every conversation that she was proud of me. She taught me how to be a doting mother. She also taught me how to listen and how to value independence; my own and my child's. She led by example. No one was better than us and we weren't better than anyone else, but we carry ourselves like we are. She let me know that nowhere in the world was off limits to me. She made Janell, Amirh and I stick together like glue. She would say, "I'm so proud of you Jas. Just keep going. Keep doing what you're doing and don't take no damn shit from anybody" (insert thick elegant Antiguan accent).
I loved everything about her. She meant the world to me and she will always be remembered for all that she was and all that she did.
Losing my aunt was like losing a part of the younger version of myself. She loved her mom so much and I loved her too. I missed my Gran Gran's love. No matter how many times, my aunt would remind me about things about her mother that was only an achy distant feeling to me. Things I'd yearn for in brown and burgundy old photos. My grandmother braiding me and my sister's hair as toddlers. Or sitting sandwiched between the Aunts on my Gran Gran's porch. Images of my sister and I laid out on my Gran Gran's bed in the Antiguan heat. The things that she remembered about me that I would never remember about myself. One Jennifer gone. Although it was hard, I had to learn to let go.
At the beginning of the year my work wife left. She found a new position that's more deserving of her time and she quit the one that still has me. I like it here, but when I tell you it was like going through a nice divorce...just believe me. She really did her best, but it still felt like someone died yet again when Jenn was gone... Nine years down the drain and as much as my pride tried to stifle me, I openly wept and threw small adult tantrums when I least expected it, which was almost daily for about a month and she let me with hugs and apologies. I didn't walk past her desk for weeks after she'd gone. I just couldn't.
I remember so many things about Jennifer Steinle. All the things I thought would surely disappear when she left, because I hadn't written them all down. Like how professional she looked when she interviewed and I knew she had the job, because she wore a pant suit. She is easily one of the most professional (yet slightly inappropriate) people I know. Some days I still see myself racing to work to get there early enough for us to be the only two people in the office, just to joke around, talk or sing songs from the 80s and 90s. When I had something important to tell her from my private life she always found the best hiding places and she'd listen to me ramble. She hated all the people I should have all the time and that makes me smile big. Laugh... it makes me laugh, because that's friendship.
Jenn made up my imaginary husband, Mercury. She did this because I told her when I was in high school I thought no one would ever love me except for a hobo or a bum. She thought that was silly and Mercury was invented to make me resist that notion forever and it kinda worked. Anytime I said something silly about love she'd say, "Hey nice lady" and I'd crack up. You had to be there. We were so fed up one year that we co-wrote a book about all our greivances. We didn't speak about it. We just dated a page, wrote in the book and passed it back and forth til it was done. It's one of my prized possessions.
She sends me cards all the time and little gifts to let me know she's thinking of me and because she knows that I love mail. She's extremely affectionate, she's a vigilante (I once saw her get a woman's purse back after someone snatched it and ran in Central Park - Yes, just like the movies - then she wondered if the asailant was just hungry and needed money to buy food). Jenn actually has a husband named Glenn who is a wonderful EMT. They just go around doing good things all the time like feeding the homeless, volunterring at Planned Parenthood, taking care of family and friends in need and writing politicians about any problems in the world. There's so many reasons to love her.
Even though I haven't seen her since March/April, I know where to find her if I really need. I love you Jenn with two Ns. You're irreplaceable. Another Jennifer gone, but this time not forever.
I don't really care for the saying that it happens in threes, but this was the most unbearable let go of all...
I woke up before the alarm today and althoug this is not unusual in the slightest, it was in fact very different.
It was so Q U I E T.
Not that it hasn't been quiet plenty of times before, but this time I knew it was pretty much here to stay for a very long while. My one and only child just went away to college. Although, it is an extremely exciting time for him, it was a different ending for me.
I'll start this way... When my son was just an infant other parents would say things like, "Enjoy every moment, take lots of pictures, because it will go very fast." I heard it so often in so many different ways, I had to believe that it was true. So, from the very beginning (even though it felt strange to do) I would rock him slow, hold him close, storing every possible memory through reoccurring thought, pictures, videos and endless experiences. All the while, imaginging him graduating through all the necessary grades and then finally packing up the car and heading off to college. I envisioned tears in my eyes and long embraces. Over the years I allowed myself some pretty good cries for something that seemed so far off, yet inevitable. As he got older, it became more and more real. He was growing up and growing out. Some days I would see him and wonder when did he turn into this big beautiful human being? He was so unafraid and ready to do everything on his own.
S E N I O R Y E A R... How emotional was I...? I was so emotional that most of the people who are close to me would call and check up on me from time to time. The school year went by and he worked hard, but at one point things started going all wrong and it looked like community college would take my baby and he would stay living at home with me, but I knew that wasn't an option. We were that tired, even after a break at the end of sophomore year, junior year and a long quiet pandemic. Still, we powered through. After a while things started getting back to normal. I went back to the office first. Then, in September 2021 he went back to school as well. All the hard work over all the years paid off and my son got accepted to three schools and chose Morgan State University.
Before college took him away, his social life and friends did. It seemed as though he was trying to cram as many things, people and events into the year before he left home. That meant a lot less time for he and I, but we always had our early mornings and our drives to school everyday. Many evenings I fought the urge to call him and grill him on where he was, but I always knew that close to curfew he would call or be walking through the door and that was more than enough for me.
Now, when I close it, the front door remains that way. It took some getting used to for sure. I had to focus more on me like I promised I would and I did just that. For 18 years, up until the middle of August I put my all into McKyle, in his presence and in his absence. I had to trust and believe that the seed that I planted in him would come to fruition in how well he took care of himself when I wasn't around and I truly have all the trust in him.
My son has been home twice since school started and he did it on his own. He took the four hour train ride alone, got here in one piece and went back on time. Let me tell you that it's the best treat to know that he enjoys being at home so much that he comes back often, not because he's asked, but because he genuinely wants to. Every time he goes my heart aches. My sisters have witnessed me cry out in public just because he crossed my mind and he's nowhere near me. I am way more proud than I am sad though and I don't take for granted that he'll come waltzing through the door on any given Friday evening. My heart is completely full every time I see his sweet face.
Whenever I close my eyes, open my hands, my heart, my mind and let go, something sweet happens in return. My cousin and her husband had a baby daughter and there's a solid tribe of Aunties and family that loves her. She also has a guardian angel in her Grand(ma) Jen. My work wife, is my first and my last. She still sends me the funniest cards in the mail that I treasure them more now than I ever did before. We plan to hang out sooner than soon. As for my baby boy, he's flourishing at his HBCU. He has a schedule that he manages fairly well, a bunch of new friends and a new found sense of independence in a different state away from his parents.
Here's what I'm reading, watching and listening to:
I have a very short story about David Theodore...
I met him before I knew he was a published author. One of the items on my list of things to do was, paint my entire apartment. I'd been thinking about doing it for a while. Strangley, like the socials sometimes does, it picked up on that and started showing me ads for paint and companies that provide that service. I found a company named OPN on Instagram and decided to reach out. Dwight Peters, the owner set up a time and date to do a walkthrough and then have three painters come out to do the job. Of all the painters, I was drawn to this
one. I couldn't even tell you why. David was so kind and he humored me in many a conversation. He even participated in my project and allowed me to tell him some of my story. We're now acquaintences who write and follow a tiny bit of each other's lives through words. I am currently reading Home Health Aide Stories. From the very first story my eyes were peeled and my mouth was wide open. Welfare Dad will be next. It is so important to tell your story. Everyone! It is also important to support black writers and artists. You can find these two books on Amazon.com and you can find David at email@example.com .
David reminded me that you can find time to do what you want to do all while doing the things you have to do. He is also the best painter. He painted almost every wall and corner of my apartment with precision and without painters tape. With the help of Miguel and Nigel of course. Thanks guys.
I am trying to get my bearings to remodel my little apartment. After ten whole years, it needs a new look. Although I've been watching HGTV forever, I needed to be able to see that it is possible to redo a space in a very short period of time. Well, it doesn't get quicker that 12 hours. Instant Dream Home is absolutely incredible and hosted by one of my favorite actresses, Danielle Brooks. Now, I have the mental energy to put my own plans in motion and complete my own instant dream space. Watch it. It's very inspiring and heartwarming.
Only Murders In the Building is back for a second season. It's a comical murder mystery staring Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez. This series is perfect watching for summer fading into fall. It is perfect, go watch it! it's on Hulu and it is good.
"Nobody asked", but the only other thing that I'm obssessing over lately is Arvin Olano's YouTube channel. He is so funny with that cynical little laugh and I can't get enough of him taking me on a virtual journey to Home Goods amongst other places. He will help you get rid of the things that should not be in your home by pointing it out, laughing at you and then apologizing. I think he is so clever and full of style. Check him out.
We're gonna start with the most played, because "These mf'ers aint stoppin me"...
This album dropped when I was in Mexico with The Panel and I swear it didn't sound right (I didn't hear it from the beginning), but it was Queen Bey and how dare my ears not get in formation? When I tell you the minute I got in my little Lexus I morphed into That Girl. When I tell you I hear the opening line of this album at ALL TIMES!!! Anytime someone tries to bring me out of character... Anytime a man wastes my damn time....Antime someone tries it... Anytime I'm running late for work due to a little traffic... When I'm in the shower...When my sisters are in the red and black bucket seats with me... When I'm in the pool on vacation... "These these mf'ers ain't stoppin me". It's a life anthem. I'm Cozy, Heated, an Alien Superstar, a former Church Girl, with big Energy. Move! I'm Heated and All Up In Your Mind, possibly because America Has A Problem, but you won't Break My Soul. The Queen went in as per usual! If you're smart you will Cuff It. If you're not listening, I don't even want to sit with you. R E N A I S S A N C E
Kendrick was worth every bit of the wait. I've just been listening to his old albums while he was going through something that would cause him to bless us with these perfectly placed words on smooth staccato beats. How shocked were you to hear yourself in We Cry Together? All the songs had me in my feelings, but Count Me Out, Father Time, Crown, Mother I Sober and Mirror all have a hold on me. Mainly because in order to truly succeed in this life and feel unencumbered, I believe that you have to go back to all the painful parts and do something better with them. Then you can truly move on. This album is like therapy.
Honestly, I never got past Falling Back, but I'll listen to it all over the course of the week. I had too much to do and "These mf'er's ain't stopping me" lol sorry...
I did listen to Jimmy Cooks as well and I think that's my favorite track, but we'll see.
I've been listening to this instead. Certified Lover Boy is a certified classic for me. Idc what everyone else thinks.
Remember when albums were about 7 songs long? Well, this album is a tight collection of Tems best songs of 2022 I think.
Have you listened to the words to the song H I G H E R? If not, go listen and come back.
"If the world was ending
Would you cry
Or would you try to get me
Tell me now
I want you to be clear, Yeah
Tell me now
I need You to be clear, Yeah
I will wait for you
I will wait for you
I will wait for you
These are the words that I sing to myself. I'm desperately seeking Jasma John. Desperately, you hear me? I need her to know that I'm sorry for all she went through , all the things that I've put her through and that I'm going to take care of her and do better from here on out. This song is a constant reminder that I am waiting for myself and I won't give up on my highest potential. Ok, I'm out of my feelings. If you need to hear this song in another capacity and tempo listen to Future's version (feat. Drake).
I play this one excessively too for different reasons entirely. Don't ask me no damn questions.
Emotions, emotions, emotions they are always going inside of me. Don't worry about me. I'm steady working on everything with the hopes of being the best version of me for myself, for a long time to come. Everything is gonna be alright in the process of holding on, letting go and opening up to receive what is truly meant for you.
Speaking of full potenital, I surround myself with some pretty solid people. My family and friend group is a small ball of well crafted people. The Panel is a group of five intellegent, well traveled, well dressed black women that I titled and happen to be a part of. I would like to say congratulations to my friend, the Honorable Judge, Tashanna Golden on such an incredible achievement such as this. I think I've gushed about it everywhere, but you know I think you are outstanding. Keep raising the bar. "If you a black girl, do your thing!"
In closing, a piece of me is out there in the world and I hope to God that you all are as kind to him as I taught him to be to you. I pray for his happiness, confidence, empathy, discernment, wisdom, willpower and overall physical, mental and emotional health daily. Here's to the class of 2026! Congratulations to my babe, McKyle.
"Once you make the decision, you will find all the people, resources,and ideas you need...Every time." ~Bob Proctor
L O V E, Jas