The Art of Looking Through People

This entry is part of 3 in the series Summer in D.C.

Surely, people are not born wholly apathetic. Right? This wasn’t an issue back home – acting like people weren’t there in order to simply go about the day. I pass as many as ten homeless people a day, sometimes more. “Any change?” On a good day, yeah, but if I were to give every homeless person I saw a dollar, I’d be fucking homeless too. *kanye shrug*

So how does one protect themselves from bankruptcy? Apathy, it appears. No doubt, it breaks my heart a little every time I quickly divert my eyes from someone looking to collect some change. But I mean shit, I’m in no position to help.

Since I used to drive everywhere, I’m not used to people walking toward me. I’m not used to walking, period – unless it’s purely for exercise – but that’s neither here nor there. Generally when people walk toward me, I instinctively make eye contact but to do that here is to potentially invite unwanted attention to yourself. It’s best to look through people and not at them.

I went to NYC a couple weeks back to meet with a professor. As I’m trying to navigate Port Authority to get to my bus, I made the fatal error. I locked eyes with this big, black dude with locs and a beard. My mans was locked and loaded with the sales pitch. Evidently, he was an exotic dancer looking for clients. “For fifty bucks, I can dance for you and all ya friends.” I shit you not.

My naive ass stood there and listened too because I was told it was rude to walk away from someone when they’re talking. That rule doesn’t apply here.

I declined. I calmly said, “Sorry, I gotta pass, dude” and I turned to walk away. “I respect the hustle, though,” I said over my shoulder. That made him laugh and he said, “Iite, lil mamma, be easy.” It’s a funny story now but it could’ve been avoided.

But generally, people are nice in face to face interactions. Pleasant, even. That leads me to believe there’s a switch that people have developed and I need to do the same. Not wholly apathetic, just selective.

 

Forward!

Well I’ve been in D.C. for a cute 48 hours now. First of all, D.C. is mad cute. I finally figured out what the hell a city block was – approximately an eighth of a mile. By that estimation, I’ve already walked a mile today. My legs bout to be right.

I’m starting to see that a lot of my anxieties are self imposed. The city isn’t as hard to navigate as I thought it’d be – shoutout to the internet. And the best part is that everyone else is looking down and starring at their phones as they move about too so it’s not totally obviously that I’m a bit out of my depth at the moment.

I’m currently on a Greyhound to NYC. I visited briefly last year for Afropunk but I was with Reuben and not by myself – which I am, this time. It’s a little intimidating. Not gone lie, I took not one, but two shits this morning before I left Reuben’s place. Just nerves. But once I got on the bus, I was fine.

Once you get off of Times Square and out into “the village” – Greenwich, that is – it’s actually quite nice. The energy when I stepped out of Port Authority was on 10. Typical. Two old black men were preparing to square up on the sidewalk as I’m trying to get in my uber and I just took a deep breath and thought, “This is my new home.”

So a bitch is lit for these new beginnings. I’ve got my housing figured out which I’m happy about. Housing is half the battle of moving to NYC and once that’s figured out, everything else pretty much sorts itself out… or so I hear.

Now, I’m back in D.C. and it’s Pride weekend here! I’ve never been to a real Pride, so that’ll be exciting. Nothing’s gone terribly wrong since I’ve been in the city so I’m taking that as a good omen.

 

Jitters and Cold Feet

So, we’re coming in hot on my flight out of Mississippi and boy, am I a wreck.

Not a wreck, as in tears and snot. I just have noticeably less composure than I normally do. I can feel the panic attack brewing. Every time I think about nailing down an apartment or braving those NYC streets or the subway, I have to physically step away from what I am doing and take some deep breaths.

I’ve been reading think pieces about how making yourself uncomfortable makes you better as a person and how the willingness to push yourself out of your comfort zone is shaping you into a successful future leader, in an attempt to talk myself off the ledge every time my thoughts take me there. I had a conversation with a good friend from college (ha, I can say that now) and she helped put a positive bug in my ear and I was grateful for that.

I know I’m not alone in experience. Hell, its folks coming from all over the world to do the same thing I’m doing. But coming from such a small place, surrounded by mostly small minded people and having the audacity to say, “Fuck this! I want to do something else,” is extremely isolating. I can count on one hand how many people “get it” and are rooting for me and while I could be upset about that alone, that handful is all I need.

Everything considered, I know I’ll be alright.

When I Think of Home

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series College: What the F@#k Even Was That?

I’m going to grad school in NYC, we’ve talked about this.

Typical of a new college grad, people keep asking me what my plans are for the future. When I tell them grad school, they almost always ask, “Back up at Ole Miss?” If I say or The New School in Manhattan not too many people know what I’m talking about unless they’re in academia so I usually just respond, “No, New York.”

When I say New York, they’re eyes immediately widen and the first thing out their mouth is usually something like, “Oh, so far away!” or “Wow, isn’t it dangerous up there?” In my head, I’m like Well shit, no more dangerous than Jackson. That ain’t but an hour up the highway and they are literally killing the game in homicides right now so… your point? No, deadass, I’m pretty sure Jackson is ranked #1 for homicides in Mississippi – if not #1, somewhere close. 

People are afraid of things they don’t know – I get it but I feel like when I say New York people automatically think New Jack City or The Warriors. And gentrification is a motherfucker and it’s completely own issue that warrants its own seperate conversation but it is also to my benefit that I can pay rent (albeit astronomical) to live in certain areas and be guaranteed relative security. AGAIN, NOT SAYING THAT GENTRIFICATION IS A GOOD THING, but this is just basic sociology at play. But I digress…

Of course, everyone is happy that I appear to be doing something with my life but I still catch the shade veiled in feigned excitement and concern. Perhaps this is all in my head but… whatever, we here now.

So what do I hate so much? Why am I so antsy to leave?

See, it’s not just shade, it’s the principle, I suppose. I know it’s concern but it feels like negativity and I’m just not trying to entertain that.

Most obviously…

M I S S I S S I P P I

The cradle of the confederacy and conservative politics where I’ve personally had to deal with all the microaggressive, ignorant ass, bullshit preconceived notions people have about well… everything. The fundamentalism, the bigotry, the white supremacy, the heteroracistpatriarchy… I mean, that shit’s everywhere, true – but Mississippi just has its own special brand of this shit.

Of course home will always be home and it’s always going to have a special place in my heart and yada yada, but dis tew much. It’s simply too much.

I cannot. I’m tired.

I need some real hurdles to jump.

That feeling in your stomach when you’re riding a roller coaster up the track to a huge drop and you hear that ticking noise and you know with every tick you get closer to the drop and you’re trying to brace yourself and take deep breaths and shit but you’re lowkey freaking out. That’s a metaphor for my life rn.

If the nigga next to me is freaking out, THAT’S PROBABLY GOING TO MAKE ME FREAK THE FUCK OUT!

 

But whatever… Moral of the story is: “My life is like light up sneakers. Long as I keep walkin’ I know I’m gone shine…”

I am very aware of the history of Mississippi and the history of the South and the sacrifices and gains that were made as far as Civil Rights and I honor those who were active in that struggle. I’ve seen the work being done first hand to improve the sociopolitical atmosphere in the state and I’m proud to have witnessed and been apart of some of that but, compared to the rest of the world, shit is still moving at a snail’s pace. And the frustrating thing is that it really doesn’t have to but people are just too stubborn to change.

I really just need to bounce for my own peace of mind and that’s really it.

 

 

 

Moving On Up

Though I can’t yet afford the deluxe apartment in the sky, I’m actually beginning to plan for this big move to my own little “east side,’ or what will more likely be somewhere in Harlem.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that this ain’t about to be all roses. In life, you have to take the crookeds with the straights, right? Right. Financial woes will come. Inconveniences will come. General life fuckery will come…. and that’s fine because the good times will be just that much sweeter.

I’m starting this move on a good foot, though. The line up for Afropunk 2018 is out and after last year’s experience, Reuben and I were kind of side eyeing this year’s proceedings. But the line up is fire and I’m gonna be in town or whatever *flips hair* – #gradgang, #gradstudent – so we said why the fuck not. Afropunk, here we come! Back like cooked crack! Here we go like Mystical!

Alright, I’m done.

Now, check back in with me in a few months, and I might not be singing the same song but I’m gone continue to keep on keeping on. Now that I’m actually in the MFA program at The New School, I want to get my master’s. I want this next notch on my belt. I’m charged up. So, it really isn’t too much that will make me stray from this.

By hook or by crook, come hell or high water, I’m making the move to NYC and I’m bout to get this degree.

Life Is But a Read

Today in Black History, I honor The Read.

I’ve never related to two people more than I do these two. I found The Read at a really bad time, or a really good one depending on how you see it. Freshman year was the worst year of my life. I was away from home. I didn’t know very many people and my social anxiety was such that I sat in the back of all my classes and never talked to anyone. I went to class and back to my dorm. Towards the end of the semester, I just stopped going to class. My grades slipped, naturally. I had heard the phrase “College isn’t for everyone,” before but that was never more real for me than at that time in my life.

I couldn’t drop out. Momma wasn’t having that. So sophomore year, I opted to change scenery and transfer. I figured it might be a good move. I knew a couple folks on the new campus who introduced me to more people. It was a small town so I’d run into them often. But even then, I still spent the majority of the time by myself.

I listened to my first episode of The Read on August 19, 2016. The episode: Mess Side Story

So I came in about two years after Fury and Crissle launched The Read, but I picked it up with ease, feeling like I was listening to two friends chop it up over whatever came to mind. It was love at first listen.

Since that fateful day, these two are still doing the damn thing. A good friend and I wanted to get tickets to their 5th anniversary show at The Apollo (yes, bitch, The Apollo), but that shit sold like hot cakes. All the tickets were gone in less than 24 hours and our hopes were dashed.

I got over it, eventually.

But I’ll still be celebrating with them in spirit. At this point, Fury and Crissle feel like siblings to me. Three years after my first listen and a bitch finished undergrad early and is making moves to move to the Big Apple to pursue my own dreams in comedy and writing.

I said all this to thank Fury and Crissle for their contribution to the culture and to my own peace of mind. I’ve been watching them grind together this entire time and I’m extremely happy for them that all the hard work is paying off. They dared to move to NYC to get shit popping and while, at first, it was a little bumpy, they’re out here prospering.

Their wave is crazy and it inspires me every day to get on my shit. (If by some off chance one of them reads this…) Thanks Fury and Crissle for all that y’all do. For being inspiring, influential, and unapologetically yourselves.

Happy Anniversary! I wish y’all the best.