Feast of Love

“Do not feed your heart what the Lord has not shown you.”

But my heart is famished!
It is frail and feeble from fasting.
It grows covetous from craving.
Surely a slice, a morsel, a taste of what could be, would not be indulgent.

This wondering heart is made of fantasy and flight.
How long must it suffer denial?
Be tethered by yearning?
Begrudged even a bite?

This wandering heart of mine is woefully ravenous.
It will not be satiated with a simple taste. It will long for a spread – bitter or sweet. It will fall on love not given; ruminate on promises not made; dine on words not spoken.
And each treat, each savory crumb will only flame a hunger it can no longer satisfy.

“Do not feed your heart what the Lord has not shown you.”

For it will not delight, it will not gratify. It will not be a feast of love.

(Drafted in February) 

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Chip on My Pretty Little Shoulder

I’m going to attempt to write this without any hesitation. No emotional edits. No disclaimers. I’m going to attempt to write it, really, with all my unfiltered thoughts and feelings pouring onto the page. Knowing me, ever the diplomat who is always sensitive to the effect of words, this will be quite the feat. And if you are reading this at all, it will most likely be an edited and emotionally correct version of my self*. Nevertheless… here we go.

I have heard, over and over again, the assertion that when a “fat girl” loses weight she develops a “chip on her shoulder”. As in, she suddenly thinks she is “too hot to handle”. And won’t give people, whom she would have “happily given a chance before”, the time of day. And she becomes, among more colorful words, “conceited”.

Soooo… by this estimation, I’m left to assume that it’s perfectly okay to be rejected because of my weight, but when that’s no longer an “issue”, I’m suddenly a hypocrite for having preferences? Of course you’re not shallow for only caring about my physical appearance, you’re just being honest. But heaven forbid I should express any of my “honest preferences” while my weight is “still an issue”! Obviously, I’m expected to accept whatever schlep is thrown my way.

image

The day I reached a PR on deadlifts (205lbs)

You see this woman – with her back fat, and her thighs that rub together, and her giggly midsection; this woman with her lungs about to collapse, who panics at the thought of running a mile and wants to cry in the face of burpees; this woman right here is the only one strong enough to fight for the woman you’ll claim to love later. If you don’t like her, if you can’t imagine yourself being attracted to her, how could you possibly love the one she’s building? The one only she is strong enough to become?

Why should I feel guilty for wanting to be with someone who’s adopting the same healthy lifestyle as I am? I’ve worked so hard to leave where I was, why would I want to be with someone who’s going to drag me back there. Lean or Not… Fat or Skinny, I don’t want to be with someone who’s not active. Someone who I have to drag to the gym kicking and screaming. Someone who’s “put off” by the thought of eating healthy. In the same way I don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t want to serve in church. I want someone who finds those things just as important as I do so we can be working towards the same goals. It’s called being compatible! But if you want to call it a chip, tattoo it on my shoulder with permanent ink.

A friend asked me if I thought losing weight would change me. And the fact is, yes it does. It is. It continues to change me. This isn’t about replacing a few items on your plate. You have to go through so much. You have to give up so much. You have to accept so much. Of course it changes you. How could you possibly stay the same as your life morphs into something unknown?

Yes, you develop more confidence. You feel better about yourself. Your looks. Your abilities. But I’ve never really had an issue with being confident. If anything, I am often accused of being borderline intimidating because of my confidence. But even that has changed. Previously, I used my confidence as a heavy shield – to protect myself from the painful judgments caused by my weight. Now this confidence is morphing into an adorning accessory. It’s beautiful to wear, but I don’t need it to protect me anymore. And if that’s a chip, I’ll gladly wear it on my pretty little shoulder.

~that’s life… in no particular order

*This post has been sitting in my draft box since December 1, 2014… reviewed, reevaluated, and reconsidered multiple times… But never changed from my original thoughts and feelings.

The Blind Side

{“I found myself ostracized on the one hand by black classmates who still thought I wanted to be white, and increasingly the target of disdain from my white counterparts, who liked me all right – mostly because as more than one told me, “you aren’t like other black people”}

Sad, but true, I have had statistically similar experiences with Ms. Brittney Cooper, author of The politics of being friends with white people.

I came across this article through my best friend, Julie. I don’t know what prompted Ms. Cooper to write it, I’m not quite sure what she is advocating as a solution, or if she is even advocating for one. Perhaps she just wanted to publicly explain why she is on one side of the line versus the other. In either case, the article, her experiences, her conclusions – all affected me.

What immediately resonated was how strikingly similar our experiences were, despite the fact that we attended very different schools and had different upbringing. As an honor student in a predominantly minority school, I was ostracized and teased for being “too proper” or “too white” in my speech and behavior. My only school friends comprised of the small multi-ethnic group of students in my honors and AP classes. All the other students either attempted to use me or abuse me. Looking back, I guess we bonded because we knew we were in a sea of disapproving strangers.

And I can still remember the vast hole I felt when my English Composition I professor (of my predominantly white college) instructed us to select partners and all the white students seated near me turned away. I spent most of my high school and college years battling depression because of experiences like these. And when I wasn’t despondent, I was angry. I had something to prove… In every English class thereafter, I wanted every white student to regret not having me as a partner.

Of course, not all experiences were so catastrophic. There were plenty of the “shaking my head” in disbelief moments when a stranger’s fingers were inexplicably in my hair; or the awe in how soft my skin is; or the shock at my lack of knowledge of a new hip-hop craze; or the assumption that if a big Black guy shows up, he must be looking for me; or the names like “Oreo” or “coconut” to imply that I wasn’t “really Black”. But, no matter how laughable, throughout my life the lines have always been clearly delineated. On the Black side, I was never accepted. I’m of Haitian descent. My color was never enough to make me one of them. I was too Haitian for Americans and too American for Haitians. On the White side, my color, my hair, my culture, they were all far too much to take in.

Sad, but true, I still have to deal with these experiences. I understand Ms. Cooper’s frustrations, and I too am tired. I am tired of battling the assumption that I’m a democrat because of my skin color; I’m actually independent because I believe we should demand better than the lesser of two evils. I’m tired of being underrepresented, or misrepresented, or just the token. Yet, despite our similarities, what struck me the most, however, was how different our conclusions are, Ms. Cooper and me. Using a myriad of personal experiences to explain, she concludes:

Maintaining integrated friendships past a certain age is more struggle than triumph…. [and] since leaving high school, I have not had many nor actively sought opportunities to make friends with white people…. When you are 9, or 12, or 17, it is easy to overlook racist comments…. At 25 or 32, it is harder to overlook the inevitable racially ignorant comment that will come, especially when you have had access to friendships where this is never an issue.

I am racially ignorant. I have no clue about how to maintain white hair – it seems fairly simple from this side, but apparently it requires constant touching and manipulating. I don’t know what it’s like to be plagued by white guilt; or to be hated for “stealing our good men”; or to have to prove I’m not a sheet-wearing bigot. Neither do I know what it’s like for the world to assume that all I’m good for is maintaining the lawns. Or that I’m secretly building explosives. Or that my parents own a nail salon. God, I would hate to be the one Asian kid who is bad at math! I do, however, know what it’s like to experience hate, and fear… and I know I don’t enjoy either.

You see, somewhere along the way, I learned to see the Blind side. I realized that we are all blissfully ignorant of one another. And racism, for me, is choosing to stay in our ignorance, preferring it over learning about the person on the other side. I learned that by being friends with other people. I am not afraid to say that I have a very racially charged relationship with my best friend. How could we openly talk about everything if we didn’t admit our ignorance of one another? She now knows not to touch any black person’s hair without asking and to keep all comments from being asinine. I now know how to shop every store like a white woman. We could both be honest and hurt about situations like Ferguson. She is more readily introduce me to a hip-hop artist. I am more likely to introduce her to an American Classic. It was in the knowing, in the awkward politics, in the sometimes intense but always curious conversations that we realized we are not the world’s stereotype of us.

Although Ms. Cooper acknowledges that “interracial friendships, especially in adulthood, require a level of risk and vulnerability that many of us would rather simply not deal with. And that is perhaps one of racism’s biggest casualties“, she seemed to have determined that she is not willing to take the risk. Her decision saddens me. I have found that the risk is the best part of getting to know someone who wants to understand you as much as you seek to understand her. If we simply give up because it’s complicated then we will all indeed suffer great casualties.

~that’s life… in no particular order

Talking About Nothing

We talk about the overtly biased media,
We talk about one people group’s uncivilized response to another’s barbaric action,
We talk about politicizing racial tension,
We talk about this leader’s comment versus that one,
We talk about justice. Ha.
But no one wants to talk about the larger issue.
It was a life.
They were all lives!
Lives with hopes and dreams and aspirations.
Lives that mothers loved and fathers cared for.
Lives that touched someone, somewhere.
Lives… like my brothers… like your son.
That should mean something.
Period.
But no, no one wants to comment on that.
We spend our breath talking about nothing.

~that’s life… in no particular order

Love of a Jealous Kind

I built another temple to a stranger
I gave away my heart to the rushing wind
I set my course to run right into danger
Sought the company of fools instead of friends

You know I’ve been unfaithful
Lovers in lines
While you’re turning over tables with the rage of a jealous kind
I chose the gallows to the aisle
Thought that love would never find
Hanging ropes will never keep you
And your love of a jealous kind
Love of a jealous kind

Trying to jump away from rock that keeps on spreading
For solace in the shift of the sinking sand
I’d rather feel the pain all too familiar
Than to be broken by a lover I don’t understand
‘Cause I don’t understand

One hundred other lovers, more, one hundred other altars
If I should slow my pace and finally subject me to grace
And love that shames the wise, betrays the heart’s deceit and lies
And breaks the back of foolish pride

Jars of Clay

~that’s life… in no particular order