What it’s Been Like for Me to Write in this Blog for a Year

We recently celebrated our first anniversary of our blog (like a few days ago). Happy birthday to us! Writing in this blog has brought up quite a few things for me over the year, and so I thought I’d post what it has been like to write a blog for a year, and as such, what it has meant to me.

1. It’s often changed the way I think about events or experiences. Especially at the beginning, but even today (like literally today), I’ve thought in blog terms. I’m not sure if this makes sense but my point of view or “author voice” has popped into the way I’m viewing my daily life. I sometimes think in blog posts. I think that makes me a better writer and more reflective about the meaning of experiences at times versus just going through the motions.

2. It has been frustrating at times. The hardest part of writing a blog is my desire to be authentic and wanting to write about what’s hard. There are still many things I haven’t written for fear of context. There have been things that have been taken out of context. I have had to deal with family and friends questioning what and why I wrote what I wrote. I sometimes write posts and delete them for fear of what others think. I sometimes have great posts in my head that don’t materialize into a post because of the same reasons. The thing is, the more your audience grows, the more impact you potentially can have – which is both a blessing and a challenge. If I have a wish of what the next year will bring, is caring less about what others think and more trusting and caring for myself! And yet at the same time…

3. It’s been so damn liberating at times. Although, there are times I “censor” myself, for each of those times, there is a time I wrote about what hurts and what is joyful and what is me, despite what others may think (although sometimes I do things to decrease the reach of a post). I’ve been able to put into writing abstract thoughts that are hard for me to sometimes say to people. I’ve shed some of the mask and have been vulnerable. I have written about things that make me human, but bring me shame. Sometimes that shame disappears or decreases after writing. That is liberating.

4. I’ve reconnected more with one of my first loves – writing. Many people who know “post high school LeAnna” do not know that I wrote poetry and short stories all through grade school and won a few district wide prizes. Few people probably know that actually. I’ve always wanted to publish a book, I’ve always wanted to publish my poetry. I think in poetry and flowery prose. But due to unfortunate circumstances and some shame, I tucked those dreams away. Writing here as made me write more and want to write even more. It woke up that sleeping dream, tapped me on my shoulder, and my pen has found a voice again.

5. I’ve had the ability to connect with other people on a different level. The best parts of my blogging experience are “me too” texts, “you get me” inbox messages, and when people tell me to continue writing my story, that my vulnerability makes them feel less alone. I have a few purposes in my life, but I know one is to connect deeply with others and to help them through various parts of their journey (often not through a very specific piece). Counseling, teaching/education, and activism, have all been vessels for this purpose, but never did I think my writing could be. Those comments make me want to write more and boldly. They make me want to not censor, to be fully human in order to connect with other humans.

6. It has made me reflect and connect more pieces of the puzzle known as myself. I started out only thinking I’d talk wittingly about my dating escapades. That quickly became something else – about who I am, my spirituality, the way I see the world, the toughest things I deal with on a daily basis. Writing here as made me think about and explore the angels and demons of what makes me. It’s made me evaluate what’s important at times. Writing for me is a process of discovery, and each time I write something here, I discover a little more about me. I’ve always been this way (see above) but I somehow lost this as an adult. I’m happy to be returning.

Blogging has been a fulfilling, but not perfect experience. I have had so much fun, and sometimes doubt, sharing a little more in depth piece of my soul with you. We have grown to over 75 followers, and tbh, that’s more than I ever thought. I hope you enjoy our thoughts and continue to follow us. I’m excited what two years of blogging will teach me.

Happy birthday A Tale of Two Cities followers!

Joy

She is a tower of strength

Her beauty coveted and unparalleled

Clothed in robes of gold,

and warming and welcoming in ways

we wish wearily for.

They call her Joy.

We spend our lives searching for her

in empty homes

Seeking to fill heartless holes

we call it happiness

But Joy evades us

Joy is a Black woman

(all things full of creation are)

basking in the beauty of beautiful rainshowers

smiling and singing

about the sun that succumbs to the necessary downpour

Daring to wet her coiled, kinky, cocky locks

by the tsunami of cleansing

that begets around her.

Joy is pancakes after sleepless nights –

The knowing that sustenance from the sweet syrup

sticks to your soul

and invites sleep on slow Sunday mornings

As rest is refreshing whenever it agrees with us.

Joy is running

Running forever

Barefooted

Broken

Beautiful

Backed with the strength of our ancestors

who softly whisper “freedom”

as you run zig zag through fields of familiar and forgotten wildflowers.

Joy is

Hard

Hell overcome

Hope mainfested

But mostly,

Joy is

the crossroad of acceptance and liberation.

 

Heartbreak is a Universal Language (my review of the Sam Smith concert)

I had the pleasure of seeing Sam Smith in concert on Friday thanks to my fellow blogger Malcolm. It was bittersweet as I’ve been his honorary last minute concert buddy a few times and now he’s moving so that will come to an end. I will have to actually plan in advance to attend a concert in DC and hope he lets me stay with him if it ever happens again!! But back to Sam Smith.

This was definitely one of my most favorite concerts I’ve ever attended. I will be honest and say I haven’t attended many. The few I have attended have been pretty varied though. County music, Christian music, hip hop, pop, Beyoncé and Daley and Sam Smith whom I’m really not sure what to classify them as. I saw someone post on Malcolm’s status the other day that “blue eyed R&B” is a thing. Part of me was offended by that but that’s another post. Back to Sam Smith.

Starting with the pretend final song and into the definitely planned encore of the show, I started having this surreal moment and also began writing this blog.

He pretended to end the show with “Too Good at Goodbyes.” This is my ultimate Sam Smith jam. When I first heard that song I could have sworn he sat down and talked to me one day and was like “hey Ashley, I want to write a song about you. How should it go?” It is no secret to anyone that I’ve had my fair share of failed relationships, heartbreak, almost relationships and things just not working out for one reason or another. After this last one and the few mini encounters with people since then, I’ve realized that my ability to pick up the pieces and move on has gotten better each time. Not only is my fallback game strong but my comeback game is pretty good too. So this song definitely speaks to me on a spiritual level.

I stood in a stadium with several hundred people who apparently felt the same way. (One of those people kept farting and I just feel the need to call them out publicly again because they were a terrible person.) We all sang our hearts out. Old, young, Black, White, LGBTQ+, heterosexual and everything in between. Every last one of us sang that song as if it was written for us. Sam even told us to sing it to our ex and we sang a little louder and with a little more passion.

That’s when it hit me. Heartbreak is a universal language. In that moment, everyone in that stadium was taken to a place where we remembered a time where we were mistreated, misused, hurt, and felt that dreaded feeling of “well damn, here we go again.” I stood there singing, and wondering, why? Why does everyone go through this? Why do we mistreat each other? Why do we hurt each other? Why do you pretend to love people then walk away so quickly? Why do we try to force things that clearly aren’t working? Why is it an absolute in life that you will be hurt by love? While I don’t know why I do know that music has a way of bringing us all together to heal from those experiences even if just for a moment.

So we all sang that song. Saying screw you and screw Love.

I’m never gonna let you close to me. Even though you mean the most to me. Cause every time I open up, it hurts. So I’m never gonna get to close to you. Even when I mean the most to you. In case you go and leave me in the dirt.

But every time you hurt me, the less that I cry. And every time you leave me the quicker these tears dry. And every time you walk out, the less I love you. Baby, we don’t stand a chance, it’s sad but it’s true…

I’m way to good at goodbyes

But it didn’t stop there. Sam pretended like the concert was over, waved goodbye and walked off stage. I thought to myself “that was a very crappy way to leave what was a pretty intimate concert. I’m not buying it.” Some people started to leave as well. I would like to point out that one of those people was the smelly culprit because there was no more farting during the final part of the show. And that’s what their stank behind gets because they missed an awesome ending.

After tons of screaming, yelling and clapping, the band returned and Sam ascended some stairs. Clearly this was a planned encore and I’m not mad at him.

In a very Romeo and Juliette-ish manner, Sam at the top of the stairs and one of his amazing background singers at the bottom of the stage sang “Palace” to each other. And my theory continued. We all sang together of the pain of heartbreak and trying but this time we were all reminded that while it may suck sometimes, the real thing is worth it even if it doesn’t last. We sang this song about fighting for love, with just as much passion as we did when we said screw love. Because we’ve all known a love that helped us grow and become who we are today, even if they aren’t around to see it.

Yeah I know just what you’re saying and I regret ever complaining about this heart and all it’s breaking. It was beauty we were making.

And I know we’ll both move on. You’ll forgive what I did wrong. They will love the better you but I still own the ghost of you.

I’m gonna miss you. I’m still there. Sometimes I wish we never built this palace but real love is never a waste of time.

At this point I was about done with Sam and his mess. I’ve heard these songs a thousand times before including multiple times that day as I prepared for the concert. For some reason though, in this order, in this arena, with these people (minus the fart master) it was having an effect on my and my eyes were getting irritated.

And then he hit me with the icing on the cake and I wanted to cry, and scream, and laugh, and have a full on moment in the middle of the aisle.

Why am I so emotional? No it’s not a good look, gain some self control. And deep down I know this never works, but you can lay with me so it doesn’t hurt.

Oh won’t you you stay with me? Cause you’re all I need. This ain’t love, it’s clear to see but darling, stay with me.

Maybe it’s my own personal stuff coming out. Maybe it’s where my life has wound up. Maybe it’s being single, and thirty, with an achey womb and a ticking biological clock. Maybe it was because I was about to start my period and would have probably gotten emotional at a Plies concert. I don’t know. All I know is, at this point, maybe that’s all we are looking for. Someone to stick around. Preferably because they love you and want to be with you and want a commitment and long term relationship with rings, and dogs, and kids, and happiness and all those things that we are told we are supposed to have by now. But when it doesn’t happen. When it feels like it may never happen. When you start to question if there is just something so wrong with you that no one will ever want to do those things with you or at least not for a long time…sometimes it’s nice to just have someone who stays. Someone to lay with so it doesn’t hurt. If it turns into something more fantastic.

If it doesn’t…well…we can appreciate it for what it was and then turn up the Sam Smith really loud and wallow in our heartbreak with the millions of people around the world doing the same.

Childish Gambino’s New Video Made Me Cry

If you haven’t seen it. Here it is, in all it’s wonderful beautiful glory

Now, why did I cry? Why did the video make me cry?

Well for one, it’s named “This is America”.  This video is full of truths about our society as a whole, and as I sat there watching it for what felt like the millionth time, I started to shed tears, because the meaning continued to weigh heavy on my heart.

The main point in this video is basically showing how distracted or little we tend to care about what’s going on in society.  As we see Gambino dancing with these school kids, as if nothing is going on.  From the opening scene we hear a chant, basically describing that we just want to have fun and that we just want to have a good life.  Starting off the song with an up-beat, African influenced chant “We just wanna party, Party just for you, We just want the money, Money just for you…” and from there things get grim when Gambino pulls out a gun and shoots a man with his head covered…and utters the words:

“This is America, Don’t catch you slippin up…”

Like…WHAT?!?!?

And the scene afterwards, which was noted by many outlets online, showed Glover handing off the gun to someone else, who had a red scarf of some sort, taking the gun off screen ever so carefully.  And what does he do after all of this commotion? Starts to dance as if nothing happened.  It’s a mirror on how society is taken aback by the sheer horrendous nature of America, but will then turn their eyes to something else as if the event that just happened never occurred.

The dancing in the video is a distraction. The lyrics, while basic in delivery, tells a simple story of our country.  “Police is trippin”, “I got a strap, I gotta carry em”, etc.  but the song alone does not make this the epic experience you should be hearing. The video is what you should pay attention to.

Gambino even goes to murdering a church choir, symbolizing the Charleston shooter from a few years back, and again the gun, which looked like and Assault Rifle, was taken away with care, which Glover, in turn, decides to start dancing again.  Symbolizing the initial shock of a tragic incident, but how we are quick to move along and forget about things again.

And while Gambino is dancing around with his crew, the background is just full of chaos.  The world around us in burning, but we’re focusing on the wrong things. And while all of these things are going on, we’re dancing, rather the Hip Hop community is dancing, and “getting their money”.  That’s what it’s all about.  As a black male in America, the chaos in the background is what we deal with on a normal basis, but society is being blinded. These things continue to happen, and people are out here just “getting their money” but not out here striving to make a change.  Obviously this is just my opinion and how I view it, but as the chaos goes on in the background, we’re just out here doing our dance. Whether that dance be “dancing for the man to ‘get that money'” and not challenge the status quo, or the dancing around people do to avoid the hard conversations.  However, there is a point where  this video screams how much America loves our art, but not our lives.  The outro goes like this:

“You just a Black man in this world
You just a barcode, ayy
You just a Black man in this world
Drivin’ expensive foreigns, ayy
You just a big dawg, yeah
I kenneled him in the backyard
No probably ain’t life to a dog
For a big dog”

If this doesn’t scream “we’re just loved for our entertainment” I don’t know what is.  They don’t love us, they just love our culture.

This is America, where people want to believe it or not.  And this is why I cried.  Because while we are enjoying our lives, there will always be a next time, and a time after that, unless something is done about it.  Being a black man in America only amplifies the hurt, due to injustices that we have to worry about on a daily basis when it comes to police brutality and racism.  And that reality just breaks my heart…

Donald Glover, you are a genius and most of America doesn’t deserve you.

Say it Loud!…I’m Black and I’m Proud!

I’m rooting for everybody Black.
-Issa Rae

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Despite popular belief, I’m black, and I love being black, and I would not trade that in for the world.

Watching Black Panther in theaters opening weekend was just such an amazing experience. An experience I have not been able to see at a mainstream level in such a long time, if ever. In its first weekend, Black Panther made $218 million. 218!!!!!! To put this in perspective, the Jordan Peele written and directed “Get Out”, which is another great movie, opened up with $33 million and “Girls Trip”, another movie for the culture, opened up with $31 million. Like, can your mind even process this right now? Black people have been WINNING for the past year and some months. However, even though “Get Out” and “Girls Trip” didn’t break the top ten grossing movies of 2017, they did place 15th and 26th respectively. Which isn’t an easy feat. We showed up! We did it y’all. But I can’t help but think we can do better. I can’t wait for when this doesn’t come as a surprise to us, because I can’t wait until other people outside of our race will finally recognize and know our worth.

Black Panther is leading in box office sales for 2018 right now and it’s not even close! Thanks to us for showing up and showing out! Additionally, I wnat to shout out the Marvel fanboys as well, but let me put this in perspective. Black Panther opened up their box office weekend outdoing Thor: Ragnarok, Spiderman: Homecoming, Wonder Woman, Justice League, Logan, AND Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 last year. Only being beat by Star Wars: The Last Jedi in 2017.

THIS IS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT PEOPLE! WE! SHOWED! UP!

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And what’s so much better about this, is that THEY. SHOWED. UP. The Director/Writer, the Actors, every single person who was a part of this project. Black Panther was more than just a superhero movie. It oozed of culture. It celebrated our culture! Even though Wakanda is very advanced, you see women wearing their hair beautifully, naturally, dressed in ensembles that oozed of African prints that seemed to be influenced by Kenyan cloth (I’m sure I’m wrong on the country here, don’t kill me). Even when you see T’challa and crew walking through the city, you see shops with Wakandans selling goods and merchandise, as it being the normal way of living. These people of Wakanda were showing their beauty. Taking Pride in their culture. The dances seen when the “battle” for King went on. The fact that the fate of Wakanda almost SOLELY depended on the women. When you think of advanced civilizations, you don’t think of markets, you don’t think of unpermed natural hair, you don’t think of African print clothing.. I LOVED IT. EVERY. SINGLE. SECOND.

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I’m so glad that Black Panther embodies this, because for the people that are not of color and do not know much about African culture, they were able to see a part of our history in a positive light. Usually, black people are portrayed as dumb, drug addicts, weed smoking, criminals of some sort and we are so tired of being represented this way in the mainstream. This is why we love ourselves. This is why we love to celebrate were we come from, because in most instances it has been stripped away from us. We barely see or know our history. We were taken away from our roots and forced to work as slaves for hundreds of years. This leads us to yearn and celebrate where we come from. From being descendants of Kings and Queens, to being knocked down to virtually nothing during slavery, only to come back out on top hundreds of years later gives me hope and promise and just joy that my black is beautiful and that I am worth it.

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The release of Black Panther is an event! It’s own “comic-con” of sorts. I encourage all of us to embrace our blackness and continue to show the world how amazing we are. I’ve only decided to focus on Black Panther for this post, but we are doing amazing things in music, TV, and movies. Continue to be proud and continue to support us, as we are worth every single ounce of our existence. And don’t let anyone tell you differently.

#wakandaForever

A Love Letter on Valentine’s Day

My Dearest Friends,

Thank you for the love and light you have given me in my life. At my lowest points, when I feel unworthy of love or incapable of being loved, you are there to remind me of my “enoughness” and that I am loved.

Valentine’s is a celebration of love and I’d be remissed to ignore the great deal of love that you put into my life. My oldest friends, those we cannot remember how or when we became friends, thank you. You keep me grounded in my roots, you remind me of the past and how much I’ve overcome, and your love always feels like coming home – familial, warm, and safe. You are my rock. We have withstood time.

To my friends who developed during hard times in my life. Who gave me a love wine and whiskey, fed me when I was too sad or weak to feed myself, and weaved yourselves into the fabric of my being, thank you. I love you for providing me the gift to grieve and reinvent myself with no judgement and lots of space. I’m thankful we are still friends, and I hope I’ve been able to return that.

To my friends who quickly became family. Who encourage me to dig deeper, stay authentic, and fulfill my potential on a level I cannot even see at times, I’m so grateful for your ability to believe and see the good in me when I cannot. I’m grateful that you hold me accountable to be the woman you see, even when I feel like shit. That you remind me of my worth on low days. You give me the gift of self worth.

I’m thankful for the friends who have stepped in as family in my travels. That have been the sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, and cousins when my biological family could not fulfill those roles due to space, time, and place. Thank you for inviting me to the metaphorical “cook outs” and family dinners, and keeping me safe and always making me feel like someone has my back.

Thank you to those who know me better than myself, and remind me when I forget. I’m grateful for my friends who tell me like it is, but with a gentle touch that reminds me, they love as they love themselves.

I love you all and the way you make laugh, cry, and rejoice. The way I could never truly be lonely because you all live in my heart and remind me often that you do.

I most of all you love you because you allow me into your worlds, expose your vulnerabilities with me, and trust me with your being and souls. I can only hope the love you feel from me is half the love I feel from you.

You all allow me to be me without condition or expectation. You are my soulmates and my Valentines forever. No matter what happens romantically in my life, I always know I have love because of you.

I love you. You matter. May your life be filled with the love you crave and desire, and not a penny less. Happy Valentine’s Day from the bottom of my heart.

XOXO,

LeAnna

Pictures that make me happy

I like to think I’m sort of a photographer when I’m out and about in places I’ve never explored before.  I sometimes even look like a tourist in my own city.  Constantly pulling my phone out to take pictures of the Charlotte Skyline, or something that I think is just “neat”.

I used to didn’t really care about taking pictures with my phone.  I was definitely all about living in the moment and just enjoying it for what it was.  But having a camera allows us to relive these moments over and over.  The pictures I take with my Google Pixel has captured most, if not all, of my happiest moments in life.  Looking back at each photo, each tells it’s own story and it reminds me of good times when times aren’t necessarily so good.

I’m by no means a professional, at all and I would love to own a DSLR camera one of these days to see what I can really do.  Maybe there will be an opportunity in the future for me to buy one.  Who knows? And if I do ever get one, maybe I’ll find more things to take pics of.

I’d like to share with you all some of my favorite pics.  All of these pics are my own, and I should probably watermark them before posting here, but ah hell, who cares.

 

 

If you like these pics, I have more on IG @eM_Daht. Beware, there are a lot of selfies!