Valerie June’s “Workin Woman Blues.” Normally I don’t listen to music when I write but this song has been haunting me as I work on my novella “Work.” Valerie Jane embraces her southerness and blackness here for a truly unique sound. Love it!

Finding Old Writing

I found notes from a book that I began working on with a friend 10 years ago tentatively called Questions You need to Ask about Men and/or Ways to end up in the Hospital. Do you think this could be a longer book of stories, maybe if it is not an actual self-help book? Re-reading it, I thought it was hilarious!

Chapter 1: Introduction

Are any one of these different scenarios something that you have experienced?

1.) Waffle house at 3 a.m. You just met someone at a club and you are wondering if you should go back to his house or if he should go to yours.

2.)You run into your childhood sweetheart and you begin wondering if you can rehash a romance from 15 years ago.

3.) A man you have been dating for six months says, “right now I am not looking for a serious relationship” . . . but you see him every night and meet all his family and friends. What do you do if it feels like a relationship but he swears up and down it isn’t?

4.)You are constantly driving by your man’s house at odd hours (meaning you leave your warm house in your pajamas to roll over there at 2 am because you don’t believe him when he says that he is going to call it an early night), or at some point you find yourself crouched on the floor with your man’s cell phone trying to see who he has called and who has text messaged him.

Why we are writing this. . . because we have all been in these scenarios and many more that we do not have the time list. (Except my friend Nadine, who began listing these scenarios when her man said he went to his grandfather’s funeral but was actually on a cruise with another woman). I knew that I needed to write some sort of guide when I actually heard these exact words come out of my friend’s mouth: “He smokes crack, but only on the weekends. ” I am writing this book because smart women like my cousin and other women try make rational arguments for why they are dating men that they never, ever see. I mean the men lived in New York and Virginia, it is not they were in a Turkish Prison or stationed in Iraq, and even I discovered with a little research that you could get from New York to Charlotte, NC for $25 if you were willing to take the Chinatown bus. It might seem like being forced on the Chinatown bus, so called because you literally hang out on the corner of different streets in Chinatown and try to hop on one of the myriad buses headed anywhere South– is a fate worse than death, but with a little motivation you can endure. True they take reservations, but it really is not that formal. For $25 you really can’t turn it down. It costs you that much in tolls to get out of New Jersey.

This book is also about the completely rational decision that all women make that murder can be the absolute answer to all of your problems.

Chapter 2: Self-Analysis

How not to lie to yourself, to your friends about the reality of your lives, or the reality of theirs—like when you see your friends man with someone else and don’t want to tell them.

Do you have a problem with dating your friends’ exes?

Do you believe in remaining friends with your exes?

Does it matter if your man stays friends with his?

Do you like to live in chaos (which stands for Can’t Have Anyone Over)? Have you gotten used to being shocked by your man’s behavior or caught in some drama. Generally this drama is a way of keeping a chronically depressed person( who may be you) motivated—this means that you subconsciously chose someone who will lie to you (gaslighting), separate you from your friends, or makes sure you a running after him so much you have no time to reflect on your own life. He makes sure that you no longer take care of yourself or encourages you to not take care of yourself. It means that you chose not to balance your checkbook, not to take care of parking tickets before they become warrants and never want to see the truth about a person because you want them to be who you want them to be. All of this means that you are caught up in drama. If a man does what he says he is going to do and you know where he is and everything is cool, then you are not interested in him at all. He is boring or beneath your notice. If every relationship that you had went up in a ball of flames, then this probably says that you crave drama. I am speaking from experience of having a boyfriend who may or may not have gone off to the Dominican Republic and gotten engaged to another woman while he was living in my house. This is when I first learned (thanks to my uncles) about the idea of men starting a fight so that they can get out of the house.

Really, if you are simply sitting on the couch and then the man that you are with blows up at you saying,”You know what did! You put that can of soda on the coffee table! Well, I am sick and tired of you using that table as your personal drink holder–I’m out of here!” Seriously, don’t fall for it. He is trying to act like you did something to make him mad so he has a reason to storm out and cheat. So he is off doing his dirt and you are back at home wondering if you need to buy a special drink table and beating yourself up until he gets back. Of course by then, he has done his dirt, doesn’t have to come up with an excuse for his absence, and supposedly you are none the wiser.

Chapter 3: “Being an Analog Girl in a Digital World”

Needs to answer his phone. Needs not to have a secret phone. Needs to get the phone set so that it shows email notifications and texts on the main screen. Needs to go public with his cell phone, social media profiles,his e-mail passwords, and his whereabouts. But this works two ways. You need to be able to do this also. If you are hiding your phone or still having old boyfriends call (who you say are just friends, but with whom you still occasionally hook up) then you need to get your own house in order before you start worrying about other people.

Most women seem to think that it is perfectly okay to go on fact finding missions before you move in together. This is the time to test to see if what he is saying is true. My friend Nadine says, “ If God didn’t want you to see that cell phone, then He would not have put in your path.”

(More later)

I’ve Never Seen Porgy and Bess

Porgy and Bess Poster

I’ve never seen Porgy and Bess. Of course, there is an element of racism that never really made me think that it was possible  to enjoy this opera/play without guilt.  However, curiously I decided to name my blog  based on lyrics from the iconic tune “Summertime.” One thing that I am clear of, having not seen the film, play, or opera however is that there is nothing easy about living in the 1920s, being both poor and black, and being in Charleston, SC. I am from South Carolina and I love my home state. However, I am not immune to the sheer awfulness of it too. How African descended people have always been so much of this place but excluded and punished for their presence at the same time. Charleston is a beautiful city, one of my favorite travel destinations– along with Paris and San Francisco. It is a city that shows that it is equal parts provincial and cosmopolitan–grand enough for a fashion week, but awful enough to still have largely segregated black and white populace, where so many families live in abject poverty blocks from million dollar homes. So this blog is going to be an homage to my home and also a recognition that being black and from South Carolina is not all about singing and dancing. It is not okay if “I’ve got plenty of nothing.” I want to read the novel Porgy and maybe even see the movie, but I just know that when black people who are also Southern are presented in movies, usually it is so problematic that I will end up writing a dissertation-like diatribe only on the problems of black Southerness in film. Beasts of a Southern Wild was so bad that I literally had to consider whether the people who were raving about it saw the same movie.

I want this blog to be about the writing life and the subject matter that I am drawn to write about. For some reason, in the 10 years that I have tried to write about the Gullah/Geeche heritage it has been so hard. In some ways I think that I need to counter all the awfulness that has already been produced. It is difficult. Instead of just trying to write in a vacuum, I will start with what is out there and hope that is enough. So daily blogging is the challenge. We will se what emerges.

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