On the Bechdel Test and One Last Hurrah

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So here we come my friends. We have arrived at the end of this road. I thought my last post would be on Cuba, but that experience came and went back in May. tldr; I enjoyed my time there and would go back to visit if I could.

As I have said more often as the frequency of my posts slowed down, I have been busy. Too busy, it seems to write at all here. I have chronicled in a way some important life events on this blog, made and lost some friends on it too. I was a 22 year old wide eyed, I dunno what when I started. And I think my travel posts , well I know they helped some people along the way. People have contacted me, before heading off to x, y or z location, because they came across this space while googling “black in”… and that is great.

But tbh this blog, although I refashioned it as more of a way to document my experiences while black, it has also been a space to talk about or allude to my personal highs and lows. Let’s face it, blogging is dead. And this space as one I feel 100% comfortable in letting things out, just doesn’t fit the bill anymore. So I decided to end the blog in a similar way to how I started it.  This post, like a lot of my musing on my life will not pass the bechdel test. And that is OK by me. My readership of bots and the occasional straggler and the even rarer person who uses this space to keep tabs on me, will not mind.

Today I am 32 going on 33. As I enter my Jesus year, I again take stock of what I have done, what my life has become in a way. I had a really strange weekend… well week. And I figured why not type it out here.

Gazelle is no stranger to black girl pain. And I have posted about it, ad nauseum. I see it in the micro-aggressions of my coworkers, and in how people who I think are friends and sometimes even family over look or brush off my concerns or belittle my experiences.  In 2016, I knew that a lot of changes were afoot. I knew that I was coming back to the US, I knew that that I wanted to make a concerted effort to find someone for whom I would be enough.

For a lot of reasons, some I highlighted in this post I didn’t have time to explore, date, fall in love in my teens and sure as hell did not have time in my 20s.  I feel like I have been playing catchup in a lot of senses. But 2016 was supposed to be the year that changed that. Hurt and disillusioned by someone who I thought I could trust to not treat me like a trash heap, I tried my best to brush being kicked aside and focus on being the best me. And it was a bumpy ride indeed. I swiped right a lot and left a whole lot more. I checked messages on dating profiles. I gave people a chance that I knew I would not have to consider if I was well, lighter or whiter.  And I realized that at the end of the day, Gazelle has standards.  I am not booty call kind of girl. I also have no time for wishy washy behavior.  I deserve to be treated like a human. By December of 2016 I was all swiped out and ready to just be alone all by myself . At least for the first quarter of the year 2017.

Living in the States, and in a very white as state at that, has made me realize how invisible black women are. I am one of very few where I work, I can’t get black cosmetics or hair products where I live. But I trudge on. Many Americans say they are post-racial, but that has not been my experience.

But don’t envision the violins just yet. This post isn’t about be crying a river, well not at least for the reasons you might think.

I have been grappling with a lot. My sense of self. My sense of self worth. I think it’s hard to live in world where you know there is nothing wrong with you, but the entire society is garbage, or at least it’s set up to make you feel like garbage. One of my oft-repeated sayings to myself is something I saw on a poster: “Eres preciosa, es la sociedad que es una mierda” – You are precious, it’s society that is a piece of shit. But you know, if a tree is standing up straigh in a forest, but all the other trees are bent and tell that straight tree that it’s the one that’s crooked. Who is right?

But I have digressed, I think. By the end of 2016 I was ready to shake of some bad habits and useless friendships. I was also resigned to not swiping on anyone else and letting the chips fall where they may with the three remaining men I was talking to. In the end, one came out a champion— but depends on how you look at things, because only Gazelle’s affection was the prize (I guess I should have sweetened the pot). And things were good, I guess. But then there never really is a good and a bad in life. Things just kind of are what they are.

Last week Thursday I accidentally posted a picture of us on facebook. (damn that app!… ha ha). I was showing someone the photo and must have set it as the photo instead. I had two coffee dates, one with a white acquaintance who in the 11 months we have known each other, met and moved in with her boyfriend, the other an Arab acquaintance who muses about finding a mate. Neither convo passed the bechdel test. By the time I came back from lunch I had all these likes and loves and even some comments. Yikes! Not what I wanted at all.

What’s even funnier is that on Sunday, I woke up. I went out with my boyfriend and we did everything we planned to do that day. Then we came back to his apartment and ended up having a conversation that lead us to the realization that we are breaking up.

My silver lining is that I dated a human being. I have no regrets of dating him. Unlike anyone I have ever had a romantic encounter with previously, he treated me with respect he did not lie to me (or to himself and therefore by extension to me).  He did not lie by omission, he did not treat me so callously that I questioned my own sanity and sought counselling (yup LJ Cul de Sac, talking about you). I can honestly say that he is a genuinely good person and in my interactions with him, a stand up individual. I wish him all the best.

It is a relief to break up with someone and not want to punch them in the face or cringe about your connection.  It also is kind of sad, because when I think about other people, including one who knew me for over a decade and he is the only person I can say this about.

So yeah, I am crying a little bit. Not in front of anyone, just by myself in my home. It didn’t work out. The thing is though, I am not sure where the tears are coming from. Is it that I will miss him? Is it that I know I don’t have heart or the energy to make trying to date as a black woman in a brown and white world my second job? I am not sure. They are tears for myself in either case.

I mean, I don’t owe him my tears, right? That is one thing I can have for myself. Sometimes, the responsibilities that I have borne and continue to bear make me feel like I have to give to different people so many pieces of myself that there is nothing left for me. And here I am again, although under the best of circumstances, considering everything, and a piece of me has essentially been refused. That is what it feels like. A few years ago, I wrote a journal entry about something that happened one Christmas, sheesh it was probably like 7—hmm probably even earlier — years ago now,

 

It’s funny how some events we remember as clearly as they were yesterday or right here in this moment, while there remains people, things, places that float away, out of our consciousness.  Then there are those events where we only remember the feeling, the burn, the sting, the sweetness, the bitterness.

Dates, times all meld together, but the essence of it all remains.

Like that Christmas 20—- something or other.

As usual, I had no money, no gifts, but I hoped to make someone else’s life a bit brighter, and to this day I still shed tears for my unrequited gift. 

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Aunty A. gave me twenty dollars.  Twenty Dollars, enough to go out with friends, enough to but necessities for school, you know. Shampoo, laundry detergent and the like… If it was indeed that long ago.  Perhaps I wasn’t in college then, perhaps I was still battling my high school wars. 

I just remember twenty dollars, and visiting Aunty A. and going on to visit uncle M. who lived nearby.  His wife had died a while back, but the families remained close-ish.  I felt so helpless, here it was Christmas, and I was at a family who had been pivotal in achieving the goals I wanted to achieve. 

I wanted to do it, and I didn’t want to do it. 

But I did it.  I knew it was the right thing.  I knew it wasn’t the most advantageous to me, but I thought, ” what else do I have to give these boys?”  

so I gave it.  the Twenty Dollar bill. My twenty Dollar bill.  and I felt good about it.   Like I was on my way to being the aunty—- the surrogate big sis I wanted to be.  Like despite my searing poverty, I brightened the life of several kids. 

Yes, it was not much.  It was twenty bucks divided between three not so little kids— 10 for the eldest and 5 for the other two. But it was all I had.  And I gave it freely, of my own volition. 

And then he said it.  The words, I have have forgotten their exact constitution, but the feeling, the same and helplessness that has enveloped every aspect of my life before and after that day, is still fresh. 

“Twenty dollars for the three of us?”  he asked.  When I replied with the affirmative, he scoffed and said something that let me know the gift was not on his level.   It was rejected for its infinitesimal impact, it’s puny size and its gigantic  lameness. 

It hurt.  It cut deep.    

To think something,  that I had prized so much, a gesture that I had embraced with a ravaging earnestness, and gratefulness— was rejected out of hand. 

That child, teenager really, never knew the extent of my sacrifice, perhaps if he had, he would not have been so forthright in expressing his disdain.  

But as it stands, he will never know how efficaciously he helped further destroy my sense of self-worth. 

That day, I learned that people don’t give a damn about  how much you give up for them.  

 

My newly minted ex was a lot kinder than the kid in my entry. But the sting is all the same. Maybe it’s cynical me talking here, but I think the lesson I learned then has yet to be proven wrong. Or maybe cynical me is me.

So there you have it. 10 years and no elucidating perspectives in sight. Life just kind of is what it is. Maybe I will look back on this and see it as turning point or breakthrough. Maybe it will be the beginning of some sort of horrible spiral. If the past 10 years have taught me anything, it’s that I don’t really know and can’t really anticipate anything in life or love.

Some of the greatest leaps of faith left  medown with sprained foot or bum knee. At other times, I walked right through windows of opportunity so big I thought they were doors.

All I can do is take care of me. It’s time, it looks like, to cross off some stuff from my meaning to-do list. Capstone post for blog: Check.

Goodbye virtual world, it’s been real. But nobody really blogs anymore anyway… Goodbye bots??? ha ha.

 

On Chumps and Men Part II

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The previous post was getting too long, so I am continuing here. Well actually, in this post I really get to the heart in what bothers me in all this. I am someone who takes time to process things and my reaction at the time was contrite, we had several super long hugs goodbye (his doing, not mine, all the while I was thinking “Please just go” ).

I think my gut knew what my head knows now…this was a load of bullshit. sigh. I have spent quite a bit of time reflecting on my actions, that last conversation and how in the heck I got into that situation as my weekends have been freeed up quite a bit… ha ha.

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I guess I just wanted to put some words to electronic paper. I am mad.  But not for the reasons many would assume…

There is a certain type of man out that prides himself on being a cut above the rest in terms his moral compass

I really have a problem with men like SB. They pride themselves on being “good guys” because they don’t sleep around with women…i.e. because they aren’t super sleazy like many of their own damn guy friends. They pride themselves on being honest, honorable etc. and yet, here I am. I have to ask, (and perhaps should ask SB) what about his interaction with me showcasess his honesty? His trustworthiness.

What I didn’t mention in the first post, is that a lot of little things slipped out during SB’s soliloquy: One of the main ones being that he had known since at least our second date that he was the one dragging his feet and he had known since at least our third that he didn’t want a relationship with (presumably) anyone right now. Oh and that he thanked me for having the honesty to bring our situation up because he didn’t.

But here’s the thing, I don’t fault him for not being in a place where he is ready for anything. But I do fault him for KNOWING this and continuing to interact with me as if he was. Ugh.

So there you have it, folks. “Nice guys” can be and will be assholes too. He wanted the external trappings of a relationship, but with no formalized commitment. Part of me can see how we could have gone on for several more months, messaging talking, hanging out and he would have no qualms about that. The larger part of me wonders why his honesty only showed up when he had to declare that he IS NOT my boyfriend (using caps cause it was said with emphasis).

When faced with the fact that they have in fact hurt someone, they turn to even shittier behavior like heaping on empty compliments and declaring how important your friendship is to them

This is the part that makes me very, mad. Because it’s about THEM, THEIR ego and THEIR need to hold to the idea of being good, honest people in the face of showing that they are human and are assholes just as much as the broey friend they measure themselves against. Being used emotionally can hurt just as much as being used physically.

So when Surfer Boy segued into random statements about how amazing I am, I didn’t take the bait. He can keep his shitty complements. Because it wasn’t about me (first of all, I know how wonderful I am. But people sometimes take my railings against racism and colorism to mean that I am insecure about myself looks. They take my not wanting to brag about x, y or z to mean I have low self-esteem. Which couldn’t be further from the truth. I live in a world that does not value me at worst and devalues me at best. Fuck this world and this society. I know I am fucking amazing).

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This is my internalized mantra: “You are precious, it’s society that is (a piece of) shit”

So hearing him say that I am smart, beautful, blah blah was about the show he was putting on for himself.

Claiming to value my friendship is perhaps the biggest Cop-out of all and goes back to points 1 and 2

The one thing I did say to SB besides, “I don’t like gray” was that this conversation felt like de ja vu, because I was in a long, protracted gray area before, and was really sad to see that I had ended up there again. The details are different, as is my level of complicity, but those posts are not for today.

The point being, that I know this response quite well. In the last situation I took responsibility for my own complicity (mainly my stupidity) in making things go so badly and because the person was someone I had known for a long time, agreed to try to make the friendship work. (In fact, in relaying SB’s overtures of friendship I remarked to a friend, what do I want him for now? To be the white version of the bullshit I am already going through????? ha ha)

BUt again, I take issue with this because just like when they declare all of my positive attributes like they just discovered them in that moment…. claims of valuing me as human being ring hollow, to say nothing of my “friendship.”

I see it as a weak ass move to offer their conscience some reprieve: They can still feel like “good guys” because they have offered me this awesome consolation prize “Their friendship.” I am being cynical here perhaps, but I wonder if they ever really think about the scenario that they are proposing:

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This is pretty much what he said, but what it sounded like to me was more like:

“I don’t really want to acknowledge the extent to which I treated you like shit, but I am such an awesome person that you obviously want to stay in my life at any cost, so how about I have the benefit of pointing to you and saying “friend.” That way,  I don’t feel like an asshole and absolve myself of any hurt my actions may have cost. And you still get to be around my magnificence.”

I don’t doubt that they perhaps think they are being sincere, but again it rings hollow for me. A friend who won’t level with me? A friend who doesn’t respect me enough not to waste my time? I think I can do bad all by myself.

I honestly would have preferred SB to say that look like  a train ran over my face, or that I smell, or something more meaningful than dull, lifeless compliments however animated he was when he said it. It’s funny because I knew that that weekend would be our last one, (again, if you have to ask, you know the answer) but I didn’t expect to hear what Surfer Boy said. I knew something was off and this wasn’t going to continue, but I didn’t expect the bull shit that he threw my way.

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You know I am sadly perhaps most of all mad at myself

Every time I think I have it figured out, things crumble and I wonder, wtf was the point? I feel like assholes seek me out, lull me into a false sense of security and then display their  fuckery. The silver lining is that I caught this relatively soon. I lament the time wasted that I can’t get back. But that is neither here nor there.

So there you have it folks. My latest foray into the dating world. It feels good to put in words what has bothered me for a long time

 

(and yes, LJ Cul de Sac if you see some of yourself in these posts, you should… But I give credit where it’s due and you apologized— I won’t say without prodding, but it surprised me all the same that you had the moxy to do it…. but this situation for all it’s parrallels and perpendiculars is a lot different… I will leave it at that).

I feel like a used prop, and am perhaps more cynical of the whole situation than I will be in the future but it’s how I am doing now. I wonder if the contrasts in our interests and backgrounds made being around me an escape of some sort for him… you know for one day a week he didn’t have to deal with certain things. bah. It was a three month thing and now it’s over. Get over it, Gazelle, ha ha.

I’ve tried to psychoanalyze so much of this.

What I do now? Who knows. Over the past year, I have been thinking about how marriage isn’t for everyone, about how I could adopt a kid when I’m 35 if no relationship materializes by then….  By then, this blog will have been retired. It will be interesting to come back and look at this post at that time though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She Did it!

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I am breaking my hiatus to mark the moment: Hillary Clinton is accepting her party’s nomination for presidential candidacy.

My emotions are not as strong as they were eight years ago, when Barack Obama accepted his nomination. But, I am relieved and happy and pleased for her: As a woman, as a fellow Wellesley alum (Go Blue!) and as an American. It’s about darn time. To be honest, regardless of your views on her politics or “trustworthiness” she’s smart, she’s capable, and she’s had to work twice as hard to get to this point in her career. This election is making me reflect more on my feelings redarding racism vs. sexism. Being at least a double minority gives me the dubious honor of sifting through what he purported causes for discrimination against me might be.

But I’ve grown up in a family and community where women hold up half the sky. And so, I have never questioned that women are just as good (and better) than any man. Perhaps in time that will be something to post more about.

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I don’t post political stuff (or anything anymore for that matter )… but stuff is in the oven, it’s just gonna take a little bit to get those buns perfectly golden brown before dropping some new entries.

Suffice it so say, so many changes are afoot. I am saying Alhamdullilah, for me, for Hillary Rodham Clinton. Here’s to one heck of a presidential election season.

#ImwithHer

Better Late than Never: On Indonesia and Malaysia

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I’m baaaack! from where?

Well from Indonesia and Malaysia. No, I didn’t go to the resort towns, this trip was really to see my friends from my Qatar program. It was great in a lot of ways.

I think I’ve mentioned how much I regret not doing this trip sooner, but it is what it is. Overall, it was nice to go where I really felt wanted. All three ladies appreciated my trek to see them and it was great catching up. I’m happy I also have a more positive Asia experience to add to my list now. China was weird… I have never felt so utterly different from everyone around me and clown-like (heck even on this trip a little Chinese child looked at me in horror as she pointed at me and told her mom whatever the heck she said to her… sigh… but that was in the airport. And it doesn’t really matter). Thailand as a place was great, but in retrospect the circumstances around my going and my company during that trip weren’t optimal, to say the least…. I should never have gone. sigh. First world problems, I guess.

So it was great to walk down the streets of Jakarta, alone, black woman with natural hair and no one batted an eyelid, little children didn’t run away from me down the sidewalk. Everyone minded their own business. It’s a feeling a girl could really get used to… ha ha… but in Indonesia the language barrier was real and the currency had a lot of zeros in it, so I was always getting confused… ha ha. I am so happy I had my friend to take me around and translate.

here are some pics of my experience… Food, the view from my hotel room window, the national monument as I rode by (I did see it up close, but either I or my friend are in those photos so not posting them up… nope, nope and a family with a child on a motorcycle. Ya’ll I saw babies, I mean like 6 month old kids riding motorcyles standing up and it wasn’t a thing. ha ha… but people drive a lot slower there. Oh yes, and the Cathedral. The National Mosque of Jakarta is right across the street from a catholic church (pictured below). I didn’t go inside because it was Good Friday and services were being held all day long :-/…. but it’s such a great testament to the religious tolerance in the region. I loooooooved it. (sorry no mosque photos as I am in all of them… ha ha)

 

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Malaysia was more developed, and even less people giving a shit about a black woman being there. Here I met up with my friend who is still a single lady, so the spots we hit up kind of reflected that… ha ha. (I mean don’t let your minds go too crazy, she is Muslim and wears hijab so we weren’t doing anything too out of this world… ha ha). Like Jakarta, I stayed near the city center, and it was awesome.  Food was great, the twin towers (which the UAE totally copied for their burj Khalifa and water show  ha ha), the view from the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur and the outside part of the National mosque of Malaysia.

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The trips were great, but they are honestly probably the last one I will do for a while. I enjoyed my time, but I was tired out (and gained 2 kilos!)…. It’s taken me about a week to get back to normal (including weight-wise).

If I could sum it up I would probably say Indonesia is older-feeling and the social stratification was more apparent there, but it was very clean and I think I enjoyed the food there more.

Malaysia was more modern, and the racial diversity was all around us (including tons of Arabs presumably there on holiday, I have heard Arabs say they love Malaysia, but my oh my, they were not lying… there wasn’t a single day that went by that I didn’t hear tons of Arabic or see tons of Arabs) the foods were a mix of Asian cuisines: Malay, Chinese and Indian.

All in all a great experience, I would definitely go back to either place as I barely scratched the surface of what there is to see (and eat!)… ha ha. Alhamdullilah I made it this time.

On planning my next Trips

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In case anyone was wondering… I am feeling a lot better… (cricket)…. Being my own psycologist/psyhiatrist is just fraught with moments of deep reflection and falling into the despair that may come with those reflections. I am a work in progress…

Anyway,

While I am in the MENA region, I should be taking advantage of this and travelling. Due to a lot of different reasons, I didn’t go all the places I would have expected to go by now: I went to San Francisco last year for Spring break, but I wish I had used that time to go to Indonesia and Malaysia instead.  I also went to Thailand in September, but I really again, wish I had done Indonesia, Malaysia or Turkey instead.

But wishes don’t wash dishes.

I think I hinted in one of my more brooding posts about going to sub-Saharan AFrica. That is still on the table although figuring out the details of this trip has been a bit more cumbersome due to the nationalities of my travel buddies.

And then an idea came that I have never really responded to before, but makes sense… Gazelle wants to go to Iran! ha ha… yes I really do. I mean when next will I have the chance? I don’t plan on learning Persian or working in Iranian affairs, so it’s not a professional opportunity that is likely to pop up. So yeah, the visa process sucks for Americans but if I can swing it, I might to Iran…. BY MYSELF this summer!

I am not scared of Iran or Iranians, but I am curious as to what it would feel like as a black woman traveling alone to country like that… where black Iranians exist, but probably not a lot in the capital.

Turkey is still on my must-dos as is Jordan.

I wanted to head to Tunisia, but that’s a place I feel like I would probably have the chance to visit again, maybe even under more feasible travel circumstances. So, yeah some dreams are dying so that other dreams may live… ha ha.

Counting My Blessings: the Privilege to Sit and think

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So that’s something I should be grateful for. I’m an introvert and these days I am a brooding introvert to boot. So it’s good for me to have space and time to sit and think. I don’t expect to crawl so deep inside my own thoughts that I can’t crawl back out, but I really appreciate those weekends where I don’t go anywhere: park my car on Thursday, don’t come back till Sunday morning…. ahhhh the life.

I’m also fortunate to have this space, where my typo-ridden inner-self can write whatever, get it out and (sometimes, ideally) keep it moving.  I mean I also have my private journal as well…  but it’s good to have both… to walk the line between public and private.

That’s a privilege. That’s a blessing.

The thing is, I often ask myself whether these dreary, introspective posts belong on here. This blog  kind of and kind of didn’t start off as a travel blog. But I always had posts about randomness going on in my life, even when I was (stuck) state-side. Some of those posts were way too personal and I ended up doing a purge of sorts after I got back from Qatar. Then after Egypt I guess, I shifted and started trying to make my focus more of the travel experiences.

But ex-pat blues are part of the travel experience. This is more than a funk. This is more than just home-sickness, it’s more than any of the crap I mention here. But it’s not helped by being abroad either. Sigh.

 

 

 

Counting My blessings… I still Am

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Even if I am not mentioning them as much on the blog. My head is filled with a lot of stuff and that’s making writing a little harder these days.

Realizing that some blessings are bittersweet: being able to help someone in need, but feeling completely drained afterwords, hearing someone say “I love you” and mean it, but not in a context that’s wholly understandable or digestible, talking to a friend you haven’t heard from in ages, but leaving the conversation feeling sad that this person totally dismissed and invalidated your lived experiences and goals,  having someone link your blog so certain posts are all of a sudden getting a lot more traffic, but that traffic bringing in some ignorant comments… ha ha. sigh.

I’m still here, that’s a blessing in itself.

I’m thinking about visiting somewhere in the MENA region probably. I recently discovered that there are black (as in Gazelle-black!) people in Tunisia, so all of a sudden I have a desire to go there… ha ha… But Turkey might be nice as well. It might be a nice change of pace to be in a non-Arab Middle Eastern country. Then again, I still haven’t made it to Jordan (although Jordan for whatever reason hasn’t held much appeal for me. It might have to do with some strained relationships I’ve had with Jordanians in real-life… ha ha….who wants to be reminded of all that????… sigh).

But these travel plans also, are in some ways bittersweet… sigh. At any rate,  I’m still here. I that’s a blessing in itself.

I feel like I am scraping the bottom of the barrel with this one, but at least I tried.