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.

 

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2016 in Review: Highs (so few), Lows (so many), Dating Woes

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So, I have been doing much reflecting on this shit-show we call 2016. Caught in yet another discussion with someone on the plight of black women, specifically dark skinned ones, specifically dark skinned ones with African Featuers, specifically dark skinned ones with African features whose bodies are not of the main stream ideal variety and are more curvy (whether we are regular, overweight or obese).

And I breathed a heavy sigh. Maybe a year ago now, a mixed friend, one who is black and Asian made me feel pretty bad…ha ha . We weren’t friends quite yet, but I was making a comment about standards of beauty, especially as internalized by men and how that translates into how different groups of women are treated. And her response was basically to state outright that no matter how bad it was for the kind of black women I outlined above, it’s worse for her because she is mixed and fetishized for her Asian-ness. I sort of just sat there quietly: I knew then that there would be a limit to the kinds of convos we could have.

I was talking about feeling invisible, of dealing with really shitty situations and people who try to make you feel less than dirt (even if they deign to date you), I was talking about being at the bottom of the totem pole, and her reaction was basically “Well you’re lucky because I never know if people really want me for me or because of how I look”….

 

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I don’t know Kat, I really don’t know…

Honestly, the second conversation was practically triggering as I had filed this lack of empathy incident away in my “Oh well, we knew human beings lacked basic empathy.” file.  I mean, I am talking about not even being under consideration in many circles, and you are talking about being wanted by many.

When I talk about these things, I am not looking for pity. I am just looking for people to acknowledge that maybe, someone has it worse than they do, that maybe it’s a little harder for some of us than it is for others. I acknowledge my privilege all the freaking time! I know it’s there, I know I enjoy it: I work in a space where most of the poc serve the food or clean or are security guards. I was born in a hospital in country that had 5 doctors total— 4 years ago (have no idea how many there were when I was born!).

But I digress.

Yest another conversation, this time with a black man, educated one, elite educated one, elite job holder now… who was lamenting his lack of matches on social media. Because I had gotten more matches that somehow meant that things were so bad for him.

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seriously

 

This is despite the fact that the negro had 3 count em 3 girlfriends (all reasonable attractive, at least two really well educated with white collars jobs, a plethora of travel experiences… etc. etc. etc….  in the past year alone, along with FWB/DTF – type deals as well. Ugh. No. You don’t have it worse. Nowhere in the neighborhood of worse.

After listing all the awful (honest to God awful individuals I have dealt with this year, his response was “well, I had better quality” but you had better “quantity” …..

Last time I checked having five bags of garbage as compared to his one containter full of recyclables means his house is a lot neater than my own.

And no, I am not comparing people per se, I am comparing experiences. But this entry has become more like an intro. more on the horrors of the individuals I’ve interacted with this year in the next post.

On Love: GAzelleism of the week

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So I wrote this God knows when, I am just cleaning out my closet of sorts.. I think this is 2016 post, but it might be from 2015…honestly I have been recycling some of the same feelings. But in the interest of throwing out the trash, here it goes: Another GDS original.

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Preach Ernest! source

You can’t love people who have neither the desire nor the fortitude to love you back… well you can love such people, but it will probably be to your own detriment… just saying.

Love is built on three reciprocated pillars: Respect, care and trust. I don’t care what kind of love we are talking about if one of these three are missing you’ve got a problem.

Sharing common DNA does not necessarily mean that these three pillars will be there going both ways, (so that each person is both a lover and is loved). Really, really, wishing your feelings were reciprocated won’t make it so in romantic relationships either… ha ha…

So if you have a frenemy, explain your relationship status as complicated or feel the dire necessity of shaking them haterz off even amongst family… You may want to reexamine your motivations for staying invested and connected to these individuals.

Hanging onto people who don’t want to hold you… will just leave you all ALONE in the end.

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Lessons learned and they sure run deep!!!!  source

On Feeling Validated

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It was refreshing a few days ago to have a few different conversations with single women I know about life and love and standards of beauty. It was the first time in a long time that I wasn’t served cold platitudes of “Oh but Gazelle, you are beautiful!” (and what does me or you KNOWING how amazing I am have to do with society’s tendency to pick apart the notion and dump it in a trash heap?)

Or, “You don’t have to be statistic if you don’t want to be, just get out there and try.” (Um, ok. Yeah all I have to do is get out there and keep going at it. Why didn’t I think of that??? Gee, your advise is amazing.. cue the rolled. eyes… ha ha).

or the worst of them all “But so and so is a black woman and she doing just fine.” (Oh, ok so by your logic, we have a black family in the White House, so all black people in America are doing just fine socially, economically and politically, and if their not, then it’s their fault??????)

So conversation one, was with an Asian friend. Whenwe were talking about I was no longer on a dating site (all halal I assure you…ha ha) that she is still plodding through, she at first was very frank with me and told me that she didn’t think I tried enough. We are friends and I get it. I am grateful for her honesty. And even more grateful for the chance she gave me to explain why I just am not all Pollyana about this stuff anymore:

I come from a place where people like me more often than not end up alone, and I have made peace with it. I’m an educated black woman with African features and a curvier (and by no means fat… I am still really confused as to when one became a euphemism for the other… sigh) figure. I don’t know when people who look like me were ever in, but we’re not the “it girls” of today. And Apparently the dating/courting scene is a lot more superficial than I thought when I was younger, fresher and more optimistic. And my younger, fresher, more optimistic about live and love days were when and how I discovered these noble truths (and yes, I realize that they don’t have to be truths for everyone).

And I feel super respected for once

But yes. I am the person least likely to get an OK Cupid Reply. I am more likely to have fewer matches on Tinder.  And the same goes for any other dating site/arrangmeent/set-up in the virtual world or in the real one. I am just not who most people think of when they think of the girl of their dreams. Don’t get me wrong, I am the type to get hits now and then, from way to old pappi picantes and other inconsiderates who haven’t read my profile. Or even worse from random men who think a way to a woman’s heart is through vulgar messages. :-/… but that’s every woman’s lot these days.

Wow check out those figures! Why am I so complacent about being a statistic???? Shame on me, GAzelle …ha ha

Don’t get em wrong I am not a pessimist. But I am damn sure a realist. My predicament is not unusual but it felt good to talk to someone that didn’t judge and didn’t call me a whiner. Instead she just said “oh, I didn’t know. Sorry. I guess I understand a little better now.” She told me not to give up hope (yeah girl, too late… ha ha… And the well just marry a blue collar guy solution is well… meh.. it clashes with compatibility, I think).

Another friend, one whose physical characteristics are closer to mine gave me understanding nods sighs. Can I just say it felt good to be validated. To not even have to explain myself and defend the validity of my own lived experience!

I’m not delusional. I don’t have low self-esteem (I will kick someone to the curb with the quickness!) I don’t have too much self-esteem. I’m just real. and as for her, well she too is trying, putting her best face forward and herself out there being open to love.

Somehow other people here me (complain) about my dating/lackofalovelife woes and ASSSUME I am not proactive or assertive or optimistic at all. WRONG

I understand how things work. And although I wish they were different, there’s but so much I can do to fix where I fall on the totem pole.

Actually Eff the totem pole!

My problem is actually that all of these concerns fly out the window far too quickly when I’m in certain settings and situations.

Sigh. At any rate, I’m just gonna live life and be me. If that means finding and marrying somebody (educated) that I love and who loves me back, and has the same values that I have, similar passions (broadly defined) with whom I share a mutual attraction then great. But Gazelle can do but so much.

Actually, the only thing Gazelle can control is Gazelle. I started this blog with woe is me, will I ever find someone posts. I’ve posted periodically about the fish that had to be thrown back in the sea (and not quite so much about the ones that never too the bait, since I’ve chosen this rather crude analogy… :-/

But it’s been over 8 years and I think I don’t want to spend to much time thinking about what I already know. For now, it’s enough that my experiences and perspectives were validated. Someone out there knows that life for me, is not about trite platitudes doled out as advice or other people’s lives held up as examples for me to follow (without consideration for the privileges we do not share).

My experiences and the viewpoints that have developed as a result are valid.

Now if I could only decide between (re)downloading Tinder onto my blackberry… or signing up for another service….

Or maybe  should just hold my American passport up in a bunch of profile pictures (that should have them rolling in) ha ha… #Youneverknow 😉

On Being a Dark Girl: Oprah has done it again!

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The O Network will be featuring a documentary called, Dark Girls, about what it’s like to be a dark skinned woman. Naturally as one of those said Dark Girls I am very much interested in what this film has to say about us. (And ahem, why was I not called for an interview?)…ha, ha…

I have the O Network, and so I will be tuning in, and will undoubtedly have much to say.

This documentary comes at an interesting time for me, I think.  I was verbally abused by a ruddy looking dude (perhaps he was homeless?) in DC.  It all started with the usual street jargon that people yell… I think this guy yelled at me “Hey Gorgeous!” to which I did not reply and just kept walking.

Well he was a nasty thing, and after feeling slighted said a bunch of things, the only one of which I can remember is “You don’t want to talk to me because I’m black? Well, you blacker than I am!”   Um, whaaaaaaaat!!!!!!!  My first instinct was to laugh and keep walking.  He obviously looked like a lunatic. A man in his forties, dirty clothes and God knows what else (I did not get a good look at him) yelling stupid nonsense is no skin off my back… or is it?

I think I read someone’s comment on the documentary about how black people sometimes use the word “black” as an insult.  Of course, this is what that caramel colored fool did with me.  Somehow, it might have affected me more than I thought?

Precisely!

Maybe not, I think being back in the DC area and hearing random things like hey beautiful, relatively often makes me feel a little PTSDish… like I’m back in one of those places where cat-calls are the norm.  Usually, I don’t care.  Usually I don’t even remember the situation once its past. Unless of course, the circumstances are unusual, or the man is particularly bold or witty.

I think this buffoon falls into bold category.  Part of the reason why it stayed with me is because it’s safety issue.  All he did was put out vitriol demonstrating his lack of good manners, but it was enough to make me think, if only for a few seconds, about what to do if it got physical.

I wanted to shout this stuff from the roof tops, but decided to post it on my blog instead.

Sometimes, in Egypt or Morocco, I would walk around with my hand in a fist, just in case.  I unlearned that habit in the year since I’ve been home.  I don’t want to relearn it either.

Nor do I want to give off the sentiment that either place was entirely unsafe (a perusal of entries while in either country will make that clear).  But I stood out a little more in North Africa so more attention both positive an negative was a given.  But what is the motive of people like that weird guy I had the unfortunate luck of crossing paths with?  I guess the truth of the matter is that he would have been nasty even if I was white as snow, some men don’t know how to deal with rejection…. ha, ha….

Do-do birds like him aside, being dark-skinned is not all a pity parade, I don’t think so anyway.  But I know that a lot of people do in fact think like this.  For large swaths of people, a darker-skinned woman must be exceptionally beautiful to be acknowledged as beautiful.  (It’s annoying, but I often hear things like oh she’s so fair, so white, so light, she’s so pretty…. meaning fair skin=pretty…) but beauty is subjective.

I’ve never dated anyone my shade or darker…it wasn’t intentional, (then again, I haven’t dated many people). So, it’s not impossible for dark skinned people like me to get some love…ha, ha.

And don’t you forget it!!!!!!!!!

And yet, there have been plenty of times where I have been left confused.  Confused because someone, who looks a certain way I had decided somewhere in my subconscious, is not attracted to people who look like me.  Each time it has happened, I have to sit myself down and reevaluate my preconceived notions about myself and how others see me.

Somehow I think that if a guy that looked like Fabian Rios would come my way, I would take him, no questions asked….ha, ha…

At any rate, here’s to Oprah for giving me something to help unpack what it means to be a “dark girl.”