One day I lost my words.
I woke up that day, and every day since, the words weren’t there. Instead, a jackhammer attempted to break through my skull, loud, internally rattling, my brain violently slamming around, forcefully hitting the sides of my skull in quick, violent, and unpredictable patterns that did. not. end. Only an ice pack numbed the sensation, but the rattling did not stop. Once the ice melted, the coldness dissipated, and the numbness subsided, the pain returned.
This started 6 weeks ago. Today are the first substantial words I’ve written in 6 weeks.
It starts as moments of feeling deep despair. Tears threaten to fall at any moment. I turn off my camera in these days of personal interactions over Zoom, leaving my interlocutor unsure and troubled about my behavior. I lie, say that I need to blow my nose or do something else no one really wants to see me doing. After hanging up, the tears make good on the promise, an assault that lasts for the rest of the day.
I cancel professional appointments because I can’t trust myself to not cry when crying would be unprofessional. I apologize to my…
In Anticipation of My “Forget These Kids” Weekend
I am a bad mother. I curse around my kids. I don’t force them to eat vegetables. I encourage showers, but if they don’t stink, I don’t care. I told them we would get a dog and they could pick it out. Turned out I lied. We got the dog, but I picked her out. Her name is Hope.
I buy ice cream and eat it in front of them without offering any. (Actually, I don’t. That would be pretty savage.)
I have to move my belly out of the way, or else I can’t get my fingers under my feet. My thighs give out and I land on my butt trying to do a toe stand. No longer able to rotate my hip joint to place my foot on top of my leg, my tree pose is wobbly. “LaToya, bend your knees as much as you need to touch your forehead to your thigh.” My knees are almost bent in half.
It is my first time at yoga in more than a year, since COVID hit and closed my favorite…
[Note to the reader. TW: mental health and suggestions of self-harm]
Words matter. For my little family of five, words house us, feed us, and entertain us. I get paid to talk and write. During the academic year, I must craft almost four hours of spoken word a week; these words must teach, inspire, and encourage. The spoken words I’ve done before; they are already laid out nicely in lesson plans and slide deck scripts. I know the questions I will ask tomorrow, next week, and in Spring 2022. They are tried and tested and I know they work.
As I write this, tears are on the verge of spilling over already puffy eyes. The clench in my stomach and pain in my back are making it hard to think. I’m trying to do busy work — formatting a paper, researching for an infographic, writing this — to distract me from when, in a few hours, I start the process of getting better. I start therapy. Again.
Getting better requires confronting the worst. The feelings of failure. The self-loathing. The guilt of believing that you are not what the people around you need you to be. The bad habits…
All I did was step off the curb.
“Get out of the street you Black bitch!,” as he raised his White middle finger.
My face flushed and I looked around to see who noticed this moment of public humiliation. No other Black women were around, but the Black men and White women in the vicinity averted my eyes. I found neither protection nor belonging with them. This was something that I faced alone: not White, not male. Black and woman. Undivided.
~ Nikki Giovanni, “Adulthood II” (from Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day, 1978)
There is always something / of the child / in us that wants / a strong hand to hold / through the hungry season / of growing up
My heart is a lonely heart. It reflects the beginnings of a depression that I will learn will encompass much of my life. I live in a Black body that doesn’t know her womanhood, that doesn’t know how to see herself as herself, as a being worthy of love. I do not want to be White, but I do…
Blackness is moving in the world and entering spaces that do not belong to you. It is a quick scan and not being at all surprised to see only White faces. It is sitting down with an existential sensitivity to being both watched and ignored.
Whiteness in these spaces is defined as more than melanin deficiency. Performing Whiteness is engaging in the room in the way only Whiteness allows, not questioning your entitlement, being dismissive of racial others, and thinking your perspective is the middle norm from which all other perspectives deviate. This performance of Whiteness excludes. …
The routine does not change.
8:25 am: “It’s time to get up.”
8:35 am: “BOYS, it’s time to get up.”
8:40 am: Deep breath. “I’m getting REALLY annoyed. GET. UP.”
The older two eat quickly and then retreat to their rooms to start the day. We make breakfast for the 3rd grader, usually bacon and maybe an egg or two. We have to be careful to not burn the bacon, and make the egg right, or he won’t eat. I’ve already reached my patience limit. I’ve been awake for 20 minutes.
8:45 am: “M, it’s time to get on your…