Sometimes you just have to cut family loose.

You may or may not be aware that I take a fascination with following the phenomenon known colloquially in some areas as ‘the nigga moment.’ Shortest definition—it’s that moment where two otherwise civilized individuals throw sense to the wind and act all out crazy. Normally, these are the height of ridiculousness—something involving new shoes, for instance, or an overreaction to a bump on the sidewalk. But they can hit things more serious. I’ve been keeping an eye out for them because the ludicrous things that happen in the area deserve more eyes on them, if for no other reason than we can stop them from being so damned common.

Little did I know that I was about to star in my own personal nigga moment, and it’d burn the last family bridge standing…and I wouldn’t regret it.


Friday Evening

I hate it when my phone rings first thing in the morning. I don’t usually answer it when it happens. I ignored it as usual and went back to getting ready to work. Of course, later in the day it rings again and this time I don’t think to ignore it. It’s my cousin—the daughter of the aunt who’s so bigoted and backwards that she’d rather I was a slut than queer. There’s weather blowing in and she’d like to crash at my place—

“Sure, why not?”

“Is it OK if I bring somebody over?”

I REALLY should’ve bailed then. The last time she brought someone over it was a triggery disaster. But…weather’s blowing in, and not letting family in out of the weather would be a dick move.

“Sure, why not?”

A voice in my head told me that I was going to regret this immediately after I said it.

“I tell you what, I need a favor, a bit of help around the place. Do that and we’re cool.”

She arrives in a couple hours, with this…halfling of a man in tow. He’s shorter than I am, with all the confidence of jell-o on a hot humid day. A genie in an Electrolux steam cleaner would be less wishy-washy. He spends half his time with the phrase “I got nothing against black women but—”

Yeah, nothing good ever comes after that.

—and the other half of the time bitching about how women on Facebook are bitches and ho’s and and the queer community is immoral and he’s saying this while going through my things and stumbles over my packing device (it’s a dick, ok) blah blah—

Listen, guys, the TL;DR of it is my cousin brought over a misogynist bigoted homophobe and on top of it racist against his own. And I’m supposed to be OK with this? Top this off, he has no concept of boundaries, WILL NOT REMEMBER MY NAME, and insists on making reaching/grabbing motions in my general direction—and we remember my problem with hands.

He goes off to his job and she lets me know that she’s been screwing around on him (one of the things he’s so terrified of)—do I look like I care? Do I want to know? Two months ago you were trying to get me to fix you up with the cutest girl on my friends list, now you’re all about dick again? URGH.

And it doesn’t get any better. The night is a hotbed of overstimulation and blatant ignoring of my repeated calls for quiet. The guy goes off to work and she goes on and on and hey would I like to hear a thing she wrote and oh god that’s dark suicidal

dark room bottles in hand one swallow off from being done phone’s four feet off I still have half an hour to call someone and get out of this but do I really want to get out of this I mean I put all this work into getting out of this I should get out of this I really should get out of this too many things to do only I can do I have to stop 911 911 911 answer faster 911 

Stop.”

She keeps reading.

“STOP!”

She keeps reading. I can’t talk fast enough or loud enough to get it through to her that I need quiet. She also doesn’t listen to my repeated explanations that it doesn’t matter what the subject was, at this point I don’t give a fuck what her intent was, the point is right now everything has to stop so I can figure out where and when I am.

I’m about this close to my blade. I almost gut her. She’s a threat. I can’t keep this up.

I take a walk instead.

Nothing’s been done around the apartment. Lots of peanut-gallery action, but nothing’s been done.

Saturday.

The wishy-washy doesn’t improve before I go off to work. Work itself is welcome relief from the day before, and I knock the fuck out of some linens. Cousin’s spent the last few hours trying to convince me to let her borrow my good backpack (The answer is such gigantic big heap no that the Indians from Peter Pan look politically correct). I finally get home after work thinking I’ll have me that sushi and a nap and that’ll be the end of most of my day.

Nothing’s been done. In fact, there’s A BIGGER mess than when I left. I would’ve done better on my own. Dishes are piled to eye level, and about two weeks worth of my storehouse is demolished.

Oh, and get this—she’s talking about inviting a different guy over. (Remember, she’s running around on the first guy—then again he’s such a wishy-washy blob looking at pictures would count as such to him.) She plays me up to convince me that it’s cool—“Oh, Cuz is cool, she’s gay [I’m pansexual, get it right already] and progressive and all that, she won’t care as long as we don’t do nothing around her,” that sort of thing—

Now that I think about it, this is the same spiel she used to rope me in last time. And, like before, it went badly. But I ignore the little warning flag, just like I’m ignoring the repeated variations of “Oh my god I can’t wait to see what he got between his legs!”

In that moment I wanted nothing more than to teleport to the local drag bar…on ladies’ night…preferably wearing my Tootsie Pop Owl shirt, the one with the owl that says “I Bite.” Anything to get away from all the MAN and the talk of MAN PARTS, if I SEE another MAN any time soon…

There isn’t time to ramble about it though because this second guy shows up—packing Chinese takeout. This one’s perfectly forgettably meh on all counts—seriously, other than the fact that he brought Chinese food I don’t remember a damn thing about him. I wind up crashing early because I’ve been exhausted.

My pantry is completely unnavigable. Nothing has been done.


Sunday.

I wake up and my cousin is on the phone alternately fighting with the first guy through text and calls. There’s no time to hang around with “he’s not worth it’s” and “he’s not worth the time’s” because I have to work, and all the drama is kicking up the flashbacks. I get out without preamble and go beast mode on the linen again. I get a text message while I’m there that my cousin’s bailed out. Later that day I get a different message that states that “he barely ain’t got no dick.” Further questioning reveals that this is a third guy, if you can believe it. At this point I’m right back to the “TELEPORT ME TO THE LESBIAN BAR” stage. In her evident excitement for fresh dick, she’s forgotten her keys and phone charger.

When I get home, I see that the dishes are stacked to my eyeballs. The pantry is even less navigable than before, and she has borrowed one of my bags without permission. Nothing has been done.

Later I attempt to air my problems with this entire visit over the phone, specifically the whole problem with her bringing dudes over (two different ones in two days in this case!). It was running my nerves raw, and I needed to set down some ground rules if we were going to hang out again, especially since so little of our agreement has been worked on.

*record needle scratch*

Monday Morning—THIS morning, actually…

Let’s just pause for a second. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that this has to have been leading to something big. You guessed right—this would be the thing that triggered my own personal nigga moment.

The next thing I know I’m on the receiving end of a litany of attempted emotional abuse—the standard lines. The “I was the only one who even was on your side after the shit you pulled/supported your lifestyle choice [NOT A CHOICE BITCH]” lines come out with increasing volume, while I’m trying to specify that I can’t deal with all these random males she brings with her every time she comes over.

“I’ve been over twice!”

“And you brought losers over twice. IN THIS CASE THREE. And I REALLY don’t need to know about your dick-chasing habits at every turn.”

“You listen to me, bitch—”

“Hey LISTEN, bitch-ass—”

It goes downhill from there. She gets more and more abusive, and I remember that I do not have to take that shit. I hang up, put my phone on Airplane mode, and eat breakfast. Afterwards I turn my phone back on. I’ve got a series of passive-aggressive texts now demanding that I come into HER town with her keys.

My turn to text.

Get over yourself. I’m not going out of my way for someone who treats me like you do. Get your ass here or you don’t get your shit.

My phone rings a minute later. I probably don’t have to tell you how violent the discussion got. I also probably don’t have to tell you that the fact that I spent five years first couch-surfing with a friend and then moving into this little box shows that her repeated assertions of solidarity are so very much bullshit. I end it with:

“You’ll get your shit when you get your shit. And after you give me back my bag. Once that’s done with, forget my number.”

“I’m through with this.”

“No. I’m through with you. All of you. Don’t come to me needing anything ever again. I’ll leave you out there to drown.”

Two hours later, I dismount a bus, chuck her crap to her, and walk to the platform for my train. I never stop walking the entire time.


Clearing the Fallout

The next thing on the list was grocery shopping, but while I was there, I picked up cleaning supplies, specifically roach baits—I’ve seen breeders about near the garbage chute on the ground floor—and scrubbing stuff, and housewares in general. But all the household cleaning and cleansing and AURA DE-BAD-MOJOING won’t do a thing if I don’t give myself a good one as well. So after downloading an app specifically designed to fix my home productivity problem, I hit the luxuries section and got myself some fancy things.

Speaking of, just remembering all of this was a colossal drain on me. There’s a little bottle of Wild Rose oil waiting for me.

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On Finding the Meaning of Thanksgiving.

For some of you out there, you are getting ready to celebrate a holiday known as Thanksgiving. A uniquely American holiday, it commemorates the teamwork and camaraderie that allowed the pilgrims (does anyone else think it’s more appropriate to call them ‘expatriates?’ Because ‘pilgrim’ is too religious for my blood…) to survive the harsh conditions they found in the New World. Working together with native Americans, these people learned how to use what they found here and not only survive, but thrive.

(That whole ‘oops we totally brought a bunch of foreign germs and you’re all going to get really sick, so sorry’ thing shall remain un-expounded upon.)

However, at the same time, I can’t help feeling a little bit conflicted about the whole damn thing.


It’s always felt a little weird for me to celebrate Thanksgiving. Tracing my ancestors as far back as we were able to in the year 1999, I learned of the first (black) member of the family. A slave woman from coastal Africa, she escaped with some slick tricks—step one, make herself useful on trips. Step two, make herself useful on a trip heading to the free North. And step three, BOUNCE. Bingbangboomfreedom!

Tracing my mother’s side of the lineage was more difficult. I learned her mother’s name, but never had the chance to meet Ms. Maria Argupitha Garcia Martinez (Unchanged for unfindability!) For the record, if anyone knows this generously nomenclatured woman, please dish. I’ve googled, bing’d, dogpile’d and even Alibaba’d her name and found nothing.) And as difficult as Grandmother was to find, Grandfather was even more so. See, he went by one name, and kept to himself near the border (no fence, no problem).

I never had the chance to meet either of them. But I’ll never forget what my mother and my uncle Saul* told me: Grandfather was a medicine man. A real live (oh, shush. You know how I mean) shaman. My uncle, on telling me this, then gave me a box of unset rough turquoise. I would later ask my father if my uncle was being facetious—and as it would turn out, he was not. But he was loath to talk about that side of the family, and it would be all I could find out: the records stop fairly quickly in the whole legibility department.

*Name changed at request!


.Here’s where I start feeling a little weird about it: neither ancestral side of my family came over in that quest for freedom from the Anglican Church. One side had been here long before, and the other side came long after, against her will. One side had no real reason to celebrate, and the other—well, being dragged from her homeland and then bought and sold like a horse really has no merits to celebrate.

It wasn’t for a while that I began to think of it a little bit differently. After finding out that I was a little blue preemie that very nearly kicked her mother off this mortal coil, I started feeling kind of lucky. Blessed, even.


This year, a whole lot of bad happened. I got out of a destructive relationship. (Not entirely willingly. Stockholm Syndrome, what what) I got deep into a barrel. Climbed out of said barrel when the taste of alcohol became more unpleasant than the flashbacks and voices I was trying to shut up. Had a huge mental break when the flashbacks got stronger, and was sent to the loony bin when I admitted I wasn’t sure if I was going to be waking up the next morning. Formally diagnosed with PTSD that had been allowed to slowly fester over the last three years. Went on more meds than anyone I’ve met.

It wasn’t easy.

So very often, I caught myself saying, “Fuck this. I’m gone,” but the little part of my mind that was sane still went, “Really? You haven’t done anything you thought you would. You’d be ditching friends—and all because you hurt? Suck it up, you selfish little bitch” and I didn’t go through with it. Whenever I was about to do something profoundly stupid, they’d stop me. I stuck it out because they stuck their necks out to help me.

And I’ve yet to thank them all properly.

So here it is.

I am thankful for all of you for not letting me quit this life.
I am thankful for the motivation you all give me.
I am thankful for the people who would forcibly stop me when I started to do something stupid.
I am thankful that I am still alive to have people to thank for keeping me that way.

And now that I know it’s going to be just fine, I sign off and say:
Itadakimasu. (Thank you for the food.)

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