Bassey's World:

Tales of An Underachieving Overachiever

Category: Ramble

Free Write: Sucks To Be Me Right Now

I don’t do tough love. I hate it. I don’t respond well to it. It just makes me feel worse and I either want to fight you or shut down completely. More often than not, I shut down completely. It’s my kryptonite. No. It’s my battery drain. Okay, let’s go back to kryptonite.

The last few months have been difficult. I’m not even going to pretend. It’s money. It’s work. It’s writing. It’s not wanting to write anymore. It’s whether or not I’m parenting properly. It’s whether or not I’m being a good daughter or sibling. It’s whether or not things are going to suddenly click and just make sense. And then after they make sense, will there be a magical list of instructions and directions that appears to me in a burning bush? or however that story goes. I haven’t read the Bible in years. I’ll wait while someone posts in the comments section that my problem is that I haven’t read the Bible in years.

Anyway, I have ideas. I have lots of ideas. I have things that I want to accomplish. I have projects that I want to work on. I have all kinds of things that could lift me from this rut but the truth of the matter is that I’m scared. I’m scared of failing. I feel like I’m running out of chances. I know every journey begins with one step and that’s true but meanwhile, I’m in my closet staring at my shoes trying to figure out what pair to wear to make the first step. They have to be the right pair of shoes. Don’t tell me they don’t. They do!

I wish sometimes that I could wake up in the morning and be in the middle of things. The starting up has always left me full of self doubt. I wonder if I’m capable. If I can be trusted with it. If other people think I”m capable. On twitter the other day, I spoke about how weird I am with compliments. I think I’m awesome. I really do. I have the best time with myself. I make myself laugh. I choreograph amazing drag routines to Beyonce songs. I sit around most of the time in my pajamas and a pair of stilettos because I can. I’m a good person. I mess up but I mean well. My heart is in the right place and often that place is somewhere in my belly. I’m an empath. I feel things strongly and deeply. Not just my things. Your things. Your moms things. Does your dad have things? I feel those too. Pause.

I think I’m amazing. I’m just not sure why you think I’m amazing. And that is what usually keeps me grounded. When I lived in New York, I was given all these amazing opportunities that I didn’t earn and I didn’t really capitalize on. Let’s be honest. I was in the right place at the right time and a bunch of really cool shit happened. I was lucky. I was talented and personable and kind and sincere but so were a lot of people who didn’t have those opportunities. I’m grateful for them but I keep them in perspective.

The truth about the acorn is the tree.-Hegel

It’s not even about regret. It’s about wishing I had made different choices. Not gone left when I should have gone right but maybe slowed down when I made the turn. It is what it is. There’s no Back To The Future IV: Bassey Strikes Back in the future. I’m not wallowing in regret. If there’s nothing else in the world for me, I’m proud of Boogie boy. He’s an amazing child. And growing into a good person. Last week in the car, he told me about this bad dream he had about this giant that was chasing him. I listened intently as he spoke but he went from typical tot to baby Buddha in 4 seconds flat. I wrote about it on his blog so I won’t recap it here but what I walked away from it is “Make friends with giants” or find away to make peace with the things that frighten you. You need those fears to help you grow. The fears aren’t there to keep you stagnant. They’re too push you forward. I’m editorializing his original comment but it’s not too far from the truth. Seriously. go see for yourself.

http://www.boogiechronicles.com 

I told you. He’s amazing. And I’m trying to listen. I’m starting a new writing project soon called Making Friends With Giants. It’s about conquering fears. Silly things that I’m afraid to do, I have to do at least one thing a week that scares me for a year. That’s 52 fears. I’ve already started and I’m working my way up to the giants. Right now, I’m making friends with Smurfs but you gotta start somewhere, right?

Every day is another day for me to try again. My birthday is in 2 weeks. I’m not where I thought I would be at 35.Ten years ago, if you would have asked me where I would be, I would be in Brooklyn. That’s the only answer I could have given you. Ten years later, I haven’t seen Brooklyn in months and I don’t miss her like I used to. I don’t feel like she looks like me anymore.

But my books are still in boxes here. And there’s a bag in the corner that I haven’t unpacked in 4 years. I know what’s in it. It’s for home. Soon as I find home, I’ll unpack. Until then…

I’m not sure what the point of this blog is. I didn’t want Siwe’s death to be the last thing that touched this space. She was too much love and light for that. In her honor, I’m creating spaces for girls like her and me (and you) to heal a bit and feel safe and heard.

I just gotta figure out what shoes I’m going to wear.

B.

PS. 1000 words

Ramble: Confessions of a Life Too Good or You Know Better, Bass

I haven’t been taking my medication regularly. I find myself skipping a few days here and a day there and another day over there. I’m not sure why. For the past year, it’s been like clockwork. I keep a bottle of water in my bathroom and before I brush my teeth or look at myself in the mirror, I’ve got the pills in my hand and I’m swallowing before I’m fully awake. But the last few weeks, I keep “forgetting”. There’s no such thing as “forgetting” to take your medication. You just aren’t taking them and you might not want to admit why but there’s a reason. A real one.

My life is good. One amazing thing after another is happening and I’m a little overwhelmed. There’s a part of me that still buzzes like a mosquito in my ear saying, “you don’t deserve this.” and I bat it away and brush it off my shoulder and I smile and I keep it moving but lately the buzz is a little louder. I was stuck in airports for about 8 hours the other day and I managed to convince myself that it was my fault. It’s what my brain does. It goes from glitter to dust in a matter of seconds. There was a “thing” I was looking forward to for about two months, I built an entire story and conclusion around it and didn’t happen. There are probably all sorts of rational and reasonable reasons why. These things happen but my brain started buzzing, ‘It’s your fault. There’s something about you that makes this part of your life less than perfect. No matter how well things are going.” So the next morning I “forget” to take my medication and I write and I think about the fact that I hate it. I resent it. I’ve made peace with my illness but some days, I just want to be normal. I don’t want anyone to beable to Google me and see my history. I don’t want it. I’m not ashamed. I’ve never been ashamed but I do get tired. And I think I’m tired.

I’ll be fine. I’m always fucking fine but tonight I got some of the best news ever. Somethign that I could only dream about and I’m so happy and I’m so scared. Because the truth is I still haven’t figured out how to convince myself that I deserve this. I know E deserves it. The best of everything so these good things make tuition easy and his favorite black and white Chucks can come in a steady stream and he loves Wii dance games so these things means I can get that for him. But these things mean that I have less of me to give him because I get tired of my brain breaking. And I’m tired of always having to take pills just so I can not be like this anymore. It’s frustrating. I just want to be  normal. For a week. I want one week, no meds, no conflict, no brain that breaks, no doubt just some regular ass life. And I know that I wouldn’t be me without that. So if I really had a choice, I’d choose things to stay the same.

But tonight, when the heat is breathing on my neck like a broken promise all I can think is, I need to know how to fix everything. Right now. Make it better. Be better. You were good last week, you got so much work done but this week, you have to do more and better.

And I know it’s not true. I know it’s not real. I know it’s just the chemicals in my brain twisting themselves out of reach of “okay”. So I’ll be fine in the morning.

But tonight, there’s going to be tears. Lots of them. And a swollen face in the morning. And before I brush my teeth, I will take my medication and I will call and reschedule the two doctors’ appointments I’ve missed and I’ll write about it. I’ll laugh about it. I’ll live.

I’ll live.

Ramble: Regrets? I’ve had a shoe.

I don’t really do “regret” as far as straight up wishing certain things never happened. Now, wishing I’d done things differently? Well, that would be the albatross around my neck. I’m constantly reevaluating situations and wondering if I could have handled them better or wondering if I should have said this or not said anything at all. I’m very impulsive (Shocker.) and because of the illness, I have to be really careful because I do things without thinking about the consequences beyond whatever moment I have. I’ve been lucky enough to not have caused any serious damage to anything or anyone but it does nothing for my neurosis after the fact.

I’m disgustingly, annoyingly, obnoxiously neurotic. Not in that cute white girl in the romantic comedy way. No. I’m neurotic in this screeching, up ever 2 hours during the night plagued by something that might or might not have happened. Silence is deadly. I need a yes or a no. I can’t handle a nothing. Nothing means empty and empty means space and space means I need to fill it up with thinking and once I start thinking about something, it takes a lot for it to stop. A lot. And today, this container of cookie dough ice cream isn’t making the filling in of the blanks stop.

I’m feeling this disappointment. I’m not sure what I’m disappointed in or about but I am disappointed. I’m pretty sure the pieces will fall in place in the next few days but as for now, it’s just this abstract feeling. This Picasso of emotion. Everything misplaced and disheveled and no clue how to return the mouth or position the eye.

I don’t do disappointment very well. It’s too vague.

I’m fine. I just have a lot riding on the next 6 months and I wish I hadn’t have done this thing I did the way I did it. Because I feel like I shot myself in the foot because I was impulsive. I didn’t think out the consequences and by the time I realized that their would be consequences, it was too late. I was too “in it”. And I liked “in it”. “In it” was safe and quiet and well fed and peaceful sleep and warm and beautiful and exciting and wonderful. “In it” was a good place when I was in it but that doesn’t make it a place I should have entered. I wish I hadn’t have.

Still not a regret just a “should have done this differently”. The worst thing about the way my brain works is that I have this constant tornado of emotions and words in my head. Even when I’m fine. Even when there’s no mania, it’s still there. And it can make me a little nuts because I’m wondering which one of these things I need right now. And sometimes I pull out the wrong one. Anger when I should have pulled out empathy. Compassion when I should have pulled out absence. I stay a lot when I should have left 5 minutes before I got there.

Still not a regret just a “should have done this differently.” The best thing about the way my brain works is that I have this constant tornado of emotions and words in my head. Even when I’m fine. Even when there’s no mania, it’s still. And it can make me a better person because I;m wondering which one of these things I need right now. And sometimes I pull out the wrong one. Empathy where most would find anger. Understanding where most would find bitterness. Forgiveness where most would find vengeance.

I’ve been told this makes me weak. This search for kindness in even the most unkindest of places. Maybe they’re right. I don’t know. I just know that some days I’m glad that I am this way and other days, I just want it all to settle down so I can do things and forget them. Rather than attaching them to spaces and heart shelves and memory.

I have the worst memory in the world. It has the nerve to remember everything.

This made no sense. I’m going to take a nap.

Love someone and mean it,

B.

Quickie: I Tumblr For Ya

1. Remember the Letter Challenge? Yeah. Still doing that. I’ve just been wild busy. I know it doesn’t seem like it but trust me. I need twitter just to get some of the excess out.

2. I’ve started “tumbling”. I love it. It’s when I have too much to tweet but not enough to blog so basically, stuff like this would go on my tumblr. It’s just a lot of fun. I don’t know why.

3. Because I’m a nerd.

4. I’m doing daily podcasts with my homie, Elon James White. The show is live ever day at 2PM. http://www.blackingitup.com. It’s a great show. This is our second week. Seriously, we just get on and laugh and crack jokes for 75 minutes. It’s awesome. Follow the show on twitter @blackingitup.

5. Some really interesting things are happening right now. I’m a little bugged out but grateful and happy and trying to stay peaceful through out it.

6. I hate Paxil. It’s evil.

7. I have another Huffington Post article coming out either today or tomorrow. I’m really proud of it. I’m usually a lot more low key about my writing. That’s not true. What I mean is that I”m really proud of this article. I think it’s important and I’m glad I had an opportunity to address some of the issues. I hope that people like it and share it and hear me. That’s the most important thing. I’ll post a link everywhere when it’s up.

8. Actually, just check my tumblr and I’ll post it there. I don’t want to bombard you all with my “stuff”.

9. That’s not true.

10 In short, I’m okay. I’m busy. I’m trying to figure out the next few months. I have a lot planned. I”m trying to stay healthy physically and emotionally. Easier said than done. I think I dropped 10lbs this month. Not okay but food and I aren’t on speaking terms these days. He’s seeing other people. Whatever.

I think that’s pretty much it. I’m going to try and try and try to pick up the letter writing thing at some point this week. Probably not tomorrow or Thursday. I’m also wondering if I should do some TV show recaps or reviews here. Just something to keep it active. Especially since *insert secret thing here*. And I have TV shows playing online while I write. For some reason, music is distracting because I’m singing along or dancing. Anyway, I don’t go to the movies often enough to do movie reviews plus I have the attention span of a– I saw the Black Swan and it is amazing. The single most accurate account of a mental breakdown I’ve ever seen depicted on screen. Especially, through the eyes of the person breaking down and it’s not all cartoonish and stupid. I thought it was amazing and disturbing and awesome.

And this is turning out to be less a quickie and more a one night stand. Hey yo! Take my wife please.

A man walks into a bar the bar says “ouch”.

Wait, that’s totally not how that joke goes. Whatever.

Bye!

Still Not a Letter: Rambling Like a Sober Drunk

I haven’t done today’s letter. I’ve been busy and doing other things. Plus, I’m not sure I want to publish a letter to my parents so if I do do it, I might just keep it in my Google docs. I’m not sure yet. I’ll know when I actually write it.

So I’m sitting here. Listening to Ray LaMontagne  and all of a sudden, out of no where, I start crying. Like ugly cry. Like straight up sobbing, nose running, hiccuping crying. And I know that I love Ray’s voice and what he does to music and lyrics and the way he wraps his voice around the simplest word and makes it feel like the most desperate necessary thing you’ve heard in your entire life. And it moves me. And I start thinking about my life. I start thinking about how far I’ve come in the last year.

A year ago, next week, I was days away from the psych ward at Suburban Hospital. I was sad. I was excruciatingly sad. I was the kind of sad that lives in your belly and throbs until your bones ache. And I would cry until I was empty. And I would cry because I was empty. And it hurt. It was a physical awful. It was the bottom of everything but I could still look down and see how much worse it could get. And the worse was me not being here. It was me gone. Packaged and shipped off. Gone. And I fixed it.

I’m sitting here writing this article about mental illness and how it needs to be protected despite people who kill 9 year old girls and shoot congresswomen in the head. And how people who ache like that break because there’s nothing there to hold them. There’s no “evil”. There’s a silence that feels like you’re dead already so nothing else matters. And some of us don’t carry guns and we don’t turn it on others and many of us turn them on ourselves. And I’m writing and writing and writing. And I stop because I’m thinking. Holy fucking shit. A year ago, I looked at a bottle of pills and wondered what they tasted like and a year later, I’m writing about other people and their pain and using myself as an example of “better”. And I never thought that would be me.

I’m happy. I’m grateful. And the fact that I know that it gets better. And the next few months are all about how much better my life is going to get. And I’m happy. It’s not perfect. Nothing is perfect. My heartbreaks sometimes but it mends. Quickly. I feel disappointed sometimes but it mends. quickly. I get scared sometimes but it mends. It always mends. Like “normal” people. Things happen and I handle them. And sometimes I fail but I always get up and that’ slike a miracle. The fact that every morning, I get up and I’m happy that I did. When a year ago, I prayed that morning would never get here. And now I look forward to it.

I’m rambling. I’m just so grateful for this life. All the dumb shit and all the great shit. And I’m glad that I can cry and it’s not the end of the world. It’s just the end of a long ass day.

I should go to bed. I’m officially working too hard. And it’s fucking up my laziness credentials.

And I need them for naps and shit.

yup,

B.

PS. Ray Lamontagne singing Crazy by Gnarls Barkley. If you don’t cry, then you’re not really alive yet and you should go to bed and wake up and try again. Seriously.

Not A Letter: Life.

I’ve been thinking about this blog post for about 2 days now. I wasn’t sure how to approach it. I wasn’t sure how to start it. I wasn’t sure if I should write it at all. Considering all that I share on my blog, twitter and tumblr, you’d think that I had already done difficult. Granted, there are subjects that I just don’t touch, so those don’t count.  But as far as what I do choose to share, I should be okay.

Yesterday, was a tough day. Not really emotionally though, I’m having a bit of Paxil withdrawal so my head is going through all these little flash bulb pops which I can not believe to tell you how much it sucks. I talk a lot about being an advocate for yourself when it comes to your medication, if you choose to go that route. I don’t think medication is for everyone, not at all, but I know it is for me. It’s the only thing that works for me. It’s the only thing that allows my brain to settle and do what brains are supposed to do (remember trivia, tell your organs to do things… but I’m sure you can Google it.). My brain is broken so I need medication to make sure that it works properly. Simple as that. I don’t harp on it I don’t dwell on it. I might mention it every now and again, casually, but I know it’s a personal decision so the last thing I want to do is to appear as though I’m some pharmacology lobbyist. Trust me. I am not. If I could survive and live a ‘normal’ life without it, I would. Like millions of people in America, I don’t have health insurance. I’ve managed to find a clinic in Columbia, MD that treats and prescribes my medication for free or $2 depending on something I can’t remember right now. But I do pay the medication out of pocket. It varies anywhere from $80 to $200 a month depending on whether or not the medication is available in generic form or not. That’s a whole different rant about the FDA and HCR that I can save for another time or HuffPo Blog.  My doctor doesn’t really know me. We talk about five minutes, I tell him what I need, he asks a few questions, he writes  a prescription. That is NOT how it’s supposed to go. My doctors in NY and I were partners. We talked daily. Every side effect and sleeplessnight, no matter what time of day, I could call Dr. Goodman and he would take care of it the next day. That’s when I was a full time working/touring poet and I made more money than made sense doing it so I could afford it. It drained my savings. Every ounce of money I made while breaking myself touring, went to doctors and medication and the first time I was hospitalized, forget about it. The money was gone. I say all this to make a greater point which I’m procrastinating now so I should just get to it.

For the past 6 years, I’ve been dealing with my bipolar II diagnosis. For the past 6 years, I’ve been open about my struggles and triumphs. I first “came out” with my mental illness on my old blog/website (STOLEN FROM ME LAST YEAR!) and then carried it over here and then twitter. Most of you know, that I’m also writing a book about my journey and life living with mental illness. I write about it, I talk about it. I share everything I possibly can in hopes, that people can avoid what I went through. Which was feeling completely and utterly alone while I suffered and struggled both pre and post diagnosis. I’ve been so touched and so humbled by not only the outpouring of support but also the fact that so many of  you have felt close enough to me to share with me your stories and to ask for help and just someone to talk to. And I’ve been happy to do that. I’ve given out my number to a few people because I sensed they were in crisis and I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t respond appropriately. I do not, under any circumstances, regret that for a moment. Even when people on Twitter were “subtweeting” negative things about me and the fact that I was “always talking about that shit.” Fuck them. I wasn’t doing it for them. I was doing it for me and the people I know needed to hear it. I wouldn’t change a thing. I still won’t.

However.

I have to admit that lately, it’s gotten a bit too much. I’m not some “cancer survivor” who can tell you what it feels like and prepare you for the aftermath. I’m still going through it. Next week, it would have been a year since I made the decision to check myself into a psych ward. I was depressed. I was spiraling. I was of no use to myself or anyone around me. I had to get better so I went and with the most focus and dedication I’ve ever brought to anything,  I told the doctors, “This is what I need. This is how much I need it. And I have to be out of here in 5 days to a week.” I was able to do that because I’d been there already. I knew what was wrong. I knew that I needed medication to stabilize. I wasn’t there to be explored or to find out what was wrong or to seek help other than to get the treatment I needed to begin to live the life I currently live. It’s been up and down. Medication is very hard on my body. I found a combo of paxil and wellbutrin that worked wonders for my depression but couldn’t figure out a mood stabilizer for the hypomania that both my doctor andI agreed on. Yes, we had to agree. He’d prescribe something, I’d go home and research it and ask people that I knew who had taken it and I would decide whether or not I would take it. I’ve been through all of them and I know my body and myself so I have to be careful what I take. I’m not a guinea pig. The one stabilizer I know works for me requires monthly blood tests that I sure as hell can not afford. So I’m still looking. He took me off Paxil last month in order to even me out. I’m not depressed, not even close so it was a safe thing to do to avoid hypomania, it’s something we talked about.

All that being said.

Between the book, the articles, the radio show, the radio appearances, the blogs, the raising Boogie, the life, I’m tired. A lot. I’m drained. Yesterday, I realized that I just don’t have a whole lot of extra me to give. I’m fighting to get my life back and it’s almost there. The next few months are going to be amazing and life changing but I need all of me to participate and still have something to give to my son. This really pains me to say and I’ve spent a thousand characters avoiding it but I have to as much as I love each and every one of you and the stories that you’ve shared and the way you trust me enough to let me know what’s going on with you, I just can’t do it. I’m an empath. I take on your stuff and I add it so I’m up at night worried that someone I never met in Idaho might not be okay tonight. And I worry that someone I never met in London might end their lives because I couldn’t get to them or respond to their email fast enough. I’m not saying that I dont’ appreciate and want to help. I will help. I’ll do what I can. I will send you info about where you can go in your area but I can’t be your life line. I can’t get emails and emails from one person telling me every awful thing that happened to them that week because I can’t walk away from that. It sticks with me and I have no clue what to do.

I feel awful because I know that I’ve encouraged you to talk about it and I still want to encourage you to find help and seek help. I will still talk about my journey and still be open about my ups and downs. I just can’t be responsible for yours because if you don’t get help, if I can’t respond to your DM or email or Youtube Message fast enough, then I don’t know what to do with that. And it’s draining. Yesterday, my mind was spinning because I haven’t been sleeping well, I don’t eat and I have so much work to do. By the time my son comes home, I’m struggling to stay awake while he tells me about how dinosaur bones are found. The emotional affects me physically. Even if it’s not my “emotional.”. I sincerely apologize if I’ve let you down in any way but I have to step back a bit for me. That means tweeting less. It means being careful about who I let in and out of my personal space.  I have a lot to do. I’m enriched (hate saying blessed) to know that the next few months, I’m going to be able to build and help more because I’ll have access to resources and institutions and I’ll have the words. Right now, it’s just me. And I can’t be the support system for 100 people at the same time. I just can’t. This book is going to be one massive trigger and I need to make sure I’m okay while writing it.

I’m really sorry. If you’ve written me please don’t feel bad. If we’ve spoken, I absolutely do want to know that you’re doing well but if I don’t respond fast enough, I can’t take the guilt emails. I can’t take the “I thought you said you’d be there.” I said, “I’d try.” and I am trying and I gave you all I could. I need to have something left to do the work I need to do and to live the life I need to live. That’s all I can do.

I know I always say, “Never apologize for how you choose to take care of yourself.” and I still mean it but I feel like I’m letting a lot of you down and I”m very sorry for that. I just need to pause and step back and focus on the fact that I’m still in treatment and I”m still healing and I’m no where near the place necessary to carry anyone.

I’m sorry. I hope we can still support each other through these mediums. I”m still blogging. I’m still writing. I’m still on twitter. I tumbl for ya. I just have to keep it here. I need the other spaces to be less heavy.

Thank you for all of your love and support. And I apologize if this isn’t something you can support but it is what it has to be.

Love someone and mean it. If you can’t start with yourself…

B.

Blame It On The Boogie

I love my son.

That seems like a really base thing to say. Mothers are supposed to love their children. If you know anything about me, you know that I love my son but I have to say it sometimes. To myself and to him because when I was pregnant, I was terrified that I wouldn’t. I had the worst pregnancy. It was terrible. Physically, emotionally, mentally, whateverly, it was terrible. I didn’t bond with him in utero. I didn’t do baby yoga. I didn’t talk to him while he was in there. I was confused and sad and to be honest, I wasn’t quite sure I wanted him. I knew he wanted to be here but I didn’t know if I did. It was a very confusing time for me. I know that mothers aren’t supposed to admit these things but I’m not most mothers. He was born 6 weeks early. I wasn’t expecting him. So not only was I not ready to be a mother, I was completely not ready to be this kid’s mother. And then he showed up. And he was tiny and weird looking and I didn’t get to hold him because he was sick and they put him in a little glass box. He looked like he was on display. I didn’t really think he belonged to me yet. He looked like a show piece. A thing you look through a window and then walk away from because you can’t afford it. I couldn’t breastfeed him so all the things I read about breastfeeding and bonding didn’t apply. Hell, I couldn’t even produce milk so I was really failing at this “maternal” thing early.

When he finally got to come home, we were treks to the ER because his breathing was funny. He was on nebulizers and all these things that someone that fucking tiny shouldn’t be connected to. I was pretty sure, that I had broken him before he had chance to experience life unbroken. I spent a lot of time trying not to drop him and staring at him and afraid that I wouldn’t be able to handle it. That I wouldn’t be able to be his mom. I didn’t knowhow to fix that. One night, after a particularly bad night, with doors slammed and people yelling. I noticed that every time he heard a loud noise, he would flinch. And I realized that if he was going to break, it wasn’t going to be because the room was always too loud. I remember looking down at him in his bassinet and him looking back up at me. He had this look on his face. And I picked him up and I sat on the couch and I just looked at him. And he looked at me and grabbed my finger. And just stared at my face like he was trying to memorize it. I didn’t realize that I was crying until I saw a tear fall on his forehead. I moved to wipe it away but he was till holding on to my finger. So it kinda just stayed there. Glistening like some sort of misguided baptismal. And he had this look on his face, that he still gets where you know he’s got a million things he’s trying to say but he can’t seem to figure out what thought to start on first. Something inside of me said, “This is it. It’s me and you, huh?” and I swear he nodded. And that’s when I loved him. That’s when I knew that everything that I had done up until that very moment was because he needed to be here. And I remembered Peter. And I remembered all the fear and the anxiety and the worry and the hatred. There was a lot of hatred. And it just went away because I  knew this kid was going to be ok. And he is. He’s better than OK. This kid is everything. If you’ve never met him I can’t even put into words who or what he is. If you have met him, then you know. He’s amazing. He’s spoiled. And he can’t sit still and he doesn’t listen and he’s sneaky. But he’s kind. He’s gracious. he’s loving. He’s the sweetest little boy in the world. He’s all heart. Every little bit of him is heart. He’s loving. He’s open. He remembers everything and everybody and when he’s hurt, his entire face falls into a sadness that breaks me. When he’s afraid. When he can’t find me. When it’s too dark. When he misses Kanke. When grandpa isn’t home yet. When grandma is too tired to play. And I promised myself that I would never do anything to break him. I don’t care who or what gets in the way of that. I will kill you with my bare hands because this boy is perfect and if you fuck him up, then you’ve destroyed what is good in this world. Because he is perfect. Writing is my business and I can’t put into words what his face does when he smiles. or how peaceful he is at sleep. or when he wakes up and asks ME, “did you sleep good, mommy?” and I’m supposed to be asking him. He’s so important to so many people. I’ve never seen my father so happy. I’ve never seen my mother so at peace. He’s the light we needed. And we carry each other. Through everything.

I’m not sure what sparked this except for the fact that he got out of bed and came downstairs because “somebody turned the light off.” He won’t admit to being scared of the dark. he just likes to “see things when he’s sleeping.” so I carried him upstairs and put him in his Buzz Lightyear Rocket Ship bed his auntie got him for his birthday. And pulled the Woody comforter over him and he said, “Thank you.” and fell asleep before he got the “you” out. And I just stood there and looked at him and said, ‘My fucking God. Look at this beautiful boy.” And he snuggled further into the blanket, grabbed his pillow pet and smiled. That little negro falls asleep with a smile on his face. My only job in life is that he is a 4 year old that falls asleep with no worries and a smile on his face and then turns into a 40 year old man, wh0 can manage his worries and fall asleep with a smile on his face.

I will not allow anyone to break him. He’s got an army who won’t allow anyone to break him. This boy has been protected from day one. And will remain so.

Rest your understanding on that.

B.

2010: Run Away Fast As You Can

Dear 2010,

Unlike most of my relationships, we started out rocky. There was no honeymoon period. There was no pedestal to place you on. No, magic to the moment you entered my life. Instead we were bitter divorce from the first day. We were crushed by the weight of each other. We were moonless.  I remember your January like it was hours ago. The way the tears would ease down my face like a violent caress. I remember how you entered, this bold knocking thing. This rip your heart out and feed it to you thing. You were an empty belly. You were clothes that hung like broken promises on my body. You were the face of my child, frightened because mommy does nothing but hold herself tight and lifts darkness from beneath her eyelids. You were the fear of family and friends. The worry that clouded their face like a sudden rain storm. I welcomed you in broken bits. Three weeks after you arrived, I carried what was left of me to the ER. Begged a woman with a kind face and southern, sugar to her voice to help me. I hid in my Sienna College Hoodie and my brother’s XXL sweatpants. The quiet one in the corner that barely spoke. I knew what I needed. Told the doctors as soon as they admitted me. “Medication. I have a list. I’ve been here before. I can’t come back again.” The nurses hugged me more than they were supposed to. I think the believed me to be younger than I actually was. I didn’t wear 33 like a proud garment, I wore it like a shaming. An empty bank account. Nothing to show for the years. We stayed there one week you and I. Allowed no visitors. This was no vacation. This was a rebuilding.

February came and the shock of the illness had not lifted. You closed my circle. Told me who could stay and who had to leave. Told me who was always there and who never should have come. Lifted the veil of so many years and showed me the person I never wanted to become. The guilt began to eat my bones as I remembered bits of conversations from years before, people I lied to and manipulated. The times I said I love you but never meant it. The times I wanted an I love you but never kept it. February was a shaking of my foundation. A peeling off of and a revealing. The skin underneath tender and raw. New to the world with these clear eyes. This brain that worked well again. It was like the sun was replaced. I saw it all. The good and the bad. The moments I should have held proud were crowded by the moments the shame attached itself to me. I spent most of February apologizing and atoning and wishing myself a better person than what I had proven. I spent some time throwing tantrums pissed at the God that thought it was okay for my brain to break like this. The people that found joy in my broken, jagged bits. I had to learn to forgive myself or die.

March and April and May were all rebuilding periods. Writing. Rethinking the book I needed to write. Finding joy again. Finding laughter. Making sure that the parts I loved were actually me and not that monster who shape shifts. I allowed myself spring. Created Basseyworld Live with the help of Yesha and her attention to detail and order. Could not have done it without her. That truth remains solid.

Summer was the relief of rain. There was joy there. Happiness. Enough sun in me to fuel 3 summers. It felt like the world was welcoming back. I forgave you for how we began. Started to fall in love with the year again. Watched my baby boy grow from part of me to his own. This is the year I discovered Elaiwe. Saw him for who he was and the man he will become. Always my baby but certainly his own person. His own laughing, joyful, joke telling, Spiderman fingers, Batman utility belt. We began to have conversations. He started to “tell me questions.” We became friends, my Boogie boy and I. I can’t hate you because you made me stronger for him.

Illadelph-Basslife. Those weeks in Philly that I regret but would never take back. The way morning welcomed me. The way the streets new I needed them.  The truth of Tarana and and Al and Biany and Chris and Christal and Charles and Yesha  and Nzinga and Camille and Meg and Mychal and Saeed and Michelle and Alba and Kanke and Jesam and Kebe and Mommy and Daddy and  my twitter lovelies and so many more who wrapped themselves around me and dared me to break free. The truth of what it would feel like if I could build myself a new beginning. It was frightening but worth it like so much of this life you offered me. 2010, we were a belief in something stronger. A reminder that the universe always has my back. Even if fear felt like it would bind me in twine as long as I allowed morning, the day would let me breathe.

2010 brought me the heros of my heart. Allowed me to sit in the presence of Ntozake Shange and read and write for Nicki Giovanni. These women that whispered to me when I was old enough to act this young, “you can do this, sis. These words are yours too.” and I will be forever grateful. That I was allowed to feel their skin and walk into their arms, the way I walked with their words for all these years. This is when we began to change. When this bitter divorce became a reconciliation called worth it. When the writer in me decided she had a story. When the writers I admired Denene and Helena and Aliya, told me,  you have a story by showing me their own.

There were hurricanes and flooding overs. There were angry words and brutal silences. But there was hope that lined the inside of my soul. There was a promise of tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. There was that week in November when the entire world seemed to sing me a praise song, something coated in candy and promise. This wind that whispered, “keep going. Keep going, my God, child, just keep going.” And I did and I am and I’m grateful for the way you tried to break me. I am proud for how quickly and quietly and loudly and lovingly and angrily I fought back. There was that night in October when my skin peeled back and remembered myself beautiful, powerful woman. And I let it hold me and fell asleep in its arms. There is gratitude there that words can not make whole enough. There is only the sound of a heart beat, the push, the press and pull, the exhale, the petal like, the steel, the mortar, the pestle, honey, the sugared tongue, the possibility. the possibility. the possibility.

So this is how we end, 2010. Reconciled lovers destined to leave each other but holding the memories of our fire. The way it built itself into a roaring. The way the lighted ash falls from the sky like burning snow. This is what it feels like to forgive yourself for who you never meant to be. This is what it feels like to love yourself even when you feel like you have no right to. This is how it feels to pray to the only god you allow. The one that lives somewhere between the space of lungs and the expansion of breath. This is for a tomorrow that is guaranteed because I will it so. Because I believe. And on the days when I feel like waking up is just too heavy a burden to take on, I remember our January and I remember that just because it can be worse doesn’t mean I won’t do all I can to create better.

Here’s to you, 2010. Thank you for your tests. Welcome, 2011, thank you in advance for this praise and testimony.  Thank you for allowing me to be here to say I was here and staying.

Fuck fear; love someone and mean it.

In gratitude,

Bassey fucking Ikpi, the unfuckwitable

Brain Dumps, Pizzas, Killer GPS and Mercury’s ole Retrograding Ass

I just woke up. 5:49. After a strange day yesterday and an amazing night to close, when I got home, I took a shower, finished my sashimi pizza (so good!) and I realized I was sleepy. I turned to a Pandora classical music station, set my alarm and fell asleep. It took about 20 good minutes and some meditative breathing but it happened. I woke up about 2 1/2 hours later because of a “startling” dream. It took me another 20 minutes to ease back into a comfortable sleep. Then another “startling” dream woke me up at 5:30. I figured, “okay. Normal people are getting up and getting ready for their day about now (right?) so if that’s the sleep, then that’s the sleep.” I’m just glad I got any and I didn’t have to watch morning from the wrong side like I’ve done so often this past week.

Yesterday was one of the strangest days I’ve ever had. I followed my usual routine got Boogie to school. Came home laid down for about an hour. No sleep, just laying down. Then up again to shower and go to Odenton to tape something (details later). Before I left for Odenton, I stopped by Manny & Olga’s (?) Pizza to order a pizza for the T-Mobile guys that helped me out the other day. After a day of mall hopping, I realized I needed to pay my cell bill. I went to the closest T-Mobile and the sign said they’d closed about 90 minutes before. I saw two guys inside and I begged and pouted and pleaded through the glass. I wasn’t really expecting to get in but I was damn sure going to try. They let me in and restarted the system and I paid my bill. I was completely shocked like, “Wow.” I was so grateful, that I promised them that when the two of them were working together again, I was going to bring them a pizza. They had that “awwww… c’mon, son!” look that brothers get when they just KNOW shit ain’t going down. I said, “on my word. Tuesday, I’ll be here with pizza for both of you.” I thanked them again and left. When I walked into the store yesterday, they completely lost their minds.

“Yooooooooooo! Soooooooon! She wasn’t for real. Yoooooo!” They started jumping up and down like little kids. The darker brother that favored a young, Omar Epps, was like, “I told you! She looked serious as hell when she left here! I told you she was coming back!” The other more AlB. Sure looking one, doubted, and he walked over and gave me a hug. It was amazing to see. Then they said, “ok. We gotta do something nice for you now!” I said, “Boy! I did this because you did something nice for me. This can’t go on forever.” He said, “But yo, for real. I wasn’t gonna even have lunch today. Like for real… like for real. This is love. For real.”

I told them, well, next time somebody needs a little help. Help them. That’s how you do something nice for me in return. They both hugged me twice before I headed out for my appointment.

I’ll tell you about that when it “comes out”. But it was pretty amazing.

Then the day got weird. I had some stuff to return to the mall I was at on Saturday. I was literally across the street from where my girlfriend had her daughter’s birthday party. My GPS and I got there on Saturday with no problem. Yesterday, for some reason, I got lost. I don’t know what happened, My GPS suddenly started yelling out street names that I couldn’t find. It froze twice and I had to reboot my phone. I ended up driving all over the place could not find a major highway. At that point, I just wanted to go home. Fuck the mall. Fuck everything. Take me home. I was lost for 2 hours. Until finally, the GPS started making sense and I ended up in some Narnia version of Bowie and took 450 straight to where I lived. I was exhausted and could only chill for like a minute until it was time to get Boogie. I had dinner plans last night and I wanted to be on time. I picked up Boogie, we stopped by “a fast food establishment” (Don’t judge me.) one that we’ve been to countless times, literally 2 minutes from his school. Boogie was telling me about everybody he’d ever met. (No. Seriously.) but he couldn’t remember their names. He said, “How about the lady who pinched me on my cheek like I was a spider and she had a brother and a sister and they had on the same shirt and we met them at their place from last year?” Yes. That was word for word quote.

For some reason, Boogie in the last few months has gone from everything being, “yesterday then last week and now last year.” Yesterday, last week and last year could all mean anything. Five minutes ago. An hour ago. Yesterday for real. Last week. Last year. Two years ago.  So I figured out FINALLY that he was talking about Mma Dionne and Siwe and Eric that we had dinner with at a chinese restaurant LAST WEEK! Then he went on another, “remember the boy who was a grown up and he had the shoes with the thing and then he was funny! He was soo funny, mommy! I laughed. Remember from yesterday?” (Elon James White again… last week.)

This went on for a few minutes until I realized, I had no idea where we were. This route that I’d driven literally hundreds of times over the years, I had no idea where I was. I was disoriented and confused and all I saw where houses and houses and houses. I was completely turned around. Boogie finally noticed and said, “Where we going? This isn’t the way.” and I said, ‘I know, baby.”

“Are we lost, mommy?”

“No, Boogs. We’re good. I just wanted to show you some Christmas lights.” This distracted him and he ooohed and ahhhed over this house or that one. Meanwhile, I’m literally shaking. I pull over and took out my phone, and had to get the GPS to direct me home. We were 3 minutes away. Just 3 minutes. I almost started crying. I was so confused. We made it home. I helped Boogs change into his PJs. Put his food on a plate (he refuses to eat from paper. He’s hella classy.) and then went down stairs and burst into tears.

There is something wrong. I have a doctor’s appointment this morning because I realized that I have not been right since the shooting I saw last week. I’ve been in major overdrive and running around and my brain won’t stop and I’ve just not been right. I know my body and brain well enough to know that I was rising into hypomania. The “crazy” part of bipolar II. A lot of people like it because it takes all the energy that you didn’t have when you’re depressed and turns it into some sort of Red Bull from the Gods fueled shit. But I hate it. I don’t like my brain running like that. I don’t like not having control over how I spend money or what I think about or obsess over. I hate it. No sleep. No food. no quiet moment ever. It’s like, let’s say your brain is run on a treadmill. “Normal” brains jog at an even pace. Something gets them excited and they run a little faster but they always go back to the jog. My brain goes from “treadmill is barely working” to “Treadmill is on the highest setting and your brain is running running running non stop.” Hate it.

Anyway, I pulled myself together and I left to go meet Dave at OYA. Called Tarana on the way to calm down. Still got lost twice. Once when I parked too far from the restaurant and had to double back. Then in the parking garage. Shut up. I had a great time with Dave. I love it when I connect with someone immediately. I’m drawn to certain people in this energetic pull and usually, when it’s real (and I know when it’s not. but that’s a story for another time or chapter in my book.) and he really helped put a good cap on my day. Until I got lost trying to get out of the parking garage. Stop judging me.

So doctor this morning. Then Spy Museum with Boogs. And hopefully, I can rest the next few days. I’m emotionally, physically, spiritually, shoppingly exhausted. And next week is New Year and I want to enter it calm. This past year started off with such a struggle. The hospital. The depression. The weird relationships with people that ended badly. I want to enter this next year, at peace and calm and wearing that bad ass dress I picked up last wee. OMG. Dress is soooo hot! But I’m having second thoughts about going to NY. I dont’ want to travel. I’m tired of it. I just want someone to come get me and take me somewhere and show me off and kiss me at midnight and then take me home again. Is that so much to ask?

Apparently so. Ok. I’m going to lie here and listen to Bach until 7:00. Then I have to get the kid up and to school.

This was boring. I really don’t care. After the year I’ve had, boring is a welcomed destination.

in rest,

B.

PS. OH! I completely forgot to mention how my phone lost service for literally 4 hours. I couldn’t call anyone or return texts or use the GPS. It was insane. Even when I was outside I got that blue “NO/ghostbusters” symbol. Mercury’s ole Retrograding ass.

Ramble: It’s 3AM I Must Be Lonely (Word to Matchbox 20)

Last week was a bad week. It was filled with all types of triggers from the shooting to the anniversary of Peter’s death, followed immediately the following day by his birthday. I couldn’t seem to help but to sink into that pain place. I was sad. I was hurting for the world last week and I know myself well enough to know that I just can’t stay there. It’s not a good place to be. I stayed inside all last week and I was in bed more than I was out of it. I gave myself permission to feel. Even if what I was “feeling” wasn’t the best. I gave myself that permission so I could tell myself when enough is enough and Friday, I had to do that. I could feel myself sinking lower and lower and my brain was starting to present its own triggers. My writing wasn’t going as well as I wanted. I couldn’t remove thoughts of this man that had appeared out of nowhere and taken up real estate inside me. Pause. I was spinning and I had to stop the spinning. Put away the writing. Evict the man from the lobby of my heart (Word to Marty McConnell). I had to remember that because Peter was no longer with us, we got Boogie. And Boogie’s being here is directly connected to Peter. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

So yesterday, I took Boogie to my best friend’s daughter Jola’s birthday party. When I saw he was settled, I ran to the mall really quick (except for the part where I got lost) to handle some Christmas presents and buy some things for myself. Gorgeous New Year’s Eve dress that I’m so in love with. I have a party in New York. I’m hoping for one in DC. I’m also hoping for a date this year. I decided with all the ups and downs and back and forth my relationships have been through the years, something connected this time around and I realized that I’ve been settling for less than I wanted because I was afraid I might actually get it and then what was I supposed to do with it? Especially in the position I’m in now. I convinced myself that I had nothing to offer anyone. And I made that my reality. I realized yesterday, in the middle of trying on shoes (isn’t that usually when magical things happen?) that all I was doing was dressing up my fear. Calling it everything but what it actually was– straight up afraid. I’m scared of not being lovable. I know I”m adorable and funny and cute and people genuinely like me but I think in the back of my head (front of my forehead) that I wouldn’t ever be loved in that way. The way that’s all italics and squiggly lines and arguments and make ups and I was just thinking about you… I want to be loved in calligraphy not regular ass cursive. And it took a lot for me to admit that. I’ve never been in love. I figured that out over the summer. It’s always been this manic induced rush that ultimately goes away. I know what it’s supposed to feel like, taste like, look like, I’ve just never seen it or felt it. I’ve seen other people love. I saw the exact moment a friend of mine fell in love with her now boyfriend. And watching people fall in love or that are in love is such a beautiful thing to witness. It really does bring joy to the entire world. Don’t get me wrong, I love and I love hard. I love my friends and my family and people on Twitter that I haven’t even met in person. Let’s pretend that last bit didn’t sound insane.

I think I’m just finally admitting that I’m human and I want another human in my life whose job is to stay. And who isn’t afraid of how they feel about me. I’m not saying I want to get married or have a bunch of babies. I don’t and I don’t. I just want a chance to feel that thing at the same time someone else is feeling that thing for me. I want calligraphy. I think I deserve calligraphy. I deserve full middle of the dining table centerpiece type love. Not backburner, I’ll get to you when I can. I understand that that’s all some folks have to give. And I respect that. I know what I can and can’t give right now. But I also know that one day, I will be able to give that and I want that balance. Not that “I’ll take this for now.” I don’t want good enough. I want perfect. Like my shoes. I liked the ankle boots. I could wear them no problem. But I loved the thigh high suede stilettos and I LOVED the cognac riding boots. So I bought them and returned the ankle boots I didn’t really love, I just thought they were good enough.

This analogy went clear off the rails but I’m going to assume you know what I’m talking about.

It’s 3AM and I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately. Since the shooting, actually. It’s something I’m going to have to talk to my doctor about. Lack of sleep is usually the first symptom of hypomanic period for me and I need to stay grounded and stable. I don’t have time for the high and then the crash that ultimately follows. This thing is constant work. Meds that worked perfectly months ago can all of a sudden just quit on you. And you have to start again. Someone on Twitter the other day asked me if it was “worth the fight”, especially if you’re constantly having to fight and start over and fight again and start over. And the answer is simply– yes. It is worth the fight. If I can fight over the last 8.5 in the shoe store, I can fight over this shadow that threatens my brain. And it is worth it. Feeling good is worth the fight. I appreciate my illness because it does make me this full of quirks and neurotic little monster and that’s some shit I like about myself. It doesn’t hurt. I like how quick my brain is with the one-liners and the jokes and the writing and the remembering trivia like it’s nothing. I like that. I don’t like the other stuff it does but I can control that and still keep me in tact.

I have no idea what I’m talking about. It’s 3AM and I can’t sleep. I have to be up in 4 hours to take Boogs to school. Then I have to return a jacket and a pair of shoes. Then NPR at 3. So no real time to nap or make up for the  hours I’m wasting right now.

I should try to sleep or watch something really boring on Netflix.

One last thing, it sucks when the one you want is the only one that’s not available. I’m not going to live in an emotionless box. I feel things. I feel them deeply and I don’t want to have to hide that so someone else is comfortable. So if I ever fall in love with you (general you), prepare to get drenched in it. Bassey Ikpi has never been a drizzle.

Word to your life, son.

Laters,

B.