On Vulnerability

Vulnerability came up not once, but twice yesterday, and I had the
feeling that
it would come up again this morning.

Yesterday, one of my homies, S.bot confided some crazy shit to me.
She basically said that she recently learned that she had
an issue with
being vulnerable to the extent that she worked
diligently at not allowing
any of her friends get to know each
other, for fear that they would
put two and two together
and begin to see shit in her that she wasn’t prepared to

Talk about mind blowing.

This was key for me because the last two years I have
tried to give her a birthday get-together, and she was super
negatory on that idea.

Now, I have a better understanding of why.

Vulnerability came up again with Flybug Starski last night. She was talking
about being okay with being vulnerable with dudes. It wasn’t a fear
that she would get hurt, but that she would hurt the dude.
She said based on some shit that recently happened, she didn’t want
to walk around with that on her heart.

I commented that that was an interesting way of going about
life, and that she should call *Dave, as I was on my way out the
door to surprise Filthy with some fried fish, plantano’s and steamed
*A dude of interest

So there was dinner, and a conversation about the weekend.
Filthy feels about his time the way most dudes feel about their money.
His time is everything. I find it challenging to figure out
how to dance with it sometimes.

For example. There is a big party taking place Saturday.
I went last year and left without a stitch of mascara or
eye shadow and the back of my hear was puffed up from having
danced so hard. Boot Camp, Nas, EPMD, The Roots. All that.
When I learned about this party in May, I was like cool, there goes
my summer, once I go to that, I’m set.

Filth and I had beef over the weekend plans.
The beef was over me “asking” for Saturday. Every since last year,
my position has been that if I tell you I am checking for you then it is
your responsibility to let me know when you are free.

It ain’t working like that y’all, because he has asked me
for my availability for the last few Saturdays. I have no clear defense
for not being able to do the same. In my mind I thought there was
an understanding because I let him know that I was checking for him.


While I asked him if he wanted to go on Saturday night, I didn’t speak
on hanging out on Saturday itself.

This morning, both time and Saturday day plans came up and

and he mentions to me that when he has said “Yo, I really enjoyed
hanging out with you today” that I say nothing in return. In my
head, I am like, I enjoy spending time with you as well, but, I don’t say
it out loud.

I was stuck and felt like an ingrate. I confided, “you know how much
I enjoy spending time with you, most the time, its hard to leave, and I do
mention that”. He was like “Yeah, but that’s not the same as responding
to me saying that I had a good time with you today”, and he was right.

When he said that I was brought back to a moment when I was talking
to S.bot yesterday and she mentioned how we all need reassurance.

How reassurance is the grease that keeps the relationship wheels turning.

She concluded that ultimately, needing reassurance makes us
feel uber vulnerable.

I was stuck.

It dawned that me that M.dot has a problem with being vulnerable, to the extent
that I don’t like asking for the time. ***Looks in mirror, like who knew?

What I ended up saying out loud to him, in an urge to be fearless and
vulnerable was that I saw, “Every date as being precious”.

His eyes lit up.

After saying that and talking to him further about a current project
where I am writing about feminism, patriarchy and hip hop,
I ask him if hip hop’s inability to be vulnerable is tied to the shit that
we are collectively going through?

He just looked at me, and said you may be on to something.

I realized that I didn’t want to ask for Saturday day, not just Saturday
night for the Spinna jawn, because I didn’t want to feel vulnerable.

With all of this squared away, I feel relieved. I have the fly oufit
planned for Saturday, and a meal on the agenda that may impress
both my momma and Martha.

When was the last time you were vulnerable?


How did you handle it?

You regret it or are you proud?

Dating with Contracts

Monday Morning Breakfast
Scrambled Eggs with Cheddar & Bell Peppers,
Wheat Toast & Watermelon Prepared by Filthy Supreme

I was recently reminded of a beef I had with Filthy last February.

It arose when he asserted that in the past he would
let women know up front that he wasn’t interested in a long
term anything but would continue to hang out. In his mind

this absolved him of any responsibility for a woman
catching feelings

This conversation initially started off as a discussion about
how he dates. ?Because we have first jeans, first date hats,

first date hair cuts, and my favorite, first date eye shadow,
we are not really being ourselves when we begin dating.

He mentioned that he approaches it with?the intention of?
not subscribing to societal gender roles?because those roles
don’t allow people?to be themselves on their first Dates.?
His rationale is that when we wear the first date gear, we are?
not being ourselves but someone who wants to avoid rejection.?
The idea is that we perform gender norms to avoid rejection
from a potential partner.

Needless to say, I was intrigued.?

While I thought that the gender role theory was very
bell hooksian of him, I had a problem with the notion that telling
a woman up front that he wasn’t interested in something long term
absolved him of any responsibility if and when she caught feelings.

My rationale is that if we are eating together, catching flicks
together, Barnes and Nobling together, then you are doing
the things that I would DO with my dude.
And to sit there, marinate, benefit and soak it all in, without
concern for the title or duties associated with receiving such
benefit is short sighted and selfish. Besides being on the take
like that is a sure fire way to cultivate a stalker.

Welcome to dating with contracts.

To be fair, I have been on both sides of the the equation. On one side, I am
hanging out with the someone who I DO not want a title with, but enjoying the
benefits just the same. Then there is the other side of doing partner type
labor without the partnership title.

We fall in love meal by meal, flick by flick.

I was reminded of all this last week when Mean Sexy and I were talking
about someone she met recently and the time they spend together.
She has a desire to keep it low key but stays hanging out with dude.

Getting it in.

My line for Filthy was the same for her, which is “With every meal, you
grow closer, not further apart” so if you want space you have to stop
eating with him. But ya’ll know how it is.

Good cooked food. Long Saturday mornings. The warm and fuzzy’s
feel good. But those warm and fuzzy’s require work.

Saturday nights dinner.
Pesto Pizza with Artichoke hearts & Mozzarella.
Courtesy of ‘ya boy.

Our exchange reminded me of a notion from Junot Diaz’s Drown
where he talks about relationship break-up velocity. His rationale
is that once the break up is
on the horizon, there ain’t really
nothing you can do to stop it.

I hate admitting that. Hated it. Hated it. Hated it. But he is right.

Try as you may. Its unstoppable.

I would also say that there is relationship start up velocity.

You may not think that the time that you are spending
with this person, the breakfast, the movies, the long good byes,
are just good clean fun, but seeds are being planted and someone
is bound to catch feelings.

NYPD and Sean Bell on My Mind

Last night, at about 10pm, I remarked to Filthy how quiet
the block was.
He responded saying that the playoffs were
on and that it isn’t unnatural for the streets to hum a bit more quietly
during that time.

I was responded with a lip smack, saying, “the kids watching
the game too?”

We were in Crown Heights. (That neighborhood is cooking like a kettle.)

At 11:31pm, I mentioned it again.

At 11:45pm the quiet was broken when I heard a woman shouting
and a man saying “Arrest me then”. Initially, I thought that he was
responding to her threats of him calling the police on her and I wrote
it off as a lovers quarrel. Then I heard the police shouting “Get the f-ck
back, all of you, get the f-ck back”.

The block was hot.

I looked out the window, and said to Filth, “Eh blood, popo has a dude out
on the ground”.

He put on his jeans and sneakers and said he would be right back.
He *Malcomed me. (more about that later). My heart started beating
incredibly fast. I couldn’t find my sandals. I threw on one of his
hoodies and a hat. There was no way I was staying in that house
not because I need to protect him, but because I needed to bear
witness to what was going on. Based on the shouting, it seemed
as if popo was a hair away from shooting someone.

I felt helpless. I felt like my legal training didn’t matter. I felt like I was 10
years old in East Oakland again. Helicopters flying, Task Force on both
ends of the block, people standing outside in their bathrobes and slippers.
I felt like I should do something. I also knew that being reactionary would
only escalate the situation.

My mind was awash with ideas. I was reminded that I had had these
experiences before as a kid and that it had been a long time since I felt the
emotions that went with it. There is nothing like it. My hands were
shaking because I felt powerless. I thought someone was going to
start shooting, po po or the block cats, and I knew that our lives
would be changed forever. I thought about God.
I had empathy for the policemen I saw, as those men were sons,
fathers, brothers. The man who was beat and arrested
is a son, father and brother as well.

Soon eight cop cars showed up. The man was hand cuffed and placed in
a police car. Two officers had an exchange with some of the
dudes on the block.

One of the dudes said, “Ya’ll don’t care about us, about our lives.
You ain’t from the hood”.

The officers responded, “Yes, we do and I am from the hood too”.

Block dude retorted, “Out of 100 of you, 5 of you are cool,
the rest are
rotten apples.”

The police got into their cars and began driving away.

I went back into the foyer and began to think about Oakland, about
violence, and about hip hop.

In the past week, I have been conducting research for a piece
on Grand Theft Auto 4. Last night in the foyer I
began thinking about how much more difficult it would be for the
young men who don’t live in the hood to play Grand Theft
Auto 4 after seeing a black man, held down on his back by a
police officer, while the officer yelling “Get the f-ck back” to on

I began to think, “What if the police beat Black men in GTA 4”?
If the gamers like the real, and they want real, isn’t that the realest?

The fact that arguably 6 cars showed up, to arrest one man is indicative
of the level of fear, and NYPD’s mode of operation.

Didn’t I say mentioned a couple weeks ago that this was going to
be a long bloody summer?

*Malcom left Betty and the girls and went to Detroit to give
“The Ballot
or the Bullet” in Detroit a couple of days after their
home was bombed in
Queens. Filth and I frequently talk about
how men in The movement
leave their families for The, Capital T,
movement. So when he went outside
I got “Malcolmed”. When I mentioned it to him, he knew exactly
what I was talking about showed and immediately showed
appreciation for my ability to make that connection.