Summer Serenade

I’m accustomed to heat.

Summer is my favorite season, memories steeped

In Grandma’s house recollections or urban streets.

With my cousins on the floor laid out on a sheet while she watches her stories.

In the big metal fan’s path blowing out relief cause AC ain’t cheap.

Wafting chicken grease from the kitchen;

DANGER.

She’s cooking so it’s a good 10 degrees hotter in there; expect waterfalls of sweat streaks.

Peeling sticky thighs off leather seats as you awaken from your afternoon sleep.

Scratching mosquito bite blisters that oozed in the yard cause they found my blood a treat.

Feeling sand between my toes as I walk outside with bare feet with my country cousins.

Transport to city camp, trudging under the sun, rubber soles on concrete,

Heavy rays got us beat, but we find oases in cracked-open hydrants,

Indulge in cold water sweet.

Public pools, shower first, can’t swim, don’t go too deep.

Home alone, your mom’s at work, the days wide open on repeat.

Freedom.

Read, park, pool, play, eat.

Humid sunsets invoke nostalgia, skorts and jelly sandals, summer hair braided neat.

Library trips for Judy Blume, to get you through the week.

Punished for the whole summer because I wouldn’t speak,

Because I’d been a hungry child longing for skewered meat.

The sweat reminds me where I’ve come from, fond recollections seep

Throughout my subconscious, they overflow and peak.

The sun is my lover; I embrace and it greets me

With balmy Vitamin D buried down in my sheath.

I’ll take the bake of dog days, embrace the warm rays’ sweep.

And you’ll never catch me wishing for the days when there’d be sleet.

When I emerge outside, kiss my face when you meet me

And I won’t betray you to frost,

As long as you keep me.

You Know Better Than “Nigger”

I’m pretty fortunate to be a Black woman that has never been called the “N-word” in my life (well, at least never to my face). Someone DID once use it in social media conversation with me, referencing the darkness of one of my pancakes in a posted photo. When I didn’t respond, they were extremely apologetic at possibly having offended me, and entreated that I should call them a “cracker” as a means to get even.

I did not.

Now, I’m sure the day will come where “my person” will actually be on the receiving end of the ugly word. And when that day comes, I’m not going to be offended because you’ve somehow hurt my self-esteem, or I feel attacked.

I’m going to be annoyed.

One, because let’s not act like name-calling isn’t something we tell our five-year-olds not to do. So I’ll automatically assume you’re in a childish mindset at the moment.

But also, I have zero shame in being born of the African-American race. I love the color of my skin and my culture. Someone thinking they can hurt me by calling me the derogatory word for Black, as if I should feel bad for being born Black somehow, is ridiculous.

I am not a nigger.

And you calling me one, would in no way reflect upon myself, my values, or my accomplishments. It would reflect upon YOURS.

And THAT would be the annoyingly upsetting part. Because unless you’re some old white man in the deep south of Confederate country on a generational family farm descended from slaveowners, who never embraced the advent of the Internet and scarcely comes across a “free Black man”, then there’s no excuse for your ignorance.

Everybody knows.

Everybody knows at this point that it’s a heavily racist, degrading term. So when you still choose to use it, your intent behind it is to shame someone for being born a race. You want to be mean, nasty, and verbally drive a screwdriver into a wound with the easiest thing your eyes lock onto because you aren’t mentally swift enough to form an intelligent criticism that addresses a legitimate action on my part that I do have control over.

You’re choosing not to exercise self-control, which is a weak personality trait in itself. You’re choosing to take the lowest blow, because for some reason this will somehow make you feel better about yourself if you attempt to spit on someone’s heritage.

That’s not even ignorance. You know better.

Especially when those who don’t even use the word to be malicious, use it jokingly. Tossed around on the internet, even by Millennials and Gen Z-ers. It’s fun to be pretend-racist. To sling the N-word around like it’s trendy to others who find it amusing as well. From some, you gain clout; from others, derision. Either way, you’re getting attention, which still fuels you.

It was interesting to digest when my boyfriend recently told me some of his gamer buddies, mid-twenties, almost thirties even, volley the word around as an insult to rag on each other in their group chats. As if it were any other playful jab. Asshole. Motherfucker. Nigger.

They ain’t even white.

But just the act of existing as a Black person, is that much of a joke to many. Those who selfishly abandon the concept of empathy. That is what I find offensive.

That you can’t care, for somebody else.

Wanna hear a story?

I used to throw out the term “Jap” when I was younger, with no deprecating intention whatsoever, but just because it was the shortened version of “Japanese” and it was quicker to say (if you know me, you know I adore Japanese culture, so I still look back with shame at my ignorance). Once it was pointed out to me that it was demeaning and REALLY offensive (not by an actual Japanese person, thank God), EVEN though I wasn’t even saying it to any Japanese individual’s face, I CUT THAT SHIT OUT. I didn’t argue my right to free speech to use the word, mope about how the extra two syllables would be longer to say, feel ridiculously inconvenienced at the fact that this was an offensive slur, or even continue to use it in secret within my circle.

It was SURPRISINGLY easy.

But to some, simply not saying a hurtful word for the sake of others’ feelings is a really difficult thing. So, when the inevitable day comes that a childish mind will call me the N-word, my feelings won’t be hurt. Why should they? You’ll be the one showing me that you’re beneath me. Immature. Weak. Egotistic. And I won’t feel the need to lower myself to that level to fire back a retaliation slur. Because I’m not interested in using ethnic epithets for easy ammunition, or for the “lulz” online.

And I know I’m not a nigger.

But you do know better.

~Tael

Fuckboys Over 40 – A Story

You said you weren’t a playboy.
But I guess that’s what they say.
I don’t deal with them too often, so I missed flags straight away.

We crossed paths overseas, in the “loveliest” of ways.
In a sea of Spanish speakers, your English cleared the haze.
No interpreter necessary; I felt comfortable to play.
Touch escalated quickly, as you sought to mark your prey.
Your hands up my shirt; the way your fingers strayed.
And “water on a rock” put your commitment on display.

Hours passed of tennis banter, hand in hand down empty streets.
Awkward silence never showed while the world whizzed by our feet.

“Lover of women.” “Translucent redheads are my type.”
Phrases that seemed innocuous, when I had you for the night.

There was no doubt I would kiss you; Chemistry a violent fire.
Our melded lips became a match.
My will burned with desire.
Your fingertips traced smolders down my flesh and took me higher.
You gazed into my eyes as if my being was a pyre.

“It feels nice to be wanted too.”
So I tried to make sure you knew.

And though we didn’t consummate, I saw you once more.
You spent time just to chat,
as if I was good company, as if sex wasn’t foremost,
though I was shiny out the wrap.

Before our time was up, I asked was this goodbye.
You promised that it wasn’t; that we’d reunite in time.
That you’d come visit my city, resume pleasurable sighs.

Perhaps I should have realized then, that it was just a line,
since as soon as we were separated, I was out of sight and mind.
I wondered why you didn’t even text unless I tried.
But when I called you out on it, you assured me it was fine.
“There’s no Internet here, so it takes me a long time, but I’m thinking of you darling.”
SOUNDED genuine and kind.
Till you took days to answer, disrespectful of my time.

“I’m not good with online communication.”
“I just don’t check my phone often.”

(WhatsApp and IG status updated though,
so that one’s purely grime).

This what you meant by let’s keep talking? I thought you wanted to know me.
So maybe if I went to YOU, impatiently re-ignited that chemistry brew,
maybe THEN you’d show me?

But thrice the universe said “Nope” and then sent forth a plague.
Solidifying her message to me: “Thou shalt not get laid.” (By him).

I thought this meant we should keep building,
until our inevitable reunion.

I genuinely showed interest in your day to day life.
But my name escaped you 4 months in (you claimed you found names trite).

You never asked anything about myself, though I longed to bond over dancing,
video games and nerdy things, and shared fitness passion.
But you just seemed more attuned to would-be bedroom action.
Though you reached out for favors to eyeball your work
and my mind felt appreciated; my heart went berserk.

So much in common you didn’t bother to notice.
“I’m emotionally distant and work is my focus.”
But every time I asked if you wanted to keep talking,
you always said yes, so I pumped the breaks on walking.

How could I not open my heart more and soften?
Okay, he did a gay short once; #actors do those often. (Yeah?)
He has a belly button piercing… well, his stomach’s taut and…

Why do I cry tears for being just an afterthought then?

You said your heart was once broken, that you were sensitive too.
Yet you’re unable to empathize with another in your shoes?

You said your heartbreak wasn’t crazy, though you wouldn’t indulge me.
But you’d indulge a public podcast, for the whole world to see
you’d like to hate-fuck your ex, and other wicked fantasies?

Tiptoed around my feelings, so as not to overwhelm you
but why hold on when you equated me to just a shell who
could easily be replaced by your revolving harem options
when all I wanted was to feel I was special in your clock and
instead you just saw fit to pull a vanish and just drop in
when you felt like I was worth your time, “Oh have a crumb, my OPTION.”

Because dance is the gift of seduction.
Acting, the gift of pretense.
Public speaking, when you can’t actually communicate personally?
A mask of fraudulence.
An inauthentic mirror of immoral decadence.

You log your sexual conquests on a spreadsheet.
I write poems of catharsis for emotional relief.

I showed my vulnerability and stripped bare,
only to realize I’m standing alone out there
and the hardest pill to swallow is…
After 5 months, you don’t care.

To say…
I could have contracted Covid and passed away
without your notice is fair.

But the honesty of your true intentions could have spared me. (It’s called stringing).

Mixed signals are the devil, and your follower cannot read
where to step next in the dance when the leader doesn’t lead. (It’s called breadcrumbing).

But maybe it’s better to be the loser…

Because why choose cold and distant over caring and kind? And close-hearted aloofness over glowing warmth in brine.
And clinging to angry ex memories that keep you stagnant in time.

And anyway, I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find
another slender, gaming badass, awesome locks ran down her spine,
with a chain around her belly,
and a heart as big as mine.

~Tael

Why I Deleted My Dating Apps During The Quarantine

Yes, during the very time that more people are flocking to them than ever.

I was over “dating” a long time ago. Like, before there was online dating. It was a fresh new “sport” to try out back in college but then I quickly realized people suck, and I don’t like perusing through them romantically the same way I once did library books.

Something about dressing up and presenting yourself in the best artificial manner possible comes across as very job-interviewish, and I’m not the biggest fan of those either but they’re necessary to survive.

Dating is not.

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I’ll admit i’m not very good at it because I hate it. Looking back at my track record, i’ve mostly slipped into relationships the “normal” (non-dating-app-initiated) way, with very serial monogamist tendencies. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy being alone; I live alone, enjoy the hell out of it, and am one of the least romantic women you’ll encounter. I never had girly dreams of a fancy expensive wedding (the cost of which could be a down payment on real estate) with a glamorous white dress, kids and a house outta Martha Stewart Living. I’ve only dabbled into the online-dating world in the past 3 years or so, and I wouldn’t call the experience pleasant. I’ve met gamers I didn’t click with, psychos who I’ve fled their apartment, friends-with-benefit failures who couldn’t even be counted on to show up, ONE actual relationship I don’t think I should have been in, and an incredibly disappointing sexual encounter that I had to try twice just to confirm the first was not a mistake. And this was after weeding through incredibly dull conversations, dudes who unmatched me after I said I wasn’t into orgies, dudes who fall off the face of the earth because they were the ones you might have actually been interested in, and a guy who just wanted to be friends but not meet up to hang out with me as friends and continue to solicit me for sexy pictures (???).

When the lockdown began, I saw the uptick in notifications from my dating apps. Strange, seeing as how I hadn’t matched/liked someone on my end since like 2 months ago. That should give you an indication as to how often I actually use them. In 4 months, I’d gone on a grand total of one whole date. Where were these “matches” coming from? Then I realized…OHHHH EVERYBODY IS BORED AND HORNY NOW!!

I let them build and build and build, because I got tired just thinking about reading through the assortment of incredibly non-witty intros and messages that would clearly show up front we weren’t a good fit. You know, like “Good Morning, how’s your day going?” NEXT. I’m sorry, this is perfectly polite, but I’m savage.

When I finally got around to reading through the…SHIT, my eyes glazed over. And I wondered, why subject myself to this if it’s not even fun? Why follow this trend if I see it as a chore?

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I find it incredibly exhausting…to get to know a person. I don’t like just talking to anybody, I DESPISE small talk and “pleasantries,” and can find socializing exhausting if i’m not especially clicking with the socializers. So if I’m going to make ANY effort, it needs to damn sure be worth it. There’s gotta be SOMETHING that makes me WANT to get to know you. Usually something interesting (I know I know, EVERYBODY thinks they are DIFFERENT). When we talk, I need to laugh (actually giggle, chuckle out loud), engage in a bit of teasing, learn something. Then YOU have to feel the same shit, agree to meet up with me, STILL get along with me in person and not turn out to be an ogre (hey, same with me), try to stay relaxed and not overthink and over-expect anything, feel something REAL, and then agree to keep the shit going, OR let them down gently if you ain’t into it without feeling like a complete asshole.

That is WORK.

Work for the right person? AMAZING and completely worth it! But work for countless “let’s sees” who you’ll barely remember months down the line? Draining…as…fuck.
“You should keep your dating apps,” my mom told me several days ago when I proposed the idea. “Just because you never know where you’re gonna find the guy. Just in case.”

Not when simply checking a notification from Random Joe #27 is so depleting. I can’t do it anymore. How do my peers juggle multiple potential daters at the same time when just investing in the PROSPECT of one makes me want to air-gun my cabeza?

So I deleted them. Leaving only Tinder as my “In Case of Emergency,” app (because it’s low-hassle) just in case I get really horny and need some bad-decision sex to take the edge off again. Once the quarantine is over of course.

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I’m seeing articles that the coronavirus is actually changing online dating for the better. People are having VIDEO CHAT DATES. Making plans months in advance to meet new people. Really forming actual bonds because there’s nothing else to do. If it’s helping people get through this, then I’m genuinely happy for them.

But it’s not my thing. It’s not for me. Unless i’ve met you already in person, you’re incredibly charming or witty with words (like a writer!), or you’ve shared some emotional aspect of yourself that allows me to feel connected with you, I have a hard time vibing with you over messages. I hate video chatting. And even though i’m stuck at home with nothing else to do, I don’t want to expend my energy swipe over-driving and video speed-dating hunting for a connection with someone.

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Because no matter how many similarities you have with the person, or boxes they check off from your relationship-person box-checking list in their profile, or even how good the date goes, it still…may…not…matter.

Depressing, huh?

Do I sound like a woman who’s given up? No, my babies; I promise you I haven’t. It’s just not my priority. I’m over the bullshit games that “dating” requires. Because let’s be honest: you CANNOT fully be…REAL. So I’d rather wander alone and stumble across the right soul when the universe dictates it’s my time. But until then…why weed through a revolving door of kindling what-ifs trying to force a spark?

If a spark’s to be had, it will find me.

Ninja…fucking…out.

~Tael

What Wellness Eating For CIC Sounds Like

Upon waking, consume a cup of hot tea with lemon on an empty stomach. Or warm water with lemon. Although the acupuncturist I saw recently said fuck lemon, it should be room temperature water with honey instead. But also, the Internet says you should be taking a tablespoon of olive oil/coconut oil/flaxseed oil/ blackstrap molasses on an empty stomach in the morning as well. But in what order? Oil first since it clearly takes up less space than the cup of liquid after? But also, you may/may not have SIBO even if the doctors told you that you did not, so eating a fresh clove of garlic on an empty stomach for 1-2 weeks can help. And then you have to wait at least 1/2 hour to an hour before eating anything else. And then after, it should probably be fruit because fruit should be eaten in the morning before anything else, separate from other food.

Don’t forget.

Eat like 6-9 servings of veggies a day, which sounds crazy to me because I can’t even eat that many servings of regular food I think. Don’t drink juice, even if it’s 100% fruit juice; you’re killing yourself, said the chiropractor. But you can have bacon, fatty bacon’s okay.

Eliminate gluten. But that didn’t help when I did it for a month. So while it gave others amazing results, it’s not the cause of my condition. But while on the subject of gluten, there’s a sect online that claim grains are the devil now as well. Say goodbye to soothing bowls of oatmeal, grits, Cream of Wheat, and rice. You already know sugar is a beast and a couple of cookies will absolutely destroy your body. An ice cream scoop on a hot day is treasonous. You are not allowed to eat anything that isn’t fully healthy and natural; you will set your health back 30 years. Also, you can’t just have any kind of fruit or veggies. They MUST be organic. If not, you may as well be eating poison. Sorry.

“But you just ordered a fruit salad; did you ask if they used organic fruit?”

Don’t eat meat and starch together at the same meal, says the naturopath. Your body wasn’t meant to digest them together. This means you shouldn’t be going out to eat at restaurants because they’re going to put it on the same plate.

So, fuck a Chipotle burrito I guess. :/

A tablespoon of flax or chia seeds a day will absolutely regulate you.

NOPE. My stomach has suddenly inflated like a balloon. Nope, not good. Same with those fruit/vegetable smoothies. It has worsened my condition. #FAIL

I don’t feel good.

Check your posture throughout the day, especially while eating. Mindful eating means cutting the television off and savoring your bites for proper and efficient digestion. No distractions. Also, don’t drink anything at least 20 minutes before your meal, or during it, including water, as this dilutes the digestive juices. Try to wait at least 20 minutes after as well. And make sure you’ve fully chewed your food to liquid. Should take about 30-50 chews per bite.

Also, back to the maybe-you-COULD-have-SIBO-and-your-doc-is-just-an-idiot line of thinking. Certain fruits can exacerbate SIBO, so you should probably limit fruits too. And try going low FODMAP. Apples and garlic are on the list of high FODMAPS.

PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME GIVE UP GARLIC (which, ironically, is supposed to do wonders for gut health). But FODMAP fruits contain fructose, which is supposed to SPEED up digestive transit. Why don’t I want this?

“No, it helps for constipation too.”

The fructose that SPEEDS UP digestive transit can cause constipation? Okay… *Refers to special food list printed at the naturopath’s office.*

I strictly adhere to the morning empty-stomach drink routine.

I agonize over the timing of ingesting fruit.

I count my chews of organic product with a ramrod straight back, focusing on my breathing patterns while doing so, swallowing only when I’ve confirmed it’s become liquid form.

I question everything I consume.

This is healthy. This is moderately healthy. This is slightly healthy. This is not healthy. I’m cheating here. This is not healthy. This was a good stomach day; I should stay empty. It’s like fasting right? I don’t want to lose weight though. This is not healthy.

STOP IT.

This is not healthy.

This is not healing.

Kinesiology testing shows stress. Naturopath and acupuncturist question my erratic pulse. Some herbs have helped. Sudden conversations unloading held-back truths have sent me flying to the bathroom.

Stress.

And stressing about food, is not curing me. It’s only adding to the mysterious underlying emotional stress possibly causing this condition in the first place. My mind no longer WELCOMES food into my body.

Let’s shift the focus from food.

Today I ate an apple and a ham and cheese sandwich from the bodega. I didn’t question the potential harmfulness of the white bread, the health factors associated with processed deli meat and mayo, or whether possible SIBO critters that may/may not be living in my small intestine would feast on the apple fructans. I felt empowered.

I refuse to fear food any longer.

Or Judgment. Perception. Conflict. Accusation. Discomfort.

Truth.

*–Reformatting–*

Because the world is not always right.

~Tael