Thursday, May 8, 2008
Lackadaisically exploring the obvious path and
Allowing myself to ignore the other fork in the road while
Underestimating the possibilities that lye just out of reach, but rather
Returning to a comfortable, familiar place
Expecting the world around me to change on its own, constantly
Neglecting the responsibility I have to change it my self
Martyring myself to an invisible cause
Collecting rhetoric and excuses
Molding an image of nothingness that
Imminently leads to my demise and allowing a
Listless spirit to arise within me
Leaving any desire and passion behind, yet
Aberrance is not a pillar of my conscience and
Nostalgia for an unknown and unseen time pressures me to continue on.
Life’s a bitch, so he rather lay with a woman. He had fucked life and got nothing from it. His value was elementary; simple to sum. Life was divided. He was subtracted. And when it was all factored, it equaled none.
He seemed rather solo, made claims to be lonesome. He was a church boy, supposed to be rather wholesome. Used to be a skinny nigga, but he got a little bigger. Though he was kinda quiet, still a notable social figure. He tried to be gentlemen. He knew how to act right. Followed instructions when he took a girl out, had her home at a decent time at night. Broken parent home, his momma lived the single life. He treated her like a queen. He recognized her plight. He was familiar with the struggle. He was down to fight. Work hard at his gig even on a school night. Made good grades, and was an upstanding citizen. He asked you not to curse around him and really wasn’t kidding. The perfect stranger, you thought you knew. So transparent, but so hard to see through.
He was missing something, and tried to find. Searching for it, kind of blinded. Sex as a flashlight, but misguided. She didn’t have so it he continues to try to find it. Nameless bodies and faceless names. Still searching, his results were the same. He lost his focus as lust worked its hocus pocus. Now he became a snake seeking his prey. No sense of obligation or belonging, no motivation to stay. His hard times translated to the sea of shes and in that he lied to himself about who he was supposed to be. Now he thought life was a bitch, so he’d rather lay with a woman. Because he had fucked with life and got nothing from it. His value was elementary; simple to sum. Life was divided. He was subtracted and when it was all factored it equaled none.
A bastard child, left to run wild in the earth. No father figure to guide him, just one who knew how to hurt. Violated by kin, the man child turns mannish and the values, beliefs, and principles instilled by the mother have vanished. Life is a bitch, so he became its whore. Searching and desperately trying to find the meaning, longing for more. Legs divided, but resulting with valueless transactions and because of his whorish actions left him just as one.
This a story that many of us already knew. A curse that is stuck to our social fabric with glue. Sadly it continues to be true. Fuck it because life has already fucked over you.
“All world’s a stage, and all men and women merely players”- William Shakespeare
I would love to tell you that I feel in love with this quote after reading As You Like It under the oak tree in the backyard of my family’s house listening to the birds chirp and watching the sunset over the barn. I’d love to tell you that in that moment of time, a droplet in the ocean of this thing we call life, I had an epiphany about my simple existence; I want to be a writer. And while I’d love to explain to you how these words changed outlook on life and guide you the journeys I went on after that, I’d be selling you a bunch of crap. Honestly, when I originally was forced into reading As You Like It by my theater teacher in high school, I could really care less about it. Mr.
This is to the girl who is a product of a single-parent home
That the world thought Detroit would be the only place she would ever roam
This is to the girl who faced death early in life
And because of that caused her family emotional pain and financial strife
This is to the girl who you teased and tried to make cry
But only succeeded in making her ego soar ever so high
This is to the girl who met God at a young age
And though she knows the truth, has sometimes strayed
This is to the girl whose circumstances forced her to start a new
And was transplanted to the South where new roots firmly grew
This is to the girl who came into her own
That sat upon her personal illustrious, yet imaginary throne
This is to the girl who didn’t have to work hard to make good grades
But had to work so that she could get paid
This is the girl who never fit in
And was sometimes unsure of the power within
This is to the girl who you said was cute, but not fine
And wondered why she didn’t give you any time
This is the girl who some secretly and publicly called a bitch
And thought her attitude was some type of personality glitch
This is to the girl who never wore her heart on her sleeve
And wasn’t the least bit concerned with the people she was supposed to please
This is to the girl who is still growing up
And with that isn’t having the best of luck
This is to the girl who has friends and a lot of things going on
But often finds herself all alone
This is to the girl who sometimes is forced cry
But even in that refuses to let her spirit die
This is to the girl with the crooked teeth that could stand to lose a little weight
But in spite of that is proud of the glamorous alter-ego she chose to create
This is to the girl who has plenty relationships in which she had to fight
But is convinced that one day she will make someone a wonderful wife
This is to the girl who found herself falling into a slump
And from school and work and life caught a hard brunt
This is to the girl who is no longer the same
That has been transformed by all types of pain
This is to the girl who refuses fall down
And is trying ever so hard to remove that concrete frown
This is to the girl who will remain true
This is the girl you only thought you knew
Lauren is the prodigal child, the lost identity, the distant sense of reality. I dedicated this to Lauren, wherever or whoever she may be, because frankly, I am not sure.
My full name is Lauren Alison McMillan. I was named Lauren after my maternal great-grandmother Laura McCarty. My mother and father decided on Alison as a middle name for 2 different reasons. My mother loved the name Alison, and my father was in love with a girl named Alison in his elementary years. McMillan is my mother’s maiden name, which I inherited because my parents where never married. Lauren Alison basically translates to a banner of victory and truth. But it’s been years since I’ve heard the joyous proclamation of Lauren in my house. The word Lauren now is a blaring siren that alerts me that I’ve done something extremely out of order. To my family and close friends, I am Doty. I’ve been Doty as long as I can remember. From what I’ve been told, the name Doty was born about 2 years into my life. I was struggling to pronounce Lauren and somehow I would add the “g-l” sound and say “Gloren” and was often mistaken for Gloria. That is when my grandmother Marva, my mother’s mother, nicknamed me Doty, a love name as my mother would call it. Well the love name stuck. I mean it stuck. I am Doty to my mother’s entire side of the family, the side with whom I am the closest. I am Doty to all of my mother’s friends. I am Doty to my step father and consequently his entire family. I am Doty to my close friends and even my boyfriend who happened to hear the love name and refused to let me go. I was Doty all through elementary school, to not only my classmates, but to my teachers. In middle school the principal accidentally called for Doty McMillan to come to the office over the intercom. It wasn’t until high school that anyone called me Lauren, and still those people were few. I am only Lauren in public places amongst unfamiliar associates and strangers. I am only Lauren in places where it would be unacceptable to call me anything other than the name that is plastered on my Texas ID.
It was really never apparent that I’d lost who Lauren was until my little brother, Ellington was born. He and I are nearly seventeen years apart. So when he was just beginning his life, I was at the threshold of adult hood, banging on the door to be let in. Ellington has a very distinct personality to match his mature name. Even as an infant, it was his way or no way. There have been many tried attempts to nickname this fireball. We tried Eli for short. We tried
Over the Christmas holiday, I was quizzing Ellington on some basic information a three year should know.
“Ellington, what’s your mother’s name?” I asked.
“Tommie Jean,” he quickly replied.
“What’s your father’s name?” I asked.
“Randall,” he said in the same rapid fire way.
“Ellington, what’s your sister’s name?” I asked him one more time, and for the first time he hesitated for a few seconds before he firmly responded.
“Doty. Doty Glover,” he said.
Who is this Doty Glover? I wanted to ask him, but in his three year old haste, he’d already run off. Glover is his last name, so I know why he would think that my last name would be the same. But my only brother, the closest kin to me doesn’t even know who Lauren is, and it hit me, neither do I.
I’m not sure if I’d lost Lauren, or never really had a sense of who she was. Doty really has been all I’ve known. But I’ve been searching for Lauren for a long time, and that search hasn’t been easy.
When I was in the 11th grade, I decided that I would take a year to embark on self-discovery. In that year, I picked up few trinkets of myself, but I dropped off a lot of burdens, the heaviest beginning friendships. I may not have been sure exactly who Lauren was, but I was certain that Lauren wasn’t the bitch her “best friend” had called her. Half way through my year of self-discovered, I discovered that my closest friends weren’t too fond of whoever Lauren was. I received a very hostile email from LaTravia, my best friend at the time, in which she listed all her grievances with me. Apparently, I was an uptight, opinioned, arrogant bitch to her. I didn’t know how to be a friend and was poorly imitating a parent. Her “letter long over due”, as she called it, wasn’t just an email. It was more like she’d come to my house, slapped me in the face, and said “this is who you are, and I don’t like it”. But the fact that she didn’t like who I was isn’t what hurt me so bad. I was crushed because I’d spent the whole span of our friendship trying to be the type of friend she needed and wanted me to be, and obviously it wasn’t enough. I was forced into the laboratory of self-examination where I was pressed between the glasses of a self inspecting microscope. Scalpel in hand, I cut away the dead weight, all the layers of pleasing other people at the expense of myself. That experience was a turning point. It made me decide that I wanted to be who I was, at all costs, and would not conform to what other people wanted me to be.
Years later, Lauren is still a work in progress. Caution this is hard hat zone. I’m not quite sure what the final result will be, but I am sure Lauren a beautiful spirit who’s waiting to be uncovered. Maybe Doty is a cocoon and Lauren is the butterfly who will emerge. I’m not ashamed of Lauren at all. I’m ready to embrace who she is, and be amazed by who she will grow to be. This is a dedication to me.
I’m finally making some moves.
It took some time, but I knew I would
I’m doing the new things I knew I should
And the Lord has blessed me like only He could.
He only tests those who He knows are strong.
So that just tells me my time of struggle won’t be long
This thing we called life is an interesting phenomenon
If we don’t break its cycles they’ll continue to go on and on
And I’m really not in for that
I refuse to live in instant replays and recaps
I took off my cool for some of them
And I can’t say it’ll never happen again
But never again will I let my spirit bend
And I can no longer defend the things that I knew were wrong
Yes this queen has sometimes played the pawn
I’ve done some bad things in the dusk
And definitely some wrong things in the dawn
But that’s the good thing about repentance
Its automatic forgiveness for whatever life has sentenced you to
And then you can take a knee and ask Him what to do
So I now I hear his voice ever so clear
He said “Trust in Him and do not fear”
And yet and still every so often I do drop a tear
But that’s because I’m only human
It doesn’t stop Him from doing what He’s doing
So it’s Him I’m going to continue pursuing
And let the rest of it pursue me
And continue to live out my destiny
Seventy-nine dollars in quarters, ones, and fives wrapped in a rubber band, sealed in a Ziploc bag and tuck securely in between my mattresses just above the bed skirt. Below the bed skirt there was bag of essentials; underwear, two pairs of jeans, five shirts, socks, deodorant, and toothbrush. I had to leave.
“Tiffany, I’m coming back,” I whispered.
The late 90’s were a turbulent time for me. Not to minimize the turbulence of the years prior. I was born to Alphonso Porter and Tommie Glover, a couple who can’t stand to be in the room with each other for more than an hour with the exception of funerals, graduations, and perhaps to conceive a child. Needless to say, they were never married.
I was raised in a single-parent home by my mother Tommie, on the east side of
We had a pretty stable support system. My grandmother Marva helped raise me in my formative years. I was at her house as much as I was at my own, if not more. She was a strong woman, who raised a strong daughter as a single parent. She taught my mother all of what she knew when it came to raising me, so I came up with two powerhouses behind me. When she died, my mother and I took it really hard, but we were eventually able to recover. The family struggle was always there for me, and as I got older it was added to the personal struggle that arose for me in the late 90s.
Imagine a fairly chubby girl, with pock-marked acne, in a poorly fitted plaid jumper dress and a questionable hair style. This was me in the sixth grade. I hadn’t come into my own yet it and was more than apparent. Not only being awkward, but also being clumsy didn’t at all enhance image I was portraying. On day in the social studies, while playing one of the many self-concocted learning games my teacher would have us play, something terrible happened. I was sprinting to the board with the answer 1776 in mind when I slipped and fell to the floor. After hours sitting in the county hospital emergency room with the drunks and the brawlers it was revealed that I had severely sprained my right ankle. The doctor wrapped my ankle and sent me home on crutches. Being the short chubby kid I was, I could quite get the hang of the crutches, so my mother, in her infinite motherly wisdom, suggested a cane. Now, I was the chubby girl with, pocked-marked acne, in a poorly fitted plaid jumper, with questionable hair who carried a cane. I was from the on “grandma”, a term of endearment that I’ve yet to shake.
So I completed the sixth grade as an awkward adolescent who kept to herself to avoid the ridicule of silly little boys and hateful girls. But something strange happened over the summer. I entered a cocoon and by August of 2000, I had emerged as a beautiful butterfly. The acne was gone, for the most part at least, the pounds had been shed. I’d finally grown into that plaid jumper and yes, the cane was gone. I had escaped all the issues that haunted me, with the exception of a monthly visitor which I had more recently acquired. The latter part of my middle school career was I was able to truly be myself. I’d become close to a few classmates, who would prove to be lifelong friends. My grades were soaring. My self-esteem was through the roof. By the 8th grade, I’d made plans to attend one of the most prestigious high schools
“Lauren! The letters are in the mailbox,” Tiffany screamed through the receiver.
I dropped the phone and ran to the mail box and tore open the only envelope addressed to Miss Lauren McMillan. I gathered my nerves and climbed up the stairs to my mother’s bedroom.
“I have good news,” I said, almost shaking from attempting to hold back emotion.
“I have good news too,” she said.
I don’t remember telling my mother that I’d been accepted to the school. I just remember standing there in shock, frozen and still, as she said “we are moving to
My mother didn’t have a lot of boyfriends when I was growing up. She didn’t want me exposed to all the drama her relationships may have brought into my life. There had a been a few guys that came around here and there, but none really stayed for long. So when she became serious with Randall, I should have been more taken aback. Being the tween I was, I was too wrapped up in myself to notice. He was an ok guy. He wasn’t my favorite of the men who attempted to snag my mother, but he wasn’t my least favorite. He didn’t come bearing gifts, but he always greeted me with a smile, and a hardy hello. He never really stood out to me. But the inattentiveness I’d exercised towards their growing relationship turned around and smacked me my face when her knight in shining armor came and whisked us away to the Lone Star state in his white Ford F-150. My mother’s wonderful new life was a nightmare to me. How could she take me from my friends? How could she make me start over again? Well she did. I finished my last day of middle school in
The seventy-nine dollars in quarters, ones, and fives wrapped in a rubber band, sealed in a Ziploc bag and tuck securely in between my mattresses just above the bed skirt would be just enough for a one way bus ticket to from
I cried so hard that my mother heard me and came into my room, demanding to know what was wrong. I looked at her and I almost didn’t recognize who she was. All my life, I remember my mother looking tired. She’s a gorgeous woman, but she always looked tired and pressed. She always looked as if she was carrying a huge burden. But when she opened the door, I saw a person I barely knew. She looked so refreshed, as if the burden had been lifted. And in that moment, I began to cry for another reason. Had I been so selfish to think that my mother deliberately tried to ruin my life? Had I placed my happiness over hers? Sure it would be hard for me to find new friends, but I eventually would. But it’s rare to find a guy who is willing to accept a woman into his home and raise her teenage child as his own. It’s rare for someone in their mid 30s to be able to start over. Who was I to stand in the way of her new start?
I wouldn’t say I had an epiphany that day, but it was the first day I realized things aren’t as bad as they seem. I also realized that everything isn’t about me. So slowed my speech and embraced the word “ya’ll”. I accepted my role as transplant Texans, and I wear both of my cities well. I’m Lauren, born in
The water was above my head. It was the weirdest thing that I’d ever seen. I stood there on the streets of the French Quarters and looked up at the rushing waves of the
In trying to find I-10 West, we got lost and inadvertently got a tour of the city. We passed the Superdome and the
Two weeks later, Katrina hit. I sat in my
Being disturbed destroys the tranquility or composure of a situation or upsets the natural and especially the ecological balance or relations of two things or more things. I’ve been disturbed and ultimately shaken from the root of my being many times, and each time I am never replanted soundly.
One night a hunger began the brew in my stomach. As I looked around the room, I could tell I wasn’t the only one having these sensations. I was visiting Katrina and Octavia, who had just moved in to my apartment complex taking the count of my friends who were finally back in Norman to 4. I turned the TV up, hoping to muffle the sound of my stomach gurgling. We sat there for 20 minutes, stomachs in knots, as Katrina savored every bite of the fruit snacks she was eating. Finally I said, “I’m hungry. Let’s get something to eat.”
None of us had cars and only 2 of us had bikes so we decided to walk down the dark curvy street that
The fall semester got underway as the initiatives to free the
Uneasiness inched closer and closer to home, and that disturbs me even more.
My Spanish one class was always less than structured. More often than not we’d stray in our discussion in conjugating verbs to a random subject topic rarely having anything to do with the language or the culture. One day we didn’t stray that far. Mrs. Jarvis-Denny began discussing HB 1804, the
I left Spanish that day feeling uneasy, but it subsided as the weeks went on. One afternoon, as I was riding my bike past the stadium, I spotted a familiar yellow Chevrolet. I screamed out “Jackie!” and served on the sidewalk almost hitting a guy who was passing next to me. It had been months since I’d seen my favorite ex-roommate Jackie, so I had to get her attention. After about a minute of screaming her name and waving while she sat at the light, she finally turned and saw me. I begged her to come have lunch with me.
While we were eating lunch, we caught up on everything that had happened to us in the months that we’d been apart. I told her about school that semester, Ellington, and my love life. When I asked her about Beto, her fiancé, the expression on her face changed. She told me they were no longer engaged and she began to cry. She explained that over the summer they had gone through a lot of problems and had decided to wait on getting married. I couldn’t figure out why that would make her cry these mammoth tears that were running down her face. She said, “I feel so bad about it now, Lauren”. She explained to me that Beto’s family was under investigation and he could possibly be deported if HB 1804 passed. She was so upset because she knew the she could save him if they were married but she couldn’t wrap her 19 year old brain around that lifetime commitment.
It scares me that as the world changes around me, for the worse more often that not, it creeps up to my door. And I’ve tried to take all the precautions against locking it out, but sometimes it seems to slip under the cracks and catch me right where I live. That fear disturbs me the most.
Manifesto: a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer
I count four times. The first two times I tried, I didn’t go that far. Ghetto Dreams is just down the street on
Philippians 1:6 reads "for I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it” in the New International Version. The Message bible reads” there has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” I fell in love with the first translation my senior year in high school, and by the time I finished the year, the second translation captured my heart forever. This is when I passionately decided I wanted to tattoo my newly found axiom of life on my foot, so as I made my journey down the long road of life, the Lord can guide my path and keep me on his plan.
Ironically my fear to take the step of getting this tattoo parallels my life. As I’ve matured, I’ve begun to understand what Marianne Williamson meant when she said “our biggest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our biggest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” But I wouldn’t call what I have a fear . Fears are reserved for people who don’t like spiders or are afraid of the dark. I have a full blow horrific terror that I was destined to do a host of great things and accomplish a multitude of achievements and will fall terribly short of completing that destiny.
First I fault Kanye West for the perpetuation of this fear in my life. Sometimes I can’t listen to the lyrics of his song “All Falls Down” without bursting into tears.
“Man I promise, she's so self conscious
She has no idea what she's doing in college
That major that she majored in don't make no money
But she won't drop out, her parents will look at her funny
Now, tell me that ain't insecure
The concept of school seems so secure
Sophomore three years ain’t picked a career
She like eff it, I'll just stay down here and do hair
Cause that's enough money to buy her a few pairs of new Airs
Cause her baby daddy don't really care
She's so precious with the peer pressure
Couldn't afford a car so she named her daughter Alexus (a Lexus)
She had hair so long that it looked like weave
Then she cut it all off now she look like Eve
And she be dealing with some issues that you can't believe
Single black female addicted to retail and well” –Kanye West, “All Falls Down”
And while I’m sure thousands of college students across the country have felt like this at some point, I feel like this man has been tapping my phone calls, text message, hacking into my Facebook and reading my mind. I am that girl who barely has enough money to pay her rent, but her closet is overflowing with clothes with the tags still on them. I’m the girl who has millions of passions but cannot seem to translate them into one specific major and definitely not a career. And sadly I am the girl who has an enormous amount of talents ranging from graphic design to styling hair and really hasn’t benefited from anything.
I am what I’ve began to call the “self-conscious self-confident”. In all this I don’t get down on myself, because I am also confident in the plans God has for me, but I’m scared to death that it must just take a rapture from heaven for them to come into fruition. I think my confidence exudes from me. It’s pouring out of me in such a large amount that is often confused with arrogance. I’ve been called arrogant on many occasions by everyone; friends, former friends, and foes. I really hate the word arrogance because it’s always connected with superiority and the awful disease we know as narcissism. I am not arrogant. I don’t put myself on any pedestal on which I look down on my peers as if they are my subjects. I simply understand that greatness is hidden deep inside of all of us, and I’ve embraced the task of finding it and releasing it. So I have adopted yet another Kanye West quote as a part my self motivation.
“Some say he’s arrogant. Can you blame him?
It was straight embarrassing how the played him.
I could let you dream killers kill my self-esteem
or I could use my arrogance as the steam to power my dreams” – Kanye West “Last Call”
When I was about ten years old, a visiting minister at my church called me and my mother to the altar to give us a word of prophecy. He told my mother to invest in a computer for me because something great would come from my hands. His words replay in my head almost as often as my mother replayed the tape of sermon after we got home. I believe in prophetic gifts from the people of God, and I also believe in the power our words have. Thus, I’ve accepted his proclamation over my life, and I believe it.
But as I sit here typing on my mother’s investment, I am still waiting on the manifestation of those words. My beliefs are simple. I believe in the power of God. I believe that in His infinite wisdom and undying love for us that he set forth a great purpose and destiny for each of us. I believe that He works through us and therefore we have the power to fulfill that destiny. I believe that because I am made in the image and likeness of a powerful, beautiful God I am entitled to operate with all the power he has. Thus, I have to let my faith in my beliefs prove strong and continue to believe that God will be faithful to complete the great works he began in me. So I ask myself, “who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small doesn't serve the world we are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us and as we let our own light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. “-Marianne Williamson
Maybe the fifth time will be the charm.