After living with my partner for two years, and after
spending the past month in a PhD program where conversations on gender and
sexuality are constant, I have become more aware of the way in which my life
conforms to rather conventional gender norms. I do most of the cleaning,
(though gratefully for both of us, I am not expected to cook), I wear an
engagement ring signifying my “taken” status, and because of my unconventional
academic schedule I often feel like a housewife as I welcome my future hubby
home from work.
Growing up I always had an
interest in theater and was involved with drama clubs, but my eager auditions
(some at which I actually had to sing a song-terrifying) always resulted in the
drama teacher assuaging me with no-line dance roles. I did not do much better
in college theater classes and accepted that dance and writing would be my most
apt modes of self-expression but I still enjoy catching plays when I can. I had
the luck this summer to catch two events in one week. These two very different productions both looked at issues of race, class, and love in the mid twentieth century South.
I admit, my recent engagement has inspired me with a weird mix of workaholism and counter-productivity; I feel more anxious than ever to take care of business but also find myself, at moments, daydreaming through life. I'm in love with my own love story, and inspired to seek out other depictions of love. My future sister-in-law recently lent meMedicine for Melancholy, the understated story of two young African American bohemes getting close in gentrifying San Francisco, and one of the most satisfying films that I have watched in a long time.
I have been in a very happy healthy relationship with the love of my life for two years. And as much as I would have liked to buck Western tradition, it is in the big decisions of life (marriage, childrearing) when we realize which traditions we want to rewrite and which ones that we ultimately value. For all of our unorthodox ideas about the future, I held steadfast to this request of my partner: a beautiful ring to demonstrate his intentions and choice to me and to the world. Last Thursday he got down on his knee and gave it to me and my whole life changed.
I had blog topics all
planned for this month. I just had a great week in theater, that I
will get to shortly, and I'm two movies behind writing on independent
films. But I had an intense experience today in Leimert Park and
can't think about much else.
Leimert Park has always
been a safe haven for me. Everybody is welcome there. It has the World Stage, Eso Won
Books, Black art, and the Sunday drum circle, when folks in the
community get together by the fountain on Crenshaw and play and dance
from whenever until whenever.
Last weekend was a busy one for me, so much so I think I may just
be coming out of recovery. As I think back on it, I realize that last
weekend was not only exhausting and immensely satisfying, it reminded
me of all the things I love and hate about LA.
It started Thursday night with the fifties-themed reception for
the Leimert Park Book Fair at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall. As
much fun as I had dressing the part in a pin-striped sheath dress and
pearls, I had to really rally up the energy to go and only planned to
stay an hour.
I just came back from a networking mixer and arts showcase
for Sisters in Harmony hosted at Mama Sunshine’s Treasures in Inglewood. Surrounded
by striking, eccentric, colorful Black art, I listened to writers that made me
not just clap but actually want to buy their chapbooks, for the purpose of
actually reading them, not just for good karma.
It was a funky, warm-spirited harmony of fly and holistic sisters in
African jewelry, curve-swathing dresses and fierce shoes, who I knew
immediately that I could speak to first without getting snubbed, of brothers who
would compliment my work and ask me about myself without asking for my number.
Finally, vacation! After a crazy semester I've gotten a moment to breathe and catch up on all the things I have been wanting to do for months; clean out and organize my apartment, spend time with family, tackle my reading list, rent all of the films I have been missing. I just finished Dee Rees' PARIAH and so enjoyed it, I plan on screening it for my Womanhood and Gender class next semester. PARIAH is a raw, painful, and at times, hilarious story of a young girl struggling to find her identity, in the midst of a family and community who continually try to determine for her what she should be.
I would like to be writing now about films or music or the fabulous natural hair show that we just had at CSU Dominguez Hills but I can't...Trayvon Martin is uppermost in my mind. I have a brother and nephew named Trevon, and this has all really hit home for me. I know what my nephews mean to me, and what it would do to my family if one night one of them didn't come home. I am writing to share my own pain and outrage at the murder of Trayvon Martin, and awe and pride at the millions of people who have demonstrated in support of his family and in defiance of racial profiling.
It's been a good couple of weeks in the arts for me. Some great films at the Pan African Film Festival, a beautiful performance of Shange's "For Colored Girls" at CSU Dominguez Hills, and, last night, bun-bun and I caught "A Night with Greatness: The Watts Prophets and the Last Poets" presented by Stillwaters in Inglewood. At $25 a head presale, $35 at the door, it was a bit pricey for a poetry event, but I think it was worth it and clearly, a lot of other people agreed.