Monday, October 29, 2007


“Wise, did I tell you that Mommy said I have too much hate in my heart?”

“And it only took her 37 years to figure this out.”

My brother. He’s not called “Anger Management” for nothing. Never mind that he’s my mom’s fav [if you’re a parent, save it! I don’t care how my mom tries to spin it, we’re ranked…and on any given day I come in at either 2nd or 3rd out of 4.]…but he’s also absolutely insane. My mom of all people, should know this.

I also rank my siblings. The one I call when I need advice. The one I run to for a hug. The one I call when I’m pissed or need help...

“Anger, yo, I can barely even see straight right now, I’m so fucking MAD.”

“Where you at and who you with?”

“Downtown BMore. My boy is with me. Can you please tell me why I just got kicked out of this bullshit ass bar just now. And by kicked out, I mean literally picked up off my feet like the goddamn Thursday trash, and dropped outside on the curb. AND I AINT EVEN DRUNK?!”

“Oh shit. What you do?”

“Ok, it’s fcuking, 25 cent bottle night, right, so I’m there with like 7 other people. I had JUST gotten a round of Hein.ekens for everybody before last call (11pm), and we’re sitting in this little booth. So three of my friends were not at the table, like either in the bathroom or pool table pimpin, and this bouncer kid come over and sweeps the bottles into the trash and walks away. So I kindly stand up, follow him and ask for an explanation.

"Please tell me why this fat muhfucker yells in my face, [and of course I do the BMore cracker accent] “You can’t have beers stacked up like that!”

"So I say, ‘Ahh ok sir…now mind you, bitch can’t be more than 22…ok sir, but #1, we didn’t know that was a rule; and #2, they’re not stacked up. The people who will be drinking them are just in the bathroom.”

"“I don’t care, you cant have them stacked up like that!” he yells at me again, as if, maybe, I dunno, I can speak the language but can’t understand it. So I take a deep breath and explain again, and this time I tell him that he could have just TOLD us to get rid of them rather than to TAKE them.

"And please tell me why he gets in my face yelling again, and so at this point I have no other recourse than to let his ass have it. Mid-cuss out, Fat Bitch tells me to leave. I laugh, but before I can even turn around good, another big burly muhfucka comes up out of nowhere and picks my ass up off the ground and carries me thru the fcuking bar. Again, as if I am a Glad bag of bottles and stale nachos, yo.”

My brother pauses, and I know in this moment that he is not about to judge or question or chastise me as my other siblings would have. He and I are *here* with it. I know that in that brief pause he has also blacked out on my behalf, and is counting backwards from 10. And I know at that moment we’re both thinking that if he was here he would have handled him on for me without hesitation.

“So what did you do?”

And tears have now accompanied the story, white flashing in my eyes as I recall the still-fresh fury.

“I couldn’t believe what was happening. You know how you see the real drunk white girl get carted out? But she’s ALWAYS passed out when she gets carried out. Or she’s cussing. And I am neither. My only instinct was to pick up my feet off the ground while he's carrying me so that it doesn’t look like I’m struggling and fucked up.

"So he drops me outside and my friends are right behind me. I tell him that I dropped my shoe and the other one is right there and basically throws it at me. I turn to the people in line, SO embarrassed, and I have this blank look on my face like, “Am I the only one who sees this ridiculous shit?” So then the bouncer outside starts calling me all types of bitch, and the ones who kicked me out join in. There’s a little ngga cop standing right there and he does and say NOTHING. I’m fcuking fed up. I stand toe to fcuking toe with the Fat Bitch one and I smirk and flip his dirty ass baseball cap off his head. And I swear to God if my friend hadn’t stepped in btwn us, I KNOW he would have lifted his fat fcuking fist to punch me in my face. And I was BEGGING him to do it. Instead my friends talked me down and we left.”

“Where are you now?”

“Around the corner at the car...”

“Pacing and shit.” He takes the words out of my mouth. I'm SO glad to be talking to someone who understands.
I joke a lot about wanting to fight, and I’m prone to flipping out and all, and I'm constantly being told that this isn’t the way to live (as if I'm truly violent and destructive. I'm not at all).

But I have to ask, Why the fuck not?? Is anger not a legitimate emotion? Is it not warranted in many instances? What’s so bad about being upset…is it the fact that it’s very easy to lose all semblance of common sense and do something stupid?

Ok so let’s assume, that I’m a well-adjusted, level headed adult, who knows right from wrong and makes wise decisions (on any given day I may or may not register about 3 out of those 5). Is it ok then for me to be angry? Can I say out loud that I’m furious without someone stepping in and trying to convince me that this isn’t the way to go?

My brother is on a whole different level with his. Exhibit A:

“So I was at the Cowboys-Bills game the other week…”

“The Monday night game? You went?”

“Yup dolo. You know I always go when Dallas comes up here. So there’s mad Cowboys fans there but I’m like the only one in my section. And the whole game they’re riding me. After the second interception they’re going crazy and I’m chilling. I just keep saying, ‘It's not over until the final whistle and I'm not leaving a second before that.’

So then when T.O. missed the 2pt conversion this white chick turns to me and starts laughing and THROWS HER BEER AT ME. [pause…You’re probably willing to bet that he said something slick to provoke this. Trust, he would tell me if he did.]

“So you call her all types of bitch,” I say, rolling my eyes.

“Not even. I mushed her,” he says with the calmest voice ever.

“You mushed her?!"


", you mushed her down or you mushed her back.”

“I mushed her so hard she woulda fell backwards if there wasn’t anyone behind her. Who told her silly ass to be wasting good beer?!”

I’m at this point crying laughing. “So what happened?”

“Her red faced boyfriend rolls up on me like he’s about to do something. Then the Yellow Coats (security) come and get me. I told them I had to go to the bathroom to clean up, and when I was in there I heard someone radio the dude telling him something happened in the next row over. So I slipped out and went back and saw the rest of the game.”

“She poured her entire beer on you.” I repeat. Then pause. Black out for him. Shake my head. And I know at that moment we’re both thinking that if I was there I would have handled her on his behalf without hesitation.

“So that’s why Mommy said you have hate in your heart?”

“No, she said it cuz I almost beat the shit out of the cop who gave me a ticket for playing my music too loud.”

Pissed. And I don’t blame him.

Monday, October 22, 2007


Wrapped neatly in a shiny red bow, my laugh is the gift that keeps on giving. It is by far among God’s greatest creations. Is there a more versatile weapon than The Laugh?

It is a social lubricant of sorts. A well-timed laugh can ease an awkward silence, and even endear a stranger. It’s widely documented that I generally dislike People, so can you imagine NOT having the option of laughing behind one’s back?? *shudder*

It is a natural punctuation. Small giggles hook long explanations like commas. Drawn out cackles connect compound sentences…like an ellipsis. Inappropriate laughs clank like dangling participles or grammatically incorrectibles. Involuntarily, often.

Ever diffuse a situation with the simple stroke of a snicker? Tension high and thick like butter. Then a loud, languid laugh slices through it like a warm knife. Now that’s power. Speaking of which…

Laughter garners control. While on the one hand it aims to charm and perhaps even disarm, a laugh is lethal when flexed like a strong arm. I’ll admit, I’m not exactly always conscious and calculated about it, but I recognize it when it happens. The effect is fantastic, as power tends to be.

But what happens when you find that the big stick you wield is no longer the biggest on the block? When your laugh is merely the baseline for another? When you’re the one disarmed and charmed? When that other laugh resonates, echoes even, at decibels beyond your capacity?

My legs parted slightly, trembling already, involuntarily of course. A tongue tracing in ALL CAPS along my skin, exclamation points abound. My mind a mess of meandering moments, maybe more or less than a full second. Not sure. Lost, kind of.

Generously self-lubricated and aware that I generally dislike People, but let this one in. Deep, in fact.

To the point of no return. Beyond the door at which control is checked and relinquished.

A shiny red ribbon tying neat figure 8s around My Spot. It’s no joke now. Ask my legs. They refuse to stop shivering. Ask my mind, and you’ll get no answer. Blank stares as I’m climbing blank stairs, no labels or signs to direct me.

My legs parted wide, the trembling now concentrated under my skin where I can’t reach it. And though my hands are useless anyways, occupied by scalp, I don’t want anything altered. Not the rhythm, not the angle, not anything about this particular pubic probe.

Except that would require relinquishing control. And I can’t even do that, just this once.

Cue the well-timed Laugh. Long and lean like an interfering defensive back. Blindsiding the moment...mid-munch.

The abrupt awkward silence. My legs wide shut. Tight. The recall of personal space...and control. Such a versatile weapon.

The greatest gift…and curse.


Sunday, October 14, 2007


Do you ever wonder what your life might be like if your history was altered, even slightly? I don’t normally, but an interesting convo with my mom sent my imagination into orbit.

One of her homegirls from back in the day is finally retiring. Her daughters, who I think are just a bit older than me, threw her a surprise party and knew from all those “back in the day” stories that my mom should be among the invitees.

So Mom’s all excited about her trip to Queens for the party. I arrange her travel and we talk daily about how she feels like a teenager, all anxious and excited to go. She’s doing a lot of reminiscing and I’m doing a lot of listening, because I realized recently that I don’t really know too much about either of my parents’ lives before my black ass arrived at the last minute.

*In my best Sophia from Golden Girls voice*

Picture if you will… Washington, DC, 1967…as told by Mother Wise…

“My father died two weeks before I was scheduled to leave Jamaica for America. I was torn about what to do. I felt like I should stay, but I knew in my heart that I couldn’t stand to be there without him. Half of the family thought I should stay, the other half demanded I go. So go I did.

“Back in those days America was recruiting people from the islands to come and work here as domestics. So when I got to DC, there were a lot of us already here. The Jamaican ambassador used to throw these parties every weekend at his house and all the young people would go. That’s where I met Urseline, Claudette, lawd, so many people.

“So one Saturday I went to the party and I met a guy who was the ambassador’s personal chef. I had seen him at all the parties before and some of his friends were friends with some of mine. Your father.

“All of a sudden I’m at the Ambassador’s house all the time, and getting to know your dad. Then out of the blue I don’t talk to him for a day, then two days, then almost a week.
By the end of that week I get a call from your Aunt Urseline (the one who’s retiring), and she says she has something to tell me.

“Future Wise’s Daddy is moving to NY. That’s why he hasn’t called you. He doesn’t know how to tell you. He quit his job with the ambassador because he said they weren’t paying him right. So he’s going up to NY with his uncle.”

“By the time I get your father on the phone I find out it’s true. For the next year I spent a lot of time on the bus traveling from Washington to NY. That was, what, 1968.”

“So Mommy, did you have to ride the back of the buses and stuff like that?”

“No! That was long gone. I didn’t get any of that stuff when I got here.” [Editor’s note: Yo, FYI- West Indians are notorious for their denial of racism and vicitimization. I’m struck by the fact that my Mom has no recollection of no ’68 riots or nothing!]

“So you moved Upstate and lived happily ever after?”

“No. First I moved to Long Island to work for another year. Then on one visit Upstate I just never went back. By this time I got my permanent resident papers. Naturally, I married your Dad and he got his.”


I’m struck by the Choose Your Own Adventureness of my parents’ history. Had their decisions or circumstances been altered in any tiny number of ways, my entire life would have been also.

What if the Ambassador hadn’t tried to be slick with my Dad’s paper? I might have been born in Howard Hospital, and grown up in an Embassy. Who the hell would my friends have been? Would my professional aspirations be the same? Would my parents have earned more money? Would I have been one of those bourgie West Indians who mentally separated myself from the common folks (read: Trinis. I kid, I kid!)

God forbid, would I be a Bison alum? *shudder at the thought*

Or what about if my mom had persuaded my Dad to come chill on Long Island? Who the hell would I be then? Would I have an obnoxious accent, grown up sneaking my way onto the LIRR en route to some Brooklyn house parties? Would I have been destined for Columbia or worse, NYU? Who would my best friends be? What about my first kiss, my fav teacher, daily routine? If not Mimi D., then whose ass would I have whupped in my only official fist fight? Wait, I’m still a lil concerned about that accent…

Or better yet, what if my mother had chosen to stay in Jamaica after burying her father? Who might my father be then? Would that technically constitute me being me at all under those circumstances?

It’s hard not to look back for guidance on your journey forward.

Even harder not to wonder.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


There’s that moment when the exhaustion burns from the whites of your eyes, straight back to the hook of your damn head.

If you peep over at the clock radio you’ll be at once rendered blind by the hot, fuzzy red, and incredulous at how much time has escaped you. How little is left before you must abandon your bed.

Speaking of which…the sheets are bunched up in all the wrong places. Pillows stationed at random checkpoints, marking spots where you’d posted up for undetermined stretches of time.

Your stomach is folding over itself, and you wonder if this is what happens when you’re asleep...bec that’s what you should be doing at this particular moment.

But who can sleep at 1, 2, 3, 4 in the morning…

“You see what time it is?”

“I don’t care to look.”

The newness blossoms in the wee hours. The fundamental necessity of sleep is rendered optional, when you lose yourself and all track of time within the amusing cadence of the voice in your ear. Laughing, sighing, and making a mockery of your anytime minutes.

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  • So...Wise??

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    Our Nation's (HIV) way of Harlem, NY and Upsteezy NY
    I'm older than I look, and stupider than you think. But I'm quite proud of my sharp eye for The Ridiculous, and by Ridiculous, of course I mean Me.