You Upset My Nerves So


In my grandmother’s house you will get up for a hot breakfast, place your attire for the day on the ironing board for her to press, and be dressed and ready to go before her or else.

This morning’s hot breakfast: cream of wheat, french toast, scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, and a banana. (I could not eat all of my breakfast this morning. God favored me and distracted her from noticing and or she will bring it up later. I am betting on the latter.) We exchanged our usual pleasantries at the start of breakfast. “As-Salaam-Alaikum. How was your sleep?” At about the 10 mark my grandmother asked, “sharlimar, do you have a suitcase?

“Yes, I have a suitcase. You have seen my suitcase. I have had the same suitcase for like ten years.” (Tone is everything in such responses. Trust my tone was ever so sweet/respectful.)

“That is what I thought. I was sure you had a suitcase. Yesterday, when you came down the escalator I knew it was you before I saw your hair. I know your legs and how you stand. (All of this is said with a smile.)  But you upset my nerves so when I saw you carrying all those bags.”

“Grandma, I had two bags. My backpack and carry-on bag.” (Tone is still just right. Urgh.)

“That is not a carry on bag. That is a duffel bag. One of those bags hippies and college students carry.” (In my head are thoughts about how we learn to be prejudiced etc. but I am not about to voice any of that. I have good sense.)

This is where I took a deep breath and waited for my grandmother to deliver her message. I was sure there was a message and a directive.

“We always compliment you on your hair. Your hair is always done nicely, though I never know what color it is going to be, your hair is well done. You always have your lips painted and earrings. You got that from me and your mother.” (They do always compliment my hair, lipstick and earrings. I appreciate that they notice.)

I am still listening, waiting for my grandmother’s message coupled with her directive. That she was not giving me the business about my ugly shoes was not a surprise. At this point in my life, she has come to terms with my ugly shoe collection. She nor my mother would be caught dead in my shoes. Most days I am wearing clogs, Birkenstock, or flip-flops. My shoe game is punk. Side note – I do have a few pair of shoes when I must step up and I have my sister Kinshasa. I will be okay.

“You upset my nerves so coming down that escalator with all those bags. You are a woman. You are a lady. You are a professional woman. You carry a suitcase. You pack your things in a suitcase and check it when you get to the airport. The only bag you should be carrying is a nice purse. That purse you are carrying is big enough for whatever you will need on the flight. Have you ever seen me carry a duffel bag or your mother? No.” (Still not bold enough to say anything about respectability politics. I have good sense.)

“I did not pack my suitcase this trip because my suitcase is on the bigger side. I do not have the carry-on size. I did not need to carry a big suitcase for this trip.”

“sharlimar I do not care what size the suitcase is. You travel with a suitcase. And you will be checking that duffel bag when you go back to Baltimore. Don’t you ever think about traveling like that again. You must look like the professional woman you are. How you have your hair looking nice, lips painted, earrings and nice outfit and mess that up with all those bags? ”

I repeat , I had two bags. My backpack and carry-on bag.  I am amused by my grandmother’s message about how I am to travel as a woman, more specifically an African American woman. And I am grateful she did not go in on me about my shoes. I left breakfast this morning knowing that looking respectable and well put together is serious business for my grandmother, for my African American grandmother and for me her African American granddaughter. I am not going to be out here in these streets, airports etc. not representing. Good People she took it back to my great-grandmother, Granny. I knew she was serious bringing up Granny. Enough said Grandma.

Fast-forward four hours later in TJMAXX, grandma brings up my ugly shoes. LOL!


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10 whole years

it has been ten whole years since i last sat in that chair in janice’s office. after five years of intense mental health counseling, we determined i was able to manage my life using all that i had learned and leaving behind all that i had let go of, made meaning of and that which was not going to be resolved/fixed/made better. since leaving janice’s amazing care and consideration for who i was, who was inside of me waiting to be free and becoming free i have done well. i have done well because i tell the truth. i don’t fuck with people who do not affirm me or simply put do not like me. i have boundaries for others and myself. i show people how treat me. how you treat me is a non-negotiable. in my early years of life people did whatever they felt like doing. a promise i make to myself everyday is that i will not abandon me. i am here for me however that looks. you should hear me throughout the day asking myself, “are you showing up for sharlimar?” or telling myself, “sharlimar needs you.”

janice helped me to know that nothing was wrong with me. i needed healing, forgiveness of self, and an increase in serotonin. what a difference all three made in my life. for nearly 15 years i have been taking what i call my “happy pills.” everyday i seek God’s forgiveness and forgiveness from myself for myself and others. i exercise, read, cook, bake and sleep for healing.

these past couple of weeks i have been weepy and not sure why. so i stop trying to figure out the reason or reasons why and i just let the tears flow. today it occurred to me that i am somewhat depressed. as i have shared before, depression can be gradual then sudden. today when the tears started flowing for no apparent reason, i let them flow again. i also for some reason thought, “girl it has been ten years since you sat in that chair in janice’s office.” good people here is what i know. i am woman who is in her right mind most days. i am what crazy/depressed/OCD looks like on an ordinary day. i am what brilliance, intelligence, assertive and serious look like on an ordinary day. i like and love myself. if it were not for janice, meds, genuine love, framily and God i would not know that there is nothing wrong me even when i shed tears and do not know why. i am well. this far by faith and two happy pills everyday. be good to yourself.

love yoursel“In this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it. They don’t love your eyes; they’d just as soon pick em out. No more do they love the skin on your back. Yonder they flay it. And O my people they do not love your hands. Those they only use, tie, bind, chop off and leave empty. Love your hands! Love them. Raise them up and kiss them. Touch others with them, pat them together, stroke them on your face ’cause they don’t love that either. You got to love it, you! And no, they ain’t in love with your mouth. Yonder, out there, they will see it broken and break it again. What you say out of it they will not heed. What you scream from it they do not hear. What you put into it to nourish your body they will snatch away and give you leavins instead. No, they don’t love your mouth. You got to love it. This is flesh I’m talking about here. Flesh that needs to be loved. Feet that need to rest and to dance; backs that need support; shoulders that need arms, strong arms I’m telling you. And O my people, out yonder, hear me, they do not love your neck unnoosed and straight. So love your neck; put a hand on it, grace it, stroke it and hold it up. and all your inside parts that they’d just as soon slop for hogs, you got to love them. The dark, dark liver–love it, love it and the beat and beating heart, love that too. More than eyes or feet. More than lungs that have yet to draw free air. More than your life-holding womb and your life-giving private parts, hear me now, love your heart. For this is the prize.”  Toni Morrison, Beloved



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though i am unhappy about my weight i still like me. fifteen, ten or maybe even five years ago this would not have been the case. i have a not so kind history with how i see my body and therefore have felt about my body therefore my whole self. for about a month now i have been focused on getting rid of this unwanted weight.

yesterday, i smiled at myself. i said, “girl i like you. i am not for this weight, but i am for you.” at that moment i did the victory dance.



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