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Baby W’s

Why is it January 2021 when it’s still March?

This entire past year was a long ass extension of one day. March 17th, 2020. At least where I’m at, since other parts of the world implemented their lockdowns on different dates.

I guess the question that begs asking is:

What the fuck did I do in 2020?

A whole ass 2020 came and done went, and what do I really have to show of myself, for myself??

I was having this conversation with one of my fri-ents.

FRI-ENT (n.)

[pronounced fry-ent]

A friend who is also a client.

-ME, Duh

Something compelled me to bring up the topic and low and behold she too was experiencing the same sense of FML-FOMO that I was just days before.

Every year I begrudgingly reflect back to mine some things that I am proud of and every year it’s not enough. In, like, a super cruel self-deprecating way and not in an “That’s admirable of you to have such high expectations of yourself,” kind of way.

We gotta be able to celebrate our small victories. Like I shimmy about in the first ever episode of Two Grown (her web series for those who don’t know). That was 4 years ago. And for some reason, fast forward to now and I seldom allow myself to do so IRL.

All of the memes and #inspo on the gram claiming “There’s no excuse to not be productive,” during the worst global health crisis of our lifetime were, well, inspiring but in overwhelming quantities, pretty frickin’ toxic too. Like a form of cyber-bullying.

You can’t expect everyone to have the same experience during something like this. Everyone had to change, everyone had to adapt almost overnight to an entirely different way of operating in the same world they’ve always inhabited, only drastically different. When order is disrupted in any system, there are consequences, observable or not.

If you are someone who thrives off of people’s energies – like someone I know who is me – being at home all day can start to feel imprisoning. I have a love-hate relationship with isolation. Sometimes it can be beneficial when I need to get work done, but too much of it at once can be no bueno for the mente.

Mind you, I am lucky, SO damn lucky to even have a home to be able to stay home at. And knowing that makes me feel guilty for having the ovaries to complain to begin with.

Okay, we’ll get to perspective later on, but the point is, I can be paralyzingly hard on myself. I can beat myself to submission, to myself. It’s no nice, Alana! It’s no nice!

I remember a lovely woman I’ve had the pleasure of exchanging energy with telling me once that whenever you want to beat yourself up, or whenever you catch yourself saying something unkind to your mind (e.g. “You dumb bitch! you can’t even boil an egg right!”), imagine you’re saying it to your 3-year-old self instead.

If you wouldn’t say it to them, you shouldn’t be saying it to yourself. Imagine every time you say something unkind to yourself that you are hitting that little boy or girl over the head with a hammer, punishing them for just being themselves.

Fuckin’ sad, right?! I don’t wanna beat little me with a hammer! She’s too frickin’ cute!

So, in order to combat being a dick to yourself, we gotta celebrate our W’s. Our wins. Big and small, large and tall, all y’all have a reason to be proud of yourselves this year.

Circling back to my chat with my fri-ent, after transitioning away from the conversation for several minutes, I instinctively pinged back with:

“What if the silver lining for us this year is that we let ourselves do less?”

Under normal circumstances, I would have been running around all over the city everyday, getting my 10,000 steps in by 9AM, which is great, but a stark contrast to rolling out of my bed and onto ZOOM for work. I would have been juggling 8482085 different projects and would have been confident that the worst possible outcome was in store for all 8482085 of them. Mild exaggeration, yes. But the belief. The anxiety. The chaos. Not a stretch.

So this year. Yes. I allowed myself to do less. Even though it was uncomfortable. And that, my friends, is growth.

She thanked me for pointing that out.

Event though, yes I did do less, 2020 still had some small wins to be celebrated.

Baby W’s, if you will:

  1. Weekly voice lessons.

This is gonna require backstory. Mostly because I want to indulge in the nostalgia.

When I was a kid I would lock myself in my room and just sing. For hours. I would blast tunes from any of the following: Christina, Jessica, Selena, Alannis, The Spice Girls, TLC, Alicia Keys, Janet Jackson, Destiny’s Child, Pink to name a few, and just let my voice ring, vibrating through my body, and sometimes, the walls. Actually, if I wasn’t occupied with homework, an ice skating lesson, or slaying my classmates in Latin Bees (like a spelling bee, but with conjugations in Latin), I was singing.

In 5th grade, my girlfriends and I would sing the entire Spice Girls discography at recess – I was Sporty, okurr – and if you were lucky enough to get a ticket that I diligently printed using my MacIntosh desktop computer, you could attend our cover band’s concert. We had the choreo down and everything, bih, don’t play, girl power all day, okay?!

In hindsight, singing was a coping mechanism for me. It still is. At any of the 34830248 restaurant jobs I’ve had, if I wasn’t uttering obscenities under my breath about my customers (Ever seen Waiting? Think the short crazy one whose real name is Alanna) or berating a line cook about the actual definition of “two minutes”, I was singing.

Being relaxed is not my default setting. Keeping calm is not my natural jam. In order to sing…you have to be calm, or else your throat gets tight and you sound like caca! So for me, in order to sit the fuck down (metaphorically speaking) the cue would be anxiety, the habit would be singing, and the effect would be calm…albeit temporarily.

As a kid, you’re fearless and have little regard for what anyone tells you you can or can’t do. That changed somewhere along the way. How sad it is to feel like you’re not good enough for a thing you love.

Since April, I have taken a private lesson almost every single week. That’s actually a huge win for my ass. I usually don’t let myself do anything past two consecutive weeks because I seldom allow myself the grace to be a beginner or to make “mistakes”. I put mistakes in quote because I don’t believe in them. I believe we make choices which can lead to favorable or unfavorable outcomes, but we don’t know that ahead of time. If mistakes can be only be identified based on the consequence, then at the root of it, a mistake was simply a decision we made before we could have known better. When you think about it that way, the term mistake can almost seem dehumanizing. I digress.

“Do not fear mistakes. There are none.”

Miles Davis

My points is, I can have patience and compassion for others all damn day, but little reserves for myself.

My weekly lesson was one of my only non-negotiable priorities to execute during this time. In giving myself permission to be present in those lessons, instead of obsessing over getting it “right”, I have a newfound awareness of my voice. I’ve learned so much, most importantly, how to produce sound in a healthy way. I’m excited to see where I’ll go from here.

I’m proud I love me enough to have given myself this gift.

Next on the list…

  1. Teletherapy.

Talk about a gift. What a blessing consistently speaking with a mental health professional during this time has been.

I had some “stuff” resurface in recent months, as I’d mentioned in my last post. It was my impetus for hitting up a support hotline. And on the other side of that line was an angel who asked if I was interested in counseling. I had a follow-up call a couple days later. And the rest is herstory. While my therapist is a man, this is my story. What I’m trying to say is that I’ve been seeing him weekly ever since. I’m about 4 months in. That shit is a major win.

The benefits of therapy are immeasurable, truly. Having a skilled mental health practitioner objectively assess your experiences, help validate feelings that you don’t think you should be experiencing is literally a life saver.

It’s easy to allow ourselves to tell others that it’s okay not to be okay, but when it comes to ourselves we tend to have less leniency, less compassion, which is kind of the thesis of this whole thing, so let’s get outta hea. Before we do, I should let you know that you can always reach out to me if you want to know more about my experience with my thera-gift.

Oh ma God, I’m on a roll inventing these words that will only ever exist within the context of this blog….

  1. Having had any work ethic at all.

More backstory required, sans nostalgia.

I began working for myself as an independent personal trainer in the third quarter of 2019. I had minimal clients and no idea how I was going to convert enough to make a livable income, but also knew I could figure it out.

By February 2020 I closed just enough business that projected me to reach my goal-YTD income so long as my clients were consistent.

By mid-March 2020 I lost about three-quarters of my business due to COVID.

The first couple of weeks I wasn’t too concerned, but as the light at the end of the quarantined tunnel seemed to get further and further away, the more I began to panic.

Wtf am I gonna do?

To be transparent, just for context of my many blessings, I could have easily done absolutely nothing with this time, this worm hole we’ve been squirming through for the past 10 months. Instead, I reached out to my personal training clients who had one-by-one been informing me that their facilities were closing and we’d have to press pause on training, and offered the option to do virtual sessions.

I have never coveted a completely digital work environment existence. Not never.

Call me old fashioned, but I prefer FTF human interaction. FTF is shorthand for face-to-face. Anyone else work for a staffing firm for 6 months one time?

I’m entitled. If I want to do things a specific way, in this case, the only way that I was used to, then I can be pretty resistant to being willing to change, at first. I mean, we’re creatures that thrive off of survival instincts. We can obviously adapt, but business as usual is always ideal. Cuz ya know. Consequences, aka more work! In my case, having to make a new platform, start sending more email blasts, having to lean further into my social media networks for prospecting clients, which is something I’d been strictly averse to pre-pandemic, and every other facet of a strictly online business that I had not been previously accustomed to.

So I adapted! I did the things I did not want to do. And slowly but surely I got more and more clients. Do I want more? Of course. I’m Alana “More” Johnson. It’s a Goddamn disease.

But to accumulate a nice chunk of new business in the midst of a pandemonium-ic is – you guessed it! – a gift. It’s also beneficial to know that I’m needed. Well, the services I provide are. And that people want to need them from me? Like. What? That’s awesome.

Then I took it a step further and started to teach classes on Zoom and, once the summer hit, I co-coached an outdoor bootcamp! I never taught classes in an anywhere in the era B.C.Before Corona.

I’ve had so many lovely people show up week after week for months to take classes both with me and my partner in-person, as well as from home. Through these self-motivated endeavors, I reconnected with friends from all chapters of my life. High school friends – where are all my Paladins at?! – college friends, my sorority sisters, family, you name it. On Zoom I’ve been able to work with people all over the country, and sometimes the world!! How cool is that!? I’ve taught at least 100 classes by now. I couldn’t tell you the last time I did one hundred anythings.

Consistency for the win!!!!

  1. Virtual shows.

Prior to Rona’s rude (talk about an understatement) arrival, I’d also been performing on stage with the ladies of The HERlarious Show produced by Rachel La Loca. Given the resilient nature of all the womxn involved in the group, there was no question, the show had must go on.

I’m so grateful I got to be a part of two completely virtual installments of The HERlarious Show, which you can (and should) watch on the YouTube. Might as well while you’re here…No pressure.

::Gives mad side-eye to the screen::

  1. Spending hella quality time with my mother.

I quarantined at home with Ma Dukes. I’d also been living with her in the absence of a global pandemic, like any responsible highly functional adultperson, but that’s not the point.

My mother and I have not spent this much time together since I was an actual baby, and not a grown up baby. The reality is that we’ll probably never spend this much time together again.

Love you, Ma ❤

And that’s really it. And that’s really enough.

I did work I’ve been avoiding. I’ve come to terms with uncomfortable truths. I’ve mostly been alone and within that space, I’ve returned to me.

The little girl who would belt her heart out in her bedroom as a means of feeling peace, joy and freedom.

The Corona-coaster is still on a hunnid, and I doubt I’m the only one who feels that way.

It’s still gonna take some time, but looking back, I’m glad I’ve also been taking mine.

Here’s to another year of progress over perfection.

Thank you for riding with me & God bless.

Featured

2020 (the Apocalypse) in Review

What other choice do I have for a title considering two fiscal quarters have passed since I last put fingers-to-keyboard?

It’s November, but what does that even mean right now in this time-warped society we’ve been Destiny’s-Child-surviving in?

Well thus far, I’ve talked about my vagina. I’ve talked about my hair. I’ve talked about my Dad. I’ve talked about unnamed vaginal-visitors (BFP & co.) and named vaginal-visitors (Anam)…

I guess we can take it from the top o’ 2020.

Oh, boy.

At the top of the year I was in a relationship.

I bet you had a feeling I was going to call it back to one of my nana’s conquistadors. And that’s not short for grandma.

I was in my first committed boyfriend-girlfriend relationship (we actually had the conversation, I’m not just calling him my boyfriend for referential convenience like I would have done once upon a time, specifically in conversations with strangers I’d never see again, but whose opinions were correlated with my self-esteem) in 7 years.

This was kind of a big deal for me.

I’m usually a commitment-repellant. You can’t utter the word around me without the sky raining locusts.

Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but that is the actual weather in my mind.

Locust-showers just all up in the cranial cavity. I blame this image on the Archdiocese of New York.

Let me start (clearly we haven’t yet) by saying this: I met a really special human being last summer.

I met him at a pool party with mutual friends and we instantly gravitated toward one another. Was the attraction accelerated by the fact that we were practically naked? Probably definitely.

He was covered in tattoos, had hair twice the length of mine, and as soon as I felt a tingle in my lady bits…I told myself “down girl, down.” I’m an actual bitch in my mind.

We managed to isolate ourselves for hours in the pool playing whatever that ping pong-esque game is you play in the pool with the rackets and those soft fabric balls. You know the one. Is it still ping pong in the pool? Someone follow up with NERF on this for me.

For the time that we played, no one else existed.

“Side effects may include: Dissociating from reality…” should have been a solid foreshadowing, but hey, I just get to live the movie, I don’t get to cut it.

We exchanged numbers and that was it. I saw him just about everyday for the next 6 months (minus my pilgrimage to Bali – which of course I had to mention to make you think I’m cultured – a brief trip to NOLA, and his personal cross country excursion).

Now, I am one to hate people, in a meme-generated sort of way. There are so few people I want to tolerate for 6 consecutive days, let alone months. So what was it about this guy who I started a relationship with upon eye contact…

On that note, it was the way he looked at me, for one. It was obvious and attentive but not in a lascivious way (Hold for you to Google “lascivious.” Hold for me to Google how to use it in a sentence).

Honestly, he would look at me with sheer amazement.

I couldn’t recall (still can’t) anyone ever looking at me quite that way. In a way that made me feel equally desired and revered. In a way that made me feel like I was okay as I was. I didn’t have to compromise my authenticity or uphold any unspoken social contracts. I didn’t have to try.

I didn’t want him to stop looking.

As far as what I saw in him, there was undeniable talent, compassion and a six-pack.

And more, but I don’t want to get into my opinions on him as a human, rather stick to my perspective of the relationship.

I mean…if that’s okay.

Which it has to be because I’m writing this damn thing.

Booya.

Sidenote: Did you know that talent is not sexually transmittable?

Look. I have had men I’ve dated (situated) tell me straight up that it’s not easy to date an actor, or, a few drinks in, belittle my acting ambitions entirely.

While I have the universe’s ear:

“I am a successful television actor. I am a successful television actor. I am a successful television actor.

That should do it.

I’ve had them tell me “Women aren’t funny” knowing that I’m out here comedy-ing, I’ve had men tell me they see themselves with someone the EXACT opposite of me, yet for some reason still want (to waste) my time and attention. Okay, we all know the reason.

The time that lapses between such dehumanizing (I just want to emphasize the word that I stylistically emphasized, as these comments are DEFUCKINGHUMANIZING so stop it) exchanges and me deading those situations has gotten shorter as time has gone on, as I’ve usually been able to detect the fuckperson-ry earlier on. There have been exceptions that had me dickmatized for longer though.

Dickmatis (n.) is a condition exhibiting characteristics of insanity and obsession with regards to a dick(s) that would otherwise be healthy if the dick in question was autonomous, not subjected to the negligent rule of its master. One with this condition is deemed dickmatized.

– Alana’s prodigious dicktionary

This dude was the first one in I-don’t-even-know-how-long who didn’t make me feel like I was “doing life” wrong. He supported me. He showed up for me, at shows and events, admiring me from the audience. Driving me to perform, picking me up afterwards. He didn’t take me on a private jet or nothin’ but this was kinda the emotional equivalent for me. For the better part of the (v. short and V. intense) relationship, he was in the trenches with me. In fact, he wanted me to do even more.

He listened when I spoke. He expressed his emotions.

Holy Shit. A man who doesn’t distill his emotions into the reservoir of toxic masculinity?

Sign me up.

Above all else, he accepted me. Fully.

That is the feeling that, in hindsight, I know I held dearest.

The loudness, the mood swings, the tears (OMG so-many-tears), the anxiety, the chaos, the body hair, the period stains (my uterus is also a reservoir) the neediness (which there’s nothing wrong with having a lot of needs so long as you don’t expect the other person to be a mind reader), the “we need to talks”.

He didn’t try to control how I behaved or what I wore. Cuz a bitch done been there.

He just let me be.

Honestly, it was the first time I felt like I was in a relationship that consisted of two completely whole people.

Looking back though that may not have been entirely true.

…Nah. It’s false AF.

I know I am not alone in this, but some things have come up for me during this time on the inside: the time post-Corona.

One of those being that…I haven’t been loving myself fully.

::Gasp::

The irony in the fact that I was so enthralled by this man’s acceptance of me is that I have not genuinely accepted me.

There are parts of myself greased with shame, so much fucking shame, that I have rejected, compartmentalized, repressed…all them psychological words for “pretending to be fine and shit.”

And underneath those parts, and underneath those thoughts on said parts, are beliefs so deeply embedded in my subconscious that I didn’t even know they were influencing what manifested into my reality.

Because that’s how it works. What goes on in our subconscious mind is a direct reflection of what we experience…or vice versa. Shut up I have a B.A.

Katt Williams eloquently graced us with his wisdom on this subject in The Pimp Chronicles when he said,

“You need to figure out what’s wrong with your p*ssy that keeps attracting ain’t shit n*gg*s.”

– katt williams, the man with the most luxurious perm

Katt might be willing to wait; I’m not.

Admitting out loud that I have held on to this belief that “I am a dirty whore unworthy of happiness and love” has been the most freeing thing I’ve done all year.

Yeah, you read that right.

That is how I’ve felt about myself. And I wasn’t consciously aware of it til less than two months ago.

Reasons for this include: sexism, double standards, and having had my developing child-brain gizzed on by Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.

Those shame-greased parts are not pretty. I, like A LOT of people, have experienced things that were not okay. Things that people should go to jail for. Things that I grew to believe I deserved. With the deep seeding of such irrational beliefs came chronic compulsions to reenact the pain. Amplifying the shame.

I can hate these pieces, these memories all I want, but at the end of the day, they’re still a part of me. In rejecting them, I reject myself.

That’s the color palette that has painted so much of my reality.

Being anti-me.

It’s definitely not a coincidence that the quality of acceptance in others gets my rocks off.

Now I just gotta learn how to give it to myself.

By myself.

Maybe I’ll check out one of my sorors’ Pure Romance parties after all.

If you have experienced sexual violence, you can get help. Visit rainn.org to find resources and counseling services offered in your area. You are not alone.

Family Jewels

I recently started reading The Eight Characters of Comedy by Scott Sedita, who asserts that our sense of humor comes from our families.

And pain.

For all of us, there are some familial instances that seemed mortifying at the time, but in hindsight? Pure hilarity. And material.

On what would have been my father’s 72nd birthday, in what will be the 10th year since his passing, I’ma drop 10 of these such memories about Mr. Bill “Billy Boy” Johnson.

1.) Parading around in his speedo when ALL OF MY (and my brother’s) FRIENDS came over in the summer. This earned him the nickname Captain Nut-Huggers. Behind his back, of course. EDIT: His speedo, his vest and his fedora. That was his summer uniform.

2.) Catching a group of my girlfriends sleeping on “his” couch in 6th grade and telling them, “None of you better have your monthly friend right now.” Then walking away.

3.) Casually referring to a friend as “The Two of Them.” Shit is messed up, cuz like, you know, body-shaming. But, too, funny.

4.) Telling telemarketers he couldn’t talk right now because he was j-ing off. Fill in the blanks, people. And when the telemarketers would ask for my mother, telling them she was in prison (LOL), which she was never. At least not in my lifetime. I should call her and investigate…or just yell at her through the wall because we’re roommates.

5.) Enslaving all of my brother’s friends. Oh, you thought you were coming to hang out? Nope. How about “I got a job for you.” And it was NEVER “real quick” as he always claimed it was.

6.) We didn’t have regular phones. We had corporate, multiple lines, I CAN SEE WHENEVER ANYONE IS ON THE PHONE, business phones. Whenever I was on the phone, he’d always pick up “by accident” because he “didn’t know” I was on the phone, and eavesdrop for a solid minute. I COULD SEE YOU, DAD.

7.) Busting into my room with a FLASHLIGHT like a damn SWAT team person-member when I was on my cellphone past my bedtime on a school night, confiscating it, and then doing it again when I’d sneak into my brother’s room and take HIS cellphone to talk to my MAN (LOL I was 16). I wasn’t slick.

8.) Taping signs with unnecessary PRINTED directions all over the house. Like “DON’T LEAVE THE SCREEN DOOR OPEN.” I can’t remember the other ones BECAUSE I DIDN’T READ THEM. But there was ALWAYS a sign.

9.) PLANTING a STAIN – on the kitchen floor under the refrigerator where no one could see it. Was it ketchup? Hot sauce? Regardless, it was insane. Then yelling at all of us a week later for not cleaning it. Because we all FAILED HIS TEST.

10.) SEARCHING my friend’s car when she picked me up to go on a road trip and CONFISCATING all of her alcohol. He ain’t have a warrant!

BONUS: Always dressing SO FLY (out of his closet the size of my ACTUAL BEDROOM) that my friends thought he was a mobster. I’ll never know.

With that said. HAPPY BIRTHDAY BILL JOHNSON! I’m grateful for all of the genes I inherited from you. Even the bad ones a little. And so, so grateful for these family jewels. ❤ SIP

A Brief Curl-story

Whenever I get complimented on my hair, my first instinct is to say how much I hated it growing up.

Then, “oh, yeah. Thanks.”

It usually confuses people, present-day me included. One of the last times someone questioned my lock-loathing history, my reply was “because I didn’t know I wasn’t white.” He laughed. And was drunk. 

Growing up I went to school with predominantly white children (my instinct was to say “white people” but “people” sounds weird adjacent to “school” and children are people too, so deal). I specifically recall envying the way that straight-haired white girls (which all of “them” essentially were) could effortlessly tuck their hair behind their ears without it falling forward. It was so cool to me, let alone super aesthetically pleasing. It was like their ears were built-in barrettes just holding their silky tresses tautly in place. Multipurpose AF. 

I would stand in front of the mirror emulating the ear-tuck to no avail. My hair always defiantly bounced back to the side/front of my face. I thought there was something wrong with me. 

For years I never wore my hair down. More accurately, I would leave for school with it wet and down, because when it was wet it was acceptable, but I hated how much it shrank when it was dry.

I felt like I looked like a chia pet.

So it was always pulled back, or on top of my head by the end of the day. 

Eventually I began relaxing my hair. In middle school and high school my mother religiously took me to “the Dominicans” to get my hair blown out straight. I could finally do an ear-tuck! I had arrived.

For years I hardly ever rocked the curls. The relaxer cooked the curls anyway (probably with Adobo) so now when I wore it down, I looked like a wilted chia pet.

When I went off to college, I figured…I might as well go hard or go home, and went for the Japanese relaxer.

Yeah, I voluntarily sat in a chair for 8 HOURS willingly letting an Olympic figure skating team worth of Koreans slow-roast my curls with chemicals.

BIG mistake.

Never listen to your Korean friend who tells you to get Japanese straightened. I love you Rosa, but ’tis the truth.

Yes, her name is Rosa and she is Korean, and yes we are talking about Japanese not Dominican relaxer. Stay with me people. 

Styling my chemically-altered straight tresses was effortless post-initial cooking, but as soon as there was any hint of a curl growing in, fuggedaboudit. When I’d sweat it out, after hours of applying all forms of heat to it to straighten that damn root, I looked like I had a helmet on my head. She was not cute. 

After two rounds of getting Japanesed and one go at getting Brazilianed, I was done. I was done taking my curls for granted and for treating them so shittily. I cut my hair short, and grew those tender tendrils back in. I made it a priority to treat them better, use better products and to learn how to rock what God got me. You know? 

Today it’s the opposite. I almost never wear my hair straight. I avoid it at all costs. My curls are basically my brand. They’re my personality: big, spunky, imperfect. My curls are mad dope yo. 

Not to be all Meghan Trainor but my hair is my crown. Today I wear it proudly. 

I used to straighten my hair to come off as more “professional” for interviews, as once upon a time I did subscribe to the idea that curly hair was not that. I want to give that version of me a big ass hug. Poor thing had abysmal self-love. 

Today I love the skin I’m in, and all my keratin.

Photo Credit: Jordi-Lakeem Foster https://www.jfp.nyc/

C*ck out Chronicles

So here’s the thing about me.

I am not unique.

I have been ghosted plenty a time…most occurrences having been of the post-coital variety. Nothing like a post-coital ghost to spook the self-esteem outta ya.

I’m…just being honest (in “HEY YA” Outkast cadence).

Not that anyone truly needs a definition for ghosting, but just to make sure we all know what we’re talking about here, as defined by my bae Merriam:

Ghosting: the act or practice of abruptly cutting off all contact with someone (such as a former romantic partner) by no longer accepting or responding to phone calls, instant messages, etc.”

This definition is quite similar to that on Urban Dictionary, everyone’s go-to resource for woke, millennial colloquia. When the Dictionary-Dictionary and the Urban Dictionary are on the same page about a cultural phenomenon – in the worst sense – you know shit is real.

Upon searching for the definition of ghosting, other terms for similar fuckboy – ehemm, excuse me, fuckpeople – behaviors were brought to my attention.

There are levels to this shit, son, including:

  1. Breadcrumbing: “In online dating, sending messages which suggest that you’re still interested in someone, when in fact you’re very unlikely to want to meet or have a relationship with them” – Macmillan Dictionary
  2. Orbiting: “The digital observation of a prospective or former romantic partner.” Macmillan Dictionary
  3. Curving: “When someone responds to texts infrequently and with only the vaguest interest. When it comes to making plans, the curver is noncommittal.” Swipe Life

Mom, if you’re reading (fingers-crossed you are not) this is precisely why I have an empty, single uterus.

I will collectively refer to these behaviors as cocking out, a term inspired by a quote from Margo, my fave character on The Magicians (a truly frickin delightful show, go watch it on Netflix, sponsor me Netflix). She says,

“You are not gonna cock out on me…

I’d say pussy, but let’s be honest, which one is tougher?”

#MargoForPresident

After plummeting into the webosphere, I have come to realize that I, at some point or another, have been guilty of all of these behaviors.

I just need to call that shit out up top.

I mean, of course I’ve cocked out. I’ve always had penis envy.

Sooo, yeah. I have probably hurt some people.

I was an ass hole most of my twenties, and literally thought if I slept with you, you were my boyfriend.

I had never ever said it out loud (to my knowledge, unless it was in a blackout, which happened just about every time I consumed alcohol between ages 15 and 28, which is a whole other ish we’ll dish on a later date), but subconsciously that was my actual thought process.

I had below sea level standards and expectations atop Everest. A real rational gal she was. 

During these times, however, even though I did genuinely believe that my v was a dowry, it wasn’t so much that I wanted [insert mistake’s name here] to actually be my husband. I just wanted a heated blanket. 

And, of course, validation (more on that when I write my post on Daddy Issues…that’s where personality comes from).

Desperation was my name, validation was my game. 

I was lonely and, furthermore, could not stand to be alone with me. I was (well, still am) exhausting. I had problems, the biggest of which was spelled “I”. 

The worst part is that many a time, upon getting rejected, I would manipulate my way into getting them to stick around, only to cock out on them after they took my bait! I thought I was being crafty. Re-writing the narrative. Being an artiste, if you will, when in reality I was being uh…INSANE.  

Being deluded and ill-equipped to unpack my shit, I’d tear through town in a coat of armor made of self-loathing-sabotage and pity all from concentrate. 

Giving you a beat to make sure you distributed “self” to sabotage and pity. 

And go!

What’s the expression? Oh, right, it’s: “You can’t pour from an empty handle of Jameson.”

That’s it.

You see, but I didn’t know what I didn’t know, which makes me completely unaccountable for ever being a dick. 🙂

JK, no it doesn’t! 

I’m like rly sry! So before I get to shittalk men, I had to level the playing field. 

Moving on to the section where people are dicks to me. #SelfPityIsMyShit

Disclaimer: If you’re a dude with whom I’ve had any involvement with ever at all, you is fair game for content. You’ve been warned.

Let me relate my most recent cocking out experience to you.

It all went down in the DM.

The Facebook DM, but the DM nonetheless.

I posted, what would be considered by misogynistic, judgmental, mind-your-own-God-damn-business men, a thirst trap picture of myself to my Instagram story (which gets shared to my FB story hence it going down in the FB DM ::wipes brow from how exhausting explaining this is::).

Isn’t it crazy that 20 years ago none of these terms existed and they’re like, totes like, half of our vocab in 2020?

Just needed to point that out….

Okay fine!

Maybe I was in an emotionally fragile disposition, and was seeking some validation via flaunting my (hard-earned, for the record) bikini-bod on the social med. Can’t a girl get a hit of dopamine without being scrutinized by the phallus that be?

Wait…can we hold real quick on “phallus that be“? Do you see what I did there? Like. Powers that be. Only I replaced it with phallus…as in a metaphor for the patriarchy?

I am a God damn goddess-touched genius.

There, I just gave myself some dopamine. GAVE IT TO MYSELF!

Basically I just made my own brain come.

Moving on…

…is what I did. Eventually. Long after the end of the story which I’ve been too high on my own self-produced dopamine to focus on getting to.

::Sips bedside coffee::

DMs. Right.

So a blast-from-the-past of a friend slid in the DM. A very good-looking blast from the past. I will give him that.

I shall call him BFP.

BFP is someone with whom I’ve been acquainted for about 13 years if my arithmetic serves me correctly, but it had probably been a decade since our last real-life encounter. I’d gone to his house parties, apparently hung out with him individually, and we apparently made out during said one-on-ones all those years ago, which I have no recollection of, but am taking his word for it.

Plus, it sounds like me.

It’s just that a few years of my early adult life have seemed to left my brain. Maybe it was the partying, maybe it was the PTSD, but I’m pretty sure Will and Tommy Men-In-Blacked me.

We fast-forward to present day: BFP and I initially engaged in a light catch-up sprinkled with reciprocated dashes of flattery, mostly of the physical variety, but nothing risque. It was truly tame dialogue, even for me.

This extended into the following couple of days, whence we arrived at a mutual interest to “get up.” Still my favorite expression for “hang out,” in case you needed a translation.

We were both down to get up.

The company was great, burrito bowls were had (sponsor me, Chipotle), and he took me to heaven.

Well, my version of heaven on earth – the gym, bish – which was actually part of the reason we’d planned to get up in the first place. This is what set the story in motion.

In the midst of the cackles and subtle eyelash flutters, BFP enlightened me on our history of exchanging saliva and – you know what they say – history repeats itself.

And a sista was not mad at it. Not mad. At all.

In fact, she immediately asked aloud, “How do I not remember kissing you?” right after a failed attempt at a sexy hair toss to disguise the fact that I was wiping my mouth from cascading saliva.

That was probably where she first went wrong. Massaging the ego. Should’ve kept that one as an inner monologue moment, A. Therapy has made you soft. You gotta do better at being an ass hole.

Sidenote: Throwing in the occasional third person remark makes me feel like I can narrate more objectively, and also less pathetic.

He keeps me out way past my bedtime, we have a delicious makeout sesh, and asks me to lunch the next day. Boom. That happens. Then, get this, he calls me (gasp), and, too, video calls me consistently, and we talk for hours. For so long that I had to remind his ass I actually have shit to do cuz I’m a busy ass bitch. She learning boundaries and shit in 2020, okay?! Pre-COViD. 

Here’s where I damn near lost my shit. BFP picks me up on a Sunday and suggests that we go get…wait for it…mani-pedis. Me and Him. The both of us. I mean, he made the suggestion after examining my nails which I didn’t think anything of in the moment, but in hindsight was probably a lil muhfuckin judgemental. But I did have a huge audition later that week so he was doing me a favor. I was like, haaay universe, I see you! Thanks for the present!

That Sunday would later be known as D-Day because it was the day the D was delivered, and also because SPOILER ALERT, it was the last time I saw him. 

So, remember how I told you about all those hours on the phone? Well, during one of those conversations upon discussing various ongoing “commitments” I had, he chimes in “Like me.” LOL. In another conversation, he’d alluded to exclusivity – in hindsight maybe it was more like possession – but either way, he nonchalantly inserted the idea of me not seeing anyone else. I chose to use “insert” to be perverted. Okay, uh, what else. OH! Potential future plans were discussed. Hook and sink. Nothing to get a girl going like a visual of both your names on a Google calendar invite. Not to mention in one of his responses to me via text he said, he didn’t just want to be a meatstick. Well OKAY then, sire.

Then later that week, on the day of the biggest audition of my career thus far, on the night of which I had a comedy show that we’d discussed him potentially attending, I felt a shift. I reached out that day. He responded with well wishes for the audition. The day went on and as much as I already knew he wasn’t gonna come to my show, I was hoping for him to at least let me know. As a performer, inviting someone you’re “talking to” to watch you bear your soul on stage makes you feel pretty vulnerable. At least for this performer. Needless to say, the lack of acknowledgment when we’d literally discussed it the day before told me everything I needed to know. 

He got what he wanted and now he’s bailing. 

I kept the outreach to a minimum, got a few “I’ll call you laters” that went unfulfilled (see: curving). I was trying to have some empathy, spinning stories about what he could be “going through” that’s preventing him from reaching out like he did before. There were no more calls after that. Only occasional IG likes and eyes on my stories, i.e. orbiting.

I knew that I was encroaching on ghosting terrain.

Now…another thing about me.

I don’t do well with being ghosted.

I confront my ghosts.

I’m a Ghostbuster.

After a week in orbit, I decided to video call (chat? whatevs) him one last time. He answers. Hello-how-are-yous are briefly exchanged. Then he says, “You left your tupperware here, is that why you’re calling?” 

Are you kidding me? You living, breathing, ass-cock. My tupperware? Really? Acting like being on the phone with me is so far-fetched. Respectfully, FUCK YOU. 

That was what I wanted to say, but what I said instead was “No.”

Because today, I am a woman of grace and dignity…most of the time.

In typical fuckperson fashion, he rushed me off the phone and said he’d call me later, which, SPOILER ALERT he did never. 

In typical dumb trick fashion, I genuinely thought again, this time will be different. He’ll call back. He actually said it to my virtual face instead of texting it, which makes it more real. There are levels to this shit, son.

I waited til the next evening, and after unsurprisingly not hearing a peep, decided to text him something along the lines of this: 

“Hey. So I’m not gonna wait for another returned call or text that I’m never gonna get. Understanding you may be busy, no one’s too busy for common courtesy. The drastic shift in this interaction since we had sex is for me, in a word, humiliating. And humiliating hurts. I reached out the other day to see if everything was okay with you, and in not hearing back again, I’m leaning into my instinct of this being, well, me being, unfinished business. The sad part about that is that you didn’t even get to experience it at its full potential. I wish you the best. Keep the tupperware, throw it out. For the record, I didn’t want anything from you, I just wanted to go to the gym.”

Okay, fine it was basically exactly that^.

After consulting with one of my soul sisters and getting her opinion on how I handled this situation, she told me, “It sounds like you said what you meant and meant what you said.” 

The amazing thing is that during one of our multi-hour long conversations he’d asked me why I love acting so much, and my response was just that. It has taught me to say what I mean and mean what I say. 

And herein lies my biggest issue with those who have cocked out on me. 

Look, if you just want the draws that is totally fine. Honor that truth. Fulfill that desire. But don’t go around courting women, referring to yourself as a commitment, and expressing your desire to be more than just a stick of meat when in reality that is not the case.

Save your money for Christsake. AND your breath. 

It’s manipulative AF, and in this case, it felt so transactional. I ain’t authorize this shit.

And to give you guys context, the lifespan of this encounter was…wait for it…2 weeks

I know! How pathetic of me to have been butt hurt over an interaction that lasted as long as some of my menses have. 

But hear me out. 

For one, we’re too grown for this (shameless plug for you to watch my series Two Grown). Cock out behaviors should be reserved for people in their 20s to indulge in to their hearts’ content. The sad truth of the matter is that there’s no age cutoff for being a fuckperson. 

For two, this particular situation really got under my skin because this person and I kinda had a little bit of a history. I wasn’t some random chick he’d picked up at a bar. He’s someone I had a thorough FB message history with, and whom (pre-cock out) I guess I would’ve considered a friend off the FB entirely.

For three, I had just had a pretty horrific break up, possibly unbeknownst to him because it never came up and I didn’t feel the need to bring it up. If the shit went on longer then of course I eventually would have. Regardless, I was already vulnerable, and truly, genuinely was not looking to rebound with this guy, nor did I want to jump into a new relationship. We just seemed to click and I was looking at that connection as merely a gift from the universe. Why reject it? What’s wrong with enjoying the company of someone you thought was awesome? So long as there’s mutual respect, why not? 

And lastly, this goes for all those who have ever cocked out on me, or on anyone for that matter. What I’ve learned from these sorts of short but intense encounters that cease abruptly is that I’m not necessarily mourning the person who is choosing to walk out of my life. I’m mourning the good, warm, fuzzy, delicious, juicy feeling that they gave me. All roads lead back to dopamine, na’ mean?

When you start talking to someone and they call you and text you all the time, seeing their name pop up on your phone literally releases dopamine in your brain. When your brain is consistently stimulated like that, and then that stimulation suddenly stops, the end result is cold turkey withdrawal. Emphasis on cold. And maybe turkey also because I’m hungry. 

So when I recently watched a video on the “proper” response to getting ghosted being to “Just let it go” (okay, Frozen) and when I see quotes like “Rejection is God’s protection” and all the “It’s not about you, it’s about the other person” – cliches we say to someone we love who’s just been cocked out on – despite these statements being absolutely true, I think they’re neglecting a very important part of our reality.

Our humanity. Our sentience. The fact that feelings – a byproduct of aforementioned withdrawal – are a very real thing with very real effects. Not to be dramatic, but having an intimate connection with someone, which, I hate to break it to you non-committals, is a form of a relationship, and then having them walk out of your life is…a death.

It’s the death of that relationship. And what comes with death? Grief. And people process that shit differently.

People tell me all the time how strong I am. But guess what? There’s a yang to that yin and it’s filled with MUSH.

I am sensifrickintive. Probably more than the average. And having so many feelings is often overwhelming. 

At the end of the day, getting hurt is a risk we take when opening up to another human being. 

This is gonna sound antithetical, but if you want out of a situationship, you really don’t owe anyone an explanation. However, after connecting with someone on an intimate level (not necessarily physically, but certainly emotionally), I do believe at the very least, giving someone a heads up that shit’s about to change is the right thing to do.

Treat others how you want to be treated. It’s the Golden Rule. Rip the bandaid, so we don’t keep picking at the wound. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but I like how it sounds.

In the words of one of my favorite songs of all time: 

“You can tell me to my face, or even on the phone

You can write it in a letter, either way, I have to know”

All Saints, “Never Ever”

Although these modes of contact are damn near obsolete, yous guys got the idea. It’s also kinda depressing that this is one of my fave songs of all time…

I should add that I recently had a conversation with a male friend of mine who confessed to having ghosted someone. The reason being? She allegedly smelled down there (we don’t have the time to unpack alladat but let’s go with it). 

In his case, I told him he could have lied. Said something. Anything. Because in my opinion, a lie that prepares you for the impending dopamine withdrawal is better than the alternative: inevitable, idle curiosity.  And way too much chocolate. Please don’t give me diarrhea.

So, if you got anything from this I hope that it’s:

  1. Say what you mean and mean what you say
  2. You are entitled to your feelings, and entitled to feeling those feelings
  3. If you’re 30+ grow a twat and tell a person politely when you’re through with them

Cocking out.

Out.

I’m infected

Not with Rona. So, relax.

I just needed a provocative, yet truthful, title to get you to click.

Let me explain.

It’s not fun for anyone involved, but there’s something about hot wax in your butt hole on a Monday that just makes everything else seem much more doable.

Or so I thought.

On COViD-Quarantine Eve, I had a calling. I had to take responsibility for the shrubbery that God bestowed upon my nether-lands…and tear her out. Well, to pay my homegirl Anam to tear her out for me a la Brazilian, a practice that I’ve engaged in regularly for at least a decade.

Dayum. Das a lot of coins spent on the coochie…

I digress.

I don’t know who has it worse, quite frankly, her for lathering hot sticky wax onto my taint-hairs, accessible via a position I can only describe as – if spread eagle and doggy style had a baby – or me, for voluntarily submitting myself to this form of aesthetic torture. AND paying for it. #CoochieCoins

Given the forecasted shut-down, I wasn’t sure when I’d next have the opportunity to grace Anam with my pubic presence, so I decided to be proactive.

That is being responsible. Because if too much time passes without a waxing, the consequences are far worse. A furry bush – and its butt buddy, the fuzzy booty hole – can host a lot of unwanted…materials – to put it lightly – throughout the day. We’re talking skidmarks on the draws, dried-up discharge that makes you have to pry your pubes apart – making them so much less fun to twirl, which is a thing we obviously all do to our heart’s content – plus lingering odors. Basically, a vault for farts. A fart vault. Good luck getting out of there little pootie tangs.

Not to mention, if I wait too long, it becomes a LOT more work for Anam when I do decide to woman-up and come through. I know this because when I’ve gone too long in the past, she’s made it a point to show me the quantity of hairs on each wax strip as she rips.

Sooo basically staying on top of my Brazilian-scheduled programming is being of service. To Anam, to the neighbors I share washing machines with and to the world at large (see: lingering odors).

Now that you have all of those pristine visuals of me and my vajay in compromising positions in your mind, brace yourself.

It gets worse.

Now, after imposing trauma upon your coochie there are some dos and don’ts.

Naturally, one of the things I thought it would be great to do post-Brazilian was to…show someone.

Catch my drift?

Picking up what I’m putting down?

Cuz he damn sure picked me up and put. it. down.

Several times.

Owww.

No, really though OWWW.

Folks, what you are NOT supposed to do post-Brazilian is:

  1. Exercise
  2. Induce too much friction down therre
  3. Get sweat down therrrre

Because she is sensitive. And vulnerable. And raw.

Now, usually I take heed to these grave warnings, but out here in COViD COUNTRY, a sista was not thinking! My mind was on quarantine-and-chillin. And Anam didn’t give me the safety briefing after our wax because I’ve been putting my cooter in her face for the lifespan of a 6th grader!

Waaah!

Two days after the encounter, I woke up to a MUTANT of a vulva. It looked like malaria-ridden mosquitoes came, and saw and conquered my nani. It looked like if Dr. Frankenstein was blind and assembled a vajay with three fractured fingers. It looked like my nana should have been donated to science.

She was not in good shape. And the mountainous bumps on her began to change shape over the course of a few days.

I checked in with my primary care provider – Google – regarding the matter. The diagnosis was folliculitis , an infection of the hair follicles.

Folliculitis is a common skin condition and usually self-treatable.

That doesn’t sound too bad, right?

WRONG!

Every single hair follicle in my nether-lands was infected. And in case you’ve forgotten, I’m Puerto Rican, African American and Italian (mostly). That equates to thick hairs, and a lot of them.

DAS A LOT OF FOLLICLES!

I’ve been walking bow legged, folks. I haven’t been able to sit down without wincing. I haven’t been able to engage in any activity that causes the least bit of friction down there.

I will say that the bow-legged walk has activated my upper booty muscles more so than my regular gait…so I’ll take that discovery as a win. Yay for silver linings.

Given the embarrassing nature of this predicament, I was determined to fix it myself. I was gonna wait it out for 10 days, which is how long Google told me it lasts in most cases.

I spent hours in the bathroom hot compressing my nana, applying witch hazel-soaked cotton balls to her, massaging her with coconut oil.

And crying. There was certainly crying.

There’s always crying.

After a week of this idiocy, I couldn’t take it anymore. I reached out to an actual doctor for actual Western medicinal solutions. He very generously and willingly provided me a prescription.

He said, “Next time, don’t wait til there’s a crisis to call.”

And a light-bulb went off.

Who the hell do I think I am trying to heal myself with nature? Pocahontas (more like Loca-hontas LOL)?

Nice try, A. Nice frickin try.

And who the hell do I think I am for trying to “wait it out” and “tough it out?”

What was I gonna wait for? For my entire body to corrode from vagina-out?

Sometimes “being strong” is being fucking stupid.

I was in pain! I had access to a solution, but chose to try to deal with it on my own. I chose to sit in suffering over expediting relief. And I feel like that is such a woman-y thing to do.

Had that been my Dad or my brother (whom I love dearly), they would’ve hit up their Docs for a good old Rx on discomfort day 0.

Then again, this whole thing started with my choice to suffer, but anyway…

Seriously though, as women we’re already expected to tolerate so much more pain. In the physical sense, we are the menstruators (that sounds like a grunge band and a band of super heroes) and the children-bearers.

In an emotional sense, we’re expected to be the communicators, the nurturers, the pacifiers, in all types of relationships and scenarios.

We hold shit down. We keep shit together. We birth life (I have not, yet, but let me be down).

We’re the fucking glue of the world.

Or, if we wanna stay on theme, the wax of the world.

I don’t know.

Focus, A.

But who keeps us together when we fall apart?

Oh, that’s right.

We do. We frickin do.

So – and this is more for me than for you – let’s strive to always treat ourselves better.

For me, this week that meant setting aside my pride and ego, and making a call to get my darling nani some damn help.

Sometimes I really frickin need it.

And I deserve it.

I feel like the only reason I was given the distinct opportunity to have this experience was to share it with all of you.

And for us to laugh at me together.

Silver frickin linings.

Consider this a cautionary tale:

  1. Wait at least 24 hours to show someone your freshly waxed nani.
  2. Splash some cold water on that delectable diamond as soon as you get home from waxing.
  3. Don’t wait for your mutated vagina to kill you in your sleep to call a doctor if you fail to implement 1 and 2.

Happy Quarantine and Chilling.

HOLA!

Coming at you live from my bedroom, ALANA J is in the hizouse, y’all.

So, I have no idea what the hell to say right now, but I will just let the muse blog through me.

It’s March 26, 2020 – as you can probably tell from the timestamp on my post, which I am assuming is a thing, but have no idea because I truthfully have no idea WTF I am doing.

What’s the expression? Leap and the net will appear?

WHERE THE F YOU AT, NET?!

Not like, as an abbreviation for the inter-NET but as an actual, physical NET because a sista is trippin, she fallin, she can’t get up.

OKAY, do you see how much is wrong with me already? I don’t even know how to stay on topic and the topic is I DON’T KNOW WHAT I AM DOING! Get it together, A.

OKAY.

The date…that is what I was mentioning.

WE IN THE MIDDLE OF A QUARANTINE, Y’ALL.

It is COVID COUNTRY out here in these streets. And by COUNTRY I do mean THE ENTIRE PLANET EARTH.

You can blame it on the novel COVID-19 for me doing this RIDICULOUSNESS.

Note to self, Alana…you think in ALL CAPS a lot. You should unpack that in therapy. AKA I should unpack that NEVER because I don’t know if and when I will EVER be able to go back to Dr. White (::cries a river::)!

She is the NET. And she is my world. I have gracefully lept…

pause to google “past tense of leap”…

It’s leaped? Are you fucking kidding me? LEAPED? REALLY?

LEPT is so much more sophisticated. It ends in T, which reminds me of “The teeth the lips the tip of the tongue,” which is one of the fucking classiest articulation exercises I know.

So I’ma have to hit up Miriam and let her ass know I don’t fucks with LEAPED.

It’s a BASIC BIH of a past tense form. All past tense thot-verbs end in -ED.

Switch it up, Miriam. Switch it. The fuck. Up.

Did I mention that I am college educated? I is. That should have never been something I had to look up. But out here in COVID COUNTRY all bets are off, brethren. ALL BETS.

But ALL CAPS are clearly ON.

I feel pretty accomplished by what we’ve done here today and think I’m gonna reward myself with a spot of tea.

Did I mention I’m fasting today?

I is.

Because it’s DAY 10 (for me, at least) of this Quarantine and all I have done is EAT CHEESE.

And crackers, and hummus, and chocolate, and pretzels, and chocolate-covered pretzels TO NAME A FEW.

So, I don’t deserve sustenance today, I’ve declared, and so has the LORD.

I think y’all are gonna need some time to take that all in so.

TTYL.

LOL.

SMH.

BYE.