Scents of smell

It is said that when you lose one sense, another sense is heightened. I have not technically lost any sense, but find myself consistently gravitating away from and wishing one away and that is touch. To put it firmly, I don’t like being touched unless I am really drunk, which I suppose is usual on the side of Friday and Saturday, not that I want it to be this way.
I had the very negative experience recently of a guy putting his arm around my shoulders and feigning closeness when I undoubtedly had only gone on one date with him and found myself wrenching away from him because this was too much for me. You might think, “this girl should definitely get some help,” and the appropriate response from me is, “yes, I know I should,” but this blog is not about touch, it is about smell.

One of my favorite things
I hope this classic tune is now moving betwixt your ears and onto your tongue, because the sense of smell tops my list of favorite things.

I often try to classify smells by how “favorite” they are, but realized the other day as I was on the bus inhaling the clippings of dying flowers and mowed lawns on the crisp fall air that there is no way to classify smells as such. Each time one hits and it creates a memory or jingles one out it becomes the best most meaningful scent at the time. On this particular day I mourned the passing of summer while greeting the entrance of fall, while realizing this scent is particular to this in-between season that lasts anywhere between two and four weeks. I consistently forget to savor the moment of the scent and think about how I will miss it when it goes, because I am always worrying on the way things fade without me.
Some smells weigh more than others. There is a morning crispness during the spring that is the awakening of millions of flowers entreating the world to look at an abundance of new life that is my nemesis. This is for me the most painful of smells because it remembers the darkness of the spring of my 17th year alive. When I inhale this kind of day I immediately become that seventeen year old, dressed in grays and blacks, with big unkempt hair awaiting some kind of ending. I cannot endure these days and wish for the very beginning of spring to pass quickly, luckily here in Seattle it usually does.
On the other end, there is the smell of firewood specifically burning in fireplaces or wood stoves. I think it is that firewood on the winter air has a deeper, muskier smell, which I admit I could be wrong about. This is the one smell that makes my pulse rush and my breath heavy and I have never been sure why. This is the one and only smell that immediately turns my mind from pure to staggeringly sinful. Okay, pure would be an outright lie, my mind is far from it, but… you get my gist.
The one thing that I will never understand about my sense of smell is something I’ve told many people and it is that I can smell sickness on others [I should note that this is usually men]. No, I cannot sniff out cancer, but when someone is sick there is an odor that emanates from his/her body that is disturbing for me and makes me a little sick. I should also say this is usually people with an opposing body chemistry. For people that I tend to mesh with and generally like the natural smell of, the smell does not seem to present itself. This has done nothing less than confuse me for many years of my life.
I would gladly give up a little of this sense for want of the one I am afraid of, turn away from, think of as liquid fire as my skin smarts from simple hugs, but… this is what I live with. I will sniff glue to remember my teddy bears if that’s what I have to do.


The box I reside in

Is brown and a bit cubicular. Sometimes I try to white wash it but run out of paint and it remains undone and the dark is still present.
This is the box of my body, the darkness that is my skin and the whiteness that lends itself to give me the “latte” color skin a customer at Starbucks once told me I have. Sometimes I write a reminder on my palm that says “BLACK” so I don’t forget because no one else seems to.
The thing is that I grew up always knowing that I’m the “good” kind of black, the docile one, the one that knows her place, the “white” one. The explanation for this being that I’m acceptable because I am educated, do not use Ebonics on a regular basis, and am not “loud.” Yes, I am using a lot of “quotation” marks to pick out the stereotypical concept of blackness and what it is to be black.
As I child I must have forgotten to pick up my copy of Get your black on because instead I began to use proper English, showed up in my classes on time, and… didn’t enjoy listening to Hip Hop. In recent months I’ve had increasing conversation with other black and biracial women that have also been told they talk or act “white” and we posed this question to ourselves and others. What is acting?

The questions people ask
I was asked by a friends Mother just weeks ago how I felt about people acting black.
My first response was that I just don’t give a damn because for me the art of acting [insert culture] means that one is acting out a stereotype. Acting black = speaking in Ebonics, wearing sports jerseys, listening to hip hop, eating barbecue chicken, and enjoying stand up comedy . Acting white = using proper English, wearing form fitting clothes, listening to Indie Rock favorites, and according to the hilarious blog Stuff White People Like, Coffee and Facebook. Do I have it right? According to these two lists I must be white. I also like math, does that make me Asian?
The thing is, is that black and white are not actions, they are indeed still colors that we have assigned to a set of skin tones. People seem to not be able to differentiate actions from colors.
While one person might assign me white by my actions, a retail worker defines me by my skin tone and follows me around the store. Is there a button I can buy that says, “assigned white by 93% of people that know me,” while the other 7% is my slightly ghetto side, so that I’m not watched and followed so closely?
Nope. Guess what? By any standard I am still black, though “acceptable” once I’ve spoken.
What I am getting at is that I’m not “acting” anything nor do I think that white boys in jerseys are “acting.” I think they are being and living in whatever skin feels right to them. Identification does not come from pigmentation but from what fits right, kind of like the genes, oops I mean the jeans one ends up buying. Are these people identifying with the culture of [insert] or the stereotype of [inserty again]? Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference, but one knows when they’ve met an educated black man that is entrenched in his black culture but is still called “white” that there is a serious disconnect between the reality of race and the collective misinformed racial consciousness.
If someone decides to appropriate a racial stereotype, I cannot be angry because I cannot justify a reason to be angry at something that is superficial, but if someone tells me I’m acting white again, I might just have to take uh beeotch down.

Note: Thank you to Stuff White People Like and Da Ebonics Page

Boyfriend in a noose

I played a show last night and met a girl, nameless for right now, that was in one of the bands we were headlining for. I could describe this girl as classically beautiful but it wouldn’t give homage to the way her lips curl into a pout and her features are so delicate they could make men leap to their deaths just to kiss her feet.
I met her because her band said they wanted us, Hot Grits!!! to play with them at some of their future shows. When I saw her, my heart immediately dropped without even knowing the information that was to come. I was stunned by her eyes, marked with grave sadness though her spirit remained feisty and compelling. She raised her fist at the men of guitar center for asking “what instrument her boyfriend plays,” even though she had come alone to find her own gear and I was taken in. She clearly did not seem to be flailing about through life and soon after, I found out that really she was enraged and numb, which peculiarly can coexist. A week and a half ago, her boyfriend hanged himself. She wasn’t the one who told me, her bandmates did. Her bandmates that I didn’t know, but were obviously numb too were drinking themselves into a temporary stupor because death sometimes drives people to that, to obsessively placate the side of themselves that wants to cry, die, fly away into no that false hope of good night.
I tried to place myself for the rest of the night into their shoes… into her shoes. If they hadn’t said something I would have just thought she had drunk herself into a mindless melancholy, instead I knew she was drinking to get out of it.
It was because of a long ago memory that I cared as much as I did, not that I would have otherwise been callous.

College… [numerous things want for insertion here]
The story of K, a pseudo love story.
She was an RA in an old dorm of mine and I had fallen in love with her words. The first time I met her was a poetry reading at The Kickstand Cafe in my senior year of college. She was doing a reading for her poetry class and I came along to see what my old prof.’s new students were up to.
BT, with an overfilled earl grey singeing his hands said, “I really think you should meet this girl, she reminds me of you. She’s good.” I took my seat in the back room of the cafe and waited for this girl, this wonder of wonders that BT was so enamoured with and put my jealous face on. She was stealing my place as his favorite student and I had to assess the damage.
The room as a whole is filled with dark and brooding hopeful writers dressed in blacks and dark grays, gripping their coffees a bit too tightly.
Students go up and students sit down and I am on the whole unimpressed and am sure that in this room full of budding writers there’s got to be a good one and then he called her. “Kristina, how about you?” I saw her petite frame and medium length dirty blond hair and thought, “she’s got nothing good to say.” She got up and wrapped herself in the wooden chair up front and flipped through a few pages. Her thumb used her tongue for leverage on the papers and she found her spot. As she breathed to read I could hear it… her sadness, a life of loss unwinding before us. Of course, this is why she is so good – she is lost. And finally she read. She was just reading words, but they were perfectly puzzled together and there was space where space should have been and not where there shouldn’t. He was right, she was fucking fantastic, she was better than me, she was sadder than I had ever been; my heart was immediately impaled and wanted the sword to be driven deeper.
I had to know more of her from that point on, this girl of despair. However, there are things I know now about my lust that I didn’t understand then. 1. I was captured by something that I knew much about and could translate from her to myself, which was the desperation of despair. I had lived it for many years and was drawn in by it again. 2. Savior complex- when I met her I was better, or as “better” as one gets when suffering from bi-polar disorder. I was convinced that if I just talked to her I could make her better.
Neither of the aforementioned things makes for anything but heartbreak, besides that, she was straight. I found myself needing to be near her and asking one of my friends to let me know if she would be in the SUB – student union building, just so I could see her. My friend JE had a class with her and was on the shallow side of being her friend, meaning acquaintance and so he would sometimes talk to her and I would listen in. I overheard her speak of her pills one day with her friends and she laughed a bit, something I knew meant she was hiding.
A few weeks later I constructed an e-mail, which I liked to consider my Jesus mail, being that it was supposed to “save” her. I wrote about my depression and getting through it and this and that and this and that and hit… save. I neither deleted nor sent this e-mail to her. I saved it and fixed it and savored it for the right moment to send. Thought on how a girl that barely knew my name would understand such a candid e-mail. I never hit send.
March 12th, 2003 – [fuck that seems like a long time ago] the girl I was secretly in love withcommitted suicide, with a noose around her neck.
For a long time I thought that sending that e-mail would have done something and maybe it would have- for a day. Perhaps it would have made her think for one second that someone cares, but then I thought about the reality of it. At my worst, not even obvious love and affection could make me understand that I was worthy of space, I have difficulty now at my almost best.
Life can often feel like a pile… but when I heard that another, another, and another had committed suicide I couldn’t help but feel that momentary jealousy that I used to feel, the “why am I not strong enough to die?” feeling that creeps up and wonders at why I could go only as far as some pills and water.
No day is carefree. I am not carefree. But to those reading I’m kind of glad you’re alive and I’m alive to let you read it.

First Blog

I’m gonna get my first blog overwith like it doesn’t matter that this is something I never do. I’m not gonna say “fuck the world” and “fuck you too,” because really I don’t care enough to say those things to anyone right now and “fuck” is too blanket of a statement to often be a logical one. “Get off your ass and open your eyes!!!” is one I might want to shout, but… this is Seattle. This is me writing my first blog on a predictably cold and rainy autumn day. The only thing missing is my decaf [insert warm fuzzy beverage here]- yes I fucking drink decaf or I’d be buzzed all day everyday- and a good book [insert something that has a nice cover, because yes I do choose books by their covers]. This is me asserting my passive aggressive will in a typically Seattlite way, though I’m not from Seattle. No, I’m from San Jose, CA fairly close to the home of Mac and I use a PC. So later when you call me an elitist, priviledged, interracial feminist that doesn’t understand what it’s really like to [insert whatever you feel repressed by] please refer to the fact that I am in fact still susceptible to viruses and most likely will or have had your cold.