Monologue #7

Here are a few of my complaints about myself. A few of my very unique and original like-nothing-you’ve-ever-heard-before complaints about myself. I’m overweight. I hate my body. I don’t have a significant other. I’m insecure. I’m overwhelmed. I’m in a perpetual mental state of comparison with every girl around me. Like nothing you’ve ever heard before, right?

I’ve been to a “You don’t have to be fine” meeting before. I know that there are other people at Davidson who feel the way I do. I wish that helped. It’s therapeutic for an hour but somehow, feeling alone doesn’t really go away by talking to people who also feel alone. Solidarity by solitude can only be so strong.

Besides the moments that I’m alone in my room, there’s not a minute of the day that I’m not thinking about how I appear to everyone else. My clothes make me look particularly fat today. My hair looks weird. The way I walk is awkward. My posture is bad. I’m sweating. Just to be safe, sometimes I avoid eye contact with the people I don’t know so I don’t accidentally read those thoughts in their faces. Sometimes the most painful thing is to imagine how my life would be different here if I were conventionally “hot.” I obsess over it. It’s unhealthy. It’s exhausting. I express these concerns to my mom, to my brother, to my therapist and always get the same response: “They have a million other things that they’re more worried about. The last thing they’re thinking about is you.” I know that’s meant to be a good thing- that they don’t care. But isn’t that kind of shitty too? I don’t know how not to care. And I don’t know if that’s a problem with myself or just something that comes with being human.

I don’t want to feel this way.

Part of what made me decide on Davidson was the opportunity to recreate myself. I wanted to be in a place where no one knew what I had been like before – visibly anxious, insecure, and self-conscious. Four years later, and I’m still all of those things. But if you talk to someone who knows me, those are not the words they would use to describe me. I introduce myself to people who I don’t know (or, let’s be real, who I know from facebook and want to know in real life so I can stop pretending I have no idea who they are). I yell obnoxious things at dance ensemble. I go to a themed party and wear something that is explicitly the opposite of the theme. I like for people to think I’m outgoing and unafraid because that’s the kind of person I want to be. Maybe the more I act that way, the more I become that way. Does that mean I’m fake or does it mean I’m trying? I’m not sure.

Multiple counselors and psychiatrists have told me that my biggest problem is that I don’t love myself. That I need to find ways to love myself. Ways that don’t depend on other people’s approval or reassurance. Approval and reassurance that comes from me. Honestly, it is currently and will be one of the most difficult jobs I’ve taken on. But I have to. So it’d be pretty cool if Dean Rusk could give me a grant for that or something.

I’m feeling pretty okay today. Today, I like myself. Today is Wednesday. I hated myself on Monday. I cried in front of one of my professors on Monday. Sorry, two of my professors. The first thing one of them said to me was “I’m just so surprised…you seem like such a happy person.” And I am. Or at least, I want to be. Everything is easier when you don’t take yourself too seriously. My other professor told me, “There are still beautiful moments left in this place.” And there are. Sometimes a perfect, sunny, 80-degree day is enough to make you forget everything trivial. And maybe tomorrow, or the next day, I’ll lose sight of the beautiful moments again. But today, I am happy.

Monologue #8


It was monday again. The wheels stopped and
I was ready for my 100th rehearsal to ditch my swimming lesson.
Here are the steps of my master plan.
Step one. when the engine starts, lie down.
Step 2. Pretend to take a nap.
Step 3. when the car makes the 15th turn, take a silent deep breath.
Step 4. hold your breath.
Step 5. play dead. don’t move.
This plan made more sense when I was 7.

I still wonder why I dreaded swimming lessons,
why I felt ashamed to see my skin exposed,
why I was anxious that I might cross the lanes,
or be the slowest one in the lane,
why I saw the shadows of sharks lurking behind my feet.
I was scared of these sharks and
To avoid them I would play dead.
I would spread my imaginary fin, keep still and wait until the sharks disappear.

Inside this narrow lane, I am trapped.
I am told to kick faster to hold my breaths
to learn and conquer the force of water,
They tell me that if the lane hits your ribs.
don’t worry it’s just trying to keep you on the track
keep going. exceed everyone in your lane. don’t be the weakling of the lane. you become what you are when you reach the end of the meet. keep going.
play the game.

but I am not a natural conqueror especially with the speed I am capable of moving
I am too slow and too tired to catch up on others.
the end to my efforts seem never clear and I am trapped in the circle of catching up.

People say that human bodies are made to float.
We are made of things that find themselves akin to the water that locks our body,
and floating makes us immune to gravity, the force that shows where our roots lie.
but my body does not know the water that I am swimming in.
I am a child born in the water of love that needs no force nor judgements nor efforts to fix me because my body is different.
my heart beats in a rich burgundy stream, the water of love that guided my first passage to the world and reminds me of unconditional love.

Now as I force myself to kick harder and hold my breath,
something in my body refuses to learn the force of water,
it tells me that I don’t need to play the game,
it shuts off the power generated from the tip of my toe to the biceps of my propellers.
I am running out of breath and I can’t hold it
the chlorine makes a forced entry through caves of my system
and my body repels it, I can still feel the stinging sensation in my nose,
and finally I had enough.

I am tired to apologizing for my lack of adaptability,
for not meeting your standard
for not being the girl whose chest touches the wall before her nose
for not being the girl to let you cut her hugs short because apparently hugging the opposite sex is bordering on cheating according to your definition of trust
for not being a good sandwich maker who dreams of a day for when a guy pops that stupid stone in front of her face.
for not being the girl to let you straighten her beliefs parallel to your lane of beliefs.

As the time progressed, the seven year old girl who once saw the shadows of the sharks realizes that they were not the shadows of the sharks, but the shadows of her own insecurities
the shadows of her internal struggles to meet the never-ending demands of her patriarchy

Two decades later the same girl proclaims the end of ditching and playing dead.
She is ready to swim against the current of the waves that once hurt her
and she hopes that one day,
she will find her way back to start a new tale of the burgundy streams.

Monologue #9 (performance piece)

My blood courses red and thick. It wails in the distance like the Egyptian women so long ago. It sweats profusely under the August sun. It kneads the dough at high morning and dusts the china it’s never owned. It nurses children that grew in foreign wombs. It lays at the will of the master. Not its own. It will bear him a bastard child. Unloved. Unwanted. It sings the old spirituals to pass the time. Its feet crack and fill with the Earth’s soil. Its wrists and ankles cut and ooze red life at the mercy of the wrought-iron chains. Its back is riddled with welts that crawl and claw and fill with pus. They do not call it beautiful. They cannot call it beautiful. But, it will flow to the beat of the distant drums that we had almost forgotten to listen for.

My grandmother has traced our family tree back to its trunk. She is excited. We are many and far apart, but soon we will know how to return home. She lowers her tired bones onto her dinette chair delicately. The cushion’s lush leaves and plump fruit have faded over the last fourteen years. The apples strain under her weight. I watch her closely. Where are her papers? Where is the proof that she’s found? I am ready to know. Was he tall? Did he have nappy hair? Did he sojourn on the famous railway, escaping by night and hiding by day? Or, perhaps, did he purchase his freedom? Did he help set free a wise old woman or an orphan child? She has found him. She has discovered the man from which my family has sprung. She has seen his pen scrawled on yellowing pages. She knows him. Finally, I would know him too.
When her thin lips part, I expect to see his large black hands toiling in the fields. I expect to wipe the sweat from his brow and sing to his infant child. I expect to feel the grooves on his back, to see the earth beneath his fingernails, to hear the pining in his songs. But, these are not the truths she tells. Instead, I see a bed covered in white lace and adorned cotton linens. It is stained Crimson. I see her shaking. There is anger in her eyes, helplessness in her legs, silence on her lips, and death in her soul. He does not have worker’s hands. He does not have nappy hair. His brow was cool. His back had borne no burden. I know him. And his pen was smooth and learned.
A frigid breeze filters through my screened kitchen window. My hands grip the wooden table, still covered with a thin layer of Country Kitchen Syrup. I wonder why that never seems to come off, even when we crub with lemon-scented Pinesol. I look at my skin. It’s still brown as I remembered. It doesn’t scrub off in the shower. Mommom continues explaining how the branches crook and splinter to create me, the chestnut-colored flower they decided to name Amaniah*. My name is Hebrew for faith. Most people think it’s African, but the traditional African spelling is Imani. Most people call me Imani by mistake anyway. Her words mesh together. I can only make out one startling sentence: the patriarch of our family is Scottish. The memories burst through the gates of my sanity.
Mommom says I’m not paying her no attention.
I remember that day in fourth grade when Ms. Josephine played her favorite documentary for black history month. When the images poured across the screen, they felt so familiar. When they smiled, I smiled with them. When they lamented, I wept for them, inwardly of course. I imagined myself comforting them and lifting them up with whispers of encouragement. I willed them on, assuring them of impending victory. All the other kids squirmed in their seats. They diverted their attention to the chalk residue permanently staining the green blackboard. They adjusted their stockings. My very best friend, Alexandra, reached over and touched my shoulder gingerly. She whispered “I’m so sorry.” I didn’t respond. It was 2004. I was attending a Christian school. There were a total of three black kids in the expected Class of 2012. When Alexandra refocused on the screen, I looked at her. We’d had sleepovers. I’d braided her hair on the playground. Her hair blazed, wild and untamed like a California forest fire. I turned my attention back to the movie. I did not whisper, smile, or weep. Instead, I wondered why they’d decided to make the film black and white.
I remember my first crush, Charlie Eleutheria. I had just learned to write, and my daddy bought me a faux fur diary for Valentine’s Day. In it I kept juicy secrets like Molly didn’t actually go to sleep during nap time and Jazmine’s hair actually came from a horse. But the juiciest secret of all was Charlie Eleutheria. I kept my diary hidden between my Book of Knowledge Encyclopedia and my Little A book. I thought nobody would ever find it there, especially because nobody, other than me, ever needed the books in my pocket-sized library. My mother found my diary and despite all my trust, it simply could not keep any of my secrets from my prying mother. The words would not keep quiet. She picked me up that day and asked me to point out Charlie. I waved to him, and he smiled at me. His smile was missing a few parts. It still made me kind of fuzzy inside. She expressed her approval in few words: “He has good hair.” She returned the pages that betrayed me.
Later that night my father came in my room. He sat on the edge of my bed with his hands folded nervously in his lap. I expected him to tell me I wasn’t allowed to like boys yet. He did not. The conversation went as follows:
“So, I heard you have your first crush.”
“Yes, Daddy.”
“I also heard that he’s white.”
“Yes, Daddy.”
“Oh, there aren’t any black boys in your class.”
“Yes, Daddy. There are.”
“Why don’t you like any of them?”
“I don’t know, Daddy. Do I have to?”
He then left to discuss this sticky situation with my mother. They decided that taking away my diary privileges would solve this problem.
I remember my first Black Student Union meeting in Mr. Bradford’s room. Darrel scrawled on the board in green expo marker the topic for today. The topic never really mattered much, but he faithfully wrote it on the whiteboard in chicken-scratch font. Regardless of how the discussion started, it ended with us complaining about being black, while simultaneously voicing our undying pride for the triumphs of our forefathers. I’d had a bit of a rough time fitting in at my new school. I’d just discovered that the only friend I had talked about me constantly. Black Student Union was precisely what I thought I needed.
Darrel made eye contact and smiled. It was my turn to speak. I told them how I was born in Chester, Pennsylvania, and still go to church there on Sundays. I told them how the kids at church didn’t really talk to me. How they made fun of me for speaking properly and that nobody believes my hair is real and that when they finally do I’m chastised for getting a perm and that I didn’t feel welcome or accepted in the black community and that it bothered me that lightskinned black people thought they were better than darkskinned black people and that what really upset me most was that I couldn’t even take refuge in one of these groups because I was neither lightskinned nor darkskinned. When I was done, Darrel’s smile was different. It was twisted so that it was almost hidden, guilty. I looked around, and some had played a better game of hide-and-seek than others. But, I got the point.
Mommom rises from her chair in frustration to tend to the mail. She doesn’t understand why I’m not excited to discover where we’d come from. She doesn’t understand why I’m not enthusiastic to find that I’m actually Portuguese, Spanish, Scottish, Italian, Nigerian, Cherokee, Sioux, Blackfoote, Redfoot. Our family owned 100 acres of cotton fields in Georgia, and they worked it themselves. Our family had pride and dignity. Maybe they marched that day when Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous speech. Maybe they became stops on the Underground Railroad. Maybe they ate at a White’s Only counter, or refused to ride the buses during the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Maybe.

Monologue #10

A lot of things sink,
but you never expect certain things to sink.
Like, no one thought Titanic was going to sink back in 1912,
but it did.
No one thought words can crash and sink, but honey, you just did.

Just a moment ago, when you complimented how
my skin looks much lighter yellow now,
you probably didn’t see my heart sink.
Just a moment ago, you told me that I am not Asian,
more like on the side of banana,
you certainly did not notice.
But when you spoke those words,
they sank deeper than you thought.

Sometimes your politeness may mend the chipped tea cups and
your easy-goingness may bridge some unshaken hands
but the real gaps you need to mend are for yourself.
Your lips speak of sophistication and the generosity of your God,
yet you shrug off your words I called out as introductory tongue-twisters
and good-natured mind-shakers.

But little did you know that those words you shrugged off
have crashed against my Freudian iceberg.
Because when the words repeat themselves enough,
they don’t just shrug off,
but they can crash and break.
As your words crashed like Titanic,
I dug deeper for truths, facts previously unseen or unreported
but the deeper I swam, the deeper I fell,
and when I thought I was losing myself in this conundrum,
I realized that you don’t even remember saying these words.

And perhaps this shipwreck of yours was unintentional,
since you were the new neighbor from a different land,
awkwardly standing on my door step,
trying to please with the aid of a clever tongue-twister,
with jokes that should impel me to nod a couple times and cross arms with you.
Perhaps your heart and my heart were speaking in different tongues,
and we were lost in translation.

Whatever your forgotten Titanic meant for you,
it made me realize Jack and Rose,
the two parts of me that you labeled as Asian and Banana,
the two imperfect parts that make up something worth protecting.

Now I am holding out both of my arms to you my friends,
arms of Jack and Rose
greeting you not with awkward hand shakes
but with my arms open
and hearts open
to welcome you into my own home
Leave all your bags of guesses and radars
and explore my winding roads and secret passages
with cautious feet and patience
I will do the same
the next time you greet me with your arms wide open.

Monologue #11

My mommy says I’m finally old enough to get a perm. We’re going to the JCPenney’s Hair salon at the Christiana mall in exactly fifteen minutes, because my appointment is at 11:00am. Mom says that a perm would make my hair stay silky straight for longer periods of time. That means no more shower caps when it rains! And no more braids. I hate it when mommy braids my hair, because it takes so long. Last time, I sat there for like 6 hours. My right leg fell asleep. I fell right onto the teal carpet when I tried to stand up. Mommy says that if I get a perm then I can leave my hair out everyday like the older girls at church. She said she’d even buy me a brush with the little sticks that have colored balls on them. I think she called it a vent brush. I wonder if they’re made out of porcupine hide. I think I’ll wear my green and white striped shirt with the collar. It’s the most grown up shirt I have. Sneakers are completely out of the question; I will wear my nice white church shoes with the heels instead. They each have a little peach rose with a green leaf on the top near the round toe. Perhaps I should find peach pants. I rummage through my cream drawers and select a lacey peach skirt. Mommy laughs and hands me a pair of socks, jeans, and sneakers. It’s time to go.

Ingredients for Mizani Butter Blends Perm: Aqua (water) Petrolatum Periphenum, Liquium, mineral oil, Cearyl alcohol, Polysorbate-60, Propylene, Sodium Hydroxide, Dehentrimonium, Methofulfat, Peg-75 Lanolyn, Polyquarternium-6, Fragrance, Cocoa, Cocoa Seed Butter, Shea Butter, Hydroxypropyltriumonium Honey.

Mommy keeps all her “special mommy things” on the wicker stand in our bathroom. When we catch a cold and need some Dimetapp, she goes straight to the wicker stand to grab it. When we have a sore throat from a long night at choir rehearsal and need some Chloroseptic throat spray, she goes straight to the wicker stand to grab it. When we need a grown up Bandaid because we’re too old for the Dora the Explorer ones she keeps under the sink, she goes straight to the wicker stand to grab one. And when she needs some clear fingernail polish to stop a run in her Sunday stockings, she goes straight to the wicker stand to select the small bottle of clear polish from her top secret Kiss French manicure kit. To the right of the Kiss French manicure kit there is a small rectangular bottle of Sinful Colors Professional Pink nail polish. It was perfect. It wasn’t quite Barbie Pink, but it wasn’t the dark pink that the older women wore to church. When I was little mommy said that I couldn’t touch her polish because she thought I’d spill it on her carpet, but now I can. I am allowed to paint my nails when she is home, and only after I’ve asked for permission. I’m always very careful not to spill. Teal doesn’t go well with blush-pink.

Ingredients for the Sinful Colors Professional Pink nail polish: Butyl Acetate, Ethyl Acetate, Nitrocellulose Acetyl Tributyl Citrate, Adipic Acid, Neopentyl Glycol, Orimellic Anhydride Copolymer Isopropyl Alcohol, Acrylates Copolymer, Stearalkonium Bentonite Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer, Benzophenome-1, Mica, N-Butyl Alcohol, Silica, Dimethicone, Tin Oxide, Trimethysiloxysilicate, Calcium Aliminum Borosilicate. May Contain: D&C Red 6, Bismuth Oxychloride, Titanium Dioxide, Red Iron, Yellow 5 Lake, Aluminum Powder, Black Iron, Ferri Ammonium Ferrocyanide, Ferric Ferrocyanide, Red 34, Violet 2, Yellow 10 Lake.

My face is still slightly damp from the cleansing wash and rinse treatment I used to open my pores. My new bra is a touch tight, and the metal digs into my sides. It’s time for mommy to do my make-up. Today is family photo day. We will all be dressed in blue and white. Mommy applies a layer of Revlon Color Stay Pressed Powder foundation to my face. The foundation makes my skin appear warmer and blemish free. Acne is unseemly, according to mommy, and should always be covered up in photos. She puts down the sponge applicator, and reaches for a black tube of L’Oreal Paris water resistant eyeliner. She tells me to look up at the ceiling. I am obedient. As she draws along my eyelid, tears begin to well up in the corners of my eyes. Next, she applies a layer of light cream eye shadow to the arch of my eyebrows. It looks funny at first, unnatural even. But as she continues to apply more shades of eye shadow, my face begins to look vaguely familiar. She gently brushes on a dark red-brown beneath the light cream, a red-bronze in the crease of my eyelid, and a shimmering gold for the lid. With a stroke of a brush she applies the finishing touch: blush. My mother and I look in the mirror to appreciate her work. We look like twins, almost. Once I am finished, I retrieve my outfit. I have selected my cotton fishnet shirt. Only my arms are visible. It was once a pristine white, but now it is covered with a very thin layer of age. Mommy says it needs a touch more Clorox when we wash it next time.

Ingredients for Revlon Color Stay Pressed Powder Foundation: Mica, Bismuth Oxychloride, Zinc Stearate, Silica, Dimethicone, Nylon-12, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Polyethylene, Octyldodecyl Glycol Grapeeedate, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Isododecane, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Lecithin, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Cymbidium Grandflorium Flower Extract, Serica ((Silk) Soie), Malva Sylvestris (Mallow) Extract, Lilium Candidum Bulb Extract, Lactobacillus/Eriodictyon Californicum Ferment Extract, Lauroyl Lysine, Synthetic Sapphire, Dimethiconol, Dimethicone/Silesquioxane Copolymer, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Phenoxyethanol, Sorbic Acid. May Contain: Titanium Dioxide.

It is Saturday afternoon. I am surrounded by mirrors, titanium, and worn black leather. Ms. Denise drones on about new regulations for uniforms at the JCPenney’s Hair Salon. The hair dryers blow a steady stream of lukewarm air towards Miss Nadine’s chair. She’s always complaining about that. My hair is light and fluffy once again. I get a perm once every six or so months. This time Miss Sherry used Mizani Butter Blends instead of Affirm, because it has a special moisturizing agent that is supposed to keep hair healthy. We’re trying to encourage more growth, because it hasn’t grown significantly since my first perm. Mommom says moisturizing agent or not a perm is a perm. Nevertheless, my thick black tresses smell of vanilla, shea butter, and fresh nectarines. I glance down at Babygirl smiling in her seat. It’s her first time at the salon, and she’s getting her hair flat ironed. I can smell the faint aroma of burnt hair masked by various perfumes. She runs her fingers through her straight black hair. She is in love. I remember my first Salon visit. Her joyful eyes are little time capsules, replaying my youth. She is me, before I was covered in a thin layer of age.

Monologue #12

Spring Freshman Year

I don’t like my eating house. I don’t like girls. I don’t like boys. I hate Davidson.  I hate the nature of relationships and the role of women and men.  I hate the segregation of races and the lack of real diversity.  I hate the separation of the alcoholics and the nerds. I hate trying to find a balance. I hate that my Dad isn’t proud of me and that I am not living up to expectations.  I hate that I do not think that anyone is perfect and I feel like anyone that I am friends with is something that I am settling for. I hate that I am pissed off and not grateful for life. I hate that my grandmother has Alzheimer’s.  And I hate the prospect of getting old.  I hate that I am not eloquent and that I can’t write poetry.   I hate that the buildings here do not have kitchens and that we live on such a small campus. I hate that I hate so much.  I hate that I can’t sit through church without letting my mind wander and the fact that I do not really believe. I hate that I am so judgmental and hormonal. I hate that I cry so much.  I hate that I don’t like anyone. I hate that I don’t have the guts to be an upstanding person.

All the girls in my eating house are such sluts, and I hate that I just used that word. They all have these “boyfriends” who I know that they aren’t going to marry—yet they have sex anyways. I hate that I don’t understand and that I don’t know what I want to do with my life. I hate that I feel like an alcoholic and that I am writing this instead of writing my humanities paper. I hate living with people who are unreasonable, and I wish that I knew what I was doing wrong so that I could avoid being such a bad roommate.  Am I even a bad roommate? I have no idea.  I don’t even care enough because I am such a self-centered person even though I think that I am not. I pretend to be so much better than everyone else, but really I am just the same as everyone. I can’t believe that I am stuck in the position forever. I don’t even know what I am doing! I am just a passive observer in this life.

I want to stop cursing. I want to stop drinking. I want to do better in school. I want to spend my time with people who are more worthwhile. I want to be honest. I want to be kind and tolerant. I want to emulate Jesus and be ready for death when it comes. I want my parents to be proud of me and I don’t want them to feel like they failed in raising me.

I don’t want to be fake. I don’t want to be like the girls that I am getting to know. I don’t want to be like that! I can already feel myself changing. I can tell.   I do not want to do this.

I want to go home.

Spring Freshman Year

You know what? I am likable.  I am a great asset. I would make a great friend and girlfriend.  I am sexy, intelligent, spunky, unique, loving, curious, thoughtful, and creative.  I am organized, responsible, driven, interesting, and capable.  I have done many things and will do many things.  Anyone would be lucky to have my love.

I just need to remind myself of my potential, and to be grateful for everything that I have and am.  My life is going to be great, and I just need to appreciate it and live every moment to the fullest.

Spring Freshman Year

There are a lot of things that I have accomplished at Davidson that I should be proud of, but mostly I feel like I am really not doing as much as I should. I feel like I could accomplish so much more and that I am not living up to my potential.

I am tired of not knowing who I am or where I belong—and not understanding what that phrase means. How can someone not know where she belongs? I belong to God. I belong to my parents. I belong to myself, my school, my friends, my society.  Why does it have to be so confusing?

Maybe it is so difficult because I am afraid of losing those things that I have a connection to. What if my family dies? What if my friends do not actually understand me or love me? What if God is just an illusion (although I know that God is not)? What if there is no such thing as life or death? What if I am less important in my role in society than I think that I am?


And why am I always so angry? So undisciplined? Perhaps I can be proud of the fact that I am planning ahead for most of my schoolwork and that I have started to be more dedicated to exercise. But I am not really do as much as I can or should. I should and can be doing so much more. But yet, I continue to settle for this level of performance. I settle and get the grades that reflect my lack of commitment. Now, even though I am drinking less and much more in control of my outward emotions, I continue to get bad grades (even though I am in easier classes!).

I do not like my friends here that much, but I am too scared or trapped to make new ones. I hate living in this room—it makes me angry all the time!! The weather today made me happy. But what about tomorrow? Will the slight change in temperature alter my emotions? I mean really, why can’t I have a better grasp of my emotions? Why can’t I take the counselor’s suggestion and ignore unproductive thoughts? Why am I so needy and disillusioned?

There are parts about my future that are really exciting. But I want them now. Right now I feel like my life is just scraping the bare minimum of what it really could be.

I count down the days until the summer, never living in the moment or appreciating my life the way that it is. I want out. I cannot stand having these emotions. I want to be with the people I love and who understand me. This place is like a little summer camp with people who are trying to do their best, but who constantly fail. That is the world. Everything is a failure. International relations are never organized in the best interest of the whole world. People are selfish. The world is broken and full of people who are confused and interested in personal gain.

Where is the part of the world that is invested in community?


Junior Year, Fall Semester Abroad

Why am I so unhappy? Why won’t I just snap out of it and see the plainness, simplicity, and manageability of life abroad. It is simple. I understand life here. I am in no hurry to move on to the next thing.  Home will not solve the emotions of pointlessness and loss that I feel.  I feel irritable and impatient, stressed and anxious. I realize that I am not social here and there are few people that I like or respect. Small tasks make me extremely stressed out.   Meeting someone at a restaurant. Going to a new part of town. Traveling to a new country or city. I want a routine. I want simple. I want stability.  That may sound boring, but right now the unknown is making me go crazy with panic attacks,  feelings of loneliness and confusion.  I just want to explode with rage sometimes. Others I want to cry. Sometimes I just want to get on a plane and go home because that it the only place that makes the slightest bit of sense to me. I want to have control over my life and my emotions. I have lost that control.

I hate being depressed. I have been severely depressed during at least 3 points in my life now. I feel like I am fighting a monster within my body. A very sad, negative energy just penetrates my thoughts and my heart and envelops me whenever I have a second to think. Whenever I stop doing something with a goal, it comes upon me. I know that I should realize how pointless these emotions are and have the disciple and commitment to being happy to stop them, but I give into it. I start feeling sorry for myself and constructing the only logical escape plan-withdrawal. I want to do nothing social. I want to go home. I want to freeze time and just do nothing. I have no motivation or dreams or ambition. I have little imagination for what I might be able to accomplish in my life.

Why are all of the most interesting people I know prone to depression? Literally all of my high school best friends are taking anti-depression medication.  I need someone to talk to and someone to validate my emotions.  Me sitting here in my room talking to myself might not be the healthiest solution to my dramatic thoughts. How can there be so much torment caused simply inside my head? All of my physical needs are met. I am going to survive and live-I have enough food and money and I have a roof over my head and resources to learn.  But all I can think about is how impossible all of the most mundane things really are. I am so desperate for human interaction and attention. I am stressed out and irrational. I feel very displaced.  I don’t like my job prospects. I do not want to work in a bank. I don’t think that I will ever be able to understand the financial market. It is like those dancers or musicians that started when they were really young and it is too late to catch up to them once you are older. I want to live a comfortable life style but I also want to do a job that isn’t boring and pointless in the grand picture. I want to interact with people. I want to teach people about what the world has the potential to be. I want to spend my days thinking about religion and philosophy and history. I want to read about the human experience and to understand what other people went through in their lives. I want to be a mother and I want a husband and I want someone to love me. I want someone that I love.  I want to do simple things and manageable things that will impact people and will make me sane and happy and full of life and love.

But what about shooting for the stars? Will that ever happen to me? Do I have a responsibility to change the world on a more efficient and widespread scale? I think that I can change the world even in my small circle through my energy and interactions with other people. But I could really make a lot more people a lot better off if I had some sort of power. If I ran in politics, or worked for governments, how could I be sure that I wasn’t screwing up the world more than I am helping it? Even if I were president of the United States (which was my job aspiration when I was younger), would I even be able to make the right decisions? So much is a guessing game! And how could I dedicate my whole life to the country and the world? That is a huge sacrifice to make! But it is amazing and has the potential to do so much good.  Well. I don’t think that I have what it takes anyways.  I don’t like debating or interviews or phone calls. I have so much learning to catch up on. I never read the news. I hardly know what is going on in the world.


Fall Senior Year

I am realizing something about myself, and it feels good to know myself better. What are some things that I know about myself? I love food, jazz music, singing, and the outdoors. But what I just put my finger on today is that I am an idealist. I imagine things far ahead and want them to be a certain way—this could be perceived as optimism or being a dreamer. I love taking long baths with candles, taking the extra attention to details and listening to blues music—this could be perceived as being a romantic.  I am stubborn, argumentative, and aggressive at times—this could be perceived as being a bitch. But I see the world in a wonderful, very specific way. I am interested in learning about the reality, but I am also very optimistic, and faithful that it has amazing potential and goodness inherit in it. I speak rationally and realistically about the world that I see, but I am willing to hope for different results in the future.

And how do I see this world so optimistically? As I learn about international relations, the more pessimistic I feel that I must be. Wars and crime often feel inevitable.

In my daily life I feel a constant tension between what I want to do and what I feel that I ought to do. What do I want to do? I want to eat good food, play music, read, talk, and enjoy the beautiful places on this earth. What do I feel I ought to do? Fight for the rights of women around the world, make people less wasteful, make businesses and governments less corrupt, to ease people’s suffering and sadness and hunger. I ought to learn as much as I possibly can so that I can maximize my time on earth and actually leave this world a better place.

Where are my dreams and aspirations for change? Why am I not inventing new technologies, researching cures for cancer, or pouring over textbooks? Why am I not teaching every child in sight how to show more compassion and how to see the world as a bigger place that your school, your family, and your town? How can we foster a community of global citizenship—where no matter where we are from, we believe in serving others.

And in a world of finite resources, how do we serve everyone? Should governments have the power to protect its citizens and its citizens alone? Is the exclusion of others justified by the benefits reaped by those included?

I just want to be a philosopher. I want to serve, think, and act. But if I were to become a philosopher, what would my words mean if I did not act. If I spoke about serve to others, but never held the hand of someone in need, then did I really live a life of service? Can service be delegated? When I organize a blood drive and get 50 people to donate blood, the whole act would be incomplete if I did not give blood myself. But why is that? A utilitarian would argue that the outcome benefits more people.  But if we are principled, we have to lead the lives that we preach.

I want to know the answers to my questions about what would make the world a better place. Today I do not have the skills or expertise to know how to make that happen. Should I seek these skills in the classroom or in a cubicle? I do not envision a happy life for myself in a cubicle or in any office really. Or perhaps I am still just traumatized by the city and my normal response to change. How did I cope so well this summer? Was I on the precipice of disaster? Did my frequent visits from my sister keep me afloat?

I do not want to be boxed in or bound to one future. I do not want my fears to command my fate. But still, I am forced to acknowledge the reality that I do not deal well with change.  So how shall I condition myself to constantly change? How can I discipline myself to stop watching TV and waste my life away? Just do it?

I wish there were a magical motivation engine that I could turn on that would increase my productivity and allow more freedom and more options. But is this not enough: the more that I am productive in my daily life, the more that I will accomplish in my life span, the more wisdom and knowledge that I will possess, and I will be able to achieve great and wonderful things for the future generations of this world.

I see the big picture. Sometimes that means I fail to listen or to appreciate the minutiae of daily life. I am exhausted of drama and gossip and I care very little about fashion, networking, and attending the type of parties that are so common at Davidson. I seek more.  And the more that I force myself to be, the more my life will be. Every day I can wake up and make a decision to be the best version of myself—the most idealist, faithful, joyful, and eventually lovable!!

Shall I seek it in the companionship of others, or should I seek it within myself? And what do I seek, but love and enlightenment, truth and participation in a community of support.

It is an irony in my life: the more full I pack my daily schedule, the emptier my life. I no not even have the opportunity to notice that I never do my homework and I don’t have very close friends.

Monologue #13 (performance piece)

Ramblings of a Dark-Skinned Girl in a Sea of White Shadows

#1. I am the dark eyed girl. I am the pariah by force. I am the other by force. I am self-critical by choice.

#13. I am a phenomenal woman, but sometimes I question my confidence because of the look on your face. It says I don’t belong. It says I’m unattractive. It says I’m not worth your time.

#6. I’m pretty for a dark-skinned girl, but sometimes I’m “not your thing”. This shouldn’t hurt, but today it did.

#99. I wouldn’t change it for anything. “Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise. I rise. I rise.” I have risen, I will keep rising, and your standard of beauty will mean nothing to me. I have the blood of giants running through my veins. You will not take this from me.

#24. I do not want to be your exotic vacation destination. I do not want to be your sexual exploration. I refuse to be your step outside of the white male hetero-normative box.

#40. I am strong. I am independent, but sometimes I ache for the agency that you don’t even have to define, the privilege that you don’t even see.

#63. Don’t be fooled. I do not wait for your pale skin to label my dark skin as an acceptable form of beauty. I wait for the day when I no longer have to assume that black women can be ignored and assume correctly.

#7. I yearn for the day when my beauty does not come with a condition of color.

#32. Sometimes I hate caring. Being a woman is hard. Being a black woman is harder. And a lot more lonely.

#4. What do you do when you’re not one of the well-known black party girls? What if you are? Why did I even put “black” as an adjective, like a qualifier? What does it mean that even I do this? Shit.

#50. Maybe my greatest tragedy is never knowing what it feels like to be that pretty black girl. Maybe I’m worse off for even considering this.

#1. You don’t get to matter anymore. I am self-critical by choice, but I am beautiful, fearfully and wonderfully made. I wish your pale skin could have had the chance to understand my complexities and be enveloped in my graceful black beauty and black strength and black love and black struggle and black pain and black laugh and black God and black intelligence and black blackness. I’m not sure you were in the right place, and I don’t have time to wait. I truly wish you the best and the brightest and the future and ten more advantages over the ones you already have. Maybe one day I’ll see you again and you’ll see me and I’ll see you and you’ll just know. Until then, walk peacefully and sleep gently, surrounded by the soothing curtains of black darkness.


Monologue #14

Different is a loaded word, it carries a lot of meaning. If you ask me if I’ve ever felt different at Davidson I will jump and say YES with all the air in my lungs. I would normally advocate for the stance that there is no such thing as “normal” and that everybody is different in their own way – hence we shouldn’t feel like victims when we say we are different. Yet, let me be selfish this time and tell you how my “different” is one of those types that most people my age don’t think about, and won’t even come to know until their 40’s or 50’s.

I have a special type of health. It is not bad, because all my blood tests, scans, x-rays, MRIs etc. say I’m as good as new. I do not bleed, I’ve never had a broken bone and I’ve never spent a night in a hospital. I am one hell of a healthy young adult. Almost. I am sensitive to pressure, to touch, to pills, to people, to light. And I have pain in a different part of my body every single day of my life. I’m alive, I’m in college, I am happy. But, lordy I am different.

Different in how I hibernate inside my dorm in January because I am too sensitive to cold. Different in how I have more dietary restrictions than you know exist. Different in how do weird poses every 15 minutes because I need to stretch. Different in how I’m non-functional beyond 11pm every night. Different in how I cannot lie down on chambers lawn and read a book because my low back hurts. Different in how I can’t do contact sports cause if you hit me, it hurts like hell. Different in how I have at least two medical appointments a week. Different in how I go back and forth to my room several times a day to change my books because I cannot carry heavy weights. Different in how I often stand up when others sit and sit when others stand up. Different in how I keep a mini-drugstore in my desk drawer. Different in how I complain about studying not because I’m lazy, or hungover, or just procrastinating. I complain because studying causes me pain.

I feel different when people ask me what I have and they don’t know what the word means. And I wish they knew that in America, this disease is as common as diabetes; more than 10 million people have it. I wish they knew it doesn’t have a cure, nor one treatment, nor one doctor or clinic that can put an end to this. I wish that they didn’t place a value only in what major, minor or concentration I have, nor on how many internships I’ve done or on how many organizations I lead. I am fighting a huge battle against it -something which doesn’t have a title nor which can go on my resume nor which I can talk about in job interviews. I tell myself every day that I am valuable because of all that I am and not because of what I do or because of how many titles I have. And its been a long way, but now I DO believe my own dialogue.

I am different because I will come out of Davidson with a set of skills different to those of the average student. I will come out as a kid who has learned to be different in many aspects and disregard the opinions of others.  I’ll do what it takes to feel well, I will explain it to you with a smile and – I will not care. I have learned to find my identity in what I AM and not in what I do – or can do. I have learned to live my life striving to be happy every single moment, accepting things as they are – with or without pain, sun or rain, C’s or A’s. And I’ve learned to put ME and my wellbeing above anything else – especially above any imaginary and self-impose standard of excellence I might have had in the past. I study because I choose to study, because I want to and because of the joy I find in learning . And if studying is too costly at any time, I’ll just turn around and pamper myself, because a grade is not worth any pain. Don’t get me wrong: I am no victim and I put high effort into my academics, I just have a different perspective on them.

A long time ago, I used to hate my diseasedearly, but this year, I have learned to like it. And I thank my disease, every single day. Not only cause I have learned so, SO much from it – but also because it makes me UNIQUE, because it has made me grow in my uniqueness and simply because holy shit, being unique is freaking awesome ☺.


Monologue #15

I’m in the business of life and death. Recently, when I was on the phone with my best friend, we realized that we’ve dealt with more situations that walk that fine line, like a tightrope over the Grand Canyon, than most people can even imagine. This was sparked by her telling me that her Friday night consisted of her finding one of her closest college friends about to commit suicide. Something tells me that finding your friend sobbing on a floor with a knife is not exactly how she planned on spending her night. Her exact words to me were, “At least this isn’t the first time we’ve done this.” And sadly, that’s more true than I’d like to admit. By the time our sophomore year of high school was over, our other best friend Meredith* had attempted suicide three times. Just the thing every sixteen year old should be worried about, right? The sleepless nights, waiting for the phone calls that sometimes came, but not always. Stupidly sworn to secrecy, we bore this burden for too many years. Eventually it broke me. I realized I had given up everything for someone who in the end didn’t care if I didn’t eat, sleep, or do homework. If she was going to end it, it didn’t make a damn difference what I did. We’re still haunted by those years, seemingly always found by people who need us in this way. It never seems to escape us. I still don’t sleep some nights, and my eyes are always open to anticipating another Meredith. I’m unfazed by the petty problems of college: the boys that don’t like us, the homework we have, the day to day stuff that really doesn’t matter. I find myself so emotionally removed from situations, often causing me to not enjoy life, because I’m sometimes so focused on the end game. I’ve seen the end game. I’ve been on that tight rope, pulling someone back in, and once you find your balance, it’s hard to remember life without that danger. It’s a constant game of waiting for the other shoe to drop.


Monologue #16

Everyone wants to belong. However, it seems like when we find our niche at Davidson, many of us are judged. Some groups more than others. Our school lets the religious, athletic and PCC organizations have their support systems without everyone saying that they segregate themselves, but when I chose to live substance free or hang out with first generation students, LGBTQIA students, and STRIDE I am seen as segregating myself. I chose today to say you need to know the stories before you generalize the group.

My first semester at Davidson was a culture shock because I never had to think of myself as different until I came here. Being a natural dancer, I was bluntly denied dancing at a party with many white men because of my race. “I am not attracted to black women,” guys have said to me in their drunken state. I also was exposed to the phenomena of other races of women wanting to touch my hair and pull it to see if it’s fake.  Adding the fact that I was going to be a mother and was broke, I was the “poster child” of what many people saw as “those people” (aka the urban, low-income black girl). How was I supposed to be happy here? The first support system I developed on this campus was STRIDE, my hall and the counseling center. So when I began talking to my support system for STRIDE, I was surprised to overhear conversations about how I was segregating myself on my hall.

Fast forward to today, I now have another support system in the LGBTQIA community on campus. I have had countless men and women of privilege question me about this. I find it offensive that a person would even question why I need to attend weekly meetings with that community. Although my closest friends may not identify with these groups, it is always great to know that there is someone on this campus who understands what I am going through. I do not see men the way my girlfriends do, so talking about guys 24/7 with them gets boring. I need to know the best hang out spot to meet people who I would potentially date, develop friendships and relationships with other students who are like me because just like anyone else, I want to enjoy my four years of college.

The fact that it is the marginalized groups on campus that receive hell for providing a support system is the type of ignorance that puts us behind our peer institutions. This needs to stop. There are some aspects of my life that I only feel comfortable talking about with people with shared experiences, because they know where I am coming from and where I should go next. It is not an “us vs. them” situation. It’s more of feeling like you are not alone. My best friends on this campus look nothing like me, are heterosexual, not first generation or low-income and are from the most rural places in the United States. Ever since I came to Davidson I have been surrounded by people who are different from me, many are my friends, but they have their own support systems to help them get through Davidson and they are proud of it. So just because my support systems happen to be marginalized groups, I am not allowed to be proud of what makes me Ricki? I encourage students to think before they call these groups cliques because I prefer the term family. The way you see your bible study group, sports team, eating house and fraternity/sorority is the same way you should view my “marginalized” support systems.