*excerpt chapters in this free reading snippet are highlighted in bold (in chapter contents sooo..you get to read: The Preface, and pages 228 through 257 )
- The Roots of Picked Fruit 17
- The Precocious Ripening 33
- Ripe & Ready. Gangs, Bangs & Pangs 39
- The Queen Bee in Me 63
- Another Level. Blossoming. Beautiful. 80
- TGGF, Male Model & Me 101
- TGGF & Me 112
- Divorcing Dad 124
- You Know Who 130
- First Flings First 139
- In the Lion’s Den 170
- Cold Shoulders and Frozen Dancing Feet 195
- Pills & Frills 204
- You Know What: I Told You So 209
- Dichotomies & Dazes 228
- Situations, Decisions & Transitions 241
- Up, Out & Away 244
MEET the AUTHOR Q & A 254
READING GROUP GUIDE 257
SNEAK PEEK into book2 (“Angie Situation NAIVETE’” )’s CHAPTER ONE 260
OTHER BOOKS BY ANGELA SHERICE 269
ABOUT the AUTHOR 270
“It served no comfort to her and turned out to be the biggest slap in the face of her life as a mother when (a whole century later) we were watching the news one evening at her house. A close relative of “Attic Man’s” was on the news for molesting his girlfriend’s daughter. My mom turned to me and said: “That’s [Attic Man’s] brother, did you know that?”
“I was going to ask you that-considering the fact that they have the same unusual last name.”
“Yeah, I think that runs in their family though,” she replied, feeling proud that she dodged that bullet, feeling confident that as close as Attic Man was to her child (me)-that sure as hell did not go down.
She then began to run down what seemed like a list of legendary and hereditary molestation accounts she had known and heard tales of throughout the years about Attic Man’s male relatives such.
Reminiscently, I turned to her and said: “You know what Ma? That must be true because [Attic Man] used to do that to me all the time when I was a little girl!”
I said it merely thinking that she would say: “What? You’re kidding!”
But instead, her eyes got big and like a deer in headlights, she turned to look at my face quickly then averted her eyes; suddenly embarrassed to look me in the face. She swung her arms in a rebuking manner and continued to scold me out of the corners of her eyes, repeatedly yelling out my name as if that was something I should have kept to myself after all these years. I had no idea that she was going to take it so hard because it was so long ago. She shook her head “no” non-stop, as if I was still a child and someone else delivered this news to her about her child. But instead, it was me-an adult-telling her mom, far too many years later, about what happened (with me) back when I was a child.
She was befuddled. She didn’t want to know the details, and at this point I dared not go into detail and tell her everything. It was the most awkward moment and emotion that I had never seen my very own mother show. My mother normally had an answer and a comeback for everything-always. This time however, she was speechless. She felt so sodomized, so victimized and so traumatized, that she kept throwing her hand at me in what seemed like complete and utter disgust:
“Angie! We’ve had so many conversations when you were a little girl about anybody touching you or saying something to you that made you feel uncomfortable-all of that! Don’t you remember me talking to you about these things! And I mean all the time! E-v-e-r-y-day Angie-damn! How could you do this to me! Oh shit!” she snapped back and yelled at me like it literally burned her. She was so disgusted by the news. She yelled like she was trying to convince herself into remembering having these talks with me, as if-she could have, she would have dug her hand into my brain to pull out the recollection of me storing the talk into the palm of her hand, just so she could say: “here’s the proof right here!”
That wasn’t going to happen, because I didn’t remember the talks.
What I did remember were her constant words: “You see a muthafucka fuckin’ with her-just kill him and save me the trouble!” That was something I constantly heard my mother say aloud when she would have friends over or if we were out somewhere. Whomever we would be standing around would look me up and down then whisper something in her ear. Like clockwork, she would always respond aloud: “That’s okay. You see a muthafucka fuckin’ with her-just kill him and save me the trouble!”
It wasn’t until later in years, I learned that the whispers in her ear would be: “Look at her little shapely body and that child’s face-what are you going to do with her?” that made her respond with: “You see a muthafucka fuckin’ with her-just kill him and save me the trouble!”
My mother always had a way with words and one hell of a mouth.
She was one of a kind with them both.
She could just spit, on cue-a master wordsmith.
She was always very entertaining and the type that would tell you: “fucking with me would be like running through a lion’s den with a pork chop suit on.”
She seemed to almost have a new one every day.
It was nothing for her to tell you: “I’ve been around the world twice while you are working your way around the tea-cup still looking for the handle.”
If you got in her way too much, she would kindly tell you: “let me fuck this cat, if she has any kittens-I’ll give you one.”
Translation: Mind your business-simple as that.
I couldn’t wait to come home from school the day that I learned the word for her vernacular was called: “idioms.” So the next time someone looked me up and down and whispered in her ear and she responded: “That’s okay. You see a muthafucka fuckin’ with her just kill him and save me the trouble,” I nudged her and said: “momma, that’s called an idiom!”
Yet this time, this moment, this wordsmith-some twenty (plus) years later, she was sitting in front of me: speechless, wordless, “idiom-less” feeling more like an idiot and that it was she who was put in the lion’s den with a pork chop suit on while I was the one who had been around the world twice while she was working her way around the tea-cup…still looking for the handle. Somebody had already fucked with her kitten over twenty years ago, and I was just now giving her one: the one and only conversation about it-finally.
She behaved as if I was the adult that delivered this news to her about her little girl-yet it was me, her grown little girl, sitting there telling her something that nearly set her back almost twenty (plus) years. It felt weird to me to see my mother like this. Tears filled her eyes as she sat there-speechless-shaking her leg while sitting at the kitchen table as if it was me who had raped her of twenty (plus) years of good housekeeping and motherhood right there in a five-minute instant.
I was numb sitting there, just like I had been numb for years. My emotion was misplaced. I hadn’t a clue as to why she was so mad. It confused me-badly. I didn’t feel traumatized then or in the moment of me telling her, so her shock and awe threw me off. My emotion about it was so misplaced-just like it had been-for years.
My mother sitting there in front of me with tears in her eyes is what felt “uncomfortable” to me.
Don’t cry for me, cry for my mother-for that was the night she died.
Don’t cry for me, I never did. I never felt like I should, or had a reason to.
Even when I say: “happened to me,” and “did that to me,” it feels weird. It feels weird because even though Attic Man was the start of me chasing sensations of [what I would call] my “pee coming,” throughout my busy little childhood life, thoughts played out in my head of me sitting there seducing him and approving everything he was doing to me. I would take his giant face in my tiny hands and kissing it all over as he kneeled in front of me; enjoying it and moaning with pleasure-like two consenting adults would.
The most “uncomfortable” any and all of it got to me was the day he tried to penetrate me. I quickly sat right up to slap his face so hard-with my tiny hands that I know he saw birds and stars: “That hurt! Don’t you dare do that again!” I yelled and pointed my tiny finger into his big face-facing my little face as he kneeled in front of me and repeatedly apologized in that pathetic child-molester-like whisper that I can still hear so clearly. But he was so apologetic and near tears when I disapproved that I was “uncomfortable” no more.
For far too long, I had grown to like and receive him wiping [what I would call] his “mushroom,” and his lips on [what I would call] my “flower”-repeatedly. When he tried to go in, that was when it didn’t feel right-it didn’t feel comfortable-because it was painful. All else felt pleasurable and was therefore “right,” because it didn’t hurt. So in my mind, everything was okay-nothing was wrong therefore, there was nothing to tell my mom that was “uncomfortable” going on with me. In my mind, I merely had an older boyfriend who looked like Marvin Gaye, and “secrets.” An adult can’t reach a kid by telling them to report what feels uncomfortable or what’s hurt them (in that way-in that place), because it just might feel comfortable and right. Once it’s done right-it feels right and then becomes a “secret.”
Kids love “secrets.” In hindsight and looking at my mom’s hurting face, twenty (plus) years later, I figured it all out: If you tell a kid that secrets are for grown-ups and not for kids; then a kid would have secrets no more. I probably would have understood that, and told all my “secrets” to her. When I was a kid, I had just as many secrets as I’ve had many conversations about many things with her. She too, would have probably been in the know about all my “secrets” had she (this wordsmith) known the right words to say-to me: her child. Unfortunately, the people who I had secrets with, whispered in my ear: all the right words. And my mom was the one who didn’t have the clue or cue…
My emotion and thoughts about it were misplaced because it all went so smoothly that it didn’t seem like anything more than a secret. The “pleasure” for my body was way before my mind could understand it, and because there was no pain or trauma; I grew older to question whether or not it was really “molestation” (because of my willing participation). As a full-grown adult (now), and by standard definition-it was. But because I did not feel traumatized at the time and for years thereafter; I grew to convince myself that it was something else. Because of my confusion, I never felt like a “victim” and I never felt “molested” by standard definition any more than I was “virgin” by standard definition-the night I lost my virginity with Santana.
For years, the best way I could make sense of it all was that I experienced some things that I should not have at an early age. As a result-later in life-I just grew older to like to fuck: my oral and phallic stages stuck with me and were much a part of who I was, just as sure as I needed my fingers to feel and my feet to walk.
Even as a child, it seemed like all day my body was tingling inside and my flower was on a non-stop throb. At seven years-old, I learned what to do to control the tingles at the most inconvenient time: at latchkey-afterschool, while napping when the lights went out. That was the day that I learned that balling up my hand to hunch on top of it, would remedy the tingles. The sound of the teaching assistant yelling out at me in a somewhat loud and surprised whisper: “Angie! Don’t be doing that! Quit that!” rang in my head as I lay there frozen; easing my hands from beneath me and lying flat onto my stomach with my chin dug into the blue and white mat-my arms and legs stretched out in position as if I was about to make a snow angel. Outside of the latchkey assistant’s yell, I didn’t feel traumatized or “uncomfortable” at all.
But later in life, I think as a result of it all-it caused a kind of numbness; the kind that may have presented itself in other ways that carried on throughout my life until I understood and made sense of it all. Making sense of it all was all a matter of getting to that point in life where I had to train my mind to catch up with my body, because my mind wasn’t ready for what my body was experiencing.
Unfortunately, breakthroughs and answers won’t come from a deep one-on-one conversation from just the “right” people. And often times, those conversations are much needed from those same people who are breaking you in. They are usually the “just the right people”-only they know, because they are the ones sharing secret private moments with you-that shouldn’t be. They won’t talk to you and have that one-on-one with you. They won’t tell it on you, because they are very much a part of it and don’t want to get in trouble themselves. There will be no secret note slips, or messages in a bottle sent to your parents, because when it’s done spinning, the nose of the bottle will point back to them. So, “just the right people” won’t tell on you (for you). “Just the right people,” won’t tell on themselves (for you).
Other times, the “just the right people” are your peers. They won’t tell on you because they are your boyfriend(s), and to them-the two of you are merely sharing private moments. They do not have the capacity to decipher what’s really going on with highly sexualized teen girls in the bedroom with them. These teen boys can’t talk to you, re-direct you, or go tell your parents on you.
Santana, a sixteen year-old boy, was merely enjoying himself with a highly sexualized and fully developed fourteen year-old girl. The most any sixteen year-old boy can conjure up in the form of any questions to initiate any kind of dialogue is: “were you really a virgin?” (if the highly sexualized girl was a virgin). And if she wasn’t a virgin (but was merely highly sexualized), to him-he just happened to be having sexual relations with the type of girl who gave and received pleasure in ways that his other peer girls (who hadn’t been messed with), didn’t have it in them to give and receive.
For the girl who had been messed with-her delivery and receipt of pleasure is two and three times over the girl who hasn’t been. Their “sexual spirit” is different even if they did no more in the bedroom than the girl who wasn’t messed with. Because of their “sexual spirit,” their delivery and how they receive pleasure thickens the sexual experience, whereas the girl who was not messed with-hers is “thin” and diluted (in comparison).
The most I could get in the form of any breakthrough with a sixteen year-old boy with just as many raging hormones as I had tingles was: “were you really a virgin?”
At age fourteen, I did not have the capacity to share with him-what seemed “natural” to me for seven whole years before him.
To catch a seven year-old girl masturbating is not normal-it’s not “natural.” One thing about little girl’s clitoris’ in comparison to a little boys penis, is that-that lil’ button can be left alone to mind its own business until that very moment that it has been stimulated. A girl can manipulate it (naturally) from merely washing or wiping-day in and day out, but from the moment it is actually stimulated, that little girl’s clitoris is never the same again. And if she starts to masturbate at far to an early age, that’s a problem-that’s not normal. She’s tingling in ways that a seven year old girl has no business tingling.
The “just the right person” would come in the form of that instructor telling it to my mother. Did she ever? That is a question I never knew the answer to. Some parents get to the bottom of it, other’s ignore it as something “natural.” For boys-maybe, for girls-never. I will never know if my mother knew because she was good at talking a bunch of shit and entertaining people with her vernacular, but when shit hit the fan, she would ignore or wipe the problem away; far-far away from her. I remembered that about her, even while looking at her shockedness of finding out some twenty (plus) years later. Now that…I muthafuckin’ didn’t forget.
Surely, a grown man like Tim had to think (at least a time or two): “why is this little girl enjoying these moments like this in such a way? It’s not normal.” Yet, he wasn’t going to go pay my mother a visit and tell her what I was doing, and liking, while huddled up and tucked away with him. He got his pleasure-and it was over with. He most probably wiped his brows at the thought and relief that I was enjoying it and was a willing participant, simple as that. Despite the fact he knew it was wrong.
Sure, I almost got my breakthrough good and into my later teen years-from an older “boyfriend” I was seeing. Though I wasn’t a child, I was still too young for him. We had been fucking so regularly until one day he snapped. Grunting like a crazy man, he pulled right out of me, got up, lit a cigarette and walked over to the wet bar at the other end of basement bedroom where we lay, many-a-days. He stared at me lying there. It spooked me the hell out. He poured himself a drink while his hands began to shake. I insisted on slipping my clothes on and getting the hell out of there before that glass was half-full. When he looked up, I was dressed and at the door, on route up the steps and out of that house. I had never seen him in this state of mind. He pointed that cigarette at me and took a sip of his champagne:
“You stay right there.”
I was startled but I stood still.
He went in:
“You’ve got just as much chance in life as any these motherfuckers up here living in “Woodmond” or “Bensonhurst” (two affluent parts of town where no one but the rich and/or famous lived).
I listened on.
“You’re just as smart, just as talented, just as beautiful, just as worthy as any of those motherfuckers living up there! But you-you’ve got to quit fucking and put your attention on only the right things to get you there!”
I was utterly confused, feeling many ways awkward.
“You say that like I’ve been with a lot of men. I don’t have casual sex. I’ve only had two boyfriends in my entire life,” I defended.
“I know-we’ve talked about that. That’s not what I’m talking about. A woman can have a hundred men and not be ready, but can have the same hundred men and be ready! You are not ready-with two or twenty! Only in bed, and that’s not good for a man who wouldn’t mean you well. Your mind’s not ready to know the difference.” …he asserted:
“You…you…need to stop fucking altogether. These motherfuckers out here would love you for that. Take care of your business,” he said-like he was any different, and totally drew a blank at the fact that I had been too young for him since the day he started fucking me.
He scolded me in ways that began to sound like he cared, but was talking in riddles because he knew that the same person he was warning me about happened to be him, too.
I was confused, so I responded with what I felt was really happening inside of him:
“Are you saying all that because you’re older than me and now all of a sudden you’re getting a conscious about it?”
He shook his head and wiped his face with his shaky fingers:
“You’re not ready-here for the type of shit that goes on: here,” he pointed at my head-first, then the bed-second. The conversation ended up going nowhere, just a little further than the typical. Because “just the right person,” got a conscious about it but then, subconscious as well-and didn’t want to look like a hypocrite. He knew that my mind was ready to comprehend that much.
I kinda-sorta understood what he was saying, but didn’t quite understand what I could do about what was already in effect-having yet not coming to terms with the cause. I would merely say: “Nothing’s wrong with me-I just got started at an earlier age.”
I never had a one-night stand any more than I’d ever been “easy.” And the fact that I didn’t go on in life to desire and molest kids, didn’t do drugs and alcohol, get caught up into prostitution, or wasn’t plagued with chronic pornography fetishes and other various sexual deviancies and abnormalities; really forced me to think that since I wasn’t the typical case, I had no right or reason to call it what it was.
It’s just that later in life, during trying to make sense of it all, my emotions for some things were misplaced, others-nonexistent. My attraction to and for other things were simply lopsided and I equated “real love” with “making love” as a prerequisite for anything solid and worth committing to, and in doing so-it brought me a lot of pain and a whole lot of pleasure.
I felt like my stagnant phallic and oral stages of loving to rap on the mic and put my needle to a record or two until a muthafucka stuttered and sang opera was never a problem or issue-but rather, an art form. Each and every time, it felt “right” and new. It was something that I treasured, dissected and perfected-then churned it for whomever I felt I was solid with, earned it, and committed to. I couldn’t help myself, and I would lose control of myself while in the middle of it like some outer-body, slash, out of mind experience.
Everything was right about it in my body-to calm my tingles. I just wanted the feeling, and to lose my head at the edge of the bed. Pleasure, love, being in love, thinking I was in love, on my way to being in love, falling out of love, falling back in love-it was all the same to me, as long as I could calm my tingles in between-even despite the hurt and tears that came with it, whether the tears and hurt was mine or theirs.
Truth be told to myself, going through life, I knew I had some issues. Sometimes I’d bleed blood and other times I bleed metal-either way, deep down inside; the only “uncomfortable” I felt was cut-open, hollow and numb during those “trying to make sense of it all” times in my life.
I have issues that I am fighting, and have fought with all my life. Some, I have won-others I still battle.
Life has not allowed me the time to dwell on my past, play the victim or claim victim, but instead-forced me to deal with the hand I was dealt: pokerfaced. During trying to make some sense of it all, behind my humor, the jokes I’d tell and the sun in my smile and eyes; I had both-tingles and tears going on inside of me.
I know full well who I am just as much as I know throughout my adult life, the problem has been what I feel, and as result; what it is I liked to do.
Yes, I had been broken down, broken apart, come undone and massively hit rock bottom at various times in my life. That being said, just rock with me while grow up, throw up and get to the breakthrough, the bottom, or the end of the situation…”
DICHOTOMIES & DAZES
We made it through his senior year and all the plans, and excitement that came with it. I didn’t want to be a Debbie Downer at a time in his life that he would never be able to repeat, but would certainly be able to hold onto the memories of-even if we ended up being a memory to each other.
I continued to be the doting girlfriend; wearing his class ring around my neck while being in receipt of anything else he would give and do to solidify our relationship and rebuild our “love bubble.” Santana was trying hard to prove to me that what we had was built to last. It was working for the most part. He was my man and I was his girl-“Angie and Santana” were household names in both of our households and throughout our extended families by this time. It just was what it was.
If I had any plans on leaving him, they were halted shortly after prom. All that sex we were having and my-on again-off-again relationship with the pill: straddled between gaining one pound and panicking or getting sick from taking them every morning, was proving to be a bit much for me. Over time, Santana and I would see-saw between either using condoms or resorting to the old-fashioned rhythm method until our beat went off the track. In between time, we would just take the plunge and cross our fingers since it had worked for so long.
Well after prom, when I didn’t get my period-we already knew. Ooh if Ms. You Know Who could be a fly on the wall of my life right now.
Part me was disappointed in myself because my life was headed in one direction but then Santana and all things that came with it-in the name of “love,” took me in another direction and my heart followed it.
I knew what I should have been doing and should not have been doing, but we were so tight and no matter what, I knew he would have my back. He loved me crazily, and he also fulfilled for me, that fairytale girl-meets-boy fantasy that every girl dreams about. Now, we were on to real-life and needing to make real-life decisions.
After he graduated, that summer, my mom found out that we had officially made feet for those socks that she would talk about. The decision had to be made as to whether or not I would abort, put it up for adoption or have it.
Our Madonna classic love song “Crazy for You,” eventually turned Madonna-tragic, singing: “Papa Don’t Preach.” Down to the very last lyric, it was as if that woman’s songs brooded over our relationship and every aspect of it from love and now life: the feet that were being made for socks. As irony would have it, Madonna rode with us from conception of our relationship and the theme song for it, all the way through to what was a kind of immaculate conception growing inside of me: the product of two virgins who made love and a baby from love-regardless our interruption and situations. I could not hear “Papa Don’t Preach” without crying uncontrollably and clutching my stomach. Everything about it resonated with what I was feeling about, Santana, our relationship and me being estranged from my dad-who, if he found out I was pregnant; no question about it, would have forced me to stop the music for all dancing feet involved-immediately. Thanks to me being estranged from him, along with Madonna singing all up in my relationship, with abortion omitted from the list of options; the fact still remained that my belly was going to grow bigger. Her goal was to deal with first things first: pull me out of that school. The dream was officially over, as far as she was concerned.
As far as the school itself, the dream had been over long before I even met Santana, little did she or my dad know. That was a big secret I kept from him over the years of my even attending the artsy-school. Because he had a different perception of my inclusion at that school than what actually was. Although I didn’t abort, I still had a second chance at life and a career going forward-hence why I chose adoption as an option. My father however, though estranged and out of the know of it all; the dream would never be over in his eyes-oh hell no-over his dead body. He was far too obsessively ambitious and loved playing fantasies in his head; his idea of success in the making (being cultivated vicariously through me).
Reminiscing on the time from back in third grade when his insatiably ambitious self interrupted me from my language arts classroom with a bunch of papers in his hand. He had the kind of excitement on his face as if he had hit the lottery. I was his lottery ticket: his golden-child.
He grabbed me by my tiny hands and dragged ninety-five pounds of skin and bones down that hallway so fast that dust probably followed us. He sat me in that empty lunchroom with the packet of papers telling me about this new school that was exclusive to kids with talent of a wide variety.
All my dad knew was that I could sing, I could dance, I could act, I could spell, I’d won spelling bees, I was articulate, I was theatrical, I had a lot of personality, good penmanship, nice handwriting, I was loved by my teachers (parent-teacher open houses were big to-do’s and major strokes to his paternal ego)-my hood loved me. So in my dad’s eyes, that was all the ingredients it took to make “Star Pie.” So he signed me on for the school, when little did he know, my: acting, the written test, my dancing, my creative writing, my music and my drama portion of the audition that opened the doors for me to step right in to the world of non-mediocrity (from the outside looking in) wasn’t what it took to actually make it in that “exclusive” school that he felt was built just for me.
All of that was merely behind (the entry) to door number one. That door merely squealed open to let you in the school-to separate you from the “mediocrity” of the traditional neighborhood high-school.
Door number two slammed behind you: hard. It consisted of politics of the economic, political and social kind:
The: “Nobody’s”: usually quiet, exceptionally multitalented, kept to themselves. Fashion was definitely not a priority or forte’. Most of them wore tattered and recycled clothes. Some were groomed acceptably rather than exceptionally well, other’s-not. For many of them, their circumstance was visible and on their sleeve. They were friendly, stayed out of the way, probably had one hell of an opinion about the remaining cliques:
The: “Why-The-Hell-Are-They-Here-Don’t-They- Belong-In-Some-Neighborhood-School-Rather-Than-This-Exclusive-Schooler(s)”: This was Santana’s group. Hardly anyone in the school knew what their special talents were. Amongst one another they knew (I think). But to all other groups, you kind of just wondered why in the hell were they even in school but more importantly: our school. This group consisted of those who were most probably poor to middle class but wore the latest fashions that seemed to camouflage what, if any, talent they really had. It was such a mystery. They were the typical/local/neighborhood high-school type of group that seemed like they floated into the artsy-school on some island and got stranded there. Some of them laughed at the “Nobodys” and other cliques for not having the latest clothes like them and thought people outside of their cliques were lames or just flat out weirdos. They speed dated amongst each other and would rather be caught dead than to date anyone in the “Nobodys,” but would occasionally date or speed date some in this next group:
The: “Artsy- Talented- Popular-Attractive-Part/Nerd-Part/Hood-Part/Normal’s”: This was my group. We cared nothing about the latest fashions, but rather, expressed our fashion sense through what we could do with our clothes to create our own style. Some of our friends were in the “Nobodys,” outside of that, we were friends amongst each other-that was of the utmost importance to us. Our group dated amongst each other, some would date within the “Nobodys” and the “Why the Hell’s” if they summoned (and only if they summoned).
The: “Wanna-Be’s”: Sigh. Rhetorically, I would have to ask: where do I start…
For starters, if this group of people’s fashion choice consisted of white top shirts, white bottoms, white tennis shoes and (whether guy and girl), if they wore pink sweaters tied across their shoulders and they walked around with tennis rackets; it wouldn’t be too far off from all their personas in school.
This was a pretty cool group (a very small part of them). The large part of this group would literally sicken you to your stomach if you let them (or hadn’t eaten yet). They weren’t trouble makers by any stretch of the imagination, but the large part of them would rather fight Goliath or ban together to hold open the mouth of a whale and fight tooth and nail than to digress to the clique in which many of them really belonged: “Nobody’s,” “Why the Hell’s” or the “Artsy’s.”
It was funny because in truth, this large part really did consist of a mixture of “Nobodys,” “Artsy” and “Why the Hell’s” but you better not tell nobody God, because if you brought that truth out, you probably would have been in for a knock-down, drag out whatever-you-wanna-do-about-it-off.
The “Wanna-Be’s” had one goal and one goal only: to be friends with, known by, connected to or connected with and/or besties with the “Be’s.” They lived for that. The “Wanna-Be’s” dated amongst each other-period. The black guys (and black girls) in this group would rather be caught dead than to be caught dating a “Nobody,” but would [in secret and only in secret] let it be rumored that he or she dated or kissed a black girl, or black boy, or an “Artsy”-and only if that “Artsy” was an “Artsy” that wanted to be a “Wanna-Be” or a wanted to be a “Be.”
Eventually, most “Wanna-Be’s” would get their chance in being a “Be,” but the actual “Be’s” were set in stone. “Be’s” had the social power to make a “Wanna-Be” feel like a “Be” and especially depending on that “Be’s” popularity at the time.
The bottom line was-since the “Wanna-Be” wasn’t a set in stone “Be”-they would still have to take their place back in their “Wanna-Be” spot and remain happy that they were friends with, known by, connected to, connected with and/or besties with the “Be’s.” And in order to maintain their “Wanna-Be” slash want to be a “Be” image; it was best that they: deny that a “Nobody” existed, ignore the “Why the Hells” and act like they didn’t know any “Artsy’s” unless it was one of the “Artsy-10.”
The “Artsy-10:” They were like: “reverse-moles.” Moles of about ten guys and girls in our “Artsy” clique who if given the chance, would do anything to be a “Wanna-Be,” and would kill to be a part of the “Be’s.” You could always tell when one of the “Artsy-10” got a chance to step out and hang out with the “Wanna-Be’s” or “Be’s.” Because (for a short while) they would talk different, walk different and carry on a whole persona befitting of a “Wanna-Be” or “Be.” They would feel so accepted and grateful that they stood a chance (even if it was a mere conversation with a “Wanna-Be” or “Be”). That would be enough to send them on these highs that (like clockwork because it was all a matter of time) the “Wanna-Be” and/or “Be” would send them right back into the clique to which they belonged: “Artsy- Talented- Popular-Attractive-Part/Nerd-Part/Hood-Part/Normal.” Their little fantasies and hopes of actually being a “Wanna-Be” or “Be” (for good) never-ever came to fruition and they would steadily try: year after year. It was crazy to observe. Aya and my other friend Carren were two-tenths of one such type. It would be a mixture of pathetic and painful to watch their ups and downs as a result of it all.
The “Be’s”: They were a mixture of three types of people and it was just this simple:
1-Either their parent or relative worked at the school (and/or had some control over the school program or any particular performance art or academic).
2-They were the kids whose parents were on a committee of givers who donated significant monies to the school (on a continuous basis).
3-They were close friends/besties of both. I repeat: close friends/besties of both. Not: known by, connected to or connected with. Their real friends and besties only.
“Be’s” had their way with about 65% of the teaching staff. The teaching staff was kind of like a teaching staff at a college. In college, you have some professors who may have athletes as students, who pretty much have a “pass” in their class no matter what. Athletes’ schedules are methodically chosen by their coaches and the athletic staff on a “preferred professor” basis: the professors who would always cut the athlete some slack because they are in cahoots with the sports program (secretly).
It was like that here, at our artsy school.
Probably about 65% of the staff was in cahoots with parents or relatives who worked at the school and/or had some control over the school program or any particular performance art or academic and as well, parents who donated money to the school.
So having to take a class with a “Be” could be quite the experience. Not as a result of the “Be’s” behavior or presumptuousness (because they indeed were). The “experience” would come from the “Be’s” real friends and besties or the “Wanna-Be’s” behavior-that was the irony of it all.
The “Be’s” besties, real friends and “Wanna-Be’s” loved for it to be known that they too, were exceptions to most rules. Most all “Be’s” were very assuming and presumptuous (subtly so). But they weren’t pathetic or painful to observe. The “Wanna Be’s” and the “Be’s” real friends and besties were-at all times. “Be’s” never had to do anything but just: be. They knew their place and knew it was solidified, and knew they had the most social power in the entire school-effortlessly.
All of that was what my dad did not know about this artsy school that he was so eager for me to get in. The doors had shut behind me, and the politics of the economic, political and social kind was a well-known secret that none of us ever talked about (in either group). It just was what it was. I’m just breaking it down (to how it “was”). I never explained it or broke it down to my dad because he would have taken my inclusion into that school to a whole new level, and I wasn’t interested in that kind of fighting to get in and fighting to stay in kind of illusion that I was watching. It was really a circus act that neither one of them even understood.
When my dad had come to grab me out of my third grade class to do that school’s paperwork, got me auditioned and in; he thought he knew-but he had no idea…
He merely expected that because I was multi-talented, I would get early training at a school that would hone in on that in a big way and from there-the world would be my oyster.
Well, unbeknownst to him, getting trained for the world to be my oyster-did not happen outside of evening recitals from well-rehearsed dance performances, drama recitals or art-exhibits for required classes. I tricked him into thinking that these performances, demonstrations and exhibits were major.
The bigger training and experience took place on the stage. That gave you the feel for what it would be like gigging in New York. The closest I got to that experience and on that stage (outside of my evening dance recitals) was auditioning for the major/school box office plays.
A callback list would go up. It had gotten to the point where I never had to check the first or second callback list-I made all of them. But when that final list would be posted, it was always 77% populated with the: “Be’s” and “Wanna Be’s.” 10% Artsy’s, 10% Nobody’s and 3% “Why the Hell’s”.
Unbeknownst to my dad, by eighth grade (many years before Santana was ever a twinkle in my eye and had even started the school), when I started to take notice of the social politics and began to pay attention to the list of student’s parents who donated big monies to the school-I totally quit auditioning. I would be obsessed with strolling that first floor area near the administrative offices watching rich parents with full-length mink coats stroll in and out of the principal and artistic director’s office; either cutting checks or finding out why their child was the understudy rather than the actual lead in a major. I would run to the front of the building just to take a peek at their big expensive Jaguars, Mercedes and BMW’s parked sideways-presumptuously knowing that the meeting they came for wouldn’t last-because they knew all too well how their money talked and bullshit runs the marathon.
By eighth grade, I refused to be the bullshit running the marathon through callback list number two and higher. I started turning a deaf ear and a blind eye to it all. If you understood the social, economic and political dynamics (that at the age, I didn’t have name for); you would have understood-like I did-how that social politic game went. I had zero interest in being a “Wanna-Be.” I found too much comedy watching, listening to and hearing about the pressure and rollercoaster ride that some of them would go through to be where they were socially. It was so pathetic to me.
In hindsight it was all so pitiful; watching the five cliques outside of the “Be’s (including me). The pathetic way that those who were in control of the performance art program, would come to classrooms and stand there like big suits-folding their arms and looking down from their eye-glasses and placing their hands on their chins, looking around at everyone and squinting their eyes like they were about to pick their next superstar. We would sit up with our backs arched straight and one-hundred watt smiles (looking all stupid and shit) from being told in advance that they would be coming through scouting for local commercials. No words were ever spoken, it was a classic case of the psychological Pavlov Dog Experiment.
By eighth grade, I quit barking and jumping. It never phased me anymore. I started turning my head to the direction of the window when the suits would show up. To myself, I would crack up laughing when they would leave-from how stupid some people looked-having no idea how that social politic game went. It was sad-watching my peers do just what I would do my first five years there for those suits (that were merely looking for the kid whose parents just strolled through with the mink coat-double-checking to see if the kid had the look for the next commercial they had just promised rich mom, rich dad).
It was hard not to, but I never told my dad about the politics that existed there because secretly, he too, was classist, elitist and insatiably ambitious and so was I, to an extent. Though I hated that school because of it-I understood what was going on. He (secretly) never forgave himself for having kids by a less than ambitious mother, so he was going to make at least one of us pay for it. Between Twin and me and my other brothers; I was the best fit. So he executed his plan, set me on the mark, put me in position and threw me into doors-that once closed behind me-he knew nothing about. He just knew I belonged and would have paid top dollar to put me where he wanted to see me: on a main stage even if it was up on a harness flying across that auditorium with a diaper on and sprinkling glitter throughout-that would suit him just fine. My dad played the game-always had. He had a formula for success and life: no sleep. To be the boss, you have to pay the cost-and usually, by any and all means necessary…
The only thing that made me happy there, were my friends-I loved my friends and two other teachers [outside of Ms. You Know Who, who respected me, knew my worth and talents]. I had nothing to prove to her outside of following her rules.
When I got home to the where I lived, my experience was altogether different.
If I say to someone (who is not from my hood: “my hood held me down,”) that person would probably think I meant that my hood stifled me. But no, that school stifled me, but my hood “held me down” (up-in the highest esteem). I was fortunate because of that. And I always knew and was grateful for that.
Without my hood, I would have had no self-esteem or confidence, because that school would have broken me. When I left that school at 3:40p (many years before meeting Santana) my show began there-that was my main stage and bright lights with people cheering me on and appreciating being entertained by me at whim and request. My hood was my main stage, but while in school from 8a-3:40p; I was amongst a game of social politics that I refused to be the butt and bullshit of. That balance kept me grounded. Everything I learned and any skill I honed was the result of the ones who truly loved me, respected me and knew me-not the school I attended. My hood was merely disillusioned, bedazzled, and dazed by it all, because I was the only one from it-able to make it through those doors, that they (like my dad) knew nothing about-once they closed behind me.
In secret, I continued to let my dad (and even the people from my neighborhood) think that it was the school that was grooming me to blossom. Even Ms. You Know Who (who taught there) thought the same thing. I was learning, dreaming and inspired by way of her and my hood-not the school.
I wasn’t learning shit at the school. I wasn’t inspired there. I didn’t dream there. That school wasn’t preparing me for a life of what she and my dad thought I was attending there for. The school only taught me one thing and one thing only: the game of social politics, where by age thirteen, I was a pro at it and recognizing it. I knew my worth to people, my talents and what I was capable of. I didn’t need that school to validate that for me-all for a financial, social and emotional large fee.
As far as I was concerned with my [dead dad], my faith and disinterest in the school plus my estrangement from him all worked out. I was no longer under his pressure in more ways than he knew (and little did he ever know)…
As far as I was concerned [with my mom on pulling me out of the school], it was a favor to me. Because little did she know, after about my eighth-grade year there, it only became important for me to attend because of the school’s reputation and big name-in the eyes of other people. The school was something I could most certainly live without.
But now, I was faced with a decision to make and to decide if I could live with or without: this growing child inside of me. My mother merely felt that it would be distasteful for me to be in that type of school with a growing belly. She not only did what was best (and a favor to me), she also did what was natural for her and what she did best whenever she was faced with an important issue: run away from it, or ignore it away or send it away. So plans were made for me to be sent away to a home for pregnant girls that had a school campus but to me-was more like a pregnant jail filled with other pregnant and mean big-nosed bitches who like me, had a decision to make as to whether or not we were coming home with our brat, or give them to some happy couple waiting in the wings (which is what most did-as was my prospective decision) because I still had plans for a real life, with or without “real” love.
Couldn’t necessarily say that Santana had any serious and major plans for his life after he graduated, because although I personally knew his creative and artistic talents; they were about as obscure to other people as about as obscure as what he was going to do in life with his talents.
Although I played a part in creating the feet for socks, mending socks were not in my plans. All I could see was a hard life, and a hard-working man; working hard for a minimum-wage job, coming home stressed, over worked and pissed at and resenting me.
No thank you (to that “life”)…
SITUATIONS, TRANSITIONS & DECISIONS.
In the meantime during preparation for my transition and decision making process; my mother was up to her same ole “let me fuck with Santana” Jedi Mind Tricks. He was hard-working his ass off-continuously trying to be for me: a good man and a good dad. He took a job in the vicinity where my mom and I had moved to-which was in a whole other community a ways away from all of my school friends, umbrella friends and my TGGF.
Santana had come over to my house one day while I was gone to the mall with one of my big brother’s girlfriends. By the time I made it home, Santana looked like he had been held hostage. The look on his face when I walked into the door was the type of sigh of relief that you can imagine from being rescued after being tortured. I found out that my mom and her friend Ms. Andrea-Dana’s mom-had told Santana that I was gone out on a date-trying to explore my options, since it wasn’t set in stone that I was going to keep the baby.
He had no reason not to believe her, because my stomach wasn’t showing at all. Immediately, he had flashbacks on his cheating on me, so, he didn’t know what to think. When I walked in on it and found out about what they had done to him, I screamed at my mother and her friend. I then walked back to tend to Santana and his hurt feelings, and there he was: standing there in his funny-looking work uniform, with the funny-looking polyester pants and the funny-looking pancake cap; looking like he was about to have a not-so-funny looking panic attack. Since the beginning of my pregnancy, he was about as pregnant and emotional as I was-we were both pregnant. I felt so bad for Santana-he could hardly breathe, he was so hurt. He just looked up at the ceiling at the light and held his head back; trying his hardest to hold his tears back. I reached out to hold him and he broke down and cried in my arms. I cried so hard with him. It was a sad day for the both of us. We had already had a lot to think about and were going through so much already, and my mother couldn’t have picked a worse time to fuck with his head like that.
Twin had still been on his send-off and vacay spot for rambunctious boys that my mom sent him to, and once he returned home, plans were still set in stone for him to go live with my [dead] dad. Mom was still on my don’t ask, don’t tell policy that I had asked her to adhere to-and especially at this time. It had been a couple years that I had been knee-deep in with this boyfriend of mine and now pregnant since last my dad saw me, so now was just a good a time as any for my mom to keep her mouth shut. She knew that by the time I would be showing, I would be good and gone off to the pregnant jail anyways.
My send-off would be coming around the time the new school-year was beginning.
The pregnant jail was a campus located about a half-hour drive away, where on the weekends, Santana and his mom (or sometimes Santana alone) would come get me. I would sometimes go home to my mom’s house, and other times I would stay over in Santana’s private cul de sac, neglecting to talk about what I was deciding to do with this “thing” growing inside of me. My way of not attaching myself to it-was to refer to it as an “It” or a “thing” versus referring to it as a baby or a child, as yet. I replaced getting attached to “It” by keeping in mind, my plans for a life that had no room for new feet. Because the first order of business was to complete my senior year of high school. I was insistent on graduating on time and the same year-as if my life hadn’t been put on pause with this thing growing inside of me. With all the schooling I had missed (because of my mom wasting no time pulling me out before my belly even got a chance to get a bump), I had a lot of work to do.
Although through the pregnant jail, I could earn school credits, but the credits would not be enough to graduate on time-night school was my only option in addition to day school (full-time) plus summer school. I had already been looking at colleges I wanted to attend out of state and a couple nearby and in-state just in case this trial time away in the pregnant jail became too much to bear for Santana and me. That would let me know if I could handle being without him, although I knew in my mind-chances were-that Santana and I would not be together. For me, for a while, though I loved him; I was getting to the point where I was just going with the motions and being lead by my heart. I knew these mixed emotions weren’t because of my pregnancy, because I never felt that way until he cheated on me. The newness, specialness and sacredness wasn’t there for me like before. And even through the day before I found out that he cheated, I used to see forever with him.
UP, OUT & AWAY
The campus was so private, dim, and quiet that you could hear a pin drop.
I was so lonely that pregnant jail-one of the loneliest times that I could never imagine-it was claustrophobically unbearable and depressing. It really felt like “jail.”
I spent a lot of time crying and sitting in my room alone: just-thinking…
After some time, I dried my tears and tried to toughed it out.
Though phones were free, and the comfortable little phone area was always available, I never used it anymore, after the one day and one day only-I placed a phone call home; crying to my mother about how lonely I was. She spit new idioms that she had thought of since last I saw her-all of them created to remind me that my being in the predicament I was in was a consequence of mine and Santana’s actions.
No results or comfort with my mom, so I called my friend Dana whose voice had an all-too familiar sound, sort of like mine once did: as if the sun was calling her name and together: she, the sun, life and our friends, were playing a game of tag and running with the wind blowing through her free fingers. I did not want to interrupt her joy by dampening her sunshine with my tears that were falling like rain. I still managed to get through the conversation with a smile in my voice, but the truth was-I was now in a different element and my mind was echoing my mother’s reminder that I was in the middle of a consequence of mine and Santana’s irresponsibility. Dana had nothing to do with that, so I let her go as if nothing was wrong with me on the other end of that phone, but the truth was; everything was wrong-everything.
In search of comfort rather than conversation-just someone to listen to me while I sat there shaking and crying uncontrollably from feeling like I was about to have a nervous breakdown, who better to call than my accomplice and partner in my crime: Santana. He wasn’t home. He too, was out with the wind blowing through his free fingers-most probably feeling the newness of being unattached at the hip that we stayed at conjoined at for many years. He probably didn’t know what to do with himself, with me gone and put away for five point five of his seven days of the week.
I had to tough it out. I never liked feeling sorry for myself. So, after that day, I vowed never to pick up that phone again. I never even looked at it anymore. I decided it would be best to deal with the predicament I was in as best as I could and on my own. I was beginning to feel far too emotional for still having not made my final decision about whether or not I would be giving this thing up for adoption. I didn’t want my emotional state to force me to give it away any more than I wanted my emotional state force me to get attached to it and keep it; merely out of being temporarily emotional.
I tried mingling with the other girls. I made friendly with three of the girls. Nobody really wanted to be friends with anybody. The way the pregnant jail was structured-we all had the option of having so much privacy that you really did not have to make friends. Most everyone took the privacy option, and so did I after a while. There were two other girls in particular that refused to be nice to me. I think they knew each other outside of the pregnant jail. They were unbelievably rude and mean on purpose. I think it was because they got jealous when they’d see Santana come get me every Friday, and kiss me guiltily as he’d leave on Sunday afternoon’s after dropping me off. It was obvious that we were in love, at least once upon a time. Those two mean bitches never got visitors. One of the girl’s fathers would pick them both up for some weekends home, but they’d remain on campus on the weekends, most of the time-snapping at one another.
Every girl was so full-bellied, pregnant, tired and mad. I was still able to make my way around just fine because I was barely showing-you could only tell that I was pregnant if I undressed, and then you could see a tiny little circular protrusion in front of me-from side view, only.
It seemed like overnight however, that thing sprouted inside of my belly like the sun hitting a flower that blossomed in a day. It made its presence known one morning after I woke up and masturbated. I lay there on my back while my stomach began to flutter rumble. It turned around and poked its butt in the air-sort of like how babies do when they are taking a nap. I felt so embarrassed. I was wondering if it knew what I had just done. The moment was cute, a little bit scary and a little bit creepy at the same time because I was at my bottom and it was in my belly-resting…in a child’s place.
Considering the way I had been feeling, I needed that little bit of attention that thing inside of me gave me for that moment. I hadn’t smiled and laughed like that in a while.
I proceeded to bathe and get ready for my day, and it did not move about anymore throughout that day. I guess it decided to rest…and stay in a child’s place.
When morning came, I wanted to see if it would show its butt again.
So I did it again.
I then lay there and waited to see what would happen.
It began to rumble just like the day before.
All of a sudden, it turned around and poked its butt in the air again. I sat up some so that I could see it better. It had poked its butt out so far that I could see where its little butt cheeks separated. I covered my mouth and giggled-not wanting it to hear my voice and laughter. I felt so happy that I had some company-finally.
It hid throughout the morning and then all of a sudden, while I was in history class, at exactly 11:10am; it began to move about as if it was waking up. It ran to the left side of my stomach and kicked its foot.
That startled me. It then ran to the right side and kicked its foot. I tried to grab it. It ran back over to the left: kick! To the right: kick! It was so funny. I covered my mouth and laughed over and over again.
Day 3 and 4: It slept. After I did it-it woke up with its butt in the air. I smiled and lightly spanked its little booty and then rubbed it. It could feel me nurture it through my skin as it lay there and it went back to sleep while I bathed and prepared for my day.
11:10am into the morning. History class. It began to move about-waking up. “Time to play!” this rambunctious little must’ve thing said. It ran to the left side of my stomach and kicked its foot again. I was a little startled, but somewhat expecting it. It felt so funny-this life inside of my belly-this “real” life and living thing growing and moving about inside of me.
It then ran to the right side and kicked its foot-I tried to grab it. It ran back over to the left: kick! To the right: kick! Still, I covered my mouth and laughed-again.
Day 5 and 6: It slept. After I did it-it poked its butt in the air and I rubbed it gently. It was like I calmed it down because it went right back to sleep. I bathed and prepared for my day.
11:10am. History class. It began to wake up and start moving about-again. It ran to the left side of my stomach and kicked its foot, then ran to the right side and kicked its foot. I never could catch it, but it was fun trying though.
Throughout these days and moments, my mind started to play out scenes in my head of holding this thing in my belly from behind my belly and into my arms. I started feeling emotional about all inside of me that was literally protecting it and giving it life, while knowing that soon after being born into this world and right after taking its first breath of life; it would be handed over to be held not by me-but to the arms of someone else who is somewhere in this world having no idea about these special morning moments that I was sharing with this child, and wouldn’t bit more understand the experience if I explained it to them.
I was feeling myself getting attached to “it”…my baby…
But into the lonely night by day 6, my mind began to play out the realities according to how things were looking in my life at that very moment; my mother’s voice ringing in my head-continuously referring to my predicament as a “consequence” as if it were a punishment rather than a human life. I couldn’t imagine what life would be like-bringing a baby into that house with her-that was punishment enough. I could see so clearly-her trying and make me feel punished for it every single day. From behind a door, if she couldn’t handle my asking her if I could to go steady, then telling her I needed to get on the pill; there was no way in heaven she could handle a real-live crying baby from behind another closed door.
There I was, sitting up in that pregnant jail while life was still going on at home. My friends were living life and enjoying theirs, just like Santana was living his. If ever I needed time and attention-this was that time and the cure for feeling claustrophobic and lonely was merely a half-hour away. I wasn’t that far away in distance that Santana couldn’t make it during the week (in the evenings) for a visit or two. But he never took the initiative to do that. He was out in the wind enjoying his five-day a week, born-again freedom. Although it hadn’t been decided as to whether or not I would be keeping the child, he never put up a fight or stood his ground about me giving the baby up for adoption. Yet he stood on many-a-floors of my mom’s apartments crying ugly cries; holding on to me like nothing but death could keep him from me. I had seen him fight before. I knew how he could do when he fought for love and something that he really wanted. He didn’t fight for this baby at all-not like he fought for me. He wasn’t fighting the wind to get up here and see me with this child in my belly-not like the way he would fight to see me when I wasn’t with-child. He was nothing like he would write to me in many-a-letters-talking about how he would fight for our (future) kids. That future was growing right now-inside of me without a fight being had for this kid, me, and from what I could see: our future, either.
I began to think about love and the reality of it and how it is never “forever.”
I reminisced about how when we first lost our virginity, his light-bulb head use to be sitting in that chair in my bedroom beaming just like one. I couldn’t peel that fool off of me. We spent so much time honeymooning, letter-writing and all things unimaginable in our fairytale; yet he found it easy to lift a six-foot tall bitch off her feet and carry her upstairs as if she were a bride simply because she told him she was a virgin (too). So he stuck his dick in her-in the midst of us still honeymooning and me having lost my virginity with him (too), as if it didn’t matter anymore and he was on to something new. My lonely lil’ vacay at the pregnant jail plus what I learned from his cheating episode was slowing teaching me that whether it be love or sex; it’s all good and right as long as it is in front of you-in the moment. Love seems to be only as good and true as it is in your face. Because the moment that the moment is over-it roams free. The biggest reward you get out of love is if somebody loved you back. But in the bigger scheme of things, you didn’t do anything but teach them how to love and make love to another person. Virginity and the newness of things are physical trial basis’ with expiration dates of the heart. People are here to learn love-lessons from each other until they end up with the one person [later on who at that time] will be in receipt of that person having finally gotten right: all that you taught them about love and making love. Santana and were merely were one another’s first stop. I began to understand that no matter your age, “love” must really be this way.
I wanted and searched for a bright-side in this. But outside of a pretty baby in my arms-conceived by two people who once upon a time in this fairytale-loved one another, and were inseparable; I saw none. Except for the fact that the baby got a chance at life, so here we are, as we lay:
I’m back on “it,” again…my tears and feeling sorry for myself is over. “It” lived, and I have to make it and take it from here…
Day 7: It slept through the morning because I didn’t do it. I didn’t do it because I did not want it to wake.
I did not want to see its butt. I did not want to smile. I did not want to touch or nurture it. I did not want it to expect me to nurture and touch it going forward. As if we had already bonded; it still raised while I lay there-as if my masturbating had nothing to do with waking it up anyways. This time, it raised as if it could read my mind and feel my resistance. This child insisted on waking with its butt in the air-regardless. I sat my head up some to look at it but I still refused to touch it. Instead, I gripped the sheets with my fingers and just stared at it like I was peeking; wanting it to put its butt back down. But this time, that baby wiggled its butt slowly and stretched it out farther than I had ever seen it do as if it wanted me to touch and smack its tiny little cute booty. I still refused to.
It lay there in its place…and went back to sleep. And I did the same.
Still, at 11:10am like literal clockwork, and while in my room watching television; it began to wake up and start moving about: “Time to play!” the rambunctious little thing must’ve said. It ran to the left side of my stomach and kicked its foot-ready to play.
I was stiff and stoic.
I didn’t expect that…
My laugh from the 11:10am days previous turned into a frown.
It ran to the right side and kicked its foot.
I didn’t reach for it.
It ran back over to the left: kick!
To the right: kick!
I still frowned and remained stiff.
This time, I tightened my mouth with resistance rather than covering it with my hand (with surprise, joy and laughter).
While I resisted, it insisted. Like never before, it was kicking and playing games in my belly as if was kicking conversation to my mind:
“You mean to tell me that you don’t want me?” (kick!)
“I won’t be a problem-I promise I won’t get in your way!” (kick!)
“These pretty eyes-these little fat thighs?” (kick!)
“You mean to tell me you don’t want me?” (kick!)
“Look ma! No hands!” (kick!)
“How come you don’t want me?” (kick!)
“Wait’ll you see these chubby cheeks!” (kick!)
“My skin is as smooth as my butt!” (kick!)
“When I’m out of your belly and you hold me underneath my arms, you can look me in my face while I yawn and stick my butt out in person!” (kick!)
I remained stiff.
This time, it tried something different. Instead of it lying on its stomach and sticking its butt out the front of my belly; it turned sideways and stuck its butt out on the side of my belly-as if was showing off for me.
Still, I did not reach to rub it or spank its little booty, although I thought about it.
But then, I gathered my thoughts, emotions and attachments to it-and in my mind, I said (back) to it:
“Nah, I’ve got living to do. After I hand you over, I get a second chance to do it right this time. Can’t mess it up. I love you and I gave you a life to live.”
“Look ma! No hands!” (kick!)
I kept my hands in my lap…
“Look ma! No hands!” (kick!)
I continued to keep my hands in my lap-balling my fists tightly.
I kept my fists balled up-no hands.
It rested in its place…
Day 8: Morning came.
I did not do it, even though I knew It did not need me to-to remind me that it was there.
I did not want it to wake.
I did not want to see its butt.
I did not want to smile.
I did not want to touch or nurture it.
I simply did not want it to expect this of me going forward.
Unlike yesterday and previous mornings when I’d wake and lay there, shortly thereafter-it would wake and raise. But this time-it did not.
I got scared.
I gave in, and did it-just to see if it would wake and raise.
It still did not wake or raise.
I sat my head up some to see if it would, but it did not.
I lay there and went back to sleep, right along with it.
Into the morning it did not move about or begin to kick and play-at all.
I lay there waiting to see if it would, but it still did not move.
“Ma…no hands?” (no kick…)
I lay back down with my fists balled up. Tears rolled down my face but I held on to the sheets between each finger tightly…tight like the rest of my life depended on it…”
~READING GROUP GUIDE~
1) Although it happened some 20+ years prior, during a conversation with her mother, Angie revealed some of what had gone on in her life (with regard to her being molested) whereby, she (herself) was taken aback by her mother’s “fresh like it had just happened yesterday” kind of response. In the book, Angie stated that because she was participating, enjoying [and in one particular case]: even “seducing” one of her offenders; she never regarded her being violated as “molestation,” and always had a hard time seeing herself as a victim (although she was a child).
- How did that reach you, or make you feel?
- What or how did that make you think about cases like that?
- Have you ever heard of such a reaction or misunderstanding/misinterpretation coming from a victim of molestation?
- Angie also stated that because she didn’t go on to having deviate fetishes and thoughts and desires surrounding pedophilia, porn addiction, drugs, prostitution, bed-wetting, acting out, other behavioral problems etc; she just didn’t think her being molested affected her in any way. In having read [book1/Innocence] of the trilogy; do you think that what happened to her manifested in any way and perhaps showed up in other ways? (Do not interject any thoughts or opinions about other excerpts or sneak peeks that you may have read off her website from book2/Naivete’).
2) Do you think that Angie and her TGGF ever grow out of that situation they had going on?
- Do you think it was a “phase” or something that will probably continue or re-surface in book2/Naivete’ or book3/Sophistication?
- Do you think the TGGF will end up being a mere BFF as Angie gets older in book2/Naivete’ or book3/Sophistication?
3) How do you feel about “Ms. You Know Who?” Do you think that she dropped the ball too soon or do you think that (as woman herself-who too I am more than sure, experienced that teenage love and rebellion phase); felt that it was too much to contend with?
- Do you think she could have handled it any more differently than she did? How would you have handled such as situation? (If you were “Ms. You Know Who”).
- Thus far, in having only read (and sticking strictly to this book1/Innocence), how would you guess that Angie’s life would have turned out had she followed through with Ms. You Know Who’ “life plan” that she had mapped out for her-under her mentorship. (Think about and consider all situations that happened through to the end of this book1/Innocence).
4) How and what do you feel about Angie’s mother? (Everything: what type of person she was, what she did, what she didn’t do, what she should have done, what she could have done differently) etc.
5) How and what do you feel about Angie’s father? (Everything: what type of person he was, what he did, what he didn’t do, what he should have done, what he could have done differently) etc.
6) What do you feel about life in general, as compared to what Angie’s situation and feelings were (with regard to the artsy-school she attended)?
7) What do you feel about Santana? Do you think they will break up and get back together and end up together throughout the 3-books/trilogy and live that “happily ever after” in spite of all that had gone on thus far? (Do not interject any thoughts or opinions about other excerpts or sneak peeks that you may have read off her website from book2/Naivete’). What do you think will become of them (together)?
8) What is your interpretation of what was going on at the very end of the book-at “Day 7” through “Day 8” (the last 4 pages of the story)?
BONUS QUESTION So, she (Angie) mentioned that thanks to Madonna’s song “Papa Don’t Preach” ringing in her head and playing on her heart; she could not term the pregnancy. Although we do not know what is going to become of that child throughout the trilogy, hypothetically speaking, if so-with Madonna having adopted all these kids, she’s got another one out here she doesn’t even know about huh?
*In order to understand the joke, you would have to know that Madonna’s adopted a few kids. 🙂
~MEET the AUTHOR Q & A~
1) How did you come up with the idea for this book?
The original ‘idea’ (which began in 1997) was this same story and pretty much the same concept. However, as a novice-then; my writing style was indicative of what was “popular” at that time: the self-help/spiritual guru craze. And even though my story was what it is (then and now), I had the book broken down as such that I was kind of “evaluating” each chapter and speaking to my readers as if I was identifying a problem & providing a lesson by finding a solution for it.
There were three big chapters: “Innocence,” “Naivete,´” and “Sophistication.” But the “lessons” were listed in categories of how we evolve. First by: learning ourselves, then earning ourselves (having being done by way of surrendering things that stunted our growth and evolvement-be it by way of people, certain situations, circumstances etc.)
I completed the manuscript (which ended up being 600 pages).
When I took a step back from it and evaluated it after some time, I started hating it-badly. I got discouraged. So I sat the manuscript down-for years.
In 2000, I picked it back up and started to “fine-tune” it. And that’s when my feelings of being discouraged turn into courage. Because I began to re-write it honestly and from my voice-instead of trying to interject what the “new what’s-happening” was (that self-help/spiritual market).
I’m already a spiritual person just-by nature. So I had a long talk with myself. I told myself to stop trying to write to please a whole world of people-so as to not offend, appall or isolate anyone. In short: BE YOURSELF ANGELA. The only way I could “be myself” was to write: introspectively, reflectively, and efficaciously. I had to tell myself to let the motivational/inspirational/self-help gurus (who define themselves as that) do their thing, and me-do mine. And in order for me to be myself and do my own thing; I had to come to realization that I was indeed going to offend, appall and isolate some people (in the world). I struggled with that. But I dealt with it.
I had to condition myself, to believe in myself by saying: “so what, there is an audience out there that will appreciate you simply being yourself. And since you are naturally spiritual and a good storyteller; narrate your story as such that if there is any self-help, motivation and inspiration to be found within it; allow the reader to find it for themselves within the message in the story. Narrating and storytelling is your strength, so stick to that-even if you only have ten readers who love you. Do not try to please everybody. People who like you-will find their way to you and stick to you.” That is the talk I had to have with myself. And after conditioning myself to write honestly and from the heart (introspectively, reflectively, and efficaciously); that 600-page manuscript looked a complete mess to me-how stupid and fake I sounded trying to be a little bit of myself plus tell a story, but at the same time, trying to be something that I wasn’t-simply because sententious was popular.
So in order to do it my way, I put out of my mind; having an audience of ten, one-hundred, one-thousand, ten-thousand or one-hundred thousand. I allowed myself to be my own audience. I then taped to the wall, these words when I began the re-write:
Although the concept and story was still in the crux of the manuscript; it required a complete literary overhaul. Page for page, and paragraph by paragraph; I was reading from the manuscript’s (fakeness) and had to turn to the computer and say: “Okay, now write it how you really wanted to write it. Say it how you really wanted to say it-and without fear of being judged and feeling the pressure to be apart of the guru market-share. Just do you-Boo.”
It was one of the most liberating but expensive, emotionally and creatively taxing experiences I had never gone through. Because the re-write had taken me more time to do, than it actually took for me to write the book itself. That experience (though it took years to discover) taught me a big lesson in being comfortable in my own writing skin: that even if my style or “way” wasn’t the “new what’s happening-” as long as I remained true to myself from start to finish; the task will be smooth and nothing but a total labor of love that will surely birth nothing but pretty little unique babies with their own look.
The lesson: be your own guru-your own way. Even if in the end, they have to create a genre around you…
2) Why the title? And how did it come about?
The original title was called: “Keeping Secrets.” I gave it that title because (as you know from reading the story) “Angie” (the main character) talks about many things that were kept secret, and how she had grown so accustomed to the “covert;” that almost by second nature, she was “pro-vert,” (with all that was secret and covert). But then in the middle of my re-write, I discovered there were so many situations within the story surrounding and within the main character: “Angie,” that I felt compelled to change the title to: “Angie Situation.”
3) Speaking of “so many situations within the story, surrounding, and within the main character: ‘Angie.’ ” All that is packed in to her journey, life and experiences within this book; the reader learns a whole lot about: bullying, peer-pressure, molestation, sexuality, tween growing pangs, the mentor-mentee relationship, sexuality, sexual identity, bi-sexuality, teenage love and rebellion, teenage angst, the parent-child relationship (father-daughter/mother-daughter), elitism, classicism and teenage-pregnancy. Did you have to do a lot of research in order to bring so many important, taboo, and heavy issues into the story?
Scientific research-no. I went with and wrote on life as I know it, experienced it, heard tale of, supposed, witnessed and observed-period.
4) It is interesting to read this story from the voice of “Angie” (the story’s main character) and her thoughts behind the goings on. Yet, we can clearly see all the other characters involved in the story as well. We know their personalities without you going in heavily on physically “describing” them and making your readers paint-by-number/page for page; trying to bring those characters to life through extensive physical description and excessive dialogue. It’s like, you go right in to narrating your characters, and as we read on, we already know what they look like, what type of person they are, and how and why they do what they do within their role/character without a lot of description and dialogue about them, in order to bring them to life. How did you manage to do that and why?
When I write, I like to write how I like to read. And when I read, I want to read as though I am reading someone’s diary. I want to read as though someone is telling me a story: uninterrupted-uninterrupted by my asking questions and uninterrupted by excessive quotations and dialogue.
To me-a book is just like a diary. When we kept a diary, we didn’t write a lot of dialogue and quotations in order to describe a conversation, secret, desire or happening. And when we talked about a person in our diary, we didn’t go heavy in on describing them. We described them within the context of talking about them.
Don’t “remind” me that I am reading a book. Make me feel like I am reading a diary (or watching a movie).
The “rule” in (fiction) writing is dialogue.
The “rule” of Angela Sherice fiction is “narration” and some dialogue (when absolutely necessary).
Because when you think about it, when a person buys a book and goes to tuck themselves away in the corner of a couch or an area to read it, they almost do it like it’s a secret. (Take a look around at people at the bookstore-next time you go in). And when they go off to read a book, they tuck themselves away like they are hiding a secret. They want to be left alone to read [it]. When you catch someone staring at the book in your hand at the library or bookstore, what do you do? You draw back and frown, just like you would with a letter in your hand. Words are emotionally powerful (and personal).
How often is it that two people get together and cuddle up in the corner of a couch and read out of the same book together? That visual is odd isn’t it? That (to me), is because the reader wants to be a voyeur. And for me (in my opinion), I think it (subconsciously) forces the reader to think while reading (when there is too much quotation dialogue and description).
I feel that as a writer, if you are thorough enough in your storytelling; you can build the character’s personality, their description and the scene right in your readers head through good narration and storytelling versus too much quotation-conversation (dialogue) and list-like description.
The five senses are magical. I’m an extreme “sensualist.” And to me-reading is as personal as it is sensual, especially novel/fiction. Your words, your writing, and your storytelling can send your voice narrating to a reader’s head like a movie in front of their eyes, and theme music in their ears.
Too much dialogue (quotation-conversation) and description in order to build a scene makes a reader think and ascertain rather than see and voyeur. Readers tuck themselves away because they want to be a voyeur. I insist on allowing them to voyeur when they open up my book. I did all the thinking when I wrote it. None of the five senses require “thought.” I just want the reader to voyeur and enjoy.
As a writer, I do not treat a book or novel any less different than a diary or a handwritten letter.
5) Speaking of characters. Some of your characters, you do give actual names to, while others-you give names like: “Ms. You Know Who,” “Ms. Beautiful,” “Painful Pam,” “TGGF,” “Basketball Lena,” etc. That is very interesting, but why do you do that?
I do that almost for the same reason I elaborated on in the previous question.
As a writer, I have the responsibility to take full control of how I deliver my story. And as I stated in the (previous) response, narrating the story works best for me so that I can allow my readers to sit back and watch a movie in their head by the words that their eyes are seeing-line for line. In doing so (using names like: “Ms. You Know Who,” “Ms. Beautiful,” “Painful Pam,” “TGGF,” “Basketball Lena,” etc.), challenges me to make sure I have done a thorough enough job in narrating my character’s personalities, and what significance they play in a scene. And in having delivered that, what they do should be more memorable than what their name is.
It’s just like watching a movie or television show. When we are telling someone about something that we watched once or for the first time, we may be talking about ten different people within that movie or television show. We may be able to recall two or three of ten of their names (definitely not all ten). But one thing we will remember about all ten of them is: what they did, what they wore and what their role was in the movie or television show. In recalling or re-enacting the movie to someone, when we don’t recall the name-we will snap our fingers and say: “the one with the light-blue suit on-who showed up late to the meeting!” …(and recall the name after that-if at all).
Well, for me [if the moment hits me while writing, I feel that because of the role he may have played in my book] that my reader may not recall his name; but the fact that I know I was thorough enough in narrating the scene and the character, I leave myself with the option to call him: “Michael,” or call him: “The Late Man in the Light Blue Suit”
As I stated before-two things: As a writer, I respect my reader enough to allow them to relax and voyeur. I don’t want them to have to snap their fingers and “think” when trying to recall a character from any of my books. I’ve already done the thinking for them (in that regard). I just want then to “feel.” It’s no different than they saying: “people will not remember exactly what you said to them, but rather, how you made them feel.”
That’s what I mean when I say that I am an “extreme sensualist.” An extreme sensualist doesn’t just use their own eyes; they try to use someone else’s eyes to see what they see, touch what they touch, smell what they smell, taste what they taste and hear what they hear, as well.
An “extreme sensualist” will go the extra mile to see (and intermix): smell, taste, touch and sound, the same way a blind man has to go that extra mile to hear (and intermix): sight, touch and smell.
It may sound excessive and confusing to you, but I am the mother of a blind child, so for years, my senses are like that of a blind person. I’ve had to see, smell, touch, taste and hear for two people practically all my life, so for me-sensuality/the senses is second nature.
That being said, as a writer-I oversee my reader’s senses like I’ve had to learn to oversee my child’s senses-with him.
So in that regard, that’s how the naming method fell into place for me. And in overseeing while writing, the task of remembering character’s names takes me away from delivering a good story that my reader can experience.
And as I said before, from a creative standpoint, I let go of trying keep up with the “new what’s happening’s.” When I let go of trying to be that genre that hindered me from delivering good storytelling, I also stuck with all things (creatively) that worked for me-for my reader-as well.
So by my book “Michael” (the man in the light blue suit who showed up late for the meeting) might be: “The Late Man in the Light Blue Suit,” so that my reader can move on. I’m not going to tie their brains up with trying to remember “Michael” by name when there may be nine other characters within the story with names as well. They’re not necessarily going to remember all ten characters’ names, but they will remember what all ten characters did, (and how those characters made them feel).
6) How has writing “Angie Situation” changed you, if at all, in any way?
It humbled the hell out of me! Because (just like all novice writers feel) once that first manuscript is “completed,” I thought I was ready for the literary world. In addition to that, you couldn’t convince me that my manuscript wasn’t blessed after the fact that in October ’97, I had even gotten it to sit across of the desk at Oprah Winfrey’s. And the fact that it was 600 pages of blood, sweat and tears, had me feeling like the rest of my literary career and process would be easy as pie. I felt like I had almost arrived after hearing all those voices in my head of the ghosts of millions of people chanting: “I always wanted to write a book.” Well, I had done it. And to add homage to honor (after countless query letter mailings) a major New York publisher-Kensington Books did the proverbial rarity: wrote back and told me they were interested in reviewing some sample chapters of my manuscript after my writing and mailing to them-that winning query letter that piqued their interest. “So step aside world-here I come!”
All up to that point was the high, stimulated by ups and downs at the fact that Kensington began asking for a few different sections of the manuscript versus simply asking for the entire manuscript. It annoyed me, and I couldn’t understand why, until some time had passed and eating that humble pie: when I got the letter that they were going to pass on it. The only crumb I had left was the fact that I “almost” got picked up (maybe)-which still meant nothing, since “almost” never counted for anything. That shook my faith in the book, so I closed it for three years and went on to write and complete three other manuscripts (to feed my “I can write a whole book” ego). One book in which a smaller publisher was interested in publishing (my astrology book): “in about two years” from date. I was serious about writing, and two years was a lot of time to just hang around-happy, when I knew I still had the book (“Keeping Secrets”/“Angie Situation”) lingering in my head.
By this time, it had become a handy-dandy footstool for all those years. I picked the book back up after three years, and dusted it off.
As I began to look at it all over again, I could see it with a different set of eyes. I had done a lot of living, loving, thriving and growing (as a writer) and could now (finally) see what I suspect Kensington saw: The book’s story was the “diamond,” but the rest of it was fluff in the rough. The fluff was in the way-a distraction-and better suited for a whole other book (all the rhetoric and “lessons” of learning, earning, and surrendering-as mentioned in question number one). So I began to re-write it by being myself and writing in my own voice, versus trying to write so “safe” so as to not offend or appall any particular reader. In addition to that-I could clearly see what parts needed to be cut out, but it was interwoven so well with the storytelling that it was very hard to do-very hard to get to that diamond (buried) within the book. I suspected that editor knew if she asked for that entire manuscript-she would have turned me down immediately. Because after growing as a writer, I (myself) could tell that regardless what parts of a manuscript an editor asks for, the story should still flow and be able to be followed-regardless the break or interruption. Those certain sections, regardless which ones were asked to be sent via query, could tell a lot about the amount of editing that would have to be done to it in order to make it a marketable book that would resonate with readers and sell.
I had to do some creative and personal soul-searching and reminiscing.
Over those few years, I would allow some of my close work-friends, associates, and friends read the manuscripts and I would end up having conversations (and even handwritten letters) from them revealing to me-many things within the story they could relate to and had experienced.
That’s when I realized that the diamond was in the story and the storytelling, not the fluff (surrounding it).
I could clearly see it-but not until after all those years.
The diamond was interrupted with too much “teaching.” The attractiveness and thick of the book was in the story. Inter-mixing both (the storytelling and the teaching) made the book run all over the place.
I could finally see that Kensington sure as hell did not want to deal with all of that. It was a full-on, knock-down drag-out editing overhaul that even I (myself-the writer) did not want to tackle. So if I didn’t want to do it, how could I expect them to?
My eyes and novice didn’t know that, then. I was too busy being “impressed.” I had to get rough and real with myself. First, by dropping and letting go of all that I had been “impressed” with:
-the fact that the manuscript lay across Oprah’s desk once upon a time
-the fact that it got a second glance by a major New York publisher
-the fact that the manuscript was “600 pages” of a story
-the fact that I proved to my ego that I could write an entire book quicker than a person could write a love-letter
I had to slow down and get real with myself.
In getting real with myself, I had to have the same conversation with myself, and give myself the same advice that I would give to someone else who would ask me if they were in my shoes: “you can remain impressed with those “impressionables” that really mean nothing anymore, other than the fact that you have a manuscript of “600 pages” that too, mean nothing. Because until those 600 pages are re-written right, you just have 600 pages of words on paper. Get over yourself and get over being impressed about something that amounted to and produced-nothing (for you or anyone else).Get to work on those 600 pages. Get to the crux and diamond that people are responding to and resonating with first: the story. Save the guru-ism and teaching for another book. Until then, those 600 pages will sit there and always serve no-body and no-thing until you do it right-by serving it like you (really) mean it. After that-then be ‘impressed’ …with yourself. Because one thing is for sure: a good story-teller can still always ‘teach’ if he told a good story-the way it’s supposed to be told. Whereas a good teacher can just-‘teach.’”
7) “Angie Situation” was at one time, a stand-alone novel. Now it is a trilogy. How’d that happen?
I study the business and the market as a publisher, an editor and a writer. It became a trilogy rather than a stand alone novel because in studying the market, you will eat even more humble pie and be forced to put your preconceived notations about how things are done-down. And in getting myself unimpressed with the fact that I had completed a “600 page manuscript, I had to remind myself that people aren’t anymore impressed with a 600 paged book any more than they are with a novice bragging about having written any number of books. ONE good 100 paged book can vibrate, sell and resonate for twenty years. Times are getting tough, people are busy and attention spans are getting shorter. No one wants to read a 600 page book. However, a 200 paged book was more reasonable. Therefore, what was once 600 pages was eventually divided by 2 and made into a trilogy-broken down by its three main chapter titles: “Innocence,” “Naivete,´” and “Sophistication.” It made no sense to try and stuff an entire story that [in “Innocence”-alone] has a storyline built around issues dealing with: bullying, peer-pressure, molestation, sexuality, tween growing pangs, the mentor-mentee relationship, sexuality, sexual identity, bi-sexuality, teenage love and rebellion, teenage angst, the parent-child relationship (father-daughter/mother-daughter), elitism, classicism and teenage-pregnancy. So imagine what “Naivete,´” and “Sophistication’s” storylines around it are going to contain? That’s all too much for one book. Therefore, I made it a trilogy.
8) What (if anything) has surprised you the most about “Angie Situation” or since writing it?
That so many people identified with some and most all parts of the main character and the storylines. And as a result, brought up a lot of old wounds and fond memories-alike, and as well; they still got those “lessons” that I wasted so much time trying to inter-weave into the story-anyway! Because the story provoked a lot of thought, consideration and proposed questions for many answers they thought they already had, while providing a resolve where there were once questions. I was surprised, humbled and inspired by that. That is what kept telling me that regardless how bad I ignored the book, there are people out in the world that needed it more than I ignored and suppressed it because my bruised ego wanted to battle it. I had to earn the right to write the book and eventually surrender to doing so, as well. To do anything else or start another book without finishing what I started was less than acceptable to my spirit-both creatively and personally. The book came back to bite at me one-too many times. Now, I know and have surrendered to the reasons-humbly so.
Buy this book NOW!