my first friendsgiving, why honest and true sick days are divine opportunities and why spike lee's 'she's gotta have it' is everything black folks and those who love us need right now
i'm writing this entry in the form i generally share "social" public writings in, all lowercase, because it feels most like home and comfortable to me. i asked myself if it would be okay to post to my blog like this because, ...grammar rules. i heard the voices of all my writing teachers--all the way up to those belonging to my university of virginia professors. some of them might cringe at this presentation. i further believe, more would be proud--that i have in other places and spaces demonstrated that i know the rules (or at least have the strunk and white reference books to back what i can't keep in my head), and am consciously deciding to break them.
yesterday i found myself in the e.r., seeking help for significant shortness of breath. i've been fighting off a super virus of some sort for the last month or so. in the last week or so it has intensified instead of dissipated. the excellent nurse who tended to me yesterday scolded that i shouldn't have taken that trip to charlotte last weekend--the one where i danced my heart out literally moving toward and out the door and into the outer vestibule of the club my partner, Will and our sister-friend visited for a bit one night while down there. i don't know what it is about clubs in the south. don't get me wrong, i appreciate trap music for what it means to the culture and especially to the people who love it. but i am an afrobeats and reggae kind of soul somehow and my experience has been, on several notable occassion in different places here in the southeastern united states, that djs don't like to play my hits for some reason! what gives, yall?! any thoughts? ...aannnyway. when the lights came on and the party was over, in the last five minutes came my rhythms. so i rode on them and they lifted me up. but my behind probably should have been in bed for real for real. the night before that i'd stood beside a dear brother of mine as i watched him turn up and turn quite soberly into a joy-filled, GEEKing, fully present, jumping up and down, sweating and loose with happiness little kid again, in great seats that none of us kept, watching jay-z performing a litany of his greatest hits live. it was an honor to witness him in that freedom, my brother-friend. jay-z was dope too. it's been a long hard few years for many of us. i firmly believe that music and dancing are divine doors. that experience with that particular brotha wasn't lost on me.
that was a long-winded, albeit relevant, departure from my thought about that wonderful e.r. nurse yesterday. but i'm breaking all the rules with this post so... who gon' check me? stacy, the 30-year veteran e.r. nurse, got on me for not resting. and i received her chastisement as a respectful daughter would to a loving mother. my own father had already gently nudged the same. alas. i was there on that gurney. working to breathe now. having just seen my primary care doc the day before after seeing him the week before that to be sure i wasn't developing pneumonia. that nurse and that e.r. doctor took such good care of me yesterday. it was almost as if the universe had conspired to gently envelope me in the same brand of love and care that i offer into this world and the universe myself--everyone from the orderlies to the nurses to my immediate caregivers and next door neighbors just loved on me so beautifully and sincerely. i could feel it in my soul, the connection in each exchange. give thanks.
which brings me to my first friendsgiving. i ended up home after an all-clear x-ray, some steroids, a nebulizer treatment, a fancy "spacer" device to add to my new inhaler, orders to finish out this tummy-sterilizing second round of antibiotics and strict orders to clear out my schedule for a couple days and rest. enter real life real good neighbors, super grands and my wonderful life-partner guy, Will.
the village makes life possible.
i'd been feeling compelled to not participate in "the holiday" as would be per the traditions i've known. not because i don't love those traditions, but simply because i have just been tired. on many levels. and needing like, be really still and do absolutely nothing rest. nothing domestic or business-related. just rest. my parents were off to spend the day out of town with my brother and his very soon to be wife! (hey, fam!) Will took the kids out to a thing called the Turkey Bowl around my way, and i cozied up on my couch to do exactly as i knew i needed to: rest. i got my favorite blankets and books and some water and snacks... heated up some canned soup and boil-in-a-bag brown rice, opened up my big living room windows to let in the sunlight and turned on Netflix. (more on that in a second--puLEASE keep reading down to my review of She's Gotta Have It.) i viewed the old school nola darling spike lee joint, sent some spontaneous teary-eyed love and gratitude to my very tiny innermost circle of loved ones and then realized, i was working way too hard just to breathe.
i took it all--the e.r. visit, the structure of the day, the feel of the day up to that point--as a message from the Infinite to simply deepen the posture of rest even more.
came back home and acted accordingly. chatted with Will for a bit and then off he went to try and grab some takeout so we could feed ourselves and our little ones because, yeah... working, homeschooling (unschooling/worldschooling), sick mama + working, homeschooling (unschooling/worldschooling) and holding us all down papa were both good and spent. annnd you guessed it. every single thing was closed. even the grocery store. so he's out in the world trying to make a plan and i'm trying to help offer thought energy and helpful action to that endeavor from the couch when my neighbor texts and, i hate to say "out of nowhere" because i don't believe that's where spontaneous and divine things come from... so i'll say, "out of the Infinite, came this gracious invitation from the family next door to come and sit around their table for dinner, right then and there. i'm bra-less in a favorite old tshirt and sweats (though freshly showered! ha!) with the wildest presentation of my already wild hair. we have left-overs and love alone to share and just like that, off we all go, briefly out into the cold and a few paces over and in to the warmth of our for TRUE true neighbor friends. we have late millennial life, 4-year-olds, struggling creative life, married life, individual lives, homeschool awareness, vegetarianism, music-making, dancing and so many other things in common. it was so good to share the intimacy of breaking bread and drinking wine with them. so much laughter and depth and connecting. so good. a truly splendid, first ever for me, "friendsgiving."
and then i got hooked on Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It--the new new on Netflix that dropped thanksgiving day. after delivering my kiddos to the super grands per my mama's orders, i came home and back to my set place on the couch--blankets, meds, water, takeout... sunlight. and i watched the remaining 5 episodes of the series.
so what we NOT fittin'a do is act like Spike Lee didn't just release a just right kind of rich and wonderful layer cake of cakeyness, cakes throughout the cake itself, on the masses with this latest joint of his. i mean. a "cultural artifact" (to use the term of another artist friend) of this time like nothing i've personally enjoyed so intensely and deeply for some time. i was introduced to Spike Lee's signature Joints in high school. can't remember whose class it was now but somebody showed us Crooklyn. and as a little black girl matriculating through predominantly white educational spaces from preschool all the way up through twelfth grade, i vividly recall this film making a home in me. it was a black story with black people and beautiful black things all up in it. it offered filling into a void that i didn't fully understand at the time. at some point in my twenties i saw Mo' Betta Blues. more of the same. ...read reviews about Red Hook Summer and steered clear for particular disturb over a certain "polarizing scene," one spoiler reviewer called it. didn't see that one or Chiraq, but this one right here? this Nola Darling narrative... was all the blackety black black business, good discomfort and even better inspiration i needed in these last couple of sick days.
now, i'm a creative and really deep and sentimental just ... in general. so you may watch She's Gotta Have It and see something completely different from what i saw. and that's the beauty of art, right? we all come to it with something different and take from it what we take, if anything. but i just had to come write about what i felt and saw. i know that i can say things and i'm learning to stand fully in that power. so i'ma go on ahead and say this.
Mr. Lee was just in my city too. screening Four Little Girls downtown at the film festival i had tickets to but couldn't attend because, life. but i fell in love with his artistry all over again after viewing both the original film and the new Netflix series. Lee left so many breadcrumbs for us y'all, even for the folks who maybe aren't as interested in the "cake." and when i say "cake" in this particular sentence (not to be confused with the other sentences in which i have and will likely againl refer to this body of work as "a layer cake") for folks who may not be with the times, i'm referring to what even i first thought She's Gotta Have It was going to be mostly about: sex. ...polyamorous, non-binary, pan-sexual sex. and it is about that, yes. but it is about oh, so much more.
listen y'all, i have been s-t-a-r-v-e-d for blackness for some time. t-i-r-e-d, ...exhAUSted with white narratives and the same few black tropes in movies, books, tv show, toys, conversation, music... people spaces--theif, thug, side-chick, comic relief, mammy, slave, angry, attitudinal. so much so that i haven't even watched cable television programming for years. and what movies i've seen in theaters had me leaving looking side-eyed at white people, frustrated with black people and generally just wanting more. but this... this piece of art satisfied my hunger for dynamics and depth with timeless photography, classic Spike Lee cinematography, bright bold colors, the art of black hair, black music complete with album covers as scene vingettes (watch with your Shazam app downloaded so you can pick up new music), rich black folks, poor black folks, the art of clothes, food, aunties, god-mamas, rachetness, class, refinement, gutter-life, black women at war and at peace with their bodies and the bodies of their sistas, hard questions, black lives matter, white lives matter, all lives matter, politics, important homages to many new and notable ancestors, dancing, therapy normalization, the fragilities of the male ego, permission and an outright request to "be real black," beautifully executed cameos from actors in the original film, trained thespianism in all its powerful wonder and quirkiness, tolerable hyperboles, PERSPECTIVES we have not been able to see and hear in mainstream media, relationship complexities, leaning in and staying in fires instead of retreating when it gets too hot... Trump era politics, gentrification... i MEAN... just, all so worth it. by the way, i hate the word "freak" too, nola girl! why can't i just be free without the eek?! when it comes to my prowess in the bedroom or in whatever room or space i choose to be sexually expressive in? girrrrrrrl. tell 'em.
i especially appreciated the way in which we got to journey with this amazing actor, DeWanda Wise, as she did her good strong work with her beautiful self to own this powHERful role and guide us to vindication of the divine feminine and that in her steadily denied place: BALANCED with the divine masculine, not shadowing or silenced. i was watching like, now what kind of award is THIS sista 'gone get because she is truly deserved.
Spike Lee is bae for this. if you are reading this and you know him, tell him i said so.
black excellence filling a sista up on some sick days. what a divine opportunity this has been.
i practice gratitude every day so that coupled with white genocidal history makes thanksgiving DAY "proper" a complicated day for me. but i do believe in the surge of globally elevated vibrations that comes about in that time frame as many of us are freed up from our jobs to gather with dear ones. so in that vain, i end this piece: grateful for my place in this world and your place in it with me. grateful for the time you took to be with my writing. grateful for the awareness and sensitivities that make me me. sidenote on that: if you appreciate any of my work--my writing, my photography, my social media shares, my in-progress books, my being--a sista could use some support in the way of some yolonda jones creative financial stimulus giftings--no strings attached, because these offerings want to come through a certain kind of way. i am open to your good energy and backing. ...shameless call to those who are hearing. here's a way to help --> https://www.patreon.com/yolondajonescreative.
in any case, willing you all dance and love purely.
power and love,