Wednesday, September 19, 2018

My Birthday

I don't think I've ever felt this way about a birthday before.

35 is special.

In previous years, I've prepared for my birthday by counting down the days, fasting, traveling, hosting a party or some combination of these.

I don't want to do that this year.

I gingerly started the countdown, but then I stopped it when I realized that I could really do whatever I wanted and that I didn't need a countdown to make it happen.  (I suspect that countdowns in childhood were my way of reminding everyone in the family that my birthday as around the corner and that I expected gifts because I'm a goat.)

I'm going to be 35 by the end of this week!  I can't believe it.

There's so much that I thought I would have accomplished by the time I turned 35, and I'm so glad that I let myself down--just hear me out.

In particular, I'm so glad to have waited on motherhood.  I don't think I've ever been ready to be a mother, and even now I'm fine with still not being ready.

I have had so much time to mother my own spirit and build myself as a person.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to grow within myself and heal.

Source: http://www.postpartumprogress.com/8-ways-to-be-a-good-mother-instead-of-a-perfect-one
Imagine having the first 35 years of your life to grow as a person and devoting your emotional resources to self-love.  I'm so grateful to have had 35 years to care for my own spirit.

I'm grateful for my body.

I've struggled to love her at times and filled her with shame and despair because I did not appreciate her resilience and softness.  She is fierce yet kind.  She is fast and strong. As I've gotten older, carpal tunnel, slipped disks and other aging pains have started to show on this body -- but this is normal.  I've had a full time job since I was 15!  I've had multiple jobs and I was in college full-time.  My body has done so well in these past 35 years!!  Let me let her breathe.

Speaking of true love for this body -- I signed up for spin class.  I'm going to show myself that love is an action!

I'm grateful for my mind.

Without her presence, I wouldn't have been able to attain the academic and professional success that allows me to have the comfortable life that I now get to enjoy.  I live in a very nice and very Black neighborhood.  I get to be safe, and I finally get to unpack the psychological burdens that I unconsciously picked up while growing up poor and dark in a society that values rich and light.

I am grateful that my mind and body are in sync (unless you're asking me to catch a ball or do something athletic -- haha).

I'm grateful for my faith.

I've often assumed good works get you to Heaven, but I've stopped thinking about the end-game.  I want to allow others and myself to live a good life here and now.  I always ask: how can my activism, my existence, improve my life and the life of others? We are *all* loved by the Divine -- that is why we have been given the opportunity to be here.  In the face of those who would use the Bible or any other religious text to shame, I'm here to be a source of love and empathy.  I've often assumed passive pleasantness is the way to show my connection to the Divine, but I recognize that the God I worship is a radical -- turning over the tables of money changers in the church would be most similar today to kicking tithe baskets during service.  I'm not called to be passive or relentlessly pleasant.  I'm called to live by example.  God gave me feet and hands for doing, and I'm ready to work.

I'm grateful for my heart.

There was a time when I assumed the time for love had passed.  There was a time when I hostile to the very idea of marriage.  I'm glad that my heart has softened and that I have learned to love myself and another again.  It is very overwhelming when I consider just how blessed I am with my fiance and my future parents-in-law. I feel loved and welcomed by them in every interaction.  I never thought this would be my reality.

I'm tempted to imagine what the next 35 years have in store, but I can wait.

I am not in a rush for what my God has planned for me.

I know it's going to be great and well-worth the wait.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Goodbye Locs and Loc Extensions

My locs were a huge part of my transition into loving my kinky textured hair (and in part inspired me to re-name my blog “Kinky Chic”).  I even shared my installation story here.

It’s time to let go of them since they aren’t serving me anymore. 



Saturday, March 31, 2018

MJ

[After a two-year hiatus, the murder of a friend has brought me back to this blog.  Whenever I sit here and put my fingers on my keyboard, I feel the most powerful release. I realize that I can put everything that is swimming in my head on this screen and share my pain, joy, thoughts with others. Let’s heal together.]

#MarieFaye was murdered last week and she was only 35.

MJ is one of those black girls who is so fully in touch with who she is that her excitement for life makes you smile.

I remember when I was telling her and our close mutual friend the story of my horrible past relationship and explaining how I got out safely through a divorce. She exclaimed, “Good riddance!”  We hadn’t talked much but she instinctively understood that I deserved better even if I didn’t yet think so.

She always had a smile and a joke ready at every hand. You needn’t tell her no when she offers to help because she will help even when you pretend to have everything well-handled.

Our close mutual friend had a birthday party for her son (MJ’s godson) in an indoor play space, and we were one of the few adults who ventured into the play space to play along with the kids.  We laughed when we saw each other in the tiniest of tunnels, and I’m pretty sure the kids were laughing at us too!

She reminded me of my sisters and she was like a mirror for who I could be.  A west African immigrant making her way in New York City — she chose nursing when I chose law; she chose closeness to her friends when I chose shyness and fear.  We could be the same person.

I only wish we were closer; life is so short.

God may forgive the man who murdered her, and yet, I am not God.  I have no business with him in the after life.  In this life, I wish him equal pain to the pain he has caused.

In this life, I will do my best to keep these few cherished memories and honor MJ’s existence. I will attend the trial for her murderer and see that justice meets his wickedness. MJ deserved better; she deserved to live and she will live in our hearts forever.

#MarieFaye #SayHerName

Thursday, March 24, 2016

My Mom and My Womb

My mom and I are inseparable.

I remember chasing her around our house in Nigeria as a child wanting cuddles right after she got home from work. She's always worked; she worked until the day she gave birth to me, and went back to work six weeks after I was born. I watched her love my father, my siblings and me without fear or reservation.  I knew she would give up everything for me.  I never needed to worry; my mom is always on my side (benefits of being the last born lol).

...................

[Line trills] My mom is calling me again. I wonder what I've done now as I pick up my phone. "When are you going to give me grand children?" -- I can't understand why she does this to me every few months. We have the same conversation about children every few months.  My mom has never had course to nag me about anything really; she usually lets me do whatever I want. In the end, she trusts that she's done her best to raise me and lets go.  This is the only non-Nigerian attribute she has!

"Heh? O ko paapaa gbọ ẹkọ!" She exclaims.  She seems frustrated that her baby girl doesn't listen to her instruction. I'm pretending this conversation doesn't bother me because I love my mom... I don't want to fight.  I tell her not to worry.  "I want to have children someday, but not today.  Not this year.  Not next year. Mommy? E ma binu." 

She says she's praying for me -- the kind of prayer that includes daggers for nagging lol.  She's praying for me to see reason and have children soon.  She says I'm getting too old to be playing games and that I need to remember that I'm old now (lol). I love it when my mom says I'm old. It's almost like I've finally arrived.  All my life I've been told that I'm too young to understand, and now she says I'm too old not to.  I remind her that she had me when she was 35... "And I'm the best one you had! So I should wait until I'm 35 too." I imagine she wonders how she ever gave birth to such a crazy argumentative baby haha. (Yes, I'm still her baby.)

I tell her a story to get her mind off of our (play) fight. "Mommy, e je kin da yin nrerin!"  I remind her about an adventure we went on together: shopping in Yaba.  Man, Lagos was rough. We would frequent crowded markets sprawling all over streets and railways and my mom could haggle from sun up till sun down.  I would force my mom to take me to the market with her, and I'd be so scared of getting lost that I would hold on to her iro (skirt equivalent) so tightly.  I'd have to maintain a running pace to keep up! I would constantly bother her for sweets and other things she would never buy.  I never understood that she was stretching every Naira she had in hand; I never felt like we were in-need.  I just knew there are certain things that we would never have and that was OK.  I told myself that I would get them when I got older, but I also learned that even if I didn't always get what I wanted, I would survive.

Image: Yaba Market in Lagos Nigeria || Source: PMNewsNigeria

She remembers and she laughs.  She says she also remembers telling me that I better become rich because I have such expensive taste!

She's not fooled by my deflection.  In spite of the trip down memory lane, she goes back to children. "I just want to see a little you," she says with resignation.

Me too, mommy.  Someday, but I'm not ready yet.  

I've rushed into relationships before.  I've pushed a partner to create a perfect family before. I've bought my own engagement rings before.  I've bought my own wedding rings before. I don't want to go these things again... I don't want to rush anymore.

She seems satisfied with my response.  I tell her to stop worrying and get some rest - and she agrees.  

Let's see how long this truce holds.




Sunday, May 31, 2015

Americana(h): My First Love Story



I have never had the pleasure of reading a book that describes with vivid detail my emigration experience.  A book that validates my Nigerian-ness, American-ness, Blackness, Womanhood on such a core level.

This is a first.

Why did it take me so long to read this book?

Fear.

I didn't want to read another book recommended by friends and feel that familiar twinge of disappointment. That "must be nice" feeling.  The constancy of my other-ness.

I've never felt hugged by a book; I am embraced by the words on a page as though the book was written to tell me: your experiences too are valid. You too are valid. I felt heard; how do you feel "heard" by an author or a book? I felt understood by those who read the book as well.  I felt like my experience was loved by those who loved the book.

I remember my Obinze.  Some of you probably know him lol.  I had a huge crush on him when I was 12... He clearly noticed me as well but we were in Nigeria, and girls in my family did not date. Ever. I received my first love letter from him a few weeks before I left Nigeria. He wrote "I love you" using an alpha-numeric code that I had to decipher - such a nerd! I don't even remember if I gave him a hug before I moved to America.

We wrote letters and called each other for a bit after I left, but then it all fizzled after I settled into my new life in America.

Many years later, he calls me out of the blue and we start talking again. It feels like I'm just hitting puberty again.  My stomach is in knots every time he calls. I'm covered in goosebumps when I hear his voice as he says my name "Jumoke".  I feel like he gets me.  He tells me he's no longer living in Nigeria.  He's since relocated to England, and he's in graduate school.  He seems to be doing well.  He talks about his dad's business and how he's planning to work for the family after graduate school.

He is the same boy that I left behind in Nigeria.

He still likes me. He still likes me a lot.  He says he never stopped liking me.

We talk about marriage (yup), kids, family.  We catch up with the mature versions of ourselves.  He is so excited to speak with me.  He can't wait to tell everyone that he's back in touch with me.

He never stopped thinking about me.

He complains about my awful Yoruba and laughs.  He says I haven't changed.

A few weeks after we reconnect, he tells me he's coming to New York on family vacation. I'm stunned.  I'm living in Maryland, but he'll be so close!

"Maybe I can come to Maryland for a few days, and we can hang out?" I say nothing. I'm trying to figure out what he means. "Hello? Did you hear me?", he says in his British accent. I blurt out, "I'm so excited! I can't believe this is happening."

We spend the next few weeks working out the logistics of his trip.  He can't stay with me since I live at home with mom.  He stays with another friend that I also knew in Nigeria. He walks me to my car and as we're talking, he kisses me. I had dreamed about this moment for years, and it was now happening. I was confused and exhilarated at the same time. We pause and both laugh from embarrassment and excitement. "I can't believe you---" He kisses me again and puts his hand on the small of my back to draw me in to the kiss. I'm quivering and I know I still love this boy.

For the first few days we are inseparable.  Things we couldn't do in Nigeria: hold hands, cuddle, kiss, we did when he visited.  We would walk around the mall and he would reach out for me if I wasn't holding his hand. Again we discussed marriage and having a family.  He's Muslim, and he wants his children to be raised Muslim but he isn't picky about his wife's religion.  He wants to live in the U.K. and asks if I'd be willing to relocate.  He says I must visit him very soon so he can introduce me to his friends and family.

On the fourth day, he suddenly disconnects.  He completely checks out and doesn't seem to want to spend any time with me anymore during this trip.

I call him more than once and he indicates that he is busy.  He's doing his own thing.

I am ashamed.

I let him in too early, but I figured he just needed his space.  Remember, I didn't ask for any of these things that he suggested.  I didn't ask to talk about marriage, family, or a life together.  He offered.

I give him space.

I stop calling him.

After a week goes by, I return to my normal routine and stop thinking about him.  As I'm leaving dinner with my girlfriends, I see his name flashing on my phone.  He's calling me from his phone number in England. He apologizes for checking out and says he returned to England a few days ago and misses me.  I pretend to be unbothered but I'm seething.  (I don't take too kindly to being pushed aside.) I ask him how he's doing and casually suggest that I may be visiting London soon.  "I don't know how my girlfriend will feel about that," he says casually.

My heart drops.

My heart stops.

"What?" I respond. Trying to disguise my anger.  He's laughing as he says "I just don't know how I'll tell my girlfriend that you are visiting."  I feel betrayed and confused.

"Did I miss something? You have a girlfriend?"

"I do," he says.

I hang up and immediately delete his number.
 






Saturday, April 11, 2015

The First People In China Were Black!



You guys... This is huge.

Andrew sent me a link to an article on the website Kulture Kritic, and here's an excerpt:
In 2005, DNA testing proved that the first inhabitants of China were black Africans. The study was conducted by a Chinese DNA specialist named Jin Li and a team of Chinese and other scientists. Li admits that he wasn’t trying to prove this fact, instead he initially wanted to prove that the Chinese evolved from hοmo erectus independently of all humans. After collecting more than 12000 DNA samples from 165 different ethnic groups, Li and his team found that early humans belonged to different species but modern humans had descended from the East African species. 
One scientist on the team, Li Hui, said that 100,000 years ago humans began migrating through South and Southeast Asia into China from Africa. Their testing showed that 65 branches of Chinese all carry similar DNA mutations as the people of Southeast Asia.
Another scientist on the team, Jin Li had this to say about their findings, “we did not see even one single individual that could be considered as a descendant of the hοmo erectus in China, rather, everybody was a descendant of our ancestors from Africa.”
Clearly I'm late to the party, since these findings were made in 2005.  Maybe this explains why I love Korean and Japanese culture as much as my Yoruba culture lol. Maybe I'm not so far off after all...

I plan to spend my weekend reading up about this.  We are the original people.  Why are we hated so much?


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Autumn Flashbacks

Fall 2014 - Harlem

It's so interesting how autumn has a smell to me.  It smells and feels different from other seasons.  It smells fresh and oddly feels hopeful and new.  Every. Single. Fall.

I feel like I'm reborn in October every year... Though those that know me well also know that I lost something five years ago in October.

When I was in Nigeria, I remember seeing my mom furiously packing up all our belongings.  For months she seemed to have been scurrying around, scheming, trying desperately to get us to America.
I didn't even know what "America" really meant.  I just knew that it was where my (always sleeping) sister had moved to earlier in the year.  It was the place where my brother disappeared to the year before.  And the place where my dad was living for longer than I could remember...

America seemed like a vacuum.  Like the place where you went to get away and start a new life.  The place where you traveled and never needed to return.

Chicago

Where was America anyway? The location didn't matter to me much.  Knowing I could reset my 13 years of living in Nigeria meant the world to me.  Maybe I would no longer be the tiniest or youngest person in my class? Maybe I could finally have friends that didn't know me as "so-and-so's sister"? Maybe I could stop keeping so many family secrets... I wouldn't have to tell my neighbors that my dad was still in America because my dad would be right there with me. I can just be.

I forgot that we would need to leave mama and Aunty Oye behind... And my pet cat. How did I forget?  I remember seeing them peel away in the danfo loaded with memories.  The childhood pictures I enjoyed poring over on rainy days when I couldn't play outside went with them. Memories of making my aunt reenact stories from my naming ceremony for hours.  Memories of eavesdropping on arguments between my mom and her sister; I wasn't supposed to listen but I did anyway.  My mom always seemed so tough and Aunty Oye always caved. She was so sweet -- I was never going to be that sweet to my big sister! Hmph!!

When they left, it never occurred to me that I would never see them again...

We weren't allowed to tell a lot of people that we were emigrating to the U.S. But I remember being allowed to tell a few friends that I was leaving. I remember that a few of my friends wrote me letters; when I had difficult days adjusting to high school in America, I would read those letters and remember that there were people who loved me and thought I was normal.

When I left my friends, it never occurred to me that I would never see them again.

You know what else Autumn smells like? Loss.

Fall 2014 - Harlem

But maybe it is good to lose certain things to make room for other things.

Chicago
Can it stop being so cold though? It's Autumn for crying out loud, New York!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I'm scared.

I'm scared.

Every time I see someone in a police uniform, my stomach is in knots. I tell myself: don't make eye contact. Maybe if you just keep walking and don't make eye contact they'll know you're not a threat.  I saw an officer on the subway platform after work tonight and I felt like I was going to vomit when he did a double take on me.

Is that normal?

Does the first shot come after a warning or do you just feel the bullet tear into your flesh?

What will they say about me if I'm assaulted by a police officer? Will they say I provoked the officer? What will they say that I did wrong?

It can't be normal to be afraid. Can it? I wasn't always afraid but why am I scared now?

Have I changed?

Last I checked I'm still pint sized. You know me.  But will you believe that I did nothing to justify being killed by a police officer? You should. Nothing about me has changed.  I'm still the person you know. Those who have been killed deserve the same benefit of the doubt.

My mind has changed.

I'm afraid because it is no longer realistic for me to expect that I'll be given the benefit of the doubt and spared long enough to explain myself.

I'm scared that I'll be ended before I am begun.

Initially I was frustrated and upset when I heard about Eric Garner. Then I heard about Mike Brown and today, the lack of justice for John Crawford and a new shooting of a 12-year-old boy DeAntae Farrow.  I'm reminded also of Kendrec McDade, Rekia Boyd, Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell.  

Now I'm confused and scared.

I saw pictures of some officers in full gear wearing wrist bands with the words: "I am Darren Wilson." Does that mean those officers too will shoot me if I raise my hands in surrender? Who will speak for me when I am gone?

As I write this my heart feels like it is being squeezed tight by fear.

Will they know who I am if they stop me, frisk me or shoot me? Who will speak for me? Who will tell my story?

I envy you if you don't live with this fear...

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Yoruba Consultant? Rediscovering My Roots!


So it turns out, I may have a new career in my future: consultant on Yoruba affairs (to my friends who are dating/marrying men or women of Yoruba descent).

It's a hidden blessing that certain Yoruba actions that are expected of a young person are second nature to me.  I take for granted that being raised in Nigeria by Yoruba parents, I automatically kneel down to greet Yoruba parents, I happily run errands for Yoruba elders, and generally demonstrate to Yoruba elders that I willingly accede to their exercise of a certain level of authority over me.  It would feel unnatural not to do these things.



I've never considered that my upbringing and my familiarity with Yoruba culture could actually be beneficial to anyone.

For a while, I actually intentionally distanced myself from my Yoruba heritage because I was ashamed of it.

In high school, when my new classmates learned that I recently emigrated from Nigeria, they asked how I was adjusting to walking to school and sitting in a class.  I thought they were just being friendly, but they weren't. When I responded that I've always gone to school, they pretended to be shocked and asked if it was just as fast to swing on trees as it was to walk to school.  I couldn't even respond.


I was teased even further when my classmates asked me to stop acting like an "Oreo".  I remember thinking: "How does one act like a cookie?" I felt so confused.  I had no clue what that meant and it must have showed on my face because my classmate then explained to me that because I spoke with a "fake British accent", it made people think that I was ashamed of being black on the outside since I was really white on the inside.

I remember going home crying. I had never had anyone challenge my blackness before.

And then there was my weird, long name, Adejumoke. (It is pronounced phonetically: Ah-deh-jew-mow-keh!) Anyone who knew me in Nigeria, knows how much I love my name. My name has such significance in my family.  As the last of five children, it is easy to feel (or be) overlooked, but I never felt that way.  I felt very loved and I think it is in part because of my name. Everyone back home is familiar with the structure of my name "Ade" (Ah-deh) is a prefix that each of my siblings has and literally means "crown".  It signifies royalty and it connects me with everyone on my father's side of the family. "Jumoke" (Jew-mow-keh) means that everyone came together to love and care for me. Apparently, there was some disagreement in my family before my birth, but my naming ceremony brought everyone back together and restored the family.


There are many nicknames that go with my given name such as Jummy, Jum-Jum, Keh-Keh, and especially for me Jay Jay since my family name starts with a "J". Family and friends in Nigeria often called me by these nicknames, but they knew the source of the nicknames.  They knew my real name, so it didn't feel as though I was ignoring a part of my history or culture by using a nickname.

I wish someone had sent my teachers a memo about my name before I came to the U.S. I think they never quite knew what to make of me or my name.  Aside from being 14 in the second semester of 11th grade and graduating at 15, I was often sitting in the back of the class at a table by myself because I was either the only student or one of two students in whatever was the honors version of my classes.  Technically, I should have been in the Magnet program but because I was transferring from Nigeria, I was never quite looped into the system.

Roll call was the worst of times.  Every time a teacher got to my name during roll call, he would take a long pause.  Invariably after the long pause he would spell my name out loud.  If I could have turned red from embarrassment, I would have. After a few days, when my teachers would pause, I would pipe up and say "That's me.  It's Adejumoke or Jumoke.  But I go by 'Jay Jay'."  Eventually, this evolved to Jay since my classmates decided that I reminded them of JJ from Good Times and they added "Dynamite" every time they said my name. *Ugh*

It just felt easier to not be Nigerian or Yoruba.

To add insult to injury, in my 20s my then-partner who was also Yoruba seemed to turn his disdain for Yoruba culture on me and was eager to Americanize me. (Self-hate is real.) I was not allowed to speak my language because it made me sound poor and no Americans would want to be friends with me.  I was told that I spoke English with an accent and that I would be judged for it. I was chastised often for not being American enough.

At a certain point, I felt willing to lose every part of me that was Yoruba.

But in releasing myself from that partnership, I rediscovered my roots. I feel happy to reconnect with my Yoruba heritage.

I've spent the past three years learning about my culture again, and it is as though I never really fully left it. I spend time asking my mom about natural remedies and there is such a wealth of information that I had never considered.

And this weekend my Yoruba upbringing came in handy at my close friend's wedding.  The wedding was beautiful and I had a blast.  My mom would have been so proud if she was there.  I was kneeling down, getting drinks for my new brother's mom, joking around with my new brother's mom in full on Yoruba and we even ended up dancing to King Sunny Ade's Ja Funmi (Fight for me) and Wizkid's Pakurumo (It is a slang for dance and have a good time).  It felt amazing and I feel blessed by it.  It felt natural.



So... if there's anyone out there in my network who needs advice regarding any Yoruba matters, let's talk! I found such joy in this experience that I'm opening myself up to it.

xoxo,
kinky chic

Monday, May 26, 2014

Are We Friends?

I read an article recently that made me reflect on my relationship with some of my friends.

I'm the last of five children and many people assume that because I come from a large family, I have a large group of friends, but I actually don't.  I've always felt a bit out of place. To an extent, I consider my family to be my closest friends, and outside my family, I have very few people that I trust and that I get close to.


Growing up, I was always the youngest kid in my classes since I was enrolled in Kindergarten at 3 and skipped a few grades.  When I would bring friends home to meet my siblings, those friends would suddenly no longer be my close friends anymore.  They would get along with my siblings a lot more than with me (likely because of the age difference?), and even though we were friends first, they would no longer be close friends with me. This happened so often that I got used to losing friends or at least sharing them to my exclusion.  Initially, it hurt a lot to lose so many friends, but I accepted that maybe we just weren't as close as I assumed.

Also, I confided in no one outside of my family so I never really felt comfortable venting with my friends or calling them to share my problems because I was raised to keep my struggles hidden.  I actually don't think I know how to call my friends and shoot the shit (so to speak). It feels so strange because I'm so used to solving all my problems on my own.


For the past few weeks, I've been feeling a bit odd about a number of my friendships because I started to notice that even though I may think I'm close to someone, my definition of close may not be the same as theirs.  I feel like the forgotten friend.  I'm not so distant as to be excluded from attending your wedding altogether, but I'm certainly not bridesmaid material.  I've never even been asked to be a bridesmaid (and I have three siblings).  And to be fair, I'm not sure if I've ever expected to be asked even though I've wanted it.

I'm the forgotten friend.

I'm usually the one you forget to tell your good news, and I'm convinced that there's something about what I'm projecting to others about the type of friendship that I want that makes this so.


The truth is I'm quick to cut off friendships that feel one sided instead of actually speaking with my friend about my concerns.  I have this naive belief that friendship should be very easy, and any tiny bump in the road feels like a wall.  I want to save myself from future heartache by ending the friendship, but maybe herein lies my problem.  The energy I'm projecting is a lack of willingness to fight for my friendship.

I'm so busy projecting this self-sufficient image that I forget that I can lean on my friends.  Maybe my close friendships aren't that close at all...


I have been struggling with one friendship in particular for the past few weeks, and one thing I can say about this friendship is that I don't ever have to be afraid that she'll leave me alone.  We may not always agree.  We may fight like siblings, but she has a very special place in my heart.  She knows we owe each other a heart-to-heart soon to catch up, but I know she's going through some serious shit right now and she needs a shoulder to lean on.  I'll be that.

I may not see myself as a great friend all the time, but I'm going to fight for this one and see where it goes.