Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Crossed The Burning Sands Into The Land of Z Phi B: A Thank You

"What the hell is this title about? What is a Z Phi B?"  Let me break it down real quick.

Z Phi B is short for Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated. Yes, I am a sorority girl. I've been part of the Blue & White for 12 years and it is one of the best decisions I've ever made.  Shocking?  I know. Some people who've met me in more recent years (whether we've met in person or just online) don't really know that because I don't talk about it much.  It is a huge part of me - just not something I talk about a lot. But here we go.

As a freshman at Jackson State University, an HBCU in Mississippi, I assumed that sorority life would be big but I wasn't very familiar with any of it. During my junior year in high school, I was part of the Delta Sigma Theta Teen Lift program but solely because we were able to meet kids from other schools and got a virtually free trip to Atlanta for a college tour.  The mentors of the program would often tell the girls about their love for DST which was cute but...I wasn't interested.  When I got to college, I recognized their letters and colors and thought, "OH, they are everywhere." But because sorority life never moved me and was never part of my life growing up, I still didn't care.

Cue the "Welcome to the yard" stepshow.  Between the fraternities and sororities, there seas of colors in pink/green, purple/gold, crimson/cream and black/gold and what sounded like a million calls announcing each organization's presence.  Then there was blue and white.  The Sigmas, as I recall it, came out first to step and "blue phi" into the heavens.  Next up were their "sisters," the Zetas and I was like, "Damn, they can really step." I was entertained but still not that interested after their show was done. Then something happened and I was sold. After their show, they came out into the audience and just kind of welcomed many students who said they were freshmen.  They seemed so approachable and cool that in that moment, I decided I was going to be "one of them."

A year went by but in that time, I watched them. Not just the stepshows but how they moved on the campus and their community service. Don't get me wrong, the stepshows were the shit but that's not what hooked me.  They were actually doing something and not just being "seen." I liked that and with some work and things of that nature, I became a member in Spring 2000.

Twelve years later, I still think back on my initial...let's say, two years in the sorority and I smile.  Honestly, I didn't "need" the sisters (or brothers, if you include the Sigmas), friends or popularity that came with being a member of a sorority: I was already pretty popular and had enough friends.  We worked hard.  We were the third smallest sorority on campus but we were the most liked and quite frankly, we ran that yard. I take a lot of pride in that because when you become part of something, you want to know that what you do is not going in vain. I simply joined because I loved what they stood for. And I still do.  Finances haven't always allowed me to be a financial member (I won't lie - it isn't necessarily cheap but it keeps the organization floating) but I always peeked my head in on my graduate chapter when I'm not able to give financially.  Being part of "my Z Phi" has given me a better appreciation of community organization and service.  I honestly don't know that I would have realized how important that was in my early 20s without Zeta.

And on top of that, I've met some special people. There are some people I've met through the sorority that I love so deeply as family that you wouldn't even know we were Sorors because that's probably the last thing I mention because of them.  I absolutely thank my sorority for that because with it, there would be no us (the "us" being some of the relationships I have).  I'm not as "Soror-ly" as I used to be - meaning I don't run around hugging every Soror I see - but that has played an integral part in my growth when I was in my 20s.

So, I know that some of you reading may hate my obvious view of my love of MY sorority (and to an extent, all sororities) - especially those of you who have strong opinions against them - and that's okay. However my passion for it, I hope, will never die.

"I love my Z Phi B! And in my heart, I couldn't love another 'cuz I love my sorority."

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mama's Girl: A Thank You To My Mom

I could probably go on and on but I'll try to stay as focused as possible so rambling won't take over.

My mom is, by far, one of my favorite people.  First of all, let me say that if you knew me but never met her, you'd probably know she was my mother as soon as you saw her.  We pretty much have the same face. Okay, back to doting.  Lil D is very laidback and down to earth.  I'd like to believe she told me that I needed that trait while I was still in the womb because I've picked up those qualities. As I've grown into adulthood, she's taken on the role of friend while not at all diminishing her role as mom and the "I'll knock you out if you get beside yourself" attitude.  She's funnier than she thinks, loveable as she wants to be and nurturing to everyone (all my friends love her - even those who've only ever heard stories about her).  I don't know how she learned it but whatever motherly qualities that people assume all mothers should get - whether they do or not - she absolutely inherited. I mean, she's really good.

For all that closeness and all those soft and coral things, we get on each other's nerves probably every week.  My laidbackness takes a backseat to my "spiciness" sometimes and that attitude does not work well with any mother.  When we're not "on," the best thing for us to do is just turn "off."  The biggest issue we have is that she feels we need to talk everyday. EVERY. DAY. Who needs to speak to someone everyday? Not me (Lawd, I'm never going to get a man with that attitude, huh? LOL).  Everyone says I should oblige her but I'm really not that girl.  So when we argue, its because I don't call enough.  I don't apologize for that and so, we may take a three day break (which really means she isn't calling me) and that allows us to kind of cool off, reiterate our same points but get over it and get back on track.

I've got to say that one of the best things about my mom is that she allows for one thing that some parents don't let happen with their kids: she lets me be myself.  I find that so many parents have these preconceived notions of who their children should be in their careers and what their lives should be like by a certain age but Lil D isn't like that.  Sure, she always hoped I turned out to be a good person but I also wanted it for myself so I never felt like I needed to impress her with that.  I work in radio (well, not currently but by trade) and write on the side, neither of which are extremely stable. But she never pushed for anything else.  She also isn't the "when are you going to get married and have kids" mother.  You know what? Even if she is one or all of those things, she's never said any of it to me and for that, I appreciate her.

See, I told you I could go on and on.  There are truly a million other things I could say but I'm just going to stop and let this breathe. My mom is part of my support system and my soul sister and it's great to know that she's around when I need her - and even when I think I don't. Love you, Lil D!

Monday, December 3, 2012

To All The Artists I've Loved Before...I Thank You

This time, I'm talking about all the singers, rappers, writers, producers...anyone who has helped put together the best verses in my favorite songs.  I've allowed music to take me through every emotion possible and on my worst day, I've depended on it wholly to bring me through a situation.  I'm sure that's selfish to expect that one song should make me feel better about everything that's going on in my life but I do. Sometimes, it helps me more than talking to the people who know me best.

When I went through my "ordeal" with the FP a couple of years ago, the only thing I could do was shed a few tears and turn on some music. No, I didn't listen to a bunch of songs about heartbreak (I've yet to have to press play on that playlist); instead; I just listened to many of my favorite artists who sang their hearts out about whatever was going on in their lives. It wasn't the situation that made me feel better, but rather the emotion that poured out of every line. That alone helped me work out so many thoughts and feelings...and make decisions.

I know, it sounds dramatic. Could I survive my life without music? I mean, as long as I'm breathing I'm surviving and my heart doesn't beat based on a drum so I'm sure I could. However, I can guarantee my life wouldn't be the same.  Knowing that people who don't know me but can sing a song that tells me they still understand is soothing to me.  Hell, knowing that I need a moment to "drop it low" because everything isn't serious all the time constantly gives me a boost and for that, I appreciate all the producers I love in the world. The writers...oh, what a blessing!  I've tried to write a song and it is just something that alludes me to I leave it to those who know it best. But I thank them for taking that time to accept their own emotions or the emotions of the people closest to them and put pen to paper.

For all those involved in the process that gets the finished project to me, all I see is your love (even in the songs I like that were truly made to make a quick buck) and I thank you.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Brotherly Love

I'm not the best sister in the world.  There's no excuse for it and  there's nothing else I can really say besides telling me truth. While I have an older sister, we didn't grow up together at all and never spent any time together so most of my sibling energy went to my brother who's six years younger than me.  We have very different personalities and always have so we kind of grew up as "only" children, with him doing his thing and me doing mine. As we've grown up, he's moved a few hours away and has a family to take care of; I don't call like I should and rarely ever visit. Most of the things I know about him comes from the middle man - our mother.

It bothers both of us that we aren't closer but because he's the more emotional one, it gets to him more than me.  I "try" to work on it but could do better and yet, he doesn't seem to hold it against me.  I get caught in my own world of "nothingness," being fully aware that his life is five times as stressful as mine but I don't even call once a week to give him that "sibling time."  We don't have to be best friends - I don't even think either of us wants that. What he needs, and what I've seem to "refuse" to give, is just a little more of me. I'm genuinely open when we talk but there's just not a lot to say. I don't dig deeper because I often don't feel like dealing with the push back he'll give even though I know he secretly likes that.  It's just become our semi-connected but not really way of doing things.

We press on and move about our lives knowing that the love never changes even if we hardly talk.  He doesn't judge me for being protective from a distance and loving in my own way. Maybe we'll get better and maybe we won't but for all that we are...I thank him.