About Relationships

There’s a website called Curious Cat which allows people to ask you anonymous questions. I signed up for a profile a while back, and occasionally go on to answer what people have asked me.

Most of the questions are pretty simple, but sometimes they go really deep. My answer turned into a mini-essay, so I’ve distilled it here.

Are you in a rush to get back to a relationship?

Yes. No.

I realized the other day that I’ve never in my life been purposefully single. I don’t know how to feel about that. It shook me up a lot a bit and like so much that’s been happening lately, really rattled me off track.

When I was in high school, I always wanted a girlfriend. I was daydreaming and fantasizing about just holding someone close.

It never happened.

When I look back and try to remember those times, it feels like a long, intense, ache.

When I moved to the states after graduation, something shook me loose. I took an extra year of high school to mitigate some of the culture shocks of moving from the village to the States.

I was popular for the first time ever, but not as a typically handsome jock teenager. I was rough, wild, aloof; I reinvented myself as a class clown and rapidly built a long list of meaningful but shallow friendships. But the girl I had a crush on was the one thing I wasn’t able to relax about.

I tensed up, was awkward, and instead of being wild and aloof, I was a brooding piano-playing poet. I couldn’t pull off the suaveness that later attracted her to someone else.

After my extra year of high school in the states, I left for college, losing ties with every last one of the list of friends. Freshman year was tough, but I eventually found a tribe of people who I felt at home with. I gave up on love, and on being able to satisfy the ache.

I fell into a relationship. One of the many girls I had a crush on kissed me out of the blue, and it turned into a 2-year relationship.

I was happy.

But I tried everything in my power to make sure that ache never came back. She didn’t see a future with me and one day cut off all connection with me.

I was broken.

I tried staying away from relationships for two years. My friends pulled and pushed me to leave my room. I had girls I had serious crushes on. But either they didn’t want to move forward, or I didn’t. The ache was cacophonous. It drove me mad. I was miserable and played it off while being wild.

I became best friends with a girl I had a crush on, but then let the crush go.

We did everything together.
She kissed me.
We were married for 12 years.

I was happy.

I did everything in my power to make sure that ache never came back. She wasn’t. I was too immature to separate what she was dealing with from my own issues. My own scars and my own aches made things worse.

I ended it.

For the first time in almost a decade and a half, I feel truly alone. So much of my purpose was wrapped up in the relationship, in making sure she was ok, in making sure we were good, in running toward the horizon and fighting for us.
And that’s gone.

Now I’m supposed to wield all that energy and intensity and pour it onto myself and help myself heal and grow. But most of the time it feels hollow. That ache feels like it is all I ever feel anymore, and sometimes it feels like it will swallow me whole.

Glimpses and possibilities of relationships peek through the haze, and though the crushes are rising up again, I’m petrified of them. I’m scared of messing it all up. I’m scared of the ache coming back even more. I’m scared that I’m too broken. I’m scared I haven’t healed properly.

So. Am I in a rush to get back into a relationship?

Yes. I want to feel that glow again. I want someone to give to. I want to be held.

No. I am tender and sore. I have an ache that would swallow you. I haven’t grown enough. I’m unstable. And I’m really afraid of being hurt.

There are even people close to me who want to help, who want to ease me along with the healing, and I’m afraid of overloading them and crushing them.

I’m even afraid of answering questions like this, afraid of what my own reflection will look like as I unearth it.

Some days I feel good. I feel loved, and feel secure, and feel like I’m actually growing and healing.

Then there are days like today, where I feel like I’m disintegrating in a heap of flames. I’ll probably feel better tomorrow. After I get some real rest. But right now I feel fragile.

Do you still believe in marriage?

Not in the way I did.

It’s a patriarchal mess of a tradition that was designed to put women into bondage. It only works if we check in on each other every year. Open a time capsule of memories. Reminisce. Make new promises. Make sure we keep them.

To be honest, even thinking about marriage wears me out. I don’t even know how to date. Like, all my relationships were friendships that turned into something else. I’ve never dated, I have to figure out how the hell it works. I don’t even know if I’m ready.

I have to trust that it will get better. That I won’t collapse in on myself. That the friends who are close to me are right, that I will eventually be ok. That I’ll get through this. That I’ll feel whole. That love will come.

For now, all I have is the ache.

What’s the benefit/virtue of purposefully being single?

I really honestly do not know. Better knowledge of the self? But I never felt like I didn’t know myself when I was in a relationship. But maybe that was blindness.

What’s next? By that I mean, what do you want the next part of your story (outside of a relationship) to look like and what steps to get to that?

I really have no idea. And it scares me. I don’t know what being a bachelor looks like. What going solo looks like I’ve got my own goals. Dreams. Things I want to do, ways I want to move. …I just always wanted someone to share it with me.

Do you still believe in love?

No matter what happens to me, I will never not believe in love. Either I’m especially foolish or just loveblind. That’s never going away.

It’s a new dawn; it’s a new day.

Dragonfly out in the sun,
You know what I mean.
Butterflies all havin’ fun,
You know what I mean.
Sleep in peace when the day is done,
That’s what I mean.
And this old world,
Is a new world,
And a bold world,
For me.

—Nina Simone

Today is the first day I live as someone who is divorced.

Though it was years in the making, the process ended with a quick thunderclap. I worried about it, and like most things I worry about, I tried doing research into how divorce worked. But I couldn’t find anyone who could tell me what the process was like.

My ex and I got up early, took the kids to school, and headed to the courts. We stopped to get our Separation Agreement notarized at a small mailbox shop on the way, and picked up some Dunkin Donuts. It felt like rocks in my gut, but I forced myself to eat. I knew going in on an empty stomach would have been worse.

Baltimore courthouses are in a cluster just Northeast of the harbour, and because they’re all together, we didn’t know exactly which one to go to. A friendly sheriff helped us in the right direction, across the street from where we thought we were to be.

It was odd being there; it was the same courthouse that I had done many protests at, where my friend Randy Gloss had been arrested, where Keith Davis Jr.’s court hearing was… it was strange.

We went in and the sheriff in charge of scanning people with the metal detector was barking at everyone, clearly having a miserable morning. I stuffed all of my electronics and my belt into my jacket so that it would be easier to get through. But then he told me I HAD to wear my jacket. I fumbled everything back out and got through.

3 massive LCD screens bolted to the wall had the names of everyone who was assigned to hearings for the day, and what room they were meant to report to. However, though the list was sorted by name, not all the cases were by last time. Ours was by first. My ex finally saw where we were supposed to go, and we got in line to board the ancient elevators to the third floor.

The courtroom was different than I expected; beautiful art-deco-brutalist woodwork, punctuated by technological additions like CCTVs and mics and something that looked like an XBOX motion scanner. It was cozy, with paned windows lining one wall looking out over a roof; it felt like a small chapel. Several other people were already in the room, but nobody sat together. We took a pew together in the front.

Immediately, the court clerk asked if I had provided the proof of how I had done the calculations for the child support figures I had put down. My heart sank. Though I’d gone over everything in painstaking detail, the tool used to calculate the figures wouldn’t print. I’d saved a copy on my computer but didn’t have it with me. Fortunately, I remembered all the numbers and managed to fill it out on my phone.

There were several cases before ours, which felt awkward. We watched several divorces play out in different ways in front of us; couple’s heartwrenching moments playing out feet in front of us. A couple in which one parent almost lost child custody because they were 30 minutes late, who then argued with the magistrate. A couple who had been married for over 25 years, who were battling over the deed to a house in foreclosure. And then… it was our turn.

After verifying the pronunciation of our name a bunch of times, I asked about a law that had just gone into effect in Maryland. Starting October 1st, a full year of separation is no longer required for a Mutual Consent Divorce. Though I understand the goal of the original law; to make sure that a couple had a waiting period before they rushed into a divorce, the law essentially made it a tax on the poor. Couples who couldn’t afford a second residence (like us) really could not get a Mutal Consent Divorce, because housing is so expensive.

The magistrate said we did qualify, but that we’d have to file an addendum, which we could do right then and there at the clerk’s office downstairs. We went down, filled out the paperwork, and came back up. The magistrate wanted time to look over our separation agreement while we did that.

I had put in a lot of research and time into the separation agreement, and my ex and I worked through the details in minute ways. It’s an odd thing; it is essentially a set of compromises between a couple that gets solidified into law when a couple gets divorced. It details out things like child custody, alimony, child support, dividing up debt and assets, and a bunch of other stuff.

The magistrate spent a good amount of time on it, carefully questioning us about every detail, making sure we both consented to every line item. I started to feel odd; why was she doing all this? I thought that this was just supposed to be a scheduling meeting so we could come in later…

She kept going, and then finished up with “very good, you’ll get a certificate in the mail.” I was confused. I raised my hand. “You mean we don’t have to come back to court?” Had this just happened? She smiled. “Not unless you really want to.”

Though the change in the law had happened a week earlier, we were the first case she’d seen it actually play out. Normally it takes months between filing and your first court appearance, so nobody had even applied for this new method. We were on of the fastest divorces the magistrate had ever seen. “I see the worst of people in here,” she said, “you two actually have your stuff together.”

We walked out, shell-shocked. We talked about a few things as we made our way back to the car, but I don’t remember any of it. Had this just actually happened? It felt sudden. Unrushed, but quick. We’d done all the work. It was over.

It felt like a tooth that had been waiting to come out for a long time. That needed to come out. And now that it was finally out, it was good. But also a deeply strange feeling.

I was exhausted. The weight of everything hit me all at once; slamming into me like a cold front rushing down the mountains. The pain was gone, but the labor it took to make everything work, to make everything just right, the mental preparedness I had to do just to get through it… the release of that was overwhelming.

Divorce is not something I had ever wanted. But it was something that was necessary. I knew it had to be done. It had been a last resort; a way that finally allows healing I needed, to grow in the ways I needed to grow, to protect the kids, to be able to be who I needed for them.

As I woke up today, everything felt different. I stepped outside; the entire sky was lit up in gold. The sun peeking through the limbs of the trees on the horizon. The air was cool, crisp. It is the first day that felt like fall.

It is a new day.

Goodbye, Facebook. It’s you, not me.

I talked about it before, but within a couple weeks I’ll be gone from Facebook.

It’s going to be complicated to disconnect, because I’ll have to turn off Messenger, and Instagram, and a bunch of other services. The sheer volume of applications and sites that use Facebook for me to log into is astounding.

Why are you quitting?

There are a bunch of reasons people quit, from proven studies about how Facebook worsens your mood, to how addictive it is. Some people quit because of how toxic people can be on here, or how invasive the advertising is.

However, the main reason I’m quitting is because of their egregious record on privacy. I recently downloaded my Facebook data (which you can do too), and I was shocked at how much information they tracked.

Here’s how to do it if you’re interested:

  1. Click at the top right of any Facebook page and select Settings.
  2. Click Download a copy of your Facebook data below your General Account Settings.
  3. Click Start My Archive.

It may not work immediately. It took me a couple tries to get my data.

Another thing you should check is if credit card info is stored on there, which you can do by clicking on Settings > Payments.

I’m also disturbed by how little they tell you about new policies or changes, and how easy it is for them to give your data away to the highest bidder.

Zuckerberg has been consistent in his message that he does not care about people’s privacy, so long as he can make money.

There are other companies that do that too, but Facebook is a beast that harms other through my interaction with it.

So it’s about privacy?

Mostly. I also really dislike the way they deal with cyberbullying, fascism, and racism. Facebook is lax in all those areas. Even though I’ve done things like report the account of the Maryland KKK member who fired a gun at anti-racist protesters in Charlottesville, his account is still active.

Facebook is NOT a great place for activism outside of groups, which I’ll remain active in. I’ve been monitoring the views on my regular wall, and with each algorithm change, those go down.

Not only that, but they’ve REALLY changed their course on a lot of things. For example, here’s an interview with Facebook’s CEO saying “This is their information, they own it”.

Then, not even a full year later, Zuckerberg stated: “The age of privacy is over”.

But what about your family?

I have a lot of stuff on here, which I’ll slowly be cleaning out. It’s been over a decade that I’ve had facebook, there are family photos, all kinds of stuff. And there really isn’t another place like facebook yet, where nearly everyone is on it. It’s sad to lose that.

But I’d rather not be complicit in a system that harms people. And my being here keeps other people here. So I’m cutting ties.

So what does this mean going forward?

I have a lot of groups that I manage on here; like Naskapi Radio — (418) 585–2111 and #BaltimoreUprising. I’ll still manage those.

I also have several businesses that I manage on here, from Zerflin to a bunch of my own clients who pay me to help them with social media. I’ll keep doing that.

I’m going to be slowly archiving and deleting my content on here, especially photos. I have a giant photo collection on here, which Facebook uses to identify all of you. That makes me sick, especially since they can sell that data to other people.

I’ve made my last Facebook post ever. Unless they do some serious work to change, this is it.

Can I talk you out of it?

Nope. Though you’re welcome to talk to me about it, just not on Facebook. This decision has been 3 years in the making.

Where can we find you?

That’s easy. My website has links at the bottom left to every social media I’m on. I’m sure you’ll find something we have in common.

What if Facebook is the only social media I have?

I actually have a mailing list. You can sign up for that here.

#24PropheticWords • The False Prophets are Here • @TheSlateProject

“False Christs and false prophets will come and perform great wonders and miracles. They will try to fool even the people God has chosen, if that is possible.” –Matthew 24:24

When I began reading the Bible on my own, it was from tattered gold-covered copies of the Good News Bible that sat on shelves in the back of our tiny church. Someone had donated them long before my family had arrived in the village we lived in, and they’d seen years of uninterrupted use. 

Conspire. Jude 20–21

Conspire. Jude 20–21

Who said a black man in the Illuminati?
Last time I checked, that was the biggest racist party
Last time I checked, we was racing with Marcus Garvey
On the freeway to Africa ’til I wreck my Audi
And I want everybody to view my autopsy
So you can see exactly where the government had shot me
No conspiracy, my fate is inevitable
They play musical chairs once I’m on that pedestal
—Kendrick Lamar, Hiiipower

Continue reading “Conspire. Jude 20–21”

MLK was killed, Beware the Day

6:05 P.M. on Thursday, 4 April 1968: Martin Luther King Jr. lies struggling for life on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee after being shot in the face with a sniper rifle. Photo by Louw, a young South African photographer and filmmaker Joseph Louw, who was working on a documentary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, and was staying 3 doors down from King. He rushed outside to help when he heard the shot, and there was nothing he could do, he began taking pictures.

MLK was killed.

And people went into uproar.

They cried in anguish because they realized he was a Black man who didn’t deserve to die. Continue reading “MLK was killed, Beware the Day”