Hashtag credit goes to I N E Z for this one.
Pretty soon I’ll be closing out the first year of this dream I call Black Book Lady. It is a space for me to be completely me and tell the world how much I love reading, writing and lots in between. When I started, I had no idea 2020 was *waves* all of this. I didn’t know all the pain we would face. I also didn’t know all the joy I would witness. Peach and purple have collided across 2020 in bold juxtapositions that left me in a state of wonder and profound understanding of contentment. So, as I wrap it up, I wanted to highlight a book that has done the same. I wanted to celebrate a book that takes the peaches and the purples, greens and reds, turquoise and magentas all together.
That book for me is The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by the incredible Deesha Philyaw.
I am so grateful to her for telling these stories and creating lifelines for us daughters. Daughters of Gloria Naylor, Jamaica Kincaid, Rita Dove, Lucille Clifton, and so many others who don’t have recognizable names or whose debuts in the back pages of Essence magazine were the pinnacles. Daughters of the discourse dust. We who have gathered on the edges of the shoreline where beach reads turned up some – mostly white- authors over and over like shells under children’s feet. But we daughters sank our toes into the tide and remembered the water could not be hemmed because there were millions of deep blue souls and millions of words reaching out from pages like waves. #Deeshember is for the daughters wading deeper; for colored girls who considered beating somebody’s ass when a Yona Harvey poem was enuf. These are the five things I’m prepping for my celebration of #Deeshember.
1- Peach Cobbler.
Guess what? I have never really had peach cobbler. Like I know what it is and I could try to make it but I haven’t really enjoyed one ever. I have had some minor fruit intolerances all my life. Apples, peaches, nectarines and apricots have never been my friends. I have been working on building up my system to deal with apples and that one isn’t so bad anymore but I still don’t drink juice much (mostly made of concentrated apples) and I haven’t had the courage to try peach desserts. Not this year…I am going to get the Benadryl ready, fire up the Kitchenaid mixer, get out my Neely’s cookbook (hahaha I crack myself up but for real I’ll prolly just go over to Divas Can Cook and find something there) and make me some peach cobbler. And then maybe I’ll post it somewhere glistening and glowing with a gold fork in the middle of it reminding all the fake friends, lovers, supervisors, academies, etc, who rejected me that although they got to eat my cobbler once, it is all mine now. Long story short: I will eat what is mine and enjoy it.
2- Fearless Physics.
I didn’t know that there were stars bigger than the sun when I was a little girl. I thought I was looking at the night sky and seeing only things that wanted to be as big and bright as the sun. I knew nothing of distance. Riding from Newark to New York City for school field trips felt like I was making a pilgrimage or something. Turns out there are indeed stars bigger than the sun and I learned in “How To Make Love to A Physicist” that they sometimes travel close to black hole edges where they are destined to create a spark that twirls around the universe for ineffable amounts of time and space. Like Hyppolyta in Lovecraft Country, Deesha Philyaw’s imagination taught me that rare, brilliant events take time. Some people learn this fearless physics in loving someone else. Some of us learn it in loving ourselves. I’m on the latter journey this month.
3- A Chauncey Chalice
I’m so sorry to have to say this but the truth is that if we so much as click a “join with video” button this month, we may encounter a Chauncey. Obnoxious, inappropriate, and funky in all the wrong ways. Renee and Tasheta want us to be prepared so here you go. If I encounter Chauncey IRL because I’m outside with lots of ventilation and I got my mask on and I step 20 feet from everyone when I have to remove it like one of them back up singers in that one documentary (breathe) and Chauncey just insists on getting in my face. This is the drink I think Renee and Tasheta made:
- 4 parts hot sauce
- 4 parts punch – the kind made of mostly red number 40 and corn syrup
- 2 parts tequila ( I mean…they aren’t heartless)
- Shaken not stirred
Now we can absolutely do Tabasco if we are so inclined and we have enough for the household, our rhinestone encrusted clutches and our two cuter commuter bags. But if we need to save the good stuff, let’s go ahead and prep the common hot sauce ahead of time by letting it get some air, as in less water.
I think Chauncey in our Zoom calls or social media is another thing entirely. We will need to follow the ItsJusHaj formula of “block, mute, delete, repeat.”
Sometimes when I am being asked in a professional capacity to perform a task that has no promotion prospects or promotable features, I wear a tie. I do this to remind the people around me of the highly gendered norm of asking women to do non-promotable work. It’s not that I can’t do it. It’s not that I am offended by it. I simply want to know that the men will also be asked to take notes in meetings, recommend a coffee pot cleaning routine, water the plants, or monitor the chat windows in webinars. A tie is often a nice reminder of this. For Deeshember, I am going to go with a string of bowtie orders.
I’m going to gift them to women in my life who I know are busting boundaries. Women who are loving who they love, knocking it out of the park, running shhhhhh, protecting their spirits, longing for mothers, and wanting to drop a match every time someone dead wrong has the nerve to ask us “what’s the matter?” I’m going to let that bowtie be my symbolic boom, my Jael jawn, my smoting of all the internal siseras who should have left me alone when they got their creamy chauncey challices but just kept thinking my shut eyes were asleep. I’d like to wear a bowtie to say to the world: this is Deeshember “and that’s how I am.” I am ordering mine from Knotzland.
5- AND ANOTHER ONE
I am going to gift myself a second copy SLOCL with the National Book Award Finalist medal on it. Why? Because Tabitha Brown taught me this year that I can if I want because that’s my business.
May we end 2020 with the beauty of life lived out loud on our hearts and minds. Many thanks to author Ms. Philyaw for this gem of a book!
P.S. I do not own these photos. If you do and you want me to credit you somehow, please let a sista know in the comments.