Writing through it

autumnal-solitude-bw

Sometimes I need to be disconnected from all people. I need to be alone. I need to be away. I need to not be reached. I want to believe in this world at these times. I want to have faith. I want to be a good friend and a good Christian. I want to be normal. When I escape into myself often times I yearn to hang out with large groups of friends and drink alcohol while we talk about our wives. I want that “broken-in” look that says that I am at peace with my place in life, and that I am at peace with who I am. Sometimes I don’t like being weird.

 

I wish that I could love and love again until I got it right instead of being trapped in a cycle of loving really hard, being devastated, and not being capable of loving again for at least five years. I wish I didn’t expect so much from people. I am convinced that pain hurts me worse than it hurts everyone else. I feel like there is something that I need to know and I fear that I will die without ever having found it out. I feel claustrophobic within my soul. I want to be somewhere else but I can’t afford to get there. I feel like happiness is temporary while anguish is everlasting. I’m not feeling this. I’m not feeling him. I’m not feeling her. I’m not feeling any of it. And I wish that I knew how to use my words when it matters. I wish that I could verbalize my discontent and move on. All I have is words typed on a screen or written in cursive on a page and I feel like that isn’t enough because that has never been enough.

 

I wish that I was understood. I wish that I didn’t have to write. That I didn’t have to run. That I didn’t have to fight. I wish that I was just like them so that I could know what it feels like to point my finger and whisper about a guy like me.

 

-YB

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Royal Fanfare

I remember coming up in the early 2000’s riding down the Foothill strip with a car full of people that ain’t here no more. These people were my cousin’s potnas and I was just with my cousin because he didn’t want to go home, so he spent the night on our couch. My sister had to study and she didn’t like how our 19-year-old energy permeated the small house. It was distracting to her so my cousin called one of his homeboys and he swooped us up. My cousin had hella homeboys back then. Before the court cases, before John George Psychiatric Ward, right after he broke up with his baby mama, but before he played his last season of college football so his eyes were still looking to the future. We hopped in the car headed to Mills Hoagie on Seminary. We busted a left down MacArthur until we got to the light on 73rd when the driver, some chubby dude that I had never met before but my cousin seemed to know well enough said; “I’m tired of this shit” referring to Yukmouth’s Thuglord C.D. I was kind of pissed because Yuk was running the bay at the moment and The Outro was about to come on which was the hardest track on the album and the dopest autobiographical track ever written.

“Did she leave it in the car blood?” He was digging through the glovebox like crazy looking for something.

“Leave what?”

“The Jack?”

“What?”

“That Mob Figaz CD. The Jacka.”

“Oh it’s under the seat blood.”

He put that CD in and it stayed in. And we listened. And never, as we rode all around East Oakland to High Street to Fonk Town back to 106th, did we ask him to take it out.

 

“It’s the Jaaaaack. Yeah I’m a dope dealer and on top of that I’m a liar and a stealer.”

Every now and then I would ask a question about this rapper because, like everyone else in the car besides my cousin, I didn’t know him. As blunts were being passed around that little car in every direction and as girls were being hollered at and harassed like;

“Heyyyyy girl what’s your name?”

I found out he was from Richmond but moved to Pittsburgh. They told me that C-Bo had put him on. They assured me that he was hard and that he wasn’t next but that he was now. The Jacka is poppin right now!

“This shit pound,” my cousin said as he inhaled the smoke. And the more he inhaled the more he seemed to believe it.

“Yeah it do,” I confirmed.

I’ve never smoked but I didn’t need to in order to understand that this man was telling us about our own lives in first person narration. We were enraged by everything. We felt the walls of the trap closing in on us and we were fighting for more time, for more breath, fighting in order to figure out what was happening. Why did failure feel like our destiny? Why couldn’t we push these walls back and be liberated or have someone pull the lever into the off position right before we perished just like in an old episode of Batman and Robin or The Dukes of Hazard or The A-Team or MacGyver or any of those shows when the good guys never die. We were young men, but men all the same and we were beginning to understand that we weren’t the good guys. That millions of people weren’t watching our story unfold in suspense hoping so desperately that we survived, that they refused to go to the restroom because they didn’t want to miss the inevitable escape. We were beginning to understand with every false arrest, with every real arrest, with every funeral, with every ended relationship with a pregnant girlfriend, with every class that we dropped at community college, with every institution that refused to hire us, that no one ever expected us to make it. That wasn’t how the game was played. We were born at the bottom, and we were supposed to stay at the bottom, and never complain about it. And the only power that we ever had was to make our neglected ghettos with Arab owned liquor stores on the corner, and dope fiends tweaking on the sidewalk, and broken shards of glass in the street, seem cool. To play a trick on those who were fortunate enough not to hear men being blown away every night when neighborhoods feuded and go to schools where the ceilings leaked water on your journal in the middle of class whenever it rained, and make them feel like they were the ones who were missing out. The Jacka had put a spotlight on our particular Bay Area brand of misery and made our lifestyle feel glamorous. He had placed us right in the middle of the culture. All of us. I swear. And he never stopped.

I’m the Jack, ice cold mack from the Figaz

Locked in the county, shared my cell with a killer

All he ever said was Jack, I never heard a nigga realer

Fat shout out to the four XIV gorillas

All my niggas doing life, do what I can to make it better

Five years later and of the four people in that car: One of us would be dead, another would be in a mental institution, and one would be in prison. And we rode through town in that little bucket like we knew that the fuse was lit and we had to get it all in before we were blown to pieces. We gigged super hard at every stop light and rolled through stop signs like we didn’t have hella weed in the car and like we weren’t born looking suspicious. It didn’t matter. We stunted like we weren’t poor and confused and like that little car belong to one of us as opposed to the driver’s girlfriend’s mother. Let us tell it we were all bosses and it was nothing to a boss. It was our town; it was our world and somehow we were able to convince ourselves that we had no reason to be scared of what was to come because we would force the ruling class to make room for our greatness.

The Jacka spoke to all the pain that we were trying to numb out. The trauma that we were going through and would continue to go through. And he validated our lives in a way that even our own mothers could not because he was a man. Because he had to struggle mightily to be able to compare the California ghettos to a battlefield in the Vietnam War. He had to have been hated on severely to warn us that we might be the greatest but people will never say it. So we rode around East Oakland feeling like four kings being welcomed into Buckingham Palace and The Jacka’s CD was our Royal Fanfare. By the time I was brought back home it was pitch black and many daps were given before I exited the car. I went to bed thinking hard about the track called, Die Young until I fell asleep. The next morning I woke up and went to Tower Records at Bayfair Mall and bought The Jacka of the Mob Figaz and listened to it nonstop on my way to class.

-YB

 

 

 

Autumn Chill

 

November 6, 2011

                The autumn chill has fallen upon us and the leaves have piled up on my porch. I would sweep them up—as the sun is providing a little warmth this morning— but I’m too lazy. I just don’t feel inspired at the moment. I don’t feel like quitting but I don’t feel like working either. I guess it’s going to be one of those dreary days.

                I wonder will I ever figure things out completely or if I’ll ever find the courage to be content. It’s so ironic that my body is so stationary but my soul is so restless. I hope that these two entities can reconcile before I die. It would be a dream to be completely at peace while living on such a war-torn planet. Or maybe I don’t want peace. Perhaps I have fallen in love with my own rage. Perhaps I enjoy the pleasures of falling for fallen women and all other things that are impure and detrimental to growth. Despite my shivering body under this thin blanket I think I secretly like the cold. I think I may be addicted to the idea of not knowing where I will find the heat to keep me alive.

                The clouds may burn away but I’m still just as confused as I was yesterday. I don’t know if I should find peace in knowing that the peace that I once pursued does not exist or should I battle all of my insecurities until I have arrived in the state of bliss. I have become saddened by an epiphany so the only thing left to do is suppress it. If I don’t acknowledge it then it is not there. It may as well be a pile of leaves that have been blown onto my porch. I’ll get to it one of these days.    

-YB