My Life: Even Thembi Gets The Blues
Full disclosure: I am a moody, easily depressed, sensitive about my writing type of person. When concepts won’t quite gel in my mind or I don’t have much to say, I feel pretty hopeless. When I’m flying high and full of ideas nothing can stop me. Then there’s that in-between place where I know what I want to say but don’t feel like saying it for free. That’s just real talk. Anyway for the past month I’ve been each of those for about five minutes every day in rapid succession, a cycle powered by what I now see was just a good old-fashioned case of the blues.
Most of you know that I was all set to hit the road to Los Angeles to get settled before I begin my Annenberg Fellowship at USC in August. In the wee hours of April 26, the day before my intended departure, my grandmother passed away. After rescheduling my trip to be with my family I learned that we would have to say goodbye to my uncle soon as well. I then postponed my trip indefinitely and he passed the day after we buried my grandmother. So, instead of avoiding the in-betweeness of the summer before you start a master’s program and that pesky Philadelphia late Spring weather that never wants to behave by hitting the open road, I lived through it and am still here working my status quo. The hardest part, aside from dealing with the loss of loved ones for the first time in my life, has been trying not to be such an Eeyore and actually working. I should have taken a deep breath and become empowered by the dreams of my late grandmother, a woman who taught me how to appreciate words and writing by teaching me how to write and appreciate poetry even though she was only allowed to obtain a sixth grade education. Lo and behold, the depressive genius in me had Thembi curled up in a ball having an existential crisis. I tried to write about death and what it’s been like to deal with my recent losses, but everything I was feeling sounded pretty whiny, as if all I could do was wallow in the realization that I was only understanding the finality and impact of death at the ripe age of 31, knowing that most people experience loss way earlier. Mine were champagne problems without the celebration. No one wants to hear about that. I couldn’t be my normal witty self because there’s nothing worse than a sad clown, especially an extra-sad one with runny makeup.
Right before all of this went down I was waking up every morning thinking about how talented I am and how successful I’m going to be. Then my world fell apart a little and everything except for Thembi was important. I forgot that I was moving to Los Angeles. I totally forgot about the first few episodes of The Thembi Show podcast that’d already been sketched out, and forgot about a bunch of the ideas for new posts I’d been holding on to. All of those things literally seemed to belong in someone else’s brain. Only in the past week or so has enough felt like enough. Yes, there’s a devilish brat on my shoulder shouting “You know you don’t feel like giving your ideas away for free but nobody cares about them AND Maury is on AND there’s pasta in the cabinet and you know you can tell the same jokes you’d tell on your blog with your friends…if you finally leave the house!” But there’s also an angelic Fresh Black Girl on the other shoulder saying “Girl, please. Let me find out you forgot that you’re getting paid to do what you do in a minute and it’s only gonna get better! Plus, they need you…hustle, grind, achieve your dreams and all of that P. Diddy stuff!”
As evil as I get around here, that angel chick sounds more like me. The silver lining in this whole situation, aside from the fact that I’m getting to spend the early summer in Philly after all (arguably the best time of year here), is that I’m more agitated than ever, and in a good way. Getting back to normal, when you’re uneasy about what normal is, kind of forces you to make normal something better than it was before. There are things I need to be different and projects I need to purse and those – not my own lameness – are what will take center stage until I start this fellowship. I lost my focus and energy so severely that I feel like I’m rebooting, kind of a like a new cell phone that you have to let die completely before it can be recharged. I believe in myself just enough that writing it for the world to read makes it a sure thing.
So there it is.