The Nature of Horrible Things

And how they still sneak up on you sixteen years later

a man looks down into an almost empty glass of beer
Photo by Jimmy jimmy via Pexels

We meet the afternoon chill in the air with our bodies tucked further into warm clothing. Jernee steps out before I do and I hear my neighbor briskly skip down the stairs. The faint scent of liquor speaks to me before he does. I nod — say “Good afternoon,” and attempt to mind my business by watching Jernee search for a proper spot in which to relieve herself. He is the type of person who does not understand personal space. He comes closer to us and, unlike Jernee with him, she growls under her breath. I step back from him — putting at least three more feet between us.

I recall the time and it’s just barely 1:45 p.m. He is home on his lunch break. He smiles. He sends his “Heyhowyadoin’” to me within seconds of stepping on the final stair. It’s all mumbled together — glued, yet I am fluent in slurred speech. I know this speech just like I know the smell. I know the smell. I know the smell. He has tried to hide it with Old Spice and two gulps of water but to no avail. I cock my head to the side and whisper to myself, this cat is drunk and is going back to work. Hell . . . naw.

He tells me his grandchildren have been staying with them. I know this. I speak to his wife — to their little ones. I see them as they come and go. They are beautiful mini models of their mother and father — his son and his son’s girlfriend’s children. He says as erratic as a functioning alcoholic can, “They get up at 4:30 in the morning sometimes, see. And you know, I don’t get up until 6:30 and that throws my day all off, you see?” I do see. I understand. One’s sleep is important.

He steps closer again. I step back. He holds up one hand and quickly says, “I ain’t gon’ keep ya. I know you gotta walk ya dog.” I thank him. He wanders off toward his car and away from us. His wife knocks on my door five nights later. She has a flier in her hand — an invitation to her church for some sort of celebration. It is the same church she drags him to on Sundays. And I understand — I get it. She is looking to God to save her husband. Just like I was looking to God to save my mother — to save me.

I don’t have the heart to tell her I do not do large gatherings — even if they’re outside. I do not do well in crowds nowadays and neither would I want to. I take her flier. I smile at her. I tell her to have a nice night and to be safe. She smiles back and thanks me.

I ran to the church for so many reasons in my early twenties. I ran even harder in my mid-thirties. So much of me wanted to heal my mother and so much of me needing healing of my own.


I drank because I couldn’t get my mother to stop drinking and doing drugs. I drank because I was afraid of coming out. I drank because I was going through a series of harsh breakups and couldn’t find the answers why. I moved out of the townhouse my best friend and I shared. I left. I gave no reason — only a 30-day notice and paid my half of the utilities and mortgage for the next two months, or was it just the following month? That detail is foggy.

She faced me the day I told her with tears in her eyes, asking me to please talk to her. And I couldn’t. Here was a woman who would cause me to stop drinking. It would occur several months after I moved out. The night I knew I wouldn’t drink anymore, my best friend and I had attended a work-related party at a small pub near her place. Her colleagues — her comfort zone. I am told I had too much to drink. I am told, on the way home, she had to pull over to the side of the road so I could vomit. I am told she had to help me up the stairs, get me into some pajamas of hers, then help me to the toilet so I could vomit some more.

I awakened the next morning in her bed and could not remember what had happened and why I was there and not at home. She was sound asleep, but her expression had seeped in worry. I got up to use the bathroom, and this caused her to stir. I asked her what happened, and she told me. She calmly said, “I was not going to take you home where I could not keep an eye on you. You were pretty fucked up, Tre.” And that was my “A-ha!” moment.

When a person loves you enough to ensure your safety in your inebriated state — when they care enough to make sure you’re not sleeping in the clothes you upchucked in the night before — when they clean you up, change your clothes, and guide you to their bed so you can sleep; there is nothing else that can match that. Cold turkey is what they call it, yes? I stopped drinking.

I could not imagine what she must’ve been feeling to do all of that for me and not completely cuss me out, as I had done so many times with my mom. She cared about my life — she showed me. I don’t think no one ever had before then or I had forgotten it if they did.


A year and one half later, I brought Jernee home. I was determined to shield myself from the past evils that attempted to drag me down with them. I needed this four-legged creature to keep me safe — to give me joy. I had something to do when I awakened — something to train, to feed, to nourish . . . to love. I had a feeling of purpose again just barely two years before — I felt I hadn’t, and I did not want to go on.

So when I see my neighbor and he is running away from whatever demons chasing him — I understand. I may not know the cause. I may not know exactly what’s beating him day in and day out and pulling him toward drowning his sorrows in tempting liquor mid-day. I don’t even know why he feels the need to talk to me — to step into my space, but I can listen.

Had it not been for my best friend, I would’ve been following the paths of my maternal great-grandmother, grandmother, great-aunts, aunts, and uncles — my mother. I understand because I can still see the bottles of Hennessy and Tanqueray and Old English my mom kept stored in her home. I can smell each one of them while they’re still locked in their casings. I can see her struggling to piece back together a broken home — a dysfunctional family — unruly boys.

I see myself trying to find a way out. I hear my best friend’s voice . . .“You were pretty fucked up, Tre.” And I understand.


*No one’s shit smells like roses and honey, baby. Everyone has a stench.©My late maternal grandmother.


Originally published in Age of Empathy via Medium.

Brought Back to Life (Revised)

Microfiction

Photo by Rahul Pandit via Pexels

Sold into flames, fiery pits sing of the determination of willful souls who know only the battles of their homeland.

Dead then alive, then dead again, human resurrection; phoenixes rising up, resisting the shackles weighing them down. We move to get away from ourselves. We seek peace in other lands — eager to take over other worlds. Will our legs carry us to places unknown?
 
Temptation comes in two forms; young or old. We crave them both. Is this life’s crown? Are we waiting to be brought back to life while we struggle to live? 
 
Are we?


Revised version originally published in soliloque via Medium.

A Cornered Gurl Has a New Look

ACG’s new logo. Created with Canva. Tremaine L. Loadholt

I had been meaning to switch up A Cornered Gurl’s look and feel for a few months now. I wanted something more permanent—something that spoke to who I am and what I have been experiencing of late. I am sure it’s no surprise to anyone reading. I am exhausted. Life is doing its best to sucker-punch me at every turn, but I live on. I fight on. There is still much more to be done. We are about to head into the year 2022, and we still have a raging pandemic at our heels. THERE IS STILL A PANDEMIC!!! When I look at those words, something in me crushes. My soul is in a constant state of unease. Why are we still here? How are we still here?

Several shifts in my mental state, my line of work, and my life overall led me to realize that the exploratory uses of artistic images from other incredible artists just aren’t enough for me. Sure, they all have given the site a fresh and sleek look with a great deal of appeal, but this new logo is me. It says it all. It gives you exactly who I am: “I am more than breath & bones. I am nectar in waiting.” And, it depicts an image of how I see myself these days with the woman created with digital line art. I am here—not here. I am living—not living. I am . . .

We are all struggling in some way of our own. Nothing about this situation has been easy. Loved ones are dead. Friends’ lives have been changed forever. Many of us are cabin fevered out, but it is for our own safety—our own health. But for how much longer? I am sick and tired. SICK AND TIRED! The audacity of the privileged or the ignorant or the arrogant or the people who have been “othered” a lot more because of this virus laughs heartily in our faces. We have the power to control this thing, however, we have chosen a different path.

A Cornered Gurl is my personal space in this humongous World Wide Web and if I cannot be comfortable anywhere else, I must be comfortable here. I have to be comfortable here. I am not ready to go or be anywhere else.

Peace and blessings

Nine Perfect Strangers: We Could All Use a Bit of Tranquillum

Musical Selection: Blue Magic|Sideshow

Or could we?

Photo by Hudon Hintze via Unsplash

The world in which we live is crumbling — bursting at its seams. I can only speak for myself, but I know I am not alone in feeling this . . . in feeling the dark pain that lingers without relent. I believe it is common for human beings to want to flee the bad parts of life — to shut ourselves up and lock ourselves out of the realness of the world when it weighs heavily on our shoulders.

Shouldn’t we want relief? Shouldn’t we strive for it? And with our world spinning and crashing the way it has for decades, do you ever wonder when will it all end?

I saw the trailer for Nine Perfect Strangers multiple times and told myself after The Handmaid’s Tale, I couldn’t take another dramatic/dystopian/climactic series. But, with each view of the trailer, my curiosity had been heightened. I adore Melissa McCarthy and have always had a slight crush on Nicole Kidman, so I told myself, “It’ll either be really good or really bad. What do you have to lose?”

Shouldn’t we want relief? Shouldn’t we strive for it?


The Pull of the Series.

Before I knew it, I’d launched myself into the first episode (Random Acts of Mayhem) and had watched the next three without stopping. And now, having watched the fifth one (Sweet Surrender), I want more.

Based on The New York Times best-selling book by author Liane Moriarty, “Nine Perfect Strangers” takes place at a boutique health-and-wellness resort that promises healing and transformation as nine stressed city dwellers try to get on a path to a better way of living. Watching over them during this 10-day retreat is the resort’s director, Masha, a woman on a mission to reinvigorate their tired minds and bodies. However, these nine “perfect” strangers have no idea what is about to hit them.

Having read the above synopsis, wouldn’t you want to dive right in as well? Nine Perfect Strangers, for me, started off strong from the very beginning. I had been pulled into these characters’ lives — it made me seek what they sought — to learn what they were drawn to learn. I could not pull my eyes away from each instance as every character plays a major part. Each one of them has his or her own share of chaotic behavior to lend to the series.

With everything that had been pummeling them, drowning them, beating them senseless, Tranquillum House was — is supposed to be their escape. It is supposed to be their leap into peace.

With every episode, I found myself pulled into the strength and presence of Nicole Kidman’s character, Masha. Does she have a God complex or is she truly trying to help the souls she claims to want to save? What’s the bigger picture? What is her ultimate goal?

I see a bit of myself in Regina Hall’s character, Carmel. Two people had hurt me to almost the point of being broken, yet I was not married to either of the two. But, I need to “dissociate myself” from each of them. I need to find peace with being single again. I had it a few years ago, but for some reason, it has fled the scene — no calls, no letters . . . nothing.

I also see myself in Tiffany Boone’s character, Delilah (Dee). I am struggling to save my sanity in a world designed for me to lose it. I have watched someone I love cling to another, yet knew I did not have it in me to give them what they needed. And throughout that time, I still had to wear the mask in public — be professional, carry on with life — act like shit really did not hit the fan.

Tranquillum House was — is supposed to be their escape. It is supposed to be their leap into peace.

The perfectly handsome yet misleading Yao, played by Manny Jacinto, had me burning with intense anger in certain scenes and I became an even bigger fan of Delilah. His intelligence, love of nature, charm, and calm demeanor are all captivating qualities, but his demons aren’t subdued for long. They are revealed and they stir up havoc.


What is Going to Happen?

Everyone in Nine Perfect Strangers has lost something or some things, whether they are physical or emotional — they all share the presence of loss. Tranquillum House, the savior space, headed by Masha and her helpers, reeled them in and is taking them on the most unpredictable ride of their lives.

From casual lies to micro-dosing the nine with psychedelics to playing on their emotions for personal gain or perhaps understanding of herself, Masha is a character you’re going to either love or hate. And I am still on the fence about where I stand with her. Maybe love. Maybe hate. I think the next episode will break the ambivalence for me.

Has Masha found her calling in life — trying to fix the lives of others while purposely ignoring her own trauma, her own impending demise? She coordinated an intact (on the outside) house of healing, yet everyone seems to be breaking down.


Tranquillum — not for me, maybe . . .

At first glance, Tranquillum House seems like one I would pay thousands of dollars for which to retreat, but after pulling back its layers — maybe, just maybe, I better stick to writing and therapy. The foundation and walls probably aren’t the source of my skepticism — I’m certain it is the actions that go on behind those walls. Would I even survive it? Would you?

The sixth episode airs on Hulu on Wednesday, September 08, 2021, and I intend to be watching everything as it unfolds.


YouTube

Originally published in my new publication, soliloque, via Medium.

spent

a lamentation

the work comes — it goes
every call is torture to the bones.
we communicate with vigor, yet
with ease. 
patients want to know 
listeners can schedule their appointments
and offer empathy too.

a doctor’s office landed in
my teammate’s queue — their issue
crept in without cause.
a 3-month-old showing symptoms
of a virus meant for adults and the elders
in the early stages, but really
did they know who it 
would attack and who it
would leave alone?

when we start scanning babies
with machinery doling out
radiation because their lungs
are about to collapse, the world
is truly at its end.
I shout at the screen housing 
messaging tools and the software
we need to scan through 
thousands of accounts.

it doesn’t shout back.

I can tell my days are beginning
to blend — Monday is Friday.
Tuesday is Thursday. 
I don’t know what weekends are anymore.
and the lovers of this world continue
on, sampling pain in
little festive bags — afraid to share
their happiness.

who will appreciate it?

“I am spent,” I say this to 
my mom as she breathes on the
receiving end of the call.
she’s breathing . . . breathing. 
how often have we taken this for granted?
breathing . . .
she hears me — pauses for effect.
she tells me she is afraid to
go outside and I understand.

I understand.

I spend many of my days
arguing with God — telling him how
I really feel. he knows. I know he knows.
but, I tell him anyway.
I want to wade through waters
less choppy and with each
passing moment, the hardness comes
and my face has bruises I
no longer hide.

“I am spent,” I say to anyone
who will listen.

I am almost at my end.


Originally published in my new publication soliloque via Medium.