Featured Writer for December

Christie Alex Costello is a gem of a writer and I am happy that she is a contributor to A Cornered Gurl. She brings an airiness to the publication that isn’t often shared and I am delighted to have her as a part of our community. Christie shares with us in her first published piece, the true beauty of love and what it feels like to her. And, it’s not one of those listicles or checklists that we are all so tired of seeing as well. This piece is what landed her the feature:


What Love Really Feels Like

This is not a checklist.

Photo by Sweet Ice Cream Photography on Unsplash

The world spins quickly and while you hope it slows, it never does. Everyone keeps moving, calls keep coming, and each morning the sun builds faster over the horizon. Your world needs stability, yet all you find is madness.

Someone catches your attention for a moment. Everything around you seems to slow as you meet this unfamiliar set of soft brown eyes from across the room. A calming sensation wraps around you like a warm fleece blanket; this is safety. Looking into the soul of this human, your heart begins to race. The sand turns in your hourglass as the two of you shake hands. Welcome to my life, you think to yourself. You begin to speak your name but your throat feels like a hot shot of Fireball; the taste simulating and terrifying all within a single instant. Their hand feels like the kiss you waited for and never felt that first time.

As years go on, this sensation becomes more familiar to you — almost becoming accustomed to this person whom you seem to know well, or so you think. Your eyes have a harder time finding the fire which once burned so brightly. A third sensation builds — an ocean wave of turmoil at its core.

“Am I enough?”

Yes, but in a depth that you never knew existed until you do — you look into the crystal ball but have no understanding of how to read even your own message. You reach, search, and talk with strangers just looking to find a sense of grounding. You find none. The world returns to its fastest speeds yet. Your toes grip the ground to find balance. You wonder to yourself as you stare across the room, stuck in your own head.

“Will I ever be the same without them?”

No, you won’t, and you wouldn’t want to be.

No one warns us that water can get this deep, too deep to tread lightly in. The sensation of its blue vertical drop beneath you is captivating and frustrating. Self-love becomes this necessary ingredient now, a prerequisite to keeping the other human connection beside you; anxiety ensues. You are the depth that you once found daunting to swim in. The other human and yourself are now intoxicated by the power of this vast feeling of surrender; it is becoming hard to pull everything apart — these emotions feel like volcanic eruptions spilling into a world you both created. Although on some days, it can feel like an easy life, living as you watch from a different point of view. The power of your own existence.

“Has this always been our purpose as humans — to understand love?”

The same eyes from all that time ago stare into you now. They are brilliant. You have found a sense of home here. Those glimmers of acceptance hold your soul captivated and mesmerized, worn at the edges like a good book you’ve found yourself reading over and over again. The stillness through the chaos feels like a drunken spin of serendipity.

You think to yourself, this is us.


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

Non-fiction Saturdays

Photo by Adi Goldstein via Unsplash

I Still Travel With My Late Grandmother

She Loves A Good Trip

I was nine years old the first time I ever rode a train in New York. My grandmother was taking me shopping for training bras and one of our form of travel for that day was the subway. I peaked well before my time according to her and undershirts were no longer enough. I needed protection. I needed coverage. So, off we went to Lord & Taylor and Bloomingdale’s. Neither of these stores was new introductions to me as my grandmother did most of her shopping at both, but I had never been shopping with her for something as simple as a training bra and the event itself turned out to be quite an adventure.

I recall a hushed dressing room, two or three training bras handed off to me, and my grandmother knocking at the door for entry. I have always been a big fan of privacy and did not want my grandmother watching me as I figured out how to put these foreign-to-me objects on, but having her there for guidance proved to be sufficient.

She tucked and tugged, pushed and pulled, and adjusted the straps until I felt comfortable. Standing there in my Gap jeans, frayed at the seams — complete with holes in the knees (think Salt-n-Pepa, circa 1987) and a fresh pair of white socks, she eyed me up and down. She approved.

The first bra was a keeper. We put it to the side. I tried on another then another and another. We left Lord & Taylor with two training bras and headed for Bloomingdale’s. Our next form of travel was a taxi cab. Have you ever watched a fashionably aware woman hail a cab? There is an art to this — something of which I had no knowledge. My grandmother could hail a cab with the best of them. If it were not for her exceptional career at a top-notch theater in downtown Manhattan, “Professional Cab-Hailer” would have been a nice addition to her résumé.

When I was a child, my grandmother was the world to me. She had exquisite taste, wore the finest clothes, had the nicest shoes, but was still down to Earth. If I had to come up with a full-on description of her, I would say — diva.

diva (/ˈdiːvə/; Italian: [ˈdiːva]) is a celebrated female singer; a woman of outstanding talent in the world of opera, and by extension in theatrecinema and popular music. The meaning of diva is closely related to that of prima donna. Diva can also refer to a woman, especially one in show business, with a reputation for being temperamental, demanding, or difficult to work with. — Wikipedia

She was attitudinal but for the right reasons. She was opinionated but whenever it mattered most. She could cut you down to size with just a glance, yet she had so many people in her circle. A cab ride wasn’t just a cab ride with her. She entertained the Cabbies, quipped about and directed the best way to get to our destinations, and often held political and societal discussions with any of them willing to match her cultural expertise. I admired her.


As I grew older, my source of travel from Georgia to New York would be by plane instead of above-ground trains. We flew Delta. With my grandmother, it was always Delta. She would fly down to retrieve me and we would fly back together and my summers would be full of shopping, trips to the library, museums, swimming pools, local basketball courts, and shared visits with other members of my family.

I would find myself on the train to Harlem or Brooklyn with her. Whatever our day’s plans, it would coordinate between taking the train and the cab and I would be delighted to hang by my grandmother’s side as her traveling companion.

I loved the train the best, though. There was something mesmerizing to me during those years about being on a train underground. No one speaks. Everyone has something occupying their time. It was not uncommon to see people reading books or listening to music or the off-to-the-side person who smelled of scorched coffee and day-old hash browns.

On average, New York’s subway trains travel at about 17 mph and had an annual ridership of just over 1.72 billion in 2017. — Wikipedia

As you probably can imagine, my grandmother had a knack for finding two seats next to each other and I was to sit by her at all times. She was adamant about my safety, however, she wanted me to experience the real world of getting to where I needed to without depending on anyone else.

By the time I was fifteen years old, I was allowed to travel by train or cab with my friends from the neighborhood but within a certain time of day or night. Her rule was: “I have to get you back to your mother in one piece.” She stuck by this rule. I never disobeyed her curfew and could only stay out later if I was with my aunt (her youngest daughter).

I miss her wild spirit. Her uncanny ability to adapt to her surroundings instantly. Her calm and casual way of speaking her mind. Her incredible sense of fashion. It is often hard for me to travel sometimes because I still feel her near.

I fly and look to my left or right and something in the person next to me reminds me of her. I take a train and a woman may be wearing a perfume that smells similar to hers. Someone requests a drink for which she had an affinity. We pass by a bit of scenery that I know would have sparked her interest.

Perhaps she is still keeping watch over me after all these years. She did love a good trip and an even better travel buddy. I don’t know what I will do the moment she’s not conjured up during my travels. Having her near makes me feel safe — makes me enjoy getting from one place to another. However, I am fully aware of knowing how to travel because of her and this is something I will not forget.

A training bra shopping spree changed my heart— changed my life too.


Originally published in The Weekly Knob via Medium. The link shared is a friend link as this is a piece behind Medium’s paywall.

Non-fiction Saturdays

Sébastien Conejo via Mixkit.co

There Is No Power In My Hair

They Must Have Thought So


M
any of you know that I cut my hair about eleven years ago — 7 inches and 1/2, to be exact. I love it short. I love being able to brush and go if I choose. If I want to curl it and give it a little flair, I do. I don’t spend hours under the dryer at the salon and maintenance and upkeep are minimal for me. I was reflecting on a time when I caught up with an ex-boyfriend who hadn’t seen me in a few years and as soon as I saw the look on his face, I knew he was going to say something about my hair. He did.

I could have sworn there was a light gasp in his words. What he said, I’ll never forget: “I liked your hair longer. What brought this about — this change?”

The same goes for an ex-lover of mine who peeked in on me during my Facebook days and saw a few pictures of me flaunting the cut. She sent word through a mutual friend of ours that she did not like it.

I Don’t Speak To Either Of Them.

There is no need. Not only did their reactions confirm who they thought I was yet who I am not, their actions told me that my hair is what made me, me. It didn’t. It doesn’t. I did something I had been wanting to do for years and never did it and one day, I did.

Some people seem to hold these insane beliefs about long hair. Some think it makes a woman more attractive — sexier. I beg to differ. Sensuality and sexiness are not linked to the amount of hair on a woman’s head, not to me.

Research from the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology indicates that a woman’s hair length doesn’t really affect her attractiveness that much. Study participants even judged short-haired figures as being more fertile, which contradicts the evolutionary-psych notion about long hair being an advertisement for reproductive suitability. — Autumn Whitefield-Madrano

Attractiveness to a woman is based on several factors for me: Can she read? Does she excel at what she does? When nude, does my mouth water? Does she strut in high-heeled shoes like a model, collecting the catwalk as her very own? Does she pay her bills on time and treat others like she’d want to be treated? There’s a whole lot of sexiness in those descriptions of a woman. Notice . . . her hair is not mentioned.

A woman who very much feels like a woman on the inside, 24 hours a day, can have short hair. I know—it’s hard for some men to wrap their minds around that. — Julia Austin

I drew the conclusion that both the ex-boyfriend and ex-lover had their personal preferences, just as we all do. One of the things that made me attractive to them was my long hair. Hindsight is truly 20/20. Did I want to be with anyone who clung to me based on the amount of hair on my head? Suppose I did stick it out with both of them and during our relationships, made the change? Would either of them have walked away because of it? Thankfully, I did not have to live out that scenario.


I had many trials during the years that led to me cutting my hair, relocating, finding a better job, and getting a dog were all major changes I assured myself I could do. I did them. Moving through the tumultuous time before my relocation from Georgia to North Carolina took patience, prayer, and perseverance. I told myself a bigger change would come my way.

Changing your hairstyle is not brave, and saying that it is is not a compliment. In my opinion, we all need to stop telling people that making conscious decisions about their appearance is “brave.” — Amanda Montell

There Is No Power In My Hair.

There never was. There never will be. I do believe that we can hold past pain, hurt, etc. in our hair — as we age, we need to shed a few things. To me, the weight of our hair is one of them. As you grow up, everything on your person, grows with you, including your hair. When I think back to the heaviness, thickness, and long “crown of glory” I had, I do not miss it. This is not to say that as I continue to age, I won’t gravitate toward letting it grow out once more. This is to simply say, I am comfortable with it short for now.

Having short hair has not changed the core of me. I still have the same eyes, lips, heart, and mind. I still want to be held when I am afraid. I yearn to be loved and understood in my deepest, darkest moments. I get emotional during sad movies. I am a badass cook. None of these things have changed.

If you are debating on cutting your hair, but you are pumping the brakes on that change in your life, think about why you’re debating. If another person’s view of you could change or you could offend your elders with your drastic leap away from long hair, how important is their satisfaction with you over your own?

If there’s one thing I can tell you, it’s that you won’t turn into a superhuman nor will any of what makes you who you are diminish. Nothing will be drained from your body and carried off to a shaman thousands of miles away to be concocted into a sacred serum for Hollywood stars to use to ward off aging.

You are not a fountain of youth. Take the leap if you want to. Forget what everyone else thinks. You have to live with the decisions you do not act upon just as you have to live with those you choose to make and see manifest into fruition.

A change could suit you.


Originally published via Medium. The link shared is a friend link as this piece is behind Medium’s paywall. Thank you for reading.

I Won’t Apologize For Loving Me

You Shouldn’t Expect Me To

Christina Morillo via Pexels

You came with your demands and like the lonely loner I used to be, I agreed to them. I washed my body in your honey-do lists from hell, neglecting who I was and what my purpose is in life. I fell in love, instead. I clung to the idea of someone other than myself loving me — connecting with me, and this, I thought is what made me whole. When the years became stumbling blocks, I realized somewhere deep in the crux of us, my world mattered less. Self-love was a thing of the past and you settled into the beauty that beckoned it. You had made your voice heard, your goal accomplished. I was half of who I was before you and less than half of who I should have been after you.

noun: self-love: regard for one’s own well-being and happiness (chiefly considered as a desirable rather than narcissistic characteristic). — Oxford dictionary

Do you know what it feels like to have the love of your life stop loving you? Stop making love to you? The damage was done and wading through those waters took up most of my energy and the rest of my twenties. I tried to give you more as we aged, even without your embrace — even without your love. I did not recognize the change in me until we parted ways, again. This time would be the end. The last chapter of our story built itself around our gloomy demise and I succumbed to it like a bee to honey. There would never be an us for the future.

It was for the best. It is for the best. I carried this mindset; moved with it, changed counties, cities, and states with it, yet you reappear just when I feel like I have moved on. I think this is your magic. This is how you draw me in. Two people — two great loves, neither of them willing to settle down with me. I wasn’t woman enough for one — wasn’t man enough for the other. And in my bold thirties, each of them plays see-saw in my life, taking me up and down. I am done with toys. I have no use for them. They wanted what they longed for — searched for. They have their “happiness.”

“Congratulations to you, what you wanted is what you got now . . . So you don’t gotta worry about me, you made it clear that you’re unhappy, (yeah). Go ahead and have your fun now, just remember what goes around comes around.” —”Karma”, Queen Naija


I notice that when I begin to love myself, to pay attention to myself and give my heart what it needs, old loves fall from the woodwork and make themselves known. I am left mentally screaming at them, “THIS IS MY TIME TO LOVE ME. DON’T TAKE THIS AWAY FROM ME, PLEASE!” My voice goes unheard. People who know how to break you will break you. They know the right buttons to push. They have seen the storyline and played their parts in the ending — they wrote the manuscript. I have decided that I am not cut out for acting. If I hurt from it, then I’ll hurt from it. But, I am done going back to spaces where only half of me is being loved and the other half is avoided. That’s no way to live.

Two people — two great loves, neither of them willing to settle with me. I wasn’t woman enough for one — wasn’t man enough for the other. And in my bold thirties, each of them plays see-saw in my life, taking me up and down. I am done with toys. I have no use for them.

I Can Smell A Toxic Relationship

“By definition, a toxic relationship is a relationship characterized by behaviors on the part of the toxic partner that are emotionally and, not infrequently, physically damaging to their partner. While a healthy relationship contributes to our self-esteem and emotional energy, a toxic relationship damages self-esteem and drains energy.” — Thomas L. Cory, Ph.D

While I was in those relationships, no one could have told me that either of them was toxic. I would have countered with every excuse in the book. I would have placed my partner on a pedestal and shared with the naysayer that “things are just in a bad place for him right now” or “she’s struggling with some things, there’s a lot on her plate.” I was blindfolded. I also had a false sense of love wrapped around me and I wanted to keep that. Anything that felt like love from another person to me felt right.

Over the years, I have examined and reassessed these two relationships. I have processed memories, collected dominant scenes, and broken them down for better understanding. During those times, not only was I independent, I could be controlling. With memories of what I saw in my home, growing up taking over my characteristics, had I not changed, I would have found myself continuing a cycle of harmful behaviors toward myself and allowing the same from others as well. I was willing to take the bullshit of it all if it meant that I was loved. But, was I?

Now, I can spot the beginnings of a toxic relationship. I can smell it. I know it. Memories spring up from the past if a certain phrase is spoken — if similar behaviors are displayed. The first thought to me is to communicate what I am feeling — to share why I may feel unsafe. If the reaction from the person is one of anger, placing blame, and any semblance of violence, I do not stick around. It could be as subtle as belittling me or projecting their hurtful feelings on to me and I flinch. I know it will not end well and I voice this.

Feel it crippling your heart. Ooh baby, can you feel it tearing you apart? That’s right, that’s love. When it comes, you never wanna give it up. — “Let it Burn,” Jazmine Sullivan

I am learning that loving myself is far more important than any inkling or falsehood of love from anyone else. The depths in which I am taking are scary. I will not lie. It is both amazing and frightening to learn what you will allow and what you will not allow when you begin to truly value who you are and what you deserve. I had to make a decision: Do I want to experience what love is supposed to be or do I want to keep experiencing what I thought love was?

“If it hurts, it isn’t love.” — Chuck Spezzano

And I will tell you, I am tired of hurting from a false sense of love and the love I feel now — while loving myself, truly loving myself, is the opposite of hurt. I want to hang on to this for a little while longer. I won’t apologize for it.

No one should expect me to.


Originally published via Medium and featured in the Relationships tab as a piece behind the paywall. The link shared is a friend link. 

Young Minds of Medium

*Submissions Call (I am posting this here as well, just in case any of the young ones are interested). 

How Do You Sing The Blues?

This is a call for submissions. Young Minds of Medium — this is your challenge. I am looking for work from the young writers here on Medium, ages 15–25. Submissions will be reviewed and posted on Mondays and Fridays during the month of November. THIS IS YOUR TIME TO SHINE! I want to hear from you. I want to feel, connect with, and fall in love with the words you would like to share with the world.

Your theme: “How Do You Sing the Blues?”

What am I asking?

How do you handle moments of sadness? What do you do to ease your pain? Are there any favorite songs you listen to, any good books you read in which to escape? How do you move through the bad times that come in and try to take control of your life?

I am looking for:


•You will need to be a current user on Medium for this challenge. Request to be added as a writer by emailing me at acorneredgurl@gmail.com with “Please Add Me” as the subject line. For the young ones, ages 15–25 already contributing to ACG, please submit your work in draft-form directly to A Cornered Gurl for review, scheduling, and/or publishing. You can submit twice per week, your works will be published on Monday and Friday of that week.

Please have a suitable image for your work with notable credit to its source/artist (Please include the link!). You can find plenty of great images via UnsplashPixabay, and PexelsIf you are the source for your image, please caption that.

Please subtitle your entries “Young Minds of Medium Blues Call” and tag your pieces with the following: “Growth” & “The Blues.” CHALLENGE SUBMISSION BEGINS NOW!

The start date for publishing the YMOM pieces is Friday, November 1, 2019, and the end date is Friday, November 29, 2019. Other contributors to ACG, please, no worries. You can submit as you normally would to A Cornered Gurl and your work will be published as well, however, a total of three pieces will be published on Mondays and Fridays for all other writers, leaving the floor wide open for our young ones. I hope you will understand and accept this.


  • Please remember that A Cornered Gurl is a read-for-all community and there will be no metered paywall or locked pieces published here. Thank you.

Nod Your Head to Nas & Damian Marley|Patience


ACG Guidelines

Young people, this is the last challenge of the year for you — please, bring it!