Portrait Of A Lady In Love With Herself

And the nicest part of all, I look just like you!

In many ways, life is nothing but a lovely bunch of transformations, big ones, small ones, some as big as your head. Sometimes these changes happen on our own time and by our own design, and other times they are thrust upon us without consent.

Hi friend! It’s been a while (sang in the key of Staind). I was experiencing what I’d always considered to be “writer’s block,” but now I realize I was transforming.

On two separate occasions, I went back to my hometown in Maryland to visit my parents. The idea of being a parent is so…peculiar to me, especially now that I’m getting to that age where people I grew up with are posting their baby’s ___ months-old photoshoots like it’s a secret requirement for all new parents. Seriously though, what is the deal with that? You know photos of a baby lying on a blanket that has different numbers with a circle around the number corresponding to their age in months. Who started that? And why? I get it, babies are like little pothos plants, they go from little propagated seedlings to full bloom in that first year. But how much can they really change in a month? Or is the constant doting on a new baby part of the transformation.

As an adult of childbearing age, it feels so strange to think about bringing a little human into this world. Before they entered, you had a whole life going on and then they come along and everything’s about them. And you’re happy to do it because you’ll be filled with a love that you’ve never experienced before, but that sacrifice does something to the child, it tricks them into thinking everything truly IS about them. They don’t look at you as an adult who has a life, a career, desires, pains, insecurities. They look at you like a mama or papa bear, whose sole reason to live is to provide for them. But we aren’t like other mammals, who bring their young into the world, and quickly teach them how to eat or get eaten. And then that’s it, they are on their own. We decide when we will venture out on our own, and then our parents, who just spent the last few decades recalibrating their life to have a new focal point, well they’ll have some reckoning to do.

And blah blah. OK, you wanna know the truth? Can you handle it? Here it is. Those four paragraphs above me, I’ve been staring at those for the last four days. In a very unorthodox way, I usually start my work with a title and subheading, and then the rest usually takes shape. But not this time. Here I am, trying to finish this and write something meaningful about transformation and relationships to family and acceptance. But I don’t want to write about that stuff because… I’M IN A FUCKING WRITER’S BLOCK. And instead of copping to it, I just tried to press on like nothing is happening. So let’s get honest because art is always better when there’s a bit of truth darling.

So, what’s the deal with this block and why the hell should I care enough not to immediately hit the back button and delete this? Well, every year, there’s a series of writing opportunities by way of a “diversity fellowship” or “mentoring” or “writing program” that I find myself applying for. And every year I go through the same cycle of being excited about my voice, editing and/or writing an original pilot, hating the work, telling myself I’m neither good nor qualified enough to participate in such a program, convincing myself that taking part in a program would alter my life too drastically so maybe I shouldn’t apply, putting the application off until the last minute, then hastily applying with a half-assed app that I know I’m better than.

And that cycle usually puts me in writer’s block. Why? Because I’m scared of failure? Or maybe the thing I fear the most is actually success, for that would mean my life is about to undergo a true transformation for the sake of risk and ego. And maybe I’m the type of person whose light shines brightest when it’s powered by potential energy, instead of kinetic.

But I don’t want to be that way anymore. To live in fear of my own ambition is to admit that the devil exists and she’s winning. So this is me, taking hold of this here world baby, instead of just eating my eggs and going to work.

A classic Twi-Zone episode, “Number 12 Looks Just Like You.” It’s a coming-of-age tale about a girl who tries to resist her world’s “tradition” of having 19-year-olds choose a new face and body from a catalog. This was written in the early 60s and somehow, it predicted how beauty transformation would function so heavily as a commodity, that eventually everyone starts to look the same.

P.S. I just watched Portrait of a Lady on Fire. It’s great. Highly recommend. Yes, I’m tired of period-piece lesbian dramas about quiet white women holding hands while walking down long hallways of a chalet and want a Black lesbian period film that takes place during the Harlem Renaissance, but it was pretty good.