Field Notes From the Fallout

Photo by Pedro de Sousa,

Gather up your broken bits. Your shattered glass. Your tattered threads. This place is no longer your home.

One. You must let your heart break. Your strong will and your rock solid resilience are not a match for the tornado winds of heartache. Your precious hands will not hold your heart together. So let go. Tilt back. Fall free. Crash hard. Resistance does not serve a heart that’s already splintered.

Gather up your broken bits. Your shattered glass. Your tattered threads. This place is no longer your home.

Two. Your heart knows things long before your mind will accept them. Your heart, your intuition, that feeling you get at the pit of your belly – those are your strongest compasses, and yet you still question them. But your heart knows. It always does. Your heart knows the very moment a connection bears a crack. Your heart knows that in the grand scheme of human connection, those cracks often times become craters.

Gather up your broken bits. Your shattered glass. Your tattered threads. This place is no longer your home.

Three. There are the shifts that happen and the courage it takes to recognize them. There is the moment two people break and the moment they choose to articulate it. These two moments are hardly ever the same. The tug of war between reality and reluctance has almost always resulted in a ripped rope.

Gather up your broken bits. Your shattered glass. Your tattered threads. This place is no longer your home.

Four. Your heart’s somewhere in between the breakdown and the breakthrough. She vacillates between letting go of something old and holding out for something new. So let the pendulum swing of the present teach you what it will. Allow the in-between moments to minister to you in the ways that only they can.

Gather up your broken bits. Your shattered glass. Your tattered threads. This place is no longer your home.

Five. Your heart will break one thousand times over in one life span. It will break because of lovers and friends and half-lovers and family. It will break because of the Universe’s relentlessness and the unpredictable ways in which the wind blows. It will break when you expect it and it will break while you are fast asleep. We do not get through the tunnels unscarred; we do not sail across the seas unscathed. So, yes, your heart will break one thousand times over. But it will mend itself one thousand times more.

Gather up your broken bits. Your shattered glass. Your tattered threads. This place is no longer your home.

Six. There is something beautiful about the way the ground rips apart when your heart breaks. It splits your world wide open and gives way to new galaxies.

Gather up your broken bits. Your shattered glass. Your tattered threads. This place is no longer your home.

Seven. You are every last one of your broken bits. You are the sacredness of your shattered pieces, the patchwork quilt of your tattered threads. You are the magic of your split skies and the grace of your new galaxies. You are the sum of your jagged edges, enchanting in the way your experiences melt together.

So, gather up your broken bits. Your shattered glass. Your tattered threads. Build castles from your fractured pieces and call this new place your home.


Bruised Knees, Scraped Elbows: What I’ve Learned From Cultivating Twenties Unscripted

What a wild ride the past year has been.
What a wild ride the past year has been.

The best lessons come by way of bruised knees and scraped elbows.

There are things people could have told me early on about blogging that wouldn’t have translated at the time. Because there are things that don’t make sense until you creep through the dark tunnels of this Internet writing journey with only a caving head lamp and a heap of faith to see your way through.

It’s hard, nearly impossible, to believe that I’ve now blogged on Twenties Unscripted for the same amount of time I spent earning a college education. I remember who I was when I started school and who I was when I graduated, and it hits me that the ways in which a person can metamorphose in only four years are unending and unexpected. It hits me that who I was when I purchased this domain and who I am now as I pen this post are two very different versions of myself, with Twenties Unscripted as the single most important thread to tie those two women together.

Nonetheless, I’ve managed to keep this little corner of the Internet lit with my fire, despite  extinguishers sometimes blasting my way. I gave birth to something I believed in, nurtured it, helicopter-parented it at times to the point of agony, and finally started trusting in a little bit of what I learned along the way. If my bruised knees and scraped elbows from four years of blogging could grab the mic, here’s what I’m sure they would say.

Don’t be afraid to look back.

We hear a lot about the danger in looking back, the temptation to cover our memories in make up until they become unrecognizable. But a little reflection every now and again never turned anyone into Lot’s wife. Your blog is your evolution, accessible whenever you need a testament to how much you’ve grown and how much grace you needed. So, don’t beat yourself up too much when you read the posts you wish you would have waited to publish. Try not to scoff or cringe at all of the f-bombs you dropped in 2013. Blogging is a here and now kind of sport. It is about game time decisions. Whims of the heart. The audacity to click publish, time and time again.

And don’t spend too much time looking forward.

All of your plans on pretty paper and all of your goals on giant post it notes are no match for the Universe’s magic. Give her the space to pull rabbits out of hats. Resist the urge to litter every single month with some sort of plan in hopes of keeping yourself relevant. There comes a point where the work speaks for itself and no longer requires your megaphone. And that point only arrives when you leave enough space on the page for the Universe to fill in the blanks. The Universe cannot perform magic if you only leave the margins empty.

Don’t get so hungry for the future that you starve yourself of the present.

You’ve got to let life happen. You don’t have to wait for that life to make any sense before you write it down. But, you’ve got to let life happen and you’ve got to be there when it does. You won’t look back and regret the nights you didn’t blog; you’ll regret the nights you didn’t show up, the nights you flaked, the nights you said no to that you’ll never get a chance to say yes to again.

Create boundaries.

As a personal blogger, your mind is your business, so the boundaries teach other people how to mind their damn business. Give yourself permission to go off the grid without summoning guest writers to substitute your space. Say no and mean it. Find polite ways to tell people to go kick rocks. Let go of the need to explain your whereabouts or whys. The people who need to know where you are always will. Consistency matters, yes. So does your sanity. So does your freedom. So does the rhythm of your tiny beating heart.

Choose your tribe wisely. Then show up for them all the way.

Some retweets and likes do not make a tribe. Say it again: some retweets and likes do not make a tribe. Your tribe is a group of creatives dependent on the land of their art to survive. Your tribe is not integrated into the trends of the broader online society. So once you sort through the riff raff and inevitable bullshit of the Internet, you’ll be left with your tribe. Those are the only people you really have to show up for. Those are the people you book bus tickets for, the people you clear a weekend for, the people you root on from your seat in the front row. Don’t let the pervasiveness and ease of social media fool you; there are moments where you simply need to be in the room and show your smiling face.

Remember that there is a pencil thin line between jealousy and admiration, one that gets harder to toe the more social media you consume.

Mute them if you need to, unfollow them if you must. Consume purposefully. Intentionally. Proactively. Deliberately. Go to the online spheres you adore when you are well and ready to taste them, without wanting to snatch their recipes or compare them to whatever’s cooking in your own kitchen.

And, above all else, always say what you need to say before considering what they need to hear.

You are not required to speak to the times or reflect popular culture or go viral. You are required, however, to write your heart out, to tell the truth, to tear down walls, to break chains, and to never give the page any less than you know you have.

Happy 4th birthday, Twenties Unscripted.



The 26th Birthday Post: What I Know Now


The year in review.

I don’t want a life of empty promises for coffee dates. I did not sign up for that. I did not sign up for “Let’s keep in touch” only to forget your name three months later. And I did not sign up for “OMG, miss your face” without you ever trying to see my face. I don’t want hollow and I don’t want empty and I don’t want fake. I want authentic and rock solid and a phone picked up at 2 a.m. when the world yanked me somewhere I never wanted to go.

The validation from strangers on the Internet felt good for awhile. Fueled me. Haloed me. Filled me up with bubble gum and rainbows. But it did not last. Because the validation from strangers on the Internet didn’t furnish the gaping holes in my spirit. It didn’t undo the terrible things. It did not cancel out the hideous memories. So I had to do the work. Because validation from strangers on the Internet does not do the work.

I bid farewell to a friend a few years ago who I thought I would grow old. I recently sat on the porch with his mother recently fighting to remember him, while gripping every inch of sanity I had so I did not disintegrate in the process. I’ve gotten my heart shredded. Loved men who could never fathom loving me back. I’ve written a book. Built my dreams from nothing but dust and tenacity. I’ve started over and over and over again. And in that time, I’ve realized few things in this life are ever entirely bitter or completely sweet. Everything comes with its teaspoon of sour. But, if you’re lucky and patient and introspective enough, there is usually a tablespoon of sweet. Usually.

I do not know about your parents. I don’t know if you talk to them every day or every week or every month. I don’t know if you love them or hate them. I hope it’s the former. But, a few months ago my parents hinted at retiring far away from our East coast roots, and suddenly, they became my priority. Seeing them. Calling them. Letting them in and hearing them out. Making an effort. A conscious, concerted and die hard effort. See, I do not know about your parents. But, I do know they will not be here forever. Like everything else in this life, that time with them is finite, a precious but forgotten stream that we often times let slip through our fingers.

Too many of my peers overrate building a brand while overlook building themselves up. I got that wrong for so long. Too long. I tethered my whole heart to an entity that could be gone tomorrow if the WordPress messiahs up and leave. I threw myself into work thinking “workaholic” was a moniker to be worshipped, not avoided. But, it is not. It is not OK when you can’t sleep or eat or breathe without thinking about your work. Passion doesn’t mean broken friendships. Passion doesn’t mean blowing off your sister when she calls and passion doesn’t mean you can’t throw a drink back and just enjoy life. I didn’t see that. Because people would pat me on the back and everything looked good, I let myself crash and burn. I fell hard and I fell into flames. More than once. But, the finishes don’t mean a thing if the house isn’t built on a firm foundation.

People will be shitty and people will be good. They will pull the rug from under you and they will lift you up when you least expect it. Few people in this life are entirely warm or cold blooded. Fragile, yes. Fucked up, yes. Beautiful, yes. But hardly ever just a good cop or bad cop.

There aren’t any traffic lights when it comes to your evolution. There is not any flashing red telling you to stop nor is there an inviting green summoning you to fly full speed ahead. Your gut is your guide. Listen when she speaks. She will speak softly, but if you ignore her, that’s when the Universe will boom.

Better to be a burst of energy than a loose canon. People want you to light up a room. They do not, however, want you to set it on fire. Emotions have been my greatest compass, but they have also led to many downfalls. Because somewhere in between our emotions and the moment the shit hits the fan is the opportunity to channel and process. I forfeited that opportunity for way too long.

If you can find one solid friend with benefits in this life, you’re good. If you can find one best friend in this life, you’re great. And if you can find lasting love in this life, you will always find your way back home.

We can spend an ungodly amount of time hungry for inspiration when most days it’s closer than the skin underneath our fingertips. I call that so-close-I-didn’t-even-realize-it inspiration my sister. My sister who ran a half-marathon. My sister who did a complete 180 in every aspect of her life. My sister who answers the phone for me every day. My sister who made choices for herself, independent of seeking approval. My sister whose bravado and resilience are two of the most prominent reasons I have been able to evolve and grow at all. I’m always digging around for quotes or anticipating a revelation when I read someone else’s blog post. But the real inspiration has been right under my nose this entire time.

I don’t confuse speaking my truth with being an asshole. Speaking my truth means liberation of self without demolition of others. It does not mean hurting feelings or shredding hearts. That is not speaking your truth; that is insecurity running rampant and throwing a temper tantrum. They say if everyone loves you, something is wrong. But if everyone hates you, something sure isn’t right. Delivery and timing. Delivery and timing. Delivery and timing.

This life is short and this life is long. So I believe in good people and cheap wine and keeping a blank page within arm’s reach. I believe in best friends and bare feet on green lawns. I believe in hard work and a hunger to see what the end will be. And I know that everything I know now is simply a bunch of chicken scratch that I will someday revisit, revise and maybe erase completely.

Happy Birthday to me.


Guest Writers Week | Lies My Grandmother Told Me (And The Truths I Extracted From Them)

roconia post

By Roconia Price

1. Sam Price

She said his name was Sam. And in my imagination, he was the spitting image of Ossie Davis. And Gram was his Ruby Dee. I pictured him, all smiles and silver hair, with big, meaty hands that would comfort my grandma whenever she was upset. In my mind Gram and Sam were supposed to live happily ever after, on a breezy porch, while the sun set, like a Country Time lemonade commercial. One morning I looked at Gram’s bed, at the side by the window, the space in which I was welcome whenever thunder rolled or my parents argued. Seeing Gram alone there with no sunset, no lemonade, and no Sam got my seven-year-old mind to thinking.

“Grandma, where’s your husband?”

“Gone,” she said, fussing with her AM radio.

“Gone like dead?” My eyes grew wide with simultaneous wonder and horror, and Grandma took advantage of the opportunity to spook her curious grandbaby.

Throughout my years of asking the same question at Grandma’s knee, Sam Price had been stabbed, mugged and murdered, thrown through the windshield of a car on a rainy night, and had just plain vanished without any reason.

One day in second grade, I brought home a family tree project with the moniker “Sam Price” written across the space marked “my father’s father.” Daddy took one look at the project and brought it over to Gram. I followed behind him, my backpack smacking the backs of my thighs with every hurried step.

“Who is Sam Price, Mama?” Daddy said, trying to stifle his amusement behind a bold demand. I couldn’t see my father’s face, but I caught the twinkle in Gram’s eye. They’d shared a moment; one of those mother-baby son things that I, as a female middle child, would always recognize, but never understand. They both exploded with laughter.

The truth was that Sam Price never existed. If you ask the state of New York, Sam Price came up from Georgia on the bus with Gram and their three children in 1941. If you asked Gram, she’d tell you that she called her imaginary husband Sam “’cause ‘Survival’ ain’t sound right.”

The truth was that, in 1962, “Sam Price,” or the version of him that fathered my father, gave my Gram the “me or them” when her daughter disappeared, leaving Gram with six new sticky mouths to feed. Gram gave Sam the “them” and Sam peaced out, only to make a very brief reappearance 13 years later and then be gone again forever.

The truth was that Gram never needed any Sam. She pushed eight children into this world, nurtured ten more, and buried six of the eighteen before she died herself. The truth was that she didn’t need big, comforting hands, the sun would set wherever she was, with or without a man, and she didn’t care much for lemonade anyway.

2. “Nobody wants a nasty girl.”

“Get cho frock tail out the air!” Gram shouted this line at my sister and me whenever we performed acrobatics across the living room floor. The command would start as a low rumble in the Georgia region of her belly and by the time she got to “air” she’d gone full-on Brooklyn on us.

With bits of carpet in our hair, my sister and I would sit up and beg Gram to explain what a frock tail was. I deduced that it was obviously a vagina (because why else would Gram care what I was throwing in the air?).

At any rate, when our frock tails were no longer way up and feeling blessed, Gram would shake her head and utter a stern “Ladies don’t do that.”

“It’s not nice. It’s nasty,” she would say. “And nobody wants a nasty girl.”

Over the years I’ve discovered that plenty of people want a nasty girl. Over the years I’ve also discovered that Gram just wanted us to have to the option of being labeled nice.

As a black woman in 1930’s Georgia, Gram couldn’t afford the requirements necessary for being labeled nice. She said not nice words like fuck, shit, and piss. She dipped butterscotch snuff and had a designated spit can. She kept her cornrows straight back and her speech straight up.

Gram knew, however, that suburban girls in the 90’s could afford the finer things. Though being nice felt restrictive at the time, we were ultimately given more freedom. We fit into a world that Gram never would. We could afford not to carry knives in our bosoms and pistols in our stockings. We could afford to be ignorant of how to bury a body, how to threaten a stepfather, and how to earn a man’s fear and respect with a whiskey bottle and a fireplace. We could afford to be nice.

3. “Middle finger is fine.”

I was in seventh grade when Gram finally trusted me enough to trim her chin hair. It always seemed to be a Tuesday when she would request that I reach into her drawer, retrieve her heavy metal scissors, and cut the gray wiry coils that hung like little bats under her chin.

“Remember when you told me I could put my middle finger up?” I asked one Tuesday. I snipped a coil and let it fall into the napkin in her lap.

I was four years old. I must have seen the middle finger go up somewhere, but when I tried it on my brother, Gram’s beloved snitch, he told on me.

“Ro put her middle finger up!” he said triumphantly. He held me by the arm at the foot of Gram’s chair.

“So!?” Gram shouted in an animated voice. “I sticks my middle finger up. See?” She produced a long, bony middle finger. I smiled triumphantly.

“I can put my middle finger up?” I asked.

“Well, sure!” she said with a nod. “Middle finger is fine.”

And with that, I had all the power. Case dismissed, Sucka! I stuck my tongue out at my brother and scrambled back to the basement. The finger was now mine to use freely. The next day in preschool I was condemned to the blue timeout chair and later sent to Mr. Wilson’s office for my extravagant use of the middle finger.

“But, it’s not bad!” I protested, “Middle finger is fine!”

“This is a Christian academy,” said Mr. Wilson. “Middle finger is not fine.”

Grandma was the first woman to show me what the empowerment of womanhood was. The truth about Grandma’s fibs is that womanhood today is about options. And she knew that. I can keep my frock tail down. I can keep my middle finger up. I can grow old with a man, or invent a Sam. I can be single without a story. I can be nice and nasty. I can choose whiskey over wine. I can get my eyebrows shaped regularly, or I can grow a cave full of bats across my chin and trim them every third Tuesday. And whatever strands of life I choose to include, they will always braid together to fit my unique definition of womanhood.

Roconia \ruhCONNuh\ (n.) The creator, root, & Roco of; A beautiful balance between blessed and broken. A unique situation. Roconia is a writer first, blogger second, living in the DC area. You’ll learn more about her from her blog, or Twitter (@eversoroco) than you ever will from a short bio.

Do Not Surrender Your Twenties: 2015 Commencement Edition

Me, my best friend and the infamous side eye
Me, my best friend and the infamous side eye

I’m at the point where it’s hard to remember the person I was in college. Old Facebook albums are the only vestiges left of the girl who stuck her tongue out too much in photos, dealt with a lot of bullshit from her older boyfriend and assumed she would now be a successful writer in NYC.

I don’t know that girl anymore. But, I know that girl is somewhere in the shadows of the woman I am now–a woman smack dab in the middle of her twenties reflecting, freaking out and fucking up.

Reflecting. Freaking out. Fucking up. And somewhere in between all of that, trying to steer my ship the best way I know how.

“Do Not Surrender Your Twenties” has become an emblem of Twenties Unscripted, as has my annual commencement post. Both provide me with a chance to pause and ruminate on the lessons that have jilted me, jolted me, jaded me, jabbed me and jarred me. Both provide me with an opportunity to funnel the lessons that have rocked and refined me into something better than just scars and battle wounds. This year I decided to combine the two missives. Class of 2015 (and everyone else) here it goes. These are the lessons that have made me half of who I am and 1/10th of who I will become.

Do not surrender your twenties to being a jackass. Tact goes a long way. Kindness goes a long way. Niceties go a long way. The world would have you believe that everything is about the bottom line. The world would have you believe that you can and should sacrifice feelings in favor of business, emotions in favor of paychecks and relationships in favor of results.

Sometimes the world is frighteningly, madly and immensely wrong.

Do not surrender your twenties to him. Yes, him. That him. The italicized him. The romanticized him. The overly sensationalized him. The you-aren’t-going-to-change-his-mind-so-do-not-try him. Your heart will play tricks on you that your mind can see straight through. Sometimes it’s more fun to listen to your heart because then you can blast Beyoncé or Taylor Swift, think about him and feel completely justified in your tortured feelings. But, days become weeks and weeks become months. And then years will pass. And when you look at the long and short of it, nothing has changed. Not a damn thing. He is always going to be that overly sensationalized him–beautiful in your mind, reckless in your reality.

Do not surrender your twenties to working too hard, too long or too much. It’s graduation so everyone is telling you just how much you are going to take over the world. Except even world conquerors require rest, recuperation and reflection. All engines need fuel, and you can’t gas up when you’re flying 80 miles per hour. It’s cute to run around believing you can do it all, handle it all and conquer it all. But you can’t and you won’t. Listen to your body. Heed to your spirit. Lean on your friends. Tomorrow is not promised, but if you run yourself ragged, neither is today.

Do not surrender your twenties to listening to everyone else but yourself. Your gut is your greatest, strongest, smartest and most pointed guide…unless it’s speaking about the italicized him. Then that’s not your gut, it’s your vagina.

It’s OK to listen to her every now and again, too.

Do not surrender your twenties to believing the hype. Likes never paid bills and retweets never kept the lights on. Take everything you see on social media with an enormous grain of salt. I know social media superstars who can’t make rent and people living comfortably who don’t even know what Twitter is. Some people are hype masters and some people are hard workers.

Do not surrender your twenties to a dying need to be coddled, comforted, validated or loved. Sometimes it will just be you in the middle of the ocean, forced to swim without a life jacket. Swim. Paddle. Splash. Tread. Stay afloat. Stay alive. You can because you have to.

Do not surrender your twenties to a chase for perfection. You are imperfect, fragile, dynamic and complex. You are a blindingly beautiful mess. It takes too much of your energy, time and sanity to pretend your shit is always together when it is absolutely, unequivocally and undoubtedly NOT together. So, be a mess. Cry. Be ugly. Wear flats sometimes. Go without a pedicure. Contrary to what Beyoncé said, no one ever woke up like “this.”

Do not surrender your twenties to your past. Let go. Forgive. Build the bridges. Mend the fences. Say sorry and really mean it. Don’t say sorry and deal with the repercussions of your absent apology. Stop pretending your bad childhood or that really awful thing that happened to you are excuses to treat people like garbage. They’re not. Yes, they sucked and they will always suck, but you have to summon the spirit to be a good person.

Do not surrender your twenties to the future. Calm down. Breathe. Have a drink. Do the work. Find a force beyond yourself to believe in, a force beyond yourself to trust in, a force beyond yourself to anchor you when waters are choppy and friends are few.

Do not surrender your twenties to wanting to have it all. “It all” is a subjective, amorphous and potentially unattainable acquisition. There is no “all.” There is only what you want and what you do not want. Decide and carry on.

Do not surrender your twenties to tradition, convention or a framework for your life that simply doesn’t fit.

Do not surrender your twenties to bad people, bad vibes, bad relationships, bad jobs, bad sex, bad weaves, bad jokes or bad television. Some things are just awful and shouldn’t be allowed.

Do not surrender your twenties to self-pity, self-deprecation or self-hate. Stop despising yourself in photos. Quit always asking to see the picture one millisecond after it’s taken and then requiring another one because you think your eyes look weird or your ass is small. Listen, your eyes do look weird and your ass is small. And it’s perfectly OK because you’re beautiful. Except I’m not the one who has to believe that, you do.

Do not surrender your twenties to the people who don’t respect you, the relationships that don’t ignite you and the careers that don’t excite you. This decade is where you’ll ripen. This decade is the motherfucking metamorphosis. And you will still have time after this, but you’ll never again have this time. Do not surrender it.