Grief is the best feeling for the day
This might get cut off in your email so the demand this week is to open in your browser, spread the word about my Substack, and then tell me if Faith Evans or Anna Nicole Smith is your favorite blonde.
A few weeks ago I went home for I think, maybe 36 hours. Home is Detroit. My uncle died, it was both surprising and not. Suprising ‘cos only a few weeks before did he have an incident that sent him to the hospital, but not surprising ‘cos that incident was pretty wild and his recovery from it was in steady decline. They had found him in our family home, the home that was passed down to him by my paternal grandparents, the home that my dad and his siblings grew up in, and the home I remember visiting from my childhood.
It was always so massive to me when I was a kid. We’d pull up in my dad’s car and park in front (‘cos my grandfather didn’t like folks parking in his driveway) and I’d pop out the backseat to what I saw as this palatial estate. In reality, it was your average Detroit Tudor Style Home, but because I’d spent my life growing up in Bungalow Style houses, theirs was massive.
It was beautiful too. My grandma kept it pretty sparkling and a few of the standard Black home decor and rules applied — All white living room no one was allowed to sit in, shoes off in the dining room, back sitting room where literally everyone gathered, lots of gold red and white — It was gorgeous.
But after all the kids left (8), after all the grandkids grew up and stopped coming over, and after they both had passed away, the house started to go into decay. My uncle wasn’t a man concerned with upkeep and had hoarding tendencies so it worsened, and when the family got to it recently it was simply too far gone.
So much of this reminded me of the 1975 documentary Grey Gardens, where Big and Little Edith Beale and their once gorgeous home in East Hampton are the focus. Two women who were the cream of the crop in their heyday. Rich, fabulous, and Bouviers (they were the aunt and cousin of Jackie Kennedy for fucks sake). I saw this film in middle school I think, and I didn’t know then that I was watching something from the Queer Canon — but wow duh little Shelli was a film maven and didn’t know it yet — but I dug it. I wanna say I found it on the IFC Channel but I know that I watched it ‘cos of the Kennedy connection.
I was obsessed with all things Kennedy for years, The Kennedy Curse was something I’d spend hours in the computer lab researching, so this added layer to the family intrigued the fuck out of me. Watching the story of these women, eccentric, which is a word lots of folks use when they just don’t wanna call you crazy, was dope and wild. They had this story, A narrative built around them that they were crazy cat ladies with a dirty house and that was that. But the Maysles in some way, humanized them. Then their story began to unfold even more years later.
There were so many holes in that film that I wanted to fill for my own interest but couldn’t, then years later the 2009 film of the same name starring Drew Barrymore (One day I’ll tell you why kids) and JESSICA “RYAN MURPHY WOULD BE NOTHING WITHOUT ME” LANGE.
I could NOT WAIT for this to come out on HBO. It was perfect, it filled in all those gaps for me that I had kinda long forgotten about from the documentary….It gave completion to the story. The research they did, the care they took to make this film so much more than the story of the house was perfection. It became a background charecter while their lives and the story of them were put front and center.
When I went home I was nervous. My family and I aren’t incredibly close. I’d been iced out in a way by some, really hurt by others, and other than my parents I never had a reason to go back and visit. But things were different this time. I was seeking nothing, I was going to the funeral to grieve my uncle but honestly to just be with my father in the grief he had of losing his brother. But folks were…different.
My father’s side of the family I felt like saw me for the first time. People who I didn’t know I needed to hear certain words from pulled me aside and said them. Aunts touched my face and with their eyes filled with water looked at me in silence.
At one point my mother held my hand and for a moment I couldn’t tell whose hand belonged to who. The beautiful age in the wrinkles on her fingers tells a story, lots of which I’m sure I don’t know. Mine was covered in ink, gold rings, and pointed fingernails with wrinkles and lines telling the story of my own life. Being told I have the hands of my maternal grandmother with a trait I somehow was lucky enough to inherit even though our connection wasn’t a very loving one. A grandmother who I’ve forever been told I resemble but can’t even remember her face save for one photo from her youth.
The trait I got was her green thumb. She grew up in Missouri with parents hailing from the South. I don’t know much about her history (my grandfather and I were close and his history is one that was passed down and told to me far more than hers) but apparently, she was one hell of a cook and gardener.
Cooking isn’t my strong suit but tending to plants I am pretty swell at.
At funerals, before they carry out the casket family is asked to come and collect the florals and plants sent by loved ones. During the funeral, I felt bad within my sadness. I loved my uncle but we weren’t as connected as he was with my cousins. I didn’t voice my worries but maybe he heard me.
My aunt who is closest to the uncle who passed gave me a Peace Lily when the florals were collected and asked me to take care of it for my uncle. She doesn’t know I love plants, and she didn’t know that I was feeling sad that I couldn’t show that I’d miss him and he’d be in my heart.
After the funeral, I stayed at my aunt’s house on my mothers side, she is my fav aunt and my mamas youngest sister. We talked so much. I saw photos of my grandfather that I’d never seen, and learned about my uncle (her husband) who passed away 3 years ago. He loved homes and collected Architectural Digests. He used them for inspiration to turn their house into a home. She talked about how excited she was when she learned I was writing for them, and how I wrote for Vogue about Hilary Banks. I remember my aunt dressing just like her when I was a kid. Then she took me to her closet and showed me dresses from the 90s that she still has and we bonded over that — perhaps my love of fashion is another thing passed on to me from a family member.
Grey Gardens is about family. They were a mother and daughter who had their stories together and seperate, their relationship was more than a resentful daughter who was taking care of her mother in her old age. They had only been painted in one way ‘cos only half their story was told. Big and Little Edie had such full lives, they were more than just the women who lived in that dilapidated home.
This time when I returned from home I was actually lighter. I’m happy that I can use the gifts given to me from one side of my family to prolong the memory of someone from the other. I have had a bit of wild few weeks and grief has been in and out of it. Losing family, losing a job — it sucked. The great thing about it tho? The feeling has been simply passing through instead of settling in.
What I Watched
Wow on the day of my sapphic elimination, so many lesbian things that were lesbianing were released. It’s from the ashes of dykeness or whatever they say —YOU’RE WELCOME!!
The Color Purple trailer is out and omgomgomg BITCH Y’ALL BETTA SING IN THE GOTDAMN MOVIE!!!!
Fantasia “I can outsing you any day” Barrino, Taraji “Let me transform this role” Henson, Coleman “Yes I am wildly talented bitch” Domingo, Danielle “Collecting all my awards soon” Brooks, and Halle “Keep A bag” Bailey?
This is gonna be a huge deal and I was not expecting a trailer so soon honestly. But here is some QTNA, do we think they will keep in the dykin’?
That 90s show
Anna Nicole Smith: You Don’t Know Me
90-day Fiancee UK
It’s so cringe but I can’t look away!
Rain Dogs — This show makes me so uncomfortable and it’s AMAZING holy shit you HAVE to watch it. I can’t explain it and I don’t know if the trailer does it justice but my goodness is it so fucking good. And also also I am a new member of the Daisy May Cooper fan club and you need to watch her in Am I Being Unreasonable but if you like cats I’ll tell you what episode to skip.
Fast and Furious movies
Last week I set out to watch them all in order and I am close to finishing and guess what? This has been an exciting and fun ride and yes I am giving them $13-$18 to see the one that is in theatres now….please don’t judge me.
Also Also….the guest appearances in these movies? Ja Rule, Jin, Tego Calderon…How very 2000’s of it all!
I keep seeing Brie Larson in the trailer for Fast X and I don’t know how in the fuck she gets into this movie but EYE AM VERY EXCITED TO FIND OWT!!
Electric Blue eyeshadow all summer? Send Recs plz….
The new trailer for the Barbie movie - THIS MOVIE WILL BE MY PERSONALITY FOR A WHILE !!!!
I want my money back.
This one got gay but it was still bad but…..it did get gay!
What I Re-Watched
Kath & Kim
I will NEVER not watch this show at least monthly
Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story
Now listen, I know many of you might expect me to have thoughts ‘cos duh the land of Bridgerton is one I care a lot about in Shondaland…. but I have not many!! I just keep rewatching it ‘cos it's good and also Shonda is the only person I can ask this question to and actually expect to get it but — LADY DANBURY SPINOFF WHEN?!?!
What I Listened To
What I Read
The Tarte x Black Influencer Drama from Kailynn Johnson over at R29 Unbothered
Damn, Tina Turner died. Brittany Spanos & David Browne’s piece over on Rolling Stone helps us to remember what a fucking icon she was.
If you haven’t watched the doc you need to do so ASAP.
Where I Ate
My perfect angel director D and I went here to celebrate their graduation and thesis and film! I used to come here a lot solo for their happy hour. Just would sit and read or write and the tacos are good but the frozen marg like burned my tongue a bit? idk why? But I couldn’t finish it at all. Tacos were smackin’ and the company was perfect!!
Very much trying to go and check out their new location this summer in Andersonville I think. It’s a pink restaurant that serves tacos like, come on, it’s meant for me.
My partner and I went here on our first anniversary and ordered it in this week and omg I didn’t know that pasta being delivered would be so fucking good.
I don’t like oysters, but I went here with my friend B and tried one or two again and no…not for me. Maybe ‘cos they aren’t gonna be freshest here but mostly ‘cos I just don’t like them — they are also too aligned with mermaids which does not sit well with me.
That sexy lil cinnamon cold brew number they got goin’ on this summer has been rocking my world!!
A Picture I took
I have a Canon T50 Film Camera that I really love & these are some of the images that have come from it <3
A scene I can’t stop thinking about
Elektra is the queen of reads and mama this one? PERFECTION.
I’ve been thinking about the opening to Beverly Hills 90210 and how blowouts and bangs are a spectacular look.
I’m still sad that The Doom Generation let me down after waiting so long to watch it.
I know a lot of you are on a free trial ‘cos you wanted to read this:
I know a bit of mess is fun but I hope you stay for the magic :)
I am putting on this event in Chicago called But….I’m a Queerleader!! It’s for Pride, it’s gonna be cute and fun, buy tickets!!
THIS PERFUME MAKES ME SMELL LIKE A FRENCH FLIGHT ATTENDANT IN 1967 WHO GOT FIRED ON HER DAY OFF BUT DOESN’T CARE.