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The Cat in the Tat, or Let’s Be Honest

I like tattoos. I know, it’s seems weird, since I’m like the bougiest, prissiest person anyone’s ever met. But I do, I like them on boys (my friend Kibwe said, in reference to the Tyga/Big Seans of the world, that skinny and tatted-up is the new “black and ugly as ever”). And I like them on me. The pain, the art, the tackiness — it’s good girl naughty. Before last week, I had three  — one on my foot, a teeny one on my back, and an unfortunate-at-the-time-but-now-sorta-amusing one on my hip. I’d always wanted to get a fourth, but I was concerned. When one has four tattoos, does one officially become a tattooed lady?

Three days ago, I became a tattooed lady. Fuck it, I thought to myself. You need something.


My wrist. Purple ink! Prince stan to the fullest. Wait...the more I look at this pic, the more it appears to be a tattooed penis.


My life has been feeling fuzzy lately. Who I used to be and who I am now have not been aligning properly. I needed something to bring it all into focus, a “you’re hysterical, woman!” slap in the face. So I gave myself a little reminder. WRITE. Write. This is what you do, this is who you are. Stop whining, nobody cares. Write something. It’ll save you.

When you’re Type-A anal, first born overachiever — when you’re a successful black woman (never forget that one, it comes with extra agita…mustn’t fall, can’t, everyone’s watching) — and things don’t end up the way you’d planned, it’s shattering. By 30, I’d done everything. I had a fancy magazine career, a dream home, a husband, and four books published. Six years later, I’m jobless, selling the money pit apartment, divorced. In and out of the hospital. A broke single mother who hopes you like her bob. Really? I know, I know…the economy. Everyone’s suffering, why should I think I’m immune? And then you have that horrible, hyper-American thought…well, fuck everybody else. I don’t know them. I know me. And this wasn’t supposed to be my story, dammit!

I know how obnoxious and entitled I sound. I also know that when things go wrong, you quickly find out the kind of person you really are. As Rose Nyland once noted during an overwrought breakdown of Blanche’s, “Boy, when the mask falls it really makes a thud!” I’m sick of walking around in a disconnected haze, eating nothing, dry-swallowing pain pills and overdosing on Ancient Aliens marathons. And pretending to be la-di-da fine. No amount of concealer can erase self-hate.

So it’s time to remember myself. Feeling lost? Write a book. Write it out, bitch. WRITE.

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  1. El Jay
    July 6, 2012 4:21 pm 

    I applaud your honesty and know from the bottom of my soul that you’ll be fine. I’ve followed, lurked, loved your blog forever and was overjoyed to see you back on the blogisphere. But I quickly realized that you were different and in “transition” (omg the current state of your hair just became sooo symbolic). I get the sense that even though you are aware of everything you may have had and lost or gotten rid of, you’re not trying to get back “there”. So good for you, moving forward is the only way to a new and better reality. As for your apartment, I don’t know what you’ve been thru that necessitates selling it but that apt is gorgeous and you should consider renting if you cannot dump it. That may not be possible for you but I am surprised that it is not moving because it seems to show beautifully.
    Thanks for sharing and KEEP WRITING, loved this entry>

  2. July 6, 2012 4:22 pm 

    Wow Tia, I loved your honesty in this post. Isn’t it so interesting how the way people see themselves is totally different than the way others see them. Like in my opinion, you’re a 36 year old woman who has had a dream career, but is now venturing on her own, doing her own thing,being fearless about her life and moving on to greater things. You’re a rockstar!! And to this day, one of my biggest inspirations! By the way, after looking at that pic, it does look like a penis. Ha!

    • July 6, 2012 4:38 pm 

      Hi Tia,
      Like the others have said, thanks so much for your honesty! Since I met you years ago at the family reunion, I’ve always admired you and your sisters. My mom always made it a point to keep me in the loop about you as a way to show me that I can do whatever I want and be fabulous at the same time 🙂 Oddly enough, our lives have paralleled in some ways. I haven’t reached as many pinnacles as you, but have experienced the failure of a 7 year relationship, marriage, and annulment over the past year, but have had to learn how to pick myself up and keep it moving. I was always the person who had her life planned 2 years in advance: I was going to marry my college sweet heart, finish my PhD program, and have 2-3 children while pursuing my dream career. Obviously not everything worked out that way, and I spent the last year finding my way on my own–I have DRASTICALLY changed hairstyles every 2 months, got my 3rd tattoo, ran 2 half marathons, became a semi-professional photographer, made new friends, traveled to LA, St. Croix, and Puerto Rico, and organized a research conference on the study of race in the academy. I tried to focus all my energies on doing things that made me happy and gave me a sense of self worth, and I had to keep reminding myself that no job or relationship could define who I was. Only I could do that. I hope you take this to heart and know that whatever you do will be great!

  3. Heather
    July 6, 2012 4:26 pm 

    LOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Screaming at the top of my lungs, in my office! Yasss ma’am! It’s the visual reminder, when nothing else is clear.

    As a fellow tatted lady, 6 and going, do you Boo-Boo. Your life, your happiness.

  4. Jennifer
    July 6, 2012 4:27 pm 

    Hey Tia,
    This is my first time commenting but I have been following for years.
    I just want to say…despite all you’re going through you are doing a fabulous job! Your honesty is so beautiful, keep your your head up mama! Remember..this too shall pass.

  5. Quiana
    July 6, 2012 4:42 pm 

    Thank you for sharing. Love your blog and your honesty!!

  6. July 6, 2012 4:48 pm 

    I also appreciate your honesty! I’ve been following your work for a while and I was so happy when you came back. I was pleasantly surprised when you were at the makeup show too!
    I also believe that you are fearless and onto bigger things…cheers 🙂

  7. July 6, 2012 4:56 pm 

    Write. So simple, yet so important. It’s amazing how one word can help to define who you are and also set you on a purposeful mission. And while it may seem that everything is falling apart around you, it seems to me that the honesty in your posts are re-defining what you mean to so many people. It’s one thing to say, “I love her. She’s so fly and an awesome writer.” It’s another thing to inspire other women to be fearless in the midst of pain, follow their hearts and dreams, and know that they too will eventually come through the storm.

    And ps: As a fellow Type A-anal, first born achiever, slightly bourgeois and prissy princess (who happens to know and love sports more than some guys), I have to concur about the tattoos being our way to be good girl naughty. I now have 7 (in all completely hide-able places!) and I’m thinking of getting 2 more before the end of the year. Kudos to you for jumping in and getting the fourth one. Tres awesome!

  8. Kim
    July 6, 2012 4:58 pm 

    Love you and your writing!

  9. Carmdee
    July 6, 2012 5:39 pm 

    I can’t think of anything else to say that hasn’t already been said…I love your writing- it makes my day.

  10. Cherice
    July 6, 2012 6:18 pm 

    Posts like this make me admire you even you more. Sometimes life is shitty and you can try all you want to hide it but the truth is the truth. Everybody goes through it, some more than others. Just got to find what keeps you from self detonating on the world. Stay blessed and keep writing.

  11. July 6, 2012 6:40 pm 

    Every time you write a post like this I am reminded why I continue reading. Tia continue being a stellar Black woman.

  12. Anon
    July 6, 2012 7:22 pm 

    Wow, Tia. All I can say is “thank you” for this post. I won’t bore you with the details why, but just know that your sentiments here are appreciated more than you know. Thank you so much for your honesty.

  13. July 6, 2012 7:26 pm 

    I NEEDED THIS! Thank you!

  14. Nicki
    July 6, 2012 9:31 pm 

    Really amazing….

  15. Pumps and Gloss
    July 6, 2012 9:44 pm 

    What an amazing, inspirational message. I heart you, even more!

  16. July 6, 2012 9:50 pm 

    GO TIA…..you are constantly inspiring me with your honesty and fearlessness. You may not think of yourself as fearless but you SO ARE. Get it girl 😉

  17. Liz
    July 6, 2012 10:37 pm 

    Good God! I really, truly hate it that you’re going through it right now but I have so been there (shit, still there) and I need to tell you how seriously I appreciate you opening up and sharing today.
    It’s odd because I read close to 100 blogs everyday to get perspectives on news and the world, they’ve almost replaced reading novels for me. Even funnier is the fact that Accidental Diva was the last book I read, earlier this year when I found out you were blogging again (huge thank you btw!)
    I’m sorry if I sound too familiar right now because I obviously don’t know you at all but our stories have similarities and beyond that you are a seriously gifted writer.
    I know you realize what you have to do to get through this but in case you have doubts (or for whatever reason can’t see your rockin’ wrist tatoo to remind you) just remember, some girl named Liz who you don’t know from a hole in the wall says fortheloveofgod KEEP WRITING!

  18. heysuga
    July 6, 2012 11:54 pm 

    You are everything right now. Thank you for your honesty and such a moving post. Continue to W-R-I-T-E and please believe that your longtime SYB “Stans” will be reading 😉 We appreciate you!

  19. tea18
    July 7, 2012 12:30 am 

    And this is why I heart you. The vulnerability. Even that comes through in your novel(s). Also, that tattoo, the purple ink, is bad ass.

  20. July 7, 2012 3:46 am 

    Draw strength from all of the ladies that read your blog, now and in the past, who wish you well and for your continued success. I am also where you are right now (type A personality) and at the moment am pondering ok..time is moving fast..so what next.
    The most important thing is to stay out there. The right situation and people will connect to you. Keep yourself healthy as possible and minimize the migraines (even if you have to go vegan)and never lose faith or sight of what you know you have inside you. God bless! xoxo

  21. Bashful Beauty
    July 7, 2012 4:07 am 

    Tia, you are not alone! We love you so much. You continue to give us someone to admire. There is an old “hood” saying…. Real recognize real! And that’s why we feel so connected to you. Lean on your babes we are here sending prayers and so much love. Kiss kiss kiss and big hug!

  22. Paradoxx
    July 7, 2012 5:10 am 

    I am sure now more than ever that you are going to be fine …

    No …. scratch that .. Better than Ever!

    Watch what I say!

    Told U I’m psychic! 🙂

  23. July 7, 2012 5:12 am 

    Tia, I’ve been following you for years now (since I was in high school) and I’m now 22. You’ve always been such a major inspiration! Your past accomplishments were amazing but you still have so much left in you!

    Your latter will be greater than your past. Trust.

    God Bless.

  24. Kia
    July 7, 2012 5:48 am 

    I <3 u, Tia. Ready to see you write the next chapter in your life. Hugs!

  25. Maria
    July 7, 2012 4:14 pm 

    I am right there with you honey. Right.There.With.You. I’m 37 and fucking fabulous and totally walking my journey toward transition alone because sometimes, it’s just gotta be that way. You are not the only one-hang in there love.

  26. Shenile
    July 7, 2012 4:21 pm 

    ADORE this! I love you, Tia. I don’t care what you publish as long as I can get my hands on it. SUPER inspired by you right now. Thank you!!!

  27. July 7, 2012 7:33 pm 

    I found your blog through a retweet on twitter.. It has inspire me to now follow your blog. Well stated!!!

    Thank you

  28. Tiffaney
    July 8, 2012 4:05 am 

    Ive followed you forever. You were my NYC inspration and aspiratuion. I met you at he high line opening at buddah bat eons ago.. and loved you forever. yu were the brown girl that I realted , a friedn amoung my friendless days and nights in a new and scary city. I admire your bravery navigating this brave new world and yes keep writing, bc no matter how hard life is you are someone ese;s inspiration.

  29. Kim
    July 8, 2012 6:54 pm 

    I can so relate to this: “Who I used to be and who I am now have not been aligning properly.” I am REALLY struggling with this right now. So much has changed in my life in the past few years that I feel lost. I love your tattoo. Maybe I’ll get my third one this summer…

    Thank you for your honesty. I really look forward to reading your blog posts.

  30. Dria B
    July 8, 2012 9:19 pm 

    Just another reason why I love your blog…you always keep it 100! We all love that about you 🙂 Your determination to redefine yourself inspires me as I do the same in the next chapter of my life (grad school!) And by the way, that tattoo is pretty awesome: short, sweet & full of meaning!

  31. July 9, 2012 12:49 pm 

    I loved this!!! I was thinking about getting my forth tat on my wrist to! It’s good to know I’m not the only one feeling like “I thought my life would be different right about now”. But when you put it all in perspective I am so grateful for what I have and how God has blessed me I can’t be mad at all. This is where I am supposed to be at this time ! Thanks for keepin it real!

  32. jam824
    July 9, 2012 3:26 pm 

    This was a wonderful post. Thank you for your honesty and dedication to writing.

  33. Ty
    July 9, 2012 7:55 pm 

    As if I needed another reminder of your fierceness and why I’ve been a stan since your Lucky Magazine days, you express so perfectly everything in my head and heart. Thank you for being you and continuing to be an inspiration to your girls. I’ve given up on writing, Tia, but I hope you’ll look at that tattoo and remember to always use your God-given talent. As long as you have words to share, I will read them.

  34. Amanda E.
    July 10, 2012 10:45 pm 

    “As we drive along this road called life, occasionally a gal will find herself a little lost. And when that happens, I guess she has to let go of the coulda, shoulda, woulda, buckle up and just keep going.”
    Carrie Bradshaw

    p.s. Put on your big girl panties and buckle up!
    p.p.s. You are totally my real Carrie Bradshaw. HEART you… <3

  35. July 11, 2012 2:04 am 

    Tia, you are too funny, honest in a very raw, but relevant way and amazing. Keep doing you, because no can that better!

  36. laughing808
    July 11, 2012 2:26 pm 

    thanks for sharing……I’m sending up prayers for direction and clarity for you.

  37. July 11, 2012 4:41 pm 

    Girl this post is everything! And believe me I know what you’re feeling. Sometimes things fall apart so that greatness can appear in its place. (At least that is what I keep telling myself). But I do know this…Don’t. Stop. Ever.

  38. gg
    July 11, 2012 8:34 pm 

    you are blessed. im working a 9-5, never been married, childless and struggling to make ends meet. i would trade your life for mine. put your life in perspective. i respect how real you are and sharing your thoughts on the blog with us. stay positive.

  39. Kat
    July 13, 2012 12:36 am 

    I’m gonna piggyback and say that this post spoke to me, to every dark moment I’ve had. I will tell you like I’ve told (and will) tell myself…keep pushing.



  40. July 13, 2012 4:01 pm 

    This was an EXCELLENT post. So many of us go through (or are still dealing) with dark, dry seasons and hope is scarce to be found. Press forward… always. That tatt is a great symbol of the talent/gift that can get you through. Dopeness.

  41. Ricasuave
    July 15, 2012 9:36 pm 

    Love your honesty. Love that you’re back. Love where you’ll be going.

  42. July 16, 2012 7:23 pm 

    I just adore you! Aside from being stunning and smart you’re so down to Earth. I love it! I’d like to believe I’m all of the above as well and I have 5 tattoos from my youth that I’m ashamed of now that I live in suburbia. I’ve been getting sessions to remove my very first one. Thanks for letting me know it’s ok. I”m about to get a similar one on my finger!

  43. July 18, 2012 3:58 pm 

    First, I didnt know u were back to blogging. Glad to see it. Second- that was AMAZE! The true meaning of “keeping it real”. I Think there are a lot of people who can relate to the ” how did I get here” sentiment, but u were brave to put it out there. Loved it. Awesome.

  44. Raven
    July 20, 2012 7:57 pm 

    I JUST found out that you relaunched this blog…and I am still floating on a cloud. The minute I started reading posts I noticed something was different…and now I read this. Tia to many of us you are our real life beautiful brown Carrie Bradshaw. Years ago I sent you a direct message on myspace and you responded! *high pitch squeal* I expressed how excited I was to see a book series catered towards multicultural YAs and how I dreamed of following your path. Please keep writing!!! You truly are an inspiration! Glad to have you back on SYB… some of the people that left comments on Essence were mean. :-/

  45. corilyns
    August 23, 2012 1:41 pm 

    I think you’re a star, an inspiration AND a bad ASS. WRITE, please!

  46. KD
    September 19, 2012 9:09 am 

    Tia, Tia. My first and only true blogger. Whilst I’m so super thankful to have cross referenced several blogs, pinterest boards and FB posts to find you, I’m torn between feeling happy to rekindle my blogmance and being sad knowing that like many others I put you on a pedastal, pressuring you to be OUR superwoman. You’re like me. You’re like us. You are us and that is what’s amazing.

    I remember “pre-iphone/smart phone” racing home to my computer to read about Brownie, Lina, Adam, your love of Prince and all things beauty. Drawn to you for your ties to Lousiana and the DMV like myself, I felt sad when I couldn’t find SYB or Stereohyped anywhere on the net.

    Glad to find you. Glad you’re finding yourself. Sad that things came a crashing down.

    Sometimes life waits for some crisis to occur to reaval itself most brilliant. I’m with you. I support you + I believe in you.

    Broke (of heart and of pocket) won’t last for long. Online dating sucks (as a black woman) sometimes, but there are a few true gems. Stay away from that OKCupid. 🙂 Beauty + beholder – we love you and no one knows beauty better than you.

    Keep fighting. I’ll be thinking of the tattooed penis as I struggle along too. Write gurl, write! At your best (and your most difficult), you are loved. See ya around PSlope or the new neighborhood to be. 🙂

  47. Christina
    January 15, 2013 6:54 pm 

    Hey – I was reading this for the first time. I am so sad that you are going through such hard times – I was there a few years ago. Let me say that being positive, believing in yourself, and prayer is key to getting you out. It may take a while, but there is a light at the end of that tunnel. And it’s beautiful.