Tag Archives: learning

Boots Tuesday

4-5-2016, 11:00am

“Do you have a hard time asking people for things?”

“I don’t really need to ask people for things. I am pretty self-sufficient.” That’s the response that first came to my head. I didn’t respond. I sat with it. This woman stays trying to see me. To read me. Demanding I drop whatever mask I think I am wearing. This  annoys me. This makes me uncomfortable. So I fade away.

I met her last summer at the Movement for Black Lives. While the conference was officially over, we just had an impromptu action against the Cleveland Police.  Afterwards- in victory we chanted, “we gonna be alright,” in unison with over a hundred Black people. Someone started a healing circle. Others dealt with those who were pepper sprayed. I noticed her boots before I noticed her. Cowboy boots and shorts. She stood out. She was cute and different. As you might already know, I am smoother than freshly churned butter. I went to her and asked her about her boots. Somehow this turned into a whole conversation, where she gave me the origins of her boots. She got them on a trip to Arizona with her ex-girlfriend. She was quick and witty. We exchanged info, for you know community building, the revolution and what not.

Power to the people.

7-27-2015  Facebook messages

Me: Nice meeting your boots as well as you yesterday. Stay in touch. I’m sure you have great stories about the places the boots been.

Her: Ha! So many stories.

Me: Maybe you should do Boots Tuesday and tell me a new story about you and those boots i lusted after. (I’m good now, I have accepted they are yours :))


And just like that, she started sending me weekly stories. She never told me which ones were fiction. Her stories were great. Moving. Interesting. Insightful. All keeping with the theme of the boots. I found out later that she majored in creative writing. So yes, she had skills.

Eventually, I asked what I could give her in return. I was enjoying the experience of a weekly story so much. I didn’t want to take and not give. There is beauty in exchange.

I was going thru a Tab love crisis at this point. Feeling like I was fucking up with multiple people. I abruptly ended a relationship that I had been cultivating. You know Tab shit. She wanted me to write through this. Sometimes she gave me a prompt sometimes she didn’t. I would write about my journey of being a better person.

This went on for almost 2 months. In retrospect, this impromptu writing exchange/collective was pretty amazing. It gave us both an audience and reason to plan writing into our busy lives. She was always on a plane flying somewhere. I never knew what city she would be in.

Maybe it was one too many ignored questions that made me call her secretive. Maybe I am. I just don’t like questions. I like the control of the information. I will tell you everything if you just don’t ask.

She told me that sharing was invasive. She wasn’t willing to be vulnerable and share aspects of her when it wasn’t reciprocal. She heard my confession that I struggled to be open and honest. She pushed me to know why (more for myself than for her knowledge), She asked did it help with others are open and honest with me? She pushed me on my evasiveness.  I answered briefly. And then stopped answering. You know Tab shit.

In the last two months, I have spoken to her more. Thanks to the snapchat and a new phone that makes texting easier. She mentioned my disappearance early on in our “reunion.” I think I briefly addressed it. But we continued. No stories tho. And not many questions from her.

This morning I was reminiscing on Boots Tuesday. Sent her an email inquiring about restarting Boots Tuesday.

She replied “Dr. Chester, don’t you believe in assessment and reflection before repeating a course.”

Guess who didn’t respond.

She texted me about a favor I asked her to do for my class. I told her never mind. That we can try for another time. Maybe next semester. Some shit about me knowing she had a lot on her plate.

She responded: “Do you have a hard time asking people for things?”

I remembered how much I hated her questions and her ability to not only see me but ask me the questions I hate to answer. She doesn’t know me but she knows me. She is a reminder of how transparent I am even when I believe I am performing cryptic and complex.










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Where should I begin? A lot has happen since my last post. I will venture to say for a variety of reasons this has been one of the most emotional months I have had in a long time. But through it all I am blessed. Summers have always been the time that I grow the most and with growing comes a certain amount of growing pains. There is no progress without struggle.  I defended my dissertation June 28- I passed with minor revisions. I turn in the revisions on Monday.

Dissertation Defense

I am humbled and grateful for the feedback of my dissertation committee. One of committee members told me how impressed she was with the amount of work I was able to accomplish in 9 months while also teaching. I am often my biggest critic and it is hard for me to take time to celebrate my accomplishments in the way that other people do. Its far easier for me to focus on my inadequacies. I have a PhD at 26, but yet I am still unemployed, searching for the next step in my life. At times I feel like I am not even close to where I want to be. Creating the life that I want is way harder than I imagined. As  happy as I am to say that I am not a student, I know I will miss the structure of that life. I excel in collegiate and graduate environments not because I am so smart, but because I understood that world. I knew what the requirements was to finish and I methodologically charted a plan to complete those requirements in the most efficient way. Within the first 2 months of undergrad I planned what classes to take and when in order to finish in 3 years…I finished in 2.5 years. So while my defense was a celebratory event, it triggered anxiety and depression.

Last Saturday my little brother got married to Brittannie Stanley in Florence, Alabama.



The trip was beyond interesting and extremely draining. I maintain that I do not ever want children of my own. If you ever catch me pregnant, either my birth control slipped up or the condom broke. I did not drive the children back, but I am pretty sure they made it home safely. At one point I was dreading attending the nuptials, I am not good around people especially church people.  Weddings tend to bring up all kinds of emotion for people, not always good ones. As a safety precaution I invited 3 people, none of whom had met the bride and one person I hadn’t even met before. But thankfully I didn’t need it. Brittannie’s family was beyond amazing and welcoming. I am in awe of how beautiful her family was to me, my friends and my family. I felt a level of acceptance and love that I rarely experience.

I was a bridesmaid in the wedding, the only bridesmaid that didn’t go to college or grow up in Alabama with Brittannie. I packed a dress to wear to the rehearsal  and rehearsal dinner. Since my plan of buying new sandals and getting a pedicure didn’t happen I ended up wearing a polo button up, some pink gap chinos and Sperrys. Mercedes said I was cute. I showed up to the church- all the other bridesmaids had on dresses looking like southern belles with their pretty permed hair. I immediately felt out of place, even though the boys looked like they had just fell out of bed. I realized then that I wasn’t as comfortable with my gender performance as I thought I was. Let me be clear my discomfort was not caused by anything other than my own insecurity. I wanted a dress on so bad in that moment. But by the next day it was my shaved sides and my differences that made me not only stand out but made me beautiful. Being comfortable with who you are is always a process.

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I told the lady who did my makeup that I did not need waterproof mascara. There was no way I was going to cry. Damnit I am a THUG. I have seen 4 seasons of The Wire ( my summer project). But I will be damned if my eyes did not start watering and my lips started to quiver when Brittannie walked down the aisle to Jeremiah. I don’t think I ever seen my brother so happy. It was like he transformed to a man in front of my eyes.

That was Saturday, Sunday my grandfather made his transition. His health had been declining but he was doing better when we left Florida. He was my last living grandparent. I am grateful for his life and that I got a chance to spend sometime with him in June.

Granddad and dad

He kinda remembered me. As with both of my father’s parents they left me years before they died. The loss of memory is a hell of a thing. The funeral was today but I am in North Carolina for a conference. I feel like I am absent too much sometimes. At some point I am going to have to face what  I am running from. Three weeks has been the longest period I have spent in Florida since the move back…I could barely take it. Just itching for an escape.  Maybe I am running from my parents love. I have never really been able to believe in the concept of unconditional love. There is always conditions…

This is long. There is more I should share. Mercedes came for three weeks. I am not moving to Philadelphia. Maybe Charlotte though…still figuring things out. Remind me to tell you the story about how I officially became a heathen. My heart is a little frozen now, still deciding if I want to thaw it out.

Until the next time…may the peace and light of Blue Ivy’s smile be with you.

-Just Tab



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“I surrender all” 26 on the 26th.

“I surrender all, I surrender all; All to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.”

In the last couple of weeks that refrain has been replaying over and over in my head. Surrendering all. The concept of surrender “to yield to the power, control, or possession of another upon compulsion or demand”- is a lot for a person like me who thrives off power and control of their own being and destiny. I am the person that refuses to clap when the minister says “If you love the Lord clap your hands”. I refuse to submit to the authority of what feels like a Simon says style of worship.  I have finally been able to articulate why I don’t need a Savior (outside of the precious savior baby Blue Ivy) during the last half of the year. I have become more and more comfortable with the fact that while culturally I am very much a product of the Black Christian environment I was raised in, however theologically I am not and do not desire to be a Christian. In my head the blessed Savior in the song refers more to a higher power, the divine, father/mother God, the universal force, etc.

Giving it up (whatever it is) to a higher power has got to be one of the hardest things for me to do. I have been struggling with unknown aspects of my future. If I am to finish my PhD this Spring…what is next? What am I going to do? I am planner and not having a concrete plan, at times causes an unbearable and crippling anxiety to overtake my body. Singing “I surrender all” has been helpful in overcoming some of this anxiety. The power of surrender became clear to me about 2years ago while watching Oprah’s Master class. This is probably the thing that stuck out for me the most.

“God can dream a bigger dream for me, for you than you can ever dream for yourself. When you worked as hard and done as much and strived and tried and given and plead and bargained and hoped. Surrender. When you have done all that you could do and there is nothing left for you to do. Give it up. Give it up to that thing that is greater than yourself and let it then become a part of the flow.”

So for 26 I am making surrendering and letting go a major part of my life. There is no point of me trying to control my destiny and make myself sick thinking of the uncertainty. What I do know is that I have done the work. This applies to school/academia, my romantic relationships, and my relationship with others. I have done what is needed to be successful in those regards and now it’s time for me to let some things go and let God do the rest. Iyanla and Oprah had both made it clear to me that you have to do the work, you can’t expect changes if you are not actively engaged in the work. I know I am not the only one who have been watching “Iyanla, fix my life,” if you have not- you NEED TO.

I turned 26 years old on Wednesday. 26 was old a couple years ago- you know when I was 20. I am not where I thought I would be-that is neither a good or bad thing. I spent my birthday white-water rafting on the Chiriqui River in Panama. This marks the 3rd birthday and Christmas I spent solo. I really enjoy traveling alone. I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do. I get to spend quality time with myself and think and mediate. I get to read for pleasure! (Currently reading the newest Oprah book club selection) Do things that I really don’t have the time or energy to do when I am home or with other people.


mean mugging

mean mugging

I smile

I smile

One of my new friends

One of my new friends

My raft group included 2 girls, their mother and her best friend. Every year their family goes someplace for Christmas. This year their group included 7 people. They have done Belize, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, etc. this got me thinking how nice it would have been to share some of these memories with the people closest to me. I was wondering would my dad done the white water rafting or how tough Jeremiah would have pretended to be.  As the rafting trip progress the idea I was previously toying with- traveling with my parents as an adult begin to really develop in my head. My parent’s anniversary is on Dec 29th. It’s been three years since I spent it with them. I guess it is THEIR anniversary….I don’t have to be there but since we are each other’s favorite people in the world- I think they would want me around. I don’t plan to spend the next Christmas, my next birthday or their next wedding anniversary without them. I am planning to rent a house in the Caribbean next year. I am learning just because I can do things alone, doesn’t mean I always have to. After spending the last two NYE with the most intense feelings of homesickness and sadness because I wasn’t home, I am looking forward to spending NYE at Watch Night service at my daddy’s church.


My goal for this 26th year of life is to surrender to the divine and share love. The future is bright. I got a feeling the universe has some surprises and blessings in store for me. You can count on Oprah, Blue Ivy and the Color Purple to continue to play a big part in my world.


~Just Tab



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Posted by on December 28, 2012 in Holidays, Learning bout Tab!, Oprah, Travel


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What I know for sure (at 25)…

Whenever I think about turning 25 I hear the intro to the last season of the Oprah show where Paul Simon sings twenty five, twenty five in this slow melancholy way. Oprah was on for 25 years and Tupac died at 25, the number 25 is pretty significant in the lives of my heroes. So I decided to this Oprah style.  What I know for sure (at 25).

I am learning that there is no prize to be given for navigating life without anyone. For showing everybody that you don’t need them. There is no award given for never crying on someone else’s shoulder, for keeping in all the hurt. Because if there was…

But I also know there is no prize for having the most people in your life. You don’t get an award for putting up with people who add no value to your life. No one is going to congratulate you for keeping the same toxic person in your life since elementary school. 3,500 friends on Facebook mean absolutely nothing in the real world.

So I am trying to negotiate a space between self-imposed solitude and thinking everyone is my best friend.

My birthday yesterday, was quite different from my previous one in Haiti. I spent it in Arizona. I took myself to a movie (New Year’s Eve), had some Ethiopian take out, went rock climbing, went to another movie (50/50), ate french fries, downed a bottle of champagne and called it a day.

I have been called cocky on more than one occasion. I prefer the word confident. I am well aware of my strengths and I am very honest about my weaknesses. I try to be sincere in all that I do. I am good friend.

I am strong believer that people will treat you however you allow them to treat you. Many times the way other people treat you is a reflection of how you treat yourself.  When you set standards people will either rise to them or they won’t but you have to let you expectations be known. There is a huge difference between the work ethic of a child who knows their parents only accepts A- work out of them, versus the work ethic of a child who parent doesn’t set any goals for them. This is the same thing with any type of relationships; let people know your standards and expectations. What are your non-negotiables?

For me, the two things I must have in any close friendship, relationship or partnership are reliability and consistency. This does not mean I need you to talk to me every day, I just need your actions to be consistent. And when you say something I need to be able to believe it. This is what I NEED. And no matter how beautiful and smart you are. How amazingly cool and perfect you are…if you can’t give this to me I have no problems cutting you out of my life. And it doesn’t mean I don’t love you. There are several people that I have cut out of my life or no longer hold them in such a close space- that I love so dearly and would still do just about anything for them. But I love myself more and I can no longer allow them the same access to my life because they are not willing or able to give me what I need.

I spent my 24th year breaking down-physically, emotionally and spiritually (more on that later). My “inner-circle” has also been broken down. The states of my relationships have so drastically changed in a years’ time. I am looking forward to building up this coming year. Since I am quite vain I am starting with my body, I have my first Crossfit competition in January. It is all about that core strength aka my abs.

I think I have proven to everybody including myself that I am able to make it alone. I have traveled to foreign countries by myself. I have moved halfway across the country with no friends or family remotely close. I have spent both Christmas and my birthday alone. I go to movies alone. I eat alone. I live alone. Safe to say I can do just about anything by myself and not want or desire another person with me.

I know that for sure.

But what I don’t know is if I can survive with someone else. Could I travel with someone? Could I live with someone? Hell, can I be friends- real friends with someone (I am talking Oprah and Gayle style)? Will I ever allow myself to be able to depend on another human being? The thought of depending on someone else is more terrifying than being alone in the slums of Honduras at night.

I have a habit of saying “No one really matters anyway.” That comment is usually preceded by an expletive.  I had friend who always got mad whenever I said it, she said the comment hurt her. Truth is people matter to me a lot and rather than face the disappointed of no mattering to someone as much as they matter to me, I force myself to believe that no one really matters in my world. I am always ready and expecting people to leave.

So let’s see what 25 has in store. Let it be monumental or unsubstantial. Let it be audacious or low-key. Just let it be.

~Just Tab


Posted by on December 27, 2011 in Arizona, Holidays, Learning bout Tab!, my friends


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