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Toni wrote...

Toni wrote...

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"Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.”

  • Writer's pictureNina Childs


An imagining


Nina Childs

I rolled over too fast. I felt a sharp pain in my back. My lower back to be exact. I looked at the clock it was 11:11pm. This fuckin quarantine has literally made Groundhogs day a thing. Every day I feel like it’s the same shit. Wine, wine, wine…the drink not the verb of course. Maybe listen to a little bit of grime or my fav…drizzy Drake, try to write something that matters. Try to cook something healthy and avoid take out because I don’t want to die. I mean hats off to anyone brave enough to eat take out in this time of covid but I can’t. I’m really missing panini kabob grill. Yesterday I tried to make it from home. It was actually really good. The way my anxiety is set up though, eating out is impossible. I'm tired of sheltering in place with my anxiety. Most days is nearly debilitating. Hence, the cooking simply for the calm it brings. Ugh, what time did I fall asleep?

Sometimes I feel like I wake up just to check my phone. No text, no missed calls, no insta messages…oh, 1 new notification. Someone I don’t know liked a picture from 2 years ago on twitter. Awesome. I’m going back to sleep.

I open my eyes because I hear my phone vibrating. I roll over to grab it from the nightstand but low and behold it’s not there. Shit, it’s in my bed somewhere in these covers. I look for it, I find it. I miss the call. Shit…it was Dad. I’ll call him back later. I look at the clock on my phone. It’s 6am. 9am back home in Chicago. Doesn’t Dad know it’s 6am in LA? It’s 6am and I’m in the Hollywood Hills. In a house that I rent at a discount after a year in one of the biggest writing rooms in Hollywood. Oh yeah, I’m a writer. I write. I started out as a journalist. I freelanced for hip-hop magazines back when they were a thing. Source, VIBE…you name it. I eventually started my own blog. It was actually pretty popular. From there I ended up on sets here and there doing pa stuff but I always knew I wanted to be in an executive position. Writing is a means to an end for now. I’ve enjoyed some success obviously; Halle Berry lives down the street. She’s friendly. I mean genuinely beautiful inside and out. It’s ridiculous.

I head up to the balcony to smoke a joint. My dog Good Boy waddles out and sits next to me. Good Boy is old. He’s an old stinky, farting man dog. But I love him. Good Boy has been with me through some really rough times. He’s been my only constant companion. I had a boyfriend earlier this year but he had a girlfriend so it didn’t end well. We were together for 6 blissful months and then his pregnant girlfriend showed up to my door after following him and let me know that he was hers and the std was now mine. She was lying about the std thank God. Just being dramatic and trying to terrify me as if her watermelon belly and her piercing screams on my porch at 1am weren’t scary enough. We actually ended up following each other on twitter after she left him. We kinda bonded over being treated like shit. The kid is super adorable. I like to keep my life interesting. I’m high now. Thank God that they counted dispensaries as essential services because I would die without my weed. Well maybe not die…but I would sure want to. It’s 645am. I’m still tired. I get back in bed and turn on a youtube video about giants. Something I’m sure will put me back to sleep. I ended up watching the whole thing. Do you know that somehow all of the remains of all the giants excavated between 1600 and 1867 have all but disappeared from various American institutions charged with preserving them and keeping them safe? Of course you didn’t…but it’s true. It’s 815am and I’m starving.

There is exactly 2 pieces of toast and half of an avocado in my fridge. I need to brave the corona virus and go to the store. I’ve been in a bit of a funk. I’m supposed to be in London directing my 1st feature film but we’re currently in a pandemic and while im 100% positive that the studio doesn’t give a fuck if we live or die while making this film, they do care about the fact that theatres will be closed for quiet sometime and they will not be able to recoup the cost of the film if it goes to on demand…or at least that’s what they believe. Or that’s what they told me. I’m hoping that things go back to normal but what is normal? I burnt the toast. I scrape it into the trash. I eat the avocado. I make some coffee. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror looking kinda sexy in my grace jones t shirt and black panties. My nails have seen better days. My eyebrows are unkempt. My hair is now in a bob. I got bored last week and cut it and you know what they say: when a woman cuts her hair she’s in an unprecedented worldwide pandemic. I got bored and did a lot of things. I did a man. It wasn’t a good experience though. I was in love with him back in the day. He was so unattainable when I was on the come up, freelancing at the Source. He treated me like, eh you popping but not enough. Whatever. Then I came up and he was more than accessible. He was on me. Calling me all the time. Pushing to spend time. I’m like what happened to that dude that used to leave me on read? Alexa play “Back then” by Mike Jones. But for real…niggas.

He came over last Tuesday. Wait, Alexa what day is it? Alexa confirms it’s Tuesday, June 9th 2020. Day 2,345 of the apocalypse better known as stay at home orders. Oh where was I? Yeah, the too little,too late sex. So he came over last Tuesday still fine as ever, holding the largest flashiest bouquet of peonies I had ever seen. He’s a fire sign, he likes to grand stand. So anyway, he comes in. I tempt him with my chocolate raspberry cannibus infused brownies and some henny. 2 henny’s later we were on the couch making out. He went down on me for about an hour and I just realized that this flashback has had me staring at my coffee for 2 minutes and it’s gotten cold. I hate when that happens. I’ll spare you the dirty details just suffice it to say that it was amazing. Unfortunately, I kinda gave him an attitude and unfortunately, he liked it. Them fire signs…they love bitches. I was trying to turn him off because truth is I’m kinda turned off by him. He couldn’t see me back then but the glow up got em I guess. I don’t know…i'm petty like that. If you sleep on me, I’ll tuck you in. I know what you’re thinking, well Qwinn why did you sleep with him. Yes, my name is Qwinn. I’m the youngest of 5. Back to you though and your burning desire to know why. To that I say, a hit list is a hit list and he was on my hit list. The end. On to the next. I feel like he had his shot at my heart and he played me. So fuck him. But I’m a Libra, we are only attached to ourselves. Sounds cruel but it’s true. It’s 930am and I’ve been on my phone scrolling on twitter for the last hour. I haven’t posted since May 7th. No desire, no will to. Anonymous is back. That’s rad. Donald Trump is still tearing the country to shreds and covid 19 is still the topic of discussion….add to that a rash of police killings in America. Protesting, rioting and daily stand offs with the police in just about every major city across the country. I don’t even need to tell you who they’re killing cause you already know. It’s so depressing. I spent most of last week crying. Crying about all the things that happened and all the things that haven’t happened. On the verge of turning 40. No husband, no kids and a world in chaos. I never wanted a husband and kids. I wanted my career. Now I’m rethinking the family bit. I still have a period. I can still get pregnant. I mean, it would be a geriatric pregnancy but I can do it. Janet Jackson had a baby at 50. So, there’s hope for me. Right? Of course there is. Unless I get killed by a cop while I’m sleeping. Last Friday would have been Breonna Taylor’s 27th birthday. If I had of died at 27 I would have never lived to write my first film. It’s so jarring. Not that I hadn't attempted to seal my own fate at the age of 21. I was diagnosed with depression at 19.People with depression often hide in plain sight. In the worst of times, we go about our lives with canned responses, doing just enough to not ring any alarms because when you’re in the thick of it, the answer to everything is, ‘what’s the point?’

‘But, you. That’s the point. You.

‘These days depression is a part of my life, much like dieting. It’s an exercise in discipline.

‘Once every four or five months I’ll have one really tough day where it’ll feel like my entire life is going to hell. It’s in those moments where I evoke the emergency response part of myself that’s ready to remind me that I’m not having a bad life, just a bad day. Then I wait it out. Or if I can’t, I call someone.

‘More than anything I’ve learned there is no shame in simply saying, ”I need some help” or ”I’m having a tough time” or ”I just need to hear a friendly voice.” I’m human. And thankfully, so is everyone else. Humanity...what a predicament we've found ourselves in. To see all the white tears and guilt. The stiff necked, red necks. The neck of George Floyd. Crushed under the weight of the knee of an unrepentant cop for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. It’s 1230 and I haven’t done a damn thing but in my defense there’s nothing to do. I guess I could cry about the abortion I had in 12th grade. That kid would be an adult. A young adult but an adult all the same. I would have been a shitty mom. Too into my work. You have to sing to kids and make silly faces and shit right? I would have been no good at it then but maybe now. Hmmmm maybe with the fire sign? Maybe I’m already pregnant. I’m looking in the mirror now at the glob that is my waist. Sadly, I can’t use children as an excuse for my weight gain. Food is the culprit. It’s food. That and a sedentary lifestyle. I’m the writer chick. The writer chick is always fluffy. We just type shit and eat snacks all day. If I could exercise my body as much as I exercise my fingers typing, I’d be in the best shape of my life. Instead I just binge eat and throw up. It’s the Hollywood way. I’m supposed to be in London. Did I tell you that? I think I did. I wanted to direct an episode of Top Boy. I know Drake. I could have pushed for that but I’m shooting a romantic comedy. Well, possibly, if shit ever opens up again and the studio doesn’t shelf my project. Where was I? Oh Yes, another romantic comedy. This will be my second I’ve written and the first I’ve directed. I was excited about London but I’m completely unenthused about the genre. I want to do something gritty. Something like the Irishman but interesting. Shit, I shouldn’t have said that.

It’s 3pm and my phone has rang twice since Dad called. Bill collectors and my bank. My rent check bounced. I haven’t paid my rent in 2 months. I like everyone else am trying to figure shit out. In Hollywood you barely get paid for the jobs you work so you for sure don’t get paid for the jobs you don’t. I’m running out of money. I’m struggling with my diet. I’m depressed. I’m drinking too much. I’m quarantining. I'm in hell.

It’s 630pm and now I’m seriously considering ordering take out. Fuck it. We’re all gonna die right? I take out my computer to do some writing but I cant focus over the growling of my stomach. The thought of eating a covid-19 sandwich sends me into a tailspin. A call from my agent at 715pm. I didn’t answer but I’m sure I already know what he’s saying. It’s 730pm and I finally decide to forget about food. There’s a single k-pod of coffee in the kitchen. It’s Colombian, not fancy but it will do. It will have to.

It’s 753pm and I’m in my garage looking for a rope. My neighbors dog Stuart came padding in all confident like. I asked him to come back in an hour. He came back in exactly 50 minutes. Fucking rude.

It’s 855pm. I’ve been crying for an hour. I cried yesterday and the day before that and the day before that and yeah. Sheltering in place alone has been a hell zone for me. My anxiety is through the roof. Did I tell you that? If no one talks about the real shit, nothing ever changes. Every house has a different pandemic: The family of 5 in a 2 bedroom whose income just dropped. The family that’s lost all their elders or the single person just worried about their job. We’re all going through it. Let it out.

It’s 930pm and I’m really regretting not getting food. I’m in the mirror looking at my face. Makeup free, tear addled red eyes and a really big mouth. Hey, At least my teeth are nice. I’m being erased. Creative Strangulation. Ok. Note to self, stop listening to the voices in your head.

I found the rope and a ladder and an old piñata. I had bought it for a bachelorette party and forgot it at home. The piñata is shaped like a ring and it says I do. It’s actually really corny. I don’t know what I was thinking. I have a 2 story house. Strong banister. Top of the stairs overlooks the foyer. I wrote a letter for my Dad. Shit I forgot to call him back. It’s 1130 back home he’s probably asleep. I’ll…well I wont be able to call him tomorrow because I’ve decided to end it all. I’ve got my rope, my ladder and the piñata…that was just to throw you off . I never actually bought a ring pinata. Who would buy that? I just

didn’t want you to worry. But I have to say goodbye now. I’m in hell. It’s 1156pm June 9th. I was born at 1159 on June 9th 1980. Happy Birthday to me. I always say that it’s best when things come full circle. I wonder what my next life will be like. In closing I just want to say black lives matter…always.

Disclaimer: I am in no ways claiming to know how Jas Waters actually spent her last 24 hours on this dimension we call Planet Earth. I was however a fan of her life, her work and her flyness and she was a writer mentor to me that gave me hope that I too could navigate the unsettled waters that are Hollywood Writer's rooms. Her death had a lasting and profound effect on me so I strung together her last few months of tweets and tried to string together a story from the void she left behind. To all of those who knew and loved her I hope you read this with an open mind and a healed heart. If anyone is struggling with suicidal thoughts or depression please call he National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255

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