Shrimp and Cheesy Grits

Instead of going out to eat for lunch today, I decided to take a trip to Raley’s to buy groceries (Why is this store super expensive? You’re better off at Safeway or your nearest Super Walmart) I decided to make Southern Style Shrimp and Cheesy Grits. I’m a California girl but I love anything cooked the Southern way.

There are so many variations to this recipe, but I like my grits cheesy and creamy. If you’re like me, add an extra half cup of sharp cheddar cheese and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream to your grits. Some people even like their grits soupy. Not me. And if you’re allergic to shrimp, you can substitute the shrimp with strips of cooked seasoned chicken breast.

What is it like?

How is my day like? Or should I ask myself, “How is my life like?” The most common question I get is, “What is it like?” What is it like being mother of three? What is it like being a domestic violence survivor? What is it like being a mother of a brain cancer survivor? What is it like working with a radio show, while having a full time job and running your sneaker business?

“Crystal, do you know what being in love is like?”

In this post and future posts, I’m going to promise you that I will be my transparent self. I may ramble away so stop here if you don’t feel like reading an essay; keep going if you want to get to the juicy stuff (depends on what your level of juicy is lol)

I just finished watching a show on Amazon Prime called “Kids Behind Bars – Life or Parole?” I immediately stopped after the 3rd episode. The last episode was about a 15 year old black teen named Brandon Moore who committed a heinous kidnapping and rape back in 2001 on a white woman and was sentenced to 100 years in prison. Then later resentenced to 50 years in prison minus the credit spent in prison, which means, he will be released when he is 65 years old.

100 years in prison at 15 years old. Un-fucking-believable. That’s literally life in prison.

After listening to Moore’s apology during his re-sentencing hearing, I felt a little sorry for him but I also felt an immense heartache for his victim. Rape is serious. Kidnapping is freaking scary. Anything forceful on a young woman is serious. Which leads me to share something from my past that I haven’t shared publicly until now.

I ran as fast as I could.

In middle school I was bullied. I was called “Crusty Crystal” in the 6th grade because I had chapped lips, I didn’t have the coolest outfits because my parents didn’t make a lot of money, and I was very shy. The only real memories I have from my 6th grade year was the bullying and my last day of school – someone threw a shoe at my face and I had to go to school with a swollen lip. I didn’t want everyone to make fun of me so I stayed to myself with a hood on. I remember sitting on the bench alone, hiding my swollen lip, watching my classmates play kickball. The next two years of middle school wasn’t as bad. But I swear “Crusty Crystal” stuck with me until I graduated 8th grade.

I refused to be bullied again so I chose to become a bad ass and began to wild out. Running away from home, hanging out with the wrong set of friends, sneaking into an 18 and up club. I thought I was being cool. Until I took another wrong turn.

Christmas in the 80s

I was 17 years old trying to be grown and sexy. Rockin halter tops, booty tight flared polyester pants and my dark hair was down to my waist. I wore a metal cuff around my upper arm and huge hoop earrings. It’s 2021 and I’m debating on bringing back the arm cuffs! They were so cute! Anyway, I began to hang out with this Asian girl – I forgot her name (I don’t want to remember her name) but I do remember her face. She looked like Mr. Burns twin (The Simpsons) and she was one year older than me. So I’m going to refer her as Ms. Burns. LOL. Her parents gave her a car and she would pick me up from my house to go party. She introduced me to this older black man. He was about 5’7, in his mid 40’s, and had a receding hairline. He offered me an opportunity to become an “Exotic Dancer” and that I would make a lot of money – like thousands of dollars. Ms. Burns also convinced me to do it because she was going to “dance” too. Later on, she brought me to that man’s house somewhere in Antioch, CA. Next thing you know, I was stuck in this man’s house for a few days. That few days turned into a week. That week turned into almost a month! At the time I wasn’t trippin because Ms. Burns was staying with me, I was being fed, and taken care of. That man continued to promise me that I would start “dancing” soon. But never told me when. Each day that passed, I started to miss my family and desperately wanted to go home. But Ms. Burns refused to take me home or she was always too drunk to drive. One night, the guy began to make sexual advances at me, he tried to force me to wear lingerie (supposedly his ex-wife’s lingerie) and “model” for him. When I refused, he began to yell at me, threatening to hurt me if I didn’t follow his orders. I found every excuse in the book not to do what I was told. Then pretended to sleep. That was the moment where I realized that I was being held against my will and needed to find a way to escape.

The next morning, Ms. Burns suddenly wanted to go to her house to pick up more clothes. I decided to roll with her because there was NO WAY that I would stay in that house alone with that man. Plus this was my only way to leave the house. Everything else after the fact happened so fast. We were in the car and got into a huge argument which turned physical. I don’t recall what sparked up the argument, but I remember fighting her off, me swinging my fist at her, then jumping out of a moving car. I got up and I ran as fast as I could. She sped off and that was the last time I ever saw her. I was saved by a good Samaritan who helped me get home. I will never forget that day.

As a teen, I didn’t know what signs to look out for in a human trafficker. I was naive, believed the words from anyone who showed me an ounce of care. I had no clue that I was walking into a situation that nearly put my life in danger. Sometimes I think of the “What ifs” What if I didn’t jump out of the car? What if I stayed behind with that man? God had my back that day and I can’t thank God enough for helping me open my eyes.

“I don’t want my children to follow in my footsteps. I want them to take the path next to me and go further than I could have ever dreamt possible.”

So what is it like to live everyday with a painful past?

Now that I have two daughters, I always make sure to give them the attention they deserve and support them through everything. Because that was what I lacked when I was a teen – for almost a month, no one else cared enough to find me. I used to be angry about it, yet I knew that remaining angry wouldn’t get me nowhere. Plus holding in anger is unhealthy for your heart. We’re only born with one heart. The key: Forgiveness.

PIMPOLOGY: The 48 Laws of the Game

KNOW THE SIGNS

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