Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Misapplication of the Golden Rule


Image by Ivan Prole

Last year, I had a rude awakening about celebrating people and events. It came not long after planning a week full of thoughtful festivities for my boyfriend’s birthday.

I sent him a verse from seven songs via email, verses that had been painstakingly handpicked for their significance and formatted to read like poetry.

Subject Line: Kissing You
I can stand a thousand trials
the strong
will never fall.
but watching stars without you,
my soul cries.

I then presented him with a CD of the songs in their entirety (purchased from iTunes), each sung by a female artist in first person (you know, as if I was singing it myself). For some of the songs, like “You are the Sunshine of My Life,” I scoured the universe to locate a suitable female version. I bought three or four different Hoops and Yoyo talking birthday cards and hid them for him to find throughout the week. Procured tickets to The Color Purple. And slow cooked ribs all afternoon for his birthday dinner.

Turns out the guy was more interested in Hoops and YoYo and ribs than my heartfelt CD and an award-winning Broadway musical. I was privately perturbed that my swoon-worthy efforts had been in vain.

It wasn’t until some time later that I realized the issue was mine, not his. The lesson came during a sermon in which my minister said, “You have to love people the way they want to be loved, not the way you want to be loved.”

Click.

I had planned a poetic, emotional, flowery birthday fest---ideal for me.

We tend to apply the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” in areas we shouldn’t, such as gift giving. We say, “I would like this, so my friend/Mom/Dad/sister/brother would like this.” Or we think because something is expensive, exclusive, or highly regarded that anyone would appreciate it. Believe it or not, there are plenty of folks out there that can afford a Mercedes but prefer a Camry.

I'm not a purse woman. Don’t think I’ve owned a bag that cost more than $20. Therefore, a friend that goes overboard buying me a pricey purse would be sorely disappointed to discover I can’t tell the difference between a limited-edition Louis and one of Bobo’s bootlegs.

In other words, it’s possible to go the extra mile...in the wrong direction.

It’s not just a lesson for the holidays, but every day. Love people the way they want to be loved. And who knows, you might even save a couple dollars.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Film Connect: For Colored Girls



Thoughts, just thoughts...

For Colored Girls is grisly.  It’s a tough movie full of characters making tough decisions living tough lives.   Yet there’s beauty in the poetry.  There’s beauty in the progress.  There is no happy ending, but many of the women are beginning to realize their worth as they take turns on a rooftop proclaiming the divinity of their love:

“My love is too MAGIC to be thrown back in my face!”
“My love is too SATURDAY NIGHT to be thrown back in my face!”

Many folks were nervous about director Tyler Perry turning Ntozake Shange's 1975 poetic play, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Was Enuf into a movie.  Some were concerned about the change in genre, but most were concerned about Perry’s ability to do it justice.

I’ve never seen the play.  If I had, maybe I could understand the discontent I’ve read by different reviewers.  But as a standalone work, I think Perry did an overall good job...which is unfortunately not usually the case with his films (but I do enjoy the plays!).

Perry tends to be heavy handed with the exposition; his characters often tell instead of show.  In this film, the one scene where this stands out is when Janet Jackson (Jo) confronts her husband in the whole “who’s bending over who” conversation. The scene works until the husband says something to the effect of “I’m just a man who enjoys having sex with men.”  The line is artificial coming from this guy. He wouldn't have said that.  Plus, we already know that, so it's just unnecessary.

Thandie Newton’s character, Tangie,  is by far the most interesting. In one scene she brings a  man home from the bar and he mistakes her for a prostitute . When she tells him that’s not her profession, he catches us by surprise when he bursts into laughter, seriously smashing up Tangie's ego. Her embarrassment is tangible.

Another intriguing moment is the one in which Whoopi Goldberg’s character, Alice, enters her overstuffed apartment where hoarded boxes are piled up to the ceiling. Alice scans the clutter as she makes her way through, quickly eyeballing each item.  She finds something out of place and chastises her teenage daughter, “I don’t like when you move my things.”  It’s a small line, a tiny moment, but Whoopi's character is so tense and convincing that I felt sorry for her not knowing the whereabouts of her "things."

Another curious scene takes place when Gilda admonishes a depressed Crystal, telling her she must take some responsibility for the demise of her children.  On one hand, I appreciate the character’s honesty; most people, even good friends, are rarely able to be that frank with each other.  But I questioned the timing of Gilda’s tough love talk.  It’s obvious Crystal was still steeped in despair and potentially unstable.  The accountability lecture could've waited.

For Colored Girls is not just for “colored” girls, of course. It’s worth checking out for anyone who doesn’t mind leaving the theater with misty eyes and a runny nose.

Additional Notes:

  • Does Kimberly Elise have to cry in every role?
  • Phylicia Rashad is regal in everything, even a shabby apartment on the fifth floor.
  • Loretta Devine plays “regular black lady that lives around the corner” to the T.
  • Macy Gray plays off-center quite well.  Not sure she’s acting...



And oh yeah, they can go ahead and give me this dress...




Thursday, September 2, 2010

Unhappy to Be Nappy

Image by Viktors Kozers
When I ceased perming my hair a year or so ago, I envisioned my natural mane as soft and sweet as little girls’ ponytails on Easter Sunday.

The awakening has been rude.

Supposedly my grandmother was part Indian, however that part is non-existent in the six inches of wiry thickness springing from my follicles. When I stumbled into this whole “going natural” thing, I wasn’t expecting to wake up to the Serengeti on top of my head every day. I wasn't ready for the theme song of Lion King to hum softly every time I passed a mirror.

Somewhere in my imagination, I fantasized my scalp giving birth to wavy, obedient hair that allowed me to sleep without tying my head up, jog in 95 degree humidity, take a dip in the pool, wash, and ride out.

Where would I get such a radical idea?

Blame Essence and every black women's magazine, Web site, and blog that uses words like “tendrils,” “bouncy,” “coils,” and “curly” to describe natural hair. “This” (picture me grabbing two fistfuls of Fro-ville) is not “curly.” The boy from High School Musical? His hair is curly. Let's just call mine what it is....nappy.

I feel hoodwinked. Bamboozled. Run a muck.

For the record, I don’t mind intentional nappiness and/or a fro...every now and then. Even with a perm, my hair has always been versatile enough to wash and air-dry to create cute wavy big hair. It’s a style I’ve been known to rock occasionally, particularly when in need of a touch up; it's a great way to take advantage of new growth.

But when it comes to doing hair, I'm cheap and have ADHD. Which means I have little patience for doing my own and I'm not willing to pay anyone else hundreds of dollars to manage it on a regular basis. And so, I've continued my longstanding support of many Korean families with my purchases of convenient synthetic accoutrement.

But with sisters praising going natural as if unpermed black hair was the secret to good credit, finding a man, and losing weight, I figured I'd give it a try. After all, I love the way it looks. However, I was misinformed about what it takes to achieve that look.

My “oh snap” moment came one day recently during a conversation with a cousin whose wavy natural I admired.

“How do you get your hair like that?” I asked.

Cousin: Well, I condition it every day—
Me: You wash your hair every day!
Cousin: No, no, no. I rinse it and condition it every day. Then I smooth on gel section by section. Then I let it air dry.
Me: And you have to do this...every day?
Cousin: Well you don’t have to do it every day, but it gets bigger the more days you don’t do it.
Me: Sigh. I just want it to be low maintenance, you know? I don’t want to get up and do hair every day.

Then my cousin said something so simple, so profound.

“Listen, our hair is not low maintenance.”

Surely she squinted from the light bulb that illuminated atop my head. I had been chasing the puddle of gel in the middle of the desert, shrouded by a cloud of oil sheen.

Maybe chopping it low is truly the only way to achieve low maintenance.   

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Experiment: 24 Hours in New Orleans

No luggage.  No lodging.  Just livin'...24 hours straight in the Big Easy Essence Fest weekend.


7:58 am Friday July 2, 2010 Land at Louis Armstrong International Airport, the only airport named after a jazz musician. Might be the only one named after a musician period. I’ve been napping upright off and on since this journey began before dawn 3 ½ hours ago. I’ve got a slight headache and probably need a mint. But I’m rested.

 8:45 am The world’s friendliest cab driver (his name is Luis) has been telling us stories about his family and the city since we left the airport. I love the stories. I ask him to drop me and Candice off in the Marigny, an area I had not explored in my previous three trips to New Orleans. I’d heard, read, watched, and listened to so many wonderful things about the French Quarter adjacent neighborhood that I had to get a taste.

We’re standing in front of La Peniche, anticipating some Cajun breakfast. Sign on the door, “It’s vacation time! Closed until July 15.” Goodness…these folks know how to break! No worries. We stroll on.

8:59 am At the Marigny Brasserie. Corner of Royal and Frenchmen. I place an order for the Bayou omelet (crawfish, green onions, havarti cheese). Many of the dishes feature crawfish on this menu…crawfish quesadilla, crawfish cakes, crawfish dressing…

10:44 am I just spent the last ten minutes speaking to a vendor at the French Market (outdoor flea market). He was selling homemade coasters with pictures of local eccentricities and telling me wonderful stories about Ernie K-Doe, and how he (the vendor) had his bachelor party at the Mother-in-Laws. The guy has a great accent. And I did buy two coasters from him. Really appreciated listening to him.

11:04 am Still in the French Market. Just bought some magnetized hematite jewelry. Also bought another bracelet, all for $10. Told Candice that we have to not look at anything else because the money spending has been happening too close together.

11:09 am Sippin’ on a hurricane from the Gazebo Café near the French Market.

11:42 am Buy $4.89 worth of Mississippi Mud from Laura’s Candy Factory, established 1913. The black woman working in the shop said she is not Laura, she is Laura’s helper. She’s also wearing a platinum blonde wig.

11:48 am Tossed out half of the hurricane. It’s 90-something degrees out here. Heat and alcohol don’t mix.


12:01 pm Walk past Keith Sweat in the Hilton. Looking a lot better than when we saw him at Essence 2007.


12:04 pm Sitting outside the bathroom inside of the Hilton Riverside waiting for Candice. It’s been about four hours since we’ve been in New Orleans. And so far it’s been good. If there was anything that I would complain about—or not even to really complain about but—it’s muggy and it’s warm and it’s hot out. But then again, it’s July, so what was I expecting? So, but it’s good. We’re not miserable at all. We just gotta balance walking around outside with walking through the casino or the hotel or a restaurant where it’s nice and air conditioned.

We’re about to head over to the Riverside Mall. Catch up on some beignets and then we’ll probably walk on down to the convention center. Taking our time getting down there. No big rush. That’s how it is here. Take your time.

12:30 pm Beignets and milk at Café du Monde in Riverside Marketplace.


12:55 pm First “Who dat” reference.

1:05 pm Jumped by makeup promotional team in the Marketplace. Girl did one eyebrow. Said she’d do the other for $7. We left.

1:15 pm Arrive at the convention center for free Essence activities.


1:23 pm Cupid is on one of the stages, leading folks through a live performance of “Cupid Shuffle.”

1:25 pm Dancing to a brass band onstage across from Cupid.

1:38 pm Second “who dat” reference, this time from the brass band’s version of “Saints.”


2:45 pm Keith Sweat is on one of the many stages inside the convention center, giving one heck of a show. He looks good with meat on him.


4:11 pm Essence seminar about love and relationships. Panelists include Hill Harper, Lamman Rucker…and Mr. Marcus. Yes, Mr, Marcus. And he did have his hat and some sneakers on…


5:53 pm Savoring bread pudding at Mulate’s with my eyes closed. Decadence on a plate.

6:40 pm Hanging out on Bourbon Street—sippin’, dancin’, people watchin’.

8:25 pm Some acquaintances are having a get together “off the strip” on Barracks. I know where Barracks is, so we decide to walk there. We’re strolling along, not realizing we’ve wandered out of the Quarter and into Treme, which was cool, just didn’t realize that’s where we were…till we hit Treme Street. Buddy said they were right off the strip…what strip?

8:27 pm “Y’all walkin’? Oh I thought y’all would’ve taken a cab. That’s too far to walk,” my contact says over the cell phone. “Well you said it was right off the strip.” “I meant, off-off the strip.”


8:33 pm Trying to find a cab in Treme is not an easy task.

8:40 pm We’ve been sitting on somebody’s stoop for the last several minutes. No cab. Decide to walk up a few blocks to where this seems more feasible.


8:55 pm Finally catch a cab off Claiborne. Funny, I recognize this overpass from the Treme HBO series.


8:56 pm The cab driver doesn’t know where Barracks is. I, the visitor, the one who liveth not here, has to direct him.

9:05 pm “So you’re gonna knock a couple dollars off this cab fare, right? All these U-turns…”

9:15 pm Finally find our destination. Tell the cabbie to pick us up at 10 to take us to the Superdome for the Janet Jackson concert.

9:30 pm Chillin’ with some very hospitable folks.

10:00 pm No cabbie.

10:05 pm No cabbie.


10:10 pm Hop in the car with one of the folks, who will drop us at the Superdome.


10:33 pm Arrive at Superdome.

10:55 pm Finally in our $200 floor seats. Not as close as I thought.


11:39 pm Janet takes the stage.

12:20 am Saturday July 3, 2010 No Michael Jackson tribute yet, and my $200 seats in the mid back of the orchestra ain’t feelin’ worth the money. Not because of her performance but because I still have to rely on a Jumbotron…with $200 seats!

12:31 am Okay…for me, a good concert is when I can get something that I can’t get from the CD or a video. And so far, I ain’t gettin’ that from Janet.

1:05 am Some wild, orgy mess is going down onstage.


1:23 am “Rhythm Nation.” Is she gonna do every song she’s got? (Okay, so I’m not the biggest JJ fan in the world…just wanted the superstar concert experience...)


1:30 am “Together Again” performance featuring pics of Janet and Michael together. Nice, subtle tribute. Not what I was expecting, but appropriate nonetheless.


1:38 am Show over.

2:08 am Walk past street fest on Loyola on Poydras. I’d really like to hit up Snug Harbor and Frenchmen Street and hear some jazz but it’s late and my companion is rapidly losing her will to keep  her eyes open. In other words, now ain’t the time to try new-to-me spots. Need a sure-thing for the next couple hours. Back to Bourbon Street.

3:24 am Dancing to the live band inside Sing Sing… ”Stir it Up,” “I’ll Take You There.” The little blonde sistah’s band is here again. Love them.


3:45 am “Purple Rain.” I’m officially happy. Again.

5:28 am Eating pancakes and mozzarella sticks inside a packed IHOP on Canal.


5:53 am Leaving IHOP. The sun is coming up.


6:15 am Catch a cab to the airport.

8:30 am Fly out of New Orleans.

My thoughts on the staying awake for 24-hours, guerilla traveling with nothing but a tote bag adventure? Overall, it was cool. The day was rich and dense without being rushed, which is what I was going for. An Essence Fest/New Orleans sampler.


I actually didn’t get sleepy. However, if I get the itch for an abbreviated Essence Music Fest trip again, I would do it a little differently. The day would start later, not with me flying out of Orlando at 5:30 am. More like noon. Hit the ground about 2 pm and basically keep the schedule the same from there. Since I envision many extended trips to N.O. in my future, a quickie here and there ain’t bad.

Read these too!
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry...Christmas in New Orleans

Friday, June 25, 2010

Michael, Janet, Pac, and Black Music Month

Bettye LaVette...gettin' it. (Image courtesy of www.bettyelavette.com)

Well, I've got to get my 10 cents in before Black Music Month 2010 is history. So here's a hodge podge of  what's been on my mind musically:


The Jacksons


Exactly one week from today, I'll be attending what I believe to be the first Janet Jackson concert since Michael passed away a year ago today. I had no idea the dates were so close.


This time last year, I was driving home from work, holding my breath, waiting for Michael Baisden to give the update. When the news came, so did the tears. If you missed my post, check out "The King Has Left the Building."


The decision to go see Janet this year at the Essence Music Festival was spontaneous. I never really thought about going to see her perform. I've never owned a Janet Jackson album. I've never had a JJ cut blasting in my car with the windows down. A couple of her songs were hot, "Again,""Come Back to Me," and the one she did with Busta Rhymes. But other than that, the whispery, unintelligible lyrics of her songs don't speak to me.


Yet, she's a member of the most famous musical family in the world and in her own right, has spent decades building a sexy, mysterious, brazen, and often imitated persona. It's the stuff of legend, which is reason enough for me to check out her show.


On the Relevance of Tupac


"June 1-6-7-1, the day mama pushed me out her womb, told me n***a get paid..."


Just a couple weeks ago on June 16, a friend inquired on my Facebook wall, about my lack of Happy Birthday Tupac shout out. I remembered his birthday was coming up for days, so it wasn't negligence. The shout out just wasn't something I was going to go out of my way to do, as I have done in the past.


I fell in love with hip hop in the 90s when "Dear Mama" came out. I had it on cassette tape single, back when singles used to come in little cardboard sleeves and cost 99 cents. For the next ten years or so, I repped Tupac and everybody knew it. I remember where I was when he died, and I was one of those people that connected the dots between songs and album covers to prove that maybe, just maybe, he was chillin' on an island in the Pacific. I loved that he was a poet. I loved that he was sensitive. It made him different from other rappers.


In high school, I bought a black light responsive poster made out of felt that said, "2Pac Forever." It displayed one of Pac's darkest poems, "In the Event of My Demise." That poster has been displayed everywhere I've lived since I was 18. Last weekend, I rolled it up so I could use the frame for something else.


I don't want to say it's because I've matured, because listening to Pac, or hip hop in general, does not make one immature. There's a lot of talent in the rap game. I still nod my head and sing the lyrics to "How Do You Want It," "I Get Around," and "Keep Your Head Up" when those songs bump through the speakers. And on rough days at work, I sometimes put on my headphones, block out the world, and blast "Krazy" from the Makaveli album.


For me, I've simply diversified my portfolio, altered my diet. More instruments, less ignorance. More poetry, less profanity. More beauty, less booty.


More Music Miscellany...


Concerts Attended in the Last 6 Months


Aretha Franklin
I've made it my business to see the senior set of performers whenever I can. After all, we just don't know how long these folks are gonna be around. But listen, there's nothing about Ms. Franklin that says she's got one foot in the grave. At 68 years old, girlfriend had her long weave blowing in the breeze and cracked jokes about watching Maxwell perform and playfully regretting that she wasn't wearing any panties to toss onstage during his show.

And of course, she's still got the voice.


Bettye LaVette
I first learned of Bettye LaVette at least 5 or 6 years ago while watching an HBO program filmed at Morgan Freeman's Ground Zero blues club in Mississippi. Freeman interviewed various blues musicians and each musician performed a set. I remembered how Ms. LaVette said as a teenager, she just couldn't sit down and accept a formal education. She wanted to sing. There's something about that whole blues scene--that smoky little hole in the wall club, slow draggin' patrons, the raspy notes, the emotion, the "my baby left me's," the smooth talkers--that I find intriguing. And at 64, Ms. LaVette was swinging her hips and showing us all that you can still be 60 and sexy.




CDs Bought in the Last 6 Months


Robin Thicke "Sex Therapy"
Stanley Turrentine "Look Out"
Grant Green "Green Street"




I would drive 500 miles to see...


Prince
Sade


I would drive 10 miles to see...


Erykah Badu (again)
Jay-Z (again)
Lionel Richie (again)
Wynton Marsalis

Related Articles

"For the Love of Music"

Monday, June 14, 2010

Find You Find Love: The Desire for Desires

www.deviantart.com


“Boredom: the desire for desires”

-Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy


  
11.  What bores you? What always bores you? And what never bores you?
(See the Find You, Find Love post for context.)
 


Ummm...I don't get bored.

Seriously.


I've actually known this for a long time and have expressed it to other people. I've got 99 problems and boredom ain't one. Doesn't mean I'm enamored by mandatory meetings, excited about traffic, or riveted by lengthy lines and long-winded speeches. When in a situation I can't leave, my brain snaps into daydream mode (which for me is a very satisfying pastime, considering there's an ongoing plenary discussion inside my head).

But as far as sitting at home, bored...with good health, a vehicle, a TV, a cell phone, a pile of books, an appetite, and a handful of unfinished crafty projects?

Does not compute.

“The cure for boredom is curiosity," Ellen Parr said. Apparently folks left curiosity behind in their youth, back when we made up games to play alone or with friends, back when we explored the backyard and the attic, searching for nothing but the thrill of discovery, back when a long bike ride was the treasure of a summer day.


In fact, when people declare their boredom, I would imagine it's like a slap in the face to God, like saying, "I'm alive and I have no idea what to do with myself." It's ungrateful. How many people are rotting in their graves who would have wished for a few more days above ground, while you're bored with life?

The chief offenders—no disrespect to the senior set--are the bored retirees. My head refuses to wrap around the idea of money in the bank, freedom to spend my time as I please, and not loving every second of it. Are we so conditioned to being told what to do for 40-plus hours a week that we can't entertain ourselves? Retirement is wasted on the retired.

"Children that spend their whole day being taxied from one organized play date to another organized baseball game, they never learn that they can have experiences unmediated by adults," said author Ayelet Waldman in an interview with Terry Gross. “I am kind of terrified about the idea of a world governed by these people who've never had to govern themselves." While Waldman is talking about modern-day childhood, her point can apply to adults who don't use their resources and imagination to satisfy their own time.


Karolvig Viggo Mortensen said it best: "There's no excuse to be bored. Sad, yes. Angry, yes. Depressed, yes. Crazy, yes. But there's no excuse for boredom, ever.”


You will also surely enjoy:
"Find You, Find Love:  Till Death Do Us Part...No Murder Involved"
"Worth the Woo"

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Usher, We Need to Talk

Usher and Tameka Raymond...all smiles.

"There goes my babbyyyyyy..." Usher croons on his new album.

When a man is singing, most of us girls imagine he's singing to someone special, if not us. Good singers make this possible by caressing you into believing every note. Which is why I cringe hearing anything by Usher these days.

I believed him before he got married, when he honorably defended his decision to wed his stylist in the summer of 2007. She was an older woman, a woman with kids, thickness, and chocolate skin. "No one or nothing can change, forever yours here I stand" he sang on the Here I Stand album, released the following summer.

One year later, in the summer of 2009 (What's with the summer motif, Ush?), he filed for divorce.

Now, I'm not one of those celebrity-obsessed folks who governs my mood by the breakups and makeups of people that don't even know I exist, but I was disappointed. Goodness, two years? Can you really say you gave it an honest try after only two years?

So no, I'm not ready for "You don't know how good it feels to call you my girl...there goes my babyyyyy..."

I don't want to hear a song about the next woman. It's too soon. And for a long while, I'm not going to believe any lovey dovey, I-wanna-be-with-you-stuff that comes out of Usher's mouth.

So, I wonder, do these sentiments translate to dating a divorcée? If I've dated a divorced man, the divorce wasn't recent. It isn't a deal breaker, but if things got serious, I might be a little wary of the relationship. Regardless of the details surrounding the divorce, the fact is that this is a man who told somebody that she was the one and meant it. He pledged vows to a woman and to God...and walked away.

Therefore, if I was involved with a divorcée, despite the situation being in the past, we'd have to go there. For me. I'd have to explore the thought process this man went through to get to what I hope is considered a last resort. Did he go into his marriage viewing divorce as a viable option? Did they go through counseling? Had he stuck around another year, would that have made a difference?

He'd have to be comfortable enough to revisit the topic until I'm comfortable enough to accept it. I'd need to figure out if marriage is something this guy takes lightly, like sending back the so-so spinach dip in exchange for chicken fingers.

As for Mr. Raymond, I may end up buying another album someday. Or at the very least, I won't break a nail changing the station when his songs comes on.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sewing the Wild (Bank) Notes


Art by Svilen Milev

A Facebook friend posted a status a while ago I'll never forget:  “I just paid $900 to fix the old Civic so that my daughter could have it when she starts driving next year.  My wife needs $350 to pay registration for a conference.  I look forward to the  day when my money is mine.”

He's a middle-aged man with a wife and three kids.  In other words,  his money will never be his.  While his lamentation is unrealistic to the point of laughable, and could have very well been in jest, how many married men and women experience that same thought?  Here you are with more  money than you've ever had in your life, with more people grabbing at it than you've ever had in your life.  I imagine there's an occasional pang of “Man, if I had this kind of money when I was single, boy oh boy...”

Earnings typically increase with age; so for folks that marry in their mid or early twenties, by the time they set about creating serious cash, they're surrounded by responsibilities with Social Security numbers.

Which makes it kind of nice to be 28 and marriage-free right now.  In recent months I've been seduced by the success of a much needed financial paradigm shift, triggered by my own will to change. And I'm proud of myself, particularly since I did what I had to do without a husband's income. I guess this is what  Beyonce and 'nem were singing about on that Charlie's Angel track.

I adore handling my own with "just" faith in God and a measure of motivation.  If I'm so blessed to marry someday, I'll appreciate this time when I went at it solo, a time when I managed my 500 square foot palace, a chariot, and a miniature assortment of bills and investments with a reasonable amount of finesse.  A time of grown up responsibility, but also a time of indulgence with the freedom to jet-set across the world, no spousal consultation or babysitter required.

After paying off a couple credit cards, saving some dough, and buying a few stocks, I'm buzzed in a way Cabernet can't do me.  And well, I wouldn't mind doing this for a while.  Just me.

So to minimize the possibility of ending up like my woeful Facebook friend, I gotta do it, do it, do it till I'm satisfied.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Risky Business

Photo by Jeff Hallam

"All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it's impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively. Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer."


— Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince


It's just so dense. The idea that everything is risky, that there's no such thing as no risk. An action that, by all reasonable standards, is considered safe, is risky if for nothing more than missing out on the opportunities available by not choosing the alternative. You can maintain $10,000 in a savings account earning 1% interest instead of investing in the stock market, but you risk missing out on millions. It's "safe" to keep your day job, but you risk forfeiting your dreams.


"Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer." The strength to suffer...a paradox echoed every day in every way. One of man's greatest attributes is the ability to adapt. Yet, it's often the undercurrent of a subpar life. I mean, it's fabulous to make lemons out of lemonade, to finesse the best of less than ideal situations. But the risk of that strength to suffer is loss of ambition. Loss of stride, pride.


I'm all for looking at the glass as half full. But I have to be careful that while maintaining a positive attitude I don't lose sight of reality. Harriet Tubman famously said, "If I could have convinced more people that they were slaves, I could have freed thousands more."


Many of the slaves that didn't try to escape were afraid of the consequences of getting caught, and for good reason. But how many scores of slaves didn't try because they had OD'd on silver linings and half-full glasses, so much so that plantation life didn't seem all that bad?


We work for bosses that don't respect us for decades. We live in neighborhoods riddled with drugs and poverty for generations. We terrorize our bodies with unnecessary weight and unhealthy foods for a lifetime. We dive into debt, credit card after credit card, loan after loan, to the point that our creditors have their own ringtones.


Strength to suffer.


I've got to live in a way that is more offense than defense, more action than reaction, more of what I desire and less of what I'm simply tolerating. To do otherwise is a risk I don't want to take.



Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Film Connect: Twilight



Story


Silly girl falls for ashen otherworldly he's-so-bad-for-you guy.  An American tale.  The story of many women's lives.  

Context Going In

I've never gotten into the vampire genre, but with my free Netflix trial, I figure, what the heck.  Let's see what all the hoopla's about.  A former co-worker tried to help me understand the appeal of a neck-biting centurion adolescent and why she'd seen the movie several times, preordered the DVD, read the books, and owned Twilight memorabilia.  


The closest I can relate to being  even remotely excited about a vampire was the shag rockin' Eddie Murphy in Vampire in Brooklyn.  But I doubt they even made T-shirts for that flick.

Impressions

"We shouldn't be friends," Edward informs Bella in the school cafeteria.  

Okay, I was flowing with the story up until this point.  I haven't been to the bathroom.  I'm not even on the Internet.  When did this "friendship" happen.  They worked together in biology, chatted in the hallway. Now they're friends?  Kids, I tell ya.

Then Bella gets all aggressive with the questions.  You saved my life by halting a car with your bare hand?  You owe me answers! 

Bella's onto Edward's underworldly secret, the reason why he's so fast, so powerful, so ashy.  He  confesses.

"Ask me the most basic question...what do we eat,"  Edward says.  Hmmm, is that really the most basic question?  Because if I was alone in a foggy forest with a vampire, that wouldn't be the first question to come to my mind.   

Edward:  You need to see what I look like in the sunlight.  (*Eye roll*)

Bella:  It's like diamonds.  You're beautiful.  (*Eye roll*)

Award for Most Asinine Conversation I've Heard in a Long Time, Real or Imaginary:

Edward:  I'm a killer.
Bella:  I don't believe that.
Edward:  It's because you believe the lie, the camouflage.  I'm the world's most dangerous predator...I'm designed to kill."

Wait for it, wait for it...

Bella:  I don't care.

Oh snap!  Nobody told me Twilight was a comedy!  Oh oh, there's more!

Edward:  I've killed people before.
Bella:  It doesn't matter.

*gasp, shriek, hyperventilating laughter*

I'm all for the Hollywood love story of undying (pun intended) passion, but this is ludicrous.  The relationship develops out of nowhere.  No build.  Cotton candy dialogue.  Not believable.

However, vampire baseball featuring ultra powered beings is a vividly monochrome slow motion moment of cool, which only lasts a sliver of time. 

***

I smirked through Twilight not because I'm too old to appreciate teenage infatuation with really bad things, but because the movie serves more cheese than Kraft.    It's as weak as a deer in the meadow, clutched betwixt Edward's perfect teeth.   Much of the dialogue would feature well in a vampire spoof movie...no additional jokes required. 



TWILIGHT

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Paradox


the definition of restless:
I sit at this desk
stare at this screen
gaze out this window
and dream
of a life that is mine 
not only on the weekend.


the definition of guilt:
I hear legions
of countrymen 
yearning to 
sit at a desk
stare at a screen
gaze out a window
and get paid in the process.


is it possible
to be grateful
yet
dissatisfied?


- Faith M. (aka me)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Still Proud





 
One year ago today, I stood with more than two million people in biting cold to witness the inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama.  That morning Washington, D.C. surpassed Disney World as the most magical place on Earth...in a Twilight Zone kind of way.  The multitudes of people were eerily quiet heading to the National Mall.  It's like everybody was in awe or disbelief, or maybe we were just taking it all in.

But human beings tend to have short memories.  We get used to things.  We're quickly jaded.  We go on about our business and our lives.  But occasionally when I see Obama on TV, I still myself, and think about the historical significance of this presidency.  I listen to his words, note his stature.

And one year later, I'm still proud.

Read:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Find You, Find Love: 'Til Death Do Us Part...No Murder Involved


Image by Allie Hylton



Check out the Find You, Find Love post for context.

17.  Does the idea of being married to the same person for the rest of your life sound appealing to you or not so appealing?  What is it about it that you especially like or not like?

Even though my parents divorced and most of the married couples I know closely would rather be on the moon than in their marital unions, I still find it appealing.  

What I find most appealing is being able to love and do for a man without (in theory) worrying about his motives and true feelings.  

It means being “all in,” which you can't do with every Ronnie, Ricky, and Mike.   When you're single and dating, you have to watch your back.  And while dating can be fun, it incurs a heaping dose of caution.  It's riding a bike with a helmet and knee pads, swimming with a life vest.  You can never truly let your guard down.  

So yeah, I do look forward to being in a relationship where I can give all of me and not worry about feeling stupid because he doesn't feel the same way.

[Delect Inject: Okay, just feel the need to say this.  I'm aware that husbands make wives feel stupid too.  And yes, I know marriage is not a walk in the park.  No rose-colored glasses here, folks (see first sentence of this column).]

What I especially don't like about the idea of being married is for a man to feel obligated to be with me.  

I'm not into making people do what they don't want to do, whether it's loaning me money or giving me a ride.  (That's why I sucked at telemarketing.)  I'm quick to say, "You know what?  Don't worry about it," if I detect too much hesitation.  Maybe it's pride.

When it comes to relationships, I've grown to the point where if the other party is no longer interested, I won't stand in his way to leave.  I just don't feel I need to force someone to be with me.  

"And I don't want to make you unhappy/If you're not happy than you're free to go on/'Cause I don't want you stayin' around/If I make you so miserable." 

-Fantasia "Free Yourself"

I don't want a man sticking around because he fears I'm going to burn up his clothes, scratch up his car, slice off his penis, or worse, kill him or myself.  In other words, I'd try to make it as smooth as possible for him to exit if that is his wish.

By no means am I saying I can't work through problems.  People that know me know I'm as diplomatic and let's-sit-down-and-talk-about-our-feelings-Dr. Phil-style as they come.  It's a Libra thing.

But in the event my husband resigns to staying in the marriage out of obligation...because he doesn't believe in divorce or because of the kids or for any other reason besides the love he has for me...I'd have to seriously overhaul my mentality to deal with that.