Friday, December 10, 2010

"She's Simple!"

Grey’s Anatomy. A sentence in itself. Even Microsoft Word identifies it as such, as it fails to give me the green squiggly line beneath, yet does so for the “sentence fragment” following it. Those words are strong enough to stand alone, I guess. And as I watch an episode each week I wonder if I am. You know, strong enough to stand alone. The show is strong. It articulates the realities of life, heartache, love, joy, pain, sacrifice and does so heartbreakingly. Sometimes it does—you know, really break my heart. It is my excuse every week to become a little somber, a little reflective. For an hour, more like forty-five minutes, I watch the art created by the writers of the hit series. True, I find art in most facets of life, however, I label this as such because it’s like the writers sit before a captivating painting that speaks all the frailties of life. Then they later go back and recreate those frailties through the lives of their characters. The acting—it is flawless. There are moments when the characters surrender themselves in ways that are Oscar-worthy. There are three times that I vividly remember being deeply affected by scenes from the show. Recently, it was when Yang, a young Asian doctor that possesses a myriad of complexities, expressed that she sometimes wished she was easier in spirit, not so complicated, a simple girl. “A simple girl.” Those were here exact words. I connected to that. I realized she verbalized what I have wondered for most of my life. You know, why I can’t be one of those girls. Simple.

I almost threw up in my mouth. I seethed. For almost two years I had prayed this man would say one favorable thing about me. Two years. I didn’t seek reciprocity; I just wanted a kind word. Just one. Instead, he gushed over someone else. Why was it so easy for him to see positive attributes in her? If she was the sweetest person he knew then what did that make me? (que: Alanis Morissette “One”) That’s all I ever wanted—that kind of appreciation for the attributes I possessed. There I was, right in front of him, yet he was giving what I wanted so badly freely to her, leaving me on the other side of the phone devoid of anything resembling favor. If he found her wonderful then there was no way he could ever see me as anything but an array of unnecessary complexities. I was floored. “She’s simple!” It tumbled out of my mouth without warning. My subconscious heaved through my throat. It sounded abrasive, even to my own ears. I wanted to undo it, take it back, but the proclamation seemed to linger in the silence. It was like a trail of smoke, sauntering through the air making sure to take its time to dissipate. It looked like I cared—like I was still vying to be his favorite girl (que: Kate Nash “Nicest Thing”). It looked like what it was, I guess. You know, that although I had accepted not being the only girl I still wanted to be the favorite one. I was still holding out hope that such an intelligent man would appreciate defiance over conformity, reality over falsities, difficult truths over easy niceties, a genuine friend over a genuine acquaintance, someone that still smiled remembering the mole below his mouth over someone that made it clear she usually preferred men more attractive, a complex woman over a simple one. And while I make it a mission not to wish to be something I’m not—for words from him like that, for a second I wished I was. You know, simple.

Many of the friends I truly adore tend to be complex. Those friends who are both women and complex are on an entirely different level. They are the figurative shit. I am blessed to know each of them. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate my simpler friends, it’s just with the ones that are a little more aligned with my spirit, we connect metaphysically. When I had the above-mentioned conversation, I went to one of these complicated friends and discussed the trouble men might have loving a complicated woman. You know, like ourselves. She understood. She had abandoned simple men for that very reason. Fast forward: several weeks ago, I sat in a room with one of the supreme complicated women I know—she’s the matriarch of complexities—and while I walked in that room feeling rather lost—when I left I felt reconnected, re-energized. I was wandering around almost aimlessly, looking for something. When I found her I exhaled. I realized she was the one I was looking for the entire time. We talked about everything from our dreams, our fears, our current situations, our fascination with other countries. And all in less than thirty minutes. What draws me to these two women, and women alike is not only their introspective ability to understand they are not like most but also their sensitivity in understanding they have been gifted a curse. You know, the curse of being intricate.

How easy it must be for them--to take things as they come, not to have the impulse to challenge what’s put before them. How calm these simple girls must be. I don’t say this condescendingly, I am genuinely mystified. I can’t understand because for as long as I have had breath in my lungs and thought in my head I have been inquisitive, constantly wanting to have a better understanding of the world and everything around me. I have always been in my head—since a little girl. So, I look at these women and while often their simplicity makes me have a gag reflex—there are other times that I, like Yang, sit perched on my pedestal of complex and wish to just have one passing day where I too don’t have the impulse to go against the grain, where I don’t find myself wanting to name my daughter Jezebel while the other girls worship Mary. You know, days where I can just be easy.

Lauryn Hill. Amy Winehouse. Marilyn Monroe. Anna Wintour. All complicated women. All women I adore. And while they all are notoriously successful and talented it’s so easy for me to see in each of them the cost, the toll, of being complicated women. Often the world takes a functional complicated woman and pegs her “troubled”. I don’t know how it feels to be pegged "troubled" but I do know how it feels to feel that way in comparison to the other girls. You know, the simple girls.

* Please, Please check out this clip from Grey's Anatomy. You can find it here

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Men That Beg: "I miss you"

It was in one of my previous post that I randomly said “art is pain.” I declared that I would do an entire post with that quote as the focal point. I will, but that time is not now. Today I refer back to that quote because as I sit in my apartment listening to The Chi-Lites “Have you seen her”, I am reminded that it is that pain, that raw emotion that brings a smile to my face. Oldies warm my heart. They take me from my current situation of observing too many men take too many good women for granted, to a place where men pour their hearts out for them. It’s like they bled on those records. They bleeeeed. They bled in a way that rappers who prematurely say “I’m going to bleed on this track” can’t even fathom. It’s exactly that back in the day “rapping” my mother refers to, when she talks about men knowing how to say exactly the right thing at exactly the right moment. She calls it rapping. I call it begging. And while I’m not fond of men who beg, I am favoring of men strong enough to be desperate for an incredible woman.

I have long established that I am generationally misplaced in a way that leaves me feeling like my old soul is being compromised by this modern age. I often wonder how I would have been “courted” if I dated men blessed enough to have the “oldies” as their generation’s music. Oldies, the kind of music that gave men a reference point on how to appreciate and treat women. Plainly, this music had an effect on how those men regarded women. I would even be willing to bet, if this kind of emotionally charged music was blaring from men’s radios today their hearts would reflect it. Life would imitate art. They would be better men for it.

The only genre of music I label, hesitantly, as comparable to old school soul is Rhythm and Blues* (R&B). Actually, this was the blanket label that all Black music received in the twentieth century. Sadly, even contemporary R&B is being phased out on mainstream radio. In its place, rap is monopolizing. To make matters worse, the pop like songs that fill the nominal place of R&B do not remotely scratch the surface of what soul sounds like. Erykah Badu, whose music I have recently discovered an appreciation for, I heard took to twitter recently to verbalize her disgust with the current state of the soul in music. I share similar sentiments. Where is the soul? Even when I hear songs that express feelings of love it seems so artificial and contrived when you place it alongside oldies from men like Marvin Gaye.

For several months I have contemplated the difference in the quality of emotion showcased in R&B compared to the oldies. It doesn’t make sense that these male artists seemingly pour their hearts out, and the end result is still-- flat. I listen to a Brian McKnight cover of Marvin Gaye’s Distant Lover and I literally laugh at his poor rendition of it. The fact that he would even try to cover a classic like Distant Lover is laughable, but more-so the way that he thought he could cover it without committing to the song was what really tickled me. His cover though, is a perfect indication of the current state of what use to be soul music—these men are trying to be cute with it. These male singers are putting artificial sweetener in the tea, and like artificial sweetener it taste bitter. There is nothing pretty about soul. An attempt to make it cute is going to be a failure on its face. Soul is a combination of desperation, pain, and bliss. An emotion intensified is what it is. This kind of exaggeration is not pretty. It’s ugly. You don’t smile through soul.

I watch people regard Trey Songz like a modern-day Marvin Gaye and it’s funny to me. Instead, I see him as an overgrown boy. He sings about sex often but the way he sings about it reminds me of an inexperienced boy mimicking what his older brother said on the subject. I’m not saying Trey Songz is a virgin, by any stretch of the imagination. I’m just saying that his attempt at trying to sound passionate and sexy comes off hoaxy. To be sexy and passionate when you sing about sex, I would think you would need to intimately know the soul of the thing. He obviously doesn’t know the soul of sex.

And this is what I have come to believe is the problem with male artists today. I don’t think they sing with any soul because they haven’t found it yet. It is my belief that soul is created through hardships. I think soul becomes visible through the evolution of that adversity. On both points, I think modern day men are lacking. Further, I don’t think you hear the soul in these men’s voices when they sing about losing a woman because they don’t know the pain associated with losing one. In order to feel that kind of pain he would have had to place a lot of value in her in the first place. I think that goes to the deeper reason for the absence of soul—men’s decreased value in a sole woman.

A friend of mine, who will smile as he reads this, is one of the best quality men I know. If I have a daughter one day I would feel comfortable with her loving a man like him. I asked this great quality man what he thought on the issue of modern music compared to the oldies. He told me that songs are different now because women have made men different. He thinks that the value of women overall has diminished in men’s minds because there are so many bad quality ones that allow men to run amuck. Although we go through different avenues we both arrive at the same dead-end road. The songs sound different because men feel differently about women. And again I say, this comes from one of the best quality men I know.

I try to do at least two miles of cardio a day. What takes me to three or four miles is when Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes I Miss You randomly pops up from my shuffled play-list. It gives me just the burst of energy I need to go another thirty or forty minutes. Its takes me to a whole different level. It excites me, inspires me. (Full disclosure: it sometimes makes me teary eyed, leaving me trying to camouflage the tears as sweat). And if the incredibly beautiful pitches and perfect harmonic tones are not enough, towards the end of the song he stops singing and just talks to her. He talks for five minutes of the song. At one point he begs“If I could just/If I could just see you/Can’t really say what you mean or what you want over the phone/I swear I miss you/You’ve done heard it ten times or more but/I swear I done changed/I swear I done changed.”

Listen to those words. It’s not the validity in what he’s saying that is so on point for me. Has he changed? Probably not. This man is saying whatever he can to get back into his woman’s good graces. He goes from “I’ve changed”, to” I’ve got a gig” to “I won the lottery”. Nothing in what he is saying logically flows. The point is, his words don’t have to necessarily be perfect. With perfection though he completely humbles himself for her. He puts his pride aside. I swear on this blog, if a man that I remotely still had feelings for just played this song for me because he was unable to find words of his own, without a second thought he’d be forgiven. I make this promise, so freely, because I know that men of my generation will never call my bluff. Men of my generation wouldn’t think to do this for a sole woman. Even if she is a soul woman.

* Neo-Soul definitely came to mind but it does not have the historical implication that R&B does.

**Please if you don’t know the songs I am referring to listen to them here, here and here. Even if you do, just go for the reminder.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

And on The Seventh Day There was Light

Just days ago I wrote another entire post. As the sun beamed in my window this morning I knew that I would have to abandon that piece until a later date. To be fair, I feel that my readers should catch some of the sunlight that has been cast upon me. I’m not just talking about the sunlight that beautifully filled my living room this morning. I am talking about a light in my spirit. A light that enables me to internally close a book in my life without the impulse to open it for the millionth time, peek and see if the story gets better. I guess, this was the “peace of mind” a wise woman once spoke of. I was going through a relatively difficult experience and when she said it I did not understand how I was to find this hidden abstract place of solidarity. And today, as I write saying that I have found it, I still couldn’t say how. Luckily my purpose in writing this is not to tell others how to find it. That kind of peace of mind is either divine intervention realized or the natural progression of pain evolved. I write about my light because I want people to know that this light I am experiencing is at everyone’s window they just have to remove whatever it is that is obstructing it.

I find that wherever I go a literal break of sunlight always seems to find me and dances playfully on my face. There is no other time that I feel as content as when sunlight is near. Without it my spirit dies. It is not surprising then that other people sitting in a room with me would be blessed enough to catch some of my rays. What I have discovered though, is that if I don’t have the right person in that room with me, then they don’t understand a spirit like mine needs something of equal luminosity to balance it. They don’t understand me and therefore don’t understand the necessity of the light. So, they somehow make themselves over to my window and stupidly stand there, cutting off my light. And my spirit dies. And I am stifled.

I continued to think on this sunlight motif as I sat at one of my favorite brunch spots. I was enjoying some alone time, just me and the November issue of Vogue Magazine. I was sitting at the bar because Sunday brunch is obviously booming in the area and there were no available tables. As I sat there for a few moments the sunlight, once again, found me. It was there only for me as it put itself right in my face. I even did a once over of the room to see if the light was saying hello to anyone else. It wasn’t. The light and heat were so intense that I had to move over to the seat beside me. I hated to abandon my light but it was just too much in that moment. I then realized that the sunlight beaming through my window, that constant light that stays with me, is not for everyone. Just like I had to move because it was too intense and blinding maybe sometimes others feel similarly. The light that comes with me can only be tolerated by people that appreciate and value it. I grew continuously peaceful in spirit as my sun taught me that those leaving my room were not of spirit conducive to remain there. Understandably, if the heat is too hot, the light too piercing then they should leave.

As I sat in my living room this morning and thought about that sunlight and why I had been missing it I realized that it was there the entire time. I was missing it because I allowed a large figure to stand in front of it, not remembering that I need that light. Instead of saying “excuse me mam, excuse me sir, could you please stop blocking the window.” I just sat and let their shadow cast down on me. And in their shadow was my demise. They were soaking up all of the light, intended for me, and greedily letting me remain in darkness.

So, while I am happy for finding my light again, I hope it is inspiring to others to find theirs. It is just on the other side of that big brooding figure in front of you. The figure-- a person or something metaphysical. Whatever it is you should just ask it to move a little to the right. “Excuse me sir, could you please stop blocking the window.”

Aside: I worry that with this renewed spirit my pieces will lack heart. I find that I am most creative when my heart is heavy. Just know, I am bright in disposition but eternally dark at the core. I will have some heart wrenching stuff too. I’m just enjoying the light right now.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Slow Motion and Other Random Thoughts

So, my material has been a bit heavy lately. I’m in need of a light post! I am really trying to be consistent with my postings and do at least one a week but I am coming off a week that was way too much! Too much going on. I am physically and emotionally exhausted. Anyway, this would be a great time to do another rendition of “random thoughts” (also known as: something light). If you didn’t check out the last installment you can find it here. I will be back with something juicy and probably just a little inappropriate in the next week or so!

1.Life would be better in slow motion. It’s so romantic. Sometimes (and by sometimes I mean often) I imagine life in slow motion. It would have a real ethereal feel to it. I think our creator (whoever that may be) got this whole real-time thing messed up. Real-time, how vanilla is that. I mean, really. Just vanilla.

2.There is nothing more sexy than jazz. I die for it! Die! Even if a man is as flat as juice, I think he could just put on some jazz, add a glass of wine and we’d be good. Really good. More specifically, the saxophone is an aphrodisiac. There is something so exhilarating about it. There's an implied pain in that instrument that is so moving that it can't help but create intimacy. It’s rich and meaningful and still seductive. Just sexy.

3. Art is pain. I love pain for that reason alone. There is a beautiful quality to it. There's no emotion more raw or true than it. Art exists because pain exits. I know I’m dark—I’ve accepted that. I’ll probably do an entire post on this. Probably.

4. I have a problem. Well, actually I have a lot more than one, but we are only talking about this one right now. Everyone says they have a shopping problem but I think I really might. I was in Nordstrom recently, talking to mommy on the phone about yet another pair of shoes I was considering buying (she made me count the amount of shoes I’ve purchased since the summer. When I went to my closet and counted her response was: “it’s disgusting Erica.” I was very taken aback by that kind of rude response). She asked how I thought I was going to pay for these new Nordstrom shoes. I told her that I could just not go grocery shopping the following week. I was serious. I’m trying to remember if she hung up on me, at one point she was doing it on a daily basis, she kind of calmed down with it though. Anyway, if she didn’t hang up that was probably the time to do so. I don’t know if it’s shopping that I’m obsessed with or fashion. I think it may be a combination of both. I just know that when I get around clothes and shoes I become like a junkie rationalizing another purchase and calculating what I’m going to sacrifice to have it. I mean, but maybe that’s normal. I doubt it.

5.Speaking of fashion, I would have died to be at the Marc Jacobs runway showcased at Mercedes Benz Fashion week, last week. It was pure ecstasy. Ecstasy!

6.I love defiant women. Period. It’s as plain as that.

7.There is nothing (and I do mean nothing) more sexy than a man in sweatpants. That might be an “Erica” specific turn-on, but someone else in this world has to have seen the power of a man in sweatpants. I have never told any man that this is my outfit of choice but it is. It so is. I don’t know what it is but a man could live in sweatpants for all I care. Close second: a man in a nicely tailored European suit.

8.My soul mate probably is a woman. I just don’t see a man ever being multi-faceted enough to be a match with my soul.

9.The perfect date begins at an Alvin Ailey show, an interlude through a garden, and finishes with us in our most expensive classy duds at some hole in the wall restaurant with the best food and the most lively, colorful bunch of people. That would be picture perfect. Sheer Perfection. Sigh.

10.This song, this song,this song, and this song are like sex for the ears. I play them all day! Death Letter should probably be the soundtrack to my life not because of the words but because of the sound(add me in slow motion).

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Europe. Passion. Sex.

Her nail polish was orange. Tangerine orange. That’s what I noticed first. “Can I please sit this here?” she asked. I was sitting outside, under a table with a huge yellow umbrella. The umbrella was so massive it threw a glow of yellow beneath it—onto me. That’s what she did too, I guess—she threw her light onto me. I motioned that it was fine for her to sit her cup down while she used her cell phone. She was beautiful—radiantly so. I knew there was something different about her from the moment she came within my line of vision. I stopped what I was doing just to watch her. I was captivated. “Where are you from?” I questioned. It wasn’t just the accent that gave her international origin away—it was the lucidity in her movement. She moved like water. She really moved like water, without hesitation. And when she smiled it was without limitation. She smiled from a purely joyful place. It was as if she had never heard an unkind word or nothing unpleasant bestowed upon her eyes. As she stood there, talking to me, every word she spoke she breathed life into. There was meaning behind those words. Her entire body had an organic uninhibited breath to it. She was expressive and animated. There was nothing superficial about her. I adored her in that moment.

And just as quickly as she walked over to me and we began our exchange she was gone. Abruptly. She said, “You have a nice day,” and she was gone. And that was that. It wasn’t rude it was direct. She obviously had somewhere else to be. Maybe if I didn’t intimately know where this woman was from I might have been put off by her straightforwardness. When she left she was gone—there was nothing of her that lingered. The yellow glow was still cast upon me from the umbrella, but her light—she took that with her. She possessed all that she had. That’s what Europe teaches you though, it teaches you to live for you—no one else. I learned how to do that in Europe. I learned how to live in Europe. I learned how to walk down the streets and just laugh at nothing in particular. I learned to walk down streets with no end point in mind, stopping for gelato along the way. I owe my life to Europe. I owe my renewed spirit to it too.

After she left I grew nostalgic. I grew nostalgic for the place that, without exaggeration, taught me how to live. Taught me the difference between living and breathing. I miss that place. I had forgotten how much so until this woman approached me. I lived in Italy for four months. I was twenty years old and I don’t believe there will ever be a time in my life that will ever touch the caliber of that experience. I don’t think anything or anyone will even come close. Prior to me living abroad I was truly American, possessing all of the collective hesitations that come with our nationality. Watching the woman with the orange nail polish reminded me of all the limitations we embody. It reminded me of the limitations I place upon myself when I’m here.

The limitations of American women are difficult to describe. Instead, it’s something you can’t quite understand until you see it, when you look at them in comparison to European women. In addition to being nostalgic after the European woman abruptly left, I also stopped reading the legal transcript that I was working on. Instead of reading, I began watching the other women passing by. I watched these American women to see if there really was a difference between their dispositions and that of women living only an ocean away. I wondered if maybe I had confused this particular European woman’s beauty and radiance with something that American women seem to collectively lack. I hadn’t confused anything though. I watched these American women and I identified an oppressiveness about them. They seemed bogged down. Even through their smiles there lived strain on their faces.

Of course, I took the time to intellectualize the foundation of our collective differences. I began to think back on my experience in Europe and the women that I encountered while there. I thought back to how I was different. And I was quite different in Europe. While some of the differences of me had to do with being a stranger in a foreign place, no one knowing me and therefore no expectations or limitations placed upon me; still, part of it had to do with just the culture of Europe.

In Europe there seems to be a culture focused on this pursuit of happiness. They seem to have the interplay between work and play mastered. I use to love walking in the evening around Italy; like a little girl looking through the glass of a candy store I would press my face up to the window and steal moments watching families eating at restaurants. They were laughing and so amicable that I longed for the days back in the nineties when I replicated that scene with my own parents. As I sit here now, I wonder if this cultural difference, the way Europeans slow down and take time for the truly important things in life could have saved my broken home. In America there seemingly is a staunch difference, a culture focused on the pursuit of happiness, but through monetary gain. We wake up to work and do it all over again the next day. The dichotomy between the lifestyles of Europeans and Americans in itself is so implicated that there lies one of the substantial differences of the spirit of the people living in the comparative countries.

Add on to that, that Americans are so muzzled at the mouth. America ironically is a country prided on citizens speaking freely. Yet, we are so unequipped to do so. We have opinions about everything, constantly talking. Talk. Talk. Talk. However, if you ask us to verbalize a difficult emotion or an unpopular sentiment we are at a standstill. We are so fearful of offending people. We are so fearful of our own feelings. What’s more, we even restrict ourselves in the way that we engage others. We stay at a surface comfortable level. I was reminded last week of just how finicky Americans are about invasiveness and a fear of being inappropriate. European women don’t shy away from invasiveness, they embrace it. They say what they want to whomever they choose. It’s a sexy quality. They are direct. Even with their directness, though, Europeans are not half as rude as Americans. We would rather hide our true feelings behind the most disrespectful behavior of all—passive aggressiveness.

Speaking of European women and a “sexy quality.” Let’s not even get on their sexuality. They own their sexuality in a way that even if they were oppressed in every other aspect of life, their sexuality alone would give them one over on American women. They aren’t raunchy about sex but they possess it in such a way that it’s pungent, but still classical. If I had to describe European women I would simply say—sex. It’s interesting how American women have been so sexually exploited that even our liberation of that oppression is still—oppressive. American women many times don’t know the first thing about sex, pleasure and passion. It’s understandable though, we aren’t taught to passionately indulge in many other aspects of life.

Europe is no utopia, don’t get me wrong. If it was—I would be living there now. I have played with the idea of how it would be to live there permanently. Still, America is my home. I went to Europe fleeing from a college that I was quite positive was stunting my growth. I grew so much aboard that when I came back to that same college I realized that I had outgrown it. I had the European spirit within me then, so even though it was inappropriate during my last year of college to do so— I abruptly left. I didn’t care about the ramifications of my departure or my friend’s disapproval of it. I was living for me and on my own impulses. I, like the lady with the orange nail polish, had somewhere else to be. And that was that.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Dont Let Me Fall

“What goes up must come down—but don’t let me fall, don’t let me fall.” I have heard these lyrics for months but last Friday as I listened the meaning of the words changed. Initially when I heard B.O.B sing “don’t let me fall,” I thought it was as simple as someone saying that while it was granted that they would fall, from fame, out of love, whatever, they didn’t want to. On Friday the message was more substantial. And I must say I don’t scout B.O.B’s music for anything substantive. The message I got though: everything has its cycle, and nothing stays the same, if something goes up by definition it must come down. Still, it doesn’t mean that thing has to fall. Instead the demise of it could be a little more subtle, a little more graceful. Maybe the message I got from the song was not the intended one. Maybe B.O.B. really just wants to defy gravity and not come down at all. I, on the other hand, expect that I will come down—I’m o.k. with that. It’s the falling part. I just wish they wouldn’t let me fall.

But still, I fell. And it was like the world stopped for me for that moment. It was tenth grade year, weeks after humiliatingly being broken up in an unequivocally unforgivable way. I fell. Literally. I could blame it on the rain. I had just walked into the building—the floor was wet and so were my shoes. Therefore, it had all the makings for a good fall. That’s probably the most logical explanation of why I took a tumble down a flight of at least fifteen steps. I think it was something much deeper than that though. It was deeper than just “I fell because my shoes happened to be wet”. I know it was more than that because as I landed at the feet of my ex-boyfriend and the girl that he broke up with me for, the fall was a literal crumble of all the facades that I had put up post break-up. I literally crumbled at the feet of the two people that every day I was trying to prove how fabulously well I was doing—despite them. And so there we were—the three of us, no one else in sight. It wasn’t the rain that brought me to these people’s feet though—it was the way the person that I trusted and knew so intimately—abruptly let go of my hand. He let me fall.

I have had many relationships that have ended. Contrary to my more recent antics—I don’t kick and scream at the conclusion of each of them. I do hate to see the various men go. But I willingly, sometimes encouragingly let them. I have figuratively fallen twice since that rainy day back in tenth grade. The first time I broke my own fall, quickly bouncing back—priding myself as resilient. The second—I laid there like a spoiled child waiting to see if someone was going to take notice and pick me up. Then after an eternity of laying there on the floor, waiting, I begrudgingly pulled my own self up. I didn’t fall because these relationships ended though—relationships end that’s probably one of the most natural aspects of life. I fall because I am caught off balance by how quickly the hand that was once in my palm goes back into the person’s pocket. More than the missing hand though—I am more devastated that the warm body that use to walk beside me, with me, has decided to just mid-step stop and walk in the opposite direction. So, even if the lack of the hand doesn’t throw me to the ground, the comprehension that someone would rather walk alone than with me is enough to slam me, face first, into the ground.

In previous posts I haven’t scratched the surface of my own contributions to my disappointment and heartache. It would be disingenuous here, however, to make statements of not understanding why someone would not want to walk with me. I understand. I would want to stop walking with me too. I am exhausting. Seriously. I literally demand all that a person has. I want to hold all that a person has—good and bad. I am all consuming like that. I am challenging and combative. And I am constantly trying to pull from people—from a deeply unrefined place, an untapped place. I am constantly touching places in people so deep that it’s almost inappropriate for me to be there. I know how to bring out the best in people but through my own motivation to do so can bring out the worst. I live passionately—and when I love—I do so with abandon. To be around that kind of tumultuous frenzy of intensity can turn a person inside out. To boot, I choose men that have their own complexities. In fact, it was here that I labeled them as “complicated” and “damaged”. And they are, I don’t take that back, but that’s why I’m attracted to them in the first place because they bring their own level of intensity to the equation. I give just as much as I get though, so if he is labeled as difficult I am no walk in the park either. So, while I may make references to the hurt that has been inflicted on me, I also know that to live like I do, jumping head first—I hurt myself just as much if not more than anyone could ever hurt me. I jump high therefore the impact coming down has to be of equal proportions.

And it could be said that I make it impossible to walk with me. I will do everything in my power to have the hand if I only have the warm body. I always want more. But still, even If they can’t hold my hand, or walk beside me, even if I make doing that impossible can’t they just walk behind me? Just walk behind me. At a safe distance—letting me know that they are far—but aren’t gone. This in itself would keep me upright. Just don't go completely. And after some time—when I have tired of sulkily stomping around then we can resume walking together—peacefully.

Still, why go through all the trouble just to ensure that I don’t fall? Why go through it just to walk with me? The answer is easy—because without a second thought I will get down on the ground with you when life has knocked you down. I won't just help you up, I will lay there with you for a while. Don’t let me fall because life is too harsh not to have someone like me around when you do.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Screw These Homeless People

Screw these homeless people. Well, that’s a quite inflammatory statement. That’s literally what has come to my mind on several occasions within the last couple of months. The first was months ago as I was yelled at by a homeless person in the middle of Friday afternoon five o’ clock traffic. The gentleman, and I use the term loosely, approached a woman who was directly in front of me at a stoplight. The woman kept her window rolled up seemingly not taking notice of him. The homeless man looked a little disgusted but in the end left her alone. He left, walking right in my direction. I knew I was next. I braced myself.

Typically, being the courteous person that I am, I will at least sadly shake my head at homeless people when they come to my window looking like lost dogs wanting a bone. This time I figured I could avoid even doing that if I, like the woman in front of me, just ignored him. I was just going to follow suit! Welp, obviously following in her footsteps wasn’t a successful move for me.

The man came over to my car, I saw him in my peripheral vision. He just stood there at my window for what seemed like forever. I kept my eyes straight forward. I even went in my purse to get my cell just so that I could distract myself with it. He watched my every move. We were far pass him waiting for me to notice him—and me pretending I didn’t see him. We both knew what was going on. We were both holding our ground. It was uncomfortable. I even contemplated breaking my frontward gaze and looking at him just so that he would leave me alone. I didn’t. I held out. So did he. I began to get nervous feeling like something major was taking place. I was defying the standard civilian/homeless person protocol. As I continued to sit there (light—still red)—I began to embrace this defiance. I felt liberated. Then he began yelling. Or at least that’s what I now recall—this recollection quite possible could be a delusion from the trauma of the situation. The homeless man finally walked to the back of my car (I honestly thought he was going to pull out a gun and shoot me) and then he walked to the other side of the street and continued to stare. The light finally turned green. I drove away---he remained on the side of the street. I questioned my choice for days to not look at him. I figured he deserved that bit of common decency.

As luck would strike---approximately an hour after this altercation my friend’s black berry messenger status read about an altercation with an ingrate homeless person. She had given this man five dollars---he was pissed she didn’t give him ten. I immediately called her up so that we could exchange “homeless man” stories. Yep, it was the same homeless man. Not an hour after he accosted me for not looking at him---he harasses my friend for giving him five dollars instead of ten. Huh? I was completely shocked, amused, and disgusted all at the same time.

I’m all for equal rights—yes, even for the rights of homeless people. I think that they, like myself, should have the opportunity to embrace this capitalistic society that we live in and profit form it. That being said if I can’t harass someone out here at my place of business neither can old buddy with the holey white tee. I am not making light of indigence in the United States. Actually it is something that has always poked at my heart strings. I once contemplated trying to find a homeless person to give some food that I was unable to eat. I say that to say---I am not a heartless bitch. I am just disgusted with how it has almost become commonplace for these homeless people to assume that if they stand out on the corner long enough people are just going to give them money for free. Prostitutes sell sex---and they still have slow nights. I am sure they aren’t getting mad at every john who comes along that doesn’t want their services. Instead, they may shorten the skirt a little, or get an implant or two. They do something to make themselves more desirable for their customers. Now, homeless people on the other hand are a new breed of bold. I am giving you something for nothing and you (homeless person) want to get mad because that transaction doesn’t set well with me. Yeah, ok.

Even more unsettling than the homeless mentality—because in actuality we could just chalk that up to their hustle, is the mentality of the people who have homes and cars. We, in some way feel like we owe something to people that are less fortunate. Owe it. I later thought about myself feeling bad for not engaging this random man who came up to my car in the middle of the street. In some way does his homelessness make him less of a stranger? Less of a threat? No. I don’t make a practice of just talking to random strangers on the street. That’s dangerous. So, then how would it be less dangerous for me to talk to him. And back to him---as a man how could he not understand and respect my safety precautions. And moreover, how can he (as a man) stoop to the level of screaming at me—a woman—for not giving him—a man---money. Worst than me though, is my friend. She gave this man money, and I’m not talking about a dollar. She gave him more than you give your own child for lunch money. Yet, she was asking me if she should feel bad that she didn’t give him more. She had officially been guilted by a man she didn’t even know.

This is something that I think has gotten so out of hand. Again, two weeks ago I was reminded how much so, as a woman sitting next to me (at the same light where I was terrorized) was approached by her very own homeless man. I watched her as she, like I have done so many times, shook her head vigorously, mouthing “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” She was trying so hard to convince him of her true regret. I’m sure she really was sorry. Well, more than her being sorry for him---I’m sorry for her. I’m sorry that she, like most people I know, have let these people that we don’t even know guilt us.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

"Every truth isn't genuine..."

So I am pretty weird. Somewhere between college and now I have completely embraced my weirdness. If someone says I’m weird I take it as a compliment. Don’t get me wrong, if someone were to tell me this in a mocking or jeering fashion I would be a little offended. When friends say it, “you’re so weird” I smile. I have two friends in particular that say “You are sooooo weird…” and just when they think I am about to become salty about it say… "I am too!” And they are. Anyway moving away from my rambling on my weirdness, I go back to why I say I am pretty weird. I am weird because I write in my head. I put phrases together in my head as if I am writing it. I put quotes together. I literally talk in my head like I am talking to someone else. It was about three months ago, as I was writing in my head, that I stumbled upon this quote that I think I will forever hold tightly to my breast.

I was having a really difficult time---with understanding the difference between a lie and the truth. I was trying to find a way to wrap my head around some really complex issues. And this phrase was the epiphany that somehow eloquently found its way out of that state of confusion. I was walking around my apartment and it just hit me. “Every truth isn’t genuine and every lie isn’t malicious.” It was like it came straight from the heavens. In the context of what was going on in my life—trying to determine right from wrong, there were so many implications to that quote. It was probably the most clarity I had found for myself for an entire year. Just for that second I stopped being angry and so willing to simplify everything and actually started to really question humanity—and what it means to be human.

If someone lies and another person tells the truth then the bad guy is easily distinguishable, right? The bad guy is clearly the liar, right? I don’t think so. I’m not so sure anymore. People do crazy things for crazy reasons. The problem is that what comes out of one’s mouth is laced with all kinds of motives and intentions that we have no idea of. So, when one person tells all truths does that somehow absolve them of the manipulation behind that truth? If you tell the truth---of a life of hardship, of your true feelings, of a secret and it’s for reasons solely to manipulate someone then what does that truth really mean? It is the truth, but it’s a malicious one.

And then you have the lie. From a young age, I think we are all encouraged to tell the lies that will somehow spare the one’s we love from hurt. We call them white lies, and for some reason we make a sharp distinction between those and those other really big lies. But what happens when the black lie serves the same purpose as the white one? What happens when you’re told a big lie but it’s to spare the one’s we love from hurt? Is there any difference? I throw out all these rhetorical questions because the only answer that I was able to come up with was that phrase that I’ve already put forth, “Every truth isn’t genuine and every lie isn’t malicious.”

When I had that very eloquent epiphany—I had two people in mind--one person who, as far as I knew, had a habit of telling me the truth and another who, as far as I knew, had a habit of telling me a string of untruths. I will never know where the lines can be drawn. I don’t know if the person who told the truths was doing so because they were sure that truth would resonate feelings from me—leaving me vulnerable and ripe fodder for manipulation. On the other hand, I don’t know if the person who told the lies was trying to protect me—and although manipulative in nature was for my own benefit. That’s the thing about truths and lies, though. There is no way to tell the motivation behind either. I guess all one can do, since there’s no way to tap into people’s true intentions, is to not look at the truth or the lie but the actions before and after it. Does the person who told the truth act in accordance with being respectful and upright? Does the person who lied act in accordance and is reckless and unconcerned with your feelings? If not, then a lie is lie and a truth is a truth, but what does it really matter? At the end of the day all that matters is the motivation behind it. Now, if I could just figure out a clean quote to make that process easier.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Can I Have It Back, My Heart That Is

I was talking to my dad last night (who I still with affection call “daddy”and whenever I refer to him to others as “dad” it feels very misplaced). I am blessed to have parents that have always spoken to me like I was more than a daughter. It’s gotten us into some trouble along the way but I have learned so much from their minimalist censorship. Back to the conversation—he said something that struck me. He said, “little one, you really care”. Emphasis on the “really”. He went on to say that I give my heart to people. I don’t know if it was the context of the conversation (this past year’s jolt into adulthood, how people are such liars, and the reality that I have a lot more painful days ahead of me in my lifetime) or the way that he said it like it’s an anomaly, to actually care, that made me feel the need only minutes ago to draft this email:

I was talking to my dad last night and he said something that struck me. He said that I give my heart to people and that I actually care. He said it like it's an anomaly. Maybe it is. Well, he's right. So, Mr. can I have it back, my heart that is. One less person to have it. Thanks. It's greatly appreciated.


Now, Of course I did not send this email. (Well not really “of course” because it would be right in line with some of my other impulsive texts/emails/phone calls). As I wrote it though I didn’t even have an intention to send it to anyone. I didn’t send it to the man I should have or the other people who I have blindly given possession of my heart. I guess I didn’t because by them betraying my trust or too quickly walking away there is no need now to ask them for it back, my heart that is. I guess they forfeited it. I guess when I discovered that I gave it to them under their misrepresentation it voided the whole transaction. Heart magically reappears back in my chest. Bruised but back in place.

I understand that I am “sensitive”. And highly “emotional”. (My daddy’s words, but something I am well aware of). But he also said my caring nature juxtaposes (my word not his—he wasn’t an English major) the majority. He didn’t say it like I am right and other people are cold-hearted bastards for not being so giving. He said that everyone is just trying to make it in this world and that people take sensitivity, vulnerability for weakness. He said that when people feel that they can walk around hardened it makes them strong. I think he is right. I think these people are wrong.

I’m not here to discuss who’s stronger, the people who are all-giving with their hearts or the people who never release it. There’s really no contest. Both avenues will leave you hurt, wounded, and reeling in pain. Whichever way you slice it at the end of the day you get a pizza that is nicely cut. I carry the belief that all people, from a basic level, are good. I don’t believe that there are just evil people out here. Maybe, insane. Serial killers, not evil, just really really messed up. So, I am just trying to figure out what makes me so willing to give my heart and others so reluctant. Did I inherit it from my mother? I am seriously considering that as a possibility. If the people that have forfeited my heart are as equally good people as myself what is my heart in the equation, an unfortunate bystander? The one causality that ends up thrown to the side because I threw it out there and he/she was careless with it and threw it down.

The world is not a nice place. It is cold and there are more frequently heartbreaking things that happen than heart filling. Although as cynical as that seems I guess the thing is people do the things that they do-- give a heart or break a heart because everyone is trying to stay true to themselves and as daddy said make it in this messed up world. I give my heart because I care too much about others. That’s my choice. Someone else, on the other hand, only cares about himself because that’s his choice. All day I can ridicule him for being a self-absorbed jerk and he criticize me for being a careless idiot but at the end of the day we are two good people, just going through life differently.

But then again, regardless of how I rationalize the behavior of people who hurt others, rather intentionally or negligently-- Speaking as someone who really tries not to hurt anyone, be straight up and honest, those that aren’t are really really---sucky people. All consideration for their ill-intentioned motivations out the window.

P.S. Thanks for letting my heart go so I can give it to someone better.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


It was the gem of my day. I entered the spa expecting to have the structure of my eyebrows reshaped. I expected that I would leave looking fresher because let’s face it eyebrows make a face. I expected a lot but I didn’t expect the gem that I found. The gem was Nirmala, a short, fifty-something year old Indian woman. She not only threaded my eyebrows to perfection but her spirit literally brightened my day. She made what could have been an appointment full of pretenses about something real. She reminded me of something that has always been quite unsettling.

The back story on Nirmala, to the best of my recollection, is that she was born in India. She ended up moving to California and enrolled in paralegal school. She became a registered paralegal and for fifteen years attempted to find a job in that area. Nirmala was never offered a job. She recently opened a very chic upscale spa where she offers several services. She is in the beginning stages of her business, where the costs of running it are not adding up to how much money she is actually making. She is coming up short every month and is having a hard time just paying the $3,000 for renting property space. Her husband, also from India, has been a little more lucky in finding a job in his area of expertise; however, he is in a position where he is contracted monthly so there is no real job stability. Next month Nirmala’s husband could be out of a job. Out of respect for his wife and her business ventures, he takes the money that he earns at his own job, saying that he is blessed to have a job so that he can help her. Nirmala’s husband foots the bill for any expenses where she’s short.

While her story speaks to many issues, my favorite being what it says about love and selflessness, there was something deeper to this story that she felt comfortable enough to reveal to me. For some reason Nirmala trusted me, a twenty-three year old, to talk about the insecurities that America has placed on her because of her age. Nirmala attributes the recent reason that she has not found paralegal work as being because of her age. She simply wants an entry level position, yet, feels that the companies she has interviewed with would rather hire someone young.

It would appear from the outside, right when you step into this very upscale modern spa that the person that greets you has it all. It would seem that Nirmala, an Indian woman in America has proven that America’s sensationalized concept of this American Dream really does exist. She has made it, she’s the image of success, right? No. She hasn’t made it because what she really wants to do, paralegal work which she is qualified to do, she is unable to. This woman whose presence alone is rewarding, as a result of an ageist culture (America) is not allowed to do what she wants. And the basis is not even as deep and societally implicated as race, it’s on something even more superficial--our dysfunctional youth obsession . The struggle, our struggle, is how we qualify youth as beauty and lustfulness and maturity in age as death and ugliness. We value twenty year olds more than we value eighty year olds. In our country there is no relevance to someone who is elderly. The older you get the more invisible you become. It’s no wonder that the elderly are so irritable and angry. They deserve the most respect but get the least. There is a small window of being taken seriously in this country and once you get to be about fifty---that’s it. You’re done.

Nirmala cannot comprehend how our country treats people because of age. That is because India’s culture is more age friendly. I would surmise to say that most other countries put the wisdom of age on a pedestal. Instead, we put the most naïve people walking around on it. We would rather put trust in faces without wrinkles. Other countries respect those wrinkles because of what they connote.

I told Nirmala that my mother is a paralegal and she burst, “She is so lucky, I wish I was her”. Hmph. I insisted that she didn’t. Worst than not ever being allowed to enter into a career because of age is working in one since you’re practically a baby, your very first job, staying with that company for approximately thirty years and because of age feeling like your relevance is waning. Her experience and my mother’s is similar not because they share the commonality of being minority women but because they share the experience of simply, aging. A heartbreaking experience and rejection we can all look forward to.

Monday, June 28, 2010

I Wish He Wore an Orange Jumpsuit

I wish men were more like the ones locked up. The men that I interact with on a regular could take a lesson from the ones that I only see through thick, bullet proof glass. Even with a “granny glasses” thick window between us I get more from these men than the ones I sit across from at romantic restaurants. As I write these words I am unsure if I will even publish this post, fearful of the backlash that I’ll receive from the men that will actually read this—the ones that are out in general population. I maybe won’t publish this for fear of what it means about me, that I yearn for “law abiding” upright men to actually possess something that these tabooed imprisoned men have. I maybe wont publish this because once I do it’s out there in cyber world and I can’t undo it even if one day I might want to.

The orange jumpsuits don’t turn me on. The men don’t either. I am completely professional even with the ones that under different circumstances are fine enough to illicit a second look. There is nothing inappropriate going on in that box they call attorney booths. When I sit across from them, though, I realize why I am single. And it has nothing to do with any kind of sick jail man fetish. I am single because the men I meet in their supposed civilized glory are not half as respectful as these jail men, aren’t half as interesting, and not even one quarter as honest.

I am not delusional. I understand that the circumstances are totally different when I am interviewing these clients for business purposes. It is their life on the line so their honesty is probably a direct correlation of that. It’s not the words that they say; however, it’s the implicit openness. It’s the way that they talk to me. There are no pretenses. When I talk to them I feel like I am talking to a person and not some caricature that money, suburbia, and two parent homes have created. There is no ego. I think that’s what it really is. I am trying to figure this out as I type it--this is a process I’m going through right now. And the process right now is telling me that what I want them to somehow magically shock into the men I deal with is the decreased ego. I want them to shoot into these men the way they shoot people, the way they shoot up, just shoot in them this lack of ego. Shoot it into them because while there is all this banter about the egos of “hood niggas” (sorry to my white readership) they don’t have anything on the ego of an “intellect.”

Originally what got me to thinking about this came about a month ago. I had done a few jail interviews but not enough that the novelty had worn off. And I noticed a trend. Every time, typically right before the interview was over and when my inmate had probably sniffed me up, understood that in my straight laced world I interact with men of equal caliber, men that don’t know what the hell they are doing when it comes to women, he compliments me. He says something like, “you are really beautiful” “you have really pretty eyes” “will I ever see you again” (which I quickly and flatly answer: “no.”). The thing is as I am walking down the quiet, uber institutionalized hall after the interview is over and I’m all alone-- I smile. Not because I need affirmations from jailbirds but more because it’s so rare to get it from these college bred men I deal with. I dated a man for several months and if he had of said one of those lines (and yes I know they are lines) he might have been that much more closer to ultimately getting what he wanted—ass (I am doing so much tonight!). My point is not that these men are better or more well intentioned it’s that they actually take the time to say something nice. They drop some of the veneer and let themselves be vulnerable to rejection. My kind of men run from rejection like the plague.

Currently, I am reading Helena Andrews Bitch is the new black, a memoir on being black, single, and educated in D.C. one of the most urban cities in America. In a very strong passage she says that as she walks along the street the doormen compliment her and a friend. “We ignore the ‘compliments’ they chip in on the dresses meant to entice better men.” When I read that line there was something in me that cringed. How dare she measure men’s caliber based on their career choices. In my heart of hearts though, I understood, identified with what she was saying. Maybe it was the part of me that I try hard to keep hidden, the elitist. What I would tell her, though, is that the sad truth is that when she goes into her extra boogie lounge later in the evening the men that she will come into contact with the “better men” she speaks of will probably not give her one single compliment. They will look---but they are much too cool to say anything nice. It wasn’t until I sat in a D.C. cigar lounge myself that I understood that there was something really weird going on. The men all at the bars---together, the women lounging waiting for these seemingly disinterested men to drop the act and interact. And at the end of the night these silent men somehow think that they are going to bed women. Huh? The jail men, on the other hand, would have worked hard for any lay they got.

The problem, I think, is that suburbia and college degrees have stripped what use to be very suave men into men that don’t know how to talk to women. The men in jail—at least the ones I come into contact with—don’t have much. They don’t have jobs, or degrees, or nice houses and cars. Instead, they have to rely on simply their personality. So, I find these men interesting because they can use their personality and honesty to actually make me kind of giggle. It’s refreshing. I just wish that these men that are so smart could find a personality, could find a morsel of what it takes to intrigue women. While these men are in school learning what books can offer, sadly, they are clueless to the basic level of understanding of women. Maybe its because while these men are in school learning about the world these other men are out living it. I'm coming to find that what so many women label as swag is just us wanting a man to know how to stimulate us, really just how to talk to us.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

"I wish I wasnt famous"

I am not a Jay-Z Stan. Quite honestly, I don’t like the majority of his music. I have many of his albums but actually enjoy only approximately three songs from each. Don’t get me wrong I definitely bump those songs that I do like but I also quickly end up switching out that album for something more my musical taste. With that said, I respect him as an artist. I more importantly respect him as an evolved black man. We have been fortunate enough to see Jay-Z evolve from a rapper to an entrepreneur. From a disrespectful bachelor to a seemingly devoted and respectful husband. We have been fortunate to see a figure that we grew up listening to become a legend. We got the opportunity to see a black man from the projects grow up and have early morning tea with political figures. We got to see what some of the biggest Tupac and Biggie fans would have loved to see from their respective idols. The artist that time and wisdom would create. We bore witness to evolution.

I say all this to say that Jay-Z has earned a position of respect. He is not just an artist anymore but an icon. As I was watching a YouTube interview of him, he said something that stuck with me. He articulated the way that the black rap community has changed. While in his day it was unheard of for a black man to reach the level of notoriety and fortune that he was able to reach, his early day level of success has thankfully become the norm. While artist back in the day could innovatively spit rhymes on the freshness of their money flow that flow has quickly become sour. I appreciated that insightfulness from Jay-Z. Jay-Z was simply saying that as a result of the black condition changing that an artist’s raps have to reflect this. I agree.

When Jay-Z spoke of the change in direction of new-age rapper’s dialogue I am sure he wasn’t soliciting them to cry on records about how messed up it is on the top, and how the money is just way too heavy in their pockets. I am sure he did not want them to thoughtlessly say “I wish I wasn’t famous.” Really? I think that is the most disrespectful thing to say on a record. Not only is it uninspiring it is so simplistic that Drake should have lost his label of “rapper” on that fumble alone. If he doesn’t want to be famous then he should simply stop rapping.

Drake’s new album Thank Me Later was released last Tuesday. Last week a friend asked if I was going to be buying it. I laughed and said that I wouldn’t. He definitely doesn’t need my help, in actuality by his own admission he hates being famous so I see it as me helping him out by not spending my pennies, in comparison to the tree limbs of money he has (again his words), on his album. I never have been a fan of Drake. I have somewhat of a love hate thing going on with him. Some things he says illicit excitement in the craftiness of his flow. Other times I just hear whining. And his voice is quite annoying.

Understandably fame is a double-edge sword and it is reasonable that artists would speak on that experience. In my frustration with Drake I am not trying to pigeonhole these artists into not speaking on their experiences. I am just baffled in how this is already Drake’s experience. He is already tired of the fame. He just became famous two minutes ago. Mind you, he just put out his debut album, let me reiterate, his debut album. When Kanye began talking about the woes of celebrity “trade the Grammy plaques just to have my granny back/ remember she had that bad hip like a fanny pack/chasing that stardom would turn you into a maniac/all the way in Hollywood and I can’t even act/they pull their cameras out and God damn he snapped/ used to want this thing forever y’all can have it back” I, for one, embraced it. We had all received a glimpse into his shaky mental state at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, so his newfound stance on fame was right on time.

Kid Cudi is another new generation artist who seems to have a lot of ghosts in his closet. When I hear him rap these ghosts, however, I am stimulated. There is an interest that I have in what he is talking about. He isn’t crafty with a few of his rhymes but most of them. In addition Kid Cudi is not complaining about his celebrity there is actually a line where he is boastfully throwing his fame into the faces of girls from high school who thought he was weird. Kid Cudi is endearing, strange, but he has something to talk about. I think that is the main problem with Drake. Drake has nothing to talk about. Don’t get me wrong I like about half the songs on the album, but still in the direction of depth, he doesn’t have much. Understandably not all artists are going to be thought provoking. We have more that are not thought provoking than the ones that are. I guess my problem is that if Drake is going to get so much acknowledgment for being great I would like for him to actually be great, to be the voice of our generation. Instead, Drake is saying regular things, maybe in unconventional ways, but still just real basic stuff. And he is saying it at nauseam. Sadly, I won’t be thanking him now or later if he doesn’t get his act together.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Definition of a Soul Mate

I have been quite slack on my postings as of late. I haven't had the right inspiration to write and quite frankly have been inspired in other aspects and on other projects in my life. I have a full week ahead that I can already foresee as ripe fodder for some manic crazed emotional woman writing. In addition, I am currently stewing on messages from inspirational books, inspirational songs, inspirational conversations, and inspirational people. All to say, I will be back soon. I'm just marinating.

In the mean time I will leave you with this: I was having a conversation last night with some truly amazing people. We were talking about life, love, relationships (the typical over twenty-one default conversation) and I distinctly remember the cliche of soul mates being brought up. I don't think we ever reached a conclusion. I could write a post on it but instead I will let someone who so beautifully articulated it speak on it. This will be a passage that I know I will continuously return to throughout my life. It is a passage that speaks not to my brain but to my soul. And I will forever look at the ideal of soul mates differently.

"'But I really loved him.' 'Big deal. So you fell in love with someone. Don't you see what happened? This guy touched a place in your heart deeper than you thought you were capable of reaching, I mean you got zapped, kiddo. But that love you felt, that's just the beginning. You just got a taste of love. That's just limited rinky-dink mortal love. Wait till you see how much more deeply you can love than that. Heck,Groceries--you have the capacity to someday love the whole world. It's your destiny. Don't laugh.'"

"'I'm not laughing.' I was actually crying. 'And please don't laugh at me now, but I think the reason it's so hard for me to get over this guy is because I seriously believed David was my soul mate.'"

"'He probably was. Your problem is you don't understand what that word means. People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that's holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave. And thank God for it. Your problem is, you just can't let this one go. It's over, Groceries. David's purpose was to shake you up, drive you out of that marriage that you needed to leave, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light could get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you had to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master and beat it. That was his job, and he did great, but now it's over.'"

-Groceries and Richard from Texas

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Nineteen ways to know you are the ultimate girly girl! (2010 Remix: Or the ultimate girly boy!)

Twenty was much too obvious

1.You paint your nails more than once a week and actually have fun doing it
2.You take bubble baths, with vogue magazine in one hand and wine in the other
3.You go to cupcake shops just because they are cute and you like the idea of it*
4.You brunch regularly because it’s cute and you like the idea of it **
5.You buy impractical shoes because they’ll look cute in your closet
6.You buy an apartment/house and one of the major assets of it is the closet
7.You pick an outfit based on a particular pair of shoes you want to wear
8.While wearing something ridiculously cute you contemplate whether a coat is going to compromise the outfit’s affect…it’s below thirty degrees out!
9.You’ve watched The Devil Wears Prada numerous times and every time still can’t wait for the part where Anne Hathaway becomes fashionably fabulous
10.You buy flowers for your house weekly
11.You scout restaurants not for amazing food but amazing ambiance
12.You grow out your eyebrows just so that you can get them shaped perfectly the next time you go
13.You get your eyebrows threaded because even with the earth shattering pain it’s so worth it
14.You like dogs that are purse size(i.e. yorkies)
15.You’ve had a facial/massage/pedicure spa day
16.You live by Mac products
17.You wear sundresses
18.You haven’t worn sneakers out (excluding the gym) in over two years
19.As you read this you nod and smile

*the cupcake shoppe in Raleigh is so cute!
**DC favorite brunch spot is Tabaq (so amazing and romantic!) and the one in North Carolina I won’t share because then you’ll know where to find me!

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Baggage of Black Men

I am interested in black men. I mean really really interested in them. I am not talking about the interest that makes me want to kiss them or have dinner with them. Not the interest that makes me want to meet one that will love me and that I can also love without pretenses, without all the superficial fluffy stuff. I am interested in black men in a way that makes me feel for them, want to understand them, want to encourage their evolution, want to know what’s behind all that forced masculinity. I am interested in black men in a way that makes me want to kiss away all of their issues. And that means I want to do a whole lot of kissing because black men seemingly have a whole lot of issues. Erykah Badu’s bag ladies probably couldn’t fit all of a black man’s baggage into a thousand of their bags. I’m talking about major baggage. I am interested in that baggage not only because from a spectator’s point of view it's interesting but also because it makes answering questions on black men’s behavioral traits easier. I am interested in their baggage because while there is all this uproar about single black women and what they are doing wrong I want to look at all the bags of these black men.

Start focusing the attention on who these black women are trying to date and then that tired conversation of single black woman might go somewhere. I am not saying point fingers, shift blame. This is a blameless situation, everyone regardless of race or sex is pretty messed up. I’m just saying let’s critically look at what black men are bringing to the table. Let’s look at all of their baggage and then that might be more of an indicator on the supposed demise of black relationships. Black people as a whole are a complex people. They are fascinating and multifaceted. I am proud to be black but that doesn’t mean I have to turn a blind eye to our unique dysfunction. Instead, I intimately understand it and want to explore it.

Today, black women are beginning to openly admit their psychological woes, will even skirt around with the idea of therapy. We are for once starting to break the misconception of the superwoman strength complex and starting to admit that we do, in fact, have struggles. If you start asking a black man, however, what his damage is he will look at you blank faced. And even if he begins to reveal his struggles, he nonchalantly relays stories of legitimate childhood trauma with a shrug of the shoulders. I understand their inability to really explore their baggage. Their strict rules of masculinity do not allow it. Their strict rules of black masculinity definitely do not leave room for it. In understanding that though, I also see the lack of possible evolve these men have. There can absolutely be no real evolution without this kind of introspection. And there lies problem number one--black men who have so much potential are simply not evolving, not getting through their basic level roadblocks.

Black men I have observed, sadly, have a tradition of parental dysfunction largely paternal issues. As I discussed in an earlier post they are the prime example of runners of this type of mommy/daddy cycle. Therefore, how can a man, any man, reach his full potential when he isn’t severing such profound issues from his past? Men boastfully say that women hold on to baggage from past relationships. I do not disagree with that. Women have their own unique inability to sever relationship issue leaving them to fall into patterns of vigorous repetition. Men shouldn’t boast too loudly though because while women are carrying around relationship baggage these black men have a much heavier load. They are carrying around things that they literally cannot face that like an invisible leech is stunting their growth. They carry around bags of junk and haven’t even taken the time to look in the bag to understand that junk is what they are carrying. That is sad. It’s sad because their oblivion of their issues leaves them subliminally masking it, putting up sky high walls so that no one can touch that wound. It’s sad because they are never quite able to understand why they cannot fully give themselves to anyone especially not to a woman. One commenter last week simplistically labeled this problem as “emotional laziness.” I respectfully say to that commenter that it’s not a “lazy” issue is an inability one. How can any man be emotionally alert with a woman when they have had to emotionally disconnect, emotionally check-out just to suppress things from their past. They check-out in order to go on with their regularly scheduled “masculine” disposition. It should be no surprise that they have difficulty flipping that switch back on to deal with the world's most emotional creature--a woman.

I feel for black men and the strict social constructs that they have inherited by being both black and male. Issues of poverty are a much more intricate discussion when you start talking about its affect on black men. Issues on being black and growing up in suburbia or in affluent neighborhoods take on a very different picture when the focal point of that conversation is black boys. I say this to say that I wholeheartedly understand the reason behind the problem. I also understand that this problem isn’t going anywhere by continuing to carry around the bags instead of stopping to actually deal with the clutter inside them. Black people are very leery of therapy, I understand that. I just hope that one day black men, specifically, will find a way to deal with the complicated issues they are harboring. Black men are much too brilliant to let the past and their unwillingness to deal with it keep them from growing into the beautiful black men they are meant to be. Those bags are really getting in your way.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

"I want you to fight for me"

“What do you want Erica?” he asked. I wish I hadn’t been so drunk so that I could have beautifully articulated my response. It was the first and last time he seemed genuinely open to discussing what I wanted. Prior to this horribly drunken night of shamefully peeing in alleys and crying in the street he was evasive. After it, he had secretly made up his mind that it wasn’t going to work. That night I didn’t, couldn’t, speak artfully. I wasn’t too drunk. I was too emotional. So, I spoke from my heart. “I want you to fight for me”, I threw at him. He laughed. I wasn’t laughing, instead my face was still streaked with tears from earlier. He probably thought the alcohol had gotten the best of me, that I was incomprehensible. I knew what I was saying. I was very clear. If he was a fighter he would have understood too. But he wasn’t so he didn’t. And if he asked what I wanted again today I would say the same exact thing. “I want you to fight for me.”

I have this bad habit of fighting. I will fight tooth and nail. I will run myself in the ground fighting for him and if I see any headway, however small, I keep throwing punches. I play tug of war with him, with myself and I don’t exhaust. Not even a little. Even after he has grown tired I am still there trying to hold everything together, I’m not exhausted. I’m rejuvenated envisioning the end result, us happy. I will have earned my happiness because I fought for it. I’ve grown up and come to find I’m not fighting the good fight. Instead, it’s a bloody war. When I finally look up from beating this man in the stomach with my head buried in his chest I realize he’s just standing there. I realize he isn’t embracing me, not fighting back. He’s just standing there, just waiting for me to stop fighting. And then when I do, finally, all’s quiet. It’s calm. The fight is over because he was never fighting in the first place. I stand there bloody, sweat mixed with tears, eyes red. I realize that I have exhausted myself, once again with someone who stands on the other side unscathed.

The Notebook, a widely popular Nicholas Sparks book turned film, has become a movie on many women’s “favorites” list. The first time I watched it, sitting next to a high school boyfriend, it quickly became one of my favorites. I knew I was watching the ultimate love story--one that me and him would one day reenact. His departure date to college was fast approaching. I understood that while we might lose each other to the distance we would ultimately be led back to one another--it was fate. He went to Hampton University a month later and I soon came to realize we weren’t characters from a movie. We will never reenact that movie, or any other for that matter.

Every time I watch The Notebook the optimist in me, the Carrie Bradshaw of me gets giddy at the ideal of innocent uncomplicated love being undestroyed by distance, time, and reality. Every time I watch, the realist, the Samantha Jones in me, however, out-talks Carrie. Samantha tells me that these kinds of love stories are only meant for cinematic experiences. Carrie’s voice drowns out and I willingly lay in the cynicism of Samantha’s.

I am Noah Calhoun of The Notebook. Seventeen year old Noah selflessly and maturely frees Allie, the girl he loves, from his grip to enable her personal growth. He fights for her. Years later Noah builds Allie the dream house she spoke of as a seventeen year old girl. He builds a replica of her description. Noah believes that if he fights to make her dream a reality maybe their dream can be one as well. He fights. He fights for the entire duration of their relationship. He fights from the day he meets her until the very last. He initially fights, tirelessly, to convince her that he is worth having. He fights, tirelessly, to convince her that he is worth keeping. The movie concludes with an elderly Allie suffering from dementia. Noah fights to make her remember their love story. When she remembers he fights for her not to forget it. I am Noah Calhoun of The Notebook. Always fighting.

Anyone who has a certain distaste for the movie I’ve noticed has one main complaint: it’s unrealistic. I agree. The story, the journey of the character’s love is unrealistic. The love, Noah’s fighting is not. There is nothing more real than that kind of tragic love. The moment the story spirals from reality to fantasy is identifiable. The moment? Noah and Allie reuniting and magically deciding to fight together. If it was a documentary Noah would still be sitting in that perfect white house, waiting. Alone. He would have gone crazy waiting for the one person he loves to throw him just one punch. In real life there’s only one person ready for war, the other has long thrown up a white flag. The other person never returns the fight. The other person takes a more convenient road. The other person has learned that if it’s not convenient to be with the one you love then you conveniently love the one you’re with. Hopefully the fighter learns to take off their boxing gloves and do the same.

He took me for drunk, when I said “I want you to fight for me” not because my words were slurred but because what I was saying was out of the scope of his comprehension. It was not his reality to fight for a woman. If it wasn’t easy then it was over. If it seemed impossible then it was. I’m a natural fighter. I make no apologies for that. I don’t chase, I’m not delusional—I ‘m a fighter, that’s a difference the majority will sadly never understand. After I’ve wiped the sweat and tears from my face and exited the ring I look back at him still lifelessly standing there. As I look back, I don’t regret the fight in me. I regret the lack of it in him.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Cute Woman's Curse

As she strutted out of the courtroom, tasteful split in the back of a very fashionable satin skirt, pumps (but not fuckme pumps) , colorful blouse, I wondered how long before she, like me, experienced the weight of the curse. The cutesy girl curse--when a naturally friendly almost bubbly woman finds herself in a male dominated setting, in a male dominated career. Where every smile is considered calculating and every progressive fashion choice as seducing.

I never understood the challenges that I heard many professional women speak of. Honestly, I thought women were just “bandwagoning” it. Historically women have faced challenges in the professional arena and therefore I believed the conversation was passed on because while it wasn’t relevant it was traditional. I have not directly experienced the discriminatory aspects of working while woman but I have experienced the weight of working while cute. I’m not talking about cute physical features here. I’m talking about a cute disposition. A likeable disposition.

If a man has the natural gift of charisma, then he gets to use it in every aspect of his life. He never has to shield off that gift. Never does this man have to simmer that gift down. He’s currently not asked to and he never will be. At work there are no raised eyebrow if he uses it. People will just watch and smile in awe. Men will regard him as belonging to a prestigious Gwendolyn Brook’s we real cool club. Men will embrace him. Women will be smitten by him. He will use his personality, his gift, to advance his career and no will question it. He will attract both women and men alike. Take a woman on the other hand, now this same Denzel Washington charisma may land her jobless. Therefore, she better shut the giggles down.

I was recently told by a woman, cursed with bubbly as well, that I would need to redress myself, very straight laced, no make-up, not that I wear hardly any now. I would need to be a “plain Jane” she said. I would need to do this to play down my personality. We were having a conversation about my challenge in dealing with interviewing inmate clients, therefore I welcomed her advice. What she probably did not know is that her advice speaks to situations not only in dealing with imprisoned men but in professional environments as a whole. Its basically saying shame on me if I decide to wear a cutesy yellow dress, black blazer, basic black pump, and am smiling and saying “hello”. For I am cursed with cutesy, I should know better than to bring any more attention to myself.

If a cursed woman acts as she normally would, being friendly, maybe a little quirky, other women, not cursed ones, will think she’s fake. "She thinks shes cute" they might say saltily. And presumptuous men, well, they will think she’s trying to sleep her way to the top. Don’t misunderstand though, some are more than willing to capitalize on this supposed eagerness , quickly letting her know it too. There is a thin line in work situations between nice and seductive, every cursed woman should understand this. What we may not know is that the line is a lot thinner than we anticipate. The line-- is almost non-existent. Sex is oozing from every crevice of the universe but somehow a friendly woman, relatively attractive, has to tread lightly. If I attempt to network with a man then I must be leery because in every corner someone is watching for that smile of mine to be too broad, or that handshake to last too long.

I suspect Desiree Rogers, former White House Social Secretary, was cursed. A fellow blogger asked earlier last month if she was “Too Fabulous for Her Own Good?” The answer is yes. Solely from appearances and hearsay she was the quintessential cursed woman. And let’s now take note on where she sits, definitely not up there with President Obama. She was dethroned and although she ultimately resigned her hand was definitely forced. President Obama on the other hand, charismatic man that he is can give credit to his smile and swagger as being partly responsible for his presidency. As I suspect Desiree Rogers was a cursed woman I also anticipate men will label this kind of hysterical banter as paranoia. I am not paranoid. However, I am cursed. I have experienced the weight of cute firsthand. And until a man, which will never occur, experiences it there’s no way he can discredit what I am saying.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Woman's Neurotic Mistake

This goes much further than social networking sites, the demise of committed relationships, men cheating and women wearing neurotic like badges of honor. Men cheat. I’m stating the obvious. I’m not making generalizations. I’ve known more than one “man” to cheat and thus can correctly state that the plural man cheats. Men cheat. The “men cheat” conversation is exhausted. I am exhausted with hearing about it and I’m sure men are exhausted with defending it. Yet, I’m perpetuating the fatigued rhetoric when I spew more concern with what a man does with his heart, genitalia, or combination of both while in his exclusive relationship. Well, I’m not here to perpetuate it. Not exactly.

As of late I have had three female friends reveal what must have become a common trend in relationships. While I have been out of commission to the exclusivity aspect of a romantic relationship something horrific has happened. If discretion was a suicidal woman on a bridge prior to social networking sites, the woman’s brains currently lay scattered on the pavement. I’m not discussing the negative affects social networking sites have on relationships, that would just be obvious.I hate obvious. The negative affect social networking sites have had on our generation, at large, has been discussed at nauseam. I took a stab at it last week, trying to bring a fresh take here. It is almost expected that the integration of an enormous social phenomenon, any social phenomenon, would greatly affect our lives. Yet, as I sat and listened to how three of my female friend’s relationships have been affected, almost compromised, by the phenomenon it left me speechless.

This is how it seems to be happening: girl and boy are in relationship, girl does not trust boy (for either a merited or unmerited reason), girl finds crafty way of getting boy’s facebook or email password, girl proceeds to hack into his facebook or email, girl confronts boy on all of the rubbish she finds during her investigation, boy apologizes, boy never changes password, girl continues to snoop for the duration of their relationship, boy knows she is snooping, boy proceeds doing suspect stuff.

This scenario is so problematic that I could use three separate posts to address all of the dimensions. To me it’s highly problematic but my three friends, who relay some variation of this scenario, carry such nonchalance to their undeniably invasive ways that I wonder if I’m the one out of the loop. I’m from the school where you try to trust your significant other or at the very least pretend to. To my surprise, couples aren’t even pretending anymore. Instead, they are switching facebook and email passwords like it’s a rite of passage or way to prove trustworthiness.

More problematic than the girlfriends who purposefully and aggressively look for incriminating evidence are the men that allow it to happen. What has happened to men? The man that is socially conformed to be dominant and non-tolerant of a constant question of his loyalty. I listened to these three friends share their private investigative anecdotes and if they all had told me in a room together I wouldn’t have believed any of them. I would have secretly devised that each was egging the other on and that none of it was true. I can’t say this though, these three women told me similar stories, at separate times, none of them knowing the other. All to say, the similarity in their stories metamorphose from lie to coincidence to trend each time I hear a new rendition of it. As I listen to these women tell me about their boyfriends I am flabbergasted that the seemingly more dominant gender has quietly let this betrayal of trust become the norm. And so I marinated on this for a few days.

And now I have some perspective. From the untrained eye it would appear that women have finally gotten men by their figurative balls. Lets re-examine the aforementioned scenario though: girl and boy are in relationship, girl does not trust boy (for either a merited or unmerited reason), girl finds crafty way of getting boy’s facebook or email password, girl proceeds to hack into his facebook or email, girl confronts boy on all of the rubbish she finds during her investigation, boy apologizes, boy never changes password, girl continues to snoop for the duration of their relationship, boy knows she is snooping, boy proceeds doing suspect stuff. This new age display of distrust is not one that women should brag about. Yes, men are showing a high level of density when allowing themselves to be tricked into relinquishing private passwords. However, women are quite misguided too. Women are mistaking a man’s indifference to them knowing about their bad behavior for the man being afraid to confront them about it. Let’s be honest: It would be completely appropriate for a man to be outraged by this type of invasive conduct and if he’s not there lies the larger problem.

The truth is a woman’s blatant prying does not reform her man’s actions. Contrarily, it creates an environment where the man feels betrayed by her invasive antics, acquires a defense to it by becoming indifferent, deliberately does unacceptable things in her face, and all the while his misbehaving conduct becomes more acceptable, evidenced by both party staying in the relationship. Sadly, a woman’s neurotic mistake and the continuation of that mistake is not propelling her into a more esteemed role in her man’s life, instead its downgrading both her role and status.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

In My Head

Not a good place to be

My thoughts have been all over the place today. I will spare you a sloppily done post and start a new series of (que drum roll): Random Thoughts. My thoughts are generally all over the place but I am typically able to filter them into some kind of organized logical rationale. Strike that, how can I judge the soundness of my own thoughts. Of course it’s logical to me. Anyway, here are five random thoughts.

1.The older I get the more I think about babies. I say in a high pitched voice almost daily, “I want a baby!!!!” Actually I whine it. Maybe the whine is an indication that I don’t need one. More to the point, is this what they call a woman’s biological clock. My thirty year old friend who I think has some kind of omnipotent knowledge base (that description doesn’t have anything to do with what I’m about to say next) says that this baby yearning gets worst as you near thirty. And so this is where the random thought really comes in. Where I go from a random thought to an even more obscure connection to that random thought. See watch. Does the fact that every five minutes I hear black women aren’t getting married make me want a baby more? Maybe, this yearning isn’t the natural ticking of my clock but instead just the forced one that these people are shoving down my throat. I equate baby to husband and if there is a risk of no husband then maybe that means no baby. Now that I put that down, that’s a rather enlightening position. I should have done a post on that. Oh well.

2.Why do we purposely listen to sad songs when we are feeling somber? It makes no sense. No one wants to feel sad, yet, we will do something that almost facilities the feeling. Then we are listening to this sad music and crying and it’s just all so dramatic. For what? When we could have put on some feel good type music and tried to turn our clichéd frown upside down. Maybe we like stewing in our own self-deprivation. (que: the sad song I’m listening to now).

3.Where’s Lauryn Hill? That is not a random thought. I have this thought all the time. I ask friends like she might be hiding in their shoe. So maybe this inquiry has gone from a random thought to a recurring one. Does the frequency of a thought change its level on the random-o-meter?

4.Which takes me to my next random thought. (That was such a sentence fragment). What is a random thought? Any thought is the result of situations and circumstances. Situations and circumstances are random occurrences that God or the universe or someone puts before us. So, at the very least life is random. The sperm choosing the random egg that created us is the start of our lives and it’s as random as it comes. Next time someone tells me I’m random, I’ll be sure to let them know this little random tid bit.

5.Is it normal in the middle of a “cry yourself to sleep night” to have this very lucid thought: that maybe I should not make a night of this heavy, noisy, crying because if I do then my eyes will be puffy the next day and I’ll just look a sad mess all day. I don’t think that’s normal. Definitely not.