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.