New Thangs

Hey loves!  So I know I haven’t been around all week.  I promise it’s not because I’m slacking.  I’m doing awesome things.  We’re moving.  You’ll like it. I promise.  This of course means that I’ll be taking a break during the migration, etc.  What’s that? When will I be returning?

MARDI GRAS OF COURSE!!!

Red Bean Dreams: February 21, 2012. Be there!

 

A Girl Needs Her Options

I’ve been reading all my life.  Literally since I was 3 1/2.  My love affair with words and reading ultimately transferred to a love of writing.  But what if life was different?  What if I didn’t have to consider phobias, limitations or lack of training?  What would I be?

1. Assassin

I have a very healthy respect for life and the living, but sometimes, people get outta pocket and they gotta go.  I’d be totally high end and have my own code of ethics.  No kids under any circumstances.  I’d also want to handle my business up close and personal as often as possible. None of that sniping from a rooftop jazz.  And my assassins kit would make Batman envious.  My most prized possession would be a grappling hook.  The two drawbacks to being an assassin: 1. Thanks to pesky advancements in DNA matching, I’d probably have to get rid of the fro; and 2. I’d never be able to tell anyone about all the dope stuff I did.  “Son…SON…they were in the middle of dinner, and I dropped from the ceiling!”

2. Surfer Girl

Few activities put the raw power of nature on display like surfing does.  To be fair, I can’t think of anything that displays nature’s force and man’s insignificance at that magnitude.  When I see someone shoot the curl, I’m awestruck.  They’re being embraced by a miracle.  Mr. Fowler, my 7th grade Life Science teacher and crush, was a surfer and told this amazing story about a giant sea turtle coming up for air next to him.  He explained how awe-inspiring the experience was and how he realized how small he was in the grand scheme of things.  I would love to surrender to such a powerful element on a regular basis. I can’t imagine you’d view life the same afterward.

3. Hype Man

I can’t tell you how much I want to run in a room screaming “WHERE BROOKLYN AT? WHERE BROOKLYN AT? WHERE BROOKLYN AT? WHERE BROOKLYN AT?”  How does a job get better than that?  You run in, make people happy, get them amped and encourage your people performing.  Hype men don’t even have to have bars.  Just energy.  You get to dance and make ill scrunch faces and go mostly everywhere your far more popular cohort does.  Win-win.

4. Chef

Feeding people is one of my favorite hobbies.  That’s not what I mean.  I’m referring to people who take food and create art; something that appeals to the palate, as well as aesthetically.  It would be dope to create dishes which look more like organic sculpture than something you eat.  Being delicious would be what sends my creations over the top. I tweet a lot, and we joke about what people call “struggle plates.”  I would have a picture gallery that looked like the Edible Louvre.

5. ^

Sometimes, you need to go in the cage and get it all off your chest.  A well placed punch is a thing of beauty.  The same thing can be said for a punch that is well received.  Weird?  Watch a person take a punch and remain standing.  It’s a testament of will.  I’d be totally scrappy.  I’m pretty sure my cage name would be something simian…Spider Monkey?  Just wiry, flexible and in your face.  Kicking your ass.

6. Skater

When I was about 12, long before it was a cool thing for girls in the hood to do, I had a board.  I also had no coordination.  Needless to say, I wasn’t an avid skater.  But on the rare occasions that I got it right…magic.  Wind in my hair, swerving ever so slightly, my whole body working in harmony to keep me balanced, the pit bull that barked at me causing me to miss the rock in the path of my wheel…pure magic before that, though.  However cliche it may be that kids have adopted being skaters, it’s an awesome hobby.

 

7. Harley Quinn

Harley is my favorite character in the Gotham Universe, outside of The Bat himself.  Of course Harley is a fictitious creature, but this is my blog, homie.  I have a little mayhem buried deep in my soul (or…maybe not so deep, depending on your point of view).  Though Harley seems like the Joker’s pawn, beneath the surface, she’s bright, capable and a willing partner in his schemes.  Do you know how awesome my life would be if I could solve 30% of my problems with a giant mallett? On top of that, I’d be able to knock out another 30% with gas.  I could dispatch with 20% using my superior intellect and grappling hook (yes…I would have a grappling hook here too).  The other 20%, I could easily maneuver around.  Who couldn’t be happy when 80% of their problems are gone? Every girl has a little hell raiser in her soul.  I’d just let mine out of the box more often.  Practically always, really.

But after all is said and done, I couldn’t imagine doing any of this awesomeness without penning a memoir near the end of it.  I guess writing is my destiny after all.

 

Give the Dude A Sandwich…

It’s just crazy…as big as hip-hop is in our lives and everything, and as much as we love it, we tend to shun people for just wanting to contribute to that culture, you know?  I guarantee you if you look at a country singer who picks up a guitar and says “Hey, who wants to hear this new song that I wrote,” country music fans don’t tell him sit down.  I promise.

- Nerd Ferguson “Day In The Life”

The “state of hip hop” conversation has been beaten to the point that it’s not even a dead horse anymore. It’s been ground to dust.  It begs the question, “If it’s that bad, what are you gonna do about it?”  With “Bitch, Where’s My Sandwich:  The Album” Nerd Ferguson offers a two word response:  “Be dope.”

To put it simply, the kid can rap.  Not only can he rap, but the way he weaves stories in his rhymes is simultaneously unassuming and impressive.  In each of the 19 tracks, he spits with his distinctive style and voice, without making you feel like you’re listening to one extremely long song.  Each track is fresh, entertaining, and covers a large spectrum of the 20-something psyche.

Without a doubt, this is a joint you play from beginning to end.  I could break down each of the songs, but I don’t think I could tell the stories better than Nerd did himself.  “WARNING: Don’t Sign Me” gives us that gritty, party-in-the-basement feel.  “Day in the Life” is probably the most important song on the album.  It’s his story, where he not only tells us why he raps, but also holds up a rather harsh mirror to hip hop fans, regarding our knee-jerk reaction to disregard new artists.  In “I Am Here to Save You All” (my personal favorite), he portrays himself as a hip hop superhero, which is validated by his flawless delivery.  “Hyundai Elantra Music II” and it’s infectious beat forced me into the absolute illest at-my-desk-in-my-chair two step.

On the topic of women, BWMS is awesome in that it not only steers clear of misogyny, but also disingenuous pandering.  When he raps about women and dating, it ranges from jumpoffs (“Jumpoff Love Song”), the real side of relationships (“Our Love”) and getting it in with your fine ass moms (“Cougar Town”).

Did I mention this kid can rap?  I was introduced to his music a year ago, and have had the pleasure of seeing him grow as an artist, and witnessing how dedicated he is to his craft.  But you don’t have to take my word for it.  You can buy “Bitch, Where’s My Sandwich: The Album” by clicking here, and paying $0.99. You have the option of contributing more, and for 19 amazing tracks, I hope that you would do so.  Help that kid get a sandwich…in fact, help him get two.

If you’d like to catch up with what is going on with Nerd Ferguson, follow his Twitter, @Nerd_Ferguson. You can also catch him this Wednesday night on All Subjects Everything, with @CJStarchild.

Lay it Bare

"Honesty is a fucking aphrodisiac." - c. Me to the delightful Huny

When I talk to my girlfriends, one of the biggest complaints they have about dating is seeking honesty.  It seems like such a simple thing.  We talk. You ask me a question, I give an honest answer.  I ask you a question, you give an honest answer.  But somewhere in the realm of relationships, we develop this fear of letting that person see who we are.  We color our personalities, avoid mentioning certain frailties or failings, and avoid angering that person like the plague.  And that’s not real life.

Fear of revealing the same frailties and failings is why we lie.  We ALL do it.  Being honest about our shortcomings requires a certain vulnerability that we aren’t always comfortable revealing.  It takes a lot to admit to anyone, and especially someone we love and respect, that we totally fucked up.  I hate admitting it.

I’ve learned that in dating, most people are going to tell a few of what my friend Melissa calls “baby lies,” lies that you know they shouldn’t tell, but it’s not that big of a deal.  They’re frustrating because when they’re over something so small, you wonder why they bothered to lie in the first place.  Sometimes, people tell baby lies about things that they think won’t come up again, and it’s done just to keep peace.  On the occasions that things don’t go according to plan (as is often the case), that baby lie morphs into hydra of deception.  That’s hard to own up to.  But the point of this post isn’t really to examine why people lie.  I’d much rather tell you why you should tell the truth.

I can deal with absolutely anything a person has to tell me, if they shoot from the hip.  It might hurt and I may not skip off into a meadow, but it makes the situation easier for everyone involved.  There’s no dark karmic cloud hanging over you.  That’s really the worst that can happen.  You don’t owe that person anything else after you’ve offered honesty.  If they constantly hang it over your head, or throw it in your face, well take that as your cue to leave them alone.

But as for me, I just want the truth.  As I mentioned, honesty is an aphrodisiac.  There is nothing like being brave enough to lay all your shit on the table, because I thrive on trust.  A lack of fear in showing me your seedy underbelly tells me that you trust me enough to handle the heavy shit.  I don’t want to see the knight in shining armor.  I want to see the bruises, scars and ultimately, the soft underbelly.  I’m flawed, bruised and scarred my damn self, and my soft spots are plentiful.  Throwing down the honesty gauntlet at me lets me know that I can do the same to you.  And that’s bigger and more important than any mistake.  Be imperfect with me. Turn me on by giving me your personality in panoramic view.  That’s sexier than any façade.

On the topic of “Common Sense”

No.  I won’t read an article with term “Rape Responsibility” in the title.  I’ve basically gotten the tone of the piece, and I’m in no mood to upset myself with someone else’s entitled opinion.  What I’ve gleaned from the reactions was that the article was ill-informed and out of touch.  It dares to address the “Fine Line Between Victim Blaming and Common Sense.”  Since I’m an obliging sort, allow me to assist:

Common Sense Fact No. 1 – When a woman is raped, it is because she has encountered a rapist.

Revolutionary concept, no?  What you read about how you are dressed, where you go, how much you had to drink – it’s crap.  This is not to say that we are to disregard our personal safety.  It’s of paramount importance.  But let’s be clear:  Never in life has a normal man been going about his daily life, then said, “Wait! Drunk Girls? I suddenly and inexplicably am overcome with the need to rape.”  He was a rapist when he brushed his teeth that morning, and was simply waiting for his opportunity.

Common Sense Fact No. 2 – According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, 77% of completed rapes are committed by someone the victim knows.

So the boogeyman stories you hear about high-heeled women walking from the club down dark alleys reeking of booze aren’t nearly as prevalent as your neighbor, or the familiar face who offered you a ride home.  In fact, when that statistic is broken down, almost 24 % of those rapists are family members, and another 30% are intimate partners.  Even more disturbing, in the occurrence of elderly female rape, 81% of those crimes are committed by the primary caregiver.  Though the label “acquaintance rape” is used, it bothers me, because it seems to take the teeth out of what it is: rape.  It doesn’t matter if you could identify them, or have been to their homes.  They are rapists.  There are scores of people who do not see rape as a normal part of caring for someone who depends on and trusts them.  Most acquaintances don’t see forcing an unwilling person to have sex as an “after party.”

Common Sense Fact No. 3 – The onus is on woman to avoid getting raped.  The onus is on men to get women to say yes.  Being taught “Don’t rape,” is rare.

So we are taught to defend ourselves, avoid dressing a certain way, don’t walk here, party there, or drink too much.  Again, these are valid messages toward personal safety.  Fewer and farther between are tips on how not to be a raping bastard.  “Sometimes ‘no’ means ‘on’,” a former acquaintance once joked.  (I was unamused.)  We are almost taught to expect to be raped if we are not careful enough.  And what are men taught?

In high school, we had a health ed speaker discussed sexuality with us.  “Boys are like a light switch.  Once they’re on, they’re on.  Girls are like crock pots.  You just need to wait a while until they warm up.”  Saying no never even came up.  “No” means “later.”  No matter what she says, she wants the dick.  Just wait her out.

Common Sense Fact No. 4 – Not all victims of rape are women.

I recognize that I spoke primarily in the feminine, due in part to the fact that women were the target of that article.  That being said, men and – often to the point of being heart breaking – young boys are also victims of rape.  The theories of skirts that are too short, and women walking alone, again, go out the window.  Male rape victims underreport even more than female victims.  There are also huge incidences of rape by someone familiar to the victim.

STOP MAKING EXCUSES

Teach your children, your family, your friends and anyone else who will listen that rape is an act of violence.  It’s not something that hysterical women make up, or a prison punchline.  It is traumatic, and the range of emotions one goes through is vast:  How did a person like that slip into my social circle?  If it is someone I know, will our friends take sides? Do I report it?  Will I be believed?  What did I do to cause this?  Rape victims are completely capable of erroneously blaming themselves without any help from you.  Victim blaming is a large part of the reason rapes go unreported ever day.  Saying, “Well, I’m not trying to blame the victim, but…” is about as useful as a bigot saying “Some of my best friends are black.”  When you factor in the statistic that 60.4% of female and 69.2% of male victims were raped before the age of 18, victim-blaming becomes even more unconscionable.

The circumstances are irrelevant.  If you have raped someone, then you are a rapist.  Don’t you ever get that twisted.

 

 

OG Ambitions

I look like I got ANYTHING for these hoes?

*Sophia Petrillo voice* Picture it: Olney, Maryland. The year is 2010.  I’m in a hospital bed recovering from a rather nasty encounter with a pulmonary embolism, and I’m listening to my suite mate being discharged.  She uses “disposable adult undergarments” and discussed the whether or not she should attempt to go to the bathroom. After a slight bit of hemming and hawing, she’s silent for a moment and says, COMPLETELY nonplussed, “Well look…I just went in this one. What do we do now?”

In that experience, I saw my future.  I embarrass very easily.  I ultimately recover, it could be months, even YEARS later, and I’ll occasionally get totally red faced about it.  I won’t pretend to know what she was thinking, but the way she spoke said, “Look, this is what it is, let’s fix it and move on.”

One day, I’m going to be a really old broad, and I kind of want to be like that.  I’ll still be me, but I want to be like “Look, yeah I peed my pants, but I changed my alternator and put two kids through college. Holla at ya girl.”  Dammit I MIGHT throw up the Roc when I’m 70.

I’ve also decided that when I outlive my second husband, I won’t marry again. I’ll just have a boyfriend that everyone will call Mr. Charles. That may not even be his name.  But he’ll know how to hook up your carburetor, and Charles sounds like the most trustworthy name for that type of thing.  We’ll have family picnics and he’ll be all, “Go’on on and let that boy have a beer! Had my first beer at 15 years old!” He’ll say it with a square dangling from his lip and I’ll allow it.

I plan on being a pretty kick ass Gram.  But I don’t focus on that TOO much, because I don’t want to be the person who forces my kids to have kids.  That’s the type of thing that I would love, but it’s gotta be their choice.  My kids are awesome people though, so I’ll look forward to having a bird’s eye view of their parenting.

Toting a pistol will definitely be part of my old broad life.  I want a hand cannon.  I also want to shoot at least one person, just to show the other reprobates that I mean business.  Not the regular mischievous kids.  I’m talking about the real incorrigible ones.  I don’t plan on killing anyone, but I need to put one on JUST the right side of death so that they know I could if they try to test.

Don’t confuse that with me wanting to be an old douche.  I have no plans to hate kids.  Actually, I want the hooligans to be my friends. SOMEBODY has to watch my Lincoln Town Car when I go to pick up my post-menopausal medicinal reefer.  Part of being older, to me, means sharing with the folks that come behind you.  I came up amongst OGs, and they never “schooled” me by beating me over the head with messages.  The gave weight to who I was as a young woman, and shared what they’d learned with me.  That’s part of the joy of being old, I think.  Not to look back and hate that you’re not the young person that you were, but to build and give people the benefit of your experience in all things, including just how to love folks.  I really plan on enjoying every part of my journey here.

It’s Not At All Different…Except it Totally Is

A week or so ago, one of the young fellas I follow on Twitter asked about the difference in dating after you’re 30.  It was perceived as a soft launched missile, but it made me think to myself, “Yeah…what is the big damn difference?  Wait a second…is there a difference?”  And the answer is yes.  Dating as a 35 year old woman is far different than dating as a 25 year old woman.  But not for the reasons you think.

Though I didn’t expect a grand revelation on my 30th birthday, I thought that my experiences would improve.  I’m older, so I will meet older, more serious-minded fellas.  Sounds good, right?  Allow me to introduce you to two facts of life:

  1. With age comes experience.  Unfortunately, this does not mean that with this age and experience will come the insight to benefit from what one has learned.  In certain aspects of life, age really is just a number; and,
  2. There is a large segment of the 20-something male population, who enjoys nothing more than getting his smang on with a “seasoned vet.”

So here we are, right back where we started.  We’re not only dealing with the 20-somethings we THOUGHT we abandoned in our 20s, but we’re also dealing with the less than mature over-30-somethings.  Adding insult to injury, these are the same immature over-30-somethings that our younger 20-something selves laughed at for being “too old to act that way.”  Now he’s your peer.  And was quite possibly your prom date.  Awesome.

But, what about the differences I mentioned?  Well, here they are:

  1. “Do you have kids,” becomes a polite and perfunctory question.  It’s code for “How many kids do you have?”  It’s not that everyone in their 30s has kids – it just seems like it.  It takes the strength of Sampson to stop your eyebrows from lifting in shock when the answer is no.
  2. Everybody has advice for you.  Suddenly, dating has become a team effort.  I know for an absolute fact that I managed to date successfully for years without a tribunal.  Now everything requires a decision by committee.  And no matter what you do, the committee is against you.  Girl where yall going? Oh I wouldn’t have gone to that restaurant. How did you meet him? Oooh…there? Who paid? He did? He probably wanted to get some? Did he try to get some? He did? Ugh. You gon’ give him some? No? Why not?!  Well why ain’t you talking about him? For someone you just met, you don’t think you’re talking about him too much? Are yall doing okay? Seriously.  They’re all well meaning, but it’s a bit much.
  3. The dudes in your age range either never want to get married, or they want to get married three weeks ago.  The happy medium is rare. One the one hand, you’ve got the dudes who have been hurt/are fearful of commitment and flat out don’t open up.  Often, there’s some chick out there that still has her hooks in him, whether he wants to admit it or not, and it prevents him from establishing new attachments.  In the other case, a dude may have enough self-awareness to know who he is as a person.  That’s fine, but he still doesn’t know me, or how he will react/relate to my brand of shenanigans.  “We ain’t gettin no younger, we might as well do it” doesn’t even sound good in that “Let’s Get Married,” song, let alone real life.
  4. The night of your most awesome date ever, the one where you abandon all of your hangups and decide that you are going to give him all the goodies on the first night, your period is going to start.  It doesn’t matter what the calendar says.  Your body starts staging little mutinies around 31, letting you know it gives not one solitary damn about your plans, goals, happiness or (largest of all) sex life.  It’s gonna happen. You will deal.
  5. You have to combat the urge to over-think EVERYTHING.  Well what did he mean when he said see you later?  Later tonight?  Like tomorrow later?  I have things to do tomorrow!  Wait…my schedule just freed up! Did I allude to being busy?  What if he won’t call because he thinks I’m busy?  Did he call? What if he calls?  Is Sprint tripping?  Am I getting all of my text messages? What if he doesn’t like receiving texts?  Can he read?  I never asked?  OMG AM I OVER-THINKING THIS!?!?!  Yes, fool.  You are, now chill out.  Things are going to be what they are going to be.  Be yourself, not your representative, and if it doesn’t work out, then you know that it’s a compatibility issue, and not something you created in your mind.

Whether you’re dating in your 20s, 30s, 40s or beyond, people are people.  Neither the players nor the game have really changed.  The only thing that does change is your perspective of them.  I’m not here to tell you how to score your next boo.  There doesn’t seem to be a true formula for that.

Here’s what I do know:  If you view dating as this horribly tragic activity, then you will always attack (and attacking is NEVER a good thing, unless you are a mother lioness eying the last antelope on the plain) dating with a sense of desperation.  If you see it as a meaningless thing, then you shouldn’t be surprised if you make a bunch of meaningless connections.  But my experience tells me that if you go into it open-minded treat people like humans rather than assembly line numbers, at the very least you’ll connect with some great folks.  Honestly, who doesn’t have room for decent, fun people in their corner?