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.

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Closer to Fine

Well darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable
And lightness has a call that’s hard to hear
I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
I sail my ship of safety til I sank it
I’m crawling on your shores.

And I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains
There’s more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine.

– “Closer to Fine” The Indigo Girls

There are less than 33 hours left 2011.  A year that frankly, has been full of surprises.  I’m published.  That’s really a BFD to me.  I also decided to walk out of my house and make the DMV my home.  What makes this amazing is that I’ve managed to make new friends from here to Cali (despite the foibles I mentioned in my previous post).  Life has been so kind to me this year, and I can’t begin to express my gratitude.  I feel compelled to work harder for it.  Earn some of the goodness that has come my way.

This summer, I wrote this.  It was a reflection on the fearless girl I used to be.  I mourned embracing the spirit that makes me hesitate; the spirit that stops me from jumping into shallow water and forces my eyes open when I roll down hill.  Prudence isn’t an awful trait, but we can overdo it.  I’ve got kids, so I can’t always go balls to the wall, but I made a conscious effort to let go the tiniest bit.

If reading my own past words wasn’t enough (it’s not – one of my largest goals this year is to really analyze other people’s thoughts) one of my favorite people shared this awesome piece on Twitter.  Number 7 stuck with me the most:

7 :: If my parents / my grandma / God / whoever holds my sense of personal propriety in check was GONE (poof!) and there was no one to offend, upset, or disappoint… who would I become?

What unspeakably dark (or exquisitely light) truth would I tell? What would I (finally!) allow myself to write, publish, announce or create? What kind of closet would I come out of? What would I completely, at last, and fully… forgive?

One of the largest things I’ve tried to overcome is the accepting the woman I am, and not the one I’m expected to be.  In no way are the people who shaped me wrong.  I just can’t continue to beat myself up over finding my own way.  I pray that I still employ the wisdom they’ve given me.

Life is so funny.  Sometimes it punches you in the gut so that you can take stock of everything; other times, it gently wraps its arms around your waist, whispering sweet nothings, while making your heart feel light. Recently, life affably plopped down next to me on a bench, threw its arm across my shoulder and said, “Yo, let’s look at this sunrise and give today everything you’ve got.”  I’ve said this before, and it bears repeating:  Sometimes we can be so fearful of our own success and happiness, that we cripple ourselves with the lie that we’re waiting to be unafraid.  We will ALWAYS be afraid. There’s a fear in the unknown.*

I don’t know that every decision I will make will be the perfect one.  In fact, I can guarantee you that I will fuck up.  I’m flawed.  So are you. I plan on respecting the consequences of my flawed nature and being wise.  But I don’t plan on being afraid.  Not of failure, success, joy or pain.  The truth is, there’s no one way to get to ANY of those things.  We’re taught to believe that if you do this, and ONLY this, that will happen.  This holds true for certain things in life, but not all.

And the less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine.

*  Much of the reason I quote myself is to hold myself accountable in my affirmations.  I don’t want to say the things that motivate me, then forget them.  Remembering that I have far to go is imperative.

Out the Box

People seldom differentiate you doing a thing from being a thing.  We harbor this compulsion to categorize.  Sing a song in public, you’re a singer.  Rescue someone, you’re a hero.  Throw a punch, you’re a fighter.  Be party to a physical indiscretion, you’re a cheater.  When a person performs an extreme action, negative or positive, we are loathe to allow them the full spectrum of their humanity.  Heroes can’t be rude to waiters; cheaters can’t love their kids.  When the streets is watchin’, there’s no room to deviate from the script.

This wouldn’t be as problematic if people didn’t buy into that brand of logic, particularly on the internet.  Far too often to suit me, when a person is branded a “thing,” they fit themselves into that box, no matter how rigid.  Sometimes, it’s interesting to see people stage tiny rebellions against their personas, only to slide back into the zone of what was assigned to them.  It’s not even always a “comfort zone.”  Just accepting a lane.  The Fugees hit the nail on the head when they asked, “Yo everybody wears the mask, but how long will it last?”

Rejected.  I believe the great animated philosopher, Eric Cartman said it best when he proclaimed, “WHA-EVA! WHA-EVA! I DO WHUT AH WONT!” At one point I did almost succumb to the pressure of finding a lane.  I’d considered giving my blog a “theme,” so that people would recognize me for writing about topics I’m only vaguely interested in.  Seriously…picture me a beauty blogger?  Right. I reject each and every label and category.  I may not be the best or most entertaining blogger or, but I never want to be disingenuous.  To be fair, the people who read my blog and follow me on Twitter seem to allow me a very wide berth when it comes to my expression.  I thank you for that, because I don’t really have a lane.  Being bright and funny helps, but by no means do I corner the market on that.  My presence on Twitter is no different than here.  I cuss a bit more on Twitter, but only because I believe in my extended writing, profanity can be a bit distracting.  I speak on whatever strikes my fancy, in a way where I am true to me.  I’m not shy about the type of things I like or dislike, because that’s my space to share myself.

One of my favorite moments in Twitter history is when Paulo Coelho, the mind behind The Alchemist tweeted that he was now playing Snoop Dogg’s Gin n Juice.  Within moments he tweeted, that he was not hacked, and he did like Snoop.  His willingness to show that type of humanity, made me develop a little crush on him.  It’s not the nuance of him liking hip hop.  I probably would have been equally enamored had he said he was watching “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”  I admired  his matter of fact delivery and how he made no big deal about it afterward.

It would be amazing if more people felt that type of freedom.  How willing are we to allow people to have that type of freedom.  In my relationship with my kids, there are things which interest them that make me want to HURL.  I remember my parents completely shutting down the music, television shows and clothes that I liked.  My interests felt like dirty secrets.  So with them, I approach them with an open mind.  Sure, I have the last word, but it’s far easier to reach common ground on a platform of reason.  I believe the same goes for people who are in “lanes.”  Open your mind to the possibility that you must might enjoy the unusual.  It doesn’t even have to be a “guilty pleasure.”  I once read somewhere that when tiny things bring you pleasure, you have no need to feel guilty.

I embrace being a dichotomy.  My favorite second line song contain the lyrics, “Take em off! Take ya m*********n draws off!”  I can also vibe out to Dvořák’s Nocturne in B.  Hang out with me and we could guffaw to “Friday,” or I could dissect the sexual imagery in Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” or Keats’ “La Belle Dame Sans Merci.”  I’m neither a “hood rat,” nor am I an “intellectual.”  I’m a person, and not a persona.  You are more than welcome to join me in being the same.

I’m not yo mama, I’m yo grandma!

I’m becoming my parents.  More and more every day.  As a woman, I knew turning into my mother was inevitable, but my father?! The Fanny Packer?! Hell to the no!  (Heh heh…I said Fanny…Packer. Get it? In retrospect, saying this about my father is beyond gross on several levels so…)

Both of my parents were wise.  Both were giving.  Both were given to temper.  I think some of this comes from two people coexisting for 18 years.  Even though I wouldn’t count them as one of the great love affairs of our time, they did have a certain level of respect for one another as partners, so the grew from each other in many ways.  But then there are nuances that are specific to each of them that I have managed to absorb.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the evidence:

Exhibit A:  The Squint (Daddy)

Ladybug: *to me as I look at the computer* Ooooh, I see why everyone says you look like Paw Paw.

Me: *horrified to the Universe* NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

My pops has this very distinctive squint.  The only other person I’ve witnessed even come close to replicating it, is my aunt; and apparently, me.  It’s a combination of raising his head, looking down, squinting so that his two front teeth are exposed and wrinkling his nose.  Sort of like a middle-aged near-sighted bunny rabbit…with forehead wrinkles…and thick black hair…and enlarged pores-LOOK! The point is, someone snapped a picture of me doing this, and I wanted to die.  At 34, the last thing you want to hear is that you look like a middle aged man.

Exhibit B:  Literal translations of everything (Mama)

My mother enjoyed arts and music, but once things passed the realm of what she decided was “decent,” you could cancel Christmas.  One of our most hilarious memories of our mother is when she was trying to be cool.  Her idea of being cool was  letting us listen to rap music.  I was 11, and “Supersonic” came on.  See, I loved to beat box, so Baby Dee was my hero, therefore, her verse was my favorite.

Me: *mimicking the radio, word for word* You see my beat box is fresh, it’ll blow ya mind/and if you don’t like my beat I’ll go DIG ON YO BEHIND! *proudly doing the snake*

Mama: *horrified* DIG IN YO BEHIND?! *click*

My ass was Supersonic no no more.

Fast forward to 2010.  The radio is on, and Trey Songz’s “Bottoms Up” came on.

Finge: *mimicking the radio, word for word* Oooh, oh oh OHHHH! IT’S MISTA STEAL YO GIRL!

Me: *totally unamused* That’s how people get stabbed. *click*

Exhibit C:  Calling the kid into the toilet (Mama)

I staved it off for YEARS, but I managed to have received that gene where I have to forget something each and every time I go to take a shower.  Of course, once I’m in, I can’t leave until it’s mission accomplished.  I may never get back in here.  My son escapes this bit of indignity, but my poor daughter does not.  To add insult to injury, I found myself yelling at her “DON’T LOOK!”  One day she gave me the “BITCH? WHY? WOULD? I? EVER?” stare.  I managed to stop saying that to her.

Exhibit D:  Deep Sigh Followed By “Alright” then the explosion (Daddy)

You can literally tell my father anything.   Anything.  He’ll give a disappointed sigh, then seem non-plussed.

Me: Daddy, I just shaved my head, joined a cult and married the reincarnated spirit of Saddam Hussein.

Daddy: *Deep sigh* Alright Mel.

But once you get that alright, you better know when to hold ’em and know when to fold em.  ANY subsequent information you provide is liable to set off Mt. St. Pops.  It’s typically the most innocuous thing in your laundry list of shenanigans.

Me: Yeah dad.  We robbed a bank, sacrificed two virgins in  pagan ritual and I shot a senior citizen for making fun of my blue socks.

Dad: BLUE SOCKS?! BLUE SOCKS?! Look, I didn’t work at the phone company for 30 years and sometimes take on two jobs for your ass to run around this city wearing blue socks.  I really don’t know what to say about you.  My GOODNESS!  Blue socks *off the phone to the step0mom “yeah…BLUE! I know!”* So, you’re just a blue sock wearer huh?  Hmph.  I’m gonna have to call you back.  I’ll call back you AND your blue socks.

I have become a delayed reaction person myself.  My kids can tell me any bad thing they’ve done, but they’d better cut their losses.

Me: WHAT THE HELL YOU MEAN YOU RAN OUT OF PAPER?!  So I go to work for you to not bring paper to class.  You just want to be a paperless student?  Just…borrowing paper from everybody you see, huh?

Son: But…the principal is in the trunk though.  This doesn’t bother  you?  Because I’m pretty sure it really should…

Me: Well, does she have your paper?!

It makes no sense.  I’m working on it.

I always knew about the curse, “I hope you get one just like you.”  Apparently the unsaid portion of that is, “And you’ll be just like me.”  I thought it would really bother me.  I thought it would make me feel old, and tired, and maybe just a little defeated with the knowledge that I in fact do have to deal with myself as a child.  Then I remember that they handed me the blueprint.

Truth be told, I’m not so sure I mind this metamorphosis at all.

A Little Lagniappe

The recipe called for a lot of “1’s”:  1 lb. beans, 1 lg onion, 1 bell pepper, and so forth.  My trusting mother left me in the kitchen with her instructions, to make my first pot of red beans all alone.  She reappeared about an hour later, apparently pleased that in the process of “frying down” the meat, I’d managed to avoid completely smoking out the kitchen.  She looked in the, pot, stirred it up tasted a bit of the liquid and instructed me to chop another, smaller onion and she added a little more garlic.  Responding to my quizzical expression, she said, “Baking is a science.  Cooking is an art.  In art, there’s always room for a little lagniappe.”  My first pot of beans was a huge success, and I actually became the cook of the family.

My mother and her two good friends, Virgie and Shirley adopted an unspoken child care circle, where one of them always managed to be stay at home moms, caring for the broods of others.  Shirley was the one most often in the position of caregiver, charged with no less than seven children at a time.  Food was carefully watched over, as it always had to be made to stretched to accommodate the masses.  One glass of Kool Aid with lunch, another with dinner if we were still there that late; everything else was water.  One day I was having a particularly off day, and Aunt Shirley called me back into the kitchen after everyone else had been sent outside to play.  She extended an extra glass of Kool Aid to me, saying, “Child, there’s a time for rules, and there’s a time for lagniappe, so drink this and don’t tell anybody.”

Such were the lessons of my upbringing.  A lot of life is following your routine, but when a little extra is needed, you shouldn’t balk at it.  Embrace it as normal.  There’s no such thing as not having time for another cup of coffee, or an extra moment for a hug.  If you don’t have the time to hear someone’s answer when you ask, “Girl, how you been?!” then you’re doing life all wrong.  We’re all living in these times of lean, where money is tight, credit won’t get it, and our day to day living is strenuous.  I don’t think that we should completely abandon looking for those stray moments, where “just a tad more” marks the difference between existing and living; functional and fabulous.

Now that I’m in charge of molding young minds, I teach them the importance of snatching little extras here and there, making all the difference in having a good day and a great one.

Let’s NOT talk about sex

Because…well, just because.  (But since I’m apparently a secret hornball, there at least needed to be a reference to it.)

What do you want?  When you wake up each morning and go about your business of carving out the latest installment of your life, what do you want to look back and see?  Are your actions proof of a genuine interest in the furtherance of your goals and dreams?

I often find myself saying I want x or y, yet when I look back at my actions of the day, I’ve only done b or c.  Where they do that at? Admittedly, I have done better with my finances – not great, but BETTER.  I still have more than half of the money that I allowed myself for this pay period. Score one for the cute, chubby dynamo.  Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for my battle of the bulge.  I’m STILL not speaking to pie.  But the stray brownie or cookie still finds it’s way to my soup coolers.  Granted, it doesn’t happen as often, but it does happen more than it should, so I’m planning to get that in control.

In my opinion, it boils down to being armed with at least a sketched out plan to achieve your goal.  I am a woman lacking a plan.  Even a skeletal one. I am a woman lacking w workable realistic plan.  Even a skeletal one.  (Yeah.  That’s better.)

My writing has been less focused as of late as well.  Though I am happy that through it all, I have continued writing, there still is a certain polish that is necessary.  My goal is to buckle down and go back to school, so that I can hone my craft just a little more.

There are a lot of things that I want – and plan – to address via this blog.  Additionally, if my padnah ever gets off his bootay, we’ll get Naked Admonition up and running again.  I may have to NOT wait on The Dialectic, and just get it in myself.  Yes.  I am shaming him into action.  (J/K.  He’s a good guy with a lot on his shoulders.  Unfortunately for him, I’m a part time ball buster, so…yeah…)

Love ya Smoochies!

I got…

It’s impossible to convey the importance music holds in my life.  My artistic slumps almost inevitably lead to secular and emotional slumps as well.  In yesterday’s post, I discussed feeling disconnected, and I’m working to fix that.  But yesterday, while discussing music, someone posted a lady I enjoy calling “My Nina,” and it seemed to fit so perfectly in my life right now.

So, I’m chubby, I haven’t finished my book, I don’t own a home, blah blah, blah blah, blah BLAH! I’ve got life. I’ve got a day to become closer to whatever goal I fell short of the day before. I’ve got a SHOT. I’ve got a day to eat my veggies, write a new paragraph, and save a couple of dollars. I’ve got the strength to pray for wisdom and endurance. I’ve got the heart to admit I’m scared and the balls to slay dragons. I’ve got the eyes to seek that which encourages me. I’ve got the nerve to demand that people not waste my time and let them know that I call the shots on what I’m worth. I’ve got the clarity to count my blessings. I’ve got the sugar and water to turn lemons into lemonade. I’ve got bad ass shoes. I’ve got the ability to find the best pairs of $4 earrings. I’ve got good friends. I’ve got good family. I’ve got rhythm, music and daisies in green pastures. I’ve got the feeling that if Nina Simone’s voice can’t take you to a new place, then you’re missing major shit in your soul.

AND

I’ve got my boobies. *giggle*