Cult of Personality

“And during the few moments that we have left, we want to talk, right down to
earth, in a language that everybody here can easily understand.”

– Malcolm X (sampled in Living Colour’s “Cult of Personality”)

I’m just a woman.  With a couple of kids, a job that pays the bills, a Hyundai with butterfly doors and a keyboard.  And I want to be heard.  I want to speak plainly, directly, and be understood.  Judging by the hundreds of millions of people who divide their time between Twitter and Facebook, I’m not alone.

My desire to be heard is the reason I established my small presence on social media.  What I enjoy most about it is the fact that I’m seriously an every day girl who has bits of awesome.  It makes me think that the woman next to me on the train or the dude hooking up my latte might have a hidden awesome story of their own.  Stay online long enough, and people assign certain characteristics to your “persona.”  Or sometimes, we assign those characteristics to ourselves.

For the most part, people see me as a nerdy/funny girl/ranting maniac.  I’m also very open about my stance and experiences with domestic violence, life as an expatriated New Orleanian, and struggles as a mother, who is also single and black.  Being frank, but (hopefully) friendly is my calling card.  I try not to treat subjects as taboo, but rather, get them out in the open.

When you’ve been around enough, certain things become running jokes (like me with “your dad,” and one of my very young friends being credited with creating the universe).  Other times, people just sort of assign labels to you, which can at times be annoying and counter-productive if you’re attempting to establish discourse.  Frankly, it’s just all part of the “cult.”  Because for the most part, not even half of these people know you – a large percentage of the other half only KIND of know you.*

So when it comes to my personal relationships, I am fiercely private.  I respect my privacy as well as the other person’s.  I have three blood sisters who are on Twitter, and I don’t follow any of them.  We have discussed our reasons for that, and mutually respect one another’s wishes. Though I occasionally use my children’s real names, I’m far more likely to use nicknames.  While I may laugh at an innocuous funny or generic issue, I keep most challenges with them private.

That spills over into my dating life as well.  I’m very hesitant to discuss who I’m seeing.  It takes me a while to divulge whether I’m seeing anyone at all.  Even one of my best friends gives me the side eye when she doesn’t hear about a fella until after we’re kaput.  I’ve always been that way, if for no other reason than because it don’t have a damn thing to do with yall.  I don’t think that people would single me out and attempt to torpedo my relationship.  Quite frankly, I doubt THAT many people care about my romantic maneuvers one way or the other.  But I care, and I care enough to guard my relationships with people.

I’ve developed friendships and relationships with people that I have met through social networking sites.  When that happens, our friendship and interaction typically goes off grid.  If I see a person as a confidante, then I like to keep a certain level of confidence.  Not everyone will rock that way, and that’s understandable.  But as much as I enjoy being heard, how I connect with my folk is something I like to keep very quiet.

*Sure, there are people who get on Twitter or Facebook and give the cheat codes to their entire existence.  I’m not referring to them.

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It all starts with words

I go through these spells where I forget how to live.  Everything that makes me, well me, seems foreign and impossible.  “What color is my toothbrush? Where do I put my shoes? Where are my keys? WHAT ARE WORRRRRRRRRRDSSSSSSSS?!” (You can’t see me, but I’m shaking my fist angrily at the universe.)

Writer’s block I can handle. Idea block? Not so much. I don’t want to rehash the same words and thoughts that I’ve spilled in my SEVEN YEARS (almost) of blogging.  I don’t want to recycle other people’s ideas.  I just want to write awesome things…and buy shoes…and talk to cute boys on the phone. I’m getting off track. But that’s the whole point. When I think about the person I was one year ago today, I don’t think I do any of the things now that I was doing then. Granted, some things need to change, but I feel that there are parts of me that I need to recapture and incorporate into life as I now know it.

What does that have to do with anything?  I wrote more.  And I did it for me, in hopes that someone could get something out of it.  Lately, I find myself questioning my voice, which is something I’ve never done.  If I knew why I felt this way, I’d change it immediately, but I’m doing my damnedest to expel and bind my doubting spirit. Words have always been an important part of my life. Yet, when I’m at a crossroads, words are the first to go.

What I enjoy most when I forget how to do things, is the moment I remember…again. And I does this. Right now, I’m still trying to learn life over, but I’m getting there. To be honest, I’ve even been struggling with brainstorming. In all of the great things that have taken place this year, I did not expect to struggle with my gift, right when I need it the most.

If I haven’t said it lately, I’m always appreciative that you are with me through all of this. Some of you have been reading my work for a long time, and it’s really humbling. I don’t know what I say or do to keep yall coming back, but I’m glad you enjoy it. I can’t sing or dance or do any of the fly things that so many of my fellow bloggers can do. Strip me down, and I got “nothing but my balls and my word” (word to Young Bleed).  And really, word by word, that’s where it all starts with me.

B Jack

What if Opes was one of us?

So in the first episode of the last season of Oprah’s show, she surprised her audience members (300 of them) with a trip to Australia.  I don’ t care who you are and what you do, I am willing to wager that the majority of my readers are working stiffs just like me, or even if you have cheddar, you’re still balling within the acceptable limits of ballification.  Not so for Oprah. So I just had a conversation with Oprah in my mind, and I’ll share it with you.

[Oprah teleports next to me in the Hyundai]

M: Oh snap!!! It’s Oprah!

O: Hi Mel. How are you today?

M: Oh, everything is everything, Oprah. I’m just grinding, working hard trying to make this come up happen.  Had to run for the bus this morning, but I didn’t let a little thing like that get me down.  You know, when I look at you, and the fact that you were relentless in the pursuit of success, I could only appreciate that.  I don’t always see eye to eye with you on things, but I admire that about you.  You really are every woman.

O: Well, to be frank, that’s just something I tell yall.  I’m a billionaire.  Are you a billionaire?  I’m not trying to be a douche about it.  Sometimes my info is off. If you’re not, I’m stating facts.  I’m not every woman, but I used to be, and put your mind to it, you can come up in the game and add dollar signs to your name, as your friend likes to say.

M: As my friend likes to…you look at my chat logs Oprah?

O:  [Gives the “Heaux do you know who I am?” hand motion] Oh, and I read your lil funky ass blog too.  You were talking real greasy about the kid.  Not the one you have now – that Mental Oasis joint. *toothpick appears in her mouth* Yeah.  You better be glad you killed that noise a while back, because I was gonna have to send my peoples to come see you.  You got it together though.

M:  Well damn Oprah, I mean you’re just gonna roll up in the Hyundai and…

O:  Look, before your mouth gets you in trouble, I’m not coming for beef. I just like to pop in and check on people from time to time.  You’re doing your little writing thing, and that’s good, I like that.  Just keep handling your business and don’t quit.

M: That’s really decent of you man.  I kinda thought…well, you know what I thought.  You’re alright though.  So enough about me, what’s going on with you? What’s good in Oprah’s world?

O: [Rolling a spliff] Ain’t shit.  Just a routine day for me: drank some coffee flavored with the highest quality Cambodian breast milk.  After yoga, I rode my unicorn around Pluto.  You know, they said it’s not a planet, but that joint is still big as fuck.  Act right and maybe you can roll through and see for yourself.

M:  That’s what’s up Oprah.  So, that’s all you got going on?

O:  Yeah. [Pauses to think] Oh, know what I did? I sent 300 heads that I never met to Australia.  Just some ole pedestrian ass run of the mill shit for me. [Opes shrug] We were having a set your money on fire party, and I came up with that idea.  You ever been to one of those joints?

M: A party where you set the money on fire, Oprah?  No.  I can’t say I’ve had the occasion to be in attendance.

O: [Mocking] “The occasion to be in…” bitch, we at school?  What? You salty ‘cuz you broke?  Being broke builds character playa.  Don’t sweat it.  Your time is gonna come.  Until then…[snaps fingers and a “Oprah Could Have Sent Me To Sydney but Created This Punk Ass T-Shirt Instead” shirt appears on my body]

M:  Uh, thanks Oprah.

O: [Licks the side of my face] ENJOY YO’SELF! [disappears]

M:  Ugh.

O: [Reappears] Oh, and that was not at all gay.  I just did it because I’m Oprah and I could.

M: I dunno Oprah, that was a little bit gay.

O: [Gives me the once over] Eh, you’ve got a better rack than Gayle, but she can make it clap.  [Does shaky “so-so” hand motion] Yours needs work.

M:  Oprah…you be wa…

O: [Cuts me off with the “Duh bitch! I’m Oprah!” stare again and disappears]

[Hyundai-with-the-butterfly-doors becomes an Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster]

M: AWWWWWWW SHIT!

O:  [Echoing in the distance] SIKE! Stop talking shit on yo bloooooooog bitch!

[The car is once more a Hyundai-with-the-butterfly-doors]

Fin

My Favorite Time to Hodge Podge

It’s no secret that I love Sundays.  I’m not good at the church thing, but I always felt that being away from the hustle and bustle of the week, our minds are more relaxed and receptive to spiritual messages on Sundays.  It’s a perfect day for lingering conversations with long winded relatives, slow walks to nowhere special and hearty meals that you can spend the rest of the weekend working off, if that’s your thing.  And honestly, is there any loving better than some good Sunday morning loving?  Methinks not.

Sunday morning is also my weigh in day, and I must say, when I see the scale going in the right direction, it makes me feel better about the upcoming week.  There’s a certain obligation to either undo the wrong that’s been done, or not take a dump on my hard work.  This week, there’s no undoing wrongs.  Your girl is on course.  This is a working definition of “what’s hot in these streets.”

I also love Sundays when I’m coming off of a great Saturday.  Yesterday, I spent the afternoon laughing harder than I’ve laughed in a while at nothing in particular.  That’s a good feeling.  I had a great afternoon, and it makes me realize that I need to get out more often.  If I didn’t have so much cleaning and whatnot to do today, I’d certainly hop back on the train and give this “getting out” thing another go.  When you leave your house, the compulsion to shove food in your face all but disappears.  This especially holds true when the McDonald’s offers NINE DOLLAR combos.  WTF?!

Next week, I’m finally going to check out Busboys and Poets and see what all the hullabaloo is about.  I haven’t settled on whether or not I’m going to the U Street location or the one on 5th & K, but I’m definitely hoping to have some delicious food and perhaps make a couple of new acquaintances.

I have the tattoo itch again.  I’ve been wanting the same tattoo on my right shoulder for ages now, but whenever I say “Yeah, I’m going to go for it,” I suddenly decide against.  I mean, I’m bored, so my only answer is to torture myself with a needle?  I’m not sure how healthy that is.  If I get it, I’ll be sure to post pics.  My other dilemma is that I can’t draw, so I would probably be walking around with something generic or someone else’s design.  Neither prospect is very inviting to me, but I’ll see.

For those who don’t know, Oyin Handmade’s Whipped Shea Butter gives me LIFE.  It’s 31 flavors of the bomb.  Since I’ve been using this stuff, my skin has felt like heaven on gossamer on some cool jazz that I don’t even know about yet.  I could be in the dingiest pair of chucks or the most worn pair of flip flops.  If my skin is feeling fabulous, I’m alright.  And my hair…YEESH!  I’m so loving how it feels these days, I can’t even explain it.  I’m overdue for a trim, but finding a good product line that is affordable and black owned just lifts me to unimaginable heights.

Now I just need to get my mind right and decide if I’m going to do yoga or pilates this morning.  I’m thinking my ankle might say “hell to the naw” to some of that yoga jazz.  Ah well, off to start my Sunday!

You know that thing you always do? Yeah. I hate that.

We all have pet peeves.  Things that people do that grab hold of the last nerve in your ass and work it until it is frayed and raw.  Some of them are valid and universal, like rude commuters, loudness and Elizabeth Hasselbeck.  Others, though not invalid, are more personality driven.  I have those a-PLENTY.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve chewed the inside of my jaw, so as to bear through the ordeal of another person’s existence.  That’s awful.  I’m awful.  Yet, once a person has gotten on the wrong side of my nerves, it’s hard to get back right.  On the good side, I recognize it me, and I give folks a lot of leeway.  Every once in a while, when either my nerves are set to extra sensitive, or a person is set on extra “them-ness” I ponder, “Should I say something?”  How would that conversation even begin?  “Hey, um, I wanted to talk to you about all this ‘being you’ you’ve insisted on doing in the past day/week/month/year/lifetime. Um…how bout you chill out with all that?”

My life is a study in tolerance, because at first glance, I tolerate nothing.  Mentally, my go-to response is, “The hell he/she didn’t.”  Knowing that, I typically just swallow it and silently wait until either a conversation shift, or I take my leave.  Most times it works.  But some of the people that twerk my nerves KNOW me, and they know just how to push my buttons.

Without going into the gory details, I recently had a conversation with the baby daddy.  He’s had a world class cuss out on back order for about two years now.  He would do something reckless, I’d ignore it.  He’d do something ignorant, I’d gloss it over.  He’d do something to go to the hall of world class fucked upedness, and I’d say “help me help you here.”  Because I’m trying to live in the grown up world.  Until two weeks ago, he asked the wrong questions, at the wrong time, in the wrong tone and made a few ludicrous assertions.  And I continued to try to just glaze it over.  So he would push again.  And I’d give a calm response.  And he would push again until…

I unleashed the dragon.  And felt equally relieved and horrified.  Because I don’t like other people having control of my anger.  And I don’t want props for telling him off and cussing him out, because at the end of the day, that’s my kids’ father and it is disrespectful to them.  I can guarantee you that cussing out my pops is putting yourself squarely at Beatdown Junction.

My point is, folks are going to be who they are, and though you should stand up for yourself when need be, you should never let them control who YOU are.  If a person irritates you, and it won’t cause the plates to shift and empires to crumble, let it be.

Ten years ago, if you would have told me I would be saying such a thing, I would have called you a bald faced liar.  This grown up shit is a muthafucka.

Misty and Water-Colored

Today I opened up my Gmail, and Dennis Hunt was offering me a job as a secret shopper.  I hate how they email you with normal names like they’re offering you this great  opportunity, when you’re really being hired to be a hypercritical asshole.  I’m sure someone is reading this saying, “Well this is to only ensure quality of service and if the person is doing their job meh meh meh meh meh.”  Screw you and you suck.  That’s one of those weird occupations that gives you a very small amount of power, and it invariably goes to the person’s head.  Only the douchey and desperate would even want such a job.

My first gig after I dismantled my babysitting empire, was working at a pharmacy counter as a clerk and a Pharmacy Technician. I thought I was the bees knees, partially because I was working for people who had charted out a career path and followed it, rather than settling into the first job they could find because life for them went left.  The people who surround you have a profound impact on your life, and I considered myself fortunate to have black professional women to influence me as a young’n, but I digress.  The actual “store” part, sucked.

We could almost always tell who the mystery shopper was, especially when we were busy, because they would not pick up prescriptions.  Why would you stand in a busy pharmacy line, if you didn’t need a pharmacist? Yeah…tell me that.  For the most part, my reviews were above par, but every once in a while, I’d hear, “We had a mystery shopper visit, and they did not feel that you gave them enough attention while the were on the floor.”  When I had a line full of customers and a stack of prescriptions to fill in the back?  Am I your mother? Get on up outta here.

The mystery shopper’s job is to snitch.  Nothing else.  They come in their, slink around wait for something to go left, and rat.  If that wasn’t enough, on top of the mystery shopper, we had the loss prevention guy.  I think his name was Steve…or maybe it was Rod…it was one of those names frequented by douches.  He would visit the store, slink around, make sideways bigoted comments and then tell the manager that we were stealing.  Of course, his actual words were, “This store seems to have a problem with shrinkage.”  “Shrinkage” is a fancy word for employee theft.  Unfortunately, the pharmacy was housed near Crackville, and I don’t think there is an actual method to determine whether or not a customer or an employee has stolen merchandise from the store.  He would give all these alarmist reports to the store manager, who kept his ever vigilant eye on us.  Since everyone was a suspect, they brought in this new assistant manager, who happened to be the most bigoted fuck of them all, who bilked the company out of $35,000.00 USD in cash and merchandise.  That’s some shrinkage for that ass.

So Dennis Hunt, I would like to invite you, your mama, and your offspring to eat a plate of rusty dicks, because I don’t want your punk ass “opportunity.”

Look but…

DON’T TOUCH!

I’m not sure how to approach this topic without sounding like a total bitch, so I’ll just go in.

Fellas, I know it’s hard enough to approach a woman.  It’s like face to face cold calling.  It’s tough, I get it.  Truth be told, a little awkwardness is fine – cute even.  However, some things must not be done.  THOU SHALT NOT GRAB AN UNFAMILIAR WOMAN.  I do not mean don’t shake her hand, or even a light touch on the arm.  These are ways that people show interest, and that’s fine.  What isn’t fine is pulling/yanking me away from wherever I’m standing, then cornering me so I can’t get away.  That was fine for the cavemen, but now they call that kidnapping, which I’m quite sure will get you federal time.

Let it also be stated for the record that never, in my history of being grabbed, has the grabber not turned out to be a 360 degree BUGABOO!  Calling, texting, emailing and IMing all damn day and night.  These guys need to be deposed by DeAndre Cole.  That maneuver tells me, “You’re going to discover that I’m lame, and when you do, I don’t want you to be able to run.”

On it’s face, this seems like typical male-bashing banter, but it’s not.  Not ALL dudes do this.  Maybe I should be thankful, because right off the bat, the lame slip is showing, but I’m not.  I don’t LIKE being pulled.  I can’t imagine any other chick does either.  If I add carrying a razor to the equation of my life, cornering me may be unwise.  If a chick wants to talk to you, she WILL; if she doesn’t, KEEP IT MOVING.  Totally understandable that you would want to be a part of all this (I’m only half joking – I’m inherently cool and I’ve got a GREAT beer stash), but I’m pro-choice in all things, including where I stand when I talk to you.  Ease up lil homie.