A dish best served

People like to say, “Living well is the best revenge.”  Maybe that works for them.  I happen to make a practice of avoiding people obsessed with revenge.  It is one of the most toxic compulsions known to man.  Revenge, when examined, is an obsession to prove yourself to those who may never see the good in you in the first place.  Revenge, is a time suck.  Any time not spent on building and progression is time wasted.  Whenever I ponder over “folks who done me wrong” it’s time that I’ve stolen from more important matters.

Back in the days of Mental Oasis, I was so damned hurt and angry, vicious words toward those who hurt me flew from my phalanges with such ease, they were my fingerprints.  The ex-husband was roasted regularly, as was any other wrongdoer.  They NEEDED to be exposed.  See, I was seeking validation and vindication.  I had to prove that I was better than the way I had been treated, and someday they would all see my value.  I had allowed my melancholy and hurt to dominate a place labeled an “oasis.”  Where they do that at?

So a scrapped that blog, though you can still read some good stuff in the archives (I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for almost seven years), and created this space.  But I almost fell into the same traps.  I had to reaffirm something my mother taught me long ago:  “Don’t waste your time pining over people and things that wouldn’t spend their time on you.”  There may be allusions to certain situations or treacherous acts, but I try to keep the people and details to a minimum.*  I just don’t see the need in letting “my haters be my motivators.”

My chocolate wonders not having to constantly go without. The idea of my father, who worked two jobs to support five kids at times, paying off his mortgage early.  Being able to help my mother’s only surviving immediate family member.  Helping build up marginalized people who have heard “you can’t” so often, that it’s as natural as oxygen.  Hell, a bomb ass stand-alone shower.  THESE are my motivators.  Haters don’t even rank.

And for those who haven’t been so nice to me, all the best.  May you heal from whatever hurt motivated your ugliness toward me.  Granted, there are some things that simply can’t be undone, so I may never consider some of those folks “friends” again, but I will never wish them ill.  At the very worst, there are some people, I just won’t think of at all.  I think that’s okay, because I don’t plan to serve revenge.

However, I would be remiss if I neglected to add that I’m a born and bred hot girl, so I definitely plan to serve it.

_______

*An exception was made for my posts during Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Aware Pt. 1 and Aware Pt. 2.  Domestic violence has been a passionate cause of mine since I was 14 years old.  I felt it important for everyone to realize that abuse could happen to anyone.  It is not something that only befalls the “weak” and the fatherless.
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Happy Birthday!

How many times do people who have stepped away from their blogs used the title “Don’t Call it a Comeback?”  I almost did.  I also often use the term “shameless neglect” when I’ve been away, but that wouldn’t be right.  I wasn’t neglecting my blog so much as I have been taking care of Mel.  No, I still haven’t found a therapist, but I have been soothing and searching my soul.

Once I decided that I would not participate in either NaBloPoMo or NaNoWriMo this year, I started asking myself why.  The answer was “You’re burned out and have other business to attend to.”  I think it would have been better if I would have announced my hiatus then come back, but where’s the excitement in that?  I decided that my birthday gift to myself would be regular blogging.  So Happy Birthday to me.

I’m actually at an age where people say, “How old are you, if you don’t mind my asking?”  That means there are possibly women in my age group that would in fact, mind your asking.  Holy tree rings, Batman!!! I’M THIRTY-SENSITIVE!

Nah. I’m 34.  I really don’t care.  I’ve decided that not only do I not look it, but I look better than a whole bunch of people younger than me.  Feel free to disagree.  I’ll disagree with your disagreement and we can all move on.

So here’s what we’re gonna do.  I won’t promise you “OMG I’m back and I have great things in store and I hope we can share,” because I’ve done that…only to leave you again.  So let’s just say, here’s to me finally delivering on the goods.  I love you guys for sticking with me.

And by the way, if you come often and never commented, do so.  You don’t even have to big up my stuff.  Just let me know you’re here.  Tell me I suck.  Tell me you think cucumbers taste better pickled.  Who’s your favorite Aunt Viv?  HOLLA AT ME! I don’t bite.

Hard.

The Ten Mel Commandments

1. I do not schedule the first date. If a dude digs me, he’s got a maximum of four days to close the deal by inviting me on an outing. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but I believe it is important to see how you treat service people, if you open the door for old ladies, and/or if you are a flagrant ass and boobie watcher.  If there is no invitation in the alloted time, then he’s filtered out. We can still be cool, but the only things that I know of that hang on without purpose are barnacles.  I’ll pass.

2.  The last thing I say is the last word of an argument. Call it a character flaw, but I don’t feel the need to physically say the very last thing (except when it’s my kids – they better shut up when I’m talking).  When I believe I have stated my point thoroughly, I don’t feel the need to go at a person with the back and forth. I change the channel.

3. I will be forever fly. I don’t believe in “I’m losing weight, so I won’t buy clothes until…”  That’s the silliest thing in the world to me.  There’s nothing encouraging about a weight loss journey, if you look like a shapeless frump blob in your clothes.  You don’t have to break the bank, but I firmly believe that one’s situation should be moisturized and their sexy preserved (thank you Diddy) at all times.

4.  There’s always a place for humility.  I don’t believe that one has to be a boot licking yes man/woman, but there is nothing more irritating and boring than excessive arrogance.  From my perspective, it seems that you are trying to convince someone, be it onlookers or yourself, and it just comes off as desperate.  As India Arie says, “There ain’t no substitute for the truth.  Either it is or it isn’t.”  There’s nothing cute or appealing about chronic assholism.

5.  Music is everything.  Unless a person has deep psychological issues, it is virtually impossible to find a person who does not like music.  Have you noticed the question is always, “What type of music do you like?” and never “Do you like music?”  It’s like food.  It’s just a matter of finding that person’s preference.  You can praise God, fight the power, and thrash, all through this one medium.  Not too many things that are not scientifically “life sustaining” have such universal appeal.

Speaking of “Universal Appeal” (and because I can)”

You loved it.

6.  I am everything that I am.  I’m not “a black woman first, and a mother second…” and all that other foolishness.  My blackness doesn’t overtake my responsibilities as a mother.  My femaleness doesn’t overtake my blackness.  Sure, being so many things sometimes causes clashing interests, but that’s part of the grown up world.  I put on my big girl panties and deal with it.

7.  Shea butter is everything after music.  This east coast living turned me dry as dust, and I couldn’t use regular lotion anymore. Of course, I learned that natural oils were better for the skin anyway, so it’s a win, but damn.  If I don’t have shea butter, I’m not leaving the house. Non-negotiable.

8. I do not air dirty laundry.  This is one I had to grow on.  There’s nothing attractive about putting your drama in the streets.  My baby daddy and I have not had some epiphany where things “work” for us.  He still does shit that chaps my ass, but it’s nobody’s business but mine.  If my kids ever happen upon my blog, I don’t want it to be filled with venom about their father, or really anyone else.  I handle my beef person to person now, not on the net.

9.  Change is good.  Following the same routine since time immemorial can cause life to lose its luster.  There’s nothing wrong with shaking it up a little bit.  I’m not saying I’m planning to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro (yet), but little tweaks to the norm can keep this life thing fresh enough to be interested in what the next day will bring.

10.  Have a good time.  Not everything has to be taken so damn seriously.  Enjoy your life.  Tell a joke.  Let some bullshit slide from time to time.  Walk around your house/room/bathroom naked for about an hour, and just ponder life.  There’s a lot that is still here for us to enjoy.

This ain’t for you son!

Popular culture, and particularly music, is a sore spot for a lot of my peers.  There’s a lot of, “What is this shit on the radio,” and “Who watches this crap” regarding television.  I’m going to let you in on a secret:  YA DONE SON!

What my peers don’t realize, when it comes to the radio, and MTV, and most pop culture in general, is that we are no longer the target audience.  Do you realize that MTV’s target audience can barely remember, if at all, that MTV used to strictly be music television?  A large chunk of the target audience of hip hop was not even BORN when Lodi Dodi dropped.  Beat boxing is a novel thing that boy on American Idol did.  Remember being in high school and calling into the radio station?  Radio stations are still broadcasting from high school, and places that are frequented by children.  Your favorite DJ, is either on some borderline pedo steez, or has moved to the “grown folks” time slot or station.  Granted, as a parent, there is the other issue of music that may not be appropriate for your kids, but alas, that’s also part of being in the grown up world.  Monitor what your kids watch and listen to, and explain why things are NOT appropriate for their age, or sometimes, for humanity in general.  (Author’s Note:  NO ONE should listen to a cat named Waka Flocka.  Not ever.)

As an adult, unless you are a victim of this economy you should be gainfully employed (and if you are not, more often than not, the stuff on the radio is just your speed, but that’s another topic for another day).  It is also likely that you have a car.  You’re not at the mercy of your parents or older family members for rides to the mall and the record store.  You’re not 16 years old singing into your hairbrush, wondering what the future holds.  You are a grown ass man or woman, carving out a future for the next generation.  You have a credit card, which enables you to purchase the entertainment of your choosing.  Tired of hip-hop?  Then carry your disgruntled ass to a Will Downing concert.

We seem to ready to forget that though hip hop was our voice, it was our voice as the “young black youth.”  We are now our parents.  I am older than my parents were when hip hop made a main stream emergence into New Orleans urban radio.  Marinate on that.  We have other avenues in which to get our ideologies into the mainstream.  We have become “the man.”  Can you really say parents don’t understand, when you’re the one setting the curfew?  Ain’t so funny when the kid is stealing YOUR Porsche, is it?  This isn’t to say that we can’t still enjoy good hip hop, but times are different, so hip hop is different.

I’m going to take it there though:  Some of us need to grow the fuck up.  That’s really the core of the issue in this blogger’s humble opinion.  If we embraced our adulthood, rather than declaring 30 the new 20, maybe we could grasp that certain things are no longer in our lane.  You don’t have to hole yourself up in a corner and knit simply because you’re not a kid, but you do have to realize that there comes a time to put away childish things, at least for a time.

We have the right to love and long for our music. Let’s keep it real though, were they playing Sam Cook on the 3-7 set on your favorite station in high school?  That wasn’t by accident.  I still believe that there will be a resurgence of good hip hop; music that is substantive and enjoyable for the babies.  All things go through periods of self-correction, and that includes music.  We also pass the torch on to the generation behind us.  That still doesn’t mean you’re going to like it with your old ass.  And guess what. That’s fine too.  BECAUSE IT’S NOT JUST OURS ANYMORE.

The Wild Tangent

So, I broke down and watched The Hot Mess of Hotlan Real Housewives of Atlanta.  I wanted fights and beat-downs and shenanigans.  The show is what it is, so of course there was some ghetto in it, but I wanted fireworks.  I was slightly disappointed…until the last eight minutes!  Nectar from the hood gods.  There’s a ghetto heaven and it has a candy lady and somebody’s cousin braiding hair on the porch.

This morning, while chatting with my boss about the most talked about five minutes of last night’s episode (Sheree’s run in with the party planner for those who don’t know), he said, “I wonder how much of that is staged?”  Now, in all fairness, I consider 90% of reality TV staged, and that’s being generous.  Part of the reason I avoid most of it is simple:  Reality TV distorts reality.  Unfortunately, even if that scene was 100% scripted, we also know that it is 150% plausible.

Black people, show of hands, how many times have you had an incredibly similar experience.  How many times have you had an unnecessarily combative encounter with a black person in a supposedly professional setting. At a time where we argue whether or not we are in a post-racial society, nothing speaks more to the progress that still needs to be made more than black folks dealing with other black folks.

Over a year ago, my most esteemed colleague blogged about the challenges faced by his own wife in her professional environment, and all I could do was nod my head, sip my coffee and give the Sista Girl “Mmmm Hmmm.”  I’m going to say something that is hard for some of you to hear.  As a black woman in a professional environment, I am subject to harassment for no reason other than the fact that I am a black woman in a professional environment.  I believe that it is hard for some of you to hear, because it’s hard for ME to type it.  And this harasssment is almost invariably at the hands of the men I consider brothers.

Basing it on personal experience alone, there is a certain type of brother (NOT ALL) that will get in “just us black folks” mode, and make you wish you didn’t know them.  There was an occasion where my boss (white) and I were having a conversation with a coworker who is a black man (we’ll call him “Grumbles”).  While my boss was there, he was pleasant and charming and pronounced all of his “eeeee’s and arrah’s.” The tone was pleasant, amiable, and had all of that “we should be working but to hell with it” camaraderie that you need from time to time to break up the work day.

My boss went into her office and the brother hung around.  He got glassy eyed and talked about how attractive and nice she is (both facts) and how he would love to take her out to dinner, get to know her outside of the work environment, etc.   I told him that if he thought she would be responsive, he should ask her.  He then asked if that’s how it works with me, and I told him yes, if I’m interested in a guy, then I would want him to ask me out.  He then got this lecherous look on his face and said, “So what if I asked you what color panties you had on?”  He got the gas face, and I busied myself with work.  Undeterred, he said that I should make it a point to visit his place.

Now, I enjoy a cordial relationship with almost all of my coworkers, but I had long since dismissed this dude as lame.  I’m not a fan of workplace dating in general, and this cat was definitely did not inspire the desire to break that rule.  My boss gets crab cakes and stimulating conversation.  I get “what that thang smell like,” and a booty call coupon.  Pass.

I believe I would have taken it personally if he did not have a reputation of mishandling all of the sisters in our office.  I’ve even witnessed a certain degree of familiarity with a sister who actually ranks higher than my bosss, that he would never have expressed to one of her white counterparts.

Don’t get it twisted and think it’s an “us v. them” mentality when it comes to white women.  My boss had NOTHING to do with his inappropriate behavior.  I understand that black men feel that when around black women, they do not have to be “on alert” and to an extent, that’s fine.  But for those that cross the line into disrespect, there’s another issue entirely.

And why don’t we tell?  Guys make the rules, so you can’t believe that the proces of subverting the “boys will be boys” mentality will be made easy.  We face the typical stigma faced by all marginalized people (in this case, women) who speak out against ill-treatment.  But as black women, as we have made strides professionally, so has the notion of “The Angry Sista.”  So we have the additional potential of being charged with keeping a brother down or suffering from the “crabs-in-a-barrel” mentality.

So my question is, how can expect for others to respect us, to not profile us, to not aarrest us in our homes, if we can’t be respectful amongst ourselves.  I’m not going to address all of the issues, because we know it goes both ways, but we’ll start here:  Talk to a sister in the work force that you respect; your mother, your sister, a church member.  You’ll be surprised to find that she more likely than not contends with a similar situtaion.  So for the brothers who respect their sisters, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  For the ones of you that are caught up trying to prove something by being knuckleheads:

THE BLACK WOMEN AT YOUR JOB ARE NOT YOUR CONCUBINES!

Thank you.

*drops the mic*

The Me I Keep

Moreover, I have boundary issues with men.  Or maybe that’s not fair to say.  To have issues with boundaries, one must have boundaries in the first place, right?  But I disappear into the person I love.  I am the permeable membrane.  If I love you, you can have everything.  You can have my time, my devotion, my ass, my money, my family,  my dog, my dog’s money, my dog’s time — everything.  If I love you, I will carry for you all your pain, I will assume for you all your debts (in every definition of the word), I will protect you from your own insecurity, I will project upon you all sorts of good qualities that you have never actually cultivated in yourself and I will buy Christmas presents for your entire family.  I will give you the sun and the rain, and if they are not available, I will give you a sun check and a rain check.  I will give you all this and more, until I get so exhausted and depleted that the only way I can recover my energy is by becoming infatuated with someone else.

— Elizabeth Gilbert – eat, pray, love

The first time I read that, I cried until I curled in a ball.  I cried because this skinny white girl, whom I had never met – who, at first glance, I couldn’t imagine that she wore the same KIND of shoes as I, much less walked a mile in them – summarized my personality (and ergo, my dilemma) to a tee.  And the thing is, I’m not just like that romantically; with family, with friends, with homeless people on the street.  I’ve been known to give a person the sandwich out of my hand, the drink out of my cup, 50 cents of the last dollar in my purse, the earrings out of my ear, the shoes in my trunk…anything.  You need a ride from West Bumblefuck because your man decided to show out in public, I’ll pick you up and peel off when he decides to try to punch my window in.  (True story:  Big Pimpin – RIP – jumped the neutral ground; or median for you non-New Orleanians).   If I have it to give, it’s yours, because the truth in my life is that I’ve always been blessed with more.  And I don’t like being without, and I can’t stand to see others being without.  And when it’s gone, it’s gone (because nothing is endless), but I do my damndest to make more; more food, more money, more time.

More love.  There’s always more love.  And my love is a geyser.  And I’m boundlessly optimistic.  Loving you, is enough for me to decide that you are worthy.  Until you prove yourself unworthy, I put a pit-bull lock jaw hold on that feeling.  I’m not going to dismiss you based on what the last cat did, because the last cat is history and you are so now.  And I’m not going to let you wonder if I love you, because who knows if there will even be a tomorrow, so you have to know today…RIGHT NOW.  And, really, in real time, I guess it seems like a good idea, but on paper, it sounds so damned overwhelming.  It’s a safe bet that when you’re on the receiving end, it IS so damned overwhelming.

Dave Chappelle spoke comically of when keeping it real goes wrong, and I’m the poster child for it.  One male friend told me that for a homeboy, my frankness is funny and pretty spectacular.  For a dude that I’m trying to date, however, it’s too much.  Because:

I believe the less men know upfront the more they are willing to work at getting to know you.

And that stung, because I’m a rather transparent chick.  I’m not the hidden agenda girl.  If I like you, I’ve told you.  If you didn’t seem to be with it, you don’t have to worry about me telling you twice.  I’m the girl who will say, “Oh, by the way, I like purple and Junk Food t-shirts,” because I figure there are a million and one things on your plate.  Agonizing over a present for me doesn’t have to be one of them.  So my challenge?  I have to learn to be the study guide instead of giving away the test.

My other issue:

The REAL irony about you, to me, is that you act very much like a dude.  You think like a dude and you often say things that a dude would say.  I think cats don’t know what to do with you.

I never told my friend this, but when he said that, it really made me cry.  Reading it again is sort of getting me a little teary now.  Because when it comes to amour, I always feel like the lone acquaintance at a party of bosom friends. One wrong move, and the situation becomes, “Who invited her?”  Quite often, more often than makes me comfortable, I find myself being on the business end of a blank, “Um, so now what?” stare from the guy du jour that I thought was the bees knees.  Or at least I did, until he looked at me like  I was some ghetto unicorn where instead of a horn, a chicken wing grew out of the middle of my forehead.  I mean, it sounds really interesting, but where would you put it?  I was told that I need to “try reigning in this Camille Paglia/May West/Angela Davis thing you’ve got going on.”

And so, I’m going to do that.  No, really.  I’m going to do that.  When EVERYBODY tells you the same thing, they’ve got to at least be partially right, right?

So, I’m sifting myself.  Searching for the me I let go, and the me I keep.

Politics up in dis bish!

Politics and this blog don’t really go together.  I make sure that I stay abreast of what’s going on.  I have my own opinions about what’s going on.  I hope that Barack Obama wipes the proverbial floor with John McCain.  I hope a moose tramples Sarah Palin, but not so that she dies.  I just want it to maybe crush her larynx so that she can’t say anything else.  Ever.  But at the end of it all, this is my take (and a halfway explanation about why I don’t really post political stuff here:

We live in a world (not only a country, but a WORLD) that is excessively corrupt and dishonest.  Money is what talks, and people that have it will always do their damnedest to further their own agendas.  Even the things we see and hear are what THEY want us to see and hear.  So I keep up with what’s current (there’s really not much “new” about the news) and leave it at that. I discuss it in passing with my friends and family, but, I can’t say that it’s a topic that I necessarily enjoy.  The other day I was talking to my boss, and I told her the type of thinker I am was, “whichever side of the brain that has nothing to do with organization and politics.”

Some of the time, I chastise myself for not having more substance; other times, I feel like substance is relative.  I think there are more than enough people that can eloquently wax political.  Some of them are in my links to the right.  I go to them when I need it.  I’m hoping that they come here when they need, uh, whatever it is that I provide.

The reason behind the video?  I’m just in one of those wandering moods. And it’s just a beautiful song.