Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Random Thoughts

Every now and then, I have no real topic or focus, and I just want to express a few random thoughts about the events of the day. So here goes:

I survived my first day of teaching. No interesting spills or mishaps like my first trial a few weeks ago, but actually rather uneventful. I like my students, the facilities are nice, and I think everyone else enjoyed the first day. But, now comes the hard part--making sure people actually learn something.

My style is not to lecture, but to discuss. I want to encourage my students to complete the reading assignments on their time, and to discuss what they have read in class. I will ask open-ended hypothetical questions, and I will allow the class to flow from that point. I hope it works because I will be evaluated mid-April by my mentor who seems hyper in every way (hyper-active and hyper-organized). She might decide that my classroom technique is lazy, or worse that I am unprepared.

We shall see. In the meantime, Johnnie Cochran passed away yesterday from a brain tumor. My mother told me, and it was as if she knew him personally in the way she relayed the news. A few weeks or maybe a month or so ago, she mentioned to me that he was ill. Again, she said it like she was telling me about a neighbor or an old friend of hers.

And in a way, since Johnnie Cochran had become so much of a household name in the past ten years, I think many of us felt like we knew him. I watched a tribute to him on the Today show during which they replayed an interview he had given Katie Couric a while ago. In it, he mentioned how people would tell police officers that they would sic him on them if they mistreated them, to which one officer said, oh really, tell my father that I said hello (his son is an officer with the LAPD). He was like that member of the family that we all talk abut, but don't really know personally.

I met him ten years ago in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. It was the morning before the Zulu parade, and we spotted his electric blue jacket in a crowd. I was with two of my classmates from law school, and after we hastily parked the car, we dashed off to catch him just to say hello. He was very nice (even though we almost tackled him), and I recall that he did offer us some words of wisdom. Too bad, I can't remember what they were. Anyway, rest in peace, Mr. Cochran.

In other news, the Pope is now on a feeding tube and Terri Schiavo is still alive without food or water. I am beginning to think that she is a miracle. She received Holy Communion on Easter Sunday, and I bet that is why she is still with us. In spite of the fact that her parents have lost every legal argument that they've attempted since the tube was removed over a week ago, she is still alive. Amazing!

Now things are really going to become complicated. Jesse Jackson flew into town and arrived yesterday to offer prayer to her parents. He is on the side of keeping her alive, which should add another layer of drama to all of this when she finally does pass on. You can always count on Jesse to make life more interesting.

But back to the Pope and our other public death watch. Now that he is on a feeding tube, I wonder how long the Church can continue to delay the selection process for a new pope. Not that it matters to me anyway since I am not a Catholic, but it seems that if he is that bad off, the end must be near. I figure that the Church is similar to the US government, which cannot go more than a few minutes without a clear figurehead.

Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles will be married in a little more than a week, and it seems that she will get to be queen after all. Apparently, no one realized that British law would make her queen by default, despite all efforts to keep her from taking the title. And again, why am I so fascinated by all of this? No real life just isn't that interesting, I guess.

It looks to me that Charles is about to take a dive either way. Methinks one of two outcomes will prevent his ascension to the throne. Option A: his mother outlives him in some bizarre twist and Diana's son will become King. After all, his grandmother lived to be 100, and he is already close 60! Male royals just don't live as long as the female ones do in England (must be something in the tea). Option B: The people will force him to abdicate in much the same way his great uncle did for Wallis Simpson. Or maybe they will get rid of the monarchy altogether, just when it is his time.

Anyway, that's all for now. Ciao!

Monday, March 28, 2005

Retro TV Heaven

I think we can agree that the 70s was an unfortunate decade of all around bad taste--bad fashion, bad TV shows, bad movies, just bad everything! But in spite of all that utter awefulness, we children of the 70s can't get enough of it and neither can the rest of you! After all, we've got everyone in bell-bottom jeans again...

But even if everything was bad, at least it was *watchable*. I spent the past weekend in New York City sick with the flu (again), and I was entertained by hours of retro TV. It was fantastic!

It began with old Saturday morning cartoons. Since my regular shows were all repeats, I checked out Boomerang to see if any of my old faves were on. I watched "The Smurfs," which technically is not a 70s show because it came on in the 80s, but who cares?

Afterwards I changed to the TV Land Awards which serves as a testament to the brilliance of 70s television. In addition to the tribute to Aaron Spelling, the genius behind such great TV shows like "Charlie's Angels" and "The Love Boat," there was a rousing tribute to everyone's favorite TV pimp, er host, Don Cornelius from the best TV dance show ever--"Soul Train". This show that caused black children everywhere to simultaneously stop whatever they were doing for an entire hour on Saturdays. Where else could we all learn the latest dance moves and see the best lip-synching TV had to offer?

Then we found TV-One, which is the mature version of BET. Its afternoon programming consisted of the retro movie classic, Five on the Black Hand Side followed by the Playa's Ball episode of "Martin." I know, I know, "Martin" was a 90s show, but the Playa's Ball phenomenon is an original classic 70s theme. And the movie, well, there are worse ways to spend a Saturday afternoon.

We also saw that Alfred Hitchcock classic, "The Birds," which really dates back to the 60s, but I first saw this movie as a child. To this day, I hate seagulls.

Finally there was the "Jesus of Nazareth" marathon on the History Channel. This miniseries from the 70s was, in my mind, the most powerful visual rendition of the life and ministry of Jesus. As I child, I actually believed that I was watching the life of Jesus unfold on television. We began watching it sometime in the late afternoon, and by the bitter end, which was not until after midnight, I had fallen asleep several times only to re-awaken to find that the movie was still on that Jesus was still alive.

This is why I love cable. I still don't have it, but I look forward to the weekends and trips away from home when I have access to it. There is very little that is worth watching on regular TV, and cable is nothing more than old recycled TV shows and movies. But that is why I love it--what better way to waste vast amounts of time than to get transported to one's childhood?

Life was simpler then. We believed that there were little blue people who lived in a mushroom village with one girl and she was never molested. Michael Jackson was once a cute black kid with an Afro and a nose. Don Cornelius was always a cool dude. Every now and then, Isaac, the hardest working bartender on the seven seas, got a black girlfriend. Not all blaxploitation movies had the same vigilante plotline (some had no discernable plot at all). Apparently, people really did dress up like that for a Playa's ball. The very idea of random attacks by birds is still scary as hell. And the story of the life of Jesus is still a timeless classic. There is a such thing as the good ole days...

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Out of Time

I am getting close to tipping over the edge with activities. Last week, I admitted to someone that I was a chronic over-scheduler, but that description may be too mild. I do more than over-schedule--I overwhelm myself with everyone else's drama and then try to fit mine in as well.

I feel like the guy in that commercial for AARP where he clones himself. When I first saw it, I didn't see the irony, but then I considered that it depicted a Chinese man named Ping who felt the need to clone himself. Hilarious!!! I also thought it was little subversive, because it plays on several stereotypes about Asians: (a) they all look alike (b) all of them are named Ping or Kim or Lee; (c) there are over a billion of them in China and probably a few million more all over the world; and (d) they always work hard.

The same concept of cloning would not work so well in my life. First of all, I would still run late, I would still over-schedule, and I would add even more activities. There may not be enough clones to go around.

Well, I did accomplish one major thing today, and for that I am grateful. Now if I can just get through the rest of what I need to do, then I am really doing something.


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

In the Balance

I chose to become a lawyer because I wanted to avoid the weighy issues of life and death. I figured that the worse thing I would ever do is lose a lot of my client's money. Even if I had been interested in becoming a doctor, I never wanted the awesome responsibility of saving someone else's life. And now that the battle to save Terri Schiavo is in the hands of lawyers--not doctors.

Lawyers are not life-savers. When someone is drowning, the lawyer is the one who decides that a life-jacket is needed but the lawyer does not carry out the rescue. That is a job for someone else. So why would anyone think that the involvement of lawyers would make any sense of this idea of dignity in death?

I just told one of my clients that she will not find any comfort through the legal process. Our system of justice is not set up to be fair, it is only meant to be equitable. All you get is what will make you whole in the eyes of the law. The law will not soothe your hurt feelings. And in the case of Terri Schiavo, the likely resolution will surely disillusion everyone involved.

In the end, life does a better job of working things out than the law. In life, things tend to get resolved one way or another, and it simply adjusts to accommodate the outcome. Will Terri Schiavo live? Not if she isn't meant to live. And I can't imagine that anyone should live the way she has existed these past 15 years. Thus, the real tragedy for her and similar cases is not in dying, but the compromise of dignity in such a public death.

In contrast, consider the Pope. Here is someone who is clearly dealing with end of life issues, yet he continues on because he believes it is his duty to live and die as Pope. His caretakers have done everything humanly possible to keep him functioning so that he can go through the minimal motions of being Pope--which now consists of waving to the crowd at his window. But at least the Pope is aware of his situation and has made a conscious choice to face it.

In the end, we all will meet death. No one likes it, but it happens. The challenge is to live the best life you can while you are here, because life you can control. I think about the people in my life who have gone on, and how it became easier to accept their deaths when I learned to celebrate their lives.

In Terri Schiavo's case, I wonder if anyone celebrates her life in all of the preoccupation with her death. Her parents and siblings take the position that she should continue to live because she would want to have the chance to recover, while her husband feels very strongly that she should be allowed to die because she would not want to live in this manner.

In the end, life, not the law, should make the final adjustment concerning Terri Schiavo's life. None of us knows for sure what her intentions would have been, not her husband, her parents, nor any of the rest of us. Its time to let nature take its course, regardless of the outcome.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Reclaiming My Hair

I have begun the slow process of growing out my perm to reclaim my nappy roots. Yesterday, I got my hair braided and for the rest of the year, I will keep my hair in braids until the big reveal next year of a full head of healthy, natural hair.

The decision to go natural began on a whim. A few years ago, I mentioned to my hairstylist at the time that I might want to go natural for my 30th birthday. She seemed cool with it, but when I stopped going to her shop later that year (for reasons that I won't go into now), I abandoned the idea. Later, when I did turn 30, the idea resurfaced, and I mentioned it to my new hair stylist. He seemed less enthusiastic at first, then he said that he would help me through the transition. Boy, did he ever!

This saga began last summer. All of a sudden, it seemed that my hair was constantly dry and brittle. I bought new hair care products each month, but nothing worked. I spent a fortune at the hair salon on moisturizing treatments and conditioners. But still, my hair was lifeless and dull.

I thought the problem was internal, so I changed my diet and drank more water. I started to lose weight, and I returned to dance classes so that I could get regular exercise. My hair improved somewhat, but then problems began with my scalp. I developed an irritation at the back of my scalp near my neck that would not heal. Again, I tried various ointments and creams to treat it, but nothing worked.

Throughout this drama, I continued to get relaxers. I did not think that my hair and scalp issues were related to the chemical treatments because we were doing everything to combat those problems. At the time, my life was a mess so my stylist was convinced that my problems were stress-related. He also assured me that the relaxers were not the problem. I believed him.

That was until January when my hair began to fall out. Now, when a woman sees hair in her comb, it is usually not a big deal because we manipulate our hair so much that some hair is bound to come out. We are told that this periodic 'shedding' is natural. But what I experienced in January was not natural.

I scheduled a re-touch in January, although I probably should have done it in December. I waited because of holiday travel, but also because the irritation at the back of my neck had flared up terribly during right before Christmas. It was so bad that I went and bought yet another conditioner just for that spot in hopes that it would clear up before my next chemical treatment. So when I went in for my appointment, my new growth was so thick that I was afraid to comb it.

No big developments while I was in the chair. My stylist applied some tea tree oil to that spot on the back of my neck to calm the irritation, based my scalp, and applied the relaxer to my hair. We talked about his life while I sat there with the chemicals in my hair. After a while, I noticed that we were still talking, but that he had not made any moves to wash my hair. I spoke up when it started to burn, but in retrospect I should have spoken up much sooner. Anyway, he rinsed my hair, gave me a new cut, styled my hair and eventually, I left.

During the week that followed, I noticed more hair in my comb than usual. Still, I didn't panic because 'shedding' is normal and with it being winter, I figured that this additional shedding was merely seasonal. After a week, more and more hair came out and my scalp remained desert dry even after I oiled it. One night as oiled my scalp, I felt a clean spot at the backof my head and that is when I really started to loose it (pun intended). The wide-tooth comb I was using was full of hair. Even when I didn't comb my hair it was coming out. I went into a tizzy.

I immediately called my mother who told me to call the dermatologist. She was the only person to suggest that the irritated spot at the back of my scalp had been an excema flare-up, and she had been nagging me for months to see a doctor. This time I followed her advice and made an appointment to see the dermatologist the following week.

I was a total drama queen this entire time. I didn't want to be seen by anyone, and I wore scarves or bandanas everyday. My best friend called and I cried the blues to her about going bald. We both went to the same stylist, and as we complained about his various faults, she urged me to confront him about my hair. But I was too vain and actually ashamed to face him--or anyone else for that matter.

Deep down, I wanted to believe that the problem was internal--that my anxiety, depression and stress had caused my hair loss. I re-read Andre Talks Hair, the book by Oprah's stylist, Andre Walker, and googled every term related to hair loss. I pulled out my old collection of African print headwraps and packed up every hair care product I had used to take to the doctor. I even kept the hair that came out in a pastic baggy to show her.

Of course, the dermatologist took one look at my bag of hair and the 'bald' spots and immediately diagnosed chemical damage. I did not have hair loss related to alopecia or stress.
She assured me that my hair would grow back, but she said that I needed to start all over again and go natural.

I will not go into the rest of that story because it saddens me. I am disappointed in my stylist and his reaction to my situation. He expressed concern, but I think that it was based on his instinct to save face than to reassure me that things would improve. I am upset by all of the money and effort that was wasted on those half-used hair care products that I will probably have to throw away. I have continued to wear scarves, bandanas and hats in public to hide the true condition of my hair. This has been an exhausting experience.

However, I am blessed because my hair loss is not permanent. Although I have a long way to go before it is strong and healthy again, for the first time since I was 10 years old, I have made peace with my hair.

This is not just a decision of convenience or necessity, because losing my hair was actually the catalyst for me to fully pursue certain lifestyle choices. It is a part of my life realignment process in which I have been eliminating toxic elements and their influence in my life. My hair is a natural extenstion of those efforts to embrace my more authentic self. I will never have straighter hair, no matter how much money I spend on chemical treatments and relaxers, so now is as good a time as any to give them up for good. Furthermore, I want to affirm my belief in my own beauty--complete with my big butt, thick thighs and thick, nappy hair.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


It's been a little over a month, and I've written almost every day! I am so proud of myself.

I am not the most disciplined person, but ever since I made the pledge to write on a daily basis, it has gotten addictive. I actually miss my blogging if I don't get the chance to write anything new.

Then I had the nerve to start another blog, but it is devoted to gardening. I'm not really a gardener in the traditional sense because all of my stuff is grown in containers. My yard is jacked up, we have moles, peach-eating squirrels, and we have ridiculous weeds, so it could take years for me to get everything under control. But you will have to read all about that effort at the Ayanna's Garden Cafe.

However, I can't give myself total praise because I have lapsed into my old habit starting topics and not finishing them. I have about five incomplete posts and I haven't gotten back to any of them. But I have been writing and I plan to finish at least one of them tonight.

Finally, I am ok with the fact that I am only writing for an audience of one these days. The truth is, I haven't done much to promote this blog. I am still trying to figure a few things out, such as the photo feature that took hours to get right. I will steer some friends this way in a few weeks, but I need to have something worth reading and so far, I don't have that much that I'm ready for others to read and critique.

But one thing is clear, I am hooked. It may be the fact that my winter blahs are slowly going away or that things are looking up for me lately, but I feel more creative than I have in a long time. I promise to offer some creative writing this summer (probably in another blog), and I hope to revive my efforts at the novel. I feel like a writer--optimistic, confident and dedicated to my craft! Patience is the word for this effort.

Until next time, Ciao!

Friday, March 11, 2005

Trial by Error

No, I typed the title correctly. Yesterday I had my first trial. And it was a comedy of errors.

First of all, I have been to court before but most of those appearances are pro forma. Much of my work is conducted outside of the courtroom through negotiation, threatening letters and settlement. Most cases settle, but this was not one of those cases, and the subject matter of this particular dispute was not at all funny. However, my performance was a day-long SNL skit, complete with a comic fall in the middle of the courtroom.

But before I tell that story, let's start from the beginning of the day. Actually, we can start from the night before, since I didn't get to bed until 3:30am. I was up preparing for trial: assembling the massive trial notebook with all of my exhibits; reviewing all of my questions; and at the very last minute, writing my opening statement. Thus, I enjoyed a restful 3 hours of sleep before my big day in court.

So when I woke up at 6:30, I felt aweful. I looked aweful. This was compounded by the fact that I've been having hair issues lately. I won't detail them here, but since I did not have time to get my hair done before trial, I had to find a scarf to wear instead. Then even with makeup, I looked absolutely scary with blotchy skin and heavy bags under my eyes. Let's just say that my appearance could be described as that of a very ugly woman or a very pretty monster.

Whenever I have a big day, I get too nervous to eat. I am also usually running too late to even consider it, so my hub put some tea and a box of pastries in the car for me to eat while driving to courthouse. I was so anxious that I only took a few sips of my tea and I had about three bites of an apple danish. I am not a caffeine addict, but I really needed coffee yesterday. I think it would have calmed me...

...because it took me 45 minutes to make a 25 minute commute, against the traffic! Once I arrived, my next challenge was to find a parking space. The courthouse is located in a small town, and as the county has gotten more populous, parking spaces are harder to find, especially yesterday when everybody had to be in court. There are several parking spaces on the street with regular coin meters, but the last thing I needed was to feed a meter all day. So I began my hunt for an all-day space in one of the public parking lots.

I tried the garage adjacent to the courthouse first, but it has a limited number of public spaces that were already taken. When I tried to leave, I was trapped by another driver who was blocking the way with her giant SUV. At first, she she stared down on me as if this was a game of chicken, so I shot her a nasty look and pointed at my watch. She rolled her eyes and sat there. After about 30 seconds during which I gestured wildly at her to move, she then decided to back out of the lot instead of pulling to the side so that I could get out. During our little showdown, a dozen cars had now pulled in behind her, so for another 2 minutes, no one moved. By the time I got out of that lot and found a space in the satelite lot, it had taken me a full 15 minutes to park my car.

I sat listlessly through the morning proceedings. Since I hadn't eaten breakfast, I was starving by lunchtime, but I could only stomach a salad. I got my shot of caffeine, but it was in a Pepsi, and I HATE Pepsi.

Then came the lowest point of the day. I am supposed to be a confident advocate, but when I could only muster up enough energy to pick at my food, I felt nothing but imminent doom. I called my hub for a shot of confidence, but he was not in his office. (I found out later that he was at church praying for me). When I couldn't reach him, I did the only thing that made sense--I called my mother. She was in class, but as mothers are psychic, she stayed on the phone and reassured me that I would be fine. For extra insurance, I called my father, Deacon Bill, and left a message for him at work to pray for me. I also prayed, not so much for my case, but that I would make it through the rest of the day.

We re-convened and I got my chance at cross-examination. It was pretty bad. I don't think I was that much better on direct. It looks so much easier on TV.

Finally, we wrapped up our testimony at 4:30. Then the judge began her hour-long lecture to the parties. All I wanted was a drink of water. I had borrowed the pitcher from opposing counsel earlier in the afternoon, so the bailiff brought me another pitcher. When I tried to pour myself another cup, the top of the pitcher came off and water gushed all over our table. Luckily, because I had covered every sheet of paper in my trial notebook in those plastic sheet protectors (yes, I am that anal), the water was easy to clean and nothing got ruined.

However, in the process of jumping up to avoid the spill, I pushed my chair back too far out from the table. So when I went to sit down, I missed the chair and FELL FLAT ON MY ASS!!! My first impulse was to stay there on the floor and laugh. Everyone came to my rescue--my client, the bailiff, and the opposing party (who knows that he wanted to laugh, but didn't, so I thank him for his gallantry).

At this point, the day couldn't get any worse, unless we were going to lose. We didn't and I think it was because the judge felt sorry for my client with me as her lawyer.

And so, here is how I would sum up my big day:
  1. 3 hours of sleep
  2. an incredibly bad hair day
  3. no coffee, but a spot of tea and a cold apple danish on the beltway
  4. the longest 25 minute commute
  5. the showdown in the parking lot
  6. diet Pepsi (not the right one, baby)
  7. calling for my mommy and daddy
  8. the longest cross examination in history (even the bailiff fell asleep)
  9. the big spill
  10. the fall, or the bigger spill

And in the end, we won. How's that for my first trial?


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Tweaking My Profile

I am a work in progress. As is my blog.

I have been adding a few things to my profile every few days. I finally figured out how to add my photo to the profile page. It is an ok pic, but I look a little heavy. I am also wearing too much orange, which is something that a high-yella child like me should not do. However, it is the best photo of me that is available on my computer. I really need to get into the 21st century and get a digital camera...

I also added a few movies, namely "When Harry Met Sally" and "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka." I may add a few more because I've been seeing a lot of movies lately thanks to my hub and his library card (yes, we check out movies from the library).

Then I added some books. Originally, I did not identify any favorite books because I don't have one. I have several favorites, which is a testament to my love of reading. In my profile I wrote that I had too many favorites to name. Then I saw the TV version of "Their Eyes Were Watching God" over the weekend. The list is by no means complete, but it is a start. I will add more books and may remove some as I continue. Again, this is a work in progress.

I also plan to branch out and may start another blog. Now, I complain that no one reads this blog, but I want to focus my writing a bit more, and I think that it would be difficult to maintain an all-purpose blog for everything. For example, Spring is around the corner, and I know that I will want to write more about my efforts at gardening. I also want to talk about my adventures in teaching, so that may become a separate blog. Well, we shall see.

It has been said that the only constant in life is change. Right now, my life is in a kind of realignment. So, I thought that I would embrace this process by changing my introduction to the rest of the cyber-scribes out there.

Welcome to the new and improved cafe.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Sometimes it Snows in April

But it is early March and I'm tired of winter. Yesterday was absolutely gorgeous with 66 degrees outside, and then this morning we get snow. Just this weekend, I was at the Home Depot where I got grass seed, mulch and a bunch of other stuff for my spring time gardening. I know that winter has a few days left, and thankfully, this one has been really kind and mild, but what is up with the snow and dramatic temperature changes?

Anyway, I am supposed to be doing something else right now, so this explains why I am always scrambling to get things done at the last minute...

So, I will make this post brief. Better yet, I will make a list of the topics I hope to tackle when I have more time:

  1. Favorite books to update my user profile
  2. Halle Berry, Oprah and Judge Hackett
  3. My gripe with the producers/writers of "The West Wing" and "ER"
  4. "Race-O-Rama" on VH1
  5. My plans for Spring planting
  6. A short story based on my daily habit of reading obituaries
  7. Letting my hair go natural
  8. How my faith and politics are now more compatible


Monday, March 07, 2005

So Much to Say, So Little Time

I haven't blogged in a few days, and I missed it. I need this time, but I'm just too swamped these days, so this entry will have to be very quick.

I am overwhelmed by the preparations for my upcoming class and a court hearing I have this week. I am in the middle of what I would call a "perfect storm"--too much to do in less than a week's time. I had a vague idea when I left for Florida that my schedule would get hectic when I returned, but this is way more than I anticipated.

The real problem lies with me. I am an unorganized mess. Some of these things could have been done sooner, and others are literally last minute developments, but overall, I am just a mess and this is the usual way I get things done. So I should not be surprised if I get no sleep for the next few days.

I am nervous. I have no back-up and all of my tasks rely on my getting through the next few days without a serious break-down (which is also normal for me). I want to be busy, and I want to do well, but for me, these are sometimes incompatible wishes. I am a perfectionist and that means that as of right now, I am a whirling dirvish. I have another deadline on Monday for my class, just announced, so that only makes things worse. Did I mention that I have rehearsal on Saturday, an alumnae meeting, and Jazzercise?

Yes, Jazzercise. I went to a health expo and *won* a free month of Jazzercise that I need to start using my March 15--the Ides of March. As if I need that on top of everything else right now!

Anyhoo, this may be the last entry for the next few days, unless I can justify a reason to write something not related to law or history or budgets or meeting agendas or newsletters. AAARRGHH!


Thursday, March 03, 2005

Desparate Housewives

How come no one ever asked me to be on that show? Then again, I'm not desparate, just bored...

I like this show, but it is another example of the *I'm every-woman* phenomenon that only applies to white women on TV. Similar shows abound and a few become big hits, like "Friends" and "Sex in the City". How come sistas get no love on TV?

Now, to the show's credit, Eva Longoria is the resident brown girl, but isn't it just a little too convenient to have her in that role? Out of all the women, her hubby is in jail and she's the local hottie...

Can you say *stereo-type*???

No Asian women in that cul-de-sac (other than a maid) and no Spanglish-speaking latinas there either. Not even a black friend for one of the kids. Where in America is this ?

It sure ain't red-country Kansas, 'cause these women are living large and not a one of them works, except Eva (again, what is up with that). Terry Hatcher doesn't appear to have a job, yet she has a teenaged daughter. Felicity Huffman has four kids and is a stay-at-home mom. Marcia Cross is married to a doctor. I have no idea what Nicolette Sheridan does except have sex. And the dead narrator seemed to be too busy living in fear of her husband and son to have done much else but kill herself.

Unfortunately, no one would believe a black housewife. Black and brown women who don't work only reinforce other stereotypes about laziness and welfare dependency. We might believe an Asian housewife (might), but we certainly don't believe Eva as a housewife which is why they've made her get a job. Even if we accept the original premise that her hub is rich, he went to jail for something...

*insert your own interpretation here*

Face it, we are only used to seeing white women with complexities on TV. White women can be anything they want to be: doctors (see "ER" and "Chicago Hope"), chief of staff to the President of the US (see "West Wing"), solve and prosecute crimes (see any version of "CSI" or "Law and Order"), or they can choose to be mothers and wives (see any sitcom on CBS). The last complex black woman on TV was Claire Huxtable, and people griped that she wasn't real. When my spanglish improves I'll be able to discern if the Latino women on Univision have anything meaningful to offer, and Asian women are just not present at all.

TV has to do a better job of creating characters for actresses of color. It's a shame that Judge Hatchett and Oprah are the closest things to TV moms that we have. And it's not just more TV mothers that we want to see, we also want to see ourselves in more complex and multi-facted roles. Is it too much to ask for a show about a Latina women who sees dead people (instead of Patricia Arquette in "Medium")? Or for a show with a Middle Eastern woman who is not a terrorist? How about a sitcom starring an Asian fashion designer who moonlights as a crime fighter? (I'm just making this up as I go along here.)

As for Desparate Housewives, I'll keep watching because it is a decent show. But if I want to see more brown people, I guess I'll have to wait for Oprah's cameo.

One Writer's Truth

Yesterday's post caused me some uneasiness because it was so raw. It exposed some feelings I've had for a long time, and I think that for whatever reason, I just went on a rant. Later, I felt that the posting was self-indulgent and I considered deleting it, especially since it was so personal. Also because I figured that no one was reading anyway, so it wouldn't have much of an impact.

But I changed my mind and have decided to leave it alone, even if it doesn't get read until ten months from now (or even if my hub decides to read my blog one day and sees it). I recognize the danger of writing in that fashion, but it is a risk I am willing to take. If I say that I want to be a writer, then that means that I need to be willing to allow myself moments of raw emotion, moments when I get too personal, and just accept the consequences.

Writing is not always for a potential audience. Sometimes there is an audience of one. Writing is always first an internal conversation, and then a mode of expression to an outside audience. In many ways, this blog serves three distinct purposes: part online journal, part practice space for potential work, and part accessible writing sample. I am no different than many of the other bloggers out there. This is a forum for expression, and sometimes that expression is personal.

I have always tried to be a careful writer because I have suffered the unintended consequences of someone finding something that they weren't meant to see. Of course, those were adolescent ramblings of unrequited love, and yesterday's entry was not that at all. It might have been better to keep those feelings to myself, but in reality, I want people to know that I am human, I have good days and bad, and yesterday was a bad day for me.

I suffer from depression, which is a major admission for anyone to make. I don't think it is anything serious--I don't have violent mood swings and I don't need medication to function, but I have recognized for many years that I do have moods. I am quite certain that I have seasonal depression that gets worse during the winter because it tends to linger for days and weeks at a time. This particular year, it has been with me since right after my 31st birthday, which is earlier than usual (it usually arrives right after Christmas). And I think some aspects of my current situation have only intensified my moods.

I know that anyone who reads this would suggest that I get therapy. I am. Writing is my therapy. This doesn't mean that I would never seek professional help one day, but for now, this is what works for me. I know myself, and this too shall pass. In high school and in college, I wrote poetry. In law school, I came up with the idea for my novel (but silly me, I didn't write any of it down). When I returned to DC, I kept a journal and watched Oprah. Now, I use the blog. All of these platforms serve the same function--I write, I deal, and eventually, I move on.

At times, it won't be pleasant or comfortable. Yesterday was about frustration. Blogging is nothing like the secret diary because this is a public forum (hint, hint Jessica Cutler). Eventually, someone will see this. So, then well then, either they'll think I'm crazy, stupid, whiny, or just human.


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

No One Reads My Writing

Is this a common feeling...that while you expend time and energy writing and expressing yourself, it is all for naught because no one really cares what you think? I certainly do.

My own husband doesn't read my blog. I've asked him to take a look at my work, but he says that he's too busy at work. Then he kind of laughs at me because he thinks this entire process is silly. Thanks for all your support, hon.

Not that I've done anything to promote this thing. I don't know how. I only barely know how to search for other blogs, and I haven't been reading anyone else's work lately either. So, maybe this is how this goes--months of anonymous musings that no one reads until one day, someone accidentally or maybe on purpose stumbles across your work. Otherwise, this feels like an exercise in futility.

I just want a little attention. Part of the reason why I started this blog was because I was lonely and I wanted an outlet for my feelings. I had hoped that there were others out there like me who could relate to my feelings of isolation. But, if no one is reading this, then it is no different than my every day experiences of being by myself.

I work from home, so that means that I don't interact with that many people unless I leave the house. But even when I do that, I don't have conversations with people. I mostly observe behavior. I eat by myself, shop by myself. I am always by myself, and I sometimes wonder if it is because I am just not that interesting...

I have tried to reach out to people that I already know, but I am afraid of getting too close because those interactions rarely yield any meaningful relationships. This time last year, I was involved with a new church, and I thought that I had made some friends. But as time wore on, I found that I had simply found new people to know, but not people in whom I could confide or necessarily trust with my feelings. I had very little in common with them, and eventually I felt like an outsider in the one place where I'm supposed to belong. I haven't been back there in months, and I don't even think that anyone misses me.

I went back to dance class because I wanted to get in shape and I also wanted to meet more people my age. Well, St. Mark's isn't exactly a studio for younger women my age, especially in the classes I take on Tuesday and Friday evenings. The Wednesday class is better, so maybe something will perk up there. And the company isn't so bad, either.

To be fair, I have a few friends, including my very best friend who is in the area. I really should spend more time with her, but I worry that I will eventually wear her out or get in her way. She has a life, so why would she want to be shackled down with someone like me who has no life?

I must be one of those people who have some type of social anxiety disorder. I've been like this my entire life. I have always been something of a loner and I've always had trouble in making friends. My father and my brother are the same way. Rick (the hub) doesn't have close friends either. So in addition to not making friends myself, I am surrounded by people who don't also don't establish close friendships. I can't recall whom my mother is friends with these days, because she goes through "friend cycles" in which she may be in with one crowd for a while and then out with another after that. My aunt is like this also, only she drops people over the smallest little thing, so she is a "serial" friend. I have no clue how we all got this way, considering that both of my grandmothers had many life-long friends. Then again, my grandfather didn't...We're just a bunch of weirdos.

I shouldn't be this way, but I just don't trust people with my feelings. Whenever I open myself up and start to talk about how I might feel about a certain thing, I get negative feedback or my feelings are completely irrelevant when compared to what someone else mught be experiencing. If I were to vent about how isolated I feel, then it is my fault because I don't get out enough. If I say that I'm having a problem of some kind, then it can't be nearly as bad as those people there who are really suffering. It's like I don't matter.

Rick tries to comfort me by saying, 'well I listen and I'm here', but then he ruins it with statements about how he is the only person who cares or puts up with me anyway, so that always perks things up :) He has been knighted by everyone who knows us because he is so wonderful and I am merely Ayanna. He cooks, he shovels snow (even for the neighbors), and he bakes Christmas cakes! He is Mr. Wonderful and I should be grateful. I am sooo lucky, yay Rick!!!

And he tells everyone, too. But does he ever say anything about me? How I also cook, how I build shelves, grew tomatoes last summer, fold the laundry, and clean the house (not very often, but I try)? How I am caring, generous, and nice to a fault? Probably not, and even if he did, who cares anyway? Only those people who need things from me, and I could write volumes on all the needy people I know.

Yay me! Thanks for reading. Ciao.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Enough Already!!!

I really don't want to devote another day to this subject because there are so many more important things I can discuss here, but I just need to vent about Tom Shales and his nasty critique of the Oscars.

First of all, I read his review of Chris Rock's performance and disagreed. Then I posted a comment on the Post's message board, read a few responses to my post among others, and then I moved on. Throughout the day I heard mixed reviews, but overall, I figured that the issue was over, and I happily watched Oprah's post-Oscar show. (OK, maybe I was a little obsessed, but I was just curious for reactions to Rock's performance).

Anyway, I opened the Style section today, and in addition to some numbers about who watched and who didn't, the Post re-runs Shales' review in an extended version that not only sticks it to Rock, but it also gets on Jamie Foxx for "exploiting" race in his acceptance speech. Huh?

When is it "exploitation" to discuss something that is as evident as race? How in the world can a speech that acknowledges Sidney Pointier, Oprah Winfrey, Halle Berry, Ray Charles, his daughter and deceased grandmother, and Taylor Hackford (who by the way, is the white director and producer of Ray the movie) be exploitative? Is it because he mentioned that he wanted to thank his managers (both black) and said that he intended to live this "African American dream" with them at the helm of his career? Is it because he paid homage to Sidney Pointier, the first black actor to receive a best actor award? Is it because Oprah gave him a one-fisted salute from the audience?

Or is it because Jamie Foxx is, well BLACK?

You know what, this is the perfect segue into my rants on race in America, because it is clear to me that any mention of race, any suggestion of race, any impression that race is in the air makes certain white people uncomfortable. Tom Shales must be one of those people who feels that we are all better off if we don't even acknowledge the elephant in the room. I guess he feels it is understood, and that he would prefer to pretend that it isn't an issue.

Too bad, Tommy, it is an issue.

It doesn't have to be uncomfortable. It doesn't have to be confrontational. But it exists. As long as it takes the Oscars years to recognize the immense talents of actors of color (and this means everyone of color), then it matters. It matters that there were only a few actors of color who presented awards on stage. It matters that this year, a Latino actress was nominated for Best Actress in a small film that barely got noticed. It matters that a film like "Hotel Rwanda" is the only acknowledgment by Americans that a genocide took place ten years ago in Africa. It matters that the only Asian actors who get noticed by the Academy are in foreign language films or in small indie films (yes, I'm referring to "Sideways" even though Sandra Oh didn't get any love at all).

So, I'm sorry, race does matter. It matters when I rarely see Latinos on TV except on Spanish-language television. It matters when Selma Hayeck, Penelope Cruz, and Antonio Bandares are the Latino ambassadors for the Academy. It matters when Jennifer Lopez gets ribbed for dating Ben Affleck because she is considered "bad" for his image. It matters when Louis Gossett, Jr. (a winner of the best supporting actor prize) is barely acknowledged on the red carpet. And it matters when a first-time host is skewered for his biting wit when that is the very reason why he was hired in the first place.

Get used to it. People of color do not want to fade into a homogenous background that dictates when and how we can define ourselves. It is not your right, Tom Shales, or any other critic to determine that the only speech that is acceptable is speech or language in which you are made to feel more comfortable in your white skin.

Damn, I need to run, but that is my rant-o-the-day. Maybe I'll be in a better mood tomorrow. Ciao!