Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday Blues

I hate the holidays.  It was not always like this, but for the past few years, I have come to detest this time of year.

Yesterday I took my mother shopping, and for the first hour and a half, it was a relatively drama-free experience.  That was, until she got impatient with the cashier in Williams Sonoma because she did not hear the amount correctly.  And then she got annoyed with me in Macy’s for telling her how to pay for an item.  Then she got short with me during lunch.  Then she was rude to a woman in the Nordstrom bathroom.  Then she yelled at me and insisted that we had not just spent the last two hours at the mall doing any of her Christmas shopping.
How am I supposed to handle these situations? 
Well, for the second time in a matter of days, I let her have it.  I asked her why she had to get mad about everything, even after having a good time.  Then she responded with a litany from her bag of tricks: her stomach hurt so she was in no mood to talk; I am such a know-it-all; she just wanted to be left alone; just take her home; etc.  And I decided to pull out a few rabbits of my own: were you sick before or after we ate lunch; how am I being a know-it-all; what did I say that made you mad; and do you plan to lock me out of the house and claim not to recognize me like you did before; etc.
She yelled louder and flashed her rage face, and after taking the Lord’s name in vain a few times, I calmed down and told her that since she was trapped in my car she did not have to talk, but she did have to listen.  And then I gave her the I-love-you-no-matter-what-you-do-or-say speech.  It worked for the next hour.
And while none of this has anything to do with Christmas because this scenario just as likely to reoccur in April or August, I first became acquainted with that rage face at our ruined Christmas Eve dinner from last year when she baited me into an unnecessary argument.  At issue then was her offense that I had taken over things while she had been out all day shopping.  How dare I provide the family with a meal without her approval!

Perhaps Christmas has become the embodiment of what I hate about this entire situation—no matter what I do, it will never make her happy...or better.  My mother will still be unpredictable from hour to hour and I am the person whose existence she loathes the most.  I could devise a way to make Christmas perfect and she would find a way to hate me.  I take her shopping and she finds a reason to hate me.  She hates how I drive.  She always finds a way to call me fat.  She criticizes my breathing. 
She will find a way to make me feel like that six-year old who never wanted anything more than to be loved but no matter what I did, there was always some negative response.  Her dementia is just another way for her to torment me.
And so I hate Christmas.  More accurately, I hate my mother at Christmas. 
Of course I don’t really feel this way, but my mother could be cruel without the excuse of a debilitating mind-altering illness.  But now that I have turned to blogging as therapy, I need to be honest.  I need to say it all, even if it does nothing to relieve the guilt I carry around for even harboring these awful feelings.  She is my mother.  And in spite of this current ring of hell she is currently putting me through, I would rather endure her daily unnecessary tantrums than mourn day when she is no longer here.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Over at the Busy Black Woman blog, I wrote a couple of pieces about how certain recent changes in my personal life had kept me from keeping up with the blog.  And I promised that I would talk more openly and candidly about those changes here...

But first I need to mention that I just had a birthday, and I attribute some of these changes to the reality of getting older.  For the record (so that there is no doubt), I am ok with aging.  Not only do I prefer it to the alternative, but I appreciate the fact that if I live long enough, I might might actually become that fabulous person of my daydreams.

So here goes: the other changes in my life are due to my mother's recent diagnosis of dementia.  She is 64 years old, which puts her in the category of early-onset.  And since the fateful day when her diagnosis was confirmed, she has been driving me crazy.  Correction: this situation has been driving me crazy!  Between her daily drama, my family, my past-due student loan bills, and all of my Busy Black Woman ways, I have been dancing on the head of a pin.

Since her diagnosis, my life has not only changed, but it feels as if it came to a screeching halt.  I am not so sure how true that is for everyone else in my family...and though I am not suggesting that they are unphased or unaffected, I would say that I have made things easier for them (but that is a rant for another day). 

In the meantime, I have more pressing concerns.  Because we have an incomplete diagnosis, I am unsure if my Mom has Alzheimer's or some other specific form of dementia.  And so that means that we are in a holding pattern of sorts wherein nothing is certain except that she is not the person she was when this all started back in 2009 after an argument over a cake.

Yes, a stupid cake.  And that story will also have to wait for another day to be fully told. 

I have so many stories, and that is why I decided that my saving grace will be blogging.  I have few other options for expressing myself short of taking up some really self-destructive bad habit like smoking crack.  And I mean that because there are days such as the other day when she got mad at me over something trivial and I was tempted to put her out of my car.

This has been the hardest challenge of my life, replacing law school by light years.  If I were in law school right now, I might still be as clueless as I was at the end of that first semester so many years ago, but at least I knew that there was a point to my misery. 

Unfortunately, I do not see any point in this.  If this is God's way of testing me for something great, then I've already failed.  I am angry, frustrated, depressed, exhausted, and just about defeated by this.  But then I remind myself that I survived law school, I survived working for those bosses from hell, and I have survived most of the other challenges I've had to face. 

So a periodic series in this blog will be the Dementia Diaries.  In these posts, I hope to offer some perspective on the disease that has been taking my mother away from me.  I will express my frustrations, my fears, my anxieties and everything else that has become a part of my life since September.  I promise not to make that the sole focus of this blog, but it will become a key feature as I come to grips with my new reality.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hello Again...

I took a break from the constant complaining and whining that I had been doing in this space...only to return for more complaining and whining.  Because everything about the time that has elapsed since my last post has been totally depressing, upsetting, frustrating, and just overwhelming.

Except, that is not entirely true.  Not everything has been that bad.  I did get a vacation to Puerto Rico which I enjoyed tremendously.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Now That I am Done Baring My Soul

I just posted three old unpublished posts.  I wrote them last month and while I had very good reasons for not posting them at the time, I reconsidered those choices and posted them. 

I am still very depressed and could write another post about all the things that are contributing to this week's episode, but I won't.  I am tired of reading the never-ending litany of depression posts.  So either I am going to stop writing this blog altogether to focus on building Busy Black Woman, or I am going to archive all of the sad stuff and start all over again.  Of course, that does not mean that I will not continue to be depressed.  But it might give me some space from all of the negativity that just never stops flowing--no  matter how many fingers and toes I use to plug the dike.

I am so tired and exhausted from feeling like this.  And everytime I pray for change, it comes and things get even worse.  Now my mother is sick.  So exactly how I am supposed to handle that? 

I don't remember what stage of grief I am supposed to be in right now, but I am depressed and sad and so I am going to stop writing, get cleaned up and head over to the Shrine to just sit.  And maybe I'll go for a walk to clear my head.  And then maybe I'll have enough courage to go visit my mother without feeling sorry for myself.

A Bit of Clarity

Early August, posting it now.

This afternoon, I heard a radio interview that turned on a light bulb for me...I have been in mourning since April.

I was listening to a program about emotions, and a caller shared a story about her difficulty with processing grief while going through a certain period of stress on her job.  And the psychologist on the panel suggested that her emotional issues on the job were somehow related to the lingering, unresolved grief she had experienced.  And then it hit me like a ton of bricks that my current situation is very similar.

I wrote about my mother in law on the other blog, and I wrote a little bit about the oddness of it all here a few weeks later, but I finally accepted the fact this morning that I have been in a fog of unacknowledged grief for weeks.  I realized it yesterday while in New York because her absence at my niece's shower was obvious.  I've thought of her in small ways when the husband mentions her, but it has been very strange.

But I really felt a shift today while listening to this program.  I realized that in the lead-up to her passing, I bottled everything up because the husband did not want to talk about the inevitable.  Then I went on total BBW auto-pilot to get everyone through the funeral.  We returned to DC and I tried to go on with life as normal, only to be confronted with the reality of my mother's situation.  And I wrapped myself in trying to find solutions to that, and continued to do my BBW stuff and just generally wore myself down to where I was this past Friday.

This past Friday, I missed a college fair because I misread the logistics and did not plan appropriately.  I could blame the circumstances of the night before, when I spent the entire say watching my Baby Niece, but I will not go there.  Then I missed the event that I was planning to attend on Saturday, which would have been my cover story for being in New York.  I have a few other undone tasks on my to do list and in general, I am distracted and unfocused.  I did not go out with my friend at all during her month off from work, and I skipped hanging out with my sorors because I was feeling sorry for myself.

This level of lethargy is so not me, and when I heard a semi-plausible explanation on the radio today, I claimed it because I know it is at least partially true.  I have been on auto-pilot for months, and it is not working.  I need to deal with my grief, but I do not have an outlet for it.  I have been angry a lot and I know it has a lot to do with keeping a lot of my emotions bottled inside. 

The truth is, I cannot talk to the husband because she was his mother and he would rather not talk about it.  That is how the men in his family *deal* with things (which is to avoid them), and while that is totally unfair to me, that works for him.  And a lot of the resentments about a lot of things I have kept to myself over the years are starting to percolate.

I am not good at sharing with others because I don't feel that I can really talk to anyone about anything.  I spend a lot of time by myself, so that means I generally have no one to talk to except through the blogs.  How sad is that?  And most of the time, no one is reading...


Another one from the archive. Written back in August.

I have been in a terrible funk lately, brought on by a general feeling of powerlessness over various circumstances of my life.  The usual litany of general worries include money, job and chaos...however, lately, that list includes health worries, lingering grief, and anxiety about my new business.

All of that pales in comparison to the ordeal one of my classmates from high school is enduring right now.  Her little girl might be dying.

I am surprised at how deeply this has impacted me, because quite honestly, I do not remember being friends with this woman at all.  But like most of my FB 'friends' she is someone who shared my space at a particular moment in time, so we are connected.

I cannot imagine what it must be like to have a child go through what her daughter has been through.  She and her husband mother have kept everyone informed through regular updates, and because I have been so touched by her story, I have been following a;ong and keeping the family in prayer.  Last night she posted that the little girl's chances of survival through the night were slim--but thankfully she made it through.  Unfortunately, her prognosis is still very grave.

Back in February, we were given essentially the same grim news about my ailing mother-in-law.  And though it hurt like hell to think that her time with us was short, I accepted it with steely resolve assuming that my husband would need my strength when the awful moment arrived.  And then of course, I was not even there...until two days later.  I still rose to the challenge, only to crumble pebble by pebble in the time since.

Today I am writing and praying for strength.  My classmate will need it whether her daughter lives or dies (but I am really hoping for a miracle).  It seems almost inappropriate to pray for a child I will never know, but she is a child.  Children are supposed to live.  I am especially touched by this because I look at my beautiful Baby Niece and know that my world would absolutely splinter into a million pieces if anything happened to her.  So Lord, please heal my classmate's baby.

The irony of this situation is that I did not pray in a similar manner for my mother in law and that makes me feel vile in hindsight.  I thought that it would be more realistic to pray for her to make a peaceful transition and for the family to remain intact in the aftermath.  I prayed for the nieces and nephews and their ability to withstand the loss of a grandparent--which is always harder on the older ones.  I am unsure if I took the right approach...but I know that God knew better than I did about her situation.

As a person who is slowly rebuilding her faith, this is one of those moments when I have to believe that no matter what happens to that little girl, God knows best.  But sometimes it is hard to believe that in the midst of sadness, tragedy, heartache, despair, destruction, doom, and just pure HELL that YOU are here with us.

Babies Booming

From the archives of unpublished posts. I wrote this the day before I declared a September reset on the Busy Black Woman blog.

Beyonce is pregnant.  Tina Fey is pregnant.  Fantasia is pregnant.  Jennifer Garner is pregnant.  Hillary Duff is pregnant.  Plenty of random crackheads are pregnant.
I am not.

I hesitated to write this particular article because it is so personal and I think that no one really cares that much about how it must feel to watch all of these celebrities and crazy people have children when you are staring at 38.  And have been married for ten years. 

No one cares because there are tons of women out there who are not married who also do not have children.  Instead of applauding their responsible act of sacrifice, they get treated to a media onslaught of articles that question whether they are being too picky since that is the only reason why an accomplished woman in her 30s/40s/50s would still be single.

Married women without children get a lot of pity.  And face a lot of uncomfortable questions.  Yes, I have thought about fertility treatments, and I pass.  Yes, I have thought about adoption, and I am still thinking about it.  Yes, I have considered just giving up.

Here is my dilemma...my life has no space for a child anymore.  When I was willing to make space, there was no time.  When I was willing to make time, something else occupied it.  Now, it is just too hard to think about having a baby when I have older parents to think about.  We just went through the loss of my husband's mother...and I feel bad enough that I failed her on the grandchild front.  Now I've got other crap to deal with, so maybe that ship has sailed.

It hurts to say that, but I think that ship has sailed.

So if that is truly the case, then I need to make other plans.  The George Bailey arc of my life will ensure that I will either never get to leave DC or I will have too many children.  Well, seeing as how I believe that ship has sailed, then it is time for me to get out of dodge.  I have been toying with the idea of going abroad for years now...I decided yesterday that it is no longer a dream.  I need a way to restart my life from this current state of duldrums.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Reality (TV) Bites

This morning I saw a random tweet from Andy Cohen of Bravo TV, wherein he expressed his condolences to Taylor Armstrong and family.  Of course, because I had no immediate idea who Taylor Armstrong was, I did a Google search and discovered that I did know who she was because she had been a Beverly Hills Housewife.  Apparently, her estranged husband had committed suicide.

I am no expert, but wow...I think the show killed this guy.

Just last week, I read in People magazine that the RHOBH cast member had filed for divorce from her husband, alleging mental and physical abuse.  Now again, I am not an expert, but I think there is a precedent here for reality show divorces: Jon and Kate Gosselin; Hulk and Linda Hogan; Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston; Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson; Greg and NeNe Leakes (RHOA); Christopher (Peter Brady) Knight and Adrienne (Top Model season 1 winner) Curry; Kelsey and Camille Grammar; and a bunch of other folks whose names do not immediately come to mind.

And so umm, when will people get it?  Marriage is hard enough without the glare of a camera shining the light, recording and then broadcasting everything for the outside world to see.  The problem is that some TV executive, not the two married people, is in charge of the editing and gets to decide how your marriage will be seen by the rest of us.  No need to run through the list above to highlight the specific dysfunctional elements the camera captured, but in the case of the Armstrongs, there are judgmental comments being posted right now about how she drove this man to hang himself.  Diagnosis by a bunch of remote control marriage counselors...

I feel sorry for everyone who goes on one of these shows.  I feel sorry for their children.  I decided to stop watching the entire franchise this Spring after the big wedding fiasco on the RHOA...there were other contributing factors as well, but the fact that the bride's mother and sister conspired *on camera* to derail the ceremony, but then it very neatly got resolved...I was done.  If my real life was available for full episode recaps on Bravo...

I cannot begin to know what led Russell Armstrong to kill himself, but I am not surprised that someone finally fell off the cliff.  When humiliating info about us gets revealed, most of us can wait it out until the dust settles, but a reality TV personality cannot escape it.  The spotlight is unrelenting.  Hell, some of us in the real-real world cannot escape or endure the scrutiny--the public outing of Tyler Clementi by his college roommate led him to jump off the George Washington Bridge last year.  I can only guess that Armstrong finally arrived at the darkest place where the stress of his pending divorce and his money woes were just too much to bear.  And again, I am no expert, but I suspect Jani Lane and Jeff Conanway both found that same dark place...

The train wreck of someone else's life may provide an hour or so of entertainment, but imagine if those were your house drapes open for all the world to see inside.  Or in some cases, what happens when after living in front of the camera for so long, it gets too difficult to live without a million people watching?  Can we go back to the soap operas where the people on screen were just pretending to be dysfunctional?

God rest the souls of Russell Armstrong, Jani Lane, Jeff Conaway and every other tortured soul.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Little Calmer, but Still P*&%

I just read a simply outrageous article in the Huffington Post about forced sterilizations of women by the State of North Carolina in the last century.  In case anyone needed reminding, the last century ended just 11 years ago.

WTF?!??: North Carolina Eugenics Board Victims Fight for Justice

Of course, what pissed me off more were the ignorant comments of my fellow Americans who think that forced sterilizations might be a good idea for the future of this country.  And so the slippery slope just got a little slimier.

Look you a$$es, the choice to have children is really not up to any one of us.  The state does not get to decide, and believe it or not, neither do any of us.  The Good Lord decides who gets born into this world. 

And Lord help you unfeeling, all-I-care-about-is-ME-ME-ME whiners, because one day, one of these unnecessary, unfortunate, poor children whom you complain live off of your un-unionized tax dollars earned working as a greeter at the Wal-Mart...someone whom you would never deign to even look in the eye, will save your worthless life.  It might not be in a way that you think significant, but somehow, in some cosmic way, you will continue to live by the grace of God because the least of these will make some sacrifice or develop some skill set that will keep you on the mortal coil.

Don't believe me?  The story of Henrietta Lacks comes to mind, because she too was a poor woman that you probably could not have cared less for in her lifetime.  To you, the cancer that killed her was unfortunate, but a fact of life (because some people are just born unlucky)...except the cells taken from her have been used for decades to do medical research.  She was one of the least of these.  I could mention the men who were subjects of the Tuskegee Experiment, the people who are AIDS-research guinea pigs, the men who risk life and limb to mine coal so that your laptop has power , and every migrant farmworker who picks produce, because in your myopic view, these people have no worth and provide no monetary benefit to society. 

Well, God help you.  Because one day, you'll need Him to take pity on you.


I need a vacation before someone gets hurt.

I need a vacation before someone gets hurt.

I need a vacation before someone gets hurt.

So, I guess if you could not tell from the title or from the first three paragraphs, I am stressed out.  For real.  Sho nuff.  And today is the day that I am going to do something definitive about it.

I got stopped by a police officer for failing to use my turn signal when making a left-hand turn in an intersection (on the left turning green light, mind you).  I totally thought that he pulled me over to be an asshole, and then it just so happened that I did not have my updated registration or insurance card in the car...as I normally would.  When he came back over to give me the ticket, I freaked out because again, I KNOW he was being an asshole, and refused to accept the first ticket.  So he wrote me a second ticket for my out of date insurance card.  And while I was prepared to have him haul me off to jail over a stupid moving violation, I signed the second ticket and drove home.

Now I have two tickets, and a very very very short fuse.  The next person who says or does anything to piss me off, and I don't care how minor, will get their head ripped off.  I am serious!!!

So clearly, I need a vacation.  I need time on the beach, time in the sun, drinks by the pool, a massage by a naked man named Sven, etc. except the husband wants to plan some elaborate get-away for some time in the future.  No I need to get out of here right NOW before I rip off someone's head. 

I need to leave today before I rip off someone's head.

I need to leave today before I rip off someone's head.

And again, as you can probably tell, I am serious. 

I am not having a very good year...and while I know that it could be worse and that it is silly to get all bent out of shape over a ticket I could have avoided (because if I had just turned on yellow a few minutes earlier, that asshole cop would not have been there at the intersection to stop me).  But I am not having a good year and after several years of not having a good year, I am about to lose it.  I just need a chance to think, without obligations, tasks, burdens or worries.  I need a retreat.  I need a break.  I know that everything will be here eagerly waiting my return, and that is exactly the point--

NONE OF THE SH&*% THAT IS DRIVING ME CRAZY AT THIS VERY MOMENT IS GOING ANYWHERE!!!  I will still need to pay a ticket for mouthing off to an asshole cop.  And that cop will still be an asshole.

OK, all done venting.  I'm going for a drive...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

No Help

This is just my opinion, and I don't mean no harm (to borrow a phrase from my grandma), but I am trying to understand why some smart black folks got all bent out of shape over the movie The Help.

Disclosures: I have not read the book, nor have I seen the movie.  In all likelihood, I probably will not read the book before I see the movie (and knowing me, I may not make it to see the movie until it comes out on cable).  Nevertheless, I detect a lot of knee-jerk hateration going on here, and that has me scratching my head. 

I read an open letter last week written by the National Director of the Association of Black Women Historians.  Two years ago when I was still teaching African American history, I may have looked into joining this austere group, despite the fact that I was just a lawyer teaching history as an adjunct at an online university.  If I were to go back into the classroom, there is a chance that I would still want to affiliate with these women because, well that is what one does--join academic/professional organizations in order to meet other academics and/or professionals.  I can only imagine that the letter now making the internet rounds was written after an especially intense meeting of these academic professionals.

Here is a link to their historically-grounded letter of protest.  And here is my response:
Le siiiiiiiiiggggggghhhhhhh.................................

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Men and Shoes

I was tempted to write this on the BBW blog, and I might post it there later if I think the topic warrants more debate...

It seems ironic to me that in the so-called post-racial Age of Obama, the more we try to avoid discussions of race, the more we discuss race.  The third rail of intra-racial discussions is inter-racial relationships, with the first rail currently being occupied by natural hair and the second rail dominated by homosexuality (gay marriage, the down-low, Bishop Eddie Long, etc).  I could probably swap one of those issues for the continued relevancy of hip hop, but that does not get debated endlessly anymore since we all know that hip hop is dead.

So, I stick with my original choices.  And on the subject of interracial relationships (IRR), these conversations are the most volatile and explosive because unlike discussions of homosexuality (which tend to boil down to old vs. young attitudes about tolerance) and natural hair (which tend to reflect personal preferences) the opinions of IRR are all over the map.  Even IR friendships between women can be polarizing.  At least gay couples are visible on TV and a black woman can rock a 'fro and not be regarded as crazy.  But just mention IR dating and everybody has an opinion.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal rehashes a lot of the same facts about the plight of single black women--over-educated, over-achieving and over-represented in the spinster pool.  The author's fix is for black women to diversify their dating portfolios as opposed to over-investing in one shrinking asset group of men.  The husband, who happens to be Puerto Rican, has been saying this to me for years, as if I have a platform from which to broadcast his advice to my single sistren...  Of course, I don't totally disagree that IR dating would at the very least, provide some women with more options.

But marriage is not really a numbers game.  It is about choices, and the problem is not just the number of options one has, but also the quality of the choices one makes.  Or put another way, there are a range of choices when buying shoes from Payless, Zappos, DSW and Lord & Taylor (or any upscale department store), but the best choice will depend on what you think you'll need.  Payless is good for shoes in a pinch (no long-term commitment); Zappos is good for unlimited on-demand options (internet dating); DSW is good for just looking and maybe finding a cute shoe or two (casual dating with benefits); and L&T is good for finding exactly what you need but at a higher price (long-term investment).  There is nothing wrong with shopping at Payless in a pinch, and it is not always practical to shop at the high-end department store.  You might find exactly what you wanted on Zappos or you might find an unexpected surprise at DSW.  Or you might not find anything...that day.

This is just my married woman advice...that women need to approach dating like shoe shopping.  Too bad my words of wisdom do not have the same traction in the real world as the advice offered by a thrice-married male comedian, a male college professor, and the disgruntled blue-collar brothers who vent in the comments sections of online articles.  In a sense, we are all saying the same thing--that women need to exercise more options.  Single women who want to increase the odds of finding Mr. Right need to shop at a variety of different stores to try on more shoes.

Monday, August 08, 2011

The Rope-A-Dope

Dear President Obama,

My husband is worried, but I am not as worried, and overall, this worries me.  If you can make sense of that sentence, then you probably are a genius.

But the problem with genius sometimes is that it exists in rarified ivory towers where it is only recognized by people with similar gifts.  For the rest of us mere mortals, we can respect it from afar...but we never get close enough to it to really appreciate its beauty.

And this is where I think we are--at a moment where only those people who get to bask in the aura of your genius truly understand.  The rest of us are baffled.

It was your 50th birthday last week, and all you got was a debt ceiling increase wrapped in oily newspaper.  Then the nation's credit got downgraded and the stock market tanked.  Could those have been the worse presents since Homer's bowling ball?

Monday, August 01, 2011

Reassessing Spike Lee: Part II

It took me a week or so to return to this post, but picking up where I ended the last post, I wanted to weigh in on my reassessment of director Spike Lee and his early films.  The impetus for this was the rotation of Lee films that have been airing on cable lately, which has given me a chance to see them again with older, more mature eyes.

Some background: I was a teenager when Lee's first major films were released (1986-1992).  At first I just thought these were really good black movies.  In college when I chose to critique these films (adding She's Gotta Have It, but not including Malcolm X) for my Images of Women in the Media class, these films were my exhibit A of black male chauvinism in Hollywood.  My indictment of Lee's sexism was harsh--but I was a student at a women's college in the 90s...everybody was a sexist.  Now some 20 years later, I regard these films as heralds of a renaissance of black film and Lee is undeniably the most exalted figure in the pantheon of black directors.

Of course, I still think Spike Lee is sexist and 20 years later, his gratuitous sex scenes and two-dimensional female characters sadden me.  He should not shoulder the burden of uplifting black women on film, but he does deserve some blame for not creating a better model for subsequent filmmakers to emulate.  The only film that breaks this mold is Crooklyn (but that was written by his sister Joie). 

Spike Lee is also too outspoken for his own good, and in many ways, his off-screen arrogance over-shadows his nobler on-screen efforts.  He gets a lot of attention for his high-profile dust-ups: Clint Eastwood, Spike TV, Debbie Allen, Reggie Miller, Charlton Heston, and of course, any team that plays against the New York Knicks.  He came to the defense of Barry Bonds and has earned the ire of Jewish groups for some of his characters.  And then there is Tyler Perry...

But it must be said that Spike Lee is a genius. A flawed, sexist, and arrogant genius.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Reassessing Spike Lee: Part I

For the last few weeks, Encore Indie has been airing old Spike Lee movies.  It has been great to revisit some of the most iconic moments of Lee's classic films such as this one from Jungle Fever (1991):

And this one, also from Jungle Fever:

And who could forget this scene from Mo' Better Blues (1990):

Or this one:

You probably remember what happens in the very next scene (also classic and brilliant)...Another favorite film from Lee's 90's era output was Crooklyn (1994), which produced this nostalgic gem:

And I am ashamed to admit this, but I FINALLY saw all of Clockers (1995), a movie that I'll need to watch a few more times before I call any specific scene iconic. 

By the way, these are not posted in any particular order, except maybe in the order of which scenes I think are most memorable (but not in order of which films I think are best).  But I wanted to post these because they capture something unique about Spike Lee's creative genuis that has not been paralleled and because these scenes highlight why his very public beef with Tyler Perry is so timely.  Check back for my analysis in Part II.

Friday, July 08, 2011

What the World Needs Now...

Is not another list of things that annoy me, but I just can't help it! I've been on a roll at the BBW blog lately, and I feel as if I'm neglecting the Cafe.  So here is my list of ten things that have been annoying me of late:

1. Old cartoon shows becoming live action movies - I watched the Smurfs, the Chipmunks, Fat Albert, He-Man, Inspector Gadget, The Tick, Underdog, and Scooby-Doo as a kid and I prefer them as cartoons where it made sense that a pot-smoking guy named Shaggy could communicate with his dog. It does not make sense in real life that a guy would adopt singing chipmunks or that a beagle would develop super powers (or that somehow Jason Lee would be associated with both of these craptastic movies).

2. TV Trials - This is not just about the Casey Anthony trial, but about televised court cases in general. Because the results of the Anthony, OJ, Michael Jackson, Phil Spector, Robert Blake, Anna Nicole Smith, Bill Clinton's impeachment and every other TV trial is pretty much going to disappoint if you were hoping for some type of public execution.  These TV trials are so riveting because the prosecutors and the media are more focused on swaying the TV audience than they are at proving reasonable doubt to the 12 folks in the jury box.   So if you want to see a slam dunk, can't lose trial, you need to go back to watching Perry Mason or Matlock reruns.

3. Contest shows - These are as old as TV, so my complaint is not that they exist, but that they seem to multiply like rabbits or tribbles. And there are more of these contests shows airing than scripted serials.  If I see another show about dating, racing, weight-loss, singing, designing, cooking or modeling...

4. Awards Shows on MTV, BET, Vh1, or CMT - At some point, the awardees themselves are going to wonder what the heck that thing is on the mantle.  These shows remind me of those soccer games where no one keeps score, but the sad truth is that everyone is NOT a winner.  Maybe I am just annoyed because no one has offered me anything yet...

5. The Kardashians.

6. Twitter Beefs - Just acknowledging that such a thing exists seems childish, especially when you consider that it is a war of words waged in 140 characters or less.  Worse, a few of the participants are grown a$$ folks with jobs who should know better (yeah I'm talking 'bout you Roland S. Martin)!

7. Hypersensitivity About President Obama - He's black.  And a few folks in this country are not cool with that fact.  And in a nation where we pride ourselves on the right to free speech, I say we let these fools say whatever the heck they want to say about him and the rest of us people of color.  Maybe it will help to rid them of the ignorance once they spew it out and feel the backlash.  And if their ignorance goes unchecked, well, I am not worried about the POTUS because the Secret Service are some pretty scary dudes.

8. The GOP Candidates for President - For the most part, I am ignoring them, but the two craziest and unavoidable declared candidates happen to be a Morehouse Man and a Foster Mom from Iowa/Minnesota.  And the Democrats practice bad affirmative action?  Yeah right!

9. Tavis Smily and Cornel West - This could possibly brand me as hypersensitive to the criticism about the POTUS, but I don't think so.  I actually think there are some valid points of contention that these brothers have against the positions taken by the Obama Administration on certain issues.  Dr. West's primary complaint appears to be that he could not secure a ticket for his mama to attend the Inauguration; Tavis' beef is that then-candidate Obama chose to announce his presidency in Illinois than attend the State of the Black Union Gabfest in 2007.  Thus, the roots of discontent come from personal slights that have then been conflated into policy disagreements.  OK, but guess what guys--I volunteered at the DC for Obama headquarters every Friday night during the month of October 2008 and I did not get an invitation to the inauguration or a job.  I could be pissed; instead, I found something better to do with my energy...maybe you should do the same.

10. Obama - And this is where I prove that I am not hypersensitive to the President.  Mr.Obama, please reveal the method to the madness before I lose hope.  I read everyday where you appear to capitulate to the forces of evil that are holding the country hostage and I cannot help but to think that you are either the smartest man alive, or the most naive.  Because I think I know better, I am going with the smartest man alive, but could you wink or clear your throat or send some other sign that you are still on our side?  Thanks.

Monday, June 27, 2011

What Do We Expect?

So I did not watch the BET Awards...which is not that big of a deal since most of my Facebook friends posted live commentary while it aired.  I spent a good portion of the morning reading their hilarious reactions. 

And as I suspected, the universal conclusion was that the show was an entertaining hot mess!  Which they all kept watching even after that fact became clear...

That is exactly why the BET Awards will always be a hot mess.  It is why the now-defunct Source Awards were a hot mess.  It is why Tyler Perry is a multi-gazillionaire.

Because we keep watching.  So we need to ask ourselves, why do we keep watching?

I was up last night writing about bad black films for the BBW blog, and while that is another issue altogether, the point still is that if we truly want better entertainment options, then we need to cut out the crap.  It is just like losing weight--you cannot say that you want to slim down to a size 6 one minute, but then the next minute finds you scarfing down a dozen Krispy Kremes. 

So perhaps a better question is if we truly want these award shows (sitcoms, movies, music, etc.) to improve...or do we get far more enjoyment from criticizing them?

Several weeks ago I decided to stop watching the Housewives series on BRAVO, even though I find these shows highly entertaining.  And maybe it was just a few weeks later that I listened to an interview on the radio with one of the former DC Housewives who gave her perspective on this genre.  She discussed the new season of the Vh1 knock-off Basketball Wives and how it reinforced certain negative stereotypes about black women.  Her own reason for appearing on a reality show was to counteract that imagery, but in the end, her show was cancelled because it lacked the same level of scandal and drama. 

How do you spell I-R-O-N-I-C?

So, we really prefer do prefer the car crashes, the back-stabbing, the really bad fashion choices, and the overall sense that this is the best some of these folks can do.  We want Kanye to throw a temper tantrum about not winning whatever award he was not even in the running to win.  We hope that a third of the female performers will look like hookers and that half of the male performers will look like they were just released from Rikers.  We expect that the seven-second delay will be absolutely imperative because someone will drop an f-bomb or two during an acceptance speech wherein they will also happen to thank Jesus.  We know that half these folks can't sing.

If we really wanted a good clean awards show, we would watch the Kennedy Center Honors.

In the end, BET is just doing what every other business does when it comes to promoting its products:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Catching Up

So I have been away from this blog for a little bit, but that was to focus on a few things related to the other blog.  Like purchasing the domain name!  And trying to figure out ways to market the site!

The BBW Movement is beginning :)

In the meantime, my life is still a hot mess.  I am looking around at my surroundings and wondering how I got to this point...but wondering and taking decisive corrective action are two different things.  First of all, who has the time (I do, but...) who wants to spend it cleaning and organizing when you fully believe that all of it will be undone?  This house has been out of my control for so long that living in the chaos is just another part of my reality.

I am also dealing with a lot of issues in my personal life.  There is a saying that when things start to improve in one area of your life, they start to go south in others.  Well, I am here to say that it is south all across the board...I am just doing the best I can to make it look like some things are improving. 

But, I am inspired to press on anyway.  After all, my problems will not be solved by doing nothing, or worse by giving up.  And despite the fact that I had some very dark days last week, thankfully the sun has come out and that makes things look brighter.

Anyhoo, stuff to do, people to see and all of that, so smooches until I see you next time!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

(I had been trying to finish this post for days...now a few weeks later...)

The other night the husband announces that one of our neighbors had recently passed away.  This was news to me, since I thought I saw her just a few days ago mowing her lawn (apparently not).  He found out by asking another neighbor about some recent movement at her house that suggested she had moved or that someone had moved in.

Anyway, what irked me was the manner in which the husband made the announcement--as if he was telling me something very random, like the trash needing to go out.  How could we live across the street from someone for years and not know that she was sick?  Or worse, how did we not notice that we had not seen her in weeks?  We must be the worst neighbors in the world.

(Actually, I know that we are not...a recent story was released about the death of a former Playboy playmate whose mummified remains were found by a neighbor after a year!)

One of the great secrets about our neighborhood is that we look like the typical suburban haven often pictured on TV.  It offers the real deal of well-manicured lawns, attractive families, walkable sidewalks, racial and ethnic diversity, and the cherry on top of it all is that this all exists within the city limits! 

The problem is that like many city folks, we do not actually know our neighbors as well as we should.  We know them well enough to speak and wave, and we pay attention enough to know when someone buys a new car, but our interactions tend to be limited to whatever can fit in the space between locking the door of the house to the unlocking of the car door.  And despite the fact that I work from home, most of these people have no idea what it is I actually do for a living.  In fact, it was just a few months ago that I had an in-depth conversation with one of the neighbors across the street who went to school with me...

So I feel bad about not making much of an effort to know the neighbor who passed away.  Of course, a part of me knows that relationships are a two-way street.  Maybe she was not all that interested in us.  Perhaps she was a private person who kept to herself for a good reason. 

I still feel bad.  While we were dealing with my mother in law's illness, I cannot help but to think that my neighbor was dying and I was too busy to notice. 


Today, I spoke to the people who moved into her house and talk about awkward.  My mind went totally blank and I scurried into the house to keep from looking even more ridiculous.  And then an hour or so later, her daughter drove up as I was on my way back out of the house, and essentially the entire scene repeated itself in reverse.

So now I feel like a loser...clearly the look on my face suggested that I know something...but I did not say anything!  Argh!  I am thinking that if I could rewind time, I might have come up with the appropriate response.  And that brings me back, full circle in a way to the initial issue--death is unfair.  It robs us of the chance to do or say the things we need to when the time is right or even when the time is wrong.  I am sitting here wracked with guilt because I never said anything more than hello to someone who lived across the street from me for close to nine years. 

And there is no solution to this, except I can hope that the next time I get a chance to say something, it will be more than just an awkward hello.  I am going to write a note of condolence to the family and while it will be several weeks after the fact, my hope is that the gesture will bring some small measure of comfort--even if it is coming several weeks after the fact.  As for my other neighbors, I will continue to speak and hopefully, they will attempt the same.

Monday, May 02, 2011

What a Day...

So, last night when the news broke that U.S. forces had killed Osama bin Laden, the husband and I were watching a movie...And then he decided that we should head down to the White House to witness the celebrations...And though I went along, I was not really feeling it...

Because I remember 9/11.  And the panic that followed.  Such as having to remove my shoes at Logan Airport.  Or being instructed to buy reams of duct tape and plastic sheeting to seal up my house.  And so, I do not think the resolution of that day should have been marked by the drunken opportunistic patriotism of clueless teenagers--most of whom were children when the towers fell.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


I could not wait to write this...but if I did not know this previously, I am convinced that Barack Obama is an f-ing genius!

Yesterday, with the predictable fallout and hand-wringing over the release of his birth certificate to silence his critics, we all got hyped over the fact that he had to prove what we already knew.  And we were mad that he had to prove anything.  And while we all know that they will never accept his legitimacy and that there could be a range of reasons why (including race, fear of Islam, stupidity, etc.)...I just had an epiphany.

The birth certificate release was not done to silence the critics.  It was done to rally the troops.


I've been blogging up a storm!  I think that the two weeks I had no computer access caused a backlog of ideas in my head, and now everything is just pouring out like water.

I wrote yesterday over at the BBW blog about fried chicken, then I chickened out and did not publicize it...dunno why except maybe it took me soooo long to finish that it was Thursday and so the point was lost.  Not that I was ashamed of what I wrote, but I think that my perfectionism makes it hard for me to just blog and go.  If I had done that, then I doubt the piece would have been all that good, but as it stands, I have no idea if anyone will think anything of it now.

However, I like the fact that my blog gets regular readers.  And I really like having this on the side to have as an outlet for everything else I am thinking.  I did not write here about some of the recent developments in my life yet, but it has been great to have this space as a security blanket of sorts whenever I feel like I have something to say, but am not quite sure whether it needs to be public (which of course it is...but not that public).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dump Trump, Bale on Palin and other Nonsense

Not that it is a surprise to anyone who knows me, but Donald Trump has gotten me so angry with his idiocy in the past couple of weeks!  I cannot believe that it has taken me this long to write about it...(of course, life intervened, so here is my belated take on the Dumpster and his foolishness) and in advance, please accept my apologies since this has all been dying to come out!

My quibble with Donald the Dump is that he is a mean person.  Meanness works in America, especially now that everyone is on the we-hate-poor-people-whose-endless-neediness-makes-it-hard-for-me-to-pretend-to-ignore-their-existence bandwagon.  I am ashamed to admit that I too had a flash of that sentiment this past week out in California.  I complained to the husband about the aggressiveness of the homeless people...and in hindsight, I feel like an ass.

And my remorse stands in stark constrast to the Dumpster--he never feels anything but reinvigorated by his constant denigrations of people.  Remember how he treated his so-called friend Martha Stewart after the failure of her spin-off "Apprentice"?  Then he was ultra mean to Rosie O'Donnell and while she is no shrinking violet, I definitely remember how his relentless vitriol against her practically sent her over the edge.  Now that he wants to generate ratings for his tired show, he takes aim at President Obama, which is fair game since well, that's politics.  But then he's been locked and loaded to shoot at anyone who has deigned to call him out--first it was Bill Cosby, followed by Jerry Seinfeld, and I suspect that in a few weeks, he will have insulted more people than a foul odor.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Look Out Below

So I did something today that will either turn out to be very smart or very stupid in a few short weeks.

I took a leap of faith.  And right now, I must still be in the clouds where everything looks fine.  But check me again in a few weeks when the altitude has changed.

Long story short, I made an investment in a business venture to see if this idea I have been nurturing for the past few months can earn me some cash.  Not a whole lot of cash is at stake, but the goal is to see if the concept can grow into something profitable.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Tough Seasons

I have noticed lately that a lot of people I know are going through some very tough times.  A friend from college just lost her mother suddenly and as did another just lose her father.  A few folks I know are going through divorce.  We are dealing with the illnesses facing elderly family members. 

And while we are pushing through domestic issues, there are people in Japan who have just survived an earthquake and may be facing a nuclear meltdown.  There is a civil war going on in Libya and there are protests all over the Middle East for democracy.  There are places in Africa where everyday for the past twenty or more years has been a constant struggle for survival.

I am tempted to wonder why...someone asked if I thought this was the beginning of the end, since 2012 is rumored to be the end of the world.  But that seems too simple--that the world is coming apart because we are about to disappear.

I am a person of faith.  I do not believe Obama is the anti-Christ.  I do not believe in the end times.  I believe we are going through a tough season because that is the nature of life.  People die.  Marriages do not always last.  Illness happens even if we try to keep it at bay.  Natural disasters happen as do man-made disasters.  People fight when they see no reason to get along.  Poverty exists while others have too much. 

Life is unfair.

But the solution is not to wonder why or to rend our clothing or even take to the streets.  The answer is to stop, take stock in what we have, and then press forward.  This too shall pass. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Pride Goeth Before the Fall

So I knew this day was coming, and I avoided it for much longer than I should have, but I am officially broke.

So I have no where else to go but up.

I am a hustler.  I am not a con artist, but I am a person who makes lemonade on a regular basis.  My back is against the wall, and I might need to sell a kidney, but I will make a way through this crisis. 

I am not asking why, because I know why.  I am not upset with God because grace is the only reason why my chips weren't called in until now.  So I need to make a lot of changes and sacrifices to get to my breakthrough.

I get that.

If you thought this meant that I would just give up...you were wrong.  I might not be able to game my way out of this.  I might have to suffer.  Alright, then I will do what I have to do.  But, I am a fighter.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

It's Me or Your Dog

...Cat, bird, hamster or any other furry friend that lives in your house.  I have allergies.  And though I might be an invited guest in your home, it is clear that your pet is going to win in this showdown.  So here is my official letter of resignation.

I have had allergies to animal fur/hair/dander since childhood.  (Additionally, in case you were wondering, I also have seasonal hay fever and eczema.)  And no, I have not outgrown them, and no they are not specific to any particular type of animal (except maybe fish).  The cycle of my reactions have been consistent all of these 30+ years...when invited to someone's home and unbeknownst to me, there is an indoor furry creature of some kind who is allowed free reign of the place, after about 30 minutes, I start to sneeze.  My eyes water and then my chest starts to tighten.  Generally I can only take another 30 minutes until things become unbearable and I have to leave.

Yes, it makes everyone feel uncomfortable, but there really is nothing I can do to except to suffer.  Or leave.  Or die right there in your living room.

Before anyone thinks to ask if there something I can take...the answer is yes, I can take an allergy pill 30 minutes in advance of my exposure to your little furry darling.  But please note that I need to know that you have a pet before I cross your threshold.  Otherwise, I have only 30 minutes before total allergic reaction shutdown.  Of course, if I do not know about your pet, then it is not your fault that I can still detect its existence even if I never lay eyes on Fluffy.  Yes, my allergies are that sensitive.

So, what are my options?  Well, as a precaution, I can take allergy pills all the time, which should inoculate me from a potential reaction.  Yes, great for you and your pet--not so great for my wallet or my inner ear (prone to infections every Spring thanks to my seasonal allergies).  Well, shouldn't I be used to this?  No, because prior to the recent crop of allergy medications that are available now, my only choices were Sudafed and Benadryl, which were very effective at making me drowsy.  In advance, they only worked when combined with a hot cup of tea after I was already exposed to the allergens.  When the better allery drugs like Claritin, Allegra and Zirtec were developed, they were very expensive and only available with a prescription.  Which would have been fine until I discovered that in some cases, the side effects were worse than the actual allergies that I was trying to prevent.

Now, no excuses because I can take the OTC generics.  And while I am happy to do my part, YOU pet owners could be a little more considerate.  Maybe it is not a good idea to let an animal shed on all of your furniture.  Or if you know that company is coming over, maybe you should vacuum first.  And I do not think it is asking too much that you temporarily banish your pet to another room if I start sneezing.  And no, discussing the allergies while I am in the throws of a reaction will not lessen the intensity...

Because looky here, in the off chance that I might get caught off guard and suffer the Big One, would you be able to live with yourself if I actually died right there on your sofa?  OK, that is rather dramatic, but it is a little annoying to think that if there was a choice between the suffering of a human being and that of an animal, most people would be content to watch my head explode.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Winners and Losers

I am reluctant to admit that I have been following the recent Charlie Sheen meltdown with the same rubber-necking-on-the-highway curiosity that has enthralled the rest of America.  And I was content not to admit it until I saw the news reports about the actress from "The Wire", Felicia "Snoop" Pearson, and her recent arrest in Baltimore.

The level of attention paid to these stories is not really my issue here, although it kind of is the issue since Charlie Sheen's rapid spiral is seen as "winning" while poor Felicia's situation is downright tragic.  She is probably headed back to jail, while Sheen, who has never been a choir boy, will probably get a reality show.  But hey, that's show biz for you.

I was not a fan of "The Wire" primarily because I do not have HBO.  And as great as I have heard that this show was, I do not have the time to sit through a DVD marathon of episodes, so in all likelihood, I will not know whether Pearson ever had any acting talent.  I do remember her from those Vh1 Black to the Future and I Love the 2000s shows, but that was not exactly the same as acting.  And I thought she was a boy...

I also do not watch "Two and Half Men", so I am missing out on Sheen's apparent weekly brilliance.  Actually, I have seen the show, but it never struck me as "must see", so I've probably only seen it in syndication.  Of course, I have seen his work before...Major League and Hot Shots were riveting!  But honestly, I have had a problem with him even being on TV since his problems with drugs, alcohol and spousal abuse have been so well documented.  Seems like someone who has that many problems should be getting therapy, not millions of dollars in encouragement.

The difference between the outcomes for these two troubled actors is all about how we exploit celebrity.  On the one hand, a lot of people have made millions on Charlie Sheen, and as long as he kept his private life in the tabloids but off the set, no one had any reason to say anything, let alone fire him.  So in a twisted sense, he might actually be right about how the distribution company and the network took full advantage and owe him millions for breach of contract. 

Then on the other hand there is Pearson, a troubled young woman whose real life was as compelling as the character she portrayed.  It might not be fair to suggest that the writers and producers who made money on her have abandoned her, because that is not the case.  But they employed her precisely because she could bring realism to their story; however, Baltimore is no longer the subject of gritty inner-city melodramas (now it is New Orleans), and apparently she turned back to the streets.

Of course, Sheen is a bona fide star who comes from a Hollywood family and who stars in the highest-rated sitcom on network TV.  Almost no one who gets to his level in Hollywood goes to jail, just look at Lindsey Lohan.  Pearson was already a convicted felon when she was cast in the critically acclaimed, but low-rated drama on premium cable.  Why should anyone feel sorry for her? 

Well, if she had been arrested in California and not Maryland, there is a strong likelihood that she would have gotten probation.  Had she been more attractive, she could have gone on Dr. Phil and after a mild tongue-lashing, he would have sent her to rehab with Dr. Drew and she could have appeared on the next season of Sober House or Celebrity Rehab.  Had she been more charismatic and less androgynous, she could have parlayed that into an appearance on Celebrity Apprentice or other stupid reality show that could have given her a few more months of infamy until our attention got pulled in another direction.  But she is not some good-looking rich guy from Malibu...she is poor black kid from Baltimore.  She had already lost before the game even began.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Lost and Found

I have been railing over at the BBW blog about the loss of my makeup bag...it is a very trivial thing, but right now the fact that I cannot find it is truly blowing me (to borrow a phrase from my brothers).  I also lost a glove the other day in New York City.  I don't think I've lost a glove since childhood. 

Last Saturday, I could not find a pair of earrings, but they were found in the pocket of a pair of jeans.  The difference in misplacing my earrings and losing stuff is that I implicitly know that I will find whatever I might have misplaced.  Stuff that gets lost generally never reappears.

This might just be a series of coincidences, and I am definitely making a mountain out of a mole hill.  But this is just the phase I'm in...I need things to work out just for the sake of my sanity.  I can accept that things will not always go my way.  I can accept that isht happens, and you just have to deal.  I can make lemonade out of the lemons.  But I am tired and I just want to find my makeup bag...

And my glove.  Well, in all honesty, I can live without the glove (I inquired about a replacement pair today and for $60, I think I can wait until Christmas :)

Monday, February 28, 2011

Two Hundred

I was working on another post, but then I realized that as this my 200th blog posting, I would rather it be able something significant, so I thought to celebrate this moment with a blog about my blogging :)  I started this endeavor in 2005.  I abandoned this effort in 2007.  I quasi-returned to it in 2008.  And I came back full tilt in 2010.  Now 200 postings later, I am very excited about the future!  And here is why:

1. I have learned a lot about myself in publishing my thoughts to the world.  I have a lot to say, but I have not only evolved in how I express myself, but I have become a lot more confident in how I present myself to the world when I am not blogging. 

2. I am more confident in my writing ability than my speaking ability, but that actually works in my favor.  I have discovered a strength that will be valuable to me for the rest of my life.  So what if I can never inspire people with a rousing speech--I can persuade through a well-written piece of prose.

3. My writing persona is authentic.  Not that I am fake in person, but I know that I am revealing the real me in my writing in a way that might not be as evident in person.  When I say something ironic or mean in my writing, I am intending to be ironic or mean. 

4. I want to take more chances.  I want to step outside of my comfort zone and have my writing reach more than just the people who happen upon this site or those who support me.  I have something to say, and I actually know what I am talking about most of the time.

5. This is my journey.  And for some time now, I have considered the opinions and perspectives of others (many quite well-meaning) in charting my course.  I am here by no accident, but because this is how the Lord intends for me to reach my destination.

I need to emphasize point #5 because some well-meaning people have been urging me to make different choices (i.e. get a job that would solve all of my financial and career issues) out of what they perceive tobe my best interest.  Lord knows, I could use some stability, but perhaps it is time to acknowledge that a job is not the only way to achieve that...

And here is what I really want to express--gratitude.  Gratitude to the Lord for revealing to me that everything in life has a meaning, even our stumbles.

I had an epiphany the other day so it had to be addressed in my 200th posting today.  I was imagining how different my life would have been if my career had not been so abruptly derailed.  I call it a derailment on purpose because in my mind, I was simply a passenger riding on a train when everything toppled over.  It began with the loss of a job, but my inability to sufficiently rebound into something comparable led to a detour that has taken me to many unexpected places.

Such as the courtroom.  I had tried litigation during an earlier bout with unemployment, and it had provided me with valuable experience and the ability to be adaptable.  Although I have tended to regard my little practice as insignificant, recently a former client tried to offer me a referral.  To her, the work I had done on her case was significant. 

Another unexpected place was the classroom.  Everyone in my family has become a teacher, and I often joked that at the beginning of each semester that education was the family business and that I was late in joining the franchise.  And truly, I have found the classroom to be a great fit, even as I found certain aspects of the profession to be exhausting and under-appreciated.

I am coming to terms with the prospect that I might never have biological children.  There was a time when I figured that having a baby would help to give my life purpose, but for whatever reason that has not happened.  And it caused me a lot of anxiety because everyone else in my demographic was having children.  It only added to my insecurities about the loss of my job as some massive sign that I was perpetuating a fraud on the world.  But plenty of wonderful people have never had biological children, and if I am meant to raise a child some day, I am fine if that blessing occurs because someone else cannot.

I have been broker than broke.  My savings are meager and my debts are massive.  But I keep pressing forward and have learned the value of frugality.  We have learned to live within our means and that has kept us afloat.  And I cannot help but to think that we are reaping what we have sown--service to others has supplied our needs. 

And finally, I look upon my marriage as a major silver lining in a cloud of despair.  God willing, we will celebrate 10 years in October and I feel so magnificently blessed.  Not because I think marriage is better than being single, but I believe that my marriage has been better for me than being single would have been.

So I am celebrating 200 blogs at the Cafe and hope to build on it with so much more in the future!  Ciao :)

Friday, February 25, 2011

*Yawn* the Oscars are Coming

I'm going to start off by saying yes, I am about to gripe about the Oscars again...but not for the reasons why I typically take issue with the longest televised (and least entertaining awards) show in recorded history.

In fact, after decrying the declaration by movie critics a few years ago (conveniently after Halle Berry won her Oscar), I have come to the conclusion that the Oscars are irrelevant.  Not because it is a bloated self-congratulatory kiss-ass fest...but because all of the build up to the show and the fall off afterwards. 

My revelation about the Oscars came when the nominees for this year were announced and I noted that half of the films had only been released in New York or LA, and that no one of color was named.  Not that this was a big surprise since no Oscar-worthy films featuring people of color were released in 2010 (and yes, that includes "For Colored Girls").  But beyond that fact, I got to thinking about how Academy Award nominations and wins notwithstanding, Oscars do very little, if anything, to advance the film careers of those lucky few who receive them. 

Think about it...what did Halle Berry do after she won her Oscar in 2002?  And then ask the same question about the careers of Cuba Gooding Jr., Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Hudson and Monique.  Halle Berry went on to star in one of the worst films ever made, and then she got knocked up and is now more famous now for her tabloid life than her movie roles.  All I have to say about Cuba is "Snow Dogs"...  Jamie Foxx decided to become an R&B artist, and I guess that is working out for him.  Jennifer Hudson's next major film role was in the "Sex and the City" movie.  And it was so unnecessary that I honestly believe that they only cast her because the movie was already very lame and the writers said, "what the hell, let's call that chick from 'Dreamgirls', the one who is not Beyonce."  As for Monique, I keep thinking that they did not mean it since she is still hosting a late night talk show on BET, which is only one step slightly above her sitcom role on "The Parkers".

And black actors are not the only ones to get neglected once the statuettes have been distributed: 
  • Kim Bassinger (best supporting actress) has not been in anything significant since "8 Mile" and her most recent claim to fame is perhaps surviving her marriage to Alec Baldwin
  • Helen Hunt (best actress) has been relatively quiet since starring in the awful "What Women Want" with Mel Gibson
  • Timothy Hutton (best supporting actor) is on a crappy basic cable re-tread of "The A-Team"
  • Renee Zellwegger (best supporting actress) needs to do another Bridget Jones movie
  • Heath Ledger (best supporting actor) is dead
  • Nicolas Cage (best actor) whose career choices have been so disappointing, it is easy to forget that he ever did anything Oscar-worthy
And the list could go on...

So what is the point?  With all the emphasis on what people wear, I have come to the conclusion that the real purpose of the Oscars is to serve as an advertising vehicle for fashion designers, which is probably cheaper than taking out ads in magazines these days.  Thus, the Oscars are a televised version of the Beverly Hills High School prom.

And that explains why most of the real stars skip the ceremony--they have "graduated" to more important pursuits (like George Clooney trying to cure malaria and Leonardo DiCaprio trying to save the planet with Al Gore.)  The only people who regularly attend are the actual nominees who are probably contractually obligated to do so and the wannabees who use the constant media scrutiny of their wardrobes to help advance their careers.  And I am starting to wonder if the nominations themselves represent a cynical calculation by the Academy to ensure a TV audience (three or four solid performances and a couple of wildcards thrown in to create suspense).  That certainly challenges the notion that the Oscars reward talent... 

So will I watch?  Maybe.  Will I have any commentary in the future about the lack of diversity in the nominations?  Probably.  Are all awards shows as useless?  Hmm...I'll have to revisit that after the NAACP Image Awards.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Double-Sized Double Standards

So it seems that the GOP Mean Girls are dissing First Lady Michelle Obama--Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and now Rush Limbaugh.  Apparently, Mrs. Obama's campaign to encourage folks to eat right and to exercise is evidence of a nanny state gone amok.

Because Americans have a constitutional right to life, liberty and the pursuit of fatness.  If people want their children to live on McDonald's, then that is their right.  The fact that more children are developing diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension, and arthritis notwithstanding, it is not the business of the federal government to encourage healthier living.

Because there is a slippery slope from the mere suggestion that you could plant veggies to the edict that you must plant veggies. 

Lately, this whole narrative of government overreach has annoyed me.  It is hypocrisy of the worst kind when elected officials are trying to pass laws that restrict the rights of women to seeking out reproductive health services but then those same officials criticize a program that encourages fitness and healthy eating as intrusive.  Really?  Because forcing women into motherhood is exactly what the government ought to be doing...

Of course, this is an exaggeration, but I am honest enough to admit when my rhetoric goes over the top.  At the same time, it is not hyperbole to suggest that the rhetoric used to proscribe certain types of behavior is selectively applied.  For example, we are supposedly the most democratic nation in the world except when it comes to the residents of the District of Columbia who are subjected to the partisan whims of Congress.

Yes, I am all over the place, but everywhere I turn I see hypocrisy.  I see it when we support authoritarian regimes in other countries until the people take to the streets to revolt against tyranny.  I see it when white actors get fawning media coverage for their bad acts while actors of color are subjected to perp walks and jail time.  I see it when black basketball players decide to make controversial power moves that get them lambasted in the media for selfishness while Wall Street banks play chess with people's life-savings and get defended by politicians who offer them tax breaks.

Is anyone willing to call a spade a spade?

Monday, February 21, 2011

I'm Just Saying...

I love the husband, but federal holidays are torture when I have stuff to do and he is at home with nothing to do...

I have been trying to write for the last two hours, yet he has not seemed to notice.  He has wandered in here at least four times to show me something or to talk about something random.  The fact that I politely stated that I was trying to write notwithstanding, he now expects me to be ready in half an hour to go out because he has a Groupon.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is one reason why I cannot get anything done.  I have a groove going and someone or something intrudes.  Last week I was suffering with writers' block.  Now, I am trying to concentrate but can't because he has the radio turned all the way up (even though he just left to go to the gym) and wants to spend time with me on his day off. 

My day will be over...my to do list half done...and the rest of my week overscheduled just because.  I hate three day weekends.

Friday, February 18, 2011

More Writers' Block Drama

OK, so I am  now in day five or six of this...I cannot concentrate.  I write and rewrite nearly every sentence.  I am going quasi-insane.

One trick that I remember from school was to write in stream of conscience, which presumably would help to get something on the page.  So here goes:

I was downstairs listening to WAMU and after about six straight days of listening to them beg for money, I still have not made the call or logged onto the site to make a donation.  I normally would not feel so bad about this, but I do this time around.  I never contribute, yet my car radio is locked on to the station and whenever we go out of town, we search around for the local NPR affiliate.  We are cheaters--worse...we are thieves.  Of course, I justify this behavior by pointing out that we are taxpayers.  We contribute to NPR and PBS through that $1 in tax revenue that goes to support them.  Also, we buy from some of the entities that sponsor their programming--we buy gas and food, so indirectly we support public broadcasting.  I know, this is one of those lies that I tell myself and so far it isn't working.  I still feel guilty.  Fine, I'll give!

I need to tell another truth--I am afraid...of what?  Everything.  Afraid of my loans going into default because I refuse to speak to the loan people.  Afraid of what will happen once that occurs and I have to explain myself.  Afraid of the march of time and what will happen to some of my loved ones.  Afraid to admit that my fear of their demise is also a fear of my own demise.  And a fear of what exactly it is that I have contributed to the world since right now it isn't anything very significant.  Afraid that my "work" is nothing important because I am not really doing anything.  Afraid that I will be exposed as a fraud.

I was watching old videos this afternoon and I believe that music was better in the 80s and 90s.  But I am sure that everyone older than me believes that music was better in the 60s and 70s.  And I agree with them...does that mean that I am really old?  No, it just means that in the past ten years, I have heard little, if anything, memorable or significant enough to compete with the music of my youth.  OK, maybe Beyonce and Maxwell.

I am not sure if this is working yet, but I am going to keep trying...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Public Service Announcement

(Perhaps my block is tumbling...)


For the sake of every literate person who reads your comments posted to blogs, articles and Facebook profiles, and even Twitter updates...please know which word you intend to use and then use it in the correct context.  Geez!  I know that in our modern shorthand, certain words get shortened or become superfluous when trying to express oneself in 140 characters or less, but some of this is just ridiculous.  A quick grammar lesson:

1. Too (adverb); to (preposition); two (number)
Used in sentences: There are too many errors in your writing.  It has gotten to the point where I want to scream.  Notice how I properly used the word "to" in that last sentence two times?

2. Where (adverb used to ask the location of something or someone)
Used in a sentence: Where is she?  Where did you put the newspaper?

3. Were (verb used in the past tense along with pronouns you, we and they)
You were acting silly while we were trying to be serious and they were attempting to rob us.

4. Wear (verb); wore (past tense of wear)
I may wear a brown dress to the party.  I wore a black dress instead.

OK, enough before this becomes too cumbersome...hopefully you get the point.

Writer's Block

Can you believe it?  I have writer's block!!!

This sucks because I have had some really great ideas for articles to post at both blogs, but for whatever reason, the moment I sit down at the computer all ready to go, my mind goes completely blank.  So I thought that I might trick myself into writing something significant by writing about my block.

No luck...just a lot of mistyping going on.  Oh well.

I think this is the Lord's way of telling me that I have more important things to do.  Like getting ready for the class I am supposed to teach in a few days.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Growing Up Is Hard

I have probably discussed this before, but growing up is really over-rated.  If anyone under 25 stumbles across this blog, please know this to be true--GROWING UP IS OVER-RATED!!!

I am dealing with life wearing my best game face, but that does not change the fact that underneath that mask of holding it all together, I am struggling.  I am at that place in life where the generation before me that held my life together is starting to need me to hold it together for them, and I am not ready.  Not only am I deficient in the strength that they had, I have the weight of my own disappointments to resolve...

Lord knows I want to be a strong enough person.  But I do not wish to be the Hulk, Hercules and especially not Atlas, but just strong enough.  I am in my Garden of Gethsemane...wondering aloud where the Lord is and why has He forsaken me?  Of course, I know that is not the case because the only reason why I am even able to sit here and type all of this is through the grace of God, but that does not change the way I feel right at this moment.

But I remembered just a few weeks ago that the women in my family were prayer warriors and that is what I need to become.  I haven't been a regular church attendee in years, and it seems rather convenient to start that up now, but no matter.  I remember how to pray.  I remember how to find inspiration in God's word and I remember the hymns that bring comfort.  If I put all of these elements together, I know I can keep going.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Look to Your Left, and then to Your Right

OK, quick post since I was just here a few hours ago...

So, I clicked on the link at the top left of the page that says "next blog" and can I say that there are a lot of different people in the world. One woman is a stay-at-home-mom with five children and a sixth on the way who home-schools. The next was a photographer who is ultra-Catholic. The next was another fundamentalist religious type.

And somehow, I got wedged in with them...not sure if the blogs are categorized by topic, alphabetically, or just in the order of who blogs next. Whatever. Strange company I keep here at the Cafe.

By the way, I am not making fun of my fellow bloggers. I think it is wonderful that there are women who want to be at home with their children, men who are adamant about their faith, and others who just have clear opinions about things. This is about people expressing themselves.

But stumbling upon their blogs made me think about the admonishment I received in law school--to look to my left and right and take note that one of those students might not make it to the finish line with me in three years time. In this case, I am looking to my right and left and seeing perspectives that I would probably not encounter in my daily travels. In general, I rarely interact with mothers of more than two children and I don't got to church often enough to engage people about their beliefs. My world, in a sense, is contained and limited to those whose lives mirror mine...a lot of childless folks with more faith in reason than in God. As broad as I think my perspective is, I just discovered in less than 10 minutes that I only inhabit a small, dusty corner of the world.

(Brought to you by an Argentinian white :)

Checking in after some blush wine and ironing (editing/updating):
I clicked through the "next blog" links over at the BBW blog and I am apparently mixed in with the Mommy group.  I am not a Mommy.  I am a housewife, but I am not anyone's Mommy.  I am an Auntie/Fairy Godmother to about 15 children, but I repeat, not a Mommy!!!  Why am I lumped in with all of these women who are blogging about their children and pull-ups?  I never talk about children...do I?  Even if I did, none of them belong to me, so I am concerned that no one is going to find me because I am categorized among the Mommy brigade.

Understand that being a Mommy is great and all, but it is a different level of womanhood than I have achieved at this point.  To be a Mommy means that I am concerned about strollers and playdates and preschool choices.  None of that crap is even hinted at in either of my blogs.  So what gives?

I am thinking that part of this is the larger category to which I belong which is women under 40 (well give me a few years and I guess the topics will shift to retirement and menopause).  Is Blogger trying to tell me something...are my eggs drying up while I spend too much time worried about my career?  I need another drink...


Well, this topic is timely today for a lot of reasons, starting with the fact that my house is still a mess and still too dangerous for my Baby Niece.  I need to baby-proof, but I also just need to clean so that it is also no longer dangerous for me.

Second, I had been making a few tweaks to the other blog and thought that I might try the same thing here--add a few widgets here and there so that people could find this place.  As it turns out, this template is really old, so a few of the updates might not be possible, but I will figure it out eventually.  In the meantime, I also went back through a few of the postings to see if I had gotten rid of all the old uncompleted drafts.

And I found an unexpected surprise...I had readers!  I would not declare it a dedicated following, but there were people who actually read and enjoyed my work.  And not all of it was random spam...

So, as I find myself exploring ways to drive traffic to the other site, I am encourged because there was a time that without much effort on my part, people found me and liked me, warts and all (meaning, they understood my bouts of depression and were not totally turned off by my cynicism).  And while I do not plan to count any chickens before they hatch, I am encouraged that a few more folks are also reading this blog again.

Well, in case I never said it before, I am so very thankful to everyone who ever read anything I ever wrote here.  In some cases, I completely missed your positive comments, but I thank you just the same for taking the time to post.  In other cases, we lost touch, and that is probably because I did a little too much navel-gazing at times.  I plan to reconnect if I can.  Thank you because in some of my darkest times, writing kept me sane and my hope is that it will always provide me with that solace.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

See What Happens When You Aren't Looking?

So last night, I was looking through my Twitter updates and as usual, Keith Olbermann was posting his nightly show plugs.  I am not sure when I read his cryptic tweet about a last minute change to his Thurber segment, but it really did not matter since I was headed to dinner with friends for the evening.  Fast forward a few hours and while waiting for the husband to retrieve the car, I was looking through the Twitter feed again and spotted news tweets about Olbermann's final sign off as host of "Countdown".


I cannot tell you how many years I watched this show and thus, how many other TV shows I missed because on any given day of the week, this is how I spent the 8pm primetime TV hour.  What in the world am I going to do now?

Sure he was over the top.  Sometimes his guests annoyed me.  Yes, he could be a pompous windbag (I could go on), but I LOVED his show.  And though a few months ago, I began to grow weary of his schtick in the aftermath of the 2010 midterms, I still tuned in occasionally.

Brief side note: I got into a mini-Twitter debate with Roland Martin about the dearth of brown faces as hosts of TV opinion shows and suggested that the solution might be for non-traditional outlets such as BET and TV One to beef up their news operations.  He bluntly told me that I was wrong...but failed to explain the success of former Air America talents Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz at MSNBC.  I mentioned how Maddow got her own show as a result of being a commentator on Countdown, so my question was whether this was really about brown folks not receiving the opportunity or whether there was some other explanation.

Now it seems that MSNBC has an opening...

Now back to Olbermann: I will miss his show, not just because I liked him, but also because his show was a place where black opinionators were featured on a regular basis.  He introduced us to Melissa Harris Perry (formerly Lacewell), Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Derrick Pitts, and Eugene Robinson (whom I saw the other night at the Kennedy Center).  Through their appearances, America got a different spin on the issues from voices that were reasonable and informed (in the case of Tyson and Pitts, we got two black astronomers discussing science in primetime).  He also gave Maddow a chance, which is significant because her show is the only female-lead opinion news show that does not focus on entertainment, celebrity trials and missing women. 

Thus, my larger point is that Keith Olbermann was a lot of things, but he deserves a lot of the credit for diversifying primetime opinion shows in more ways than just offering his liberal take on the issues.  So the real loss is not just his show, but his influence and willingness to use it to offer opportunities to others.