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 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.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

More Randomness

Well, I wrote Part I of this about 12 hours ago (give or take), and now I have a few more observations:

1. Do drug manufacturers think we are stupid?  So you release one drug and it gets pulled because it kills a few people, so you make a few changes and re-release the same drug under a different name...but with similar commercials?  Oh, but you add the side effects that got it pulled the first time, so it is all good the second time around.

2. the interest of full disclosure, I am guilty of taking a peek at tabloid headlines every now and then, but really, should I care that Sandra Bullock's philandering ex-husband is getting remarried to the chick from LA Ink?  By saying that, am I proving my own point?

Seriously, I am just reacting to the fact that there are about 20 websites devoted to celebrity gossip.  Funny how certain folks NEVER end up being mentioned, which leads me to believe that (a) they are not that interesting or (b) they are smart enough to avoid having their business in the street. 

3. Comments on websites.  So as a blogger, I actually want people to comment on what I write, but not if that means that someone is calling me a monkey in every other post.  Why do people feel the need to say something cruel about people they don't know.  And I am not talking about legitimate criticism, just plain old playground bully meanness--she's ugly, he's gay, drop dead, etc.  Does this explain why America is falling behind, because too many people have too much time on their hands to write inane comments?

4. The health care repeal struck me as random, not because it actually happened (since we knew they had the votes to carry it out), but because after doing so, they still have no plan.  Seems to me that if you are hellbent on getting rid of something, you should either be prepared to live without it or have something ready to take its place. 

Kind of like replacing furniture--you need a new bed because the old one is no good, so you shop for a new bed.  You try out a few different models and eventually you settle on the one that makes you the most comfortable.  Then you make a swap.

Memo to the GOP: If you are serious about reform and not just wanting to beat the President and his party, offer up something that might actually work.  Otherwise, you are just smiling for the cameras.

5. My hair is a mess.  And I am not sure what to do about it except to put a scarf on my head and keep it moving.  Life is a bit like that--sometimes you have to go with a quick fix until something more permanent can be discovered.

6. I am speaking in metaphors again...

Totally Random Thoughts

I haven't done this in a while, so here are a few random things I just want to opine about until I get tired and move onto something else:

1. The 5th season of "A Different World" is not as good as I remembered.  I was in college back when it originally aired, and we were all heavily invested in the Whitley-Dwayne love story, except now it seems that they were a lot more interesting apart...take season 2 when there was only the slightest hint of a love connection.  Because they were not the focus, it was a show about college life.  By season 3, even though we were routing for them to hook up, it was still a show about college life.  Fast forward to seasons 5 and 6 and it was all about their relationship.  In hindsight, DW was a much better show when the emphasis was on life at an HBCU (which is why season 1 is so forgettable).  I think that explains why so many people love that dorm step show episode.

2. Went to a funeral yesterday and I am still a little sad about the fact that this woman apparently had no friends, or was somehow forgotten.  We were there to perform the Omega Omega service, and it was obvious that the sorority was a major aspect of her life...except it isn't clear to me how none of her line sisters were able to perform this rite for her.  With all due respect, it just seems odd that she had to be eulogized by me--someone who NEVER met her whilst some soror who knew her (identified by her sorority pin) sat in tears in the audience.  Sure it is emotional, but if she was your friend, then you should be honored to stand up for her.  How did this happen?

I am happy that I was able to participate because it is a rite of passage and EVERY soror deserves this ceremony.  The fact that I did not know her is irrelevant to me, but it bothers me that there were not enough people who knew her who could or cared to make the trip to celebrate her life.  I pray to God that there would be someone from my inner circle who will still be around to perform the ceremony for me...if not, then I pray that some kind souls will take pity on me (I just need to make sure that the husband understands why it is so important).

3. American Ballet Theater performance tonight was great.  Too bad I was too distracted by life to fully enjoy it.  They really need to find more dancers of color...and I am sorry, South American dancers don't count!  Oh, and I am sad to say that I did not enjoy the Balanchine pieces.  That feels like a massive fail.

4. Speaking of distractions, I am so overwhelmed.  I am getting hit at every angle and I am this close to having a full meltdown.  Dear Lord, can you work with me a little?  I am drowning here.

5. There is a twinge in my back that appears to get worse as I get more stressed out about things.  It is bothering me now.

6. The husband texted me to complain that he could not find the remote control.  Why?

7. I am sitting here looking at a 1099 form.  In total, these people paid me less than a month of salary and had the nerve to expect me to spend at least 10 hours a week focused on their BS.  I must have STUPID printed across my forehead because I was actually pissed when they chose not to renew my contract (in other words, they fired me)...what exactly was the loss in this situation?

Now I need to really vent about this--for seven months of dealing with their crap, those a$$es paid me the equivalent of what I made teaching one class as an adjunct, which was 3 and a half months of crap.  Which brings me to the next level of pissivity--am I an f-ing idiot?  I owe the student loan people my left kidney and here I am working for chump change...and getting stressed out about it.

8. AND that brings me to the real gripe of the day, which is to complain that I am there.  I am at that point where the burden is heavier than I can bear.  I got sick relatives.  I got family drama.  I got no money.  My house is in chaos.  I have a lot of stuff to do.  I am having a mid-life crisis and I am not sure that I ever got through the quarter-life crisis I suffered a few years ago.

9. ARGH!

10. "Living Single" was a great show from start to the end of the season when Overton and Sinclair got married.  What ever happened to Yvette Bowser Lee?  She was good.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Oh the Days You'll Have

Sometimes I just want to scream--WHY? (I already know the answer)...But it doesn't mean that the impulse to scream and ask why and expect a better answer isn't valid (although it might be crazy). 

I've had one of those days where I had a lot of other more important stuff that I should have been doing, but I spent it engaged in something far more unpleasant.  It (the unpleasantness) probably could have waited, but I think my patience with the situation is such that if I had let it slide, it would have been avoiding the inevitable.

So, I guess my point is that there are days like this when the world feels heavier than a ton of bricks.  You need to take care of more than your share of things and your emotions fluctuate like the stock market.  I shed a lot of tears today, but because I believe tomorrow will be better, I'm okay.

Someone told me that I was going to be alright despite all indications that things will get worse before they improve.  But because I know that for every day like today there are days like yesterday when I just laughed and laughed, it will be alright.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Calm Down Sarah, It Isn't All Your Fault

I was at brunch the other day when my friend received a news flash from CNN that a Congresswoman from Arizona had been killed at an event in her district.  Of course that initial report was incorrect, but as the details unfolded, there was the inevitable speculation about what motivated the gunman.  Essentially, we appear to have settled in on the fact that he was insane.

Except, crazy sometimes gets help from ouside influences.  Just like an alcoholic cannot claim that his/her misdeeds are the fault of the liquor, it is undeniable that the liquor was there to cheer on the action.

This morning I listened to part of Sarah Palin's whine about not being at fault for the incident, and as usual, she is halfway right.  She did not pull the trigger and her webpage of targeted elected officials in crosshairs did not spur this young man to act when he did.  In all likelihood, he just snapped, and none of that is Sarah's fault.

However, Sarah, you should take responsibility for what you say.  Even if just about everything you say has been written for you by a speechwriter, you are still responsible once the words leave your mouth.  The person who yells "Fire" in a crowded theater is responsible for having made that announcement whether it is true or not.  And you have been yelling "Fire" since 2008.

Come to think of it, why are you still here?  Whom shall I blame?

Well, there is the media that reports on every stupid comment you tweet or have posted on your Facebook page.  Then there is John McCain, who unleashed you on the Lower 48 as some type of modern-day Lady Godiva.  FOX Noise can share some of the blame for giving you a bullhorn and TLC can take a few licks for giving you a reality show.  Quite frankly, the people of Alaska deserve the side-eye for electing you to half a term.  And I guess I could keep on trying to find folks to blame until I get back to the point where your parents met...

Of course, the broader point is that no one is to blame for the actions of someone else unless they knew in advance and did nothing to prevent the disaster.  In legaleese, we call that foreseeability.  In the case of the Arizona shooter, it is unclear whether his actions were foreseeable, but we know that there were plenty of missteps along the way.  When it comes to your culpability, I would say that you need not worry about being sued just yet.

But you should still watch what you say.  Words have power--witness the recent brouhaha over the proposed change of one word in Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn.  Back when you were busy endorsing witches and other assorted characters for public office, you readily took credit for those who managed to get elected (although true to form, you found a way to deflect blame for the losers).  If you really want to be a credible leader, then you need to own up and face the music.  You can say whatever you want as long as you are willing to accept the consequences.  Thus, if you insist on defending your right to say anything with impunity, then it should not bother you if we insist on calling you a hypocrite.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Miracles do Happen

So what happens when you decide to fly above the fray?  Sometimes nothing.  Sometimes you get singed by the sparks that fly higher than others.  And sometimes you soar!  Well, I am soaring this week and all I can say is God is good!

I had a situation that looked so bleak last week that I was unsure what to do.  By no means do I think the matter is fully resolved, but the Lord showed up and let's just say that it was a miracle.  Then other smaller things began to happen that just reminded me that even when I think all hope is lost, thank goodness my opinions are not the end of the story.

And of course, the miracle of miracles did not even happen to me--Ted Williams provides the best testimony of God's grace.  It does not matter to me if he was filmed two days ago, two weeks ago, or even two years ago...a man who was on the street two days ago was blessed by a stranger disguised as an angel.

Every now and then, I get frustrated by what seems to be long-suffering in the face of others' triumphs.  Why an earthquake a year ago in Haiti?  Why did the Chilean miners survive, but many others perish?  Why another Gulf Coast disaster?  None of these can be explained.  But if we face disaster in order to find better blessings, then perhaps these things will be revealed in time.  Earthquakes that result in massive devastation may later result in stronger foundations.  Miners who survive deadly blasts offer us opportunities to improve conditions and give us reasons to unify under the banner of hope.  Another disaster in the Gulf--God is telling us that man does not and cannot control everything.

As someone recently stated, the same God who brought you to your circumstance will bring you through it.  Sounds good to me--AMEN!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Belated Review of the Princess and the Frog entire year after it debuted, I am finally writing a piece about Disney's first black princess.  (Actually, this is a belated second attempt.  I started a piece last year after I saw the movie, but never completed it.  And I cannot BELIEVE that I am just getting back to editing it again...)  I am revisiting this film because I just had a chance to watch it again and because I have a baby niece for whom I hope this movie will become a beloved favorite.

So when I first saw this film, I was impressed by the underlying story that remained quite true to what I might call the Busy Black Woman's motto: "Anything worth having is worth the effort."  Busy Black Women may have dreams, but they do not wish upon stars in hopes of securing those dream.  Tiana, before becoming a princess, is the cartoon embodiment of every hard-working BBW I know.  Until of course, they ruined it by making her a princess, and it was at that point her dreams came true...but what else would I expect from Disney?

After all, this is the company that markets grand illusions of happiness.  The vacation of a lifetime is to travel to one of its theme parks and the greatest adventure of all time is to watch one its movies.  Disney has transformed the princess fantasy from the real-life tragedy of Princess Diana to a marketing juggernaut.

It was through its shrewd update of the female heroines that Disney got its animation groove back in the late 80s and early 90s.  In "The Little Mermaid", Ariel is a fiesty red-head princess who disobeys her father to pursue the man of her dreams...she even saves him from certain doom.  In "Beauty and the Beast", the tables are turned on Belle whose love interest is actually the beast while the hunk is the villain.  "Mulan" and "Pocohantas" are clearly the heroines of their respective films, which is a complete 180 from the previous damsels in distress as represented by the likes of Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.  Thus when the first black princess comes along, it is consistent with Disney's new girl-power ethos.

Did I have a problem with the film being cast in New Orleans, with its spooky voodoo themes and easy to gloss over history of race relations?  No, because there is nowhere else a Disney fairytale involving black people could unfold.  Did I have a problem with Prince Naveen being of undetermined ethnicity (even though it is obvious that he is either Spanish or Portuguese)?  No, since the story takes place in New Orleans.  Did it bother me that Tiana spent most of the movie as a frog?  No, but it did undermine the title a bit.  Did the story unravel with its too-good-to-be-true happy ending?  Yes, and that is probably the most critical thing I will say about this movie.

Not having seen the earlier Disney movies until well into my young adulthood, I tend to be much more critical of them and the messages they imparted to little girls about love, marriage and womanhood in general.  Luckily, Tiana'a story did not disappoint me, although I am still wary of the princess mythology that Disney peddles.  Love is magical and life requires a lot of hard work and sacrifice (froggy Tiana's message in the film), but those messages will be lost in the loads of Princess Tiana merchandise that people like me are all too willing to purchase.  But, I am not mad at them since at least for a few years, there will be a lot of dreamy-eyed black girls wishing on stars.