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 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.