Thursday, November 29, 2007

Inevitable Milestone

My dear sweet, Olivia, recently experienced a sad milestone. Olivia’s 8 and in the third grade and yesterday, while in school, she got into a discussion with one of her classmates about religion. The other little girl is Jewish and she and Olivia have been in the same class since kindergarten. During this discussion, the other little girl proclaimed that she didn’t believe in Olivia’s God, Olivia countered that there’s only one God, and then the little girl went on to say that not only didn’t she believe in Olivia’s God, but she didn’t like Black people either.

Now, most Black folks can vividly remember the first time they experienced an overtly racist moment and for Miss Olivia it was yesterday. As prepared, as I know Olivia was for this moment, it didn’t dampen the wave of sadness I felt as I realized the bloom in some respects is off the rose. There’s no way to get around it, a layer of Olivia’s childhood simply slipped away with this exchange.

When I asked Olivia how she felt about her classmate’s comment, Olivia said she thought the girl said what she did because she wanted to hurt Olivia’s feelings. Olivia didn’t seem to take it too personally, in fact, she thought it was sort of funny that this little girl could make such a general statement about not liking Black people, because from what Olivia’s observed, this young lady doesn’t seem to know too many Black people, so how does she have enough experience to declare that she doesn’t like any Black people?

After discussing the day’s events with Loverman, we agreed I should reach out to the little girl’s parents, especially since I’d developed a friendly rapport with her mother over the past four years. Hell, Olivia and the girl have even had a couple of play dates over the years, and despite the fact that Olivia seemed to have weathered this exchange unfazed, I wanted to let this mother know that her daughter had come to a place where she was feeling comfortable with voicing her budding prejudices. I’m also aware that these pronouncements come from somewhere; it may be in school or even at home. Maybe the parents need to check the racial overtones they may be unconsciously projecting.

The girl’s mom made a surprising admission when relayed her daughter’s comments. Over the past few weeks, she’s heard both her daughters make mildly racist statements. This alone is scary since her daughters’ ages are 9 and 7. She went on to lament that she and her husband didn’t know where these feelings were coming from and were at their wits end as to how to address it. I asked her if other than at school did she and her family have any contact with people that didn’t look like them? “Not very often,” she sighed. Well, for me, therein lies the problem.

When discussing this incident with my mom, she reminded me of some of my early racially motivated encounters. Throughout elementary and high school I was the only Black student in most of my classes. Nowadays, schools don’t want students distributing birthday invitations in class if every student isn’t being invited, but back in the days before political correctness, I was often excluded and rarely received an invitation as they were doled out among my classmates. My mom recounted the numerous times she told me she wasn’t paying the school’s tuition for me to be invited to birthday parties. I can’t remember when I stopped caring, but believe me; I don’t have many fond memories of my elementary or high school years.

Look people, it all boils down to breaking the cycle and when these precious creatures come into the world they don’t have preconceived ideas of black, white, green or yellow. They get those cues directly from the horse’s mouth. Let’s be mindful.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My Addiction

Yesterday, I came face-to-face with one of my greatest (and sweetest) temptations and I’m very proud to report that I did not succumb! This is a huge step for me because late last spring I developed a non-ceasing jones for Whole Foods lemon bars. My desire for this lemony treat was primal and I’d lost total control under its spell. I rationalized this indulgence by not eating an entire bar in one day, but even just a half a bar a day is way too much. Instead of eating the damn bar, I should have just slapped it up against by rear end and rubbed it in, because in my more rational moments I knew that’s exactly where it was headed.

The seriousness of this situation revealed itself one Sunday afternoon in August when I stopped by the local Whole Foods to pick up my week’s supply (like this alone wasn’t a red flag!) and they didn’t have any. I felt a bit stressed, but decided to just let my fingers do the walking and I came home, grabbed the Yellow Pages and called around to the other Whole Foods in the area, only to find that none of the stores had them available. Management told me, that there was a problem with the supplier. That’s when not only the real panic set in, but also disgust when I realized that I’d become tricked out by this little yellow bar.

Right then and there I decided to take control of the situation, but I wish I could report that I said adios to those lemon bars and never looked back, but that’s not what happened. I just moved on to another addition--- cupcakes, the world’s most perfect food. That’s right, when I couldn’t get my hands on the Whole Foods lemon bars, I went online and found a recipe for lemon cupcakes and baked the most scrumptious lemon cupcakes with butter cream frosting. The upside of this confectionary passion is that I enjoy baking the cupcakes a bit more than eating them, so I satisfy my craving with a few finger dips in the batter, then share the bounty of cupcakes with family, neighbors, co-workers, friends, the mailman--- anyone, just get them out of my house. My repertoire of recipes has expanded to chocolate chip cupcakes, vanilla and chocolate cupcakes and this weekend I’m going to try a delightful red velvet cupcake recipe--- Mmmmm!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I've been tagged!

Well, Miss Nerd Girl tagged me (thanks Girl for including me!), so it's my turn to participate in this meme-thing. I'm not sure if I've even done this correctly, but here goes, 7 random mango mama tidbits...

1. When I was in 5th grade, Roots was broadcast for the first time. I was the only little Black kid in Sr. Stevens class and I was pretty feeling good about myself and enjoying all the attention Roots was getting. Hey, it was back in the day and there still weren’t a lot of options featuring Black folks in all of our glory! Anyhoo, one day Sr. Stevens came into class and started calling me Kizzy. I couldn’t believe it. When she first did it, I looked around the class, because I just knew she wasn’t talking to me, but sure enough she was looking right at me and I was mortified. Why was this crazy nun referring to me as Kizzy? Well, she did this for the rest of the day and I went right home and told my parents. They were as confused as I was and contacted the teacher the next day. Sr. Stevens gave some convoluted explanation that Kizzy was played by Leslie Uggams, and Miss Uggams was Sr. Stevens’ favorite colored actress and since I’m Sr. Stevens’ favorite colored student, it just made sense that her pet name for me should be Kizzy. Go figure? My mom and dad explained in no uncertain terms that referring to me as Kizzy, a young slave character on Roots, was unacceptable and if she kept it up, a lawsuit would soon come.

2. Although I’m a ferocious reader now, this wasn’t always the case. In kindergarten, I was diagnosed with dyslexia and thus began four years of intense tutoring to develop skills to cope with it. This was news to my parents, because they thought I was practically reading when I went into kindergarten, but what they learned is that I had become an expert at memorizing everything by repetition and sound, so I wasn’t really reading the little board books, but I was just repeating what they’d been reading to me. This was a really painful time, because each day I was separated from my class to go the “special” teacher and I hated reading aloud in the class. Something clicked when I was in the 5th grade and all of the skills I’d learned, especially the one which taught me to mentally flip each of the letters, really kicked in and I began reading with a vengeance. I sometimes still have dyslexic episodes, like when I was in college, if I stayed up too late studying, I’d start seeing everything backwards and couldn’t retain any of the information. It was better for me simply to go to sleep and get up extra early to get my studying on.

3. I met Loverman at the Cannes Film Festival back in 1998 and told him just hours after we met that he would be my husband one day. Fortunately, he believed me and we’ve been together since that day. I knew when I left for this trip to Cannes that something life changing was about to happen, in fact, I even broke up with the joker I was dating for the few months leading up to my trip to France. I just knew I needed to clear the way for the blessings about to come.

4. I dated Jesse Jackson, Jr. when I was in my late teens and through some of my college years. Sorry, I won’t be offering any more details on this one☺

5. With each of my two pregnancies I didn’t have very many food cravings, but I did suffer horribly with olfactory cravings. I had the strongest urges to sniff fabric softener sheets (Bounce was my preferred brand) and cedar shavings for the bottom of hamster and gerbil cages. My poor husband was so concerned he actually called and checked with our midwife to see if this would harm the baby in any way. I alternated sniffing these two things through both of the births and the cravings ceased hours after the births.

6. I love listening and singing along with Frank Sinatra—don’t ask.

7. My maternal grandmother’s family, the Bascoms, is one for the first seven freed Black families of Philadelphia and if you saw how fair this particular lineage was, you’d understand why!

Now, I'd like to pass along this meme chain onto:

Melissa the Mouth
The Crones' Kitchen
Hatha Mama
Tag, you're it!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Man or Woman in the Mirror

When I was a younger, my mom used to urge me to choose my friends wisely, because they’re a reflection of you. She’s right and through the years I’ve also learned that if you’re lucky, your friends can reflect the person you’re aspiring to be.

Case in point, today my sister, Allyson, is leaving for a two-week journey to various villages in Nigeria to offer her medical services, free of charge, to whoever needs it. She’s working with the Nigerian-based Pro-health International. Allyson is my sister by nurture, not by nature. She’s actually a distant cousin, and we didn’t meet until we were 18, but from the day we met, we’ve been thick as thieves, and vitally engaged in each other’s lives. Through Allyson, I’ve learned the importance of consistent nurturing of familial relationships. Allyson is not only my girl, but she’s actively engaged in the lives of my children and husband. As Loverman and I struggle to do our best to raise loving, intelligent and insightful children, Aunt Allyson is here to fill in any blanks that we may miss along the way.

I’m also happy to say that Loverman inspires me daily. I often tell the kids that in my eyes I’ve already done my best by them because I’ve given them the best daddy in the world and anyone who personally knows Loverman, will agree that this is the absolute truth. As a dad, the only thing this man hasn’t done (other than the physical labor to bring them into the world) is breastfeed. Because of Loverman, I am learning to be a more patient and present parent.

I could wax poetic about all of my friends, and the fact of the matter is I’d be hard press to identify even one who in some way or another doesn’t challenge me to be a better person. I hope that as a sister, wife, mother and friend, I’m not the slug in the group and in my unique way, I do the same for them.

Friday, November 23, 2007

An update

Last Sunday, I posted a story about how I sometimes I make up stories to amuse myself. I shared one about a house around the corner from us. Well, I’ve got an update for you. There’s now a For Sale sign on the lawn, so I guess Loverman’s hope that wifey has returned is for naught and unfortunately, my prediction that brotherman got on her last nerve is true and she gathered up her babies and flew the coop. Oh well…. sometimes I get very little pleasure in being right.

Out of Control

I know I’m not the only one totally sickened by the nonstop Black Friday, After Thanksgiving Sale commercials cluttering the airwaves. No one can escape it. But what’s really pushed me over the edge are the stores that have chosen to trump their competitors by actually opening and pushing their wares on Thanksgiving, i.e., Kmart and Wal-Mart. Gee whiz, isn’t anything sacred anymore?

Yeah, I understand we live in a consumer driven society and we’re a country of gotta have the biggest and baddest for the cheapest, but Thanksgiving is a time to gather with friends and family and sort of disconnect from the hustle and bustle of life to reflect on what’s going right in our lives.

Now, maybe you can't gather with your family or your family is totally dysfunctional, you don’t have to celebrate the holiday with them, use the day to slow down, or volunteer with some social service agency feeding the less fortunate, or hang with the some friends, anything, just don’t add to the coffers of the these merchants, who have totally chucked this once no shopping zone, only for the benefit of their stockholders. It’s only one day for God’s sake and then the day after, Black Friday, all bets are off and everyone can get their shopping on!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

I love Thanksgiving. I’ve loved Thanksgiving all my life and it may be the only American holiday that I truly buy into. I mean what’s not to love, you’re given a feeding frenzy pass and you can let yourself go and enjoy four full days of laying back and literally chew the fat.

When I was a kid, my family and I would gather at my Aunt Minnie’s for the holiday and I was always the center of attention as the only kid on the scene; and the Sunday following Thanksgiving, everyone would gather again, but this time at my grandmother’s to enjoy the leftovers. We followed this same routine well into my college years, and honestly, it was fine with me. I’ve never been big on change.

I can’t remember the year things shifted to having Thanksgiving dinner at my parents, but I was cool with it, because all of the living players followed the meal to my parent’s house, so it was simply a change in location.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve really learned to appreciate the stability of my childhood and our traditions, and mourn how much things have changed and the family members who are no longer with us. I expected that I would pass these traditions onto my children.

When I express these feelings to my mom or Aunt Pam, they explain that it’s up to Loverman and me to create new traditions for the kids. For the last few years we’ve had Thanksgiving at our house and my now separated parents have joined us with my elderly aunts. This isn’t going to work this year because tensions between my folks are at an all-time high.

This year we’re joining my cousin Allyson. She’s like a sister to me and she’s had one hell of a year and is in search of creating a few new traditions of her own.

I think I’m finally getting pass this wishing for the good ‘ole days and looking to focus on the larger picture, not the interchangeable details, like the fact that regardless where we land for the meal, we’re surrounded by loving friends and family and our blessings are abundant.

Have a wonderful holiday people.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Mammy Two Shoes

As a kid, I was pretty serious and I didn’t like most cartoons. Other than The Flintstones, and maybe The Jetsons, I could care less. Since having my children, I’ve developed a greater appreciation for animation and cartoons and sometimes I even find myself thoroughly absorbed in the cat and mouse antics of Tom & Jerry (one of my son’s favorites).

Now, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m totally consumed with raising media literate kids and the subliminal messages of many new and old cartoons can be deep. The recurring housekeeper character, Mammy Two Shoes, in the earlier Tom & Jerry cartoons is particularly disturbing.

Mammy Two Shoes appeared in the very first Tom & Jerry cartoon, Puss Gets the Boot, and is portrayed as a loud, overweight middle-aged Black woman, yet as stated in a Wikipedia entry, she was famous for never showing her face; like girlfriend had a choice, she is an animated character created by the dynamic duo Hanna and Barbera. The portrayal of this stereotypical character was inspired by the Academy Award winner Hattie McDaniel, from Gone with the Wind and the underlying tone is your Black and faceless, like the countless women who commonly worked as domestics in White households throughout this country.

Over the years, Mammy Two Shoes has seen quite a few changes to reflect the current political climate. In the mid-1950s, with a burgeoning civil rights movement, a white, middle-class couple replaced Mammy and audiences were treated to seeing their faces. In the 1960s, old versions of Tom & Jerry cartoons were re-edited, by a process known as rotoscoping, to replace Mammy with a thin white woman, and the voice on the soundtracks was replaced by an Irish-accented voice and again, you can see her face.

When watching these cartoons with my kids, I often ask them to tell me, in detail, what they like and dislike about what we’ve just watched and my brilliant brown babies always question why we never see the African American woman’s face. I try to use this opportunity to introduce ideas about representation and we discuss how other African American characters are portrayed in some of their other favorite cartoons, i.e. the sassy and neck-rolling Black female on The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, or the smart, talented and sensitive Gerald on Nickelodeon’s Hey-Arnold.

Before the advent of 24-hour programming and cable television, parents had greater control over cartoon/media consumption, but now children are inundated with images from the moment they exit the womb. In addition to mediating their viewing choices, it’s imperative to contextualize these images and messages, because if not, we run the risk of mindlessly perpetuating these stilted and harmful stereotypes.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Let me tell you a story

I often make up stories. I don’t mean fictional stories or lies. I mean sometimes I encounter situations of which I’m simply an observer and I’ll make up a story in my head to fit the scenario. I do it just to amuse myself, or to pass the time. Unlike the story I’m about to tell, I rarely share these stories with anyone.

I did, however, share the first part of this story with Loverman a few weeks ago. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we moved to this neighborhood last spring and in an attempt to guarantee that we have some solo, adult time everyday, and consistent exercise, Loverman and I take our two dogs out for a walk twice a day. These daily walks have been great in acclimating us to the neighborhood and meeting a few of our new neighbors. One of our neighbors included a household with two parents, twin little boys and a baby daughter. Throughout the summer, these kids would play in their backyard and run over almost every evening to pet our pug, Chester, as I came around the corner. Their mother and I would wave and exchange pleasantries. As the summer came to an end, I noticed that I hadn’t seen the kids or wife in a while, but I didn’t give it too much thought. A few mornings I’d see the husband riding his bike to his house and he’d give me a little nod to acknowledge he’d seen me. I’ve never spoken to the husband. A few weeks after I’d noticed not seeing the wife and kids, a dumpster appeared in their driveway and after two days it filled with old furniture and other odd items. The dumpster was removed within the week. And, after dark, there would be few lights on in their house, but it would be enough to see that the house looked pretty empty with no photos or art work on the walls in the living room. The energy around the house was too still, it was void of energy. I guess it dawned on me sometime in October that not only hadn’t I seen this man’s wife or kids but also their car was never in their driveway. I guess it was about this time that I began making up this story.

The story I imagined was simple, nothing too morbid, yet I didn’t share it with Loverman until the end of October. Finally, I shared with my husband that I think the Mrs. picked up the kids and left the husband and even though the thought made me a bit sad, I guess the husband was cool with it because it didn’t take him too long before he hired a dumpster to clear out all their left over stuff. As expected, Loverman hadn’t even noticed not seeing the kids or wife over the last six weeks. What can I say, Loverman isn’t very observant!

Well, guess what? Last night as we made our way around the corner with the dogs, a car very similar to the one the wife used to drive was in the driveway. I’m not sure if it’s her’s or not, but Loverman said, “What about your story now? It looks like they're back.”

As much as I hope this is true, my longstanding addiction to Law & Order and Snapped, assures me that this is not a foregone conclusion and few scenarios could be at play:

a.) the wife and kids may have returned
b.) the husband got himself together and got a car
c.) none of the above

Loverman says if the leaves in their yard are raked up in the next few days, wifey and the kids have returned. I say, if they have returned, the wife was called away to nurse a sick relative who lives in another state and thought it best to take the kids with her.

To be continued…

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Pushing buttons

In my digital storytelling workshop with the high school girls we’re exploring issues of conflict resolution. We’ve been discussing how people push our buttons and I’ve been trying to help the young ladies understand that by responding negatively or with aggression they are allowing the other person to have control over them. I often have this same conversation with my two kids.

Well, the other day I found myself in a too familiar situation and I allowed my buttons to be pushed and I pushed back with attitude.

It all started when we got the kids to school a little late on Thursday morning and if you drive up to the school after 8:25am, you have to park the car and sign the kids in at the front desk. It’s a huge hassle, but a terrific motivator to get the kids to school on time.

So, Loverman parked the car and I hauled the kids to the elevator to make our way up to the front desk with a bunch of other late families. When we get to the front office, there’s a line with about 5 people in front of us, and about 10 folks behind me. I instructed the kids to make their way to their classrooms as I waited to handle the sign in. I’m patiently waiting when I notice Mr. White Man, who was behind me, leaves the line and decides to stand right next to the folks currently signing their kids in. I’m next in line and I look him squarely in the face as he huffs and puffs and makes all sort of gestures signifying he’s in a hurry. As soon as the woman ahead of finishes with the clipboard, this joker has the nerve to grab the clipboard and handle his business. I couldn’t believe it and I tried to count to 10 before I opened my mouth and say something completely inappropriate. In the few seconds before he finished, I tried my best to just let it go, but of course, I couldn’t. I had to say something. I needed this fool to acknowledge the wrong he’d just done. As he took the time to shove the clipboard my way, I, sarcastically and loudly say, “You could of at least said, excuse me.” The joker looked at me in the eye as if he was seeing me for the first time and asked, “What do you mean?” I went on to ask him if he didn’t realize that we all were in line and this fool then exclaims, “Yes, but I have to get to work.” Well fool, we all do. I’m on my way to work. Loverman, waiting in the car, will go to work after he drops me off and I’m sure all the other parents behind me have somewhere to be after they get their kids to school.

As this man is looking at me like I’m a piece of new fruit, he couldn’t seem to understand why I chose to call him out, and a part of me wishes I could have simply sucked it up, appealed to my higher self and silently wish him well, but I just couldn’t. Unfortunately, this particular scenario has happened to me and countless others too many times to count, and each time to happens, it’s just like the first and I want the insult/disrespect to be acknowledged. I want a sincere apology.

I may be wrong, but I believe race dynamics are at play in these situations. Why did this man think that the other (mostly brown) people waiting didn’t have a job to go to? Does he really think his interests supercede the rest of us? If I’m going to be honest, I’d say it’s how he’s been socialized and some might go on to say that I’ve been socialized to feel victimized or slighted by his actions. Maybe, but sometimes people dismiss how simple, thoughtful gestures and positive intent can do a world of good in healing race relations.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Getting Reacquainted

Every now and then I come across something I remember enjoying tremendously in my past life. I don’t mean past lives as in before I was born into my present being. I mean past life as in before I became someone’s wife and mother. Like the other night, I was channel surfing and I came across a broadcast of a Nina Simone concert at the 1994 Montreaux Jazz Festival.

Ms. Simone was fabulous and I enjoyed seeing her working it out at the piano as she sang a string of her haunting hits, and she even got up from the piano to treat the crowd to shameless shimmy as she sang See Line Woman. The woman was bad and she lived her entire existence unapologetic of her solidly African presence.

I remember imagining myself sophisticated and worldly, many lazy Sunday mornings as I played my various Simone discs, gravitating between cruising the Sunday Times and catching a few catnaps, something totally foreign to my current situation as a mother of an 8 and 5yr old.

A lot of Ms. Simone’s work is now relegated to movie soundtracks. I’m happy I could put my hands on some of her old CDs and as I listened today at work, I realized many of her recordings are more relevant than ever.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Media Literacy

Up until my daughter, Olivia, started kindergarten she thought the car radio only broadcast news and information and her favorite DJ was Terry Gross, from NPR’s Fresh Air and that was absolutely fine with me.

My husband and I are big music fans, but once the babies came, it became too hard to constantly monitor the lyrics broadcast across the airwaves, so we either listened to NPR or popped in a CD.

It took but a minute once Olivia started school before she came home asking, “What’s a Beyonce?” Right there and then I knew the jig was up and Loverman and I would have to definitely step up our game. No, we cannot shield our kids from all the world’s evils or even the simply questionable, but we must provide them with the skills to process/decode the images and messages by which they’re being bombarded.

I’m currently facilitating a digital storytelling project with a group of high school girls and we’re exploring their conflict resolution issues. Every week we begin our sessions by discussing what the girls watched on television the previous week, and I ask each girl to provide a critique as to what they watched. I’m trying to get them to identify and articulate what they like and dislike aesthetically--- basically to develop a vocabulary that provides clarity as to what may turn them on or off. This has proven to be a bit challenging, and although this is an urban high school, it is a privately managed, charter school. The school is provided ample resources to ensure the success of its students and its progressive programs, yet in spite of this exceptional support, the students still fail to see beyond what's placed right in front of them, to dig deeper.

My girls’ use terms like, “I’m going’ to cap her ass if she doesn’t get out my face,” or “she better watch her back cause I’m packing.” When I question if they’re really threatening to shoot each other, or if they’re carrying guns, they (and the school’s administrators) assure me that they’re not and I believe them. What I don’t understand is why these young ladies have chosen to adopt this ghetto/gangster/gun toting’ lingo to hawk their wolf tickets?

The problem is they haven’t learned how to distinguish fact from fiction and they’ve bought, lock, stock and barrel the ghetto fabulous imagery that surrounds us all.

It’s imperative that we teach our children the power of words/images and the power we give our words/images once they’re released into the universe.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Bee is for Bad

I may be digging a bit too deep, because it is just a kid’s movie for God’s sake, but the Bee Movie is BAD.

I feel pretty qualified to make this assessment. First of all, before I became a wife and mother, I went to graduate school for film and after graduate school, I taught a few film courses for several semesters at Temple and Loverman currently teaches film at the same university. Hell, I even met my future husband at the Cannes Film Festival.

Since having my babies, our visits to art film houses have been replaced by a Netflix queue and frequent visits to the local metroplex to check out the latest animated offerings with the kids. In April, Loverman and his partner even released their first feature-length kid’s animated film, The Adventures of Teddy P. Brains. So, when I heard Jerry Seinfeld convinced Steven Spielberg to spend $150,000,000 to make the Bee Movie and another $150,000,000 to market the flick, I wanted to check it out and since the kid’s school was closed today, it seemed like a today was the day.

Well… it was a total bust. I guess the filmmakers did a good job in conveying the invaluable role of the bee in our eco system, but beyond making that point, the movie isn’t engaging at all. Over the years, there’s been several animated films released that engage both children and parents, like the Shrek franchise, A Bug’s Life and my all-time favorite, The Incredibles.

What makes these films stand out is the filmmakers understanding that the devil is in the details, not only in the character development, but also in crafting the story and this is what The Bee Movie lacks. You’re not given enough of a back story to really care that “Bruce the bee” has fallen in love with a human or why a “drag queen” has sold out her colony and that colony is now resigned to producing honey for the pleasure of humans. The film doesn’t even have a banging soundtrack and everybody knows that when the credits roll, the booties should shake.

But, should I really expect Seinfeld to pay attention to the details? For years he created a NYC where again, he ignored the diversity and nuances that make the city so dynamic.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Mommy Rule #232

This school year I adopted a new “mommy rule,” if the kids are off from school, mommy’s off from work.

I guess while treading the hamster’s wheel we call life, getting the kids to school on time, working a full-time job, homework, soccer practice, and all the other daily crap, I somehow missed that the kid’s school is closed tomorrow for staff professional development activities and Monday for Veteran’s Day--- oh, happy day or two!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A Sincere Apology

“I apologize to his family. I never meant for this to happen." These words came from John Lewis, the confessed killer of Philadelphia Police Officer Chuck Cassidy. Cassidy was shot in the head last week as he walked into a Dunkin Donuts on his beat in the northwest section of the city.

Philadelphia is currently one of the deadliest cities in the country, and last week’s murder of Officer Cassidy is simply a sad addendum to a seemingly never-ending story of gun violence which grips this city. The city’s response of outrage and sadness for Cassidy’s family and loved ones transcends racial lines, despite Cassidy being White and Lewis being Black. Folks here in Philly are just fed-up. We're at a complete loss as to what to do to address this plague.

Lewis was on the run for the past week, as local, state and federal authorities worked overtime to identify and capture the officer’s killer. He was finally tracked down in a homeless shelter in Miami, where he surrendered without incident. Lewis offered his unsolicited apology as police placed him in custody, surrounded by reporters and photographers.

In the last couple of years we’ve heard several high profile celebrity apologies that reeked of insincerity and the polish of a publicist spin, i.e. Mel Gibson, Michael Richards, Isaiah Washington, and the stark contrast of Lewis’ admission of guilt and apology may offer little comfort to Cassidy’s family, but for me, it at least demonstrates that despite his heartless act, there is a soul that acknowledges and regrets his deadly deed.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Powerful Thinking

I’m so blessed. I’m grateful for so many things, yet when confronted with life’s little challenges, I lose all perspective of what really matters, like the fact that my children are healthy and thriving; and my husband loves me and we’re maintaining a loving and balanced home for our family; or that I have a job that I enjoy most of the time.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been on the edge of a complete meltdown and it’s as if even the smallest thing stresses me out. I believe most of my anxiety is rooted in a lack of financial security. Like many folks, we’re living with very little cushion financially and I’m constantly waiting for some imaginary shoe to drop and Loverman and I will find ourselves unprepared to handle.

It’s no Secret that if you give too much energy to any one thought, there’s a good chance you’re going to bring it to fruition and guess what… that’s just what happened today. After dropping the kids off at school this morning, Loverman and I were in the left-hand lane at a stop light and when the light changed to green, a school bus in the right lane went to make a right turn, but didn’t take note that we were in the left lane and they didn’t have the span to make the turn without taking out the entire passenger side of our family’s only vehicle. Thankfully, no one was hurt, there were no children on the bus and our car is still drivable, but aesthetically the car is jacked up. Yeah, we’ve got insurance, and it will get fixed in the next few weeks, but I do believe this is the shoe I attracted with my frantic/worrisome energy over the last few weeks.

I don’t like feeling this way; it makes me feel ungrateful for all the things that are working in my life. I’ve got to develop some strategies to cope better, but I need help. Before we moved last spring, we attended church regularly, but the church is now about a 40 min. drive from our new home and our attendance has been spotty at best. I enjoyed going to this church. I liked the people, pastor; message, experience, everything and now I see it did help me in keeping my eye on the big picture.

And since I can name my fear—lack of financial security, I need to address the situation and release its power over me, so tomorrow, I’m going to open an ING account, something I’ve been promising myself for the last couple of months.

Writing this post has even alleviated some of my anxiety, so I think every now and then I’ll take time to check in and put some of these things on paper, maybe by getting it out of my head and out into the universe will help me to keep things in perspective and on task.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

What's up with this?

This weekend I was determined to go to the movies with Loverman. I even let Loverman select the movie. My only mandate was that Pixar couldn’t be in the credits. It seems like a month of Sundays since we’ve been to the movies without the kids.

It wasn’t a surprise when Loverman decided that today’s flick would be American Gangster. Sure, the movie was entertaining and Denzel is in top form. In fact, the role didn’t seem like much of a stretch for Mr. Washington, but besides all of this, can somebody explain to me how some folks think it’s appropriate to bring their babies/toddles/children to violent, foul-language laden R-rated movies? This drives me nuts. I know, not everyone has a lot of support, or is able to drum up a sitter, but if this is the case, then sit this one out for goodness sake. It’s only a movie and believe me, even though kids may not understand everything that’s going on up on the screen, much of it is being encoded somewhere in the precious wiring of these kids.

More importantly, as parents, we’re constantly forced to make choices and sacrifices and not seeing this movie, the very weekend it’s released is not much of a sacrifice--- get over it because right now, unless you have an available sitter, all of your movie choices may have Pixar in their credits.

Friday, November 2, 2007


Men are simply aliens. That’s right, women are human and men are from a far and distant planet that has yet to be discovered. Forget all that Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus bullshit. Men are aliens and there are concrete facts that have been identified and confirm this well-kept phenomenon. The most important being that their mothers are used as the portals by which these aliens are delivered to Earth.

Another well-known secret is that they speak a completely foreign tongue. Now it may sound like a familiar dialect, but in actuality it’s a highly devolved language that rarely translates to reflect what the male really means to say, but only what he thinks we want to hear. You only have to look to our most recent Presidents to confirm this fact. Who could forget Bill Clinton’s attempt to redefine the word “it,” and George W’s never-ending spins on his justification for going to war in Iraq. Sometimes this language barrier can even confuse those of their own alien race.

Now, I did not become aware of these facts until after I married my husband at the ripe old age of 36. Up until this time I’d been traversing the dating landscape blindly, stumbling in the dark trying to find my ideal mate. The last couple of years before I met my husband, I had somehow become the girl he dated, right before he met the woman who would become his wife. I’ve labeled this role-- the primer. I was the girlfriend who got the guy into the marrying mode. By the time these fateful pairings went belly-up, I’d molded most of these guys to appear to be picture-perfect boyfriends... potential husband material. They’d mastered the prerequisite skills including spending quality time with my friends and family; giving adequate gifts for birthdays, Christmas and Valentine’s Day; and finally, resisted running for the hills whenever I mentioned the ticking of my biological clock, yet despite all of this, I’d yet to find my way to seal the deal. These guys were all really great guys, but when it came time to shit or get off the pot, each one of them left me and went right into the arms of another, and I was left trying to figure out what was wrong with me. None of my sister friends, or my mother and aunts, sat me down to explain, that it wasn’t my fault, but I had not learn to decode this ancient alien behavior.

Well… it’s high time we remove this veil of secrecy and expose these extra-terrestrials cohabitating among us. Now, even though no one told me about this, there are millions of women around the globe who are aware of the male alien status and some of them have made conscious decisions not to engage in the time honored ritual of finding a male mate--- their known as Elective Lesbians. Yes, many women are born lesbians and have known since a very young age that they are attracted to girls and not boys, but within the lesbian community, there is a growing sect of women who have made an informed decision, after being kicked about in the dating scene, and have chosen to no longer participate in these mixed match pairings-- thus, elective lesbians. It’s just like the recent boon in elective plastic surgery. Those of us, who are hearty heterosexuals, cannot make this choice so easily, but God bless those who have made the switch. I first noticed this trend a few years after graduating from college. Some of the women who I was friendly with in college and with whom I shared crushes on a few of the guys, had sworn off men somewhere between graduate school and their first bona fide “grown-up” jobs. Maybe some of them had been faking it in college, but smart money says that more than a few of them just got sick of male/female duet and decided not to participate in the dance anymore--- or at least not with their alien counterparts.

As most women get older, we do become more adept in our dealings with the male species. But, these are often hard fought victories and lessons learned by old-fashioned trial and error. I think most women would make sounder choices in selecting a mate, if we knew earlier in the game, the truth about the other team.

The truth is, men and women are fundamentally different. Our overall make-up follows the basic principle of yin and yang. Women foolishly expect men to feel and see things the way we do--- BIG MISTAKE! The yin/yang principle is all about balance and if followed properly, male/female couplings should seek partners who compliment their ideal balance. This means that if you’re an extrovert, then Mr. Life of the Party may not be the right guy for you.

There are a few preventative measures women can take to navigate the demands of living with and loving an alien (especially if joining the Elective Lesbians is not an option.) The first being, recruiting the vessel of their deliverance to earth as your ally, or in other words, become friends with the man’s mother. This may be a bit challenging, but in the long run, dear ole’ mother-in-law can be your greatest asset and advocate. A man’s mother usually knows the man she raised better than any other person on earth and by developing an independent relationship with his mother, she will learn to look at you as a confidant, while providing you with invaluable insight as to how to understand your particular alien. All aliens may be created equal, yet it’s important to learn the operational quirks of your specific model. If your alien’s mother is no longer a part of his life, if she’s dearly departed or maybe simply too dysfunctional to employ as your alien navigator, then look for a reasonable facsimile with which your alien has a close and loving rapport and this does not include ex-girlfriends. It may include aunts, sisters, cousins, etc. The goal is to get someone from our Earth team, to give you the lowdown on your chosen mate from the alien team.

Another tried and true tactic of maintaining a meaningful relationship with this alien creature is learning to deconstruct the alien tongue. As stated earlier, despite its similarity to the languages we speak on Earth, the male language is nothing like ours. It’s rife with multiple definitions for the same word and oftentimes, what begins as an innocuous conversation morphs into an endless diatribe peppered with sports metaphors. While learning their alien tongue may be difficult, it is essential and can be achieved with practice. Other techniques include listening more and talking less; trying to participate in the conversation will only lead to frustration. While listening try to identify clues to what they’re really trying to say. For example, when you ask, “What would you like for dinner this evening?” and they listlessly respond, “whatever,” what they’re actually saying is, “I’m sick of your cooking, so let’s order take-out.” Don’t be offended; simply look at it as an opportunity to get out of the kitchen for the evening.

As we enter this age of enlightenment in understanding our alien male counterparts, hold onto these truths. Always trust your intuition in your dealings with the other species. Nine times out of ten, your gut will usually lead you in the right direction. Remember to take good care of your physical, as well as emotional well-being as you build a life with your alien, because you’ll need all your faculties in establishing a bi-species household; and finally, create a support circle with other women. An invaluable truism my mother did share and should have tipped me to the down low about the whole alien thing is that you should never look to a man for nurturing, most are incapable. That’s why girls should take the time and develop solid and supportive relationships with their girlfriends. My mother urged me never to dis my girls for a guy, because a great, genuine friendship with your girl will probably last far longer than most male/female romances.

Can somebody explain this to me?

Last night I checked out the CNN special report, The Noose: An American Nightmare. For the most part it didn’t tell me any more than I already knew, if anything, it left me even more incensed. Why is it that the swastika is readily acknowledged as a symbol of hate and intimidation, but not the noose?