Monthly Archives: December 2011

Some 2012 Resolutions

2012 is less than a week away, ladies and gentlemen. So, um … what is we gon’ do!?

In the past, I made resolutions to be “better” — better daughter, better student, better blah blah blah…. Aspiring to be better is cool, but it’s also ambiguous. Be better how? By doing what? I’ve since learned that I should be more direct about what I want, and specific about how to get there. I still resolve to be a “better” person in 2012 because onward and upward is always the right move. So in that spirit, below are a few New Year’s Resolutions that I think will serve the cause.

No. 1

I resolve to live right. This means I will work toward better physical and financial health. Every few weeks, I’m disgusted with myself because I can see clearly that I shouldn’t have had that extra chicken, or I shouldn’t have bought that second pair of shoes. Food and financial matters are the bain of my existence. As an unabashedly proud Aquarian, I celebrate autonomy in every imaginable way. I refuse to succumb to limitation; I can and should have whatever I want, when I want it. Just one more jacket? Suuuuure…it has elbow patches! Another chicken wing? Yep. Bag it up.

But the hedonist’s rhetoric is, at times, as empowering as it is impractical. Because two weeks later, when a double chin emerges and my bank account is light as a feather, the left- over excitement from those moments of superfluousness are long gone. And really, I just want my coins and my waistline back. They say when you know better, you do better. Thus, as much as I want it all now, life has made it quite clear that, for some shit, I’mma just have to wait.

And when it comes to decadent, sinfully delicious things, I’ll keep my indulgences few and far between. To paraphrase a friend, nothing tastes as good as a flat belly in a tight shirt feels.

No. 2

I resolve to get a tailor. Here again, when you know better, you do better. It drives me crazy knowing that some of my shirt and jacket sleeves are too long. My garments would be well-served by a little love and tenderness, a nip here, and a tuck there. I resolve to be sharper, more crisp. I may not have a million bucks yet, but I’ll be damned if I won’t look like I do.

No. 3

I resolve to let folks be accountable for themselves. I have a tendency to want to save my loved ones from destroying relationships and burning bridges. One of my mantras has been, “you don’t have to do that with me.” In other words, you don’t have to be conniving or guarded, irrational or petty, shady or shitty with me. I’m an Aquarius which means that, from jump, I respect your right to do or to not do the needful as you see fit. I get to compartmentalize you accordingly, of course, but the relationship itself can remain in tact.

I can affirm my proficiency with the five love languages — words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. My love isn’t marked by ambiguity; when I love you, I show it. And if you pay even the slightest bit of attention, then you can’t miss it. Thus, if one squanders my affection, then he or she has made a valiant effort do so. It’s only fitting that I reward such hard work by letting him or her live with that choice. The emotional roller coaster is so yesteryear.

No. 4

As a corollary to the previous resolution, I resolve to seek some help for my mama situation. You can see here, here, and here that it’s been a struggle. When I think I’ve got it, I realize I don’t. And when I think I can manage the disappointment I feel with how my family now interacts, I realize that I’m not as good at it as I think I am. Although my friends have been incredibly supportive, and they give great advice, I’m open to professional reinforcement. I miss my mom and I miss my dad, and I miss the way things used to be. I know it gets better and easier in time, but I have trouble accepting that the strained relationship between my parents and me will become easier to deal with, and that I’ll get better at it. I don’t like the strain, and I have to admit that I need a little help getting through that part.

No. 5

I resolve to graduate. I’ve been in graduate school for 7 years now. That’s 7 whole years after most folks got their degrees and went on about their way. And yet, I don’t regret the extra time I’ve spent in school. In fact, what I’ve learned and what I’m now able to share through teaching feels amazing; it feels worth the extra years. But still, it’s time to move on.

The PhD process is indeed a process — it’s littered with false starts, set backs, confusion, changes in direction, lack of direction. It is a mistress who expects and requires more time than you can give. And there’s no solace in giving your best. Because every day and every night, you know she’s there. Waiting ever-impatiently for your undivided attention.

In 2012, I’mma do right by her. I look forward to adding her name to mine — M.A.G., PhD.

No. 6

I resolve to be more punctual. Time is precious, and people have things to do. It’s not cool to show up to their shit hella late. There’s “fashionably late” for acquaintances whose gatherings simply require you to make an appearance in an outstanding outfit. But for friends, if they’re doing the hosting (which includes the cooking), then the very least I can do is be on time.

Hey, at least it’s a start.

What about you? Any Resolutions? Any Resolutions ya got??

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Kim Jong-il, Rest In Peac… actually, nevermind.

I don’t know much about Kim Jong-il, except that his lil hair and glasses were hilarious…and that he seemed certifiably off (not quite there; not the sharpest knife in the cutlery set; not the brightest bulb in the box).  The commentators called him “eccentric,” while we who have little allegiance to political correctness, called a spade a spade — dude was off.

Monday morning on Morning Joe, someone surmised that, in the international arena, Kim Jong-il had but “one card to play, and he played it exceptionally.”  I don’t remember if said someone ever got around to describing which card that was, but I’mma jump on out there and say it was his crazy card.

Lil Kim, as Bill Maher refers to Kim Jong-il, had absolutely no scruples.  There was no sanction, no amount of isolation, and no threat scary enough to give Lil Kim pause.  He thumbed his nose perniciously and regularly to the international community, on some “fuck your sanction!  I got plenty good fur hats; I drink plenty good wines, and I got plenty hos.  AND MIND YA BUSINESS BOUT MY PEOPLE – they fine…” type shit.

In the National Geographic documentary, “Inside North Korea,” Lisa Ling poses as a medical coordinator traveling with an Indian doctor to North Korea to treat hundreds of people with Glaucoma.  At first sight, you’d think these cats might be eternally grateful to the doctor — the actual guy — who helped them see again.  Nah son.  Not in North Korea.  The folks gave tearful and exuberant praise to their most high, their “Dear Leader” — Kim Jong-il.  Neither the doctor nor any of the medical staff involved received even scant amounts of gratitude. To North Koreans, it seemed the hierarchy of appreciation went like this:  Lil Kim/God, and then all other poor bastards, and then every other thing.

Later in the movie, Lisa Ling questions a family about how one might render a criticism against their fateful leader.  The response is awesome — blank stares, blank faces; no comprende, or the Korean version of that.  They don’t have a word for “I disagree.”  There is no word, no phrase, no platform in North Korea where one can criticize the government, and remain alive and well to see their dismal future unfold.  Indeed, if you’re living in North Korea, either life is all good, or you’re 20,000 leagues under fear, pretending that it is.  My money rides with the latter.

Lil Kim’s government was like Reuben had said Terry Benedict was in Ocean’s 11:  if you cross ’em, “you better goddamn KNOW… he better not know you’re involved, not know your names or think you’re dead because he’ll kill ya, and then he’ll go to work on ya.”  And if you are unavailable, then he’ll take out his aggression on your whole family — relatives twice-removed included, without batting an eyelash!  The difference obviously is that Terry Benedict was a smooth-haired, ascot-wearing asshole of a fictional character.  Lil Kim, however, was in real life a bouffanted, high-heeled dictator whose exploits screwed up North Korea, and kept the world on edge for 17 years.

So this cat done died, and left his son, Kim Jong-un as the heir apparent.  Stay tuned, folks.  This should be interesting.

P.S.:  If you find yourself with some free time, the tumblr blog:  Kim Jong-il Looking At Things is hilarious.  Enjoy!


10 Things I Hate About…

Everything.

Inasmuch as I love stuff, I tend to hate with equal passion. I’ve noticed that folks feel compelled to dispense with gentle chiding about my utterances of the word “hate.” You don’t mean that; hate is such a strong word, they say. And to them, I offer this: You are correct. This is precisely why I used it.

***

Hate in it’s most innocuous form — absent violence, discrimination, and intimidation — is an extremely useful emotion. How else are we to register pure disdain for a person or thing? One who has worked diligently to get on your last nerve deserves the most ardent expression of your dissatisfaction. And in life, oftentimes “disliking” a bitch doesn’t quite cut it.

In this spirit, I mean to make-like the late, great lamenter, Mr. Andy Rooney, exploring what grinds my gears. What follows below are 10 persons, things, and coincidences that I loathe. If ever we end up on a game show together, it might be helpful in some way. Let us proceed.

  • I hate passive-aggressive behavior. A co-worker gets agitated with you because you asked her politely not to warm her cabbage and mullet fish in the main office microwave. Does she express her distaste for your directness with you? Of course not. She goes OFF — to everyone but you. She makes certain, however, that she’s loud enough to make sure that everyone including you gets the earful. You know the type – loud as a motorbike, but wouldn’t buss a grape in a fruit fight. Cause if she was really a g, she’d warm that booboo casserole in the main kitchen and eat it in the lobby. And then dare a bitch to look at her sideways. But that’s only if she was really a g — which, given her passive aggressive behavior, convincingly suggests otherwise;
  • I hate bad breath that’s been allowed to fester and ferment. Nobody’s perfect. Morning breath, meal breath (you might love red onion sandwiches), quiet breath (not speaking for considerable time leaves one stale up about mouth), coffee and cigarette breath — these are understandable, if not permissible, within reasonable time frames. Time may in fact heal wounds and thangs. But when it comes to oral hygiene, time exists for the sole purpose of incubating the funk swimming around your pie hole. Carry mints and gums like you carry your I.D. If you’re ever caught slipping and a good Samaritan offers you gum, err on the side of caution and just take it. No need to be modest. Take it;
  • I hate dudes who think that because it’s easy for them to just whip it out and pee, then peeing any-old-where is all good. You know how many garage corners, and trees I’ve passed that smell like urinals?! Animals pee in parks and up against trees, dude. They also don’t use tissue or wash their hands, or have opposable thumbs. The point is that you’re higher up the evolution and intelligence chain; you should at least consider acting accordingly. Besides, they say the dogs are growing increasingly frustrated with having to compete with your lazy-human-can-go-to-a-restroom-facility-ass for territory. That’s a damn shame…you and the dog actively choosing to pee on the same tree;
  • I hate cats who can’t watch a movie without needing to know, forecast, or tell what happens next. They gon get him, aint they? I know they gon get him. He gon die, aint he? You know he lives in the end. I betcha he hidin in the attic… My father is such an offender. One Christmas, I made the mistake of watching American Gangster for the first time with him. He spoiled all the surprises — who lived and died, who got caught and who got off. And he lived with absolutely no remorse. He is the world’s worst movie date. We’ve since broken up in that regard. He needs to get himself together movie-wise;
  • I hate the “yeah, but what are you going to do about it” debate guy. Are we not allowed to discuss ideas? Can we not quibble for a short time over details? Perhaps many so-called solutions to problems are inadequate precisely because the problems themselves are not fully understood. I appreciate the time to deliberate, let concepts marinate, to draw the poison all the way out of a wound, instead of treating symptoms over and over in the interest of expediency;
  • I hate the presumption that marijuana, in terms of criminality and social perception, is in any way similar to life-ruiner drugs like crack, heroin, or meth. In fact, one can effectively argue that marijuana — absent the drug game — is even less dangerous than cigarettes, alcohol, and prescription drugs. Do you ever really consider the hypocrisy of arguments against the legalization of pot? Folks don’t mind if their sons binge drink all the way through college, but if they find out he smoked a j with a few of his homies, then all bets are off. Moreover, folks feel safe when some cat in a stethoscope whose bread is buttered on the good side by the pharmaceutical industry decides your son has ADHD and anxiety. Now little Timmy’s got a prescription pill-box that rival’s my 83 year-old Granny’s, and a 21st century drug habit where Dr. Pushington, not RayRay from ’round the street, is the dealer. It’s cool though — at least he’s not “on” weed (not that your 12 year old smoking a j or sipping an herbal tea is preferable to him being addicted to prescription drugs, but maybe.);
  • I hate old people who refuse to age gracefully. It’s cooler to just be hip…for your age. After 50, cursory knowledge of hip-hop’s “greatest” of the moment is sufficient, Sir. You needn’t prove your street cred over dinner, with the seductive sounds of Young Jeezy providing the soundtrack. Moreover, after 50, shave off the braids and retire the jersey. These grooming and clothing decisions don’t inspire much confidence in your decision-making. And isn’t that your role, Man, in hetero-normative universe? Lastly, excessive botox and collagen injections still make you look like you’re 70. You just look like you’ve failed at trying not to look 70 — which is worse;
  • I hate the 6 people in a bar that’s not a sport’s bar who’ve managed to coerce someone into changing the channel to “da game!” They get all riled up, cheering and high-fiving and carrying on like everyone’s signed on for this ridiculous display of testosterone. I don’t give a shit whose team wins. SHUT UP! …can’t even enjoy my wings;
  • I hate cats that sag. For the life of me, I don’t get the allure. So you get dressed, and spend the rest of the day resolved to not give a shit about whether your pants actually stay up? Why is the entire ass out of the jeans though? What’s the belt for? Why are you playin’?
  • (this one’s extry) You know who I hate more than them though? The girls that love ’em. Everything about these little boys screams I WILL CAUSE YOU TROUBLE. But the girls, upon popping their gum and patting their weave, ride right along, either impervious to obviously bad decisions or complicit in making them. Raggedy dudes + hoodrats = stupid, crazy love at its finest and most disillusioned;
  • And finally, I hate over-sensitivity. Minorities — mostly Blacks, gays, and women — get tagged with being oversensitive about the absurdly dumb shit that folks fix their mouths to say. In many cases, the sensitivity has merit, but not always. Sometimes, you gotta chalk it up to a cat really just not “getting it,” or being so much of an asshole that your attempts at reformation are fruitless anyway. For example, in discussing President Obama’s proposed outreach to Black voters, Bill O’Reilly recently queried, “what does that entail? Are they gonna be on Soul Train?” Hilarious. Click the link and watch the video. Marc Lamont Hill’s response at :32 is everything.

So there. Now you know where I stand. Feel free to comment and add your own. Unite with me in shared hatred of trivial things.


For Goodness’ Sake

I’m no stranger to cynicism about many aspects of life, and I don’t mind making light of matters folks consider sacred.  What keeps me from being completely jaded about living, however, is being conscious of and receptive to the notion of goodness.   For me, goodness is defined by selfless acts of kindness and decency, intentional efforts to renew the human element and re-create the human connection.

I firmly believe that no one has to do anything they’d rather not do.  Sure, life offers incentives for folks to make this choice or that choice, but altruism is never really a given.  You can’t rest comfortably at night assured that someone would help pull you up if you ever needed it.  You can hope, but there’s no guarantee.  I know people who make an active choice every day to not give one solitary fuck about their neighbor.  You’re lucky and/or blessed if said reality isn’t one to which you can relate.  Be grateful if you know more than one person who’ll answer your call in the wee hours of a random night.  Because you got yourself something special.

It is true that no man is an island, but that fact has never stopped one from believing he is the exception to the rule.  See Exhibit A below:

Tony Montana was a beast, wasn’t he!?

…And I suspect that not too deep down, many of us want to feel this grandiose just once in our lifetimes — living so large and so insulated that we buy allllll the way into our own hype.

But Tony was wrong, and his bellicose celebration of “me” ended badly, if you’ll recall.  It’s hard to navigate this minefield known as life without trusting, depending on, and loving another person.  People need people; we need each other.

Goodness acknowledges that fact — that we aren’t alone in this world.  It bridges disparate interests, personal problems, issues, and biases.  It allows me to see  you, to see the dignity in you, the light in you, the hope in you.  It allows us to connect.

One of my best friends is moving out of her home this week.  When she moved in six years ago, she found that the previous tenants had given her her first housewarming gift — a bottle of Stoli chillin in the fridge.  She plans to pay the gesture forward, leaving a bottle of something nice and a note to welcome in the new energy.  Hopefully, whoever takes her place will carry the torch of Morocco by engaging in reckless intellectual debauchery, and enjoying great times with great company.  Hopefully, whoever got next will continue the tradition, lengthening the chain of human connection one link and one bottle of liquor at time.

I flew to St. Louis last week to celebrate Thanksgiving with my girlfriend’s family who, I’m grateful to say, have also become my own.  On my first flight, there was a little boy, Liam, whose first birthday happened to be that day.  Because the family had to travel, his parents provided Rice Krispy treats for everyone on board, so that all of us could share in celebrating their son’s first year of life.

Liam ‘s parents didn’t know us, and we didn’t know him.  But we clapped and cheered for him nonetheless as he deplaned.  And he smiled for us.  At this early stage, Liam knows little about the difficulties of life, and that’s cool.  What’s cooler though, is that he now knows the feeling of collective goodwill.  Liam may be only 1, but even he got how good the spirit of human connection felt.

Goodness is about being selfless for a moment.  It doesn’t require that you give over every dime in your pocket, or every morsel in your fridge, or every second of your time.  Rather, it is reflected in the effort you make to remember someone’s name, or the details of your friends’ stories.  It is reflected in opening the door for someone, or sharing your umbrella in the rain, or looking a stranger in the eye and acknowledging her presence.  It’s reflected in calling your Granny regularly, despite your “busy” schedule.  And it’s reciprocal too —  the law of humanity, the universe, your God, your Creator — will see to it that the goodness you give also gets back to you.

As I’ve gotten older, the holidays have become less about gifts** and Black Friday sales (I don’t yet have little ones so I’m sure that has a lot to do with it).  I’ve grown to love the holiday season because this is the one time of year when folks seem to reflect on how good life can be.  You look around and you’re surrounded by people you love, and who love you for no other reason than the nurtured connection among you.  The concept of “family” gains new meaning and new significance because you’re blessed to have the one you were born with, and also, the one you chose.

While in St. Louis, the family got a visit from a Godmama that they hadn’t seen in two decades.  The air in the house was thick with anxiety and emotion, but whatever had caused the initial separation had no place in the reunion.   Misty eyes and warm smiles spoke life to everyone’s appreciation for the opportunity before them — to simply share with each other moments so special.  Although I was an outsider to this history, it was easy to get caught up by the goodness that brought an extended family back together.

In that spirit this holiday season, give a gift that lasts long after the “season of giving” is gone.  Give love, man.  Give respect, sincerity, and genuineness.  Give trust and honor.  Give happiness and joy, and make yourself available for them too.  Give you, man — the authentic you.  Do it for Christmas, and then do it everyday.

It might hurt you Scrooges a little at first, but it gets better as you get better.

…and if you’re really good, you might get to be bad.  In all the right ways.

**However:  Blair, if you’re listening, that Mercedes Benz G Class would be dope with a lil purple ribbon on it, and a fresh new pocket square in the glove compartment…  I’ll take it in black, please.