Tag Archives: GLBT

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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The Romanticized South

You think so?

Write what you know, right? Ok then.

Being a Southerner in a major city has made me acutely aware of what I appreciate about my heritage, and those qualities I loathe about it. When I moved to the DC metro area 5 years ago, folks knew immediately that I wasn’t from around here. I learned quickly that the ease of my smile was welcomed precisely because warmth is an unfamiliar character trait around these parts.  Likewise, the first time I visited New York a few years ago, I thanked a man for information and he called me back over to where he was standing to ask where I was from. When I told him I hailed from the great state of Alabama, he said to his comrades, “Told ya she wasn’t from here.”  I definitely took that as a compliment.

Moments like these provide great perspective.  Because to Yankees, southern hospitality represents a kind of charm and grace that you just don’t get everywhere.  We say “please” and “thank you” and “ma’am” because somebody somewhere along the way told us that that’s how decent people treat people decently.  And although my Southern sensibilities allow me to trust first, I don’t do so blinded by naiveté.  It doesn’t hurt me to give the benefit of the doubt.  But I keep my eyes peeled, just in case cats are in the business of mistaking kindness for weakness.  My armor has always been my earnestness.  And now that I’ve had the chance to experience being Southern from the outside looking in, I’ll shred my usual diplomacy for what my parents called “constructive criticism.”  Dear Dixie, I’m only telling you what I see because ultimately, I still love you.

At any rate, what I see most often is a purposeful acceptance of ignorance that flows as mightily as the Mississippi.  Sure, there’s some up North too, but Yankee know-nothings are more frequently confronted with the manifestations of their ignorance. It’s more difficult to degrade a person or a group of persons when you have to interact with them on a basic ass level everyday. It’s difficult to assume that all Arab-looking people are terrorists when one has invited you to his family’s home to celebrate a special occasion.  It’s more difficult to conclude that all Spanish-speaking people are “Mexican” when you work with a gang of Guatemalans … maybe I shouldn’t say “gang”, but you get my meaning.  It’s easy and cowardly to be against something that you don’t already know or understand.

Yet, not understanding and/or not knowing is never the ultimate offense; life is an exercise in learning and practice and refinement.  The true crime lies in the South’s prideful incredulity about change and progress. There’s an undercurrent of “this is how we do it down here; this is how we’ve always done it; this is how we’ll always do it.”  The former governor of Alabama echoed a similar refrain in 1963.  George Wallace stood in the doorway of the University of Alabama blocking the path of progress, both literally and figuratively, for Black Americans and for Southerners.   I imagine that Wallace hoped to prevent Black students from integrating the University of Alabama, and White social psyches by proxy.  Because it’s difficult to perpetuate the “lazy,” “stupid” narrative about Blacks when they sit right beside you in Chemistry class — when they have the same opportunity as you to succeed just as much as you.  As soon as just one of “them” graduates with honors and just one of “y’all” doesn’t, then the superiority card you’ve grown so comfortable toting around, has a hole in it.  So does your superiority narrative.  And so does everything you’ve always known.

The isms — racism, sexism, gayism, anti-elitism — these are but one aspect of the issue.  I mentioned decency earlier, and I believe that’s the common delusion about southern hospitatlity.  It’s not unconditional — you get it unless and until who you are is something different from what they (the powers that be, whoever they may be) have determined is “normal,” and therefore acceptable.

Remember when South Carolina wanted to adopt the confederate flag as it’s state flag? No?  You’re right, that was a few years back. Remember, then, when the Governor of Virginia thought April would be ideal for a Confederate History Month?  Oh and just last May, the Texas Board of Education cited “removing liberal bias” from its textbooks when it approved a measure to rename the Translantic Slave Trade the “Atlantic Triangular Trade.” Because the term “slave” is, you know, too touchy. Too closely associated with an acknowledgement that “the way we do things down here” may absolutely be fucked up.

The intolerance for difference in the South is a tradition, as is the comfort with not knowing and/or caring about what an amorphous “they” do wherever “they” are.  The South will undoubtedly go kicking and screaming into the 21st century, and to its own peril, as it lags in virtually every indicator of intellectual, social, and cultural upward mobility.  Yeah, there are pockets of progress, but Atlanta simply isn’t synonymous for Georgia, neither is Houston for Texas, nor Charlotte for North Carolina.  Moreover, religion plays a huge role in this.  It’s no secret that religiosity is higher in the South.  Given that we tend to lend as much credibility to mysticism as we do to facts in the South,  I’m not saying that religion causes simple-mindedness, but I’m confident that it contributes significantly to it.

If you’ll drift with me once more down memory lane, you’ll remember that Eddie Long and T.D. Jakes sure did lead Black folks to the George W. Bush promised land in 2004 after the latter’s fuck-ups were already quite clear.  He supported banning gay marriage though.  He wasn’t saying much about the dwindling prospects of middle- and lower middle class Americans, but that’s neither here nor there.  At least he would ensure that “the gays” couldn’t marry.  Unclouded by the the haze of religious rhetoric, folks might have seen that GDubs’ ideological perspective would also ensure that they couldn’t marry either — because the economy got fucked up while they marched in opposition to a matter that had absolutely no bearing on their own lives.  On the contrary, if the gays got married, then Bishop Eddie Long’s wife could stop feeling some kinda way about why her husband’s nails are always shiny, and why he prefers those tight ass shirts, and why his hair is so…like that.  He’s in the closet, honey.  And his last ditch effort at suppressing the gay was marrying your ass.

I’ve been asked many times if I would ever move back, and the answer has always been no.  While the sweet tea is still delicious, the accent minus that twang is still the most charming I’ve ever heard, and my Granny’s yard in April is still the most beautiful I’ll ever see, I can’t go back.  I don’t begrudge anyone who has the courage to go back and fix what’s wrong with where we’re from.  But, like all addicts, the first step is acknowledging that there is a problem.  The challenge and triumph of diversity allows to you to see objectively.  You’re able to measure who you are and what you think against something different.  And while you may not always capitulate to the other side, at least the experience of meeting someone who looks, speaks, or thinks differently than you has opened you up some.  It makes clear that how you do it, and how it’s always been done isn’t the only way to do it, nor is it always the right way.

Accepting that fact makes the South far more hospitable — to me anyway.