Search This Blog

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Can You Hear Me Now? Unfortunately, yes!

I walk ALOT. Rarely does a day go by where I'm not walking from one mass transit system to another, enjoying the day and reveling at the fact that butterflies seem to have no actual map or devised plan for their destination. (Thanks Kim...). In my frequent travels I notice something besides the random meanderings of butterflies, the heat and cup handed beggars. People on cellphones have somehow irritated me to point where I welcome insistent and socially inept cigarette smokers into my inner~outer public circle. As an asthmatic and a frequent dabbler into natural aromatic scents, cigarette smoke has been the bane of my social existence since Kool Filtered Kings became an item on many a hood grocery list. I don't enjoy the smell whether freshly lit, recently squashed or lingering in clothing despite wash number 127. Nothing makes it better. So, how did public cell phone usage trump public smoking? The "uncomfortably overheard public phone chat"...If you haven't heard it is:  Things you should NEVER discuss in public on your cell.
So, I'm walking to the subway/train/cab and a voice rings out, "Girl, and I couldn't get it to stop itchin'!!!" I instantly grabbed my ears and hightailed it out of ear range, but as fate would have it...the offending conversation boarded the train and gave an indepth analysis of a boil located on parts of her body that are not fit for public display. And of course, anybody who looked at her in recoiled horror was subjected to, "I don't know why dese nosy foks is all up in my bidness!" Never mind that her "bidness" was so detailed that a passing MD could have easily diagnosed whatever form of genital herpes she was providing the play by play detailed. With that said, any conversation with your physician/homegirl about your physical or reproductive health, should occur behind closed doors...not two seats away from me. Thanks!

Do us all a favor and break up via Facebook like normal folks. I'd rather not be headed out for a night on the town with my homegirls and listen to your harangue from the backseat of the Range (ummm, in the hatchback of the Festiva) talking about how you caught him in bed with the next door neighbor, Roscoe. It's uncomfortable and instead of inspiring sympathy, it forces me to point out that I identified his "tramp stamp" as suspect, showed you the Youtube video of him booty poppin' with his boys (as a joke) and his decision to continue wearing all things Ed Hardy. Seriously, when it's time to lay that relationship down, carry out those conversations behind closed doors...unless you happen to have the type of miscreant who is comfortable breaking up via text, in which case, respond (also via text) "Thank You" and give your girls directions to this cowards house...we've some things we'd like to "discuss" with him.

"I know my account had 79 cents left in it when I checked this morning! You mean I can't withdraw 50 cents when I need it?!!!" Believe it or not, I've heard a similar one sided phone conversation which wouldn't be so bad...except said party proceeded to provide his personal information, bank account number, address and social security number to verify his identity in tones so loud, that birds stopped chirping for an opportunity to drain his account of the remaining 29 cents. A co~passenger turned to me asking, "Did he say 30 or 13?" Trust me, people are listening and recalling far more than you're willing to believe, especially when it comes to your personal financial information. When possible, and only in emergency situations, use the keypad or wait until you get home. Rufus is listening...

"Wait...lemme get back to my T~lady's crib. She got da rest of my work over there! Please don't do drug deals all out in the open willy nilly! I could care less about your decision to grow weed in your bathtub. For some folks, it's an improvement to bodily odors. Hiding your drugs at your mom's place is already a fail. Combine this genius move with discussing impending deals over the phone, in public, LOUDLY...and I want you to be arrested. It bothers me tremendously that this is a "true story" moment, and violates my soul as I never thought people were THIS stupid!

I know I'm missing a couple...dozen. What phone calls do you wish you weren't privy to as you stand in line at the bank, shop for grits at the grocer or order your 5th Merlot at your favorite restaurant?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Diabetes Health 5 Signs, Symptoms and Glaring Neon Lights

There are some illnesses that can be deemed "silent" when it comes to symptomology. High blood pressure, sickle cell anemia and some forms of cancer can (and often does) lie quietly in the body giving a rare clue to it's presence. For many years diabetes was thought to be amongst these "silent sicknesses", however, depending on your awareness of your own body, you can identify signs, symptoms and risks of developing diabetes. Three caveats before I continue:
1. I'm not a doctor (and I don't play one on TV).
2. Although diabetes and general bad health is FAR from funny...there will be jokes.
3. Listen to your body when well and ill...and take it's here for as long as you are.

If your mama/pappy, grandmama/grandpappy and great grandmama/grandpappy are currently comparing glucose levels as often as sharing coupons, playing spades or watching their "stories", you're at risk. There's no two ways about it, they've probably passed on the gene, recipes and sedentary lifestyle that can accompany "the sugar". So what is it? Type 1 and 2 Diabetes are progressive. Most people (though not all) develop Type 1 diabetes which manifests itself through the body's failure to produce insulin which causes high levels of glucose in the body. Glucose is essentially the fuel for our body's cells. A lack of insulin results in an the body's inability to efficiently use it's fuel. Think of it this way...How would your car react if gasoline was filtered through it's battery instead of it's engine? Exactly. Your body responds similarly...
Look for these 5 symptom, signs and big flashing lights...

1. Sudden, unexplained weight loss/gain. This symptom is typically hard to swallow (no pun intended) due to our culturally skewed body image. Anecdote time: A couple of years ago, I experienced some SIGNIFICANT weight loss. I'm talking, pants fit my waist fine one week, two weeks later I bought a belt to keep these same pants on my significant and quite stunning hips. I sent out a "Good Vibes APB" to my nearest and dearest consisting of the following conversation:
Me: I need a BELT!
GV~APB Network: You SURE do! *insert lascivious laughter from my homegirls*
Me: NOOOOO, pants don't fit! They're falling off!!!!
GV~APB Network: Quit braggin'!

Do you see my point? Despite the immediate and noticeable weight loss (with ABSOLUTELY NO change to my diet), few people within my inner circle understood my concern and subsequent "emergency" doctor's appointment. This suddent weight loss is NOT a good thing (I point this out because people tend to ignore it as a symptom...).

2. Frequent trips to the restroom. Granted, if you're there to gaze, longingly into the mirror at your reflection, your problem veers into the narcissism realm. However, frequent trips to tinkle is a sign that your kidneys are lacking the appropriate amount of insulin to effectively filter glucose back into the blood. Essentially, your blood is being deprived of liquids and you're forced to visit the loo more than ever before. Accompanying this symptom is the following:

3. Extraordinary thirst. I'll admit that in Houston, you should be thirsty! With any common sense, you're consuming water throughout the day (and moreso if you work outside.). Extraordinary thirst is set apart by the inability to satiate one's self and an inability to use the water consumed to prevent dehydration. Remember, your body is trying to pull all available resources to feed and hydrate starved cells. Revisiting the car analogy, if your gas line has an ever increasing hole...putting more gas in, doesn't guarantee energy or propulsion. Also associated with this symptom are all the typical effects of dehydration: chapped lips, dry, itchy skin, brittle hair and cuts that take a long time to heal. When the body is lacking fluids, it becomes less resilient. Also note one final thing on this topic: If you're lips are already chapped or your skin dry enough to mark with a simple rake of your nails then you're ALREADY dehydrated! Frequent use of lotion, lip balm, etc are dead (skin) give aways of dehydration.

4. Fatigue. Now, I wouldn't rush off to the doctor's office if my day involves all of the following:  Late nights, early mornings, 3 hour exercise routines, a full time job, toddlers, volunteer work, AND running a marathon. That's not fatigue, that's your personal Superman/woman cape running away from home to take a break! If however, you've noticed increases in your desire to sleep or rest with little or no change to your daily activities, then we have a problem. Again, societally, this is something we fail to recognize because of this recent push towards, multi~tasking, "never say die" hustle~ism mentality that infects us like the plague. Somehow, the notion of working an 8 hour day got replaced with doing "everything including shop til we drop" and our bodies are suffering. Again (and it really can't be said enough...) take an ACCURATE inventory of your body. Listen to it, rest when necessary...the world will be here when you get back.

5. Tingling in the extremeties. When your arms, legs, fingers and toes are afflicted with a sudden tingling or burning sensation without warning, it's called neuropathy. Neuropathy is nerve damage, pure and simple, which occurs after years long high blood sugar. Frequently, individuals with prolonged high blood sugar report an inability to accurately read body temperature and a "pins and needle" feeling of their feet and hands. In worst case scenarios, these body parts become completely disabled and result in amputation.

In the early 90's I was diagnosed with gestational/Type 1 diabetes. My OB/GYN diagnosed me with my first pregnancy and I slid face first into panic mode. After all, my mother, grandmother, brother and several adjacent family members were already pricking fingers, evidencing bruising that didn't fade and on various medications. I hate pills, needles and bruises are not conducive to my sexy. I gave birth to my Sun and quickly moved to make the necessary changes to remedy my tingly hands, dehydration and excessive fatigue. It didn't take much. I kissed the BlueBell icecream goodbye for a bit, banished both processed flour and the "fry daddy", limited the processed foods and committed to a slow 1 mile walk per day.

My routine didn't change much...but my life did.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The "Oreo" Complex

I like comic books, Henry Rollins,  the English language, Katt from Ink'ed, anime and paying my bills on time. I like Fat Albert, nappy hair, Jay Electronica, watermelon and melanin. I like baby oil and cocoa butter. Dang it, I'm COMPLEX! I like alot of things that seem diametrically opposed to each other. Pull your chair up close, because this is the true confession that I don't often share. I listen to Farrakhan and Kenneth Copeland frequently within the same day. And here is where you can let the shock and awe commence, when it comes to the dreaded "N word", I range in reactions from "who cares" to "paint the white house black" depending on which white person said it and in what context. *Pauses for the gasp and dodges several evil eyes.*
This is the thing, I've somehow melded two wildy divergent portions of my personality to fit with my wildly divergent history, so what bubbles to the surface is pretty danged incongruent. It's been commented regarding several previous posts. My favorite synopsis thus far: "What I like most about your blog is your ability to conjure up the image of Focquecia the Elizabethan. I feel like I'm in King Arthur's court with my homegirl rockin' fingerwaves, loc's and a press 'n curl...all at the same time". I bow deeply! Like I always say, "My random is amazing!" So peculiar, in fact that despite the deep chestnutty~ness of my skin, the comb breaking kinkiness of my hair and the miraculous flair of my prodigous Zulu nostrils...I keep getting called "white girl" by someone with synthetic hair, nails and eyes. My failure to howl, "ooooh dass my song" at the opening of a Drake verse is somehow mis~identifying me! Oh my goodness, I think I'm "inadequately Black"!!!

What's "inadequately black"? It's those strange looks you get when admitting you enjoy Glee, own boxed sets of Seinfeld and avoid the chitterlings at family reunions. At this point, you should know that some of these posts are direct spin offs from random FB, Twitter, real life conversations with bill collectors and knowing that, we can play around with a couple of scenarios.

I like both exercising AND eating healthy. Something about completing a meal that doesn't leave me in a coma, and getting up with the sun (and before the heat of a Texas day) to run, lift weights and do yoga, makes me happy (when I'm finished). Black Women can actually experience a high that has nothing to do with trapping the right man, finding the perfect weave or hamhocks. I'm one of those women and I stand up proud...(when not suffering P90X muscle spasms...haha, there's the joke!)

See, this entire entry started with a conversation filled with presumptuous and character assasinating concludsions drawn about sweet, innocent, lil old me and my hair.  I won't drag you kicking and screaming through the conversation, my response (which follows) should be illumination enough.  Despite the blond locs...I can't second line! I hate to break it to you, but there were blonde dreadlocked Black people before Katrina. For some, it *gasp" grew out their head that way! Melanin allows many flavors in this multiethnic gumbo culture. One of which is realizing that your child, (yes, you...with the coal black hair) can be born as blond as my Suns were. In fact, my eldest brother, whose resemblance to Isaac Hayes was/is much lauded, routinely sprouts sandy, blond hairs that mystified and entertain family and friends alike.

I'm not reading to avoid you...I like books. I know...if you see me in public I should be reading Zane and hoping you're impressed.  I read Zane once. After finding myself sufficiently sickened, I plowed head first into Chuck Palahnuik and Toni Morrison. (Yes, at the same time!) I felt a need to be scrubbed clean and baptized by some of my favorites. I don't hang out at the local bookstore. Whenever possible, I order my books online and await a plain paper bag addressed to me, like a tawdry little secret.  If I went to Boreds N Nobbies, I'd end up wondering aisles looking for Thomas Harris, Octavia Butler, Jerry Stahl, Ntozake Shange, and David Sedaris. That's too much cross reference walking for me! And Khan help if I decide I want graphic novels or comics...*funky maze*.

ING is not JUST a financial institution...I speak ENGLISH. I've got this thing with saying "GOING TO" instead of "gonna". I avoid "type text" because I won't BBL or TTYL or any such nonsense. I'll say or type, "I'm headed out" or "I'll meet you there". Calling into question my successful use of the letter "g" is the only ammunition I need to become "Cruella De Vocab"! Friends, family and the occasional random stranger have heard it from me a billion times, but here's the rundown: There's a difference between "there", "their", "they're"..."waist" and "waste"..."your" and "you're"...I can do this all day! And if I do, I start to bleed.  It's unpleasant. Syntax, spelling, grammar. PLEASE

I'm NOT a grandmother at 21, 25 or 30...I've Suns. They are two of the funniest, wittiest, most insightful young men who pull 20 year old women that I know. They're TEENAGERS, back off!!!!!!!!!!!! *Deep Breath* My Suns carry themselves as men in most circumstances that don't involve me. (I like that about them). But in hearing that I have teen Suns, the first question/statement is ALWAYS baby related about my potential "granny" status or their capacity to "grandma~tize" me. This is my attempt to refrain from embarrassing them or "putting their business in the street", my Suns know how to apply, remove and hide a condom to prevent insemination. I taught them...that's my job.

I am not tragically colored.
There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul,
nor lurking behind my eyes.
I do not mind at all.
I've not forgotten my heritage, history nor ancestors...these things festoon themselves about my impressive shoulders and crowd themselves into my stride.  I've not abandoned "all things black" for the sake of integration or some revolutionary change.  I happen to like some stuff decidedly outside of the norm...and I'm sure you have too.  To quote my Spirit Elder, Zora Neale Hurston,  "I am not tragically colored...". I don't blame Reagan, Nixon, Columbus or Bush for where I am in life. (Perhaps because I like where I am...) Honestly, the last foot on my neck I placed there through economic ignorance, willful indifference or frustration. As I grow, I'm able to tell that foot where to firmly place itself. See, this is the thing. I hate stereotypes and generalizations. Yes, I apply them for comedic effect (frequently!), but when they are confused with the truth, something in me hits the factory resets and I go back to being plain ol', amazingly convoluted me.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Daddy Issues?

African American Women seem to have gone group crazy. With the positive role models we have like Oprah and Michelle Obama, something is still gumming up the works. Powerful women with the time, resources and a public image that says they're sensitive to the plight of womanhood and humanity either aren't speaking loud enough, are living on cloud 9 squared, or better able to handle their insanity, while the opposite side of the same coin is wasting time, potential and damaging a future generation of young ladies. I'm trying to understand, so I throw myself into "research" and a catchphrase keeps popping up with alarming regularity. "Daddy Issues" appear to be the culprit of our swan dive off the deep end. Daddy issues is supposed to explain Montana Fishburne's alleged decision to dive *ahem* head first into the adult film industry. Daddy issues is supposed to explain Maia Campbell's repeated, embarrassingly intoxicated appearances on various black gossip sites. Daddy issues are supposed to explain everything about Fantasia Barrino from her illiteracy, to her recently taped dalliances with a married man and alleged drug overdose of sleeping pills and aspirin on Monday, August 9th. What are "daddy issues"? How are they responsible for all this frequently recorded and re~aired misbehavior?
Poor unsuspecting Carl Jung got thrown into this definition, identifying recurring behavior in a woman's relationship with their father and her relationship with "her man". Daddy issues apparently manifest themselves through an uncontrollable (and esteem threatening) need to gain male attention...failing that, any attention will do. Obviously, we all enjoy being complimented, noticed for our positive attributes and congratulated on our achievements. But Jungian derived daddy issues drives a woman to desire complete and total WORSHIP. A willingness to debase one's self, cling to an unwilling partner, a failure to see one's value unless in or on the verge of a relationship, a lack of a social support system whose sole purpose is to grab you by the thong and whip you back in line when your thirst for attention becomes dangerous. In other words...two female friends with daddy issues can easily become a viral adult youtube clip involving a turtle, a handful of pecans and a freckled face midget that we all sit back and shake our heads at.

Starting with your three most current case studies, we can identify the things they have in common apart from being "fatherless".  For the record, I put this word in quotes because somewhere on earth a man is responsible for expending approximately 10cc's. He may continue to fulfill his role of husband, or need improvements in the "fatherhood" department, but I admit, I respect that some of these men are willing to attempt to fulfill their roles. No parent is born with tech support and a parent guide. They did their best with what they knew at the time and in my book, that makes them a father, just as surely as an ill equipped mother, is truly a mother.

Maia Campbell, (b. November 26, 1976) worked in films including a cameo in Poetic Justice and a role in the movie South Central, but is best known for her reoccurring roles on the short run Thea and LL Cool J comedy In The House. The daughter of world famous author Bebe Moore (Sucessful Women, Angry Men: Backlash in the Two Career Marriage and Your Blues Ain't Like Mine) and architect and author father Tiko Campbell, her upbringing could be described as upperclass comfortable in Maryland. Little is known about Tiko Campbell outside of his accomplishments as an architect, his divorce from Bebe and his singular dive into the literary realm with the adventure/sci-fi novel The Light in the Stones: ...from the tales of Fibinacci... The Campbell marriage dissolved shortly following the family's move to Los Angeles when Maia was 8 years old. Little is known about Tiko's ongoing contact with his daughter following the divorce. Bebe Moore~Campbell's death one day prior to Maia's birthdate in 2006 is rumoured to have sent this young lady's life spinning out of control. In interviews, she lauded her mother for keeping her stable and focused and rarely mentioned the presence of her father in her life. An absence of acting roles and understandable depression resulted in a lifestyle of alleged drug addiction, whispers of prostitution, an abusive pimp and numerous arrests. As of this entry, a video clip was linked to a "bossip" site displaying an incoherent Campbell highly agitated and erratically rapping lyrics to her "upcoming album" while alternately begging for money and engaging in a verbal altercation with two female passersby. As of this entry, a new mugshot featuring a decidely drawn and emaciated Campbell is making the social network rounds.

Her amazing voice draws comparisons to R&B's greatest from Chaka Khan to Patti LaBelle. Her performances on American Idol was the subject of watercooler conversation for the entire run of the show. Her infectious smile and sassy attitude made us feel that she was that sister from "around da way" that we could all relate to, and her sense of "thick girl" style gave hips around the country an extra proud reason to sway. In short, she won her audience over by being herself. The 8 Grammy nominations didn't hurt either. Platinum selling, Fantasia Monique Barrino (born June 30, 1984), the daughter of Joseph and Diane Barrino (and cousin of R & B duo K-Ci & JoJo) grew up in a musical family in North Carolina. Joseph and Diane are still married, however, Fantasia's autobiography entitled Life Is Not A Fairy Tale depicts daddy Joe in a less than flattering and unsupportive light. So much so, that Mr. Barrino filed a lawsuit claiming the book was full of "false, exaggerated, sensational, intentional and malicious untruths." Fantasia's fall doesn't compare (if that's the right word) Maia Campbell's. Fantasia's willingness to openly admit to and conquer her illiteracy, not to mention earning her high school diploma and providing an enriched lifestyle to the child she bore at 16 years old, Barrino appeared triumphant despite her obstacles. Until rumors surfaced about an alleged recorded sexual encounter with the married, cellphone salesman Antwaun Cook in 2009. In conjunction with Monday night's much ballyhooed "substance abuse" overdose of a sleep aid and aspirin, Fantasia is now in a hailstorm of negative publicity threatening to overshadow her accomplishments.

Laurence Fishburne is a consumate actor (and one of my personal favorites). From his beginnings as a short lived member of the Mod Squad, to being originally cast to play  "Michael Evans" on Norman Lear's Good Times (which by the way...I would regularly PAY to see), to his break out role in Cornbread, Earl and Me and the final catapult to stardom in Coppola's Apocalypse Now, there's little about Fishburne that I didn't know and loved. I even recall Montana's birth announcement. It didn't make headlines, but it was par for the course in my private fascination with all things Fishburne. Born in 1991, Montana is the daughter of actress Hajna O. Moss who married Fishburne in 1985. Laurence and Hajna divorced in the mid-90's, but Fishburne is seen in pictures with Montana at several red carpet events. His hands on involvement in her life is up for speculation following the initial revelation that Montana would delve into the adult film industry. The first information "leaked" presented a young lady, who'd made a firm decision about entering adult porn (let's call it what it is...) based on the misguided notion that it would launch her career in a Kardashian fashion. A poor decision? Sure, but one made by a youngster of legal judgements, harm nor foul. And then the alleged backstory began to produce allegations of pimps, addiction, general confusion and tomfoolery including "leaked" interviews. She doesn't have a discography yet, in fact, without this new information, she would have probably faded into the background of "child of a celebrity...". It's a drastic move to take, and as I write, I'm wondering if it will work.

I think "Daddy Issues" is a catchphrase designed to excuse and/or exploit (to a small degree) an intrusive media. Consider this: Women have made bad choices in employment, relationships, clothing since time catapulted from whichever source you currently believe in. Men have too, Rick James, Michael Jackson, Tiger Woods.  Media coverage allows a voyeuristic autopsy of every bad decision and thinks up catchphrases without offering a solution. *I'm a participant...and every time you bemoan, berate and are you.
*Allow me to state that I hesitated writing this entry. In fact, I avoided posting on Monday purposely because the bad seemed to outshine the good.  And trust me, even in this, there is good.  (Another chance, a moment to be free of addiction, a kind word....).  But, I tend to speak in caricature and wanted to be sure to examine the topic with a measure of humanity, while continuing to utilize my own voice as a writer. As a fan of both Fantasia and Maia Campbell (before her decline), I wish them improved mental and emotional health as I realize my scrutiny and criticism isn't what they need at this time. As a woman, I extend my wishes that Ms. Montana Fishburne is allowed to grow beyond what many view as a mistake. 
 I love my sisterhood.
 I wish we would speak louder...effectively.
Grow stronger...emotionally.
and keep going...infinitely.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Five Tell~Tale Signs You're Dealing With a Married (Or Otherwise Occupied) Man

I received insightful  feedback to the Rules Of Engagement post. I appreciate the stories shared...the laughter, the tears, sitting outside of his house and setting fire to his clothes...really I do, but I have to ask: How did we hop, skip and jump to already dumped? The way it jumped from a handful of harmless "flirt" tips into "The Triflin' Life" passed much too quickly for my tastes. So I started asking questions. (I'm kinda good at that.) Here is what I found out: Despite the fact that he's at a school/museum/car dealership/club/BBQ/gym/Krogers/Stop light/Funeral by himself, he could have a woman at home! (Yes, these are all 100%  true!) We'll discuss his culpability, trust me, I have enough rocks to toss all the way around, but by 25, identifying his "situation" shouldn't be so complicated. And if it're hiding something from yourself.
The Ring or Ring Tan
Ask a woman what she looks at first in a man and the answer can range from "his smile", to "his shoes" to "his kneecaps", but rarely will you hear my go~to answer. "I extend my RIGHT hand to meet his RIGHT hand". No, it's not righthand biased or some super sensitive sex secret that only I can tell by shaking his right hand.  I'm looking for a ring, tan or indentation that indicates that somewhere in his past, he told some hapless woman "I do", despite knowing that "he don't/won't/can't". If you're not committed to committing this to memory, you like "your men" committed. Sorry.

This is how the conversation goes:
You:  What do you do for a living?
Him:  What are you, a gold digger?
You:  I'm just asking, you know I don't mind cooking dinner and watching a Redbox movie at my place every weekend, but you always leave while I'm asleep!
His CIA Job Is So Demanding
That It Only Takes Place On The Couch
Or In The Bedroom!
Him:  You monitoring me now?!!!
You:  No,'s just that we've been kicking it every NIGHT and I don't know how you're affording the ENTIRE $5 for the movies. I just want to know you. *Deep Sigh* Maybe this isn't going anywhere...(said, as you put your pants back on).
Him:  Naw know, this club/FBI/CIA/Promotions job got me trippin'...workin' crazy hours and stuff. Come here, lemme rub yo feet.
If you don't know where he works, you won't show up and make a scene. And if you DO find're a stalker. That's called the "JumpOff Lose/Lose Situation".

He's Got The Worse Luck...Everyone He's Ever Known Prior To You Is Dead! You're cradling his head post coitus as he relives some random memory of a little league game and his mother cheering him on...(yeah right!) You're cradling his head and you ask about his family. Tragically, they've "all been killed in a freak football watching accident, leaving him alone in this big cold world with only you (between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.), and would you please go scramble him a couple of eggs?" This is the rule that we're born knowing, forgetting and ignoring as we see fit, so some guys have "upped" the game.

You've met his mother...but she doesn't remember your name. (Translation: He brings EVERYBODY by Mom's...she's a playa, she watches "The Game".)  You've met ALL his male friends and they think you're SO funny and charming. (Translation: He told them how easy it was to "hit" and they're waiting their turn.) You've met his children on the exact same night he has to go out of town on "business". (Translation: Hello Unpaid Babysitter!).

Dear G~d...You know your mama & 'nem gonna ask. YOu know your Pastor is going to want to know. You know you're dying to ask how he spends his Sunday mornings. Is he sitting in the lotus position chanting? Rockin' pajamas til 3 p.m.? A 3 piece suit & gators in 100 degree weather? A tambourine and a single ponytail? A bowtie and bean pie? Exchanging handshakes with the Illuminati or Tom Cruise? Perhaps his beliefs (or lack thereof) never entered the conversation. There's a reason for that. He doesn't want his wife wondering who the recipient (you) of his EXTRA LONG hug is and why she's a stranger to her, but overly familiar to you.

Computer Illiterate?! You ask him about an email address and he responds with a wide eyed, slack jawed gape, responding, "Iono nothin' about no internet!" Sweetie, it's 2010. My great grandmother has a FB/Twitter account that she manages from the grave. It's bad enough that he's only provided an 800 number that you're only allowed to call between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., but should you need to cancel tonights "date", you find yourself going through a communications gymnastics course wherein you send smoke signals, call, letting the phone ring 2 and 1/2 times only to hand the phone to the nearest male cousin so he can ask if "Sweet Neck" is home. If you don't know by now that he's trying to keep you from seeing his wedding pictures, his wife's random FB posts asking him to pick up Clorox on the way home, and the mass invites to their 10 year anniversary...then you've read all this for naught! He's MARRIED/OCCUPIED/OTHERWISE INVOLVED...and you, Sister, you just sold yourself way too short.

Anybody got a match?

Friday, August 6, 2010

How To Stay Safe In A World Of Distractions

Make sure your safety
doesn't fall through the cracks.

On a daily basis, I'm not sure how many things I should be doing at one time. It feels perfectly natural to read 4 different websites, sit in the lotus position while engaging in social media outlets, watch tv, check mail, do 8 million things on my phone AND cook all at the same time. If I were less honest, I'd triumph my abilities to divide my attentions and bestow peon status to anyone unable to do (well), the billions of things that I juggle (not as well) daily. We all want to be a superwoman, Stevie, but too often we put ourselves in jeopardy attempting to compartmentalize moments in our day. One of my former colleagues has termed it "single woman" moves (and yes...married women engage in the same juggling act). When I asked her to explain, she provided this telling sign of how often our attention is divided: First thing in the morning, you're running out of the house, making sure curlers are removed, double checking purse, pocket and bra for your phone, money and the backs of your earrings. Later, while buying groceries, you forget if mom's cornbread recipe uses brown sugar or granulated sugar, so you call and catch up on a conversation from 3 days ago while bagging, carrying and loading your groceries...only to repeat the process (also on the phone) while unloading the car, leaving not one of the 15 bags behind and remembering to walk with your tummy sucked in.

And this is just the beginning.
If asked, "What's wrong with this picture"? Most of us balk at having to call mom for the cornbread recipe. We aren't cooking after a 10 hour day!  We wouldn't see much of a problem. Which IS the problem. Inattention is one of the leading culprits cited by burglars, rapist and thieves when asked to identify their potential victims...and ladies, we outweight men as "victims". Women populate the victimology statistic because the SuperWoman myth and our tendency to view all humans as humane gives the "benefit of the doubt".
Be aware. Frequently, I'm called "over cautious" or "hypervigilant" because I'm looking into shrubs, opened garage doors, abandoned cars and trees...(yes, trees!). I want to be aware of any potential harm and I've adopted a rotating 360 degree sphere of observation, to secure myself and those around me. Problem numbers 1, 2, 3 through 7 with the above scenario, involve an inability monitor one's surroundings while retrieving "important" articles. And if accosted, the provided scenario, leaves one woefully unprepared for defense, be it fight or flight. Here are a few safey "how to's" designed to make you more aware of your surroundings, your actions and things you can do to improve your chances of avoiding tree dwelling strangers on any given day.
Motion sensitive lighting can
act as a great deterrent.

Home Safety
Light It Up! Never underestimate the power of lighting. Anything that can make Joan Rivers look halfway human, is a good things. Likewise, they add safety to your home. Most criminals avoid light like the plague because it aids in identifying possible assailants. Ideally, motion sensitive or timed lighting fixtures in key areas in and outside of your home increases the "element of surprise" and can work to disorient an attacker or thief.

Zig, Then Zag! Remember that in most cases, your habits and schedule is being watched by the criminal element to optimize their chances of getting away with your goods (or you!). If your routine involves, leaving home, driving the same route to work and the same route in reverse on the way home, you could be setting yourself up for invasion, as "good" thieves, have timed your moves down to the minute and know when to strike. It's important to vary your routine to keep them off the scent and it can make the day more interesting!

Lock It Down! Those fancy little knobs embedded in your doors and windows are actually designed to keep people out. They don't work when not in use and not to overstate the situation (or tempt you to try something foolish), but a random test of doorknobs in your neighborhood (especially during the day) would reveal that most people don't think to lock the door. For individuals who have frequent work done by professionals within their home, or apartment dwellers who are visited by maintenance men should always check their door and window locks following a visit.

Car Safety
Maintain, Maintain, Maintain! Imagine being on a dark road in the middle of the night, singing along to your favorite song or (heaven forbid!) talking on your cell...perhaps relishing the idea of a leisurely bath when you've reached your destination. Suddenly, your car begins to make sounds that you're sure you'll be unable to repeat to your mechanic and then it stalls. It's then, (of course) that you remember the plans you'd made to add water, oil ...or GAS to your car! We live a busy life, I get it, but auto maintenance can prevent unexpected stops along your route and prolong the life of your car (and possibly yourself). Giving the benefit of the doubt and chalking the moment up to temporary forgetfulness, do you at least have a plan?

Pay Attention! My confession for today is I tend to be hypervigilant, which means I scope my immediate surrounds for any possible moments of danger or threat. With that said, I never park next to vans, semis or large trucks. Blame any of the forensic "cop" shows that inhabit the airwaves, but something about a van with tinted windows, missing license plates and Playboy mudflaps screams "DANGER!!!" Jokes aside, take note of the vehicles near you, especially in parking garages. You've seen it a million times, a lady is rooting around in her purse, juggling shopping bags and making sure "Little Billy" isn't running off to play in traffic...never once taking note of the van parked in the darkest part of the garages with the bumpersticker that reads: "I Heart My Crawlspace". Have your keys in hand and park in a well lit area. And once you're in the car, don't take that moment to balance your checkbook, reapply lipstick or adjust your hairweave. Close the door, lock it, start the car and leave!
Hold Your Tongue! Stay off the phone. I know, you've headed out of the house without full directions to your destination (which is tantamount to soliciting trouble from potential assailants) so you have to call somebody to find out where you're going, discuss your choice of the red shoes with the pink blouse, brag about the money you saved on a housewarming gift and hear your girlfriend complain about her boyfriend...for the 12 millionth time. Not only does this fall under the auspices of "You~Are~Not~Paying~Attentiondom", but you're also stressing that phone battery. And who you gonna call with a dead battery? Nobody! So should everything that can go wrong...DOES, you're left with no means of summoning help, and at the mercy of any Gacy, Dahmer or Bundy who comes along.

Updating your status need not
include your current
trip to the moon.
Online Safety
Somebody's Watchin' Me. I love taking pictures of myself. Something about the combination of my eyes, my smile (when I decide to bare it) and my shoulders go a long way in passing the time and tipping the balance from confidence to conceit. I love me some me. With that said, learn to be careful of how, where and why you post pictures on social networks. Think about this: If your pic is in front of your car, there's a chance that your license plate number is in plain view. If it's in front of your home, your address is on display. If it's a mobile download from your cell and you're in front of the Great Wall Of China...YOU'RE NOT AT HOME!!! (All thieves, feel free to enter at the rear and go through each drawer and book carefully...they won't be home anytime soon!). When possible, don't post your picture when you know you won't be returning soon. When taking pictures with your spring crop of geraniums or your shiny new candy paint (Southern Rap Joke), make sure to limit anything that can accurately identify your home or car. Another "secret" I'll share (which is somewhat Facebook specific) is to "hide/remove" the event invites you accept. Don't ask me why, or how I know that this is the new stalking...just trust me. And thank me later...Drake.

Boundaries, Privacy & Blocks. One of my favorite things about social networking is the social aspect of the medium. I enjoy talking to friends, family, and alumni without actually hearing their voices. It helps me to coordinate the active "party life" that I've cultivated (and largely ignored) and helps me to stay abreast of certain news events. It also allows me the chance to tell people to go straight to ... to choose my own level of engagement.  Excessive attempts at private interactions that are not business related receive a warning and quick removal. Projects I'm interested in pursuing, can graduate to private emails. Anything else, can be chalked up to random interactions and general networking tomfoolery. I encourage you, get familiar with your privacy settings. Farmville gangstas can be quite intimidating.

Hopefully, You've noticed a common theme to these safety tips (or, my writing skills are suffering from sleep deprivation), which is paying attention. Do yourself a favor and identify the times when you've divided your concentration in favor of something less important than your life and safety...and then promptly cut it out! We want you around...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

If I Were A Boy...

Beyonce's a pretty smart kitten. Bite back the muffled laughter and hear me out. I was having a small Youtube Festival the other day where I clicked the links on all suggested songs and came across her single If I Were A Boy. Now, I'm not a mega fan...but my ears don't shut themselves off when I hear her voice, so I listened along and my brain said, "Start writing!". I'm a girl. That much is pretty obvious at first glance. Despite standing 6 foot and commanding all the attention that dreadlocks and a semi permanent scowl entails, I'm still easily identified as Heterosexualus Femalicus.  (And I like it that way).  I don't understand the "girl crush" phenomena, I'd still wear bows in my hair if it didn't make me look like a deficient twit and I think of fingernails as nature's little multitasking wonder tool.   The benefits of girly~dom are too numerous to count, which explains my giddyness at a pair of huge dangly earrings, some high heels and striking eyeliner. Something about that combination ensures that I wow the world with my perfect feminity. But listening to Beyonce, my imagination started running a marathon. And you get to come along!

If I were a boy, I'd dress up like my favorite comic book hero, Night Crawler and 'bamf' my way in and out of amusing situations, Porky's style. Something about me loves low brow antics, they make me feel like the genius that I am, because I'd never be caught in such random circumstances...without a video camera.

If I were a boy, I'd avoid "chick flicks" like the scorge and sin that they are. Who wants the type of woman that I have to mentally wrestle, argue and cajole into falling in love with me while getting over her ex boyfriend and listening to her single girlfriends? And moreover, who voluntarily sits through two hours of this kind of unrewarding torture?

If I were a boy, I'd be a tech geek. I love finding easy ways to do complex, ridiculous things that mystify the common man. I'd be the Chris Angel of all things technical, hovering over a frozen block of Steve Job~sicles and laughing haughtily at my own superiority.

If I were a boy, I'd make a sport of turning feminist...and write a how to book...with pictures. *Insert maniacally evil laughter here*

If I were a boy, I'd walk around carrying a glove, smacking any guy who says he has "pretty boy swag" in the face and challenging them to a duel. Why risk getting my face handed to by some huge rage~aholic?!!

If I were a boy, I'd be a dog in my youth and a teddy bear in my old age. Wild oats ain't just for cereal.

If I were a boy, I'd be a skaterboarding rugby player. Scars are sexy and there's something amazingly gratifying about alternately beating my body into submission...and visiting the same pain on others in the name of sport, competition and "Hulk SMASHedness".

If I were a boy, I'd go to church every Sunday. Where else can you get the combination of the "preacher's daughter" mystique with prim and proper clothing and a healthy amount of guilt to exploit for my own nefarious purposes.

If I were a boy, I'd have a bathroom stocked with nothing but a comb, Dr. Bronner's soap, baking soda and a toothbrush. All that Axe bodyspray, Murray's hair shellac and random nasal raping odors are a no can do! I got rugby to play...

If I were a boy, I'd read GQ for comic relief and Maxim...for "other relief".

If I were a boy, I'd be a conscious gangsta rapper. Check out my flow, kid!
 Rippin' off energies/for my inner g/Slaying wack facsimilies/ of random emcees/...

...but I'm just a girl...
If I were a boy, I'd probably be some combination arch villan, civil rights activist, giggolo, ninja bartender. Multitasking your vices is a sign of higher intelligence and macho virililty.

If I were a boy, I'd be all quietly stoic and carry a huge gun in the middle of my back so everyone who walked up on me from behind would KNOW I'm not to be trifled with.

If I were a boy, I'd watch the miracle of childbirth once...just once.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Five Toxic Friends...RUN!!!!!

There comes a time, when we heed a certain call, when we realize that a friendship/relationship is no longer serving its purpose. The story is a familiar one. Despite the fact that it seems you met un utero, people grow apart. Typically, it takes some catastrophic, earth shattering revelation to cataclysmically tear a friendship to pieces, but the beginning of Armageddon isn't required to realize that "maybe you two just aren't that into each other" anymore. Grab some popcorn and make sure to enjoy this because you're about to witness several  anecdotal memories and moments that helped me realize when a friendship may have hit the skids...and why it's okay to move on.

Life goals don't match. My father and "Curtis" (the names have been changed for reasons that will become very clear...). They went through elementary,  junior high and high school together, always lived within a block of each other well into their 30's and that would be the end of the story, except.  My father was dissatisfied with our "ultra urban" (read: ghetto) neighborhood and couldn't envision raising his family in such an impoverished area. On his own since age 14 (with the exception of his lifelong friend Curtis), my father has a strong work ethic and quite a bit of the bulldog in him that says, "If I work hard enough, I can achieve my goals". It's one of my favorite things about him. Curtis, on the other hand, saw no problem with living a life where every loud sound was met with fear induced drops to the floor to avoid unaimed bullets, enjoyed drinking like breathing, rarely if ever saw his children and spent more time blaming "the man" than working. When they were 14, 15, 16...this was sadly, expected. As adults with responsibilities, not so much. So, the conversation that ended a 30 year friendship went something like this:

My Dad: I'm going back to school...I shouldn't have left college. I'm headed out to register in a bit, why don't you come with me.
Curtis: Man, that's some dumb sh*t...for what?

I remember Curtis Dad is a college grad. Point made and end of story.

Nostalgia is the only thing you have left. If every conversation you have starts with a "Remember that time we..." but fails to pick up sometime in the present (or near future), you may have a bit of a problem. This story could be my own as I'm a person who enjoys reminiscing. There's something about recounting past hilarity that makes it even funnier, wittier, perfecter than day to day life. The problem with this is failing to live in the present sets you up for unrealistic expectations. Consider this: the reason the stories about past (mis)adventures seem somehow more entertaining is that they've had the opportunity to be edited for best possible effect. The meals taste better, the jokes were funnier, the outfit fit better and the guy that hit on you looked just like Lance Gross (with more muscles and whiter teeth and...). This is not to say that enjoying a history with your friend should be frowned upon, but when one fails to plan for the future, one's future plans fail. Another dangerous aspect of the "nostalgic friendship" is closely aligned with the lack of common goals. If we have nothing in common, we reach back instead of looking forward. A few entries prior to this one is a detailed outing I enjoyed with a great friend of mine and if I spent the next ten years enjoying that one day, I don't think I could continue to call her my friend. I'm looking forward to the next time sushi sounds her clarion call...In fact, I may just shoot her a text and see if her weekend is free. We probably won't do the same things we did last time. We're headed somewhere new...the future.

Neither of you are ever wrong. I'm stubborn. (Admit it while no one is are you. Go ahead, I'll wait.) When I'm convinced of an idea, I'm seldom wrong ( my head). One of the most significant people in my life is the EXACT same way. It's a thrill ride. (Ooops, did I drop my sarcasm...) The thing that binds us is our ability to wave the red flag and admit we can both be wrong...frequently. Likewise, I've had one sided friendships where I began to think, "You're Wrong" was my middle name. So much so, I began to question myself on unmitigated truths like, the sky is blue and toenails grow after death. And this is the problem with a one sided friendship. At some point, you'll begin to question yourself, your life, your decisions and at some point, your sanity. And who needs that? Trust me, a true friend can toss caution (and ego) to the wind and admit to being wrong and they know that when you're's not an open wound to place a salt lick in. It's gentle correction, not denigration, flagellation or constant agitation.
Forgive me, I seem to have lapsed into a Jesse Jackson moment...

4. You're more competitive than cooperative. Everyone I know is familiar with a "one upper". You know the type of friend I'm talking about. You get a raise, she gets a promotion. You get a new car, she buys a dealership. You vacation in St. Moritz, she is currently vacationing on Venus. Everything is bigger, better, faster more...and it gets old. Mutual goals like love, happiness, financial prosperity are good, but the moment you identify the "I can do it better" friend, it's time for some re~evaluation. Even athletes grow weary of constant competition, and they're being paid for it. Your friend? Not so much. A maxim I live by is, "Anybody can cry with you, but a true friend cheers your good news as loudly as you do". A destructive friend is one who tries to top your accomplishments, not through any inspiration on your part, not through any real desire to for accomplishment, but for the sick and twisted pleasure of saying that they beat you...again...and they won't let you, your family, other friends, random strangers or Wendy Williams forget it.

5. Encouragement is a two way street. When I was younger I had a myriad of friends. There was my "lets go to the movies" friend, my "lets go to the club" friend, my "I can bring them around my parents" friend, my "I've always got your back" friend, and my "apparently you're undiagnosed and clinically depressed" friend. As I've grown, that number has been pared down and merged because I no longer have to run my friends by my parents, I don't go to clubs and movies are EXPENSIVE! The one that I dropped needed my constant reassurance that she was inhaling correctly. That's tiring. Trust me, I love jumping into the cheerleading uniform and waving pom~poms for my buddies that find themselves down from time to time. I can actively listen for at least an entire empathetic hour about your bad day, hurt feelings, frustration and general malaise. But the moment that whiny song and dance enters stanza number boogie shoes are worn out and my feet hurt! Exit the dance floor stage left...and don't come back until last call. That being said, imagine my reaction to one of my former friends whose life apparently, never moved past the dark cloud to reach the silver lining. I started this with an anecdote about my father and his friend Curtis. I'll end with a tale of whoa/woe from my own. (Yes, I meant both).
I had a friend named, Woe. When I asked about her day, I got the following rundown: her alarm didn't go off, the shower was too hot, her outfit was wrinkled, her breakfast was bland, she hit the dog pulling out of the driveway, got stuck in traffic, faced a mountain of paperwork, the boss yelled at her, she forgot her lunch, she left work late, ran into traffic, hit the cat on the way into the driveway, her favorite show got cancelled, cable went out, got a fishbone caught in her throat and fell asleep on a lumpy bed.  EVERYDAY! (She's wanted by PETA to this day...).
Frustrated, I responded,
"Sounds like you had a rough month...did anything go right?"

I remember her blank stare fondly.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

From All Star to "Who?" In Three Easy Steps

I sat mute through the first season of the T.O Show. Rarely missed an episode and will admit that occasionally I watched repeats of the show on purpose. The guilt, the shame...I deserve a t~shirt or something. And since we're engaging in a true confessions moment, I'm not one of the new breed of women currently consumed with pro football, basketball, soccer, baseball, poker, table tennis or log rolling. I like healthy competition, I enjoy rallying for the underdog for the simple pleasure of true fans growing rabid and biting the face off bobblehead dolls. I may become a bit more engaged if I happen to have money, a chore related bet or sex on the table, for the most part, it's like Cake Boss...If I'm not sampling, I'm not moved. This is not to discount the growing number of women, who find sports interesting, but a trend I notice with female fans is this. Women tend to know not only the statistics of passes, rushing yards, the number of triple doubles scored and a handful of college ranking stats, they also know where players are born, how much parental involvement/support each player has, whether he's single, dating or open to changing his Facebook status to "It's Complicated" and exactly how many endorsements he can lose before becoming "that guy who use to play...".

So what's my point?
Women conduct background checks...
Remember that the next time you're tempted to embellish your career goals and objectives.

Ohhhh, you meant to point of this post?
Black athletes seem to jump higher, run faster, hit harder and become financially/societally bankrupt with a blinding swiftness. And once lying face down on the bottom of the barrel, some have a way of keeping the misery alive like Elvis. (I'm looking at you LT...and Michael Vick, Ray Lewis, Ray Carruth, Micheal Irving, TO, Culpepper, Moss, Pacman Jones, Ron Artest, Iverson, Sprewell, Kobe Bryant, A.J. Nicholson Frostee Rucke, Tank Johnson...yeah this is becoming time consuming, and quite sad). In the NFL alone 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce within two years of retirement. The NBA fairs slightly better with up to 60% reporting lifestyle altering financial problems five years after retirement. Where does it all go wrong?

Babies Mamas. The common consensus on the cost of raising a child, no frills ranges between 200k and 250k from birth to 18 years of age. This number doesn't include college tuition, private school or the cost of hosting an MTV Sweet 16 style party for lovely little RaQuay~Quay and 5000 of her closest "friends". In short, it's extremely expensive for "regular folks" but ex~wives and the ubiquitious "baby mama's" are learning to employ lawyers whose sole reason for breathing fresh morning air is to make you pay for the time it took  to harvest your seed in an abandoned condom and secure a semi~sterile turkey baster to nestle lil Jonquintarion firmly in her uterus. Yes, there is a variant of the female population who hears "cha~ching" instead of "sweet nothings" at that oh so tender moment, and typically, they know YOUR net worth, sleep habits, and just what story to tell to make you believe she's infertile. By the way, history shows the "avoid the Black woman as a potential mate" method, does not sufficiently counteract the "Daddy~ATM" principle...85.

Drugs, Drank & Skrippas. There is no surer way to spiral out of control than adding drugs, alcohol and strippers to instant celebrity and multimillion dollar athletes. And here's why. Even if the athlete in question is NOT participating in the consumption of illicit drugs or complicit alcohol, being in the vicinity of both AND half naked women bring out the liar faulty memory in even the most "Pretty Woman" of situations. So, if you're able to sidestep addiction (and trust me, everyone believes they first), you may have tainted your career with "crack head" whispers at best and a lifestyle to rival LT's best decisions at worse.

The Hook Up Business Associates. If I were writing a gospel stage play, this portion would be called, "Your Coat Tails Are Too Short To Payback The Hood". There is something ingrained in the DNA and melanin of Black people to "shout out" their hood. We just love "reppin'" where we're from. I'm honestly waiting for the day that a pro athlete holds the season winning trophy in his hands, thanks God, his coach and an extra special "Uterus Stand UP!" to his mother. We like our origins enough to think its possible to fold up whatever small section of the world that contributed to our upbringing and put it on the payroll. I would be 100% behind the hand up if it weren't such a hand out. Pookie's Bail Bonds & Financial Services is not the place to plop the advance provided by the NBA, ESPECIALLY if Pookie is neither educated, bonded or insured by some government body meant to prevent fraud. And trust me, I fully understand that your cousin Leroy is the next hot rapper to come out of Paducah, Kentucky...but does he REALLY need a multimillion dollar studio to produce "Gettin' It In At The Buck~Naked Club"?!!!

It's nice to have nice things.
It's expensive to have expensive things.
Poverty, doesn't know the difference.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Your Grind & My Grind Ain't The Same, Dawg...

I know alot of artist. Choose a medium and I can identify at least three local individuals who fit the bill with their talent alone. Painters, singers, hip hop artists, rappers (no it's not the same thing and you can't convince me otherwise), photographers, writers, dj's, poets, designers, make up artists, film makers and even a macaroni conceptual artist or two are all within arms reach to display their talents and skills. And if talent alone were the determining factor in them "making it big", they could, easily (and with much celebration) trade places with any number of  "reality TV"/pseudo~celebrities. But the unmitigated truth of the matter is...the boulevard of broken dreams is the home address of many a talented person. What follows are five reasons some people "make it" and some don't. (Trust me, alot of this list will overlap like conversations on the View...)

1. Underestimating trajectory. Everything operates on some type of timeline. You're born, you do some stuff, you die...the end. Time and time again, I've watched the birth of a potentially hot band, artist, cool cup salesman and understood the concept of momentum building to prolong trajectory. It works like this. Band members meet, they watch MTV's Cribs, they realize members of the opposite sex love bands, they play instruments and write songs (with no honest, constructive feedback...more on this later) and convince people to show up at the local/family owned divebar with cheap, potent drinks to watch them go through the motions of "great band histrionics". The audience (their friends) cheer madly, the band then waits by the phone for their call from Puffy. Too quickly out of the gate and they've already lost steam based on peer driven applause and one tequila sunrise too many amongst friends. Before the chorus begins, I don't believe every artist has to build to a slow burn but they do have to build. Anyone who knows me personally can attest, my immediate response to, "How did you like my set/piece/book/song/play/photos?" is always, "Respect and perfect your craft". When I meet a blank stare, I realize they don't actually want my opinion, they want to ride the trajectory uninhibited. And like any human with common sense, I move out of the way of a fodder filled cannon. Blast off!

2. Believing the dream. I can sell hair gel to a bald baby, without giving one tinker's darn about the gel, the baby or the dream of perfect hair. And so can an opportunist. If it stands to make a quick dollar in this time of Recessionary Scare Tactics, there is someone standing by to convince you that its a great idea. You're standing in disbelief that humanity could be so callous? Three Words: The Tapeworm Diet. As you are reading (sharing and commenting) on this wonderful slice of blog heaven, there is someone touting the health benefits of the Tapeworm Diet. "It's safer than you think!" With the same enthusiasm and the right amount of money, somebody else is capitalizing on your passion to see your dream in real life...and it's not always who you think it is. Remember the initial buzz surrounding Vanilla Ice back in the day? The general public was sold on the story of this urban kid, growing up gritty and semi~homeless only to find out he's the child spawn of Sandy Duncan and Rip Van Winkle  that he's a middle class kid, from a middle class family, who could read pre~written rap lyrics and "borrow" old Queen beats. It's called "spin" and the average record company employs image makers, publicist and writers (like myself) to construct entire images and sell it to the masses under the dreamscape "Overnight Celebrity". The truth of the matter is, hard work, demos, shoe leather, trial and error and good old perseverance are just the beginning of the race.

3. Believing the hype. I remember the first time my Sun made me breakfast. I was still a carnivore at the time, so on the menu was turkey bacon, scrambled eggs (which I hate), grits and premade waffles. Thoughtful young man that he is, he even brought me a 1/4 full glass of orange juice that he'd squeezed just that morning with his very own little hands. So sweet, so thought out, so well intentioned...To this day, the turkey who gave his life to be scorched haunts my dreams, the spoon is probably STILL standing upright in that cemented bowl of grits and I'm sure my dentist paid many a bill with the tooth I chipped on egg shells. But what did I say to my baby when he presented me with my first ever breakfast in bed? "This is the best thing I've ever eaten...will you make me more tomorrow?" (Sidenote: Universe thank You for the short attention span of our well meaning offspring!) Our friends and family love us in ridiculous and frequently blinding ways. Ridiculous to us and blinding to you. And it's not always intentional or malice based. Consider this: Watching a good friend squander numerous years on useless pursuits that he's unenthusiastic about is painful. But the moment your buddy finds focus and begins pursuing something "big", we all grab the pom~poms and get our "rah rah" on because we're glad to see them try. (And hell, if they "get on" we can say, "I been down with you since jheri curls and Undaroos!"...) Yes, this is selfish. Yes this is the truth.

4. Paying dues...literally! I do plenty of things for "the love" of it. I attend movies with my favorite actor, despite being horribly reviewed. (Grown Ups, anyone?)  I buy grotesque quantities of incense. I play on Facebook engage in social media networks throughout the day. All these things that I do "for the love of it" cost money. If I had a dime for every artist I've heard who wants to pursue their passion based on love, I could buy and sell them three times! (HA!) Speaking honestly, we invest our money, time and energy into the things we love, but why do we "take a pass" when it comes to creative endeavors? I hate to break it to my up and coming friends, but at some point, you're going to realize that entertainment is an industry. And while you are not "in it for the money" (yeah right)...the industry is. Look at it from the other side of your gift. I'm going to come to you with my charming smile, wit and captivating use of the English language and all you gotta do is:  Pay me a living wage, advance money for the book I may (or may not) write, grant me all creative control, pay for photoshoots, press, marketing, venues, tours, costumes, schedule my interviews, television show appearances AND make sure my dressing room is a dequately stocked with blue M & M's. Geeeez, don't be so stingy! Unrealistic much?

5. Don't take it personal. The life of an artist is distilled into the highs and lows of audience whims. There are times when you take the stage and even your false notes are correct, the accidental brush stroke makes the painting a living entity and every pretty girl in the front row is signing up to be the video vixen for your first video. Then there are also times when even the crickets go silent the moment your sneaker hits the stage and your faithful fans have found something they'd rather be doing (like needlepoint) rather than hearing you do your 350th rendition of When Doves Cry. Every endeavor is not spotlight worthy, every manuscript is not Gone With The Wind and every sculpture is not Idris Elba ...Idris Elba! Instead of launching into litanies against the "hater's in your midst" and chalking up every critique and rejection (yes, even you WILL be rejected), see it as an opportunity to respect and perfect your craft. Asking you to go back to the drawing board isn't a dismissal of you as a person or a personal attack on your skill, desire or drive. It's an opportunity. Use it wisely.
(Unless you're Waka which case, the Post Office is hiring!)

Feel free to leave scathing makes me laugh (and die a little inside.)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

5 Steps To Becoming A Viral Celebrity

My favorite time of day is early morning. Is it the light of the sun breaking itself through the slats of my mini blinds? The silence of a house that spent the night seduced in somber thought? The smell of that first stick of incense that greets the new day signaling a new born moment in time?

No...It's the anonymity and relatively unspoiled splendor of early morning Facebook. Being a writer affords me the opportunity to sit and contemplate my navel for long stretches of time, but occasionally, I look up from this enriching enterprise to notice a handful of Facebook/Twitter trends and one thing stands out. Each day presents the opportunity for some random variant of humanity to make himself/herself a viral video star. I remember fondly when the Salsa Baby was making the rounds through my FB feed at an alarming rate. Every comment ranging from "How cute" to "What's with that diaper?" were passed along hand to hand (or modem to modem) displaying the dynamic pelvic thrusts of this toddler atop a table. And the current viral cause celebre'?  Antoine Dodson. Unfamiliar with who he is? Take a look...

So what catapults these randomly recorded family moments to viral video phenomena that threatens to spawn the next Justin Bieber? (Join me in shuddering at the thought...). What follows are 5 steps you can take to securing your 15 minutes  seconds of fame on you favorite social network. (And lest anyone actually take this seriously...The following is satire.)

1. Embody the stereotype. Think of every socially uncomfortable, potentially racist, severely politically incorrect use of your time and act it out in front of the camera with zeal and flair. Are you Black with a scattering of teeth? Film yourself spitting watermelon seeds through the gaps in your dental work. Hispanic? Incorporate your love of all things lawn work related with a reference to Arizona and a couple of shots flying sombreros. Asian? Study time is HILARIOUS with just the right combination of rice and a few thoughtfully posed chopsticks. White? Bill O'Reilly. Whatever it is...make fun of it. Self deprecation is the new comedy.

2. Camera + Alcohol = Social Media Rockstar! Nothing brings out a person's inner silly like a potent combination of ego and intoxicants. How else can you explain standing on top of a table to reenact the Single Ladies video wearing a size 28 replica of Beyonce's costume? Usually, if you're unable to recall the night before, you've accomplished your goal of completely misplacing your inhibitions to engage in the perfect mixture of "PLEASE WATCH ME" and "My parent's don't have an internet connection, so I'm cool with making a butt of myself." Try it...but much like texting, don't do it while driving. Oprah thanks you...

3. Babies, babies, BABIES! The quickest way to diffuse the cynical, jaded person who sits at their desk plotting the eventual dismemberment of supervisors, clients and the traffic that made you late for work this morning is to show a baby doing something "grown up". Think cute kid carrying a briefcase, nothing felonious, please! Or just click play to enjoy a bit more of the Salsa Baby!

4. Nostalgia. Remember the 80's? Wearing huge puffy hair, neon shirts that read : Frankie Says? Africa Medallions and Kid N'Play? Remember Reaganomics? (Scratch that...not a good example). Nothing brings out the blissfully ignorant inner child in us like remembering back when we didn't know all the ways in which the world could potentially suck. Find yourself a pair of MC Hammer pants and do the running man on the front lawn, shoot your own version of Papa Don't Preach in the basement or go really wild and do both, while drinking...alot!

5. Laugh at yourself and wear really thick skin, because once it's viral. It's NEVER going to go away!