Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

Posts tagged “opinions

Fighting The Ughs In My Personal Life And My Politics

Anytime I see the word trump in the news, capitalized or not, I just get… ugh. Yeah, that’s the word. I get ugh.

It doesn’t help that I’ve got some personal things happening right now in my life that for the first time ever make me feel prolonged sadness. I feel very ugh almost all the time now.

But, there are some things going down that are fighting the ughs.

Personal

  1. I finally booked an Airbnb for the Paris portion of the trip my husband and I are taking to Europe for New Year’s. Nothing like having somewhere to sleep so you don’t end up in a hostel to make you smile.
  2. I have started playing Sims 4 again, and writing stories about my Sims. The SimLit community is fantastic and I’m so happy to rejoin them after a long hiatus.
  3. I’ve finally got my younger cat Jasmine on my side! She seemed to barely tolerate me since we moved to New York, staring at me with contempt every time I dare to show affection to my husband or older cat Belle. But yesterday morning, she climbed into my lap and sat there purring while I petted her. Chris and Belle were just as confused as I was.

Political

dapl-protest-strong

  1. The protesters in North Dakota triumphed! Read about it on NPR. CNN has this picture on their website that is just so powerful to me. It reminds me of the interconnected struggles of all marginalized communities. I’m hopeful that all the naysayers who swear protesting does nothing will now shut the entire fuck up. If you’ve been under a rock, and you don’t know about #NoDAPL, well, all you need to know now is the Army has agreed to reroute a pipeline that had the potential to damage the groundwater and desecrate the burial grounds of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The Army backed down from the latest in a series of violations of a treaty signed long ago. The celebrations that are happening today are heartwarming. It is so much better than what we thought would happen. December 5th was designated as the day they were going to forcibly remove people from the land to setup a “free speech area”, supposedly “for their safety.” So much bullshit and gaslighting went into that concept, but it matters not! Instead of that crap, December 5th is now a day of celebration for everyone who supported their cause.
  2. Yesterday was the anniversary of the day Fred Hampton was murdered in 1969. You may not have heard of him, but you should go learn about him. He died for the cause and is an example of what you must be willing to sacrifice for progress. Today is the anniversary of the start of the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. You likely have heard of that, but you should still learn more about it, and the Freedom Riders too. These sustained protests are examples of the economic power of the oppressed, as well as their ability to fight against unjust laws. Looking back on the significance of these days informs our present and future. The varied forms of protest as well as the varied outcomes leave me with pride, courage, and resolve. And believe it or not, it also helps me push the ughs away.
  3. In the context of history both decades and hours old, I look forward to what’s coming next. For me, that is the Injustice Boycott. In just over an hour after this post publishes, we will get details of who the boycott targets are. I grew up hearing stories about how economic protests made Montgomery, Alabama integrate their city bus system and how all the major national African-American organizations boycotted Arizona until they observed Martin Luther King Jr Day. I’ve always believed in the power of protest to affect change. I was on board with protests against Chick-fil-A and other companies that have been associated with discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community, and I’d like to think I’m a good ally for that community, ever learning and evolving to be an even better ally. I’m just glad that now I get to engage in a protest that helps my own community. Once they put up details about the protest, I’ll probably put up another post explaining how I’ll participate.

I’ve been struggling as of late to stay positive and happy and optimistic about the future. But on days like today, there are glimmers of hope that the darkness won’t last.


I Enjoy Less Because Feminism

The patriarchal cisgendered norms of my worldview have been buffeted by intersectional feminism.

In case that sentence was gibberish to you, let me break it down.

Patriarchal: When I use this term, I’m referring to the second definition, which refers to a society controlled by men.

Cisgendered: When I use this term, I’m referring to people who identify as being the same gender they were assigned at birth.

Intersectional: When I use this term, I’m referring to the concept that the problems of marginalized communities are interconnected, and cannot be separated.

Feminism: When I use this term, I’m referring to the belief in and fight for the rights of women based on the belief in their equality to men.

Intersectional feminism: When I use this term, I’m referring to an idea that the fight for equality for women is a fight for all women and femmes, crossing racial and social and economic and age and gender lines.

Having defined those terms as I am currently using them, let’s say that first sentence again using a lot more words.

The world defaults to the best interest of men, particularly those who were assigned the male gender at birth, and I was raised with those same patterns of behavior and views. In learning more about the world around me, particularly as it relates to the equality of all people, and the way all marginalized communities are connected, I no longer view the world that way.

I notice this in ways small and large. It has affected the way I see things, and changed the things I used to take for granted. I count myself lucky because I was raised by parents who taught me to be independent and decide for myself how I view the world. They taught me that even if I disagree with everyone I love, I must think, feel, and do what I think is right.

Some examples:

  • I can no longer watch TGIT with my mother because she and I disagree on the normalcy of the LGBTQ+ community. I’ve been visiting Chicago a lot recently for my mother because my grandmother is sick. This last visit, I watched Grey’s Anatomy, Notorious, and How to Get Away with Murder with my mom. Every show that night featured characters engaging in homosexual behavior. Each time my mother would say something along the lines of, “they’re so gay.” Her tone and redundancy bugged me, and I expressed my dissatisfaction. But aside from learning to not voice certain things, I don’t think much can be done to fix this situation. I no longer enjoy watching television with my mother. I am no fan of Raven-Symone, but I was so irritated when over the summer my mother spoke of her sexuality while we watched an eipsode of The View.
  • I can no longer attend church services at the church where I grew up. The last sermon I sat through there was a ranting mess about how gays and Muslim immigrants and bankers were responsible for the economic hardships. I was completely fucking floored and done with the church after that. The pastor of the church wasn’t there that day. The preacher who gave that awful ass sermon is now the pastor of another church, thank God. But his departure doesn’t change the reaction of the congregation during the sermon. I was horrified, openly horrified at that sermon, and I seemed to be the only one. The people who were actually listening, and who managed to follow his bullshit line of reasoning were responding as if it were any other barely mediocre sermon. I cannnot attend a church where they think blaming marginilized communities for our community’s problems is okay.
  • The song Hallelujah is one I have always loved. That mournful tone and the way the music swells as it builds to its peak have always been so beautiful to me. But the lyrics maaaaaan… The second verse is all biblical references normalizing a lot of crap towards women. It gets real rapey and hateful in just five lines. Pretty much the only version of the song I can listen to these days is the one by Pentatonix. I can easily listen to the beauty of their voices without the lyrics penetrating.
  • Eminem, who I would call one of my favorite rappers, says some awful things about women, homosexuals, etc. I don’t really love rap to begin with, and that is now tested even more. His song Rap God, which I used to listen to on repeat, now is like a slap across the face every time he uses the word faggot. It’s just not the same now that I no longer make excuses for the use of that word in music.

Those are just a few, but there are many more. Obviously, a lot of the issues I have come as a consumer. Music, television, even news articles just fall flat to me when they aren’t doing enough to fight for progress.

Several articles in the Washington Post recently address feminism, but they do it in such an incomplete way, that without a good knowledge base, you’d think they hate feminism and have never heard the word intersectional. I know feminism has a lot of problems, mostly that it tend to leave out those are aren’t white, cis, middle class, career-focused, American women. But these articles, which you can read here, here, and here, seem so limited in their scope. They seemed to make the point that there is feminism and there is black/poor/non-white feminism. In my opinion, they are not helping the cause.

The unity that is essential to resisting future overlord DJT feels like it’s being attacked from all sides. For any Harry Potter fans out there, remember that sucky speech Dolores Umbridge gave at the start of year feast when she was Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher? Basically she spoke a lot about preserving some traditions and pruning others. Just like DJT’s narcissistic ass, she sought to only keep the “traditions” that forwarded her and the Ministry’s selfish aims, damn those who are hurt in the wake.

If we are going to properly resist what’s coming (and already happening), we can’t let mainstream media twist and/or make light of important movements. And you can’t let the constant stream of music, online videos, television and movies (white-washed Dr. Strange, I’m looking at you… “Celtic” my ass…) shape and re-shape your perception of what’s normal–and what isn’t.

If you believe in equality, if you believe in progress, then pay attention. Learn their code words, and learn your code words. When I hear the word urban come up in politics, I know what they mean. It catches my ear and puts me on alert because what follows the use of that word is almost always some bullshit, and almost always is an attempt to harm my community.

I’m paying attention. And when the time comes, I’ll be ready.

Listen. Progress. Resist. Thrive.


Everything Is Awful! A Song That Definitely Wouldn’t Make The Oscars

If you have small children or great whimsy in your life, you know about the song Everything is Awesome. It was liked so much, it was used as one of the performances for the 2015 Academy Awards.

I think about this song because it mostly makes me feel happy/amused/smiley, but the song itself is represents a way to fool the masses into falling in line and distracting them so they don’t question authority. I wonder if a song about fighting the power would make it to the Oscars.

For the past several posts, there hasn’t been much happy in my life, and I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. I will say that the title of this post is hyperbole. Everything is not awful. Just a lot of things are.

So what awful thing am I talking about today?

I was walking in to work this morning, checking notifications that came up on my phone when I saw the news that Florence Henderson had died. This made me really sad; I immediately thought of her on Dancing with the Stars, and when she visited this past season for Maureen McCormick.

I will never get tired of seeing celebrities break out of their molds on this show.

I will never get tired of seeing celebrities break out of their molds on this show.

These days, I have very little patience for white-washed TV shows like the Brady Bunch. But this show came out before I was even born, so I was watching reruns on Nick at Nite as a child before I knew better.

I remember a holiday episode where she sang O Come All Ye Faithful, which for years I wrongly remembered as her singing O Holy Night. It’s an absolutely absurd plot, but I loved it. The kids contemplating cancelling Christmas because their mom couldn’t sing is likely a contributing factor to why I don’t want kids, lol.

I wonder about Florence Henderson’s political beliefs. Is that weird? I’m not sure if she’s on record having voiced an opinion about women’s rights or race relations or LGBTQ+ equality or the Dakota pipeline/Flint water crisis or any of today’s pressing issues that I care strongly about.

I’ve been keeping a running tally in my head for a few different lists:

  1. Wholly Against Us
  2. Suspiciously Quiet When It Matters
  3. Too Little Too Late
  4. Oh, Now You Wanna Speak Up When It Affects You and Yours
  5. I See You Making Efforts, But It’s Not Good Enough
  6. Social Media Warrior, Okay, Okay, But What Are Your Actions?
  7. I See You Speaking AND Acting, You’re Down for the Cause
  8. You Should Definitely Be Considered a Leader of the Movement
  9. It’s Like This Isn’t Even Happening In Your World

Florence would definitely go on list #9. Most people seem to speak highly of her, she was an amazing woman by all accounts. My perception of what makes a person amazing, however, is evolving. I don’t know that I can consider someone “amazing” who isn’t helping the fight for equality move forward.

Today is particularly rough at work too. A lot of the deaths we’re getting in are under suspicious circumstances, very sad, and hard for even the doctors and medical examiners to deal with.

I’ve got a lot of conflicted feelings. For instance, there’s this article in the NY Daily News: NY Daily News: Sorry, America, but ‘The Brady Bunch’ was a lousy show. The tweet for this article was even worse:

twitter-brady-bunch

 

It feels a bit disrespectful, no? It’s not so much the sentiment because I was basically just saying above how a show like this would do nothing but piss me off were they making new episodes today.

For me, it’s the language. “No disrespect…but..” I mean, come on. Only dedicated assholes say things like that. And yes, maybe the show does suck, and maybe that’s been this journalists opinion since he was a little kid. But to decide that today is the day he must share his opinion with the world is a bit tone deaf.

Florence Henderson spent a lot of time defending the show from critics with very real and accurate criticism of the bubble in which the show existed. So confronting her stance on the show is… I guess… fair game. Kinda like when you review someone’s legacy after death, it’s usually okay to point out the parts you specifically agree with.

But the article didn’t address anything she’d ever said about the show. It was just an opportunity to crap all over a show he clearly never liked. This was in poor taste.

I was genuinely sad at the news of her passing this morning, but I think focusing on it today is helping me cope with some personal issues, as well as the continued craptastic current events (Jill Stein getting hinky with the recount money, Dakota Access Pipeline injuries and assaults at the hands of police continuing, more black folks dead at the hands of hateful white people, more minorities assaulted by Trump supporters).

Seriously y’all, how fucking long until 2016 is over? I swear something moderately bad could happen 1/1/17 and I will be less bogged down by it that if it happens on New Year’s Eve.


“We’re All Gonna Be Okay, No Matter What,” She Says

Tonight was like many Monday nights I’ve had. I didn’t have to work today, so I spent most of the day on the couch, catching up on the DVR.

There are so many shows on TV, new and old, that I absolutely love. Pitch, Rosewood, NCIS, Bull, Modern Family, The Good Place, etc. are all so good. We really are in a new golden age of TV. But I digress.

Back to my night. When I’m off on a Monday, I go to vinyasa yoga at 6:30p and aerial yoga at 7:45p. I’ve been doing these back to back yoga classes for a few months now, and it really gives me life.

I have so many endorphins running through my veins after two yoga classes. But tonight, there is something battling the endorphins: anxiety.

I’ve been feeling a continuous low level of anxiety for a few weeks now, keeping my baseline heart rate higher than I’d like. I’m not sure what’s going on with that yet, but the anxiety at least lessens when I’m in the middle of yoga class.

The election is tomorrow. The country will decide whether our next president will be Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. The thought there are enough people in this country who are thinking of voting for Trump to give him a chance of winning the presidency gives me chills.

And anxiety. It gives me anxiety.

Then tonight in yoga, the teacher said, “we’re all gonna be okay, no matter what.” She was talking about the outcome of the election.

I thought about how many different privileges went into her making that statement so wholeheartedly. This woman, who is one of the few people I’ve met in Bed-Stuy that I liked immediately without knowing well, has got a lot going on in her world where she can say something like that so casually.

She said this right at the beginning of class, so I spent most of the class swallowing my responses to her statement. I’ve been trying to teach myself to pick and choose when I share my unrequested opinions. I felt like this wasn’t the time.

But I was thinking of Ana Navarro, who finally decided to vote for Hillary Clinton. This woman has a lot of good reasons why we aren’t “all gonna be okay” if Trump is the one who wins.

Then I was thinking of Shaun King, who made a deeply personal plea for for voting against Trump. This man has a target on his back, and he’s not crazy to think it’s only going to get worse in a Trump presidency.

For me personally, not too much in my life would change in a Trump presidency. I’m not a member of the media. I’m not an immigrant, though I did marry into a family of immigrants. I’m black, and I live in what probably counts as a gentrified inner city, but I fall smack in the middle of the middle class.

Heading into tomorrow, I can’t think of only myself. I have to think of all the groups of people whose lives really would be made worse under a Trump presidency.

I wonder who the “we” is that my teacher was thinking of when she said that. Maybe she doesn’t know any immigrants. Or Muslims. Or female journalists. Or black activists. Or Native American activists. Or military reservists who aren’t interested in being sent to go and get Iraq’s oil on a whim. Or every part of the population who would suddenly get targets on their back with a national stop and frisk policy.

She was trying to be reassuring, that much I know. It just so happened to have the opposite effect on me.

I will feel much better in about 24 hours. In 12 hours from now, I’ll be back home on my couch, watching CNN or MSNBC, having just cast my vote for Hillary Clinton for President (alone with some other important down ballot votes). In another 12 or so hours after that, hopefully we’ll have enough election results to have a new president.

Even though my vote won’t help her win New York (that’s happening no matter what), my vote will add to the total number of votes for Clinton. I’m hoping the margin of victory for the popular vote is very large.

Once she wins, I’ll feel better. Even then, we won’t all be fine. There will still be work to do, policies of hers that need changing and evolution. But at least she won’t be a demagogue who is a real threat to innumerable numbers of global citizens.


Thoughts on Getting Millennials to Vote

Do you know who Representative John Lewis is?

He’s a rather inspiring man who currently serves in the US Congress. He is an old head civil rights activist whose name is in the history books, and one of the few alive today to tell the tales of what really went down in the fight for equality for African-Americans in education, voting rights, and housing back when my parents were just children.

He thinks young people need to get out and vote because people fought and died for their right to. Because he fought and his friends died, young people today need to quit thinking whatever they’re currently thinking and go exercise their right to vote.

I happen to agree with him that everyone should vote. But his line of reasoning….. um…. I don’t think it’s effective. And it definitely can come across as a bit out of touch.

A lot of older people are dismissed as being out of touch with younger people. They try to appeal to younger people based on values (perhaps values of days gone by) that are no longer shared. Young people respond with some variation of, “I don’t appreciate your set of values because I’ve been taught something different. Where were you when the teaching was happening?”

When it comes to Rep. John Lewis, I can happily say that he has tried to be a part of the voice of education for youth. He reaches out in ways big and small to try and make sure some of his values and beliefs are seeds sown into the next generation.

In spite of the ways he works so hard to reach younger people, I still think his closing argument needs work. I say that while also believing that the reasons that he and his friends and colleagues fought for their rights and our are unimpeachable.

They fought for a better tomorrow. They fought so that I can vote and theoretically not be discriminated against for my color. A lot of people died so I can go on a 15 min morning date with my husband to the polls on Tuesday morning. That argument resonates with me because of the values I was raised with.

For those not raised with that set of values, it’s a harder argument to hear and have resonate with you. Honestly, the reasoning that made sense to them then and still makes sense to them now is… well, it’s about them. It’s about their fight and their legacy and their opinions of themselves.

It’s no wonder that younger Gen Xers and millennials (and whatever they call those born from 1975-1979) give that argument the side eye. We are the royalty of navel-gazing, self-focused, introspective, thinking-about-me-before-you, personal-happiness-above-all-else thought processes.

If you wanna reach more of us, you’ve gotta answer the question:

What’s in it for me?

I don’t have the answer on what to say. I haven’t been successful in getting people who don’t plan on voting to change their minds. But I’ve seen engagement work in some instances.

There is success in some areas by actually talking to younger people instead of at them. Engaging people my age in a conversation about why it’s important to vote (and to vote in the interest of yourself and those you care about) is not easy. There is no one tweet or tweet thread that will get the job done.

That level of engagement has to happen in small conversations. But they’re powerful conversations. Not a lot of millennials understand the electoral process and fewer get or even care why it’s important. Giving them that small bit of knowledge works, as long as it’s followed by one important question:

What’s in it for you?

If you can get a real answer back, you’ve just gained an engaged citizen, who will hopefully take part in many elections over the course of their life.

John Lewis and his books and crowd-surfing can’t get it done alone. If you believe in our democracy and our electoral process and you know younger people who don’t, bone up on the basic facts of how elections work and what decisions elected officials are in charge of at the local, state, and national level.

After you’ve done that, talk to young people. Share what you know. Pass on the knowledge. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll be personally responsible for helping continue the legacy of equal voting rights that so many fought and died to get.

 


On Embracing New York City

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

I can’t imagine living anywhere else but here.

I used to feel like I could never live in NYC, but that was back when I never ventured outside of two neighborhoods: Midtown and Harlem. I know I’m a black woman from Chicago with dreadlocks, but Harlem is just not really my type of neighborhood.

I go there for food and music, then I take my butt home.

And Midtown is a work neighborhood for me, not a play neighborhood.

I used to think we’d live here for like 3-5 years then go live in Europe for a few years, maybe have a baby there. Then when our kids were old enough, we’d try living in Honduras as well. I wanted to be a world traveller, with roots all over.

But I can’t imagine living anywhere else but here.

I feel like a Chicagoan through and through. That city vibe mixed with some Midwestern sensibilities describes me pretty well I think.

But if a tornado sent me to Oz and I clicked my heels three times to bring me home, I would probably wake up in Greenwich Village and have to take the subway back to Bed-Stuy where our brownstone is.

I’m telling you, if I won the lottery tomorrow, I would fill a suitcase with $10 million, go ring the doorbell of my dream home in the Village. When they answered the door, I would hand them the briefcase and say, “here’s a bunch of money, you don’t live here anymore. I do. I’ll be back in a week for the keys. Thanks!”

And because $10 million is a slight upgrade to the current value of that house, they would take my deal and buy another building up the street that is currently for sale.

That’s right. My dream home costs almost $10 million dollars. Stupid Greenwich Village that stole my heart. Why couldn’t I fall in love with a nice neighborhood in Brooklyn?

I feel that it’s important to say that I do love where we live in Bed-Stuy. I like that it has a really eclectic feel. The developers are moving in though, and those folks always end up raising rent. We already have the Zagat rated restaurants that people travel to for dinner, lunch, and brunch.

New Yorkers love their brunch.

Nice restaurants plus developers mean that before you know it, there will be a real organic produce store in the area. I’ll finally be able to get fresh cilantro that doesn’t spoil on me in less than 24 hours.

There is a house up the street from us that sold for $325,000 in January of this year that is now on sale for $1,450,000. If Easy and I stay in this neighborhood and purchase a home, we’re going to have to go the foreclosure route. I can’t believe they were able to get a house on that block for that cheap.

Since we’ll probably never have a million dollars lying around, that’s going to be our only option.

Luckily, that’s a problem that’s years ahead of us.

For now, we’re renters and city explorers.

Which brings me back to the ways I like to experience this city. Over a month ago, I mentioned a couple of different NYC things I wanted to try. Guess what? I haven’t done any of those things yet.

I ought to be ashamed of myself.

I still intend to get over to the Whitney Museum. And I’m internet stalking BBQ Films so I don’t miss their next event.

So I will redeem myself.

In the mean time, I have done other things.

I found the one barbeque joint in NYC that didn’t piss me off. It came recommended by someone who’s from Tennessee. And they were right about how good it is.

The place is called Fette Sau. I had some amazing dry rub ribs there last weekend. It’s definitely going to be a What’s Hot… post.

The food was so good that the 2 hour wait in line to get it was totally worth it. A week later, I still feel like it was totally worth it.

The main reason I’m trying to hard to embrace New York is because it hasn’t disappointed me yet. This city is amazing.

And once you get over the fact that the entire city smells like pee from May-October, nothing can stop you.

For instance, Easy and I had a date day this past Sunday. We went to the Brooklyn Museum, which was an exercise in patience to get to. The traffic was insane. They have several places all lumped together: Prospect Park, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Zoo, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Art Museum, and I want to say there’s a children’s museum over there too.

But we made it through and paid only $12 for parking.

Coming from Chicago’s museum campuses, that’s an amazing price. When we got inside the Brooklyn Museum, there was a suggested donation of $12. I was like, What?!?!

Had we gone to pretty much any major museum in Chicago, parking would’ve been $20+ based on how long we stayed, tickets would’ve been $25+ based on the day of the week. We paid $36 instead of like $75. Score one for NYC actually being cheaper than Chicago.

When we got into the museum, it turned out they had a really amazing exhibit called Witness. Unfortunately, they didn’t allow photography inside.

2014-04-27 16.22.13

There were moments where I wished I knew or cared more about art so I could be more familiar with the people quoted as having opinions that matter on the artwork. But overall, it was very moving.

I could decide if I wanted to look at the art then read what it was about or the opposite, so I tried both. Some of the pieces were really moving no matter what order I took them in. At one point, I had tears in my eyes. Not the oh-isn’t-this-so-beautiful tears, but the we-have-some-fucked-up-history-in-this-country tears.

I feel blessed I didn’t have to live through that time. I’m proud of myself that I care enough to pay attention to the history because I’m not really a history person. There were only one or two specific events in the Civil Rights struggle they mentioned that I wasn’t familiar with. I made notes of the events with plans to look them up later.

It’s not a pretty history, but it’s powerful. I would say that knowing what I do about the 1950s and the 1960s and what it means to people who look like me who lived through that time gives me a strong desire for fairness. It’s probably why I care so much about LGBT rights. I know a lot of people don’t see the two issues as comparable, but I sure as hell do.

The part of the exhibit that really stole the show for Easy and I though was this video they had on loop. To me it’s not really a museum exhibit if you don’t have a video on loop.

This video was of Nina Simone singing this amazing song on a Dutch TV show.

We sat there and watched it then watched it some more. I think because Easy is a jazz musician, seeing that performance there in the context of all the other Civil Rights art felt very profound.

Easy’s favorite piece was actually a self portrait of a man wearing a superman t-shirt and rocking a fantastic afro. It was part of the Black is Beautiful section. It’s hard to believe there was a time when people really had to make straight up ad campaigns to teach my people that they are beautiful, but it’s true.

I guess that’s not so crazy seeing as how I couldn’t be in the Army right now with my locs, but that’s a whole other issue, and I digress.

I’m getting back on topic, and that is embracing New York City. I’m looking forward to doing it more. Summer stage, sporting events, museums, restaurants, and live music. I want it all.


Going Down The Aisle And Back Again

Divorce and marriage are swirling all around me now. The husband and I are just fine. We’re better than fine actually. No the divorce and the marriage have nothing to do with us. It’s just all the people around us.

If I’m counting right, I currently know of three separations/divorces in process. And I know of, as of last Saturday, five engaged couples. The reason this stands out to me is that all eight couples were at my wedding, and only one of the couples had their current status at that time.

Engaged Couple #1: Dr. & Dr. They came to our wedding as an engaged couple. They met while in medical school. The guy went to college with me and my best friend/my best man. They have an interesting relation that causes mixed opinions amongst those who knew him before they got together. Their wedding is later this year, and it will be a lot of fun since it’s down in Hotlanta. I’m mostly just waiting to see if I’ll get an invite. I got a save the date-ish, so we’ll see.

Engaged Couple #2: Heading for an Island. On a double date we went on once, they discussed wanting to move to Hawaii, which is where the woman’s family is from. She’s an artist, and an amazing one at that. She designed our wedding invitations and the husband’s CD cover. He’s a teacher and jazz musician. I’m quite sure their kids will be gorgeous, and part of me is already plotting on marrying off one of my kids to one of theirs.

Engaged Couple #3: Might As Well Get Married. I met this couple during my ill-fated years in med school. He was in law school and she was getting some sort of Master’s degree. They ended up breaking up and they ended up back together. Again, mixed opinions. But they seem really happy at the thought marrying each other. And their wedding is also will be a blast.

Engaged Couple #4: Actually Getting Married For Real. The guy was one of my best friends for years. He was one of my bridesmen at my wedding. He and his girl have been off an on since college, and they have been going strong for years now. She has mellowed him in a way it took me a while to get used to. They seem so happy together. And if anyone was going to get him down the aisle, it’s her. They’ll probably get married on an island, which will definitely be fun.

Engaged Couple #5: The Just Right Marriage. The guy was the husband’s best man. They’ve been friends since they were young. They were in a band together in high school and that band has since had reunion concerts. I can’t think of anything clever or snarky to say about it because honestly I just enjoy their music, so someone please crack a joke about it on my behalf. His girl is amazing. Their kids will be gorgeous and she loves him to death. Plus, I think he just really wants to have a wife. How lucky that when he decided he wanted to marry, he had the perfect girl in front of him?

Now on to the divorcing couples. I’ve actually decided to only write about two of them. The third is something that isn’t common knowledge I have no idea if certain people I know read this blog, so I’m not even going there.

Divorce #1: The Joyous End. The man is one of my close friends who I’ve known since we were kids. He was also my other bridesman. That’s right, I had three men standing up with me. His soon-to-be-ex-wife is this chick he met at a party a handful of years back. She was everything he’d always wanted, she just also happened to possess some extra qualities he didn’t want. Things really went downhill after their wedding in April 2012. Yup, their wedding was in early 2012. The only thing all his friends agree on is that since they’ve separated, it’s like getting our friend back. The change was so gradual, we kind of forgot all that happened that took him so far from the person he was. Perhaps he bounced back so quickly because they weren’t married long.

Divorce #2: Why’d You Even Get Married? This couple wed in August 2012. I make a habit of not going to weddings of marriages I can’t in good faith support. I let myself get convinced to go to this one because of the travel time between the ceremony and reception. That meant one thing: party bus. Since it was a cash bar reception, the drinks we bought did supply most everyone in our range at the reception. Good times. But back to this divorce. This man is a walking party, and his bride is so not. There was some cheating, some lack of bill paying, and a thought towards a My Best Friend’s Wedding type intervention in the days before the wedding. Either way, they ended up getting married. She ended up regretting it. I ended up going back to my assertion that I really shouldn’t go to the weddings of the people I don’t think should get married.

It’s weird when we think about all these weddings we may potentially have to go to in the next year. Only one of them is for someone who is one of my close friends. And their wedding will likely take place somewhere the husband and I can’t even afford to travel to. The rest of the people are friends of the husband or the best friend.

But it’s really the divorces that are getting to me. These people all had their weddings the same year I did. There were a bunch of weddings at my church during 2012, so the track record really isn’t all that bad. It still gets to me though.

As a newlywed, I can’t imagine ending my marriage. The husband and I have had some serious ups and downs since we’ve been together. As angry and hurt as I was when it happened, I still can’t imagine separating. If anything, all the strife has only confirmed we’re supposed to stay together. I likely would’ve divorced, maimed, and/or ruined any other man had we gone through the same things.

What makes a marriage fall apart that quickly? I just can’t wrap my head around it. If you suspect your guy is cheating, why still get married? I think one’s parents would prefer losing a deposit and dealing with that over paying out the full $25,000 to pay for a wedding and then having nothing to show for it but a divorced daughter a few months later.

The other thing I’m also thinking of is the fact that none of my girls are getting married. Sure, one of my close guy friends is getting married, but that’s different. I want to plan a bachelorette party and a bridal shower. I want to pass on the bridezilla sash they made me. Statistics swear that black men aren’t getting married. I know five who are getting married. We just haven’t found any to marry my friends yet. They’re working on it though. Kudos to them for not settling because then they’d end up like Divorce #2.


Twenty Days And Counting

I passed by Day 20 and I was so proud of myself. I truly understand how someone can start Tracy Anderson’s program, fall off, and only get back on momentarily before completely giving up. You really have to take it day by day and treat each day separately. I had to work hard to keep up the motivation. Now that I’ve moved on to the third set of exercises (for Days 21-30), I realized it was more about the exercises than my motivation. Okay, maybe it was both.

I just really wasn’t a fan of the Days 11-20 exercises. I liked Days 1-10 and so far I like Days 21-30. Maybe it’s because I’m stronger, more flexible, and have more endurance. Maybe it’s because I feel that I’ve gotten past a motivation slump. Whatever the reason, I’m feeling her exercises again. After coming in the house late Tuesday night, I still managed to get in the day’s exercise at 11:30 pm. I was so proud of myself for not missing a day. I would not have been able to do that this time last week.

I’ve been strutting my stuff the last few days. I’ve worn several items of clothing that have just been sitting in my closet. There are the slacks I haven’t worn in 6 months (and comfortably in 9 months). There was the dress I haven’t worn in over a year. It’s been such an amazing feeling to get back into these clothes I love. I felt bad leaving them so lonely in the closet. They just had to sit there watching my stretchy pants get pulled out to be worn yet again, feeling like a red-headed stepchild. But now they are back in rotation baby!

There are still a few more items waiting to re-join the fold. There is this skin-tight micro mini dress that the husband finds so sexy. I refuse to put that back on until my tummy is flat again, but it’s on my to-do list. One clothing item that has remained is my bras. My bra size increased as I gained weight. I don’t know what it is about Tracy Anderson’s workout that’s so magical, but I still wear the same bra size as I did with my fat girl boobs. My butt still looks curvy and plump, my hips still have the Coke bottle thing going on. That woman wasn’t kidding when she said she makes your shape leaner and feminine.

On a side note, did you know she has a pregnancy video coming out in October? I’ve been wondering what in the world I was going to do when I got pregnant, but she’s answered my questions. She has a 6 week old and she took the opportunity over the last year to produce a workout video for exercising while you’re pregnant. It’s supposed to be a great companion for her postpartum workout she did a few years ago. I won’t be getting pregnant anytime soon, but should I stick with the Tracy Anderson Method, it’s nice to know there’s a plan waiting for that point in my life.

The best part about this point in the workout is that other people have begun to notice the change. I have only lost about 8 pounds, but the difference is really being seen in the muscle tone and how much leaner my body is starting to look. My mother noticed my butt looked higher. The husband noticed my waist looked smaller and tummy looked flatter. And my co-workers have all said I looked skinnier. Skinny isn’t something I see as a compliment, but I know they meant it as a compliment, so it was still empowering.

At this point, it’s important to remember to maintain focus on the other parts of my well-being. I try to shower within a half hour of finishing my workout so my skin stays clear of breakouts. I make sure I use sunscreen so the my skin won’t get loose around the areas of weight loss. I drink lots of water, at least 40 oz. a day. And I do my best to get enough sleep, even sacrificing social plans. I have more energy, but only because I try to stay rested and stress free. Even when I can’t go right to sleep, I still focus on breathing and relaxation. Staying calm goes a long way towards keeping only the “happy” hormones in your body. And that helps promote weight loss.

As usual, I will do a separate post for Day 20, but it will be password protected. If you want access to the password protected posts, just e-mail me at chicagostylegirl@gmail.com. I usually have no problem giving the password to people who I know are regular readers/commenters.


News Flash: I Am Not Your Secretary

Over the years, I have occasionally felt like stopping what I was doing, standing up to gain all attention in the room, and yelling out, “I’m not your f-ing secretary!” If that seems dramatic… well it is, but I can be a dramatic person, and dammit, that’s how I feel.

I can think of a few notable moments where I’ve felt like the secretary.

1) Almost anytime my mom asks me to do something. My mother has what I call “Assistant Syndrome.” She treats most people like they are her assistant, there to do her bidding for things she doesn’t have the time or desire to do. She’s not lazy by any means. My mother is one of the most busy people I know. She would just prefer to keep things from falling through the cracks by giving everyone she’s ever met a to do list. Why learn how to work iTunes when your daughter and son can just load up your music for you? Sounds like a menial job given to an overworked assistant in some summer Primetime TV hit, right?

2) When the husband asks me to do things he should have taken care of himself. We’re working on getting his website up and running now so it will be fully operational by the time of his official CD release party. Helping him is something I like to do, but occasionally he slips into, “why-should-I-even-try-to-do-it-when-I-can-just-ask-the-wife-who-can-do-it-quicker-and-I’m-sure-she-won’t-mind” territory. I have to let him know that it’s not my job to fix the type in the bio I put on his website. Why isn’t it my job? I copied and pasted the bio from his MySpace page, which means the typo is in two places and has been there for years. Also, I’m in the middle of my annual review and don’t have the time to play around with his website fixing mistakes I didn’t make. How long would it take to fix that typo? I don’t know because I’ll be getting my fake work done instead of playing secretary.

3) My brother used to treat me like a secretary when we were younger. Actually, he treated me more like a housewife. I was a sandwich making, clothes ironing, put-this-load-of-clothes-into-the-dryer fool. I don’t really feel like a fool for doing it. Taking care of my brother gave me an appreciation for taking care of men, which in turn gives the husband an appreciation for me taking care of him (he loves my sandwiches). There were moments where it was quite obvious that it was work my brother should have been doing, but why do it when I was there? Starting to see a theme here?

4) Lastly, I really feel like a secretary at work. There are people whose job titles is secretary (or administrative assistant or whatever) who do real secretary work. But they are only in the building 9-5 on Monday through Friday. When they are not here, my office gets treated like an AT&T switchboard. If you want to reach a certain person, why not just call their line? When you call our phone, you are offered a directory to reach people, but I guess that’s too much work. And some people in different departments tend to think that paperwork filing is something we do for everyone. I have had to let more than one person know that it is not my job to retrieve, file, fax, or e-mail paperwork for them. When it’s an occasional request to help someone, I don’t mind. But when it’s every shift, that’s not okay.

As a general rule, I’ll help people out when I know they need it. But when I am treated like a viable replacement for someone’s own work, that’s when I start feeling dramatic and in need of making an announcement to the whole room. I would get strange stares, sure. But it would make me feel better.

Why not just say no when people ask me for help? Believe me I do. I say yes more than no. My rule is to be honest. If they ask, “do you mind helping?”, my answer is usually, “yes, I mind, but I’ll do it anyway since you asked.” If they don’t even ask, but just assign work (I”m looking at you, husband), I usually say no and go back to what I was doing. In all honesty, I don’t mind doing secretary work when I know it’s appreciated. I was just feeling a little vent-y.


The Dumbest Sentence I Heard In July

People say a lot of things that are dumb. Lack of wisdom, foresight, logic, or education are possible causes. Now that the month of July is over, I am taking the time to reflect. I’ve heard a lot of dumb ass things last month.

The one I’m choosing to focus on comes from a woman I know. At some point she shares this information with each new person she comes across. And by information, I really mean “uninformed short-sighted opinion.”

She says, “the way I see it, you only get so many heartbeats/breaths. Once they’re done, they’re done. It doesn’t make sense to do all these things in an effort to live longer because you only get so many heartbeats/breaths.”

I cleaned it up a bit for clarification because I didn’t know what she was saying until maybe the fifth time I heard it repeated.

And now I shall explain why this statement is dumb as hell.

  1. Most people don’t eat healthy and exercise to live longer. It’s not to stave off death; it’s to stave off hypertension, arthritis, obesity, heart attack, stroke, low libido, saggy skin, alopecia, sleep apnea, and many other ailments.
  2. This woman is the poster child for why exercise is imperative. In just the year I’ve known her, she’s gained a good amount of weight. She already has bad knees that have only gotten worse with the extra weight gain. She’s walking slower and slower.
  3. When you ignore healthy eating and exercise, you sentence yourself to a quickly declining quality of life. Let’s say your “number of heartbeats” is waaay longer than you expected. Will you be that old person in a wheelchair with the oxygen tank who can’t even go to the bathroom alone? I’d rather be the old person who can still be independent because they never stopped being active.
  4. Of course you can’t control the future, but you sure as hell can give yourself the best odds possible. There are so many tasty healthy foods and fun exercises that exist that it doesn’t make sense to not even try.
  5. This woman recently started Weight Watchers. She did this likely because of her recent weight gain and slower walking. But she’s still preaching to others that it’s pointless. She doesn’t realize that now that she’s pushing 60, she can’t just lose 20 pounds and bounce back to her previous status. As you age, the changes your body goes through aren’t as elastic as when you’re younger. If she had made better choices in the last few decades, she would have at least 4 fewer health problems.
  6. Unless you have the world’s worst genetics, diabetes and hypertension don’t just happen. That shit is self-inflicted and it’s makes your life hell. Why not avoid it if you can?
  7. Who wouldn’t rather die of old age compared to a heart attack or stroke? Maybe live fast and die young is your motto. But unless you are skydiving and riding a motorcycle without a helmet and eating that sushi that can kill you if not butchered properly and gang-banging (pun…?), your chances of living long enough to get fat grow exponentially. You’ll end up short of breath just by walking up one flight of stairs. That shit starts at age 45, if not sooner. What if you live until you’re 70? It’s just crazy to dismiss the notion of quality of life in your later years.

I care about my health. I may not make the best decisions every day, but over the long-term, I make decisions that will make a difference. I know I’ll be having children in a few years. It’s in my best interest to stay in the best health possible when that happens. I don’t do crash dieting or exercising, so working it out now for a long-term lifestyle change is my only option.

Wouldn’t it be great to reach age 40 and still able to rock a bikini? Fifty and still able to go for a 5 mile run? Sixty and still able to walk 3 flights of steps with ease? Seventy and still able to have sex? Eighty and still driving yourself around?

It’s not guaranteed that you’ll live long and healthy simply by exercising and eating right. There are many other things you can do in addition: lowering stress, having healthy relationships, staying out of the sun for extended periods of time, taking vitamins, etc.

Knowing that you can’t guarantee good results, why would you go the opposite way and help yourself towards an early grave and a diminished quality of life if there is another option?


Getting Too Comfortable At Work

I think it’s important to maintain some distance between myself and my co-workers. Not until I’m at a job in an office where I know I’ll be for 10 or so years will I set up shop and try to make friends. In order to maintain professionalism and to not have people in my business, I try to keep those boundaries.

I think I’ve been getting too comfortable lately. Here are some signs:

  1. Helping a co-worker pick out an engagement ring.
  2. Offering to cook dinner for everyone one night next week.
  3. Actually knowing everyone’s name.
  4. Having more than 4 cell numbers in my phone of co-workers.
  5. Knowing details about more than 3 people’s breakups/divorces.
  6. Having people know how to pronounce my real name.

That last one is the biggest sign. I go by CeCe at work because my real name is too hard to remember how to pronounce and spell. We deal with a lot of people of all races and languages of origin. Half the time, it’s over e-mail and pager. So to save everyone a lot of heartache, I’m just CeCe.

There are a couple co-workers who’ve felt that we’re close enough that they need to know my real name. As long as they aren’t shouting it out in front of other co-workers who will then want to know, I suppose it’s okay. But the number of people who know my real name is creeping up a little high for my taste. I can’t exactly stop telling people who ask though. That would be rude as hell.

I happen to be terrible with names, so the fact that I know everyone’s name is disconcerting. Our high turnover has been slowing, so it’s all the same people now. With only 2-4 new people coming in every six weeks, names are just easier to remember. Faces start to look different. It’s weird for me to see someone I haven’t seen in a month and I still know who they are.

When I bring in food from home, people always want to know what wonderful thing I’ve made. The hamburger stuffed with mozzarella and topped with sharp cheddar really got them going. Next thing I know, I was offering to take up a collection and menu suggestions and make dinner for everyone. I don’t know where that came from. I hope they don’t hold me to it. I shouldn’t have suggested it.

No one I’ve ever cooked for in the last 18 months has gone away from my life. It’s like I put catch-a-friend seasoning in my food. I’ve got to be careful if they do remember. But if I leave it to someone else to plan, I should be alright.

I really do like a couple people at my job. It just feels weird to cross that boundary from co-worker to friend. I try not to invest too much into people who are only in my life because of circumstances that have an expiration date, you know?

Who knows, maybe I’ll end up in the wedding of one of these people or something. More likely, I’ll be struggling to remember anyone’s name this time two years from now.


Not Quite Natural

I am a fan of natural. Not all natural, like I-don’t-wear-deodorant natural. But some natural, like I-don’t-eat-processed-ass-Twinkies natural. It feels like a double standard sometimes. Like I prefer my natural hair, but not my natural hair color. I prefer my natural width (will never hide my hips) but not my natural height (I love my high-heeled shoes).

Things That Aren’t Natural That Creep Me Out

Seedless watermelon and grapes: fruit is supposed to reproduce! That seedless shit isn’t right.

Weave: Sorry for folks who like to buy their length, but it smells, it’s too expensive, and it looks unnatural.

Genetically enhanced chicken: no breast, leg, or wing is supposed to be that large unless it comes from a turkey!

Artificial sweeteners: I can’t even ingest aspartame because it upsets my stomach, but none of that stuff is okay in my book.

Things That Aren’t Natural That Aren’t So Bad

Most hair care products for African-Americans: with the exception of jheri curl products and brown hair gel, the chemist in me loves relaxers, conditioners, etc.

Ice packs and cool packs: that stuff that keeps your body cool or your drink cool are fine with me. Just don’t ever drink it.

Gemstones made in a lab: the stone in my engagement ring was made in a lab, and it’s so much more vibrant (not to mention less outrageously priced) than one someone found in a rock. Plus no foreign miners lost arms to get my stone.

Do you prefer things natural? Or are you more like me with a widely varying stance on what should be natural and what shouldn’t?


Things I Hate/Things I Love

I consider myself very opinionated, so this post feels a bit less random. If it wasn’t for all the working I’ve been doing, I would have more to blog about my actual life. The husband and I decided I’d take a week off for his birthday, so I spent a bunch of time before that working so I wouldn’t use any time off. And in lieu of blogging about my activities, I will blog about my thoughts.

I HATE people who talk with food in their mouths. It’s not a problem for everyone, but it’s specifically a problem for people who do it while the food is still on their tongue. If you happen to be eating now, try to talk with the food on your tongue, and try it again with the food stored to the side. Can you tell the difference? Cause I sure as hell can and with the food on your tongue, life gets so much worse for those who have to listen.

I LOVE good-tasting food that smells good. It’s not a given that food that tastes good smells good. And it’s not a given that good that smells good tastes good. But when something smells so appetizing and then it tastes like it smells (or even better), I’m in heaven.

I hate being hit on while driving. I think it was the combination of some sexy ass lip gloss, forgetting my ring, and summer, but I got hit on so much one day driving to work last weekend. And I ask myself, seriously? While we’re driving 65+ mph?! This is the time to hit on me? What are we gonna do, pull over as if we’ve had an accident and exchange phone numbers? So dumb.

I love being hit on in a classic way. Not like a wolf whistle, but just an old-fashioned, respectful compliment. Someone telling me I look great or they like my smile or my walk or whatever. It’s a great confidence boost and I don’t feel the need to reach for the pepper spray I keep on hand. I just feel the need to smile brightly, say thank you, and move on with my day.

I hate lies. The likelihood of keeping the truth hidden forever is so slim. When does that shit ever happen? And yet, some folks feel the need to keep doing it. It is a perverse pleasure? Is it some sort of drug-free high? Is it a complete disregard for and disrespect toward others? I don’t know, but I hate it.

I love brutal honesty. Not mean honesty, but not sugar-coated either. Honesty is not a weapon, but it’s useful for keeping a firm grasp on reality. Wouldn’t you like to know that your favorite jeans make your ass look both too wide and too flat? Wouldn’t it be better to know that your “world-famous” potato salad makes everyone’s stomach hurt juuuuust a little bit? No sticking my head in the sand, give me the truth. I’m a big girl, I can handle it.

And lastly, I both love and hate summer. All my favorite holidays are in the winter. My birthday is in the fall and the world is the most beautiful in places where they have true a fall season. Spring is my favorite season because everything always feels new. But summer is just… sunny and happy and hopeful. Of course usually (in Chicago) it’s too damn hot and humid. There’s no escape sometimes. People die in droves when it gets hot and that’s depressing. Is there anywhere with a good music scene that’s not in a red state where the yearly average temperature is right around 65 degrees? I can visit Chicago to get my fill of other seasons, but living like that everyday would be magical.

What do you love/hate?


Supreme Court Keeps It Real

Unlike with the Citizens United case, this time the Supreme Court acted like they know how to interpret the Constitution. Well, at least some of them did.

Focusing on the constitutionality of each part of the Affordable Care Act, they realized they should uphold it.

Just like we all have car insurance, now we’ll all have health insurance too. Like every other commerce law, some people will fall in the gap. They will make too much money to get Medicaid and too little to afford insurance even with the subsidies. I can only pray that some new not-for-profits pop up to help those people.

Now Republicans will campaign on repealing their law. They will claim the only hope for America is to elect them. More of the usual “the sky is falling” crap.

It’s up to the Democrats to finally start making some memorable sound bites about the provisions of the ACA. All the polls about the law say the law is unpopular, but most of the provisions are popular.

We won the fight about the constitution. Now let’s win some battles in the media. People like not being refused insurance. They like that there’s no cap on benefits. They like that their kids can stay on their insurance. Lower income people will love being included in Medicaid. Let’s talk about that a bit, shall we?

As I finish, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Anthony Kennedy, you all suck.


What’s Hot? L26

L26 is hot.

L26   11 West 26th Street Chicago, IL  Open 5pm-11pm or later everyday

This restaurant is located inside the South Loop Hotel in Chicago. You can miss it if you drive past it too quickly. This place is great for amazing soul food, sometimes great live music, and terrible service.

The only time I had amazing service there is when we threw my engagement party there. They were great that day for our private party, and they’ve sucked at service every visit since. They could stand to hire another waiter or three.

The atmosphere is splendid. It’s by far the best I’ve ever seen in a black-owned restaurant. I always spend more there than I think I should. Some items that should be together are a la carte. If you order a steak, there is nothing but a steak on your plate unless you order sides.

I’d Recommend: The macaroni and cheese. It’s divine. There’s more than enough to share, but you’ll likely eat the entire bowl by yourself. Also, try the drinks named after the train lines in Chicago. The drinks are super strong, so make sure you let them know if you want your drink a little less likely to put hair on your chest.

Stay Away From: All of the desserts. They’re not that great. And if slow service makes you reduce the tip, just eat at the bar. The bartender will make you forget you’ve been waiting 30 minutes for someone to take your order.

This restaurant would get the extra factor if not for the terribly slow service.  The food would be perfect if not for the dinner menu. The music would be perfect if there was live music more consistently. The drinks would be perfect if the wine list were just a bit longer. They consistently got four stars out of five out of hundreds of reviews.

Food (3); Music (3); Drinks (3); Atmosphere (4); Price (2); Consumer Review (3); Extra Factor (0)

L26 gets a score of 18 out of 25. And now on to the pictures.

When you first walk in the restaurant, this is what you’ll see. Looks like class and comfort all at once.

There’s a great private room in the back. It’s where I had my engagement party. For $500, it can be yours too. I made this size a little larger so you can see the great wine mural on the back wall.

There are all these little touches that add that extra something special. Here is a shot of a portion of the ceiling. Isn’t it wonderful?

And when the night falls and they set up their live music, the whole atmosphere changes. Green becomes a golden orange. Magenta becomes a plum red. The mood is officially set.


Why I Love Wisconsin (Fifty by Age 50)

I will do a full 50 by 50 post later, after our trip is complete. But I couldn’t wait for this. The husband and I have just arrived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

He has a gig here tonight at a place called the Jazz Gallery. This gallery is pretty interesting. They’ve got a couple of art pieces around.

I’m looking forward to hearing them play in an hour or so. But I was really fascinated by the lawn sign I saw as soon as we pulled up. I took a pic on my phone so I could blog about it right away.

If you keep up with local politics that have made national news, you’ll appreciate this photo. I know about what Wisconsin state politicians say about that sign, but I’m fascinated by seeing a lawn sign for it.

What does this sign mean to you?

Down with Walker!

Down with Walker!

This was just a jar of shredded paper. This piece was fascinating to me.

This was just a jar of shredded paper. This piece was fascinating to me.

This was several shells and bits of wood in front of paintings. Interesting mix, right?

This was several shells and bits of wood in front of paintings. Interesting mix, right?


Why Didnt Anybody Tell Me Sex and the City Sucks?

I was so excited the other day. I was perusing the Kindle Store on my Kindle. I notice they finally put Sex and the City out for Kindle. I love the show and the movies and The Carrie Diaries. I also enjoyed other books written by Candace Bushnell.

For whatever reason, I decided to hold off on reading Sex and the City until it became available on the Kindle. So I bought it, downloaded it, and read it.

And then there was confusion… At first the book read like the first couple of episodes of the TV show. Then it just got weird. All these bitter ass, drug using, self loathing women confused me.

Why on earth had Candace Bushnell written such terrible characters? And where was happy, romantic Charlotte? It was so convoluted.

I dragged my way through it, but hated it. Mr. Big sucked in the book even more than he did in the show when he went to Paris without Carrie and came back with the other chick.

I found Carrie soooo annoying. I just didn’t get it. Were Candace Bushnell’s articles on which the book was based that terrible?

Perhaps because I wasn’t in my thirties, on drugs, unmarried and bitter in NYC in the 90s, I just don’t get it.

But whatever. That shit was a waste of money. I’ll just move on and read the next book in the Carrie Diaries series because at least I have a chance to enjoy that.

Did anyone enjoy that book? What did I miss?


Trying To Stop Drooling

As an 80’s baby, I entered my adolescent/teenage years addicted to TGIF. Step by Step, Family Matters, Boy Meets World, I loved it all. I remember Corey and Topanga getting married on Boy Meets World. I remember Alex growing boobs on Step by Step. Most importantly, I remember when Steve Urkel became Stefan Urkel.

As a young girl, I damn near melted. Drooling in front of my TV set was a regular occurrence, and I was flabbergasted when Laura ultimately ended up with Steve while Stefan became a model in Paris. Seriously, to this day, I’m like what the fuck?!

But this is not about my childhood, this is about my adulthood. And as an adult, my lust for the character Stefan Urkel has been transferred to Jaleel White the adult. He’s on Dancing with the Stars this season and I can’t get enough.

Every time he comes on screen, I’m thankful that the husband isn’t nearby so he can’t see my face. I know when he sees this post, he’ll be able to imagine. He’ll just imagine the face I usually reserve only for Will Smith. But I had forgotten how much I love me some Jaleel White.

He’s no conventionally attractive, at least all my friends keep telling me I’m alone in finding him so damn irresistible. But I don’t give a damn. I likes what I likes. And when I finally got around to watching Monday’s episode of DTWS online, I melted again.

He danced with his partners to Babyface’s For The Cool In You. Everything I loved about the 90s was personified on my computer screen. And what’s more, it was all grown up.

It actually reminded me of one of my favorite things about the husband. He was some random boy I had a crush on when we were kids at the same music conservatory. I didn’t know him then and didn’t care too. I just liked watching the cute boy with the big afro play his saxophone. And now he’s all grown and sexy and everything I might’ve imagined he would be all grown up, if I’d cared to imagine such things as a child.

Jaleel White is all grown up. And I will be so sad if/when he leaves DWTS this season. There’s no Olympic athlete, the football player is just so-so, and there’s not a standout dancer that’s got enough fans prior to the start of the season to be ahead with no chance of catchup. That bodes well for his chances. We’ll have to see.

Now, please excuse me while I watch this dance on repeat for the thirtieth time.


April Fools Blows When You’re An Adult

So, I know April Fools Day was yesterday, but I simply had to write a post about it.

When I was younger, April Fools jokes consisted of whoopee cushions and jokes of having to move away suddenly. You know, kid stuff.

But apparently, as one grows up, the jokes must become more grown-up. And so they’re harder to discern as immediate jokes.

Here are the stories the husband and I heard. You tell me, truth or April Fools?

1) “The girlfriend gave me a marriage ultimatum.”

2) “I’m engaged to someone you didn’t know I was dating.”

3) “I can’t go the birthday dinner because I’m in Boston for the weekend.”

4) “I got my new girlfriend pregnant.”

5) “I can’t go to the birthday dinner because I just don’t wanna go.”


Trying To Make A Dime

If you’re not familiar with the term dime. It refers to a woman who is a 10 on a scale of 1-10. This can be just about looks or about the total package. A quick Google search shows us:

Urban Dictionary defines a dime as a very beautiful and flawless woman.

This is not a dime.

This is a dime.

Now, on to the point of this post. The husband was having a conversation with one of his cousins about the cousin’s new chick. The husband asked why he felt the need to add a new chick to the flock when he already had his sons’ mother he was still dealing with.

The cousin replied that the husband didn’t understand. He said, “you already have a 10. In order to have what you have, I’ve got to have 5 twos.”

When the husband relayed this to me, I has several reactions. 1) I was super flattered that his cousin thought so highly of me. 2) I felt bad for his main chick because he thought she was a two. 3) I wondered how terrible the new chick was because she only got him up to a net total of four. 4) I was amused because he still needed three more chicks. 5) I wondered why his standards weren’t higher.

When a man, for whatever reasons, finds himself without a dime, how does he achieve it? Ah, the complicated philosophical ponderings…

I think that it depends on what a man thinks a dime is. If it’s looks, that’s not so hard to achieve as long as he doesn’t also want personality and intelligence. I wonder if there’s a book out there called How To Catch A Dime. Sounds like a financial self-help book.

So, here’s how to make a dime:

1) Get a girl who’s already a ten and be thankful she wants you too.

2) Get two girls who total a ten. This can be 2 fives, 5 twos, or a four and a six. There are so many combinations.

3) Realize you either can’t get a girl out your league (á la “She’s Out of My League) or don’t feel like putting in the work a girl like that requires, and just go with as many low-ranking girls as possible.

4) Give up and start dating freshly minted 18 year olds who don’t know any better.

5) Really give up and stop dating women period.

And with that ridiculous notion, this post is now complete.


How To Prove You’re An Asshole

Step 1. Say really mean things about someone else.

Step 2. Realize you’ve made others really really upset and devise a plan.

Step 3. Apologize, but only half-heartedly and only for one tiny part of what you said.

Step 4. Accuse others of being too sensitive and defend your actions before your apology has even settled.

 

If you have been following current events, you know what I’m talking about. One asshole in particular, Rush Limbaugh has been a bad bad man. He’s been worse than usual. After the Republicans wouldn’t let any women testify about the rule that employers have to provide contraceptive coverage in their insurance packages, the Democrats brought in their own people.

One person they brought in was law student Sandra Fluke. She’s a very nice lady who had very sound argument in support of coverage. But Rush, never to debate someone on the issues, began attacking her. For three days straight, he called her a slut and a prostitute.

He lambasted her for the large amount of sex she has to be having, saying there are men lined up around the block. He said he’s her pimp since he’s responsible for getting her so much sex through his taxpayer dollars. He requested that if they’re paying for her to have all this sex, she repay them by posting videos of this sex online.

His apology (after he lost several advertisers) was only for calling her a slut and a prostitute, not for anything else he said over 9 hours of radio show. There are so many things wrong with what he said. Sigh. Where to begin?

Idiot Correction #1: you don’t need a new birth control pill every time you have sex. It’s not like some disposable diaphragm or whatever else you conjure up, ridiculous man. One pill per day, no more. Plus she’s a law student. There’s no way she has time to have that much sex and still be in law school.

Idiot Correction #2: Taxpayers don’t pay for birth control. You’d have to play 6 degrees of separation or more to find a way from insurance company subsidies over to the coverage for contraception. And like John Stewart said, taxpayers don’t get a say for where their money goes. If they did, liberals would’ve been able to opt out of the Iraq War.

Idiot Correction #3: What is up anyway with this assault on sex? Men have had Viagra covered for 15 years under most insurance plans. How is the pill any different? Believe me, Rick Santorum, the men taking these pills aren’t doing it just to procreate. Not when these pills are selling by the millions to mostly white people, who have the lowest birth rate in the country.

Idiot Correction #4: Most women age 15-44 have used contraception at some point. for the sexually active ones, it’s up to 99%. 99%. 99%. It’s an irrefutable fact that this is essential to women’s health. Whether it’s to choose when to procreate or to manage acne or ovarian cysts, it’s important. Married women, sick women, just women who want a predictable cycle (why I started using the pill back in the day) all use the pill. It is not exclusively for sluts.

Idiot Correction #5: If you want to make a point, make it. If your only point to make is a personal attack, that’s no point at all. Keep it to yourself. Your mother never conveyed it to you Rush Limbaugh, or perhaps you didn’t listen when she did. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Stop being such as ass.


Quickie Politics Post: Really Komen Foundation?!

Really Komen Foundation?! You don’t want to be associated with organizations who are under federal investigators?! Out of tens of millions of dollars you give away, this happens to only apply to Planned Parenthood, and you thought no one would notice? Really?!

Someone high up in your ranks is scared of a lack of donations from a couple of self-righteous conservatives and is using their political agenda to try and defund an organization that has literally saved the lives of hundreds if not thousands of women. How does that work with your stated mission?

When you take away someone’s funding and try to sweep it under the rug, you have no right to get mad at them for trying to replace that funding.

I have tons of pink ribbon stuff, but I’ve decided I’m not buying another thing. The next time I see a pretty pink pen or notebook or coffee mug, I’ll just take note of what it cost and donate that money to Planned Parenthood.

You chose angry conservatives over angry liberals. Let’s see how that ends. You all aren’t the only people who help those with breast cancer.


So You’ve Signed Up to Be A Donor

In Illinois, we have a donor registry. That registry allows people to sign up any number of ways. They ask you at the DMV if you want to be a donor. There are donation drives at colleges. All sorts of ways.

When you sign up, they may or may not explain what that means. I’m here to let you know what it means. When you sign up to be a donor in Illinois, you’re saying that when you die (brain or cardiac death), you want all elligible organs and tissues donated for transplantation.

Some states are different, you can sign up for transplantation and medical education/research. In other countries, there’s even registries where you have to opt out if you are against it as opposed to signing up if you are for it. But in Illinois, it’s fairly simple. If you want to donate, simply say yes and get it put on your license.

But oh no, it’s not that simple. Your family can fuck up your final wishes. I talk to far too many families who are made aware of their loved one’s wishes and decide they don’t care. How sefish can you be to be fully aware of your son’s/husband’s/sister’s final wishes and just say you don’t care?

Death is hard and everyone doesn’t handle it well. But it’s just not fair. The consent affidavit is supposed to be a legally binding document. You make the decision for yourself so your family doesn’t have to. That’s the theory at least.

But families refuse to go through the paperwork. In this especially litigious and disease-ridden state, we don’t move forward with donation without consent paperwork by the family saying they acknowledge their loved one’s wishes. And we really can’t move forward without a medical and social history questionnaire that the next-of-kin must fill out.

If you have signed up to be a donor, make sure your family knows. Make sure there is someone who might be around in the case of your death who can fight for your right to decide what happens to your body after you die.

I am sad for the families that lose loved ones. But I’m more sad for the people who die and never get a chance to fulfill their request for what happens to their remains.

It’s hard not to get angry at someone who loses a family member and then only thinks of themself. It’s especially worse when the deceased was elligible to donate so many things. It’s not fair and frankly, it’s fucked up.

I’ve made sure to discuss exactly what I want to happen to me in the case of my death to the fiancé and my parents. I don’t want to risk one of them being so unstable at the time of my death that they can’t honor my wishes.

Being a donor is supposed to ensure your wishes are met. Make sure your family understands that. And if your family member has signed up to be a donor, the least you can do is honor their wishes after the death. It’s really the least you could do.


Black, Single, and Female

There is a New York Times article I came across a little over a week ago. It’s from December 20th. In the opinion section, there’s a subsection called Room for Debate. They have a topic up for discussion and then they have some experts offer their opinion.

This topic is started because a black woman is single and says her family and friends treat her like she has some condition that will never improve because the odds are stacked against her. This topic piqued my interest, but not for the normal reasons.

I’m not one of those people who is drawn to “black” issues simply because I’m black. I find myself interested in issues that affect cultures. I’m just as interested in the Jewish diaspora as I am the African diaspora, perhaps even more so because of Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent actions, but I digress.

Back to the black women who are destined to never get married because the odds are stacked against them. Based on my own world, I can say the odds aren’t good. The fiancé and I are having 8 women and 12 men in our wedding party. Only 2 are married, and those are the guys.

5 of the 8 women are in long-term serious relationships that could be headed towards marriage, but there’s no way to know for sure until someone proposes. And we have a boatload of single people at the wedding. In the under 35 range, there’s way more singles than couples.

Perhaps black folk are just waiting until later in life to get married. Perhaps too many black men are in jail, undereducated, under-churched, already fathers, etc. My friends who have really high standards (i.e., wanting a man to match their degrees, earning potential, love for the Lord, lack of parenthood, and good relationships with their mother and father) are painfully single.

I hit the jackpot when the fiancé found me. Even compared the guys my friends are dating, no one’s dating “resumé” looks nearly as good.

But is that what it’s about? Fitting a list of criteria? I don’t know. And I feel like I’m about to be even more out of touch since I’ll only be single for another month.

What do you think is the cause of all this black female singlehood?