Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Nappy Bill of Rights

About a month ago, I decided to go natural. This is something I've considered every six to eight weeks come relaxer time, but I would eventually give in and go to the nearest hairdresser. This time, I'm going to do it. I'm letting my relaxer grow out and I plan to lock my hair. My mane will go through some serious changes in the next several months and I imagine those of the paler race will have several questions. I've devised what I call a 'Nappy Bill of Rights', which should give these folks a better understanding of acceptable an unacceptable behavior toward a black woman going through this stage.

1. No, you can't touch it. My hair is not something you see at a museum or pet store, therefore, keep your hands to yourself. I reserve the right to bite off the finger of anyone whose hand comes near my hair.

2. Do not refer to me as 'exotic.' I hate that word. It's just a polite way of saying 'colored' or even worse, calling me a n****. Don't do it.

3. Yes, I wash it. There are these things called shampoo and conditioner that do wonders for my hair. In other words, ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.

4. How did I get my hair like this? Let's see .... I stopped paying people to burn my scalp with chemicals every six weeks in order to be accepted by society. Now I stopped caring about what people think.

5. In the words of India.Arie, "I Am not My Hair." I'm the same brilliant and beautiful person I was, just sans relaxer. I expect to be treated the same. Look me in the eyes when we're talking, instead of staring at my roots. If you can follow these rules, we'll get along perfectly.
(Photo courtesy of http://www.dreadlocks.com.au/)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Octavia Butler, 1947-2006

Dar Kush

A great loss.

I practically moved mountains to meet Octavia Butler when she did a booksigning at Busboys & Poets in D.C. last year. I was frustrated that her book, "Fledgling," which was her first book in several years, wasn't getting the publicity it deserved. I could barely find it anywhere. So when I had the opportunity to meet her, I packed up all of my favorites, "Kindred", "Parable of the Sower" and "Parable of the Talents." I didn't get there in time for her speech, but I was able to get my book signed afterward. It was hard to believe that such powerful words came from a woman who, that night, looked so frail and weak. She was gracious enough to sign all my books and included an encouraging message about my own writing endeavors. There is going to be a huge gap in black literature -- literature in general -- without her.
(Photo courtesy of http://www.sfwa.org/members/butler/)

Just Friends?

I spoke to ‘Left Behind’ earlier this week. Twice. I’m visiting my former home in the midwest in a few weeks and we were discussing my upcoming trip. I call him ‘Left Behind’ because he is, in fact, the guy I left behind when I returned to the East Coast to go back to school and continue my quarter life crisis among family and friends. We decided not to do the long distance thing (actually, he decided) and remain friends. When a guy I’ve been involved with tells me that he wants to ‘be friends’ I interpret that to mean that I’ll never see him again. Not so with Left Behind. I’ve remained in contact with him since I’ve been out here – we’ve exchanged dating war stories, he’s been here to visit and I’ve been there to visit him. He always leaves me thinking ‘what could've been’ if I remained in the Midwest.

With my next trip, I’m staying with a good friend and not him. My friend is a serious planner and she has a list of things for us to do while I’m up there. Left Behind was invited as well, but he more or less just wants to hang out with me. I don’t even know if I want to be alone with Left Behind. I don't know if I still have feelings for him, if he has feelings for me or what. I don’t want to fall into the pattern that we once did -- of getting emotional and me having to get on a plane, not knowing when I’d see him again.

I'd be lying if I said I don't want to see him again. A part of me needs to see him, needs to know if there are any feelings still lingering. But another side of me says that I need to leave the past in the past and move forward. I wish it were that simple. Somebody once asked me what I liked about Left Behind and I couldn't put my finger on it. Now I know. He makes me laugh. I'm used to being the humorous one, but this guy makes me laugh so hard that my face hurts. I never knew what an important quality that was until I met him. So I'll have to add 'sense of humor' to my long list of requirements for a potential mate. As for what happens in March ... I'm praying for strength.
(Image courtesy of http://www.chagrinvalleydir.com/images/PhotoDraw89.jpg)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Comments & Observations

Because I'm nosey, I overhear several interesting conversations while I'm out and about. Here are a few that I've heard, or participated in, within the last two weeks. My imagined response is in italics.

Reasons why I'll never shop at Books-A-Million again:
Customer: Do you sell The New Yorker?
Bookseller: Um … what’s that?
Customer: It’s a magazine. It’s pretty big time.
Bookseller: The name sounds familiar ….
Customer: (shaking head) Never mind.

Bookseller: (on the phone) It's perfectly simple, ma'am. If I was writing a story about my own life, it would be an autobiography. If you were writing about me, it would be a biography.

Reasons why my coworkers are scared of me:
We're talking about how Dick 'I Shot Ya' Cheney decided to hunt senior citizens recently:
Colleague 1: Why'd he wait so long to call the police? I'd call someone immediately if I shot one of my friends.
Colleague 2: Me too. Especially if it were accidental.
Me: I'd muffle my voice on the 911 call, toss the body in the river and tell the cops that my friend is missing.
Colleague 2: Um….we’re scared now.
Me: (with sinister laughter) And you should be.

Reasons why you shouldn't discuss your health problems in class:
Classmate 1: I thought I'd miss class today. I had to go to the hospital last night.
Classmate 2: Really? Are you alright?
Classmate 1: Yeah. I was in an accident last year and I've been having so many problems because of it. Like, I've been on my menstrual cycle since November.
Me: (horrified) A three-month period is never good. You need Jesus. Literally.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

My Birthday

Your Birthdate: March 24
You understand people well and are a natural born therapist.A peacemaker, people always seem to get along when you are around.You tend to be a father or mother figure to friends, even to those older than you.You enjoy your role, and you find that you are close to many people.
Your strength: Your devotion
Your weakness: Reliance on others for happiness
Your power color: Lilac
Your power symbol: Heart
Your power month: June
What Does Your Birth Date Mean?

Monday, February 20, 2006

If I knew then what I know now ....

I'm imagining that I'm able to get on board a time machine and have a conversation with myself as a teenager. Here are some of the things I'd tell a 16-year-old me:

1. Spend more time with your father. You don't know how much time you'll have with him.
2. Stop being jealous of how much the boys ogle over Kelly B. and Kellee C. In two years, they'll be pregnant and won't know who the fathers are anyway.
3. It's okay to be angry. Stop worrying about what people think and start cussing folks out already!
4. Break the rules/sneak out of the house. That's what those teenage years are for.
5. You'll meet your first love in a year. Enjoy the relationship, but don't carry it over into college. The college years are for dating and seeing the world. If you still have the hots for him after that (you won't) go for it.
6. Keep writing, don't give up. Finish at least one or two of those stories you have lying around.
7. Stop watching soap operas. AMC will continue to blackball Mimi & Derek and all their other black characters (pun intended), get over it. Get your own life.
8. Just because it's legal for you to work, doesn't mean you have to have a job. Get involved in some kind of activity ... preferably one that can get you some scholarship funding.
9. Don't be afraid to show people how smart you are. The girl who constantly raises her hands in class only annoys people who aren't worth her time anyway.
10.Tell your mother. If she doesn't listen, tell your father.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

You're chocolate. You're the old soul type, people
feel that they have known you their entire
life. Many often open up to you for they
view you as thoughtful and trustworthy.
Although people trust you, you have a hard
time trusting them. You prefer to keep your
feelings bottled up inside, or display them
very quietly. It is alright to open up every
once in a while.

Which kind of candy are you?
brought to you by

A Bit About Tragic

I once heard an old saying that said that two people that have similar personalities will never get along. I'm not exactly sure of the saying,but that was the gist of it. That being said, it’s time for me to talk about Tragic Sneeze, who has a lot in common with me.

Before I begin, I should at least say how she got her nickname. I’ll start with Tragic – that stems from the fact that her eyes are always watery, to the point that they look like she’s going to cry. Her home life is pitiful as well. She gets excited about things like the spelling bee and dog shows. I saw her one day and she had a bandage on her nose. When I asked her how she got it, she said her cat bit her. Then she goes on to tell me how he didn’t mean it… that it was her fault … yada yada yada. Oh, and her boyfriend wear's women’s underwear. ‘Nuff said. I call her Sneeze because she sneezes constantly and it erupts through the entire building. I consider these eruptions just her effort to get attention, so I don’t bless her. That’s a real testament of rebellion on my part. Anywho, here are the things I’ve noticed about Tragic Sneeze and myself:

· It used to bother me that the title, ‘The Practice’, had an extra space on it on the end credits. Every Sunday when the show went off, I would shriek at the TV. I told all my friends, but no one seemed to care. Whatever. I reserve the right to be anal. Fast forward last year. A bunch of us were at lunch discussing new movies that were coming out. Tragic had a big problem with ‘The 40 year-old virgin’ because they didn’t use the hyphens properly. As it is, the title makes it seem like the movie would be about 40 virgins that are a year old. It’s proper title should be ‘The 40-year-old virgin.’ She repeated this every time a conversation came up about the movie. It grated on my nerves. Needless to say, I was very glad when the movie went to video and out of my life. She’s the reason I haven’t seen it.

· We circulate a ‘quotable log’ each month. It’s filled with random funny things we’ve said at work without even realizing it. Someone will write it down and give it to the secretary, who compiles it into a list. The only rule is that you can’t quote yourself. The person who has submitted the most quotes gets some kind of prize. Usually, that award would go to me because…. Well, I’m nosey. I had some humdingers in there. I once overheard my boss tell someone else that Terry McMillan and the former first lady of New Jersey should have a drink together sometime and compare notes. I got several others, but that was by far my best catch. But now Tragic is becoming a serious challenger. She’s submitting just as many quotes as I am. In my honest opinion, hers aren’t as funny as mine, but I’m biased. She won a box of chocolates last month and offered me some as consolation prize. I shouldn’t have taken any, but I grabbed a handful. It’s the principle of the thing. I hope she doesn’t expect the same courtesy when I win.

· At my last job, my friends often sent me hilarious forwards that would make me laugh out loud. And I did just that. It became common place for me to just burst into laughter at least once a day. My colleagues got used to it. Since I’ve been here for two years, I’ve had to listen to Tragic explode with laughter constantly. I never know what it’s from – because I never ask – but whatever it is, she gets it at least twice a day. Once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
· There’s the ice in the parking lot scenario. No need to rehash that. (Btw, she did come to work the next day.)

· When I first met Tragic, she told me about how she was going through a break up a while back and had to come to work. She spent most of the day crying at the office. She wound up bursting in tears while she was making a work-related call. She said something like ‘make him come back,’ to the client. *sigh * I though that was the most pathetic thing I ever heard. Until last year. I was going through a breakup that was much more emotional than I thought. It caused me to cry myself to sleep the night before and come to work with dry, red eyes and a headache. I cried several times at work, but I was able to limit all my tears to the bathroom stall. During one of my races to the bathroom, I nearly collided with Tragic. Seemed like poetic justice.

That about sums it up. There are a few more instances where Tragic and I seem too much alike for words, but would that would take up too much time to jot down. I wonder what it means to meet your inner twin and find out she drives you insane. What does that say about my opinion of myself? And if Tragic drives me so crazy, I wonder how much my antics affect my friends and family. Ah well. They should be used to it by now.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Things That Make Me Cuss

One of my resolutions for 2006 was to stop cursing. That’s not working out too well. Here’s why:

· My ordinarily smooth commute to work is filled with bumper-to-bumper traffic. I consider calling my supervisor to tell him I’m going to be late, but I decide against it. One of the head honchos has an outside relationship with a transportation group and whenever somebody complains about traffic, we’re required to get some stats, write up a tedious report and give it to him. Eff that Sugar Honey Iced Tea. So I keep driving, taking my chances on the road.

· After an agonizing 40 minutes on the highway, traffic starts to clear. I see a cop car and wonder what the holdup is. All I see is two men standing on the side of the road, talking to a state trooper with their hands in their pockets. No human roadkill. No blood. No carnage. This was caused by a bunch of gawkers who want to make my life a living hell. Darn the futher muckers.

· I get to work and nobody notices how late I am, nor have they heard about the backup. This could be a good thing and a bad thing. I log onto my computer, only to learn that another supervisor has all kinds of questions on a report I submitted the previous day. *Groan *

· I spend my lunch break studying at the library, only to return to our snowy parking lot exhausted. After I park my car, I search the ground for a patch of ice. All I needed to do was take a small tumble, then Ooops! I’m hurt. I have to leave work early, and possibly call in sick tomorrow. Sadly, no ice could be found.

· I’m sitting at my desk when I notice a colleague, Tragic Sneeze (more on that nickname later) limp past me. I ask her what’s wrong and she says she slipped on some ice in the parking lot. While my colleagues are offering her aspirin and advice, I give her a look that clearly says ‘Shut the fudge up.’ She doesn’t say anything when I say I didn’t see any ice and she’s vague when I ask her where it was and to describe the fall. The lying heifer stole my scam. My phone rings and I have to return to my cubicle.

· I’m reminded that it’s Valentine’s Day by two different men. One, a former coworker who demands to know why I don’t have a date today (Answer: I have to study and I have no life) and the other, my First Love who emails me out of the blue to wish me a happy V-Day. My feelings fluctuate from annoyance at the former, who acts like it’s so easy to get a date, to fear toward the latter…. How the heck did he find me? A coworker offers me some of her Hershey’s Kisses and I thank her. She says you’re welcome and mispronounces my name. Wench. I’ve been sitting across from her for nearly a year and she still can’t say my name? I imagine myself throwing the chocolate at her and screaming, ‘I’m Strength/Courage/Wisdom, B****!!!’ I start to chuckle and my coworkers look at me like I’m crazy.

· It’s the end of the day….FINALLY. I had to watch Tragic hop to and from the bathroom repeatedly, in her effort to get attention. Then she sits at her desk with her leg propped up on another chair. 'I’ve gotta keep it elevated,’ she says innocently. She promises my supervisor that she’ll be in tomorrow as she hops out the door. I wait a few minutes for her to leave the building, then I grab my stuff and head off after her. I’m willing to bet I can catch her doing a Kaiser Soze move in the parking lot. When I get outside, she’s nowhere to be found. I realize she could be in the bathroom, so I walk slowly through the parking lot so I can surprise her .. and maybe I’ll find this mysterious sheet of ice. Five, ten minutes go by and no Tragic. I conclude that she must have ran out of the building and sped away, because she knew I was on her tail. But that’s alright. Tomorrow’s another day. If she calls out, I will expose her little plan. Punks step up to get beat down.

Monday, February 13, 2006

My 2005 Song

Your 2005 Song Is
Since'>http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=CkIfgYlVpZA&offerid=99176.462951996&type=10&subid=">Since You've Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson
"But since you've been goneI can breathe for the first timeI'm so moving on"
In 2005, you moved on.
What Hit Song of 2005 Are You?

Learning to study ... the hard way

In addition to being the lone black woman at my job, I’m also pursuing a master’s in English at a local university. I’m taking one class this semester in linguistics. The subject is interesting and the professor seems to be very knowledgeable about the topic. The problem is, we have a quiz this week and I’m freaking out.
This is my first year in graduate school and I haven’t had to study for an exam in several years. I never really had to study that much in undergrad either, since I have a pretty good memory. I probably could’ve made the dean’s list each semester if I only tried harder, but that’s another story.
The problem with me now is learning to study. There was about a foot of snow in my neighborhood the other day, but I dug my car out and went to Barnes & Noble to study. I knew if I stayed inside, the TV, the phone, or my cat would distract me from the task at hand. I was proud of myself for making such a mature decision. Seems like things couldn’t go wrong, huh? Guess again.
B&N was practically abandoned because everyone is avoiding the snowfall. I ordered a chai tea and I had no trouble finding a table. I saw a woman nearby, sharing a seat with a man. I could only see the back of his head and I couldn’t hear anything he’s saying, but whatever it was, it must have been the funniest thing in the world. Every other second, this chick laughed like a banshee. I mean, you would’ve thought he had her pinned to the ground and was tickling her she was laughing so hard. I tried to immerse myself in the world of labials and bilaterals, but ol’ girl’s guffaws are a bit much for me. I considered going to their table to warn her against ‘jumping the couch,’ but I couldn’t work up the nerve. So I grabbed my things and went to the next table.
This time, I’m seated far enough away from the hyena that I could get some serious work done. I had my notecards written up and I was highlighting away. Next thing I know, the sound of a person on a cellphone interrupts my studious thoughts. I look up and there’s this blonde girl practically screaming into her cellphone about some other girl who doesn’t like her. Great. Just when I thought Blondie was leaving, she dropped her things on the table in front of me and sits down. Double great. Are people allowed to talk on cell phones in bookstores? Or are those rules limited to the library? I dunno. Finally, she hung up the phone. *Whew!* Next thing I know, I heard the most frightening sound coming out of nowhere. The noise is similar to the one my cat makes when I accidentally step on his tail. I looked to the right and groan. It’s Blondie again. This time, she was blasting her iPod. *Grr* I move again.
My third location gave me the chance to finish my tea in peace. I nearly finished reading my chapter when I was confronted with a sight that I should be used to in my neighborhood this time of year: Man In Shorts. Yep, shorts. Now I was wearing longjohns underneath my clothes, my coat, hat and gloves and I was still cold in these elements. Not Man In Shorts. He thrived on the cold without worries of pneumonia or the flu. Whenever I see him or one of his followers, I’m tempted to do my imitation of Nancy Kerrigan and screech, "WHY???!!!" But I’m too polite for such shenanigans. So I just moved to the next table so that my back faced Man In Shorts.
I was about to dig back into the books when I realize my stomach is rumbling. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. I tossed my books inside my bag and wondered what I was going to eat for dinner. Then I remembered my aunt, Pixie. If I just went to her house for a visit, she’d surely feed me. She always did. I called her up and she cleared me to come on by. As soon as I walked in the door, I was greeted with a plate of spaghetti. *Sigh * That’s what’s family’s for, I tell ya.
The linguistics exam is in two days. I’ve been able to study, despite my distractions. I can’t help but hope and pray that it snows on Wednesday and class is canceled. Since the chances of that are slim, I guess I’d better get back to the books.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Slow & Steady, that's me

Slow and Steady
Your friends see you as painstaking and fussy.
They see you as very cautious, extremely careful, a slow and steady plodder.
It'd really surprise them if you ever did something impulsively or on the spur of the moment.
They expect you to examine everything carefully from every angle and then usually decide against it.
How Do People See You?

Friday, February 10, 2006

'Something New'

I really enjoyed 'Something New'. I saw it last week with a bunch of female friends and we all liked the movie. Before I went, I had an interesting conversation with a colleague. I'll call him Trevor. It's a three part conversation, so bear with me.
Pt. I.
Trevor: Strength/Courage/Wisdom, what are you doing this weekend?
Me: Not much. I'm going to the movies.
Trevor: Are you going to see 'Something New'?
Me: (laughs) Yes, I am.
Him: So am I. We should see it together, since we represent what the movie is about.
Me: True. Or maybe you could join me and my group in seeing the movie. That way, you'll have a bunch of black women to choose from.
Him: Right. We should definitely talk after the movie. I'm sure I'll have questions.
Me: I may have questions too.
Him: But I may have more questions.
Me: True.
Pt. II.
(The week after I saw the movie)
Him: So what'd you think?
Me: I really liked the movie. I thought it was very well done.
Him: So it talked about racial harmony and how we shouldn't judge each other by race.
Me: Yep.
Him: You don't have a problem with interracial dating do you?
Me: No. If it wasn't for interracial dating, you wouldn't be here. (Side note: This guy is very ethnic looking, dark skin, curly hair. He says no one else in his family looks like him. I think his mother took a lova that was a brotha, but I digress)
Him: I'm asking because I know alot of black women don't like interracial dating.
Me: I know.
Him: Alot of black women get mad when they see black men with white women.
Me: (silence)
Him: You're not one of those, are you?
Me: Ask me another time.
Him: (laughs) You mean when they're aren't a bunch of white people around?
Me: Exactly!

Pt. III.
Trevor: So I saw the movie.
Me: So what'd you think.
Him: I thought it was well done. But it depressed me.
Me: Why?
Him: Because it seems like there were so many barriers, so many unspoken rules ...
Me: Like the black tax stuff? And the part about the hair?
Him: (nods)
Me: Well, I can tell you one thing, we are very sensitive about our hair. That subject is best avoided by a white boyfriend.
Him: Yeah, so I saw.
(conversation shifted from then on, started talking about men on the DL, which is another post for another day)

Truth is, I'm a hypocrite. I don't have a major problem seeing black women with white men, but I can't say the same when the situation is reversed. Maybe it's because I grew up in a neighborhood where all the black boys preferred the white girls. Throughout high school, I had a crush on a boy who thought of me as his good friend, while he lusted after every white girl around. It was painful. I remain friends with Crush -- who attended an HBCU no doubt -- and try to be supportive of his relationship with a white woman. I doubt I'll ever work up the nerve to ask him why he prefers these Mary Janes, but I already know how he'd react. He'd look at me like I was crazy and tell me it was no big deal. Then he'd go on about how I was an Angry Black Woman and I needed to just let it go. Well, I'm trying. Slowly but surely, I'll get past my animosity. And who knows, maybe in 2006 I'll be trying Something New.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

An Introduction

One of my friends suggested I do a blog after getting tired of reading one of many of my emails about my family, friends, work, etc. So I'm taking her advice and here I am. Of course, now that I've finally found a domain name that hasn't been chosen and picked a template, I can't remember any of the things that I wanted to say in my first post. Ah well. I'm sure it will come to me to use for a future date.

In the meantime, I'm totally appalled at this. Meet somebody online and then getting killed? Terrible! But I don't think the Web is to blame for these crimes. I think it's about as safe to date a guy that you've met online as it is to date someone you meet in a bar. I mean, would he not have killed her if spotted her at church, or the supermarket even? Probably so. True, the Web allows people to hide behind their computers and pretend to be people they're not, but that happens in real life as well. I've met guys in person who have told me things about themselves and their personalities ... only to find out that they were lying.

The dating world is rough. When I had a boyfriend, all I wanted was to be single. And now that I'm single, all I want is to be married and tucked away in the suburbs with a couple of kids. I graduated from college seven years ago and moved to a city in the Midwest where I didn't know a soul. I was shocked when a relative suggested that I should leave my date's vitals (name, address, phone number, etc) around my apartment before going out, so the police would know who to suspect if I was brutally murdered. *sigh* Needless to say, it's a policy that I follow to this day.... whether I've met the person online or not. You can never be too careful.