WE ARE: 5 women navigating our twenties in search of peace, happiness and love (or not). WE WRITE: about everything and nothing. From the insane to the mundane- you will find different paths taken, lessons learned and lives lived. WE THINK: you’ll enjoy it...Warning: Consumption of these views may leave you enlightened while intoxicated.


The View From Here will conclude on Friday, October 1, our third year anniversary. We would like to spend this month thanking all of our readers, followers, haters, visitors, family, friends, and fans for your continued support, encouragement, and comments over these past few years. Thanks y'all!
-The Five Spot

Monday, December 31, 2007

Quite Frankly: Ode to The Game - Part I

Hail to the Redskins!!!! Hail Victory!!!!

Big ups to the Skins for beating them stankin Cowboys and for making the playoffs. This has definitely been a stormy season for my hometeam and I'm glad they were able to pull it together over the past couple of weeks.

What do you call a sports lovin-beer drinkin while game watchin-tailgatin and game day grillin-can also play Madden woman? Dark & Stormy. Lol… Yup. I fit that description to a T. Imagine a female version of Steven A. Smith, though cuter and much shorter. That’s me! Any sport can hold my attention but my faves are definitely basketball and football (college & pros). Besides a couple of years’ of soccer in elementary school, my brief history of playing sports consisted of playing pick-up basketball with the neighborhood kids at the local courts. Also in high school, I would play touch football with the fellas from ‘round the way every Thanksgiving morning. Well it was supposed to be touch, but it was more like ‘shove football’. I’ve never been a big chick (usually one of the smallest in the bunch) but the abilities to catch well and run fast make me a decent receiver. I played safety also.

** Shot out to the late Sean “Meast” Taylor **

My love affair with football began circa 1990, when I fell in love with Gary Clark. Clark was a wide receiver for the Skins 1985-1992. He wore number 84 and was fine as could be. At least in my opinion anyway… I tried to share the oasis of sexiness with y'all but blogger.com ain't workin with a sista today. So click here.

Mmm hmm... Anywho, Clark along with fellow Skins receivers Art Monk and Ricky Sanders made up The Posse. This was back when the Skins used to do the damn thang, back when they won conference championships and Super Bowls… aahh those were the days. Now I didn’t know much about the game but Gary helped get the fire within me started. I started paying more attention to any sports talk that went on around me. I found it exciting the way that just the mention of a player or a game could light up an entire room of people.

I'll never forget when Darryl Green visited my junior high school. Green was one of the best cornerbacks to ever play (IMO) who spent his entire 20 year career with the Skins. Not only was he a great player, but a dynamic speaker. I think he came to the school to speak about community service because he has dedicated his life off the field to serving those in need.

Now growing up in a household sans men and with a woman who could care less about Monday Night Football presents a challenge to a young lady who has questions like what is play action and why do they keep throwing flags on the ground. I was definitely clueless on the role of a linebacker and had never heard of positions like tight end and fullback. There were uncles, cousins, family friends in my life who I could ask but have you ever tried asking a man questions about a game while he was watching it? What was I supposed to do- write them all down and ask when the game was over? And because I was a girl, nobody was trying to take me to games and toss the ball around with me like they did with the boys. I will further explore sexism & sports in a subsequent post.

So I learned on my own. Watched lots and lots of games, listened to the commentators on the TV and radio, read the sports section of the newspaper. And rooted for my Skins every Sunday :) As much as I hate seeing grown folks play video games, interactive ones like Madden helped me understand the inner workings of the game. I became able to anticipate plays based on how players lined up on the field or what penalty a ref would call and how many yards the penalty would cost the offending team. I earned rights to join the conversation at the watercooler on Monday mornings 'cause I started taking the fellas' money in the office betting pools (you do not want to see me come March Madness).

And though there are many female fans like myself, we still seem to be a minority. I only have a couple of girlfriends with whom I can discuss the game. When I say discuss, I mean they can tell me what I missed when I went to get a beer out the kitchen. In football terms, not "oh he threw the ball but the other one couldn't catch it. I would love for my homegirls to sit in FedEx Field with me, shouting DE-FENSE and getting drunk to stay warm. But they don't love the game enough to pay $150 for a ticket (I've seen them drop twice as much on pair of shoes but we ain't goin there today).

Yesterday, one of my friends came and watched the game with me. Now I was shocked she wanted to come 'cause she's definitely not a huge fan but that's my girl so it was cool. Well after almost every play, she'd be like "why did they blow the whistle? or "why do they start the ball at that line?" I was like I knew I should've left your a**. Lol... But I was patient. Because that was me at one time. And I'm happy to pass along all the good stuff I've learned thus far.

Most important- I'm always recruiting new fans :)

I wish you all a Happy New Year. May the new year bring you much peace and prosperity. Please be safe out there tonight.

Tumultuously Yours,

Dark & Stormy

Friday, December 28, 2007

Doin' Me

So there is a song out on the radio by someone named Rocko (yeah not really sure who he is) titled Imma do me. Well actually when I googled the song (because I am getting old and out of touch), I found out that it was titled: Umma do me. Lawd! Please save the babies...

So the chorus to the song is as follows: you just do you and Imma do me…Never mind that the rest of the song is filled with the usual boasting and braggadocio of having money, platinum and other things us regular folk can never have… let’s just focus on: you just do you and Imma do me. Not too profound is it?

Well I am reading renowned theologian Howard Thurman’s book The Search for Common Ground and he writes: I have always wanted to be me without making it difficult for you to be you. Profound and insightful is it not? And dare I say the complex, philosophical version of: you just do you and Imma do me…And if I may add, way easier said than done...

When I first read Thurman’s line it gave me pause because I thought about how difficult it is to let someone be who they are or who they want to be without bringing all your own shit to their table. Parents place extraordinary expectations onto their children, friends have unrealistic demands of friends, spouses project their uncertainties onto spouses, etc, etc. At one point or another we have felt the need to tell somebody about themselves, about how they were living, about what they need to do: go back to school, leave that man alone, take that job, don’t take a risk and move to a different city… And if we haven’t said it to their faces, we’ve thought about it or gossiped with our other friends about it. We have brought our own fears and trepidation about our lives into someone else’s life and tried to stop them from being who they are and who they want to be.

Recently, a friend and I had tête à tête. I told her all about herself and what I thought about a certain situation she had been in, not in a mean way per se, but in a matter of fact, I think I’m being helpful and being a friend kinda way…And she retorted by telling me all about herself, her real self...Who she was at the time and who she is now. What she believed then and how she has grown from that situation. She revealed parts of psyche that I never knew (and I mean was I really entitled to knowing the inner workings of her mind) that left me like “oh is that what you been thinking all along? Well I ain't know all that…”

It was days after our exchange that I read Thurman’s line and I had one of those ‘doh’, I coulda had a V8 moments. I realized that I had brought how I would live my life into my friend’s life. And how many of y’all know that doesn’t work? I mean like ever. I had to really accept that just because we're friends, just because we share a lot of the same values, hopes and wants in life, doesn't mean that we approach situations the same way. I had put a brought a little too much of me into her life...

As 2008 approaches I have been thinking about ways that I want to improve, not resolutions that can be broken in a few weeks or a few months, but slight alterations or improvements that might take years of work to see results. And I have decided that I’m committed to doing me. I am ready to examine parts of me that may make it difficult for others to be themselves: my nosiness, my judgmental ways, my refusal to let some things go, my 'I know what's best for you' attitude... I’m committed to living my life and my life only, committed to emitting my inner fabulousness for all the world to enjoy, committed to being the best daughter, sister, niece, friend that I can be without purposefully encroaching on the lives of others.

Now this isn’t to say that I won’t provide sage advice to those who ask (tee hee, tee hee), but it does mean that I’m going to resist telling people (or spend a huge amount of time worrying about) what they need to do to get themselves together. As we get older, I see some friends growing up and getting themselves together, some remaining seemingly stagnant, some making decisions that I question and wonder how that’s going to work out later on, but I am really accepting that we all have our own path to take. And while we need all the support and encouragement as we walk down that road, when it's all said and done, no one can do it for us or make us do anything differently. So you just do you and Imma do me. For real this time.

That's my time y'all! Happy Rum Punch Friday! Wishing everyone a safe and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

conservative views in Black face

I don’t really consider myself a political junkie like bellini. I don’t even consider myself one who loves to talk about politics all that much. And when someone starts a conversation with so…are you into politics? I know whatever follows can't be good. especially when these words are spoken by a Black republican.

This past Saturday night, one of my homegirls from the hometown* was hosting a small Christmas party for a group of young black professionals about town. surprisingly everyone is pretty down to earth…except for this one dude, I shall call him Black Good Ole' Boy ("BGOB").

Picture it...black male, mid-twenties, new lawyer, suede blazer, loafers and a button up shirt. a chocolate covered good ole boy. no, seriously he talks in that folksy how ya'll doin? way. think matthew mcconaughey in a time to kill except way less down for the people.

So as a group of us are sitting around the dining room table enjoying our drinks, BGOB starts in….so who’s ya’ll’s favorite candidate?

crickets crickets...
the rest of us kinda look at each other and then finally this other dude, the Representative, takes the bait….oh obama’s my guy. I like him, I like what he stands for, and what he’s about. Cut to BGOB, he gives a smug little smile and says obama huh? well why do you like him? What about him do you like? What does he stand for?

Whoooa brah…we are not in the court room, the Representative is not on trial here. But the Representative sticks to his guns and goes head to head with BGOB, explaining quite well why he has put his support behind 'bama. I sit quietly not wanting to jump in but wanting to jump ya know.

So then BGOB spits out this little gem that I can't resist seeing as how I consider myself a defender of people's rights and all. all these democrats talking about universal healthcare with no real plan on how they will implement it. I can't get behind such half-cocked ideas. I don’t want anybody telling me what doctor I can and cannot go to, blah blah blah…

Whooooaaa brah….here you go with the exaggerations, you know good in hell well none of the democrats are calling for that kinda plan. And I say to him: They are starting the dialogue and saying hey…every person deserves healthcare no matter how much money they make. The democrats want to make healthcare affordable for all. I think everyone has the right to be healthy. None of the republicans are saying anything close to that….

And then BGOB hit me with the kicker…

BGOB: Well I wouldn’t say healthcare is a right per se. I mean just like everyone doesn’t have a right to an attorney... I don't want the government compelling me to give my services away for free...

Mint Julep: Uuuuuhhh yes they do, it's in the Constitution [dumb ass!]. Every criminal defendant no matter how much money they don’t have is entitled to a defense…. and you have an obligation to do pro bono work as a member of this profession... [black republican bastard!]

And we went back and forth some more with him saying stupid shit about doctors’ profit margins going down, doctors not being able to survive under a universal health plan (I later found out his stepdad is a doctor). everything he said made me throw up a little in my mouth until I finally excused myself to go get another drink.

BGOB is the reason I can’t get down with the black republicans. I mean i'm not super liberal by any means, in fact my views are a bit conservative on some issues but if you can come out yo mouth talkin bout people don't have a right to be healthy and you can't recall one of the fundamental rights deeply ingrained in our legal system, the right to competent legal representation, then something is terribly terribly wrong with ya. i mean really how does one get to be this way? has his little bit of privilege in upbringing, getting a professional degree and entering a profession heavily populated with old white conservative men so deeply polluted him, robbed him of his concious mind? republicans just lack the ability to feel for others, to understand the plight of others, to help others...
and that's just crazy to me.
*the hometown is in the South if ya didn't know.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

You got to have balls!

For the past few days I’ve been able to catch up on television. As a professional, my bedtime limit is supposed to be 10 p.m. so I can get to the office at a decent hour the following morning. All the good shows and the night news come on at 10 o’clock or later. . . Now I understand why one of my favorite professors swore by TiVo. So, with no new programming coming on this week all my favorite shows are on instant rerun status and that’s fine with me -- I can play catch up. So, the other day I watch E! News and they discuss memorable moments for 2007. Imus and the Richards guy come up and they have Roseanne Barr give her 2 cents and she says “It takes balls to go after people with more money than you, that’s what I do.” Ha! Well, go on Roseanne– ‘cuz Bellini is totally feeling you.

Roseanne’s quote then led me to ponder whether the blogosphere is justified in going after celebrities. Just because they make more money and operate in the public sphere – should celebrities be game? I know you guys are aware of the cybertiff going on between some celebrities and bloggers of color – check December ’07 Essence for a recap. If we apply Roseanne’s logic the bloggers are justified for going after the celebrities. Does it make a difference if the bloggers and celebrities all happen to be black women? – the cattiness of women “meow”!

The rumormill has the women linked to various men all within the same week, impregnated, etc. . . Now, it appears the bloggers feel they are doing the woman a service by suspending their name and image on the minds and tongues of the people. But I’m not sure if the Hollywood adage rings true “all press is good press” – is it? I mean look at Britney she could use a few months without being mentioned in the press – no lip service at all.

Could it be argued that black bloggers are leveling the playing field for black celebrities? Then again, just because white Hollywood has relegated black actors and actresses to the “other” category, does this mean that black folks must feel compelled to operate in the paradigm that the mainstream has established? Couldn’t we operate in a different fashion, so that it’s not the typical Hollywood business as usual?

Food for thought?



Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Saying it Loud, I'm a BLACK and I'm Proud!

For the entire month of December my beliefs have been challenged. At the office potluck and during my strolls in the mall my sensibilities have been assaulted forcing me to reach and pull out my BLACK card. A card carrying member since I learned to reason, I am proud to be a Black Lady Against Christmas Knits. I believe wool should never be used to weave Christmas sweaters. Being a BLACK gives me the authority to let folks know they are wrong! Oh these weapons of fashion destruction...who da hell thinks Christmas sweaters are nice?

If you got,
gave or are currently wearing anything that looks like these you are contributing to the naughty things of Christmas.

You should also know that this naughty category includes fruitcakes, the terms Xmas and Holiday Tree and the other general removal of Christ from Christmas...

Excuse me while I segue into a brief sermonette: But whether you believe in him or not, JESUS is the REASON for this SEASON.

Remember that while you partake in the nice things about Christmas today. Be it time spent with family. Or with friends who've adopted and loved you like family. The gifts given and gotten. That big 'ole spread on the dinner table. Or however you choose to celebrate. And I think most of ya'll would agree that one of the nicest things about Christmas is the music!

Give me my Handel's The Messiah, O Holy Night, What Child is This or even Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer and I start to feel more in the Christmas spirit. And I am so sorry
Elliot, Joe and newbee Chris, but the truth is that Donny sang, one of my favorites best! Only Mr. Hathaway has gotten my 79 year old grandma-who believes that feet should only move for walking, running and doing the work of the Lawd-to dance against her religion!

Enjoy This Christmas Ya'll!


See You in the New Year

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry CHRISTmas

Santa baby, slip a sable under the tree,
For me.
I've been an awful good girl,
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight.
- Santa Baby, Eartha Kitt
It's that most wonderful time of the year. Trees and houses decorated with twinkling lights, red bows, and holly. Mall parking lots jam packed with angry drivers cursing and beeping. School Christmas pageants and Hallmark movies made for TV. Honey baked hams and spiked egg nog that will be the catalyst for an argument between Uncle Ray and Cousin Mike (well maybe that's just Christmas with my family).
And the star of the show: Santa.
What? You thought I was gonna say Jesus? Ha! It's not PC to mention Jesus or any other religious component of the holiday. Even if the reason for the season is the birth of Christ. If folks actually celebrated that, then who would pay $500 for a Nintendo Wii because every store is sold out and they're willing to pay double the amount just to make little Timmy happy on Christmas morning? Who would stand in line for hours out front of the Apple Store to get the newest nano for their ungrateful teenager who barely even speaks to them? Who would torture their toddler by forcing them to sit in Santa's lap for a cute photo op even though the baby is scared shitless, screaming at the top of its lungs?
Maybe my cynicism stems from my upbringing. I grew up being told the truth from jump. My mom was like "The Story of Santa is a lie. He does not exist." Some would say she robbed me of my childhood. As an adult, I disagree. I'm glad she was honest. Plus I've always asked too many questions... I probably would've picked the story apart at age 5.
As a kid, Christmas was my favorite holiday. Yes, even sans the myth of the jolly one. Every year, we would go out and pick a real Christmas tree. I always liked the tall 7 footers. My grandma would come to visit and stay for about a week. She would bring her own pots and pans and take over my mom's kitchen. We would decorate the tree while singing carols with all our might. Grandma and I would make cookies on Christmas Eve. That evening, Grandma would set aside a plate of cookies & a glass of milk for Santa. My mom would go "ain't nobody gonna eat them cookies but Dark & Stormy." Grandma would be UPSET! She would tell me Santa is real and scold my mother for saying otherwise in my company.
At first I would ask questions like how does Santa know what I want since I never sent him a damn letter. And how will he get in the crib when we live in an apartment. And I know he and the elves can't make an Atari game system by hand. But afterwhile, I started playing along because it made Grandma happy and I enjoyed watching her smiling with joy in her eyes knowing I was the cause. I always knew that my mom hid the gifts in her bedroom closet. But I wouldn't peek because I preferred being surprised on Christmas day.
Once I grew up, moms better explained her reasoning for not lying to me about Santa. She said she'll never forget how she felt when she found out Santa wasn't real. Sure she wasn't scarred for life, but she felt so betrayed by her parents and family. Moms also said she'd be damned if some random a** white man took the credit for the gifts that she purchased with her hard earned money. I think her exact words were something like "they stole enough from us already."
And the most important reason being that she felt I deserved the truth.
Now that's just Dark & Stormy's interpretation of the sitchyation... I will say that I miss the days of hearing 'Away in a Manger' and 'We Three Kings'. When Christmas wasn't complete without the airing of "The Little Drummer Boy." When people didn't get into fist fights over the last talking toy on the shelf. My mom and I both had the privilege of knowing Christmas as the birth of Jesus with a little Santa sprinkled on top. But nowadays the little youngins are like Christ who? That's all good it you're not of Christian faith. But don't celebrate the holiday without celebrating the holiday. Stop fakin. CHRISTmas is its name.
So, do you tell your kids about Santa? When did you find out Santa wasn't real? Would you tell your kids the same or raise them differently?
I do wish all of you a wonderful holiday season. Feliz Navidad, Habari Gani, Happy Hanukkah, and Ho Ho Ho!
Tumultuously Yours,
Dark & Stormy

Friday, December 21, 2007

He's In Love With a Stripper?

"Somebody has to entertain the married men of America."
-Chris Rock

So I watched an episode of Shonda Rhimes’ new show Private Practice. Here's the story in a nutshell: Taye Diggs who is recently divorced from the angry Black woman (but they still co-own their practice) is sent a stripper by a colleague. You know, to cheer him up or to get his mind off the fact that he’s divorced. Even though every time he goes to work, he has a constant reminder…But I digress… So, the stripper shows up at his house and begins her little dance and Taye notices a rash on her ass. Cut to the stripper at the medical facility getting treated by another male doctor, that guy from Wings. Cut to all of the women at the practice being jealous and seriously insercure that there is a stripper in their midst. They seemed to have forgotten that they were intelligent, professional and equally attractive women. The show ends with angry Black ex-wife yelling at Taye about how his next woman can’t be a stripper. As if.

So this show got me thinking about women vs. strippers. As a former gentleman’s club* employee (and by employee, I mean waitress and by waitress I mean someone who served drinks and food on occasion), I know my skrippers. And I think that women could stand to learn a few things them and about strip clubs aka the Underworld. So here’s a short list:

1. First off, very few strippers are thinking about your man. They are instead thinking about those dollars. Instead of being worried that your man is at a strip club, looking & flirting with and being "tempted" by other women, you should be worried about how he can spend hundreds of dollars on drinks and random women. I have seen married men spend close to a thousand dollars and wondered, “do they have some secret strip club fund that they put money into? Cause if I’m going through the bills and I see that mess on our VISA bill, ain’t no way…” But again, I digress…

2. Now, here’s a little secret about men. Are you ready? Come close. Men are insecure. Tell us something we don’t know, Rum Punch. When men are together they are even more insecure and they are nasty. But their nastiness is a story for another day. Anyway. Men love to one up each other, show off. And strippers know this. And they exploit this.

Please tell me why a man will not buy a woman a drink at the club (who he may have a chance with) but will buy the stripper numerous drinks (who he has practically no chance with). It’s because in the club women come off holier than thou, like don't even waste your time trying to get this juicy stuff, be on some: 'I am worth more than a $10 goose and cran so don't be thinkin the panties will be tumbling down...all you did was buy me one drink and now you think that means I hafta talk to your ass...and now you wanna dance with me just cause you bought me a drink...' which is noble, by all means do you…but your ass might be thirsty the whole night.

Now, strippers don’t come off as whores per se but they do sell the fantasy, yes the fantasy, the idea that maybe if the man works really hard, (by using his money) he could have their juicy stuff. They boost a man’s ego, they caress his hand, stare him in the eye, they listen. Well they might not really be listening, they might be doing algebra equations in their head, figuring out how much money they can sweet talk him out of, but they give the illusion of listening. And yes ladies, men have issues and they want us to listen. Shoot, even as a waitress, I “listened” to more personal stories than I care to remember which eventually led to a loyal customer and a good tip.

3. Now this one can be hard for us ladies to wrap our minds around but very few men care about a woman’s flaws. Well, unless they’re crazy visible. I gotta tell you that there were quite a few strippers in the over 35 category who were wrinkling and getting cellulite. And they still made money. Never mind that some of these men's wives were probably the same age and had similar aging issues...In the strip club those things seem to go unnoticed by men...

Oh, but when women come into the strip club we are looking hard at each dancer, critiquing everything, her face-she ain’t that cute, her body- look at those stretch marks and that c-section scar, the way she walks, her messed up weave, questioning why she is all greased down shinin' like she bathed in Vaseline and baby oil. Men don’t care about that mess. If she is naked, looks decent that way and can shake her ass especially real fast, then that is all that matters. They have gotten their money’s worth. So this means that men don’t care about how you look naked. They just want to see you naked. Think about it, marinate on it and then embrace that back fat! Now, I’m not saying show your back fat to everyone…Just that when you meet the person you think is worthy, don’t let insecurity take control…

4. Lastly, men know that strippers are not that bright. They do not come in expecting to have discussions about Iraq and the 2008 elections. And they love a woman who can hold an actual conversation, so in the real world, of stripper vs. woman, the “woman” would win most of the time. I say most, because there are some shallow guys out there.

The strip club is a fantasy world, a break from reality. Men are loved and adored by women (yes, they’re paying for it, but they seem to forget that important detail). For a few hours, they don’t have to hear about the mortgage, the kids, the job, or get yelled at for not picking up their draws off the floor. They can just be. Strippers serve their purpose, they do their job and they do it well.

Now I’m not saying give your man a free pass to the strip club (because a strip club regular is not a good look and becomes an easy mark) but maybe you and your man can visit the strip club together and spice things up a little bit. But please don’t go in there hating on the girls. Because a stripper will cut a bitch. I know you’ve seen Player’s Club…

That’s my time y’all! Happy Rum Punch Friday! Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday!

*These are my observations of men who patron “real” strip clubs that have signs out front and a liquor license. If your man is a regular at the hole in the wall strip club, where it’s B.Y.O.B., and any woman can come in and give $5 lap dances for the night so she can make her rent money…y’all have issues and you may need to seek counseling.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

when planning a trip with friends goes horribly wrong...

I always end up being friends with people who make me go hmmmm why am I friends with you again? Cause see a lot of extra people tend to befriend me. Extra boughetto, extra crazy bout splitting the food bill, extra dramafull to the top and over flowing, extra self centered so that it's always all about them when nobody wasn't even thinkin bout yo ass. I mean I am a friendly person-kinda. Inside I may be thinking grrr go away leave me alone I don't want to be bothered but i guess it's this baby face all round and young looking these huge welcoming eyes that just draw people in like oh let me be her friend. The problem is that I'm so easy-going and laid back. I usually let others take the lead not because I can't lead but more because I usually dont care, could give a f' either way. Unless it's about spending my money..

So me and some friends are supposed to be going on a little trippy trip in a few months. And these friends fit in the extra sometimes want to ball outta control when they travel category. But one friend got us the opportunity to buy tickets for this event and being as I loves a weekend trip to just about anywhere I was like sure. However, I had to invite my girl rum punch cause she's like my sista from another mother and we are >< on a lot of things. If I call/text/email her and say homie do you want to go... she's down before I even finish that sentence. Gotta love easy-going down ass people. These are the variety of friends I should be cultivating. And I figured she could help equalize some of the extraness because I prolly wouldn't be going otherwise.

But it's always hectic when you're trying to plan the logistics around the schedules of a few working professionals, especially working professional black women. Who all have opinions. About travel. And where to stay. And how to book. And what hotel star class to book. And what name hotel to book. You see where I'm going with this. And generally I'm cool with such things cause usually I don't care unless somebody's tryin to make me spend more of my money i want to or than is necessary. So now we're having a difference of opinion basically about every detail of the trip because the friends want to the less cost conscious route (read: pay way too much for hotel) while me and rum, being the seasoned travelers that we are, don't want to take that road.

Cause really, this is only a weekend trip, granted to the other coast but dammit man let's not spend over $1000 on it. As my co-worker said when I relayed the situation to her, "that's a passport trip!" Exactly. And we still gotta get the event ticket (I said it was an opportunity hookup, not a free ticket hookup) + flight + car + multiple outfits + shopping money + eating money. Why would I spend over $400 on the hotel alone just so I can say I stayed at XYZ hotel. If we doin it right, we won't be spending that much time at the hotel anyway.

So this morning I woke up with my mind staid on....errr I woke up a bit hazily actually cause the office christmas party was last nigt and a sista got tore down on those pomegrante martinis and I said to myself, mint julep, you a grown ass woman dog! Why is you letting these chics punk you? You not gon let him punk you, son. Why would you pay double or even $50 more per night for a hotel room when you found a less expensive one on your trusted discount website. Just cause they don't believe in the bargains, just cause they turn their noses up at the process booo to them. I'm booking my hotel.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

the state of music, vol i.

Can there only be 1 black person at a time per gender that can dance, sing, and entertain. . ?

give me a break. . . and then we wonder why nouveau artists don't get a fair chance to breakthrough in the music industry. Moreover, what about our legends. Say, what you want to say about Ms. Janet, but she is a legend. I mean who can bring a whole concept album like Rhythm Nation with the bold social commentary and the deftness of dance. Oh and by the way her eponymous album Janet -- classic. Yet, every female artist that can two-step beyond the electric slide is a bona fide dancer and is compared to "Pleasure Principle" Janet -- don't think so.

Ahhh. . . yes, I had to take it back.

It seems like every male artist that does a single with a high pitched voice is the next Prince -- don't insult his higness that way.

First of all, can you sing, dance, and write your own shit -- that then makes other artists want to sing your shit and it gives them a hit??? I mean I once had a conversation with my "40 is the new 30" club and we're discussin' Your Highness'. (oooohhh.... I'm bout to take it back) So, I ask them who's version of "Do Me Baby" did they prefer Prince or Meli'sa Morgan. Personally, I prefer Meli'sa -- it had the rawness necessary for a song of that content, but "40 is the new 30" were only feeling his Highness -- I think that's a generational thing.

Let's put things in context for a minute. The same time Prince was out so was Janet's brother -- Michael. How come 20 years ago we could have at least 2 male artists as dynamic and different as Prince and Michael Jackson, yet they both go on to stellar careers? Why, 'cuz the people let the artistry speak for itself. I mean there are dozens of talented artists that can't even crack Billboard's 100. I mean where is Res, Teedra Moses, Eric Roberson, Van Hunt, Donnie??? Where my bands at? Mint Condition -- I mean there must be something in the water of Minneapolis 'cuz plenty of musicians come out of that city. And there's a whole bunch more that I know you can add to the list.

2008, just bring the music back.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

That Good Hair Girl

When it comes to women there are a few rules all must follow.

Rule #1: Never ever ask a woman her weight. Unless you’re always guessing 95 pounds, whatever number you chose (even if you are dead on) will be too much.
Rule #2: Never ever ask a woman if she’s PMSing. If she isn’t, she just might start because of your stupidity! Besides, it’s not something that we can control anyway.
Rule #3: Never ever ask a woman her age. Except for Mr. Robert Kelly, who should always always ask!

But when it comes to Black women there are a whole extra set of golden rules that addresses our hair.
Rule #1: Don’t ever ask if it’s ours. Of course it is!
Rule #2: Don’t touch it! Hair touching is by invite only!
Rule #3: Don’t get it wet! Unless you want to see us turn into gremlins, keep the water away!

Our hair is a very big deal! There is a billion dollar industry devoted to making us hair happy. Whether relaxed, pressed or natural we are willing to spend a couple hours and dollars to get our hair done just right. And after our do is done, we are even willing to sacrifice comfortable sleep to ensure our style remains intact.

Somewhere in our childhoods we learned the difference between nappy hair and “good” hair. If your braids were long and laid flat you had good hair. If yours were short and sometimes one stood up in the air, well you didn’t have the good stuff. If your hair was shiny and silky thanks to a white great-great-grandfather or some Cherokee relative it was good. But if your hair wasn’t manageable or only shined with the help of blue magic hair grease, a hot comb and a brush, well no one was envious of what you had. And as little girls looking for validation of the beauty we saw in our mothers and grandmothers in the magazines we read or even in the mainstream we saw little to none. And it was hard not to believe that having good hair made you beautiful…

But thankfully times have changed, and so have our standards of beauty.

Currently I’m in pursuit of some good hair. But good hair for me is now something that is strong and healthy. For seven years I have been flirting with the decision to go natural. Second to the notion that my hair will be healthier for it, I’m really curious to see how I am going to look. This has been a very frustrating process ya’ll! And if I wasn’t a patient person before, this journey has made me even less patient!

Knowing that I couldn’t pull off a TWA I opted for braids during this period of growth. As the stylist tugged and pulled every strand of my hair with synthetic I realized that I was going to look totally different. And I began to get nervous because I wondered about my white co-workers reactions to my transformation. Sure I had had braids before, but I was in high school or at a job that wasn’t in a professional setting. The Senegalese Twists I opted for were a compete protest against the conformed Anglo office look and I worried if my actions would be viewed as rebellion. If these coworkers would wonder what happened to their good little Amaretto. And for an entire weekend I began to regret finally making a decision to go natural.

Well Black Woman hair rules 1 and 2 were violated that Monday. Oh, the questions! Lawd, there is such a thing as a stupid question. And I heard them all that Monday. They wanted to know who had done it, how long had it taken, did it hurt. Personal stories about seeing black women with braids on the street and them wondering about them were shared. It was like my hair decision had made it okay for them to ask me what they always wanted to know. Or share that they wish they could do that with their hair (insert eye roll here). The whole ordeal makes me wonder how they’ll react to the actual afro that’s growing beneath.

I forgot black woman hair Rule #4: Never ever criticize it! After all we’re sensitive about our sh*t!

Whether our hair is relaxed straight, laid in locks or a strong afro puff our hair is a crowning jewel many have refused to see as beautiful. And the new standard of beauty proves that we all got good hair.

See You in Seven

Monday, December 17, 2007

Introducing a Possible...Bahama Mama

Editor's Note: as the name suggests, this blog features the views of 5 very different women and the possible -- meaning from time to time we will feature other writers beyond the 5 in the mix. Today we debut our first possible, Bahama Mama. Hope you enjoy!

Bahama Mama: Chilled and sweet with just enough hidden intoxication to keep you on your toes. A mother of two who is following the unorthodox map of a quarter life crisis. Grasping at life with the eager hands of a child and forging a path to build strength, character and knowledge to pass onto her children. For it is not expendable riches that keep generations wealthy, but indispensable wisdom that allows us conquer all of life's pitfalls.

My favorite Christmas movie is A Christmas Carol. Okay, it is actually the story of Ebenezer Scrooge that is my favorite. It doesn’t matter how the story is being brought to me, whether it’s an adaptation of the Charles Dickens original, the eighties flick starring James Belushi, or the animated version featuring none other than Mr. Fred Flintstone, I always enjoy the tale. This is my flick of choice because at the end I always think about the different stages in my life. If I had the opportunity to go back, like Ebenezer, I wonder what goals, passions and dreams I would cling to.

I know that if I looked back on my life as a child, one of my goals would not have been to be a single mother of two, in her mid-twenties with so many questions to life unanswered. I ran this by my therapist ( and yes I am a black woman who goes to counseling!), and she logically told me “your twenties are a time when you’re finding out what to do. You’re finding yourself.” I laughed a bit derisively, ‘cause clearly this woman didn’t know the stress that I was going through. I didn’t have time to find myself. Between the drama with their father, working and meeting the needs of my daughters who are a day shy of being a year apart, my mind could not fathom the thought that I even had the right to find out who I was. Because it is the thoughts of many Americans that by the time we have children, we should “know ourselves” or “have it together”.

It wasn’t the pain of childbirth, or the sleepless nights that followed which had me looking around and thinking “what the hell?” It was the shock that set in after I began to comprehend that I was too busy for me. I was so lost in being a mom, a girlfriend, a daughter, and all the other labels I carried, that I started to fold under the pressure. But like many black women before me, my back was bent, but not broken. My spirit was ailing and in need of some serious medicine. So, I stopped and thought about me. As moms we tend to take care of everyone but self, but how can we love and nurture our children, when we don’t love and nurture ourselves? Its impossible ladies.

I began to think about all the things that I wanted before I had children. I thought about the hobbies that I liked to do, the people I liked to be around and I started to make time for me. It was hard, but I handed over some responsibility to their father (and we’ll talk about that later!), and did me. Heather Headley said it best “I need some me time”. It doesn’t matter what you do with those moments, which should never be stolen because you have a right to not cook dinner all the time, or to hand the kids over at bath time. Read a book, go to a movie, do anything that YOU want to do. And ladies (moms, wives, girlfriends, lovers) contrary to what some think, we all need that time to step back, look at our lives, and reassess the situation to make sure that we are happy. Though my life is no where near what I envisioned it to be at this time, I’m learning, growing and becoming a damn better person in the process.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I Choose You...To Be My Baby Mama

It's too many black women that can say they mothers
But can’t say that they wives

-Retrospect For Life, Common (pre-Kanye beats, pre-Erykah Badussy that had him in a trance, pre-crochet sweater vests…)

So I got a call a few weeks ago from an ex-boyfriend asking me to have his child. Yeah, you read that right. He wants me to have a baby with him. And please note that I said ex-boyfriend. His convincing reasons were as follows: we have a history together, we had a “good” relationship and he thinks I will be a great mother. I can’t argue with him on the last part. Oh vanity, thy name is Rum Punch. So he tells me that we should have a child, to which I thought:

Has it come to this? Did I miss a memo? Is this what’s hot in the streets? Let’s just go on ahead and make a baby? Ignore the fact that I have always envisioned myself as a wife first?Apparently it’s not just me, because a friend of mine told me that her boyfriend suggested that they forgo marriage vows and just have a baby. Her reply: “if you can commit to being a parent, then you can commit to being a husband.” Truer words, truer words…

What her boyfriend and my ex have in common is that they are knocking on 30's door (actually the ex turned 30 yesterday) and they are feeling old. But if memory serves me correctly, 30 is the new 20, so my ex has plenty of time to have kids. But maybe not in his mind, especially when he is surrounded by friends who have kids but not necessarily wives. Oh it’s hard out here for a Black man with no kids. He must feel like an outcast in his circle.

I told friends that the ex must be going through a mid life crisis. Their chorus of replies is that he’s only 30, so it can’t be…but when you take into account that the average Black man’s life expectancy is age 69, hmmm…he might be worrying about how many years he has left, about being the old dad on the playground, about leaving a legacy…And he might want to supplement his life with a child because that seems to be a lot easier and than having a wife and raising a family together.

So to see where is head is, I asked the ex, if he knows how much children cost. His response was, “no.” Well check this, and then holla at me when you’re contributing to a 401k plan and you have some money to put into a 529. Yeah, he told me that I was worrying about the wrong things. It seems like his approach (and other men out there) is: make baby, let chips fall where they may.

He seems cool with the making a baby part but detached from the raising and providing for a child part. He just wants a little mini-he, a child he can take around and show off, see when it’s convenient for him, instill lessons and values in him not necessarily on a daily basis through example but when he picks him up from baby mama’s house…he can have someone who looks like him and will carry on his name. Meanwhile I would be left with the heavy lifting of child rearing and its daily grind.

But y’all I have to admit, I almost fell into the ‘let’s just make a baby’ vortex. I read all these depressing statistics about the rise of unmarried Black women, I know my clock is starting to tick, I see cute babies being christened at my church and I get that twinge. But then I think: anyone can make a baby, that’s easy. What’s that you say, Rum Punch? I say making a baby is easy. Raising a child is hard but actually making a baby, oh that’s easy. I mean when you compare it to: meeting someone, getting to know that someone, trusting that person enough that you allow yourself to fall in love, standing before God & loved ones to commit your life with someone and then actually making a life with that person for better or for worse, through sickness and in health, well, you know the rest.

And here’s what’s not in the vows: mortgage payments, sick children, college tuition, the difficulty of aging, being faithful, making the decision to come home everyday and being accountable to someone else. That is hard. And it’s scary. But that's what I want. But unfortunately, as a generation that has had so much handed to us, a lot of us don’t want to work that hard. So now I am left with the request that I become someone’s baby mama because he trusts me enough to have his child but not enough to be his wife. And this is not ok. Well, not for me. Silly me for wanting to build a life with someone.

Mint Julep and I were lamenting that we wished someone had hipped us to the game. I wish a Black fairy godmother had appeared à la Miss One from The Wiz mixed with a little bippity boppty boo and said to me, “honey chile, you may wanna get out that 1950s time warp you living in and open your eyes. That fairytale life you wanted might not happen.” But as women, we keep holding on and pushing the dream. And I'm not ready to let go yet! My little cousin at four years old, said, “I’m a princess, and I’m going to marry a prince someday.” Yeah it was cute at the time and since I didn’t wanna bust her bubble at the tender age of four, all I could say was, “I heard that girl. When you find him, find out if he has an uncle for me. A Duke perhaps…”

That’s my time y’all! Happy Rum Punch Friday!

Author’s Note: On a lighter and somewhat related note (I did mention Miss One in the last paragraph), The Wiz is coming out on DVD! Who would y’all cast in a modern day version of the movie? My list is below! All-star cast!

Dorothy- Keke Palmer (from Akeelah and the Bee…someone told me she can sing…) or Raven Symone
Scarecrow- Chris Brown
Tin Man – Raheem Devaughn (Chocolate City Baby!)
Cowardly Lion – Reuben Studdard
Miss One – Jennifer Hudson
Evilene – Queen Latifah or Jill Scott
The Wiz – Jamie Foxx or Wayne Brady (he has that slick factor)
Glinda the Good Witch – The one and only Ms. Patti Labelle

Thursday, December 13, 2007

An Open Letter to Calvin Broadus

Dear Calvin,

I feel the need to call you by your gov’ment name cuz you seem to have lost yo gotdamn mind. Yesterday morning I was at the gym, on the treadmill, getting my run on and I like to bust my ass when your new video came on.

Damn. Damn. Damn. Calvin!

What were you thinking? I mean. Really. What were you thinking? What coulda possessed you to make such a horrid video? Now I had heard sensual seduction on the radio and although I wasn’t feelin it enough to upload it onto the ipod, I certainly didn’t hate it in the visceral way that I do now. This video just kilt it for me man. Kilt it.

Again I ask, what were you thinking? bout the only good thing bout it was that you can cut a rug like nobody's business, lookin like somebody daddy in the ol' people club doin the real two step But here's what I think you were up to...

You tryin to do it like my boy, Three Stacks…you know, Andre Benjamin aka Cupid Valentino aka Possum Aloysius Jenkins just in case you aint followin me.

But Calvin, Andre 3000 you are NOT!

Granted, back in 2003, some new initiants to the cult of Outkast were a lil put off by Hey Ya when it first came out. But I been setting sail with a nigga from ATL, southwest that is, it's that southern ces in yo chest that is for a while now. So I knew Dre was somethin’ special. And I knew he could not only pull off saingin and rappin but that he could do that shit so beautifully that folks would be talkin’ bout and tryin to imitate his swag for years to come.

So I guess I gotta take your horribly bad with his oh-so-wonderfully good. I mean, perhaps you thought all you’d have to do was throw in some sweet coochie references and that shit would be all good, we'd gobble it up like popeye's chicken and biscuits.

I thinks not.

He didn’t just throw on some clothes from the 60’s, press his hair out and make the shot look vintage. He had a story to tell, multiple characters, girls who weren’t half dressed, instrumentation, sex appeal, even cute lil kids dancin and most of all ACTUAL SAINGING TALENT! You have none of these.

So stop while you’re behind, way behind and go back to rapping. I love and appreciate you so much better when your verse starts with 1. 2. 3. and to da 4, snoop doggy dog and dr. dre is at da doo. I’d hate to have to X you off my list due to your current creative disaster.

I’ve included a visual aid below for your review. Watch a real genius at work.

humbly submitted,

mint julep

p.s. don’t ever let me catch you in a close up shot with that plastic pipe thingy hangin out the side of yo mouth ever again. it is not sexy. be like t-pain and get a skull head microphone or somethin. we don't want a visual of how you get your voice to sound like roger troutman.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Stuck in a rut, vol.1

So is having something better than nothing?

So, on Monday I was listening to Love, Lust, and Lies - Michael Baisden's afternoon show on urban radio and a discussion surfaced on Hurricane Katrina. Supposedly, the city will knock down some housing projects that are an incubator for crime, as far an ad-hoc or permanent housing plan for the displaced individuals that is unknown -- check out the Times-Picayune for more details. Now some folks feel like they shouldn't knock 'em down (let the status quo prevail) and some folks feel like the ghettoization of urban communities must die now (change is comin') and Katrina was the impetus needed for change. Bellini would be doing you a disservice if I didn't inform you that many NO resident's fear of a demolition stems from the city council's failure to secure housing for the displaced. Apparently, the New Orleans housing authority mismanaged funds which coerced the FEDs to take the agency over. The Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) wants mixed-income housing to replace four public housing communities. But for the residents of public housing the pitch about "mixed-income housing" is a code-word for forever displaced. Once you factor the emotional distress residents already endured with Katrina and now this. . . you can't help but understand their frustration. The aftermath of Katrina is played out in urban communities across the states, so I feel like you guys can relate no matter where you are. . .

So do we knock down a breeding ground for crime, violence, rape, etc. or do we acknowledge that a dilapidated building is home to many and we should allow the stucture to keep on keepin' on. . .???? ponder on that for a few minutes -- cu'z when I got to thinking I realized Bellini was stuck in a rut -- but not for long . . .

This is when my political background comes to good use. . . if city council had the gumption to propose a linkage policy (what is that you might ask-- a policy complemented with a guarantee clause that protects citizens against the perils of doing business on their behalf [i.e. a developer wants to build condominiums and demolish public housing, but claims they will build housing for the poor -- well city council fine the mess out of the developer per day that displaced are left without housing and use those monies to secure housing for the displaced]) but like I said it takes gumption. So, in the meantime what are we to do as we stay stuck in a rut?



Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Shut Up and Drive

Live long enough and you surely will see and hear almost anything. Just look around ya'll. Could you have imagined a music player, a computer and a phone as one device? Who could have possibly foreseen that crossbreeding an apple and a grape would birth the decadent grapple? There are so many mergers and synergies it should no longer shock and surprise when unions are formed between things that weren't naturally meant to go together...

...But nothing prepared me for the Karaoke cabbie I hired on Friday night. I was just trying to get home ya'll! But as he missed my exit he must have realized that now he had a captive audience...

"Do you Karaoke?" But before I could say "Whaaaat?" and tilt my head to the side in confusion-

This dude had his portable Karaoke monitor mounted beneath the ever increasing meter. Mic in hand. Music playing. And he was siiiiiiiiiiing
"Lady In Red". And damnit if I didn't have a red dress on-but he chose the song, he explained, because he "love, love song" so it was a pure coincidence. Too bad he SUCKED! And no, I'm sorry, but cabbies should be watching the road- especially when its raining-or maybe asking me how my night went. Not sharing a passion for empty orchestras with strangers. Where was his shame? Where was his embarrassment?

I mean really, what the world needs now is shame and embarrassment! The "Do You" and "Keeping It Real" umbrellas can only cover so much. Haven't you noticed this epidemic spreading? Folks just popping off and being loud-I guess to prove their point-even though they are clearly wrong. Or how about that dude who just wants, not only 2 front teeth for Christmas because he only has one tooth, but also your phone number. Oh and hello to the club chick whose titty just popped out her shirt, she notices and lets it just hang until the end of the song. I mean at least Janet mocked embarrassment. Am I the only one seeing these people?

I don't want folks to walk around with their heads down. Embarrassed every time they fart or shamed at their mistakes. I don't want people to have low self-esteem. I'm just saying-I need them to accept that I may not be ready for all their realness.

Oh and how could I forget the young ones? Haven't they taken it to the NEXT more ig'nant LEVEL? I'm not even gonna to speak on them dressing themselves-I understand and can appreciate creativity. But do you have to be loud. Cussing each other. Calling everyone niggas and bitches? Especially in public? On the train? In front of *gasps* white folk? I know by proxy I'm feeling a little shame and I'm greatly embarrassed. But why aren't they?

No. No. No. This won't do! It's Shaming Time! And I'm doling it out to the needy!

To the lady who got loud and belligerent with me in front of her son: Maybe if you had read the policy that you signed, you would have known that I couldn't help you. Instead you embarrassed yourself and don't be surprised when 'lil Rufus cusses you out for not getting his way.

To the man with one tooth: You thought I was cute. Thanks. I appreciate your confidence. But I need a full set of chompers to entertain any suitor. Nothing personal, just a preference. There might be a girl lacking a few incisors who would welcome you openly.

To the chick at the club: Damn! I know that was your song girl! But you could have pulled up, tucked in, and walked it out to the bathroom real quick. Just this once!

And finally To my Karaoke Cabbie: Wherever you are in the DC metro area today. I'm sure you're singing badly and missing exits. I'm sorry I wasn't ready for all your realness the other night. If we meet again I've got a song picked out to sing. It's by Rihanna. Have you heard of it? It's called
"Shut Up and Drive"!

See You In Seven

Monday, December 10, 2007

Ready to Rumble

It's just one of those days
That a girl goes through
When I'm angry inside
Don't wanna take it out on you.
It's just one of them things
Don't take it personal.
I just wanna be all alone
And I you think I treat you wrong.

- Just One of Those Days, Monica

It is definitely one of those days. This storm is quietly brewing. The kind of storm that takes no prisoners when it finally erupts. I'm sure you've had a day like this... we all do. Days when nothing you do goes right. And nothing you say sounds right. And folks keep trying to test ya like there's a sign on your forehead that reads "push button here". Well I am ready to steal somebody dead in their chin. 'Bout to hit 'em with that check hook. Punish 'em. You catch my drift... Do I sound a lil' violent right now? Yes. Crazy? Wouldn't be the first time. Do I care? Hell no. Like Monica said, don't take it personal.

My weekend was enjoyable and fulfilling. Last night, I went to sleep with a smile on my face and merry thoughts on my mind. This morning, I awoke to the sound of someone banging on my front door. Now I live in a security building, so whenever I get a knock on the door and I haven't buzzed anyone in, I'm already annoyed. I assume its probably a neighbor and immediately wonder what the hell do they want. Indeed it was my neighbor. The Spanish* man from the 2nd floor who is always whining about sh*t but refuses to submit his complaints to the proper party. You know, like someone who may actually be equipped to solve your problem instead of your poor, helpless neighbor dark & stormy.

Add annoyed as hell to that list because Jose (yes that's his real name) had the nerve to be knocking at 7:19 AM. My alarm was set for 7:30 but I had already decided I was going to stay in the bed 'til 8 'cause I went to bed kinda late. When I saw his damn face through the peep hole, I became feverish with anger. Do you know this negro (marrón is more appropriate- haha) asked me if I noticed the hallway light that had went out?! And then asked me why no one has come to fix it! BTW- there are six lights in the hallway! I'm like this cannot be real. I must be dreaming. Umm... yeah so we have emergency & non-emergency contact numbers for maintenance. I do not have a door sign that says D&S Management Company. So long story short, I had to tell Jose get the hell away from my door before with that early morning bullsh*t! I tried to be nice about it. And by being nice I mean me smiling before I closed the damn door in his face. I hope he caught a whiff of my fresh-out-the bed-and-hotter-than-tar breath...

[Thick fog rolls slowly]

Fast forward to my commute to work. I catch public transportation to work everyday. Not the train, the bus. Think of it like brunch at B. Smith's vs. brunch at IHOP. I board the bus at the beginning of the bus route, so I am guaranteed to get a seat. By the fourth or fifth stop, the bus is jam packed. The ride is about 25 mins. during regular rush hour and about 35-40 during hell rush hour. With our traffic, it's more likely the latter than the former. So you can guess which one I was stuck in today.

[Dark, stratus clouds move in from the northwest]

I don't like sitting in the inside seat because I'm a tad claustrophobic and I don't like being close to the nasty window. There's usually a combination of greasy hair residue and hot breath stains (yes I do think it exists). Not saying every window looks like this, but one is more than enough for me. But I digress. So I have my usual seat close to the aisle. As the bus fills up, people have to stand in the aisles and hold on to the handle bars over head or handles on the back of the seat.
There's this dude standing right next to me. His cologne was so strong, I could taste it. Blaaahhh! He was really too short to hold on to the overhead bars but not in his mind of course. I heard him cough a couple of times but tried to ignore. Every time he coughed, he buried his head into his coat to muffle it. Every time the bus driver hit the gas, he would jerk forward (because his damn arm was too short to be holding on above) and his bag would tap my knee. After cough number three and knee tap number four, I thought I heard a baby sneeze. I coulda been wrong but I doubt it.

[Single thunder clap]

I looked up and said "Ay man, you got to go. Don't care where you stand but it won't be over top of my head." Dude looked straight at me and ignored me.

[The wind starts kickin - 5 mph]

I increased the volume and repeated my sentence. He says to me "it's crowded, nowhere to go." I paused and looked ahead as I took a deep breath and ignored the devil on my shoulder telling me to snap youngin's neck. And then he coughed again.

[Multiple thunder claps. Birds roll out in their V formation with the quickness]

I swear I had an outer-body moment. The next couple of minutes include me speaking very un-ladylike words as I shove dude's bag away from my knee and an elderly Asian woman sitting across the aisle looking at me in horror. The bus driver asks me to calm down. I tell him "let dude come stand next to you with his germy ass and then show me how calm YOU are."

[Wind gusts climb to 18 mph]

The bus driver puts on the emergency break and gets out of his seat. I already had the boxing gloves on... waiting for him to say something! Bus driver told germbucket to get off the bus. Well I'll be damned! And told me to please behave for the duration of the ride (how dare he). Shoot, I was cool then.

[Thunder stops. Winds die down to gentle whisps of air]

'Til I realized I was late for work. Again. And couldn't find my cell phone. Got to the office and my supervisor was talking smack.

All that and it wasn't even 10:00 yet. Yeah, this is not going to be a pretty one.

Ding ding ding.... Let's get ready to rumblllllllllllllllllle!!!!!!

You ain't know? I been ready. And still gotta ride home. Holla at your girl if I can put you on standby for bail money.

Tumultuously Yours,

Dark & Stormy

* He is from Spain, the country. FYI- every Spanish speaking person is not Spanish. Sorry, had to drop that PSA right quick.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Homie? Lover? Friend?

Sometimes I think I'm from another world (preach)
When I'm trynna tell a woman just exactly where I stand, that
I want a girl, when I want a girl
And when I don't want a girl, I want a girl who understands that
And that's some hard shit to explain
To a woman that's in love with you, it's a pitiful thing

-Slow it Down, Little Brother

Ladies have you ever heard this from a man: Girl, I wanna be with you but I’m tryna get myself together spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially. And if you haven’t heard this, then you’ve heard some variation of this ish: I’m not really ready for a relationship right now…Girl, I wanna be with you but I’ve just got so much going on in my life, you know I got this new job, I’m trying to go back to school, I have to study for the bar exam, I’m going through a divorce, I haven’t traveled the world yet…The list is endless… And if you haven’t heard that, then you have a friend who has. And she’s spitted back these tired lines to you and you’ve wanted to smack her upside the head and be like “he said what?”

So many of us have been told by a man that they don’t wanna be with us. They have said it to our faces, texted us, sent us a postcard, rented a plane and had ‘I don’t wanna be with you’ sky written. And sometimes we still don’t get the message. And that’s mainly cause we fall for the "he might be saying he doesn’t want to be with me but he ain’t acting like it…” Ahhh yes…because men know that they have to do just enough to keep our asses hanging on.

They take us out just enough. They call us just enough. They remember just enough important things about us. Ooooh and then if they put it on us just right or sometimes just enough, we get all possessive, thinking, well if he didn’t want me, he wouldn’t be spending time with me. Oh how wrong we can be. Because when you strip back all the things y’all have "done" together, I think that it all comes down to these somewhat harsh, but oh so telling words by Andre 3000: “don’t wanna meet your daddy, just want you in my caddy. Don’t wanna meet your mama, just wanna make you cumma. I’m just being honest.” Oh yeah Andre also said, “y’all don’t wanna hear me, you just wanna dance.” Oh the nuggets of truth that can be found in Hey Ya…But I digress…

I always took the following lines: I want a girl, when I want a girl. And when I don't want a girl, I want a girl who understands that, to mean that even when he didn’t want an official girlfriend, he wanted to keep a girl around who would perform girlfriend like duties without the official title or respect it should command. You know keep someone in his back pocket, so he could pull her out when things get rough, or he needs someone to talk to, or he just needs him some…you know what I’m talkin bout…

And apparently the girl is just supposed to understand that. But in reality what girl really understands it? We may come off hard in the beginning like ok I’m down with this plan, we’re just kickin’ it, chillin’, “datin”, or what other ‘let’s just be free, we don’t need labels’ mess he comes up with…but then emotions get involved, and we start asking those questions: “where is this going?”, “what are we doing?”, to which he reminds us that he told us he didn’t want anything serious…

And this can lead us to feeling and acting a little crazy. And our actions and feelings go a little something like this: “You have managed to turn me from a woman of substance into a brick flying, calling too damn much...Crying and crying, spying way down down low with flats on from the opposite side of the bar... Easy-Off loaded on top of your car chick... I never intended to be this chick..."© Jill Scott. And even though we may get upset with ourselves, sometimes because we have invested so much time and energy into what has now become a mess, we start thinking, “well if I could just change his mind.” Yeah you can’t. I’m just being honest.

Where do I get this expertise from? Well, Rum Punch was once a student at the ‘I Can Change His Mind’ School, and then I studied abroad at the well renowned ‘Maybe If I Just Wait for Him to Come Around’ University, specializing in these thoughts: If I hang in there with him, do things for him, cook for him, be good to him, be nicer to him than he is nice to me, look good for him, rock those stilleto pumps for him, put it back on him, then he won’t go anywhere. He will want to be with me. Hmm…This didn’t really work for me. Anyone else?

Yeah I had to come to my senses. I mean who is really going to be financially, emotionally, spiritually and physically complete at the same time? You will always have to get some aspect of your life "together". And so as my friends and I get older, we have learned and recited this motto: people make time for who and what they want to make time for. And I finally realized that those “reasons” for not wanting a relationship were actually excuses. And that it wasn’t that he didn’t want a girlfriend, he just didn’t want me as a girlfriend. And while it hurt at the moment, in the end when it was all said and done, that, I could understand.

That's my time y'all! Happy Rum Punch Friday! Leaving you with a little something extra:

Thursday, December 6, 2007

memories of a former band geek

This past weekend a friend and I attended the Big Apple Classic. Hampton and Howard’s mens basketball teams squared off in Madison Square Garden, giving New Yorkers a taste of Black college festivities including a college fair, Greek step show and battle of the bands. I’m personally not a fan of either Hampton or Howard but having spent many a Saturday growing up glued to BET (remember when they showed Black college football games?) or huddled in the cold bleachers watching games live, I was jammin’ right along with Hampton’s pep band. And with every new song they played, my face lit up with recognition.

Hampton made Weezy’s confession bout never having ran from nan’nigga and that today was not the day to start sound like a passionate love song, using the brass horns to pick up on the tune’s melodic undertones. It really did! And dammit if they didn’t pull out the classic…

Heeeeey……heyyy……heyyyy……you talking out the sida ya neck… (ok, that sounded betta live but my real band heads feel me!)

My friend looked over at me and asked how I was able to pick up which songs the band was playing so fast. I gave her that girl-don’t-you-know-who-I-am look and said “I am THE band song decipherologist!”

I had to break it down for her. It’s a well-known fact that Black college bands choose their musical selections from a few specific categories:

1) your local dj’s top 8 at 8, what you hear on the radio 20 times a day, both ballads and hip hop joints alike; or
2) a three song melody comprised of hits from The Elements (Earth Wind & Fire for the uninitiated) or Michael Jackson or Stevie Wonder

Now you will occasionally get the adventurous band that strays from these two categories but 9 times outta 10, this is what they go with. And then I asked her, have you never been to a Black college football game, caught the Bayou Classic on Thanksgiving Saturday, the homecoming parade, something?!?

And her response…That just wasn't my experience!

Note: said friend once confessed to me that she used to be afraid of Black people and large gatherings of Black people. Despite being African-American and growing up in a major northeastern city she somehow got it into her head that she should avoid places where lots of black people congregated, you know that extra hood shopping mall across town, high school basketball games, rap concerts, etc. because of the inherent dangers in such gatherings.

Damn Gina!

I looked at her with sorrowful eyes and wished at that moment that the De Lorean would pull up and take us both back to the fall of 1998 and my most memorable Black college band moment. I can remember it like it was yesterday (cue the music).

We had traveled all night on that charter bus from our little high school in our little city with hearts full of excitement and anticipation. We were on our way to the mecca of Black college bandum…Florida A & M University’s Homecoming.

In my teenage mind, we had made it to the big time. For this was where all things band sprung. Where our drum majors came for band camp every summer, where we got our drum cadences from (duckmouth, papa was a rolling stone, P-Sec, you know!), every formation, every drill, every arrangement was certified gold from FAMU. Even our band leader had gotten his chops on the trumpet section there and came back to the hometown to groom us up in the way that we should go.

We all hoped that one day, we too would be lucky enough to get a band scholarship upon graduation and join the ranks of the Marching 100, riding off into the sunset with our oh-so-sexy boyfriend who just happened to be on the trombone line or if we were especially lucky, a drum major! A girl could dream.

We marched our little hearts out up and down the country streets of Tallahassee and tried to act all grown walking through the yard, imagining ourselves as one of those girls, wearing one of those jackets, having the times of our lives, free from parents and restrictions enjoying homecoming weekend with our gaggle of girlfriends.

And when we finally made it to the stadium, spent from the cheers of the parade onlookers, we couldn’t contain ourselves. Black people as far as the eye could see were taking up every seat in the house, waving orange and green pom poms. Yelling, cheering, and laughing with delight. Just having the time of their lives, eagerly anticipating the halftime show.

And then the signal…

beeeeeeeeeeeeeep beep, beep beep beep beep.

The figures appeared. Tall and proud, the Presidential Nine, busting those 90’s slowly, precisely without dropping a knee. Swinging their batons in hand, tall white hats, sparkling clean uniforms with orange and green tassels swaying with every movement, shiny black boots, and that deadly rattler snaring at you from across their chests.

They death marched, clicking off time with short whistle beeps, reaching the middle of the field, and in a flash of caps, they spin, leap and fall into elaborate splits.

Let the show begin…

Man, somewhere in my friend’s fear of Black folks she missed all this…

In loving memory of my cuzo, a proud Rattler!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Do Not Disrespect the Craft

Lately, I've received an earful from folks I keep company with about how folks always want a hook-up. My folks are artists and they have thier hustle on -- they are selling they're art for the masses in addition to working that 9-5. These folks believe in themselves and so do I. In the process of word of mouth/referrals they are able to expand their clientele base and bring in the extra dough, except when they meet a buster.

See buster is that one person, who actually respects the craft but won't admit it, they seek services from the artist but don't want to pay. You know who they are, you got some of n'em lurking in your family, they're your best friend, etc. . . They can't believe such and such charges that much, requires a deposit, charges per hour, the list goes on and on. . . Better yet they're trying to adulterate the artist services and pare down the rate to accommodate their budget. What is their budget you might ask, guess -- you know it -- it's a big fat 0. For those $0 dollars they want the supreme package, they're gonna come late, and still bitch and complain about how the artist produces their craft. And the artist who desires to please the potential customer first, rearranges their schedule to accommodate busters', pares down the rate to the point they can barely cover gas in their vehicle -- they didn't charge for overheard, their premium products used, and most importantly their time. As a friend of mine will say "they'll pay Nordstrom, but won't pay me". You know what Bellini says, "let their asses have it" -- but then again don't -- 'cuz you pride in yourself in being that uberprofessional.

The irony about busters is that they are supafly, stay gettin' their hair did -- every Friday @ the beauty salon or visits the barber once a week -- you get my drift. . . got the nerve to drive a gas-guzzler of a vehicle, oh -- the attributes are neverending. In this day and age, where the cost of goods have exponentially increased beyond the value of a dollar (a dollar ain't worth shit unless you're a dollarmenuaire), please don't expect individuals to break bread with you 'cuz you think you're special -- you're not.

Here's a classic scenario of buster: buster informs a mutual friend that they will seek the artist services and requests their contact information -- well that was over 2 weeks ago-- now the date is approaching and they call the artist assuming (a) the artist will drop their schedule and cater to them, (b) since both parties know the mutual friend -- the rate will be smaller vs. larger or just non-existent. . . huh? Don't make me hurt somebody. Unfortunately, what buster doesn't realize is that "nobody needs you", you're really a thorn to the backside.

So, to all the busters out there:DO NOT DISRESPECT THE CRAFT.



Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A Season of Sacrificial Hearts

Turkey has been eaten. Lights have been hung on houses. Parties are being planned. I’d say it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Which also means it’s giving time! No matter the motivator, be it compassion, traditional obligation or tax write offs ‘tis the season to give, and give abundantly. It’s just a given that November and December are earmarked as our opportunities to volunteer in soup kitchens, give a dollar to the homeless man that we’ve ignored all year, and stroke out checks to our favorite charities. And at my good ole gov’ment job we have the annual combined federal campaign that takes giving to another level complete with contribution goals and participation quotas. And when the campaign is over-a big official can proudly profess that his organization cares about the community because we donated X million dollars.

So much for the warm and fuzzy feelings of giving right?

It’s hard not to feel some type of way about this office giving campaign when the coordinator is demanding contributions thinly veiled as opportunities to give. I know, I know it doesn’t really matter how the
money got got as long as people are being helped. But as I look at the goal thermometer that shows my office is only at 36 percent of our financial goal, but nearly 80 percent have participated…I wonder what good is giving if it’s done grudgingly?

One of the biggest fights I had with my best friend in high school was about
giving money to the street homeless. Yeah, we were progressive that way. Anyways, I asked her what was the point of giving her dollar when tomorrow he’d be there again, asking her again. She didn’t know if he was going to use it for beer or if he was really a well to do person just panhandling in the daytime. She acknowledged my position but she wasn’t going to use my logic to find an excuse not to have compassion. She said it in a less eloquent way of course-we were 16 at the time-but it was still a “Damn, don’t I suck as a human” moment!

…And it got me to thinking about my own attitude towards giving then, and I still wonder about it today.

I give regularly to church, but outside of that there is no consistency. A Tsunami Fund here, a Hurricane relief drive there, a Save the Children payroll deduction when the mood strikes. But on the daily basis am I using my resources to help someone other than myself, friends or someone I’m related to? If its April 23rd am I down with fixing sandwiches? And if I do go, will I go back on April 30th or the following week? My inner Scrooge already knows the answer to that one.

And it was that same Scrooge who was mumbling when the coordinator was asking me to participate in the campaign. As I was shaking my head at what the others in my office were willing to contribute, the folks that make a lot more money than I do, I realized that it doesn’t matter what they are moved to give, it’s about me and my heart. Even in this season of giving I’ve been keeping my fist closed. And throughout the year I haven’t been willing to make a grave financial sacrifice either. And that’s a sad revelation to have about oneself, especially when they’re supposed to be a Christian...

...To whom much is given, much is required. No matter the season.

See You in Seven