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

Friday, January 4, 2008

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall...

Looking for a post on politics, the New Hampshire primaries, what Obama has to do next to be the first Black President!? Well this ain’t it...I'll let Bellini handle that breaking news! And here we go…

So as I mentioned in a previous blog entry, I used to waitress at a gentleman’s club…Said club was mostly frequented by white people, therefore most of the staff (dancers and waitresses were white)…Well as can be expected when you put a bunch of women together, day in day out, night in night out, and menstrual cycles start to collide and such, sometimes a spat or two would occur. Rarely violent, it was usually just cussing, screaming and name calling. So inevitably if two girls were going at it and one girl was oh say a size 2 and the other girl was oh say a size 6, at the height of the argument, size 2 would say, “shut up you fat ass bitch!!” Size 6 would be pissed! Those were fightin words! Aaaaah a white woman’s worse fear, Achilles heel and sore spot: not being called a bitch but being called fat.

Now as a size 14 girl myself, size 12 if there the material is stretchy and there are no zippers or buttons (you know what I’m saying), I often wondered if a size 6 was a fat ass, then what the hell was I to these white girls, Shamoo the whale? Of course none of them ever went there with me. They knew better. But they would always be on some, “oh you look good for your size” or “you don’t have to lose weight…” Oh ok. So a size 14 looks good on me but not you? Yeah right. But as a Black woman with that ‘fuck it I know I look good’ gene, I could care less about what they thought.

It seems that both mainstream society and the Black community just expect us Black women to be large and in charge. I remember when I was first starting to gain weight in high school, my pediatrician while expressing “concern” about the situation said in the same breath, “but a lot of women in your family are big, right?” Um yeah. But that doesn’t mean that I'm trying to get on their level. Truth be told, I wasn't trying to literally tip the scales from thick, to fat, to whoa!

Oh but the scale kept going up anyway. And so on many an occasion I have played the: 'I don't care what size I am' card. This is mainly because of the response that us plus size girls get from Black men. They love us nonetheless. Sure there are some who like those skinny minnies but there are so many others who like to have more cushion for the pushin. Plus, we are often told by our community that there's nothing wrong with having a little meat on our bones. And if we can look flyyy while having a little extra, well then it’s all good.

Oh but sometimes we take it a little too far, don't we? Our waistlines grow but our clothes don’t as we show a little too much skin. We get larger and our health gets worse. You know the holy trinity: high cholesterol, high blood pressure and the suga. We don’t want to exercise because we don’t want to sweat our hair out. We eat the wrong things a lot: a two piece and a biscuit, chicken fried rice from the carryout, a number 2 supersized, washing it down with a 32 oz. soda or that good sweet tea… And somehow we continue to release that I am plus size Black woman hear me roar for the world to hear. Walking around like: I don’t care what you say, my mirror says I look good.

It’s a blessing and a curse ain’t it? There is something beautiful about us Black women loving our curves, refusing to conform to the mainstream's standards of beauty and feeling good in our own skin. And still there is something telling about our refusal to realize that what we think is beautiful can also lead to serious consequences. No time to go into the psychology of it all but I often wonder if we really do love all of us, if our men really do want all of that cushion or have they just accepted that we’ll always have a little extra and do we wish deep down that we had the time, energy and know how to drop a few pounds? Hmm...those were some Carrie Bradshawesque, Sex and the City type questions right there...

As I get older and my weight remains thankfully stagnant (but is not necessarily healthy), my mother is constantly on me about losing weight because diabetes runs in our family. And I know that she’s right. I know that I need to go the gym and lose a few pounds. But I also know that I still look good when I wear proper fitting clothes like a slimming blazer or an A line dress or anything that floats away from the body (c) Stacey & Clinton from TLC's What Not To Wear, all which have people asking me how I lost weight. And thank God for the body shaper.

But truth be told I have not always been this size and while I know I can pull it off, it's not where I want to stay. So with a new year and resolutions, blah, blah, blah it's time to get serious! I know, I know, losing weight is everyone's goal. And it's not the losing weight that's the hardest part, (I've done it) it's not even the keeping it off, it's the changing the lifestyle. It's about making exercise a normal part of my routine, eating right (and not getting a slice of pizza or some tacos for dinner after I ate a salad for lunch). It's about admitting that maybe my love for eating is about other things. And it's about continuing to love the skin I'm in as I get ready for this struggle journey, cause I know it won't be easy!

That's my time y'all! Happy Rum Punch Friday! Happy New Year to everyone! And if anyone else has lose weight as a New Year's "resolution", I wish you much success and discipline on your endeavor.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

national bank of mint julep

a while back, i let my cousin hold some money. this cousin, we'll call her Shirl, is like a mother to me. since the first time i came to live in new york way back in 2001, she took care of me, inviting me to church, sunday dinners. she called me up one day back in october tellin me that her car had been towed that morning for having too many tickets. This carnapping surprised her because she had known of only one ticket on the car but then she found out that one of her daughters, Queeny, had also gotten a ticket on the car, one too many tickets for the city of new york.

being that Shirl lives out in boonies of Brooklyn (yes, such a place does exist) where you must take a long train and a long bus ride just to get back to downtown Brooklyn, i understood her need to get her car out asap. plus, the city of new york is ruthless when it comes to towed cars. not only do they make you pay off the tickets, you also have to pay the tow yard a per day charge of as much as $50 and up just to have your car sit there. i had let her hold $50 before and she had immediately paid me back so i thought nothing of it to let her hold $260, with her assurances that she'd set me straight soon.

fast forward to last week, christmas eve to be exact and my phone rings and it's Queeny. My dumb ass answers the phone immediately thinking that Queeny is calling with news that her sister had had her baby. Sista had gone into labor the day before and I was anxiously awaiting news of the baby, who I'd predicted would be a girl. Now Sista and me are tight, she let me live with her family in Brooklyn when I came back to NYC again in March for a few months until I found a place. Sista is so down to earth and, like me, always cracks on the bullshit predicaments that the rest of her family can get into. And Sista never asked me to "borrow" no money, in part because I kept her right for allowing me to stay in her place.

But anyway back to Queeny, so I answer the phone excitedly, "We got a baby yet? Is it a boy or a girl?" and Queeny fills me, it's a boy. I think, shoot, but yaaay! She chats me up a bit more about the baby as I try to get off the phone since it is only 8am. on christmas eve. exactly! but then Queeny proceeds to give me this sob story about how she needs to borrow $100 because she has no money until pay day next week.

Damn. She got me.

Don't you hate it when your family thinks you got money because they think since you a lawyer or [insert any regular job here] you got to have money. and since you aint got no kids you got to have money. uuuuhhhh no.... and no. my money is for me to do with as i please.

but seeing as how it was the season of good cheer and it was only $100 i figured what the hell, i'll let her borrow it. surely she will pay me back and in the off chance that she doesn't it's only $100. So I say ok, what bank are you with, i'll put it in your account.... Queeny: bank of america but you can't put it in there cause i'm in the negative.

damn Queeny!

this is why i can't fool round wit broke folk (add them to my list 'long with Black republicans). they ass wanna borrow money and then they ass so broke you can't even put it in they account cause they ass is already in the negative owing the bank and shit. this is just not a good sign for my ability to be paid back because Queeny broke ass already owe bank of america who knows how much in overdraft fees... sigh...

still i say ok i'll western union it to you. *cash register sound* add $10 on top off that $100.

so of course, the holidays are now over, another pay day has come and gone and I haven't heard head nor tail from Queeny, not even one of those generic "Happy New Year" text messages. Not to mention that her mama Shirl has not mentioned that $260 either.

I've been going back and forth about whether I should ask them for the money or just convert these loans into charitable contributions and let it go. I think about this song we sing in church at giving time.....give and it will come back to you, pressed down, shaken together and running over.... and think i aint hurtin for it. but then i think about the rest of that song. when you give, give to the Lord.

and neither Shirl nor Queeny is the Lord. although I'm more inclined to let Shirl go cause like I said I like her a lot. It just bothered me that she never mentioned it ever again. At least say, mint julep, i aint gonna be able to pay you back. cool I can live with that.

but its a new year, and one of the things I've been trying (and succeeding) to do well before the new year kicked off was to be more generous.

so i'ma let it go...but you best believe, na'an one of em betta not eva fix they mouth to ask me for money another time cause it aint gon happen....gotta keep credibility with the lender

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

state of affairs, vol. i

Anyone who knows me, know that I am a die-hard advocate of public schools. I for one, was reared in public schooling. I remember when my dad contemplated enrolling me in a exclusive private school for high school -- how dare he -- you know Bellini stood firm and won her ground. Now as an adult, I am a bit more receptive to the horror studies of inner-city public schooling. People have been telling me there is a difference, my public schooling came from the suburbs of a top 5 school district in the nation. As my girl from Philly would tell me, I might as well have been enrolled in private school. My naivete.

Education is 50% attitude: I can do it, I will make the attempt . . . kinda of attitude. Half of the problem beseiging our inner-city public schools is attitude. I hear stories of kids cussin' in class huh, throwing things at a teacher wtf, and not doing shit get the f*** out then, it's just appalling to me. You don't believe me, take a glance at an inner city school in the nation's capital (it's not even considered the worst). I wouldn't dare disrespect an adult and as adult now myself -- I wish a muthf***a would disrespect me? Is this what the state of a black education has come too. Yes, I say black -- 'cuz for the most part most of us still live in the innercity and the problem schools: underperforming, overpopulated, etc. . . are found there. I've observed kids that have no desire to exercise their basic manners -- I know you all have seen the roughnecks on public transporation -- just loud, ignornat, ignant and they revel in that shit. Where is the self-respect? The lack of is problematic -- indeed. Then I wonder how their parents are raising them and subsequently I ask what are their parents attitude?

I think partial to the problem is that parents don't have the expected attitude and so their kids do not. Let's not forget education is a community partnership. Parents hold teachers accountable and in return teachers hold parents accountable, thereby bolstering the foundation of the child -- it's a no-brainer to me. The child understands they must perform to the best of their ability. And yes, I do think the equation is linear in that fashion.

Let's put things in historical context for a moment.
50 years ago or 1 generation, black folks were dirt poor but we excelled in school with bare scrappings -- old textbooks, decrepit buildings, etc. . . we walked miles just to get to school and wore our "Sunday best" in the process. We barely have our foot in the door while folks are trying to slam the door on our foot. We've gone from "Sunday best" to pants hangin' off the ass, shoelaces untied, and whatever else you observe. I am a proponent of self-expression, but there is a time and place for everything.

For the most part, higher education is still a novelty in the black community. Yet, it is incomprehensible why we won't even strive to get the basics in education.

Time to rewind the clock.



Tuesday, January 1, 2008

So Fresh and So Clean

Corks have been popped, prayers have been lifted and lovers have kissed to the start of a new year! Aren’t you excited? Today is the first day of the rest of your life…a chance to resolve to make O-eight great!

Do you have your resolutions listed? Have you shared your catchy new year’s motto with your friends? For my parents it was be “Debt Free in ’93.” It was a motto that they were excited about. And similar to the start of years before, my mom walked around putting pennies in all the windows of the house. We ate our
black-eyed pea potluck, which also included collard greens, sweet potatoes and some type of pork. All food lovingly prepared to bring us Southerners some form of health, luck or prosperity. We were hopeful, like always, that this year was going to be different. But by July I always stood wondering why there was a penny in my window. And when 1994 rolled around my parents still had debt, but they resolved to keep trying to be debt free, minus a cute little motto.

Me, myself, personally have never been one to make resolute promises that I start on January 1st. I don’t like to make pledges that I won’t surely keep. And I’ve always been of the thinking that when a decision is made it shouldn’t be delayed until…nor do I feel like taking a complete assessment of my life on the first day of a new year. Right now, I’m sleepily watching Jerry Springer try to understand the tangled webs of his lesbian guests who are now fighting over a man. I don’t know why I have this on, I’m so confused; but the fact is I’m not here thinking of ways to do more of this or less of that in the upcoming months. I’m remembering how everyone watched Springer once…ooh and before that
Rickie Lake. Remember that? Times sure have changed!

And really changing times is the only thing we can count on in the new year. I never feel older right after a birthday, usually it is a few months later when something happens that I realize my new maturity. I feel like experiencing a new year is the same type of process.

Oh how I wish some of 2007 problems would just disappear! That the work on my desk, that I have been neglecting, wouldn’t be there tomorrow. The bills for services rendered in ’07 would be paid and forgiven by someone else. That it would be wonderful not to carry my past in industrial size bags (cue
Erykah) into this new year. I think about how it really would be nice to start fresh and clean. To be born yesterday, if you will but without all the naiveté.

Newness can be realized in ways other than chronologically. When we allow ourselves to think about “this time last year I was…” “Back in the day I use to…” “I can’t believe that I would go to…” That’s when those wow moments occur and we can see the start of something different in us. Now that I think about it, I do have a few resolutions. I want my attitude towards some folks to be different, my heart to be more open and my view from here to be clearer.

Truly there is no greater waste of life than to start something new and not be changed by the process.

Happy New Year Ya’ll!

See You in Seven

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