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, February 15, 2008

What You Is?

I am what folks call light skinded, high yella, redbone even. My eyes are slanted, in an almond shape. My nose is small and slightly wide. My lips are full and plump, envied by certain women. When I look in the mirror, I see a Black woman. But the world keeps trying to tell me something different.

So, when I wear my long flowing weave which is aptly called Spanish wavy, I am often questioned on my racial identity and heritage. When I was working at the gentleman's club, men would beg me to tell them what I was. "What you mixed with girl?" "What are you Puerto Rican?" "You got some Asian in you?" I have been called it all: Filipino, Hawaiian, Eskimo (yes, freakin’ Eskimo) everything but Black. It got to the point that me and another waitress would make up a new mix for myself on a nightly basis. We had some good combos: Cuban & Thai, Dominican & Irish, Brazilian & Dutch.

When I lived in Paris I was often mistaken for a Maghrebienne (a North African) or m├ętissage (our version of a mulatto). Black Parisians would ask me, "where are you from?" I would say, "the United Sates." Then they would ask, "What are you?" "Black/Noire," I would say. "No," they pressed, "what are you?" What the hell? Clearly the affects/effects of slavery had not been made known across the pond. How could I explain that I was part West African on my daddy's side, some type of European (Portuguese for sure and perhaps Irish) and maybe a little Native American. Cause you know we all think we got some Cherokee in our family. Henry Louis Gates hasn’t tested my DNA yet!

With this upcoming election, race and identity have been hot button issues. Remember when Obama wasn't "Black" enough, then briefly he was "too Black…" Now, as Goldilocks said, he's just right. Although I have heard the occasional white commentator question why Obama doesn't say that he's half white, why doesn't he acknowledge his white heritage on a regular basis? As if they have forgotten about their own one drop rule.

The truth is race is in the eye of the beholder. It's when I went to Puerto Rico and everyone addressed me first (but not my friend) in Spanish, until I said, "what? I'm American. And I thought y'all spoke English here…" Ok, I didn't say that last part. It's when people (men mostly) seem to get "disappointed" when I reveal that I'm just Black, like that's not exotic enough and they had already created 'me' in their minds. It's when folks who "pass" are never found out by white folks because they conform into all the necessary looks and more importantly mannerisms of being white. Because each race carries its own stereotypes, images and connotations and looking the part is only half the battle.

In this world where people are chanting race "doesn't matter", I realize that it does matter in the sense that people still need to define you. They need to know what you are so that they can understand you, speak to you, like you, identify with you, figure you out, make assumptions and guesses about you. People find comfort in being able to put you in a box, the kind that can be checked on somebody’s form. Don’t go Tiger Woods on us and do that Cablinasian mess, pick a lane and stay in it. And pick what you look like, not what you feel.

On African American Lives 2 on PBS, Henry Louis Gates provides the guest’s racial percentage make-up. Linda Johnson Rice learned that she was 50% white. That doesn’t matter though. She and the other guests can’t walk around carrying DNA papers. To the world, they are Black, of all shades and hues, but Black nonetheless, and all that entails follows them. Personally, I think Gates should test some white people to see how many of them are pure, to see if some if someone in they family decided to pass. Then we’ll see how much race doesn’t matter. But as usual I digress.

When I tell my friends that I am often questioned about my race or heritage, they look at me with incredulity. I suppose it’s because they know me, my family, who I’m is. In their eyes my features say, Black woman, and my attitude enhances that. When I told a friend that I am constantly asked if I'm this or that or this, his reply was, "well, you still look like a n.igga to me…"

Now what does that look like?

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

Thursday, February 14, 2008

when "good" just isn't enough

Happy Valentine’s Day…a day for love and all that jazz. Everybody deserves a little love right? Not just brotherly and sisterly love, love from your mama nem, love from your bestest friends but there persists this notion that everyone deserves to experience that one love, between soul mates if you will, a man and a woman presumably, the one that was made for you and you for him, who ain’t bout that bullshit and this love will lead to marriage and security and bliss. Or not.

I was talking to rum punch a few days ago about this notion. She was jumping off dark and stormy’s post about Black women complaining that there aren’t any good men and dirty red’s comment about some Black men also having a hard time finding good women. And this really stuck in rum’s craw (and mine too for that matter). It got me to thinking…

What is this amorphous “good” everybody’s screaming bout they can’t find?

Finished school, Got a job, Girl do your thang (c) little brother
No kids, 401K, can cook a mean spicy chicken wang (lol my attempt at the rhymes, forgive me)

But really, women are scrambling to make sure they have the wifely resume all set, educated and just independent enough, can cook clean and dip it real low and nasty in the bedroom and according to dark and stormy, with her lip balm and hair always hooked before she leaves the house. Isn’t having all these qualities “good” enough? wellll.... it seems not to be cause there are plenty “good” women by these standards running around.

Now I know there are some scalawags from both sexes among us talking bout they are quality material but put those people out of your mind for a minute and think on your friends and associates who are sane, funny, intelligent, good-looking, hard-working Americans just trying to find love. Think on those “good” men and women.

As Rum said, aren’t we good women, why don’t we have a man? I replied, are we really “good” women?

Hear me out, in the traditional sense we are banging, damn good. But for the male counterparts we have encountered thus far, are we the “good” that they are apparently so desperately searching for and vice versa? No matter how good we see ourselves, if it’s not the good ish that these men we encounter are looking for, aint nothing we can do but continue to look around cause the goods don’t match….

But to many women that’s unacceptable, just plain sucks. And I said as much to Rum. I told her, it’s like applying to law school. You can have perfect LSAT score, straight A’s on your college transcript, a well crafted personal statement with a diatribe on how you’ll save the world with your law degree. And you can apply to your dream school, Harvard. Yet you could still get that skinny envelope with the admission denied letter inside.

Why? You’ll ask yourself, aren’t I good enough, didn’t I have it all together, the perfect package? I deserve to be accepted.

Sadly, no you don’t. Law school admissions, and by my estimation, this whole man/woman dating/marriage thing don’t work like that. Maybe Harvard was looking for less than perfect, someone a little older, more committed to the cause, with more experience or compassion, or maybe someone got their application in a little bit earlier than you did and stole that last spot.

And what can you do? You can’t beg and pled with Harvard and no matter how well connected your parents are or how much money you have, if Harvard has picked someone else, that’s it.

Maybe Harvard isn’t for you, maybe Yale’s where you should be or Duke or some state law school. You won’t say there aren’t any good law school’s out there because Harvard rejected you (will you?). If you want to be a lawyer bad enough, you’ll keep applying and maybe you’ll find a match or maybe you'll decide that law school ain’t for you. You’ll do other, just as meaningful things with your life.

And this is how I’ve come to understand this idea of that good-good, soul mate-type love and marriage. Just cause you’re a good woman and you do all the right things and perfectly position yourself for love doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed, that it will fall in your lap when you look up and say I’m ready.

That kinda love is a privilege, not a right.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Fact Is. . .

I have to catch you next week . . . in the meantime


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Parents Just Don't Understand

Fifteen. It was a year of self discovery. And angst. An age of knowing that we were smarter than our parents. Couldn’t nobody tell us nothing! We were excited about driving, and moving out and going to college. Just waiting to be grown-legally, because in our minds, at fifteen we already were. Remember that? Makes you laugh now right?

My cousin is fifteen and she has me thinking a lot about my recent youth. It seems like she is so different from me. She’s been exposed to a lot more things than I was in her childhood, and it just seems like she’s lost something that I had at her age. I find myself doing that thing to her that I most hated; smooshing her face until she looks like a little pug dog and telling her how I remember when she was born. When she learned to walk. And talk. And would follow me around wherever I went. Then this segues into me telling her how much she’s grown. Then I realize what I’m doing and I apologize for being corny, but I just can’t help it. And I know it’s annoying to have someone go on and on about growth that is suppose to happen, because I was so annoyed at fifteen. But she doesn’t understand how amazing it is to watch someone not just grow taller, but become a person in the process.

Growing up as an only child I didn’t consult too many folks with my questions. We always lived away from my family so I just had my parents; and I knew that most of the time they couldn’t relate to anything I had to say. Now I feel like it would have been nice to have someone else to talk to about life. So I try to be available for my little cousin. She’s gets on my last damn nerve sometimes though. I won’t go into the hours of conversation I endured in which she discussed, in minute detail, breaking up and getting back together with her little boyfriend. The “drama” she went through-like they were going to get married or something! Arrrgh! (insert my eye roll here)

On Saturday she called me with another tale. She said that she had this friend, who was having sex with her boyfriend and just found out she was pregnant.

“What should she do, she hasn’t told her mom yet?”

Wow. I nearly dropped the phone. You know, because usually when someone is talking about a friend, it’s really them. And I just wasn’t ready to deal with my baby cousin (notice she’s a baby now) having sex. Let alone being pregnant!

But what could be done in this situation I didn’t know. My views on abortion have shifted through the years, but the thought of being a mom at fifteen is an unimaginable reality. And yet I’ve seen the emotional aftermath abortions can wreak. Adoption? To carry a baby to term and give it up. To have that same child hunt you down one day, full of questions and maybe anger. It all seems too much for a young person to have to think about. Too real. Too grown. Especially when the girl’s biggest fear is telling her mom. Not feeding or clothing the baby. Not raising a child to be a productive member of society. Just telling her mom. Arrgh! Kids!

Little cousin assured me that it wasn’t her.

I asked her repeatedly “Are you sure it isn’t you? I mean it’s okay if it is.” It wasn’t though.

“It’s not me! Geez!” Then my aunt started calling her to do something in the background. Little cousin didn’t want to talk about this in front of her mom. Which I could totally understand. As she rushed to get off the phone she said

“So she has to tell her mom right? Even though she’s going to get mad?”

“Of course little cousin, when you do grown up things you have to face the consequences.”

I felt so much older than the 11 years that separate us as I said this. But I was glad she called me, and felt comfortable enough to ask me. The thought of three fifteen year-olds trying to figure out what to do about a baby was scary. At fifteen what do they know? Not a damn thing! But they'll realize that later on, in their twenties.

See You in Seven

Monday, February 11, 2008

Could You Be Loved?

From the very first time I rest my eyes on you girl,
My heart says follow through
But I no now that I’m way down on your line,
But the waitin’ feel is fine.
So don’t treat me like a puppet on a string,
‘Cause I know how to do my thing.
Don’t talk to me as if you think I’m dumb
I wanna know when you’re gonna come – soon.
I don’t wanna wait in vain for your love.

- Waiting in Vain, Bob Marley

Aaahhh.... Valentine’s Day is on the horizon. Hallmark commercials galore. An extra candy and decoration aisle is set up at the CVS and Walgreens. Films of every kind of love story are being aired on TV, day and night (The Notebook is a personal favorite). Your local nightclub is hosting a serenade-filled concert with Bobby Valentino, Ne-Yo, or somebody who sound like ‘em. Roses out the wahzoo at every flower shop nationwide. Y’all know the drill.

And single folks mad 'cause it's a big a** reminder they ain't got nobody.

Sorry, don't wanna offend anyone. Just tellin' it like I see it. I'm a single lady myself, so ain't no hateration or holleratin' on my behalf. But I have been a bit disturbed by all of the recent fuss I am hearing lately about the age old complaint about the lack of good men. Specifically- a lack of good Black men. I want my sistas to read my lips: THIS TUNE IS PLAYED OUT. THE RECORD IS WARPED. I'M TIRED OF HEARING IT! Ladies, it's time to write a new hook.

While cruising the blogosphere last week, a couple of conversations caught my eye. Lord Hannibal gave his dos centimos about the subject. He made a good point about like attracts like and good men being worth the wait. I know that as human beings we are shaped by our experiences and a bad break up or a stormy relationship ain't always easy to shake. But most of the women I hear complaining about difficulty finding good men never had one to begin with. Or they fear still being unmarried and childless in ten years but don't date. You can't make a basket 'til you throw the ball, ya dig?

Some of my sistas refuse to date a man with less education than them or a man that has children. If that's your preference, cool. But there are good men that fit into both categories. Some women won't even talk to a man who is under a certain height (I've been guilty of this many times) or doesn't dress with a certain flair or doesn't have his own crib (guilty again- roommates are cool though). I'm not saying there's anything wrong with being selective. Please be. But some of our criteria is ridiculous and we our only hurting ourselves with these grandiose measuring sticks. I was watching Oprah last week and one of her guests was talking about making a list of desired traits in your potential mate and burrying it or some crap like that... Personally I think these lists are for the birds. But if you're going to make a list, keep it real.

Let's also start looking in the mirror. Literally. Fix your hair. I'm talking brush/comb it and give it a lil shine. Nothing extravagant. If you're having a bad hair day, put on a hat. But let the hat match your outfit. You ain't got to put on lipstick but a lil' chapstick or nude colored gloss would be nice. A nice apperance is important if you want a man to notice you. I don't care if you are just going to the grocery store... Men shop at the grocery store too, ya know. I'm sorry but first impression is important. He don't need to see what you look like on your worst day the very first time you meet. Then he won't ask you out. And then you'll keep singing that same tired a** tune that is driving me crazy!

If you're in a relationship that is not making you happy, end it. No it's not that hard. I don't want to hear about how complicated it is. The only thing I find complicated is why someone would choose to be unhappy and unfulfilled. And then mad at all men to come 'cause you stuck yourself in the mud and got dirty.

I've been blessed to have good men in my life, so I can attest that they do exist. They are out there. And there are lots of them. Every good man I meet may not be for me, but how would I know unless I give them a chance? Ladies, please give the men a chance. Hold brothas accountable for unacceptable behavior, but only the brothas that dish it. Not the entire brotherhood...

Ummm... I had a point and I got lost jumping up & down on the soapbox. Please forgive me. I just want my sistas to be happy. But y'all are killing me with the 'woe is me' sappiness. I just can't take it anymore. Let's be proactive in our quest for the Mandingo warrior of our dreams. Fix your hair. Fix your face (smile 'cause the smirk ain't cute). Fix your attitude. Love one another (haters are so unattractive). And love we shall receive.

On that note, to hell with Valentine's Day.

Tumultuously Yours,

Dark & Stormy