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, June 27, 2008

Walk Like A Man

The other day whilst my granny was making a tall pitcher of lemonade and the bad news of the day was blaring in the background, I said to her, “Remember when men took care of their families.”

“Uh huh,” she said.
“What happened,” I asked.
“These men getting sorrier and sorrier,” she said matter of factly.

Hmmm…A simple answer to a complex question that is debated in the academic world, the blogsphere, and black folks’ living rooms across the land. It’s the question in the front of our minds and on the tip of our tongues: what happened to us? What happened to our Black men?

The truth is people like revisionist history. Christopher Columbus discovered America. Slavery really wasn’t that bad. The trail of tears was just a little walk. The Japanese internment camp was like a summer retreat. And apparently before crack, the Vietnam War and the corrupt welfare system Black men were the shit. And now they ain’t shit. Or that is what so many people think, say, breathe and live on a daily basis.

When we get past the finger pointing, or the blaming the white man, or the educated explanation of the emasculation of black men, or the ills of integration, I think it’s safe to admit that something happened in our community. A breakdown happened. A change in values happened. A culture change happened. We can discuss the reasons ad nauseum, but what I find interesting is that when people think back on the Black community, the days before integration (and even shortly after) there seems to have been a lot of good there. People reminisce about men coming home to their families, men being a constant presence in the community, men teaching their sons how to be men.

This is not to say that there was no bad. This is not to say that men didn’t abandon their families, or beat their wives, or have affairs, or impregnate women before vows and wedding bands were exchanged, or gamble the rent money, but this is to say that it seems that some core values have eroded. It's like we lost some pieces along the way to a better life. I know I’m not the only one who loves an older black man, a church going, amen saying, Deacon Johnson who wears a fresh suit and a brim hat tilted to the side, who nods his head and smiles at you and says, “how you doin’ sweetie,” as he holds the door open or helps you with your package. I wonder what will happen when that generation is gone. I feel like they will take so much with them when they leave: a true work ethic, integrity, and manners, to name a few.

Story time (Y'all know I always have a story): Back in the day a female family member got pregnant by a man she was “dating,” a soldier passing through town. So y’all know I’m using the term dating real loosely. Well a shotgun wedding proceeded. And they decided to have that one child and raise her and love her together. Well one grown child with a PhD, a husband, and two kids later, they are still married. Now some might view this as noble, some archaic, but contrast it with a young man I met last night who was with his girlfriend for two years before she got pregnant, the baby is now a year old, and they just live together. And he’s talking about he doesn’t want to get married until he’s ready to support a family. Excuse me? I think that’s the definition of putting the cart before the horse. When looking at these two situations, what I see is a man who was willing to sacrifice his plans for his life because he was a part of bringing another life into this world vs. a man who wants to cling to the life of a bachelor. What I see is acknowledging the reality of a situation then stepping up and taking personal responsibility vs. a it ain't my fault things happen in life kind of attitude.

As I settle into adulthood I have learned that I have a very different definition of manhood from a lot of people. I value character and substance over flash and cash. I have had some great men in my life who have shown me how a man is supposed to behave. But what about those who haven’t been as fortunate? What does manhood mean to them? How does manhood look to them? Who is teaching them how to be men? I remember watching a documentary some time ago on young black men in gangs. And the young man who couldn’t have been more than 18 years old said, “Our generation died when our fathers were born.” Damn. He was talking about a generation without fathers. A generation without men in the community. A generation that was already gone. I remember when I was in Philly watching a news piece about a shooting in the neighborhood. And people were standing in a prayer circle and the woman said, “We pray for the mothers, daughters, grandmothers, aunts, cousins…” I stopped cold because there was no mention of fathers, grandfathers, or uncles. What had been commonplace in my life was abstract in theirs. And this saddens me. Because my reality blends with their reality and forms, well, reality. And I can't ignore that. I can't put my experience above or over theirs.

I don’t write this thinking that all black men ain’t shit. Believe me I know better. I know there are great men out here. And I don’t write this thinking that there is no hope and that things are bleak. And I don't write this saying that if you ain't marry the mother of your child, you ain't a man. I know you take care of your kids. But I do wonder how it will be 50 years from now when God willing I’m reminiscing with my grandchildren about the community that I grew up in. As our key values continue to disappear, as we hear reports about 70% of Black children being born to single parent households, as I meet so many men with baby mamas and not wives who seem allergic to the mere thought and concept marriage, as these little hip hop youngins’ become the heroes of today and "old man" Andre 3000 has to school them in verse, what will I say about the men? What significance will they have played in my life? When I look back and share my stories, I want them to be honest, and I know there will be some ugly and some bad, but I hope there's a whole lot more good. So I pray that all the granddaddies, daddies, uncles and Deacon Johnsons out there are passing the torch to somebody, teaching what they know and ensuring that we'll have some warriors. Some men.

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

Thursday, June 26, 2008

politricks as usual

I’ve never been much into politics, especially not on the national level. I could get down with the local race for mayor and followed the city council elections with some level of enthusiasm. I’ve even canvassed for my next door neightbor as she tried in vain to get elected to the school board. But national politcs....mehhh.

My disdain for national politics stem from my experiences during college as an intern for a United States Representative out of Decatur, GA. Growing up I’d always thought that this sista was so regal with her plaits, so dedicated to helping the folks back home while she tolled on the Hill. During my first visit to Washington in grade school, I bypassed a visit with my own Whitey McWhiterson Representative and sought her out, delighted to shake her hand and get my picture taken with her.

So when I heard about a slot opening up in her district office, I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of her team. But what I got was a rude awakening to the realities of national poltical office. I was assigned to answer phones and direct constituents to the appropriate staff member who could handle their concerns. Let me tell you those phones rang off the hook non-stop all day every day! People called in about any and every thing: my son was picked up last night on drug charges, I ain't got no hot water in my house, my street been flooded for 5 days straight, when is the trash man coming...what could and would Ms. Representative do about it? I quickly realized the more appropriate query was what SHOULD Ms. Representative do about all these people calling her when she was not the appropriate person or agency to be contacting about these concerns?

Ms. Representative needed at least 5 more interns like me just to answer phones in order to adequately field all the calls from folks who lived in her district because it took about 30 minutes to get through each call: 10 minutes to patiently listen to the person tell you their live story and all their problems, 5 mintues to explain to them that actually Ms. Representative was a NATIONAL public servant and therefore she could NOT help you with your city or county problems, and the last 15 minutes tracking down the contact information for the appropriate person or agency that could be of assistance. Plus I never even got to see Ms. Representative the whole 6 months I worked there.

You could say I came away from that experience feeling a little jaded about national poltics. Granted Ms. Reprsentatetive was a great woman and a dynamic speaker who could really get things done in Washington but her ability to get those things to trickle down to the local level and influence the lives of every day people in her district in a meaningful way were slim to none. Her concerns were about national wars, party politics and compromises within the CBC while Ms. Mae on the block just wanted a new storm drain so her street wouldn’t flood every time it rained. I realized the best way to help Ms. Mae was on the local level, someone who could actually move things along toward a solution.

So color me surprised when during this national election cycle I found myself enthralled with the Democratic presidential primary. I didn’t really know much about Obama until he won Iowa. I’d slept through that "one America" mumbo jumbo and figured Hillary Clinton was it but after Iowa and Obama's breakout showing there, I perked up and took notice. Actually did some research on all of the candidates AND the issues. I even got involved, traveled to Philly to canvass for the O man, argued with collegues and family members about the issues and started reading as many political blogs as my usual fashion, music and gossip ones.

Maybe it was the excitement of the times, the chance to beat a smug white woman (emphasis on smug), or the idea that a Black person just might show these whiteys and beat them at they own game but I was all in. Now, not so much. I’ve come down off my election high. In large part because I always kept central in my mind that no matter that he is black (or half or whatever), no matter that he sells this hope change positivity trifecta like its goin out of style, no matter that I’m claiming a spot on somebody’s floor in DC come January cause I will be there to witness history, I still remember that he’s a national politician (emphasis on both). He's susceptible to all manner of politricks, manipulation and game playing, we already see it. You see, despite his protestations to the contrary, he can’t be responsive to the little issues, the things that matter most in folks lives. The most we can hope for is that he stays at least 50% true to his ideals and ushers in a crop of folks on all levels of government who will be responsive to our needs.

Or we can take the the streets and let la revolucion begin! I'm down for that.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

you betta claim him!

Ever since I met my future sister-in-law last year in New Orleans, she's given me some perspective on relationships.

So, how do you know she's your future sister-in-law if your brother and she are not engaged.

Well see, last year was the first time I met my brother's girlfriend (let's call her Shana). We did some sightseeing on the famed Canal Street as we sauntered east we found ourselves infront of Brooks Brothers. And like a scene in a movie she says, "After law school, we'll have to go shopping in there to get you ready for the firm." Well, I be darned.

Shit, homegirl just laid out a vision for the next 3-4 years of my brother's life. And he giggled/smirked with a self-assurance and didn't seem surprised by her observation more like a declaration. I just stood on Canal Street dumbfounded, but on the real -- your girl Bellini wanted to scream "THAT"S WHAT THE FUCK I'M TALKING ABOUT...STRAIGHT UP CLAIM HIM GIRL! And needless to say, that day last year was the first time I met Shana and all these events occured in the initial 3 hours of us meeting.

Fast forward to this year, where the scene was my other brother's graduation. Well, guess who flew into town with my brother -- you guessed it Shana. And she and I didn't skip a beat we just resumed where we left off from in New Orleans last year.

She and I chit-chatted and such and she inquires whether my brother informed me that she matriculates in June and that she needs a traveling partner in June to go to Europe vis-a-vis Italy and sought me as her buddy. And I give her a slight perplexed look and inform her no -- I wasn't aware -- but of course I'll go with her. I mean folks reread my bio on the right -- I am your renaissance women! And my brother quips "I told you she would go with you!" Bru, you know me so well.

In using the encounter I had with my future sister-in-law, I want to demonstrate to women that my sister-in-law is selfassured and my brother likes that. There is no quasi-sense of relationship and where they are going with it. Alot of times I meet women, know women, and heard of women who've been with a man and can't tell you shit about their relationship--lack confidence.

Let's take Mary's situation from Dark'n'Stormy's post Monday. Mary should have flown up here with James. Better yet, Mary should have sat James ass down and got to the nitty gritty of their weekend plans. And the fact that she didn't now raises a stupid specter of doubt in the future of their relationship. Now be reassured James is fine with the relationship -- he was chilling at the cigar bar with the fellas -- straight kickin' it. Women I'm not sure where the hesitation/apprehension comes from when dealing with men. But it's costing you happiness in your relationship. So, if you want him, you betta claim him!



Tuesday, June 24, 2008

An Apology to the Old and Pregnant

So I’m doing my part to save the planet by riding the bus to work. Okay let me be honest, I’ve been riding mass transit since before it became the fashionable thing to do, but since being ashy is now classy…I’ve gone green! Go Captain Planet! Anyways I’ve noticed a great influx of folks showing their bus passes these days and things have gotten extremely crowded on the chariot, to the point that bus drivers refuse to move until folks “get back, get back!” But something is going on in this here great land of America; because among the people who are standing up in the aisle for their dear lives are the elderly and the pregnant. All while menfolk listen to their iPods and read Decency for Dummies, never once offering their seat!

Now I will admit that I, Amaretto Jenkins have this lingering idea that able bodied men are supposed to move for women.
Now is this a lie someone has told me? Maybe. But I just can’t subscribe to the notion that the men, who at times are teens, in their twenties, or old like McCain weren’t taught how to be a stand up guy. I say this because I have men in my family who know better and showed me through their actions what I should expect from the opposite sex. Or even because you will never see this D-cup gal burning or even going without a bra, because I’s a lady. But I feel that women who lived through the Great Depression and ones who are about to birth a baby deserve a little preferential treatment…not just from the fellas, but from everybody.

But…the fellas should be first to bust a move.

I’m sorry, I feel some type of way about giving up my seat to somebody’s granny while I’m trying to balance in the aisle with 3 inch heels, my newspaper, and the satchel I like to call a purse… when Mister and the Gang are all sitting there watching me teeter and tauter.

I just can’t help but wonder what is going on? Like Hip-Hop, is respect between the genders also dead? I have these expectations of basic decency from men, yet I’m actually surprised when I come across some who actually met them. Last week I was telling Rum Punch about how this young man opened and closed his car door for me and that I was truly impressed. She basically hurricaned on my whole zeal parade by stating that that’s what he was supposed to do. True. She had a point. But I have a few male friends who are all about the Dutch experience. And since I’m able bodied I can open my own door, kill my own spider, and pump my own gas, he'll just sit and wait for me to finish. I don’t know, but I will say that it was nice to live like it was still 1948 and we were just coming home from the drive-in. To be a woman respected and not have to be
the woman who is strong enough to do it all by herself, hear me roar!

I just feel like I should be someone’s partner in this thing call life, an equal if you will. And when I’m old or pregnant I feel like I should be taken care of, not just by my family but by my community. But seeing how folks be acting today woe to me then. Hopefully I’ll have someone in my employ to drive me around everywhere I need to go. Otherwise I need to brace myself for the pain and embarrassment of falling down on the bus, and nobody caring enough to move.


See You in Seven

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Young and Restless Impatiently Waiting As The World Turns

Here I am waiting.
Just waiting.
Anticipating a chance to run into you.
I sit here for hours.

I'd be content to just sit here and talk to you.
In my dreams you love me and me only.

The way you kiss me and hold me.
Love is what I search and search to find.
But until then I'll just dream for the meantime.

- Outside Your Door, Me'shell Ndegeocello

My homegirl who lives in Atlanta came to visit this weekend. She and I met while living in the same dorm during our freshman year of college and have been cool ever since. I had a ball reminiscing about old times and swapping stories about new ones with her. We stayed up 'til the wee hours of the morning sipping, smoking, eating, chilling, kicking it...

And male bashing.

Ouuuuuccccchhhhhh! Those words are painful to my eyes and ears! I am also ashamed for engaging in such behavior. It's so not my style. There are specific brothers [and sisters] who I may speak about in a not so nice manner depending on their individual stories. But I am not the kind of chick to sit around singing the woe-is-me-good-men-are-hard-to-find song. However, this weekend my homegirl and one of her male suitors got the best of me.

My homegirl, let's call her Mary, didn't come all the way to DC just to see me. The primary cause of her visit was to come see a friend of hers preach. Her friend, who we'll refer to as Joseph, was a guest speaker at church in my neck of the woods and Mary came to show her boo some support. Yes I called him her boo... A spade is a spade. You'll understand in a minute.

Joseph attended college in the same town as Mary and I; we met him during freshman year while attending a gym jam at his school. They dated for a bit during those undergrad years and went their separate ways after graduation, but have always kept in touch. Fast forward a lil' bit... Mary was engaged to be married but she and her fiance broke it off January of this year. The fiance was on some bullshit [we can explore some other time]; luckily Mary didn't marry the sucker before finding out he was not the one.
Joseph also lives in Georgia, but he's a couple of hours away from Atlanta. On many occasions recently, Mary has traveled to see ole' boy speak. Now she has mentioned him to me in conversation, but I didn't realize until this weekend that they were seeing each other. This past Saturday was Joseph's birthday and Mary told him she was coming to DC to celebrate with him. I think her plan was to spend one day with me and the next with him.

Mary and I spoke Saturday morning to confirm her travel info. I was going to scoop her from the airport that evening; we would chill and she was spending the night at my crib. I asked about the location of the church where Joseph was speaking at on Sunday and told her I didn't mind accompanying her there. I figured they'd probably spend the rest of the day together so we'd split at the church. Well she didn't know the name or location of the church but said she would contact Joseph to find out. By the time I picked her up from the airport, she still had not spoken to brotherman and he had not called. She told me she texted him upon her arrival but he had not responded.

Sunday morning, we still had not heard from Joseph. We decided to sleep in because we went to bed very late the night before. By the time we finished brunch ('round 3PM), still no word from her boo. I could see the anguish on her face and even I was questioning what the hell was wrong with this fool. The weather was beautiful and the sun was shining, so Mary and I partook of a pitcher full of margaritas as we people watched while sitting at a sidewalk cafe. A couple of hours and mild tequila haze later, Joseph still had not called her. I told Mary to call him but she refused. She felt like why should she call him when he knew that she arrived the night before. He also knew that she wanted to go see him preach and she was obviously not present at the worship services. Mary said "my man should be checking on me, not the other way around."

We kept it moving to another bar and had yet another round of margaritas. Around 7:30 PM, Joseph texts Mary asking her where is she. She asked me how should she reply. I said to tell him "ditto motherf**ker", but she didn't like my suggestion. We end up leaving a nice table overlooking the waterfront to drive across town to meet this negro and his friends at a cigar bar. Do you know what this man said when we asked him why in the hell we hadn't heard from him? He said he didn't receive Mary's text Saturday night. And then asked her why she never called.
Didn't I tell her to call the man?! Either he answers and you get the info necessary or he doesn't answer and you can blame him for not providing the necessary info. But what is your defense if you never dialed his number?
Mary felt like he should have called looking for her, especially when he knew she was flying in for the weekend. She said that his ex-girlfriend lives here in DC and she had a feeling he would try to see her and probably invited the ex to see him preach. Mary even went as far as to speculate that Joseph purposely withheld the location of the church because he didn't want Mary's presence to throw salt in his game. She said the men in the pulpit get more panties thrown at them than a rock star. In the next breath, she tells me that he swears he ain't sleeping with nobody else.

At the end of the day, was it even worth it? We had a couple of drinks and cigars with Joesph and his buddies and they went on their merry way. Of course he wanted Mary to come back to his hotel room but she was too pissed at that point, so she spent the second night back at my crib. She showed me the sexy lace nightie that she purchased for the weekend as she balled it up and stuffed it into the side pocket of her suitcase, disgusted with herself for expecting love and happiness. It was truly hard to watch this weekend's events unfold.

This morning, as we rode to the airport, Mary asked me if I were her what would I do. I wasn't sure how to answer. My initial reaction is to give Joseph the finger and keep it moving. I'm mad and we ain't even knockin boots! See, I've been the one waiting. Sometimes, waiting in vain. I wouldn't wish that feeling on anyone. Why should Mary wait either? Why do we wait on what can or what may be? Does the waiting ever pay off?

If you were Mary, what would you do?

Tumultuously Yours,
Dark & Stormy