Feb 15, 2021 - 2020    2 Comments

Blown expectations, and making memories

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Two blogs in one day?  I appear to be a font of wisdom today, so I’m going to go with it . . .because it doesn’t happen frequently. I should also mention that, although we’re in 2021, this blog is in the 2020 category because in some ways it feels like December 77th, 2020.

Yesterday, my social media timelines were filled with an explosion of hearts and sentiments of love, and on the other end of the spectrum, I received a handful of phone calls and texts from disappointed people whose expectations weren’t met.  I’m really tired of my friends being unhappy.  I guess they could lower their expectations, but why should they have to?

Over the past year, we’ve had a lot of time on our hands, and we should have had moments of introspection.  I was having a conversation with my BFF Lorrie yesterday, and we agreed that there are so many things that we miss about our youth, times passed, and moments that we carelessly lived through, without realizing that one day, we would want them back.

My point is that, if you have someone in your life that you care about, you should always make an effort.  And not just a ‘meh’ effort, where you only stretch as far as is convenient, but one that takes you off your path a bit, and forces you to think and really consider what would make them happy . . . and then act on it.  Never mind that we’re in the middle of a pandemic, and that we’re unable to do what we might if the world was wide open for all possibilities.  (Truth be told, some of you are blaming your lack of action on COVID, when, in reality, you’re rather thoughtless when all options are available.  I’m just sayin’.)

Keep in mind that you’re always creating a memory, which can last forever.  I’ve been “blessed” (cursed) with an eidetic memory, so I have the pleasure of being able to recall traumatic birthday experiences of several years ago that can anger me just as much to this very day.  To the point where, whenever my birthday month rolls around, I feel an immediate sense of dread. The good news is that the flip side is also true.  Whenever something has made me happy, the memory can be uplifting and gratifying.

I promise you that, at some point, your relationship will be at a crossroad, and these memories can either be the points that save it, or the straws that break it.  If your significant other is making a decision about whether or not to stay, you want him/her to look back, and make an unquestionable decision in your favor.

So, the real question is, what type of memory would like to be attached to?  Do you want your significant other to look back on their birthday/Valentine’s Day/etc., and feel hurt and disappointed?  Do you really want to take that chance?  Or would you prefer for him/her to feel as though you went above and beyond, and look back on the day in question with a smile?

And I realize that many of the offenders will have excuses, so let me help you out:

  • We’re in the middle of COVID.  This is all the MORE reason that you should make an effort.  This isn’t a normal year, and we need things to celebrate and uplift us during a time where people are sick, losing loved ones, jobs, etc.  Crime is at an all-time high, and the world is crazy.  We have to find happiness and a sense of normalcy wherever we can, so if there’s a time to celebrate, it’s now.
  • I didn’t have any money.  You don’t always need money.  Cook a meal with whatever you find in the kitchen — you have to eat anyway, right?  Or perhaps a card made on your computer? You can play a game found online, or give coupons good for things that you normally don’t like to do, like cleaning.  Time spent together is sometimes the best gift.  And it’s free.
  • I don’t “believe in” birthdays or Valentine’s Day or Christmas or . . . whatever.  Well, guess what?  It’s not about you.  Does your significant other “believe in” them?  Aren’t you happy that he/she was born?  If so, suck it up, buttercup, and do something that makes THEM happy. #selfishbastard
  • I didn’t have time.  You have nothing but time, and I’ll bet you find the time for something that you really want to do. What you’re really saying is that you didn’t care to allocate the time.
  • I had to work.  I especially hate this one because I’ve heard it far too much. (It’s even worse when the person delivers it with a matter-of-fact “work takes precedence over everything” attitude) Guess what?  Work is always going to be there.  And chances are, your work is not a life or death situation, and you need to learn to balance your time and life.  What you’re communicating is that work is more important and that you will ALWAYS put work first.  Which doesn’t bode well . . .
  • I was going to [fill in the overblown grand gesture of choice], but.  Okay, it’s not about the grand gesture.  It truly is about being thoughtful.  There are a lot of great possibilities on the spectrum between “I was going to take on you a trip to Paris, but . . .” and doing absolutely nothing.  Challenge yourself to find them.
  • I never know what to do.  That’s where the combination of creativity and paying attention to your partner comes in.  You have the gift of another person in your life that you can get to know, and you choose not to?  Off the top of your head, you should know sizes, favorite colors, what he/she wishes for, what he/she loves to eat.  You should also have things that you would LOVE to do for him/her.  You’re making it all too hard.  And sad.
  • I asked you what you wanted to do, but you didn’t have suggestions.   If you’re anything like me, you don’t want to write the blueprint for what your significant other is going to do for you.  It takes all of the fun out of it.  Most people don’t want to (and shouldn’t have to) browbeat their significant others to be thoughtful.  That’s not quite how it works, and it kind of defeats the purpose.
  • I really don’t care.  Well, do that person a favor, and keep it moving.

 

If you’re a member of the selfish faction that’s reading this blog, keep in mind that efforts have to be reciprocated to strengthen the foundation of a relationship.  So, what’s in it for you is the reaction, the happiness, and the goodness that will be returned tenfold.

Mind you, repeated instances of thoughtlessness and a continued extreme lack of effort are indications that you’re with a person who can’t be bothered to make you happy, and can also be the Universe’s way of showing you that you’re in the wrong relationship.

I hope this helps someone!  <3

 

Feb 15, 2021 - Uncategorized    3 Comments

Much ado about refreshments

If you know me well, you’ll know that I’m a remote worker, and I’ve worked from home for years.  No, I don’t work while sitting up in bed. I’ve actually transformed a guest bedroom into a very nice home office (because guests are overrated), and I set myself up for success with specific rules about how to be productive at home with minimal distractions.

People always get it wrong — they often falsely assume that I’m sitting around, clad in shabby loungewear (translation — frayed clothing not fit for public consumption), watching television and stuffing chips down my gullet, only opting to shower occasionally.  They believe that I can chit-chat ad nauseam in the middle of the day, and take three-hour lunches.  And, okay, I’m sure there’s a faction of people who fit this description, but there are also the types of people who operate as I do.  We conduct our workdays professionally — bathed, wearing pants that have actual buttons, and refusing to turn on the television until all meetings have concluded  I get WAY more work done at home than I ever have in a corporate office.  And what the hell is lunch??

I’ll admit it; I hate the office. I get that sometimes it’s nice to have in-person pow-wows with colleagues, and I’ve made wonderful relationships at work that I would never have made had I been remote for my entire career.  However, I’ve evolved to a place where I don’t need the morning pleasantries.  I’d rather just wake up, either workout or take my 5-second commute to the office, and maximize the day.  I don’t need to discuss the weather, ad nauseam, at the coffee machine (realistically, this wouldn’t happen anyway, as I don’t drink coffee), and in fact, I don’t care to brave the weather during a 45-minute commute only to have endless conversations ABOUT THE WEATHER.  In fact, you know how I like MY weather?  Through the window of my comfy, warm home office, as I sit comfortably in my overpriced ergonomically-friendly swivel chair.

But, a month ago, I had to go into the office and have a new corporate photo taken and potentially partake in a super-spreader event with the other three colleagues who venture downtown a few times a week (likely to escape their families).  Within five minutes, I was reminded of how much I love my home office.

I had to handle the technical stuff — plug into the VPN, figure out how to configure the dual monitors, adjust the chair to my liking.  And then there were the refreshments.  Real talk?  There are FAR TOO MANY refreshments in corporate offices and a lot of conversation about how and when to consume them.

I was there for a total of six hours, and Dee, the office coordinator (who is one of the sweetest women on the planet), started in on me from the moment I arrived:

“How was your commute?  It’s cold outside!”  Are we already starting with the weather??

“Where do you want to sit?  Do you want an office with a view?”  I don’t care, I replied.   I have so much work to do that I have no time to gaze at the river while pondering the common sense of tourists who insist on taking open-air boat tours in Chicago between the months of November and April, but thank you.

“Have you visited the kitchen?  We have coffee and a lot of water!  We have still, sparkling . . . “  I’m fine, thanks.  I’ll grab a bottle of water as soon as I get settled.

“There’s fruit!”  Thank you!

“Help yourself to a soda!”  No thanks, but I appreciate it.

“That’s right!  You like green tea!  We have four kinds.  Let me know if you need help.” Do you have wine?  Because at this point, I need a drink . . .

“Oh, and there’s candy!”  [tight smile with a side-eye and a nod]  Readers with Black mothers will completely understand this look. It directly translates into “I’ve had enough of you.” 

“We also have Capri Sun!”  That’s . . . random.  And you’re a little bit too excited about it.  But, okay.

[Less than two hours later]

“I’m placing an order for lunch and sent you the link to the menu.  Just let me know what you want.”  I don’t usually eat lunch, but I’ll consider it.

“Do you want to eat lunch together?”  Not really, but I’ll go with the flow.

“Charles wants us all to eat together.  What time are you free?”  I’m not, but I guess I can carve out a few minutes. And really?  This is just too much goddamned togetherness.

“The food is here!”  Great, and I’ve made exactly ONE phone call today.

“Oh, sorry . . . they didn’t have the entree you wanted, so I substituted with something else”  Okay . . . so you chose something not even close to what I ordered, and in reality, nothing that I would EVER order, which I must choke down in front of two other people who may or may not have COVID.  But thank you!

I really couldn’t wait to get the fuck out of there.  And after all of that?  The pictures were terrible.

Anyone else looking forward to NEVER going into an office again?  Just me?

 

Nov 20, 2020 - Uncategorized    1 Comment

Pandemic Behavior

sublimated-pullover-hoodie-mockup-featuring-a-man-with-short-hair-31386So, it appears that Chicago is back on a lockdown due to a LOT of egregious spreading of the ‘Rona.  Apparently, people? Sharing is NOT caring.

I’ve been moving around quite a bit since the beginning of the pandemic because I’m a caretaker and I can’t avoid it.  Also, my natural germaphobic nature has shifted from being described as “kind of weird” to being appropriately self-protective.  And while I can control myself, I can’t direct anyone else’s behavior.  The least  I can do is share my guidelines based on what I’ve witnessed.

Strap on a mask. 

I know there’s someone who’s reading this and thinking that masks don’t work, or perhaps he/she has concocted a lot of crap in their heads about how masks are muzzles or other such nonsense.

So . . . real talk?  A mask is a form of basic hygiene during a pandemic.  I don’t really understand the resistance.  It’s as if people don’t realize how germs are spread and have no appreciation for the nastiness of human beings.  Aside from preventing you from breathing on others, they keep you from being breathed upon.  Realistically, masks are saving you from yourself.

If you don’t believe me (or anyone else with common sense), let me dazzle you with a few medical statistics (no, I’m not a doctor . . . but I read).  So, here goes:

The average person touches his/her face a minimum of 16 times per hour, with about half of those touches making contact with the nose and mouth, which are mucus membranes and the very points of entry for the disease.  While wearing a mask, your nose and mouth are covered (if you’re wearing it correctly, and not around your chin, Chad!).  Casual nose-picking and/or licking your fingers to open a thin plastic bag in the produce department are not possibilities while wearing a mask.  If you can manage to avoid rubbing your eyes, you might just avoid catching colds, the flu, hoof and mouth disease, and ‘the Rona.

This is NOT the time to be handsy

If you have the occasion and/or good fortune to meet new people, now is NOT the time to taint the experience by going in for an unnecessary handshake.  During COVID, all formalities of professionalism that require physical contact are not necessary.  I wasn’t a fan of shaking hands before the pandemic, and I’m definitely not making direct contact with any virus-infested grubby paws during a pandemic, nor am I spreading my germs to others.

Because I’m a fan of digression, I’m forced to wonder why we have that tradition in the first place?  There is nothing gratifying about a handshake.  It’s not an enjoyable experience.  The grip is either too firm, too light, or disturbingly clammy.  You spend lots of time afterward wondering where that person’s hand has been and setting a mental reminder to scrub your mitts before your next meal. (Just me?)  I would prefer to greet people with a smile and a nod, thereby saving myself the anxiety and potentially avoid contracting an illness.

And don’t even THINK about a hug.  While I’m not a classic hugger, I get that, as people, we are in a place where we crave human contact and haven’t seen many of our friends.  Don’t be so happy to see people that you risk killing them, or being killed by them.

Bag your own groceries

I always use self-service grocery lanes because scanning and bagging my own order reduces the number of people who handle my items.  The other day, I read the frightening statistic that one in four grocery workers have COVID, with many being asymptomatic.  Also?  I’m faster than any grocery store worker than I’ve ever encountered AND I know how to separate food from detergent.  #winning  :-)

Stay the hell away from your family

To refer to 2020 as a “dumpster fire” is a gross understatement.  Everything this year has been a colossal shit-show, and the holidays are NOT going to be amazing. Has anyone seen the 2020Rockefeller Christmas tree?  It’s rising to the occasion of the year and appears to be dry and lackluster.  It makes the Charlie Brown Christmas tree appear majestic!

If you were to have a family gathering for the holidays, you KNOW the food won’t be tasty (because, 2020), and most of us have already been eating too much this year.  Do we NEED another 3000 calorie meal?  A feast is clearly overkill.   You might as well stay home and avoid killing your grandparents.

I get it, though . . .  you might want to feel some semblance of normalcy this year since everything else has been turned upside down.  Family traditions are nostalgic and attending family gatherings evokes feelings of childhood and safety.

Although, what I find to be the MOST baffling is that, any other year, by now there would have multitudes of depressing FB posts lamenting upcoming family visits.  “My family is going to make me feel inadequate for being single.”  “My mother is going to make me feel like I’m not enough.”  “Everyone’s going to ask us why we don’t have children.” “My grandmother is going to talk about my weight.” “My siblings are mean to me.”  “I’m going to need years of therapy to recover.”

Well . . . you know what?  You get a pass this year!

Because realistically, how many of us are so enamored with our family?  Let’s face it . . . lots of your family members get on your nerves.  Maybe your sister-in-law can’t cook, yet insists on tackling the mac and cheese (and screwing it up) EVERY SINGLE GODDAMNED YEAR.  Your nieces and nephews might be insufferable brats who are only concerned about their own gifts.  Maybe grandpa is grumpy and senile.  If you REALLY think about it, you might realize that you probably wouldn’t even speak to most of your extended (or immediate) family, unless there was a bloodline.

Truth be told, you could be surprised at how refreshing it will be to stay home and eat whatever the hell you want on Thanksgiving (and probably Christmas, at the rate we’re going).  How many more opportunities will you get to have an entire year without green bean casserole??

Order yourself a big pizza – with turkey sausage, if you must — and sprawl on your couch, snuggling your pets or quarantine bae while consuming large quantities of wine (or edibles), and relax!  Who knows? You might even start a new tradition of eliminating holiday emotional abuse!

Still pining for your family?  Okay, we’re back to statistics . . .  whenever someone justifies a gathering by saying “it’s ONLY 10 people,” bear in mind that it’s not the quantity of your group.  It’s the quality!  If only two members of your family of 10 have been exposed to COVID, that’s 20% of your group, and more than you need to put the entire family on ventilators by New Year’s Eve.  And we all desperately want to escape 2020 alive, right?  (Unless you’re secretly trying to infect your family, in which case we didn’t have this conversation.)

That sums up the advice that you didn’t ask for!  I wish everyone a safe and healthy Thanksgiving.  :-)

Nov 8, 2020 - 2020    1 Comment

Hoist with his own petard

Screenshot_20201109-001659This entire election has been a shit-show — much like the last four years.  But, as usual, we can find a LOT of things to laugh about, as we examine the circumstances.  Or maybe I should speak for myself.

I guess I should explain the title for the majority of people who are reading this thing and aren’t Shakespeare buffs (for the record, I wouldn’t dare refer to myself as a legit “Shakespeare buff.”  I merely have a few favorite phrases across a number of plays — mostly Hamlet.).  In layman’s terms, the phrase means to be blown up by your own bomb.  It’s the ultimate form of ironic justice, IMO.

That said, let’s dig under the covers of the humor . . .

So . . . a reality TV star named Donald Trump – a thrice-married alleged mogul who has had six businesses file for bankruptcy in less than 20 years, surprised everyone when he entered the primary race for the Presidential election of 2016.

I’m non-partisan, but when I heard he was running, I thought “certainly the Republicans won’t let him be THE candidate.”  To the point where, when a former colleague whom I refer to as CRC (crazy racist co-worker) entered my office and said, “That Trump makes a lot of sense,” I threatened to hit her in the head with one of my boots if she didn’t evacuate my space while spewing that crazy shit.  I recall telling her that he would have us back in Nazi Germany which she poo-pooed before going back into her little lonely world of lunacy across the hall.

Realistically, he won that year because people didn’t fight all that hard against him.  I voted sans inspiration. Hilary Clinton was a polarizing candidate and didn’t inspire a lot of voters.  When Trump was elected, we were bewildered.  Like, how in the HELL did that happen??  If we knew then what we know now.

Anyhoo . . . while I’ve done well financially over the last 3.8 years, they’ve probably been the most morally bankrupt years that we’ve lived through in the last century.  Trump has managed to alienate every racial entity, he has openly mocked the disabled, displayed every misogynistic tendency, “delighted” us with his stupidity on social media, and given a voice to and emboldened racists and violent people who were previously underrepresented in leadership. At least out in the open.  He is directly linked to every deplorable degenerate, including Jeffrey Epstein (who didn’t kill himself). Somehow the overturning of Roe v Wade co-exists with children put in cages.  And, along those lines, let’s please not forget the thick, chalky irony of the FLOTUS.   If anyone brings up dear Melania and her widely-distributed nudes, the rebuttal is “her body, her choice.” I’m guessing that sentiment doesn’t apply to my uterus?   He has made us the laughingstock of the world.  Then we have COVID – or should we call it the “Chinese Flu” -  and how his ridiculous decision to politicize a pandemic, of all things, has effectively killed hundreds of thousands of people.

By the way, if you’ve read the above paragraph, and you’re violently shaking your head in rebuttal to my points (while internally – or maybe externally – calling me a racial slur [which, even in your head, is misspelled]), please do yourself a favor and stop reading right now.  You’re not going to like where this is going.  I censor the comments here.  I’m sorry, but I don’t really care how you feel, and thank you for playing. However, if you’re interested in a potentially different viewpoint or enlightened humor, read on.  It’s a free country. :-)  

Alrighty . . . moving on.  So . . . when at long last the 2020 election was like a bright light at the end of a dismal tunnel, we knew we had work to do.  For the record, by ‘we,’ I’m not talking strictly Dems.  I mean any person who has decency and wanted to see unification rather than destruction, going forward.  That said, WE had to get behind whichever candidate was running against Trump, and motivate every single person to get their asses to the polls.

And, to be clear, we weren’t working with a perfect candidate in Uncle Joe.  There were things to overlook, and there was a LOT of dissension within the Democratic party and among the Republicans who decided to defect.  But what Biden DOES do is speak of unity, which is what our divided, cracked, and brittle country so desperately needs.  If he can be the soothing lotion of the damaged and distressed dermis that is the United States, then let’s bring him on.  It wouldn’t happen with any of us alone, but all of us together. (Because real talk?  These motherfuckers?  Needed saving from themselves!!)  Let’s motivate millennials and Gen Z to vote and teach them that their vote DOES matter. (They stepped up, FYI!) Let’s rally the seniors.  Let’s get behind this candidate because this truly was THE most important election that I’ve ever witnessed or studied in history class.

But in the meantime, the devil was busy.  (I know . . .  I sound like an old aunt who never misses a sermon, but it’s the best analogy that I can give, here.)

Trump knew good and GOTdamned well that the majority of the country hated him.  He KNEW it.  So, he arranged to have 21,000 polling places closed.  He actively ordered the removal of mailboxes to deter mail-in voting and turned the postal service into even MORE of a goat rodeo than it was before.  This went on until the Postmaster General effectively said “Dude . . . Fuck you!”  Oh, and he did absolutely nothing to legitimately stop the spread of COVID, and actively tried to downplay it as the numbers of infections and senseless deaths soared.

There were reports of long lines for the primaries, and tales of some waiting for hours, only not to be able to cast their votes.  In specific neighborhoods, mind you.

In anticipation of election shenanigans, what did we do?  Well, we did whatever we could to make sure that our votes would be counted.  Mail-in ballots were used, egregiously, by seniors and those whose immune systems can’t tolerate exposure to serious diseases.  Our votes — ALL of them — were going to count.  To be clear . . . the process wasn’t smooth, far from perfect, and we’re still dealing with the aftermath, but the votes were GOING TO COUNT.

And count they did, President Biden.

So now we have the next few months to look forward to as Trump is dragged from the Oval by his one strand of hair that’s approximately 8,000 feet long and wrapped delicately around his hollow dome, as he tries to issue more ridiculous executive orders while clinging to the Presidency like shit in a toilet bowl.  While it will be interesting, his removal will be as easy as yanking a spoiled, determined (320 lb) toddler – with transition issues – from a candy store.

Oh, wait, I promised comedy, right?  Well . . . it’s a comedy in the Shakespearean way.  With lots of ironies and unfortunate demise.  Most immediately, it’s hilarious that, with all of his effort to be deceitful, he LOST.  He was hoist with his own petard!  Also, keep in mind that comedy is tragedy plus time.  Re-read this in a year, and I promise you’ll laugh.  My hope is that we’re at least done crying for a while.

Realistically, it hasn’t been all bad.  The good news about this is that I think everyone has shown their true colors, and I, personally, have emerged from this ridiculousness with a much better idea of how to proceed, and with whom.  I did get engaged this year, so I consider 2020 to be a true new beginning.  Cheers to it.

 

 

Oct 25, 2020 - The Blessed Event    1 Comment

Unfamiliar territory

I thought I’d take a departure from political posts to provide an update on my life — because, in the future, I know I’ll be happy that I documented this.

About a month ago, my boyfriend (of nearly 11 years) proposed.  Yes, there are many opinions about the length of our “courtship,” and we grew weary of people asking “when? when? when?”, but we had very specific reasons for our timing, and because neither of us was in any particular hurry, it made perfect sense. To us.  (And, actually, I was perfectly fine being a girlfriend, because I’ve always had a theory that girlfriends are sexier than wives, but I digress . . .  )

It was a very fun and memorable evening and a complete surprise.  It was a grand gesture. He did a fantastic job and deserves all of the kudos.  And, I did say yes.

People have been asking me if I feel different, and I do, but not in the obvious way.  After being together for so long, our relationship didn’t take a different turn post engagement.  The only real differences are that I now have new beautiful jewelry, and we get to bicker about an entirely new topic — a wedding.

Now . . . let me back up a bit.  Did you ever have one of those friends who has had her wedding planned since high school?  You know her.  She is the one who has a fleshed-out Pinterest board full of a robust assortment of bridal gowns, shoes, and a wide assortment of (somewhat tacky) tchotchkes that can be personalized and given as gifts to her 300 guests.  She might have venues in mind already and numbers of wedding planners stored in her phone along with a list of wedding photographers, or a list of first dance songs. Real talk . . . she has the entire DJ set mapped out.  In fact, she might very well have the entire wedding planned — whether or not she’s yet met the groom.

In case you’re reading this, and you don’t really know me, I’m actually the antithesis of that person. Despite having been a bridesmaid about seven times, I did not walk into this with any real opinions about a wedding.  To take it a step further, I’ve also never seen marriage as an “accomplishment” as much as an embellishment of a good life.  In fact, over the years, I’ve always said that elopement would be my preference, and I can’t possibly understand why a couple would spend tens of thousands of dollars on one day.

Now that we’re all caught up on the past, here’s where we stand today:  I’ve learned over the last few weeks that, apparently, any wedding that I will have, will obviously have not one thing to do with me.   I now know that anyone who tells a woman that “it’s HER day” has been smoking a special strain of crack, because if we’re being completely honest?  Not one soul cares about what the bride REALLY wants.  If anyone was ever remotely confused about this fact, I’m here to pull back the curtains.  (Because, of course I am.)

Most weddings are planned according to expectations, nudgy family considerations and budget.  Did I mention expectations?

I’ve been doing a little experiment, and of my own little sample size (which is small . . . but big enough), when I’ve shared the news of my engagement, 90% of people will ask if I have a wedding date.

Ummm . .  . no.  We dated for 11 years and the engagement was a surprise.  If I were you, I would set my expectations appropriately.  Also?  There’s a little thing called a pandemic.  ‘Rona ruins all plans.

So . . .  after I’ve admitted my cluelessness about the wedding date, I’ve seldom (about 3% of the time) received the question that, in my mind, makes the most sense, which is “what kind of wedding do YOU want to have?”  Nopity nope. Instead, I’ve received a battery of opinions.  “You should have it in 2022.”  “You should have it before the end of the year.”  “You’d better invite me.”  “You should get your dress from . . . “  “You’d better not elope”  “Are you going to let _____ plan it?”  “You’d BETTER invite me.”  “You should have a shower at . . .”  “You should do it soon — your father isn’t getting any younger.”  “You’re inviting me, right?”

Yo . . . are these people crazy?

And my fiance . . . le sigh.  (First, I will admit that this is only about the fourth time that I’ve referred to him using the F word.  It’s still very surreal).  He owns an experiential marketing agency, and while he initially told me that I could do WHATEVER I want, he doesn’t mean it.  He has the best of intentions and loves to celebrate, but if we do have a wedding, and I don’t control him, there WILL be pyrotechnics.

I’m also somewhat fortunate in that both he and I have laid-back parents.  His mother is very sweet, and my father has not indicated ONE preference since he learned that we were engaged.  He has only offered to write a check, which I declined.

My mother, God rest her soul, would have been a different story.  She would have hated whatever dress I chose, and have forced me to invite all of her friends and people who remember when she was pregnant. Granted, she would have been happy to financially contribute, but it would have been like blood money, because it would have come with a hefty price.  Just the thought of my mother’s involvement evokes equal parts nostalgic laughter and significant anxiety.

So, all of this to say, if you’re one of the people who has been sitting back with popcorn, waiting for us to get engaged, thank you, but I hope you haven’t depleted your snack bowl.  If you don’t care, that’s also an appropriate response, but I would suggest storing this info for your next friend who gets engaged.

But, to answer some FAQs for those who STILL walk away from this with curiosity:

When are you guys getting married?  Not sure

Where are you getting married?  Not sure

Will you get married in a church?  [blank stare] Next question!

Have you picked out a dress?  If you’d ever witnessed me in the throes of choosing which of my 50 little black dresses to wear on a Saturday evening, you would understand that wedding dress selection is a process that could take MONTHS.  In short, no.

Are you going to have a wedding planner?  Yes.  Her name is Gina.  She’s an aggressive control freak.

Are you going to have a big wedding?  Well . . . at this point we can only have gatherings with 50 people in a room, so . . .  no?

Are you going to elope?  See . . . the definition of elopement is to run away and get married in SECRET.  If I mention elopement, it probably means we’ve already done it.

Are you going to invite me?  SECURITY!?!?!

Well, are you making any progress?  Again, PANDEMIC!  If there are any details worth sharing in the near future, I will spill the tea. Until then, I’m just enjoying my engagement and focusing on the relationship.

Sep 27, 2020 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Halley’s Comet

When I was much younger, my friends and I played a specific prank on each other.  In the middle of a sentence, or apropos of nothing, someone would point to the sky and scream “Halley’s Comet!”  The goal was to distract everyone and see who would fall for it.  At some point, everyone fell for it, even though we all consciously understood that we should have known better.

And that, good people, is what this election feels like.

I’m going to reiterate that I’m non-partisan, which, these days, boils down to the fact that I have just as many problems with Democrats as I do Republicans.  Because as far as I’m concerned, both parties could use an overhaul and redirection.

That said, as responsible citizens, we have to understand that there are a LOT of diversionary tactics being employed to sway factions of voters who, again, in my opinion, should have their feet firmly rooted in their voting choices based on 3.8 years of evidence.

Let’s discuss Trump’s Platinum Plan for Black people, shall we?

But, before I go on, can we all agree that Trump has done absolutely nothing to help Black people during his Presidency?  If anything, he’s actively hurt Black people (and before you rebut this, ask yourself the following question: am I Black?  If the answer is yes, keep reading.  If the answer is no,  shut up and keep reading).  He’s actively disparaged the BLM movement as a hate group, has openly fought AGAINST inclusion and openly PRAISED the Apartheid system of government that oppressed Blacks in South Africa.  He is quoted to have said “nobody loves Black people more than me.”  Sir, with the evidence I’VE seen?  I’m pretty sure that EVERYBODY loves Black people more than you.

Now . . . back to the Platinum Plan, which is outlined below:

platinum plan BS

I’m not going to go point-by-point here, because, irrelevant, but . . . while some might think this is an interesting plan, does anyone find it uncanny that he would propose such a plan RIGHT before the election?  Further, is anyone even slightly curious as to why he didn’t lead with this at the beginning of his Presidency?  I mean, one would THINK that a person who looooooves Black people as much as he claims to would have used such a plan as more than a last ditch effort to gain the Black vote.

It’s his very own Halley’s Comet, as he throws an imaginary diversion into the sky with the knowledge that at least a certain percentage of people will turn to look, with the hope of being dazzled by what will probably amount to a forgotten program, if it’s not complete bullshit at its inception, and cast a vote for him in November while distracted.

If there is nothing else to take away from this piece, plesae know that Halley’s Comet won’t make another appearance until 2061.  Don’t fall for it.  He’s President of a few . . .  which doesn’t include YOU.

 

 

 

Gratitude – 2nd chapter

Yesterday was my birthday, and it was bittersweet — with, really the only sweetness being that I’ve lived to see another year.

Between the pandemic, Hitlerian political rallies, senseless shootings, extreme disrespect, the staggering amount of garbage people in this country, and now the death of Chadwick Boseman, I can’t say that I’m in the mood to swing from the rafters.  Not that anyone is gathering in the first place.

I’m having a hard time with the death of Chadwick Boseman, and I take it as a sign that he expired on my birthday.  It has crystallized, in my mind, that we require escapism for inspiration.

Looking back at the last four years, I saw him twice.

I was fortunate enough to attend the Howard University graduation of 2018 in Washington, DC, and witness his keynote speech.  Boseman, himself, had graduated from Howard in 2000, and he was clearly a proud Bison.  He looked great. Healthy.  He was engaging, down-to-earth, inspirational, hilarious, and sent that beautiful class of brilliant Black graduates – and their adoring families – on an energized path to success.

The second time was in February of this year, at the closing party for the NBA All-Star game.   It was a relatively intimate setting in the VIP area. D-Nice and Clark Kent were spinning, and the party was a who’s who of Black celebrities and NBA stars.  Boseman walked in alone.  He was low-profile, wearing a backpack and his signature smile.  He greeted D-Nice and Clark Kent at the turntables and gave polite smiles to everyone in his midst.  Everyone was happy to see him. He walked past me, and I turned to get a better look.  I’d seen the pictures of him from recent months, where he was very thin, and I was pleased to see that he wasn’t nearly as gaunt as he’d looked in photographs. He hung out and joked with friends, and left within an hour or so.

People are awestruck that Boseman was able to accomplish so much while quietly battling a deadly illness, while I believe that his projects and ability to dig deep to make an impact and inspire others probably propelled him to live longer than the disease prescribed.

According to the press, Boseman had a four-year battle with colon cancer, so if we do the math, Black Panther was released in 2018 and took some years to make.  Boseman first appeared as Black Panther back in a 2016 Captain America film.  Four years ago.  And while it must have taken all of his energy to play that character — the first Black superhero — with his secret cancer, I can’t imagine the energy it gave him to know that he was going to motivate millions of people.  It was a true, selfless gift.  I can only imagine that he didn’t talk about his health because he didn’t want to distract from the message, and likely because it gave him the ability to be “normal” (although, what exactly does that mean, now?) for at least a few hours a day.

And, Cancer.  It’s probably the only thing that we can ALL agree on.  It’s not racist, sexist, elitist, or homophobic.  It’s an equal opportunity killer.

Looking back on all of it — Black Panther, my experiences, the photographs — I come away from it feeling as though I — and the rest of us — are going to need to escape into something to make it out of this.  Even if it’s only a few hours a day.  Life really is too much right now, and it’s easy to spend hours gaping at the television and watch everything happen to us.  I find myself having to be very intentional about taking the time to be creative, contribute to the world, lighten someone’s load, connect with friends on whatever level possible, and above all, be grateful.

Granted, 2020 is a dumpster fire of epic proportions.  Lots of people have lost their jobs.  Many friends have caught COVID, and some have passed away.  Several people have lost their parents.  2020 is the most productive serial killer that we’ve ever known.

BUT, I have to catch myself, because it’s easy to go down the slippery slope of sadness, and realistically, I have a lot to be grateful for. I have beautiful friends who thought enough of me to wish me a happy birthday.  I’m starting my new year with a busy job, a thriving small business, a fun new business, a home in which I don’t mind being quarantined, a father who is across the street and easy to stalk, I mean visit, and a great quarantine partner who is my favorite person, makes me laugh and gives me hope.  Also, as a bonus, we’re all in good health (today).  My germaphobic tendencies, which were previously regarded as kind of strange,  have made me especially equipped to remain healthy and so far COVID-free.   In fact, I’ve come to appreciate masks and might insist on wearing them going forward.  :-)

Now, I do realize that any of the aforementioned could change…on a dime, so I’m determined to make the best of this situation and be happy for what I have — at this moment — and live with the realization that I never know what others are going through.

 

Aug 27, 2020 - Uncategorized    1 Comment

America and the trend of disappointment – 1st chapter

I’ve been meaning to blog for several days, now, and each day my reason for blogging changes . . .  and escalates.  I’ll need to do this in chapters, and start with what’s bugging me the most.  I don’t know how many chapters there will be.  I’m going to surprise myself.

Let’s start with the shooting of Jacob Blake.  It was deplorable, right?  And before anyone chimes in to call him an “alleged” shooter, please don’t.  We all saw it, which means that there are no allegations in this situation.  Only facts.  Jacob Blake was BRUTALLY SHOT BY RUSTEN SHESKEY SEVEN TIMES, and the shooter should be charged with attempted murder.  Get comfortable with the label, just as Black people have grown accustomed to police shootings. Just because.

Scrolling through my social media feeds earlier this afternoon, I saw a story about Brian Urlacher, the meathead hairplug-having football player (who has a Black son), who is standing up for the little murderous psychopath whose deranged mother drove him to the protest with an illegal weapon so that he could openly kill and shoot protesters in Kenosha.  Again, no allegations here.  ABSOLUTE FACTS.

There were comments, and an idiot chimed in with a “Blue Lives Matter” sentiment.  Okay . . . you know what?  Let’s get something straight.  Blue Lives Matter is NOT a thing. Okay?  It doesn’t exist.

I’m sorry . .  . what’s that, Karen?  You don’t get it?  Well . . . let me drill it into your head.

My birth certificate states that I was born a Black female child.  Even before I knew the difference between people or understood the depths of the gutter of inequality that existed between myself and others.  I had several talks by my parents starting when I was a tiny child and was made to understand that there were things I couldn’t do, and places I couldn’t go – especially nestled in the racist neighborhoods of Beverly and Mt. Greenwood on the south side of Chicago, where I attended private school with white students who paid the same tuition, but with more freedom and the privilege of peace.  I had to be twice as good to get half as much.

At the end of the day, I and my Blackness go to sleep together, wake up together, and take the good and the bad of life . . . together.  I couldn’t escape it if I wanted to. And for the record, I don’t want to, because I believe that being Black is an amazing way of life.  We’re colorful with creativity and complicated and storied histories.  Our ancestors have strength and fortitude and have passed along the concepts of humor, great food, and spices.  (Ah, blessed spices!)  We have beautiful skin that remains majestic against time and weather conditions.  Most clever things originate with us, and we have natural elements of beauty that other races pay dearly to replicate.  We are amazing.  If only we could get people to stop condemning us, murdering us, and loving everything about us . . . except us.

People like to combat Black Lives Matter by saying that Blue Lives Matter, which is nothing short of an insult.  See . . . people choose to be police officers.  Cops are made, not born.  They attend the police academy and earn their blue suits. They can also take those suits off at the end of the day or retire their uniforms should they so choose.  Sure, people should have pride in what they do for a living, but when off-duty police officers go to the grocery store, or out with friends, or anywhere,  they’re just people.  There’s no real culture around the blue, unless you count keeping mum while your corrupt co-workers steal, kill and serve themselves rather than society.

Police officers can matriculate stealthily in crowds without being detected.  And, guess what?  There are several bad police officers, just as there are bad doctors, lawyers, and nurses.  It’s a profession,  Karen and Chad.   And if you’ve taken it that seriously and turned it into a way of life, I would suggest re-examining your choices. Because, were I you, I wouldn’t align with the deep culture of corruption that resides in the police force.  And sure . . . there are a lot of good cops.  But, dirty cops?  They’re like malignant cancer cells that metastasize until they cripple the entire entity.   (And if you choose to continue in your profession as a police officer who actually protects and serves as outlined by the job description, do yourself and the rest of us a favor and stand up against your criminalistic cohorts.  They’re giving you a bad name.  But I digress . . . )

The bottom line here is that you cannot compare Black life to your profession, or your father’s profession, or your husband’s.  When you stand firm and say things like “blue lives matter” or “we back the blue,” what you’re really saying is that you stand behind even the very worst police officer  — the one who is an embarrassment to the police organization.  You’re saying that you condone the murders of the innocent and the mentally incapacitated.  You’re saying that you are perfectly fine with the actions of the cops who have raped young women in their custody.  You stand firm with people who are SO power-hungry and depraved that they operate on a platform of taking advantage of citizens, rather than upholding the law.

It’s fine, though, because I like to know who I’m dealing with.

Again, the unfollow button is somewhere . . .

 

Jul 29, 2020 - Racebook    No Comments

Literals

Sometimes I really believe that most people are divided by simple semantic misunderstandings.

When certain terms were created and popularized, the originators didn’t take into account the reduced mental capacities among the lowest common denominator, who take everything – including all of what they glean from Fox News -  very literally.

For example, when “white privilege” is discussed, there are a lot of white people (many of whom are financially compromised) who somehow think that we (non-white people) believe that each and every white person has been endowed with a windfall of cash and resources that creates their privilege and makes their lives simple and easy.

Wrong answer.

Obviously there are a lot of white people who are financially disadvantaged.  However, overcoming bias due to their skin color is not one of the things that makes their lives hard.   It’s the privilege of receiving the benefit of the doubt, and the lack of preconceived notions and equal treatment.  It’s being 10 steps ahead of an equally educated and qualified, yet darker person.  My joke is that if you’re white and you’re not having fun, the problem is you.  I’m not really joking, though, if you’re searching for your white privilege, look within, because it was yours to lose.

Next, let’s tackle the most politically charged misconstrued term — “Black lives matter.”  So, let’s take a step back to reintroduce that reduced mental capacity that I discussed a few paragraphs ago.  To people who aren’t critical thinkers, it might seem that we’re saying that, because Black lives matter, nobody else’s life matters.  This is also the viewpoint of a person who believes that if s/he wins, others must lose — which goes against the very point of the BLM movement.

To be clear, the spirit of Black Lives Matter is inclusive, rather than exclusive.  When the constitution was written, it stated that all men are created equal, which clearly didn’t apply to Black men, who were only considered to be 3/5 of a person at the time.  So, it’s not a case of only Black Lives Matter.  We just want a seat at the table with those who have always mattered.  And until Black Lives Matter, there will never be true equality.

The people who vigorously (and often violently) espouse “All Lives Matters” are, in reality, trying to solidify their own (groundless) superior positions, and haven’t studied society (or anything else) long enough to realize that a) there’s enough room for everyone, and b) if OUR rights are being so egregiously violated, it’s only a matter of time before they’re coming for yours.

Let’s keep going, and introduce another concept that seems to create endless discussions and, again, a LOT of misunderstanding.  When we talk about “defunding the police,” the literals (not to be confused with liberals) think that the goal is to remove every single dollar used to pay the police force.  As if THAT makes any sense.

No, Karen, and bless your heart.

In reality, “defunding the police” is the process of reallocating a portion of the police budget to entities who are educationally equipped to de-escalate situations that would better benefit from mental health, youth services or community support professionals, rather than a weapon-crazy police force who would sooner kill an unarmed mentally ill citizen who’s just different, or simply having a moment, rather than apply a sense of humanity and actually try to create a good outcome.

It’s not that anyone believes that ALL police officers are bad and/or corrupt because there are quite a few good ones, and they are appreciated.  It’s just that, by-and-large, the average officer behaves out of fear rather than concern.

Also?  If we eliminate the millions of dollars spent settling police brutality cases, there would be plenty of available money to engage other assistance without disturbing existing police salaries.  Just a thought.

I’m also finding that the literals  — especially the ones who don’t have any people of color in their lives — seem to have a foundational belief that racism doesn’t exist (irrespective of all evidence) which means they feign confusion about why BLM is necessary, to begin with.  Never mind that they’re always the very ones being caught on video, hatefully spewing the N-word as if their very existences rely on it.   I was actually having a heated debate on my very own Facebook wall a few months ago with someone who purported to be oblivious to the depths of racism, and five minutes later talked about their experience with “the blacks.”  When I stopped laughing long enough to resume typing, I suggested that perhaps this person should defer to someone who looks like me, since I’m the one with the first-hand experiences (translation: “Bitch, please.”)

And while I’m choking on irony, let’s finally discuss how the people who believe in All Lives Matters, and probably giving MORE money to the police, and who think that there is neither racism nor white privilege SOMEHOW feel that wearing a mask is a violation of their human rights.

Ummmm . . . . WHAT?

A year ago, nobody could have convinced me that a large percentage of US citizens would actually be rebelling against rudimentary hygiene habits which could reduce a deadly pandemic.  Under a normal administration, a germ shield and basic handwashing principles wouldn’t be politicized, yet here we are.  What’s next?  Rebellion against scrubbing asses and feet?

Has anyone noticed, though, how karma has been stepping in?  Lots of incidents of people who have been vocal about how the virus is a hoax have been afflicted.  I’m sitting back with a socially distanced bowl of popcorn to see how this plays out.

Jul 26, 2020 - Mi familia    1 Comment

Be Good to Seniors

It’s Sunday, and I try to keep myself busy on Sunday mornings because they were usually reserved for conversations with my aunts.

Growing up, I can’t remember a Sunday when my mother didn’t insist that we make our rounds of calls.  We were the only Chicagoans in a family of east coast dwellers, and while I would visit them every summer, during the other seasons she wanted to make sure that my relationships with her 10 older siblings were reinforced. So, Sunday mornings were always reserved for phone calls to, at least, my Aunts.  She taught me that it was my responsibility to check on them, and felt that the onus was hers to instill.

Fast forward to adulthood, the tradition continued, but I sadly have fewer people to call. My Aunt Emily passed away in 2014 at the age of 86.  She was the sister closest in age to my mother, and the happy recipient of my mother’s jewelry when she passed away.  The best part about Aunt Emily was her lack of filter, which grew more threadbare as she aged.  It was wonderful to hear unvarnished versions of the stories that I’d heard throughout childhood, without the truth being altered to protect the reputations of the guilty.  I so looked forward to our conversations, which would sometimes last for several hours, because she was also a fantastic person to talk to, having seen it all, done it all, with great advice to share.  And because she knew me so well, the advice was personalized and valuable.

Some people would say that it was “good of me” to call her regularly.  But she didn’t need me; I needed her.  My cousin, her son, was an amazing caretaker.  I felt it was my honor and privilege to have her in my life.  I selfishly wish she were still here because I have SO many more unanswered questions.

The shittiest part of becoming an adult has been watching my older relatives succumb to aging, and eventually leaving us.

Which brings me to the point of this blog, buried all the way down in the 6th paragraph.  (BTW, the beauty of blogging is that I can take great liberties with the rules of writing, and if I feel like burying a lead, I bury a lead without fear of scolding from an editor.  And I can completely digress if I want to.  :-) )  So, I’m really concerned about our treatment of seniors.

During my frequent trips to the grocery store, I notice a lot of seniors, moving slowly, fending for themselves in a sea of the frantic able-bodied desperate shoppers who view the elderly as mere impediments to their pace.  Some of them don’t have proper PPE, and I wonder how they arrived at the store, and if they’ll get home safely.

My dad is in his 90s, and I am more grateful for him than I can express.  He lives across the street (at my insistence), and he’s my favorite neighbor.  I’m fortunate in that he’s more alert and physically capable than people several decades his junior.  While I applaud his mobility and encourage him to be independent and social, his daily errands (pre-pandemic) were also terrifying, because we live in a society of disrespect.

Just as I was taught to check on my older relatives, I was also instructed to look out for the elderly on my block — make sure they don’t need anything, pick things up for them, offer to help, never call them by their first name, and the list goes on.

Unfortunately, those traditions haven’t been maintained by most people and I rarely see kids who have the proper amount of respect for elders.  I take great care to make sure that my father doesn’t fall victim to scammers or bad-ass younger folks who would kill him for $20.  And those are just the people in my own family!  I kid, I kid, but it does happen in some families.  It’s heartbreaking to learn when seniors are taken advantage of or mistreated.  I wouldn’t go to jail for many things, but let me hear that a person is trying to abuse my father or any of my elderly relatives, and I would act first and don the orange jumpsuit later.

That said, I hope everyone who reads this truly understands the value of seniors. Maybe they’re not regarded as fun to talk to, or they might move slower than you, or not grasp technology as well.  They might not go out drinking or partying with you, but they’re still the same amazing people they’ve always been, except they’re now living within aging bodies that betray them daily, and most of them aren’t happy about it.  They have stories to tell and things to teach, and as one of my good friends often says, when a senior citizen dies, it’s like an entire library burns down.  We shouldn’t move so fast that we forget them.

Being child-free,  I often wonder where I’ll be when I move past my age of “usefulness,” if I’m lucky enough to live so long.  I do like the idea of co-locating nursing homes with childcare centers, and while little kids drive me insane, the interaction is good for both seniors and children.  Older people could benefit from the youthful energy of little kids, and children need to benefit from the wisdom, and be taught patience and respect.

The best thing I’ve seen lately was the outpour of responses for seniors in nursing homes who were looking for penpals.  I hope it continues, and for the people who don’t have seniors to care for, I encourage everyone to informally adopt one — especially during this pandemic — and make sure they’re okay.   Have good conversations, because tomorrow isn’t promised.  You never know what you’ll learn.

 

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