Jul 4, 2020 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Not monolithic, and why I don’t celebrate the 4th of July

Not sure where to begin on this one.

It’s July 4th, and I don’t normally celebrate the true meaning of this day, although I’m happy to have the days off.  As far as I’m concerned, this day — the day that the US declared independence from England — also marks the day that they needed a little help building the new country.  Guess where they got that help?  So, while the day is commemorated with fireworks, gatherings and good food, for black people, it’s tantamount to whooping it up to celebrate the inception of slavery.   And as I said, I’m happy for the days off, but I won’t be getting a cake with a flag on it anytime soon.

This is not a lesson taught in schools.

As a matter of fact, when we’re young and in elementary school (or grammar school, depending on your region), we learn about other countries.  Inevitably, the teacher will ask whose parents come from Italy, and we hear all about being Italian.  Whose family is from Greece?  Students might’ve raised their hands, and took a moment to tell us about their culture.  Lather, rinse, repeat for any number of countries.  In my class, I didn’t have the benefit of other black kids who could tell direct stories about Africa or the Caribbean, so the black American kids didn’t really have interesting stories to tell and since the assumption was that we were all descendants of slaves, the white kids – with their pride in their various ethnicities — were left to assume that we were all the same, which is the very wrong assumption.

I could prattle on ALL day about all of the different factions of black people, and how regions within the US impact our upbringing and viewpoints.  I’m of the personal opinion that much of the separation among black people can be taken back to slavery when Africans were captured from several countries — many of which spoke different languages and couldn’t communicate with one another — and lumped together, while slave masters prohibited communication in their native tongues, despite their refusal to teach them the English language.  The dissension began there and was furthered when slaves were separated by skin color, with favor given to the light-skinned slaves, (an issue that continues to divide us), who were typical products of rape by the slave master. Black women are portrayed as oversexualized to this day, due to the narrative that we were wanton seductresses who tempted slave owners. (blech!)

You see, it made sense for slave owners and white people, in general, to dissuade camaraderie and encourage ignorance among slaves, because it lessened the chance of slaves bonding together and rising up against them.  Perhaps the inception of white fragility.

Fast forward 400 years, and there are still clear separations.  While we share the presence of melanin, our viewpoints vary.  Just as Italians, Greeks, Lithuanians, etc., aren’t culturally aligned with one another, there’s not always alignment among us either.  I, personally, don’t align with Caribbean culture, nor will I fit in with traditional African cultures.  I have an east coast family, so I’m not really at home with black people from the deep south.  Within Chicago, I’m a south sider, and there’s a legendary rift between the south and west sides of the city.  Nothing wrong with those other factions, but it is what it is.

When we factor in the socio-economic differences, white people vary dramatically . . . and so do black people.  Early in my career, in my most hated job, I worked with a woman – Noreen (her real name, because I don’t care), who was racist (and an aging ho, but I digress).  We were walking down the street together one day, and there was a homeless black man who was probably drunk, and trying to talk to us.  Noreen asked me to “translate” because she didn’t “speak black.”   I was visibly and audibly unhappy about this, and she looked at me as though she would have no idea why I would be annoyed.  Some time later, I referred to “her people” who were from the trailer park, and when she looked equally annoyed with me, I winked at her — a gesture that was lost on her, but made me happy.

Also, just like white people, there is a distinct division between honest people and criminals.  I laugh when white people introduce black-on-black crime as a supposition that we don’t care about our own lives, which begs the question of why they should jump on board with Black Lives Matters.  It’s funny because it doesn’t make sense on multiple levels.  I think of it as, simply, crime, because I don’t align with criminals (irrespective of skin color), and I can’t explain why they do what they do, nor do I take responsibility for them.  People love to ask:  “WHAT is going on in the black community?  Why are there so many shootings?”  Hell, I don’t know.  It could be a gang war, or maybe it has to do with drugs, OR perhaps it has to do with the reduced income levels, which always results in an increase in crime.  I wish I had an answer.

Circling back, the bottom line here is that we were taught differences between white people, and they weren’t taught ours because nobody knows what to teach them, and they don’t want to be taught by us.  Because of my upbringing, I know a lot about various cultures – Italian, Jewish, etc.  But most of my childhood friends can’t reciprocate their knowledge of mine.  So many white people, when they think of us, believe we’re all the same.

At my second most hated job, which was only a few years ago,  I worked with a woman known as my Crazy Racist Coworker.  I would use her real name (because again, don’t care), but if you follow me on FB, you’ve read the stories, so in the interest of consistency I’ll refer to her here as CRC.  That said, CRC once told me, after I received accolades from a black partner in the firm, that “you black people all stick together.”  So, I said “Bitch, do you watch the news?”  CRC, with her po-dunk hicktown beginnings and eventual venture into the “big city” where she nestled comfortably into the most homogeneous neighborhood that she could find, made a LOT of groundless suppositions.  CRC, who has never taken the time to honestly get to know one person of color, assumed, again, that we’re all the same.

Not sure if a lot of white people realize this, so I’m going to spell it out really clearly.  We are all very different, and can’t be expected to provide one viewpoint on anything.  That’s why, when I’m asked to be the ambassador of black people for some of my melanin-challenged associates, I always qualify the answer with “well, I can’t speak for all black people,” because I cannot. You’re just going to have to truly get to know a wide range of us and round out your opinions.

But back to the point . . . black people have had a long history of not being able to trust members of alleged “authority,” and victimized by white people who wanted to hold us back, with the belief that we are “savages” as originally defined by white people during the times of slavery, which extends to modern day, as intimated in the media.  It’s all psychological warfare, really.

The tables have turned, because it’s now time for white people to have a seat and learn something from and about black people.  We live in a world that they don’t know, and we have experiences that are unrelatable and in many cases unfathomable to them, but necessary to understand.

All of that said, the ONE thing that all black people DO agree on is that there need to be laws in this country to protect us from the very people who are supposed to be in charge.  Y’know, the descendants of the delightful people who wrote the constitution — where it’s stated that we’re all created equal — and conveniently retreated to their plantations to whip slaves who weren’t considered to be people at all?  Again, I digress.

And here we are in 2020, marching for the right to simply stay alive.  But this time we’re educated, and we’re amazed that FINALLY, a meaningful number of white people understand that murders by police and generally brutal treatment of black people by a range of white people – from shit-kicking morons to self-righteous Karens to corporate assholes who implement institutional racism to the President of the United States – is complete bullshit and needs to cease.

Honestly?  I hate Trump, and I’m super embarrassed that we have a failed businessman and reality TV star as the leader of our nation.  (If you voted for him, congratulations!  Now we’re on Survivor.) BUT,  I can only be grateful that he’s so polarizing and awful, because it took someone like him — a man who role models violence, makes fun of the physically disadvantaged, grabs women by the pussy, should I really go on? -  to cast a bright light on our problems. If he exists only to move this movement forward, I guess I can forgive his parents for having him.  Also, the absolute best part about this whole thing is that a very disconnected group of people (by design) with similar physical traits can get on the same page about wanting to see reform.

Hoping for something different to celebrate in the coming years, and I wish everyone a happy day, however you choose to enjoy the great weather.  Oh, and put on a goddamned mask  :-)

 

 

 

Jun 23, 2020 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Straight out of the playbook . . .

I have to admit that I’m tired of writing about race relations, but I’ve promised myself that every single day that I encounter something new, I will consider it a teachable moment for anyone who might want to learn.  For those who are, indeed, interested in learning, my topic of the day is the implications of commonly used sayings and phrases that are straight out of the playbook.  Specifically, the racist playbook.

First, let me explain where I’m coming from.

Remember that old Bruce Willis film, The Sixth Sense, where the young Haley Joel Osment claims to see dead people?  He sees them everywhere, and they only see what they want to see without the realization that they’re actually dead.  At the end [spoiler alert], Malcolm Crow, the Bruce Willis character, discovers that he’s been dead all along, and it’s a very emotional scene.   We’ve all seen that, right?

So . . . I’ve observed striking similarities in some racists.  They’re the Malcolm Crow of racists, and they don’t think they’re racists, and in fact, they roam the earth with the full belief that they’re accepting of all variations of people . . . until something slips out and they play their hands.

No worries, though, because I’m here to help.  If you’ve ever said any item on the list below, you might be an unintentional covert racist.  For the record, I’ve heard or read each one of these in the past seven days.

  1. “I don’t see color.”  C’mon now . . . yes, you do.  And you absolutely should.  Seeing no color, as you claim, means that you also don’t see discrimination.  In order to be a true anti-racist — if that’s your goal — you need to see it all so that you can defend against it.  When people say that they don’t see color, I immediately take that to mean that they don’t care to be bothered with anything that comes along with being a person of color.  Which is . . .what?  That’s right.  Racist.
  2. “All Lives Matter.”  So . . . here’s the deal.  Black people think that white lives matter too.  But the problem is that the sentiment is often not returned, and ALL lives aren’t endangered. Saying All Lives Matter in the wake of so many blatant and unpunished infractions against Black people is like going to the funeral of a friend’s child, and announcing that All Children Matter.  Well, of course they do, but we’re mourning the loss of one specific child today.  Comparing your vibrant and healthy child to one that’s been tragically killed is horribly insensitive.  Don’t you agree?
  3. “If you don’t like it, you can always leave the country.”  And go where, idiot?  I’m American.  So, your suggestion is that I find another home, because I don’t enjoy receiving poor treatment in a country where I pay taxes?  How about you help figure out a way that every citizen of this country feels good about being a US passport holder?  If you merely enjoy basking in your own comfort without concerning yourself with the mistreatment of others, sorry, but that makes you a racist.  And an asshole.
  4. Referring to Black people as “Blacks” or “the Blacks.”  Trump didn’t create this speech pattern, although he is expert at it.   Saying things like “I never met Blacks before,” is a) kind of stupid, and b) removes the human element.  “I’ve never met a Black person” is not only more grammatically correct, but also FAR more respectful and humanizing.  Using an article in front of a group, e.g. “the Blacks,” “the gays,” etc., puts distance in between oneself and that group.  They are “other,” and typically anyone who refers to “the Blacks” isn’t doing so in a complimentary way.  Again, racist.
  5. “Why are we protesting the police when Black people are killing each other anyway?  Seems counterproductive.”  This was a direct quote from a woman who, after my response, now wishes that she had never positioned her fingers on the keyboard to type those words.  Suffice it to say that this one burns me, because what she’s really saying is “They’re just going to kill each other anyway, so the police might as well do it, too.”   Not only does that make zero sense, but it’s also incredibly rude and born of the erroneous belief that “we’re all the same.”  The Black-on-Black crime argument is a white supremacist distraction tactic that has a solid foundation of unintelligence and attempts to take the attention away from the real issues.  Let’s break it down in a way that might make sense.  While most crimes against Black people are committed by Black people, most crimes against white people are committed by . . . who?  That’s right! White people!  Criminals exist in every culture, and they’re going to prey on the closest victim.  But let’s not focus on the criminals, because I don’t care to consort with them either.  Let’s also not focus on Black-on-Black crime.  I vote to simply consider it just plain crime.  If we’re going to differentiate,  let’s focus on the subsets that are rarely brought to justice: White-on-Black crime and especially Blue-on-Black crime, perpetrated by the very people who have been hired to protect and to serve.  When police behavior is indiscernible from criminal behavior, we should ALL realize that there’s a faulty process in place.   #systemicracism
  6. “If they followed instructions, maybe they wouldn’t get killed.”  Where do I start?  Well . . . Breonna Taylor was sleeping in her own home.  Also, most of the people who have been shot and killed by police were either committing petty crimes that shouldn’t have warranted drawn guns, or doing absolutely nothing wrong.  George Floyd was suspected of passing a fake $20 bill, didn’t resist arrest, and was STILL killed when he should have merely been questioned.  Rayshard Brooks was drunk.  Have you ever known a drunk person who followed instructions? (That’s right . . . think back to last weekend)  Granted, he shouldn’t have been drunk driving, but according to MADD, each day 300,000 people drive drunk.  Imagine if they were all killed.  And why resist arrest?  So, have you SEEN what cops do to Black people who are under arrest?  WHO would sign up for that?  Especially a drunk person.  If you are the sober person in the situation, and a member of law enforcement, it is YOUR JOB to de-escalate the situation and make sure that EVERYONE is safe.  (I touched on this in the previous blog.  I feel like I’m starting to repeat myself, but apparently repetition is necessary in this case)
  7. “Blue Lives Matter.”  We don’t have anything to discuss.  At least nothing you want to hear.

 

Once again, I hope that helps.  Maybe one day I’ll get back to ranting about cooking utensils, crowded parties and people who insist on hugging without permission.  Until then, I’ll be getting on everyone’s nerves with these posts until we see true reform.  There’s an unsubscribe button here, somewhere . . .   #youvebeenwarned

Jun 19, 2020 - Rants, Uncategorized    2 Comments

Privilege and the pandemic

Twice in a month from me.  Don’t pass out.  There’s a lot to discuss.

As I posted on Facebook earlier this week, I’m not my typical snarky humorous self . . . because I’m not really in the mood.  I’ve been toiling over this blog for DAYS, which is unlike me, and I’m forcing myself to finish it today, on Juneteenth.

People are funny, in their suggestions and expectations.  Someone approached me recently, pointing out that my posts have been  heavy, and suggesting that I infuse  more “light-hearted energy.”  My knee-jerk reaction was to say something like “Bitch, I’m not Bozo.  Look at the world around you! You’re tired of hearing about racism?  Well, I don’t care, because I’m tired of experiencing it.”

I refrained, although I wish I hadn’t.

At a time when everyone should be bonding together against a common enemy (COVID-19), we’re dealing with a messy tangle of anger and unrest, which led me to think about privilege.

Privilege is a term that we throw around to the point where it’s lost its original meaning, or the meaning has become secondary to the term itself, if that makes sense.

To be clear, to have privilege – specifically white privilege, for purposes of this post – doesn’t mean that your life isn’t hard; it means that your skin color isn’t the source of your hardship.

Privilege means that you can spend a great deal of time focusing on your success, if you so choose, without having your productivity overshadowed by thoughts of how you’ll be perceived or that you will be underestimated before one word exits your mouth.  Or not even having to consider that the conversation would be different if you weren’t present among your otherwise homogeneous group of colleagues.

Privilege also means that the most uncouth, embarrassing ugly American (white) can travel freely to any country with the feeling that everyone there will be so happy to have him, as long as he’s spending the mighty US dollar.  In the meantime, a natural part of my vacation planning – before booking a flight — is research, and asking friends and Google whether or not my desired destination is safe for black people.

Privilege means that you don’t have to spend a lot of time thinking about how simply going about the course of your day, and casually finding yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time could get you into a stupid racially-charged argument, at minimum, or potentially killed.

Privilege means going through life without the realization or recognition of the fact that racism is actually a white person’s problem.  White people created it, and it’s going to take white people to get rid of it — once they pay attention to it.

And, white privilege can be defined as the white person’s ability to look at the Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd murders, or even incidents with people like Amy Cooper — alias Central Park Karen, and the stupid woman who called the cops to report a man stenciling Black Lives Matter on his OWN HOUSE, without seeing him/herself in those situations.

Every single altercation and murder has been very personal to me.  I could have been Breonna Taylor,  shot dead in my home.  I could have been Sandra Bland. I could be any of the departed, murdered in the street by an egomaniacal cop (likely one whose previous documented use of excessive force has gone unpunished) who has decided that he should be judge, jury, and executioner for a crime that I didn’t commit — because he operates with the (societally-supported) assumption that my life does not matter.  I can imagine the desperation that each victim must have felt — that their lives were dependent on the whims of a psycho with a badge, and there’s not a damned thing that anyone can or will do about it.  Dying wasn’t on the agenda for the day, yet here they are.

Despite the “compliments” I’ve received from white people over the years (“you’re not black black, you’re white black” [WHAT?] or “you outclass yourself” [HUNH??]), at the end of the day (or at the beginning of the day), I’m just a random black person in the eyes of white strangers and most important, law enforcement, regardless of how much education I have, or what I happen to be doing.

But I believe in the Universe and cosmic connections and it’s no accident that this is 2020, the year of perfect vision and hindsight. It’s only fitting that we start to see this situation in a new light, create real change and perhaps begin the dismantling of an entire judicial system that’s been in place since we were regarded as 3/5 of a person.

And I’ll tell you what . . . I’m sick to DEATH of hearing the argument “if they follow instructions, they wouldn’t have been shot.”  So . . . WHY would anyone blindly follow the instructions of people they don’t trust and have NEVER been able to trust?  Also?  The majority of the people who have been shot and killed by police weren’t committing crimes.  So, their crime was maybe resisting arrest for resisting arrest?  You get that doesn’t make sense, right?

I’m also sick of the black-on-black crime argument because it’s used by racists as a distraction from the real issue.

Let’s not forget that the job of a police officer is to de-escalate a situation and apprehend a suspect.  The fifth amendment of the constitution tells us that no citizen shall be deprived of “life, liberty, or property without the due process of law.”  This means that Officer Asshole is not entitled to be judge, jury, and executioner for a person who’s crossing a street, selling loose cigarettes, going five miles over the speed limit, or any other petty crime that has been the catalyst for killing a black person in recent years.

You cannot stand for the flag while ignoring the constitution.

Now, before I completely digress, let’s get back to the pandemic, which has been pushed to the side since the George Floyd murder.  While everyone’s protesting unprotected, and returning to their lives of carefree gathering, hugging and handshaking, the Coronavirus infections and fatalities continue, and I’m sure we’ll be quarantined again within the next month.

So, throughout all of this, I guess I’m curious about how everyone is dealing with this.

If you take everything that’s going on, and layer on all of the other lifey-life shit (money, family, career, relationships), while removing the ability for joy, it’s truly a recipe for a mental breakdown. Without friends, gathering, movie theater nights, or social experiences to alleviate the general sadness, our spirits can become really dark.

I would like for us to remember that there’s only so much we can take, and encourage us all to take breaks when and wherever we’re able.  It’s going to get harder before it gets better.

 

 

 

 

 

May 26, 2020 - Rants    2 Comments

I’m back . . . now let’s talk life, video and why I hate apologies

Sheesh, it’s been a minute (and by “minute,” I mean “years”).

One of the beautiful things about this pandemic and quarantine is that I feel my creativity slowly coming back, and I actually feel like blogging again, and I created a t-shirt company as an outlet for my snark.  All good signs.

What drove me to commentary is a situation in the news today where Amy Cooper, an investment professional, falsely called the police to say that her life was being threatened by Christian Cooper a bird-watching Black man (no relation), simply because he asked her to leash her dog in The Ramble, an area of Central Park which attracts over 200 species of birds and dogs are to be leashed at all times.

The story is outrageous because we all know that calling the police on a Black person — especially one that claims a threat to life — is tantamount to a death sentence.  If she hadn’t meant him harm, she would have simply said “man” rather than placing the emphasis “African American man.”  The situation has escalated to the point where her employer – Franklin Templeton – has announced via Twitter that they have fired her, and stated that they don’t tolerate racism of any kind.  Good for them.

The truly sad part is that so many people were concerned about the life of the dog over that of the man. In fact, had Cooper not been damn near strangling that poor little dog on camera, I doubt that there would have been so much outrage for the incident.

The unfortunate reality is that black people are used to this treatment.  We shouldn’t be, but it’s common.  Being underestimated because of the color of our skin, with the assumption being that we’re committing crimes while we’re just going about the normal courses of life, doing typically mundane things that are within our rights as human beings.

I would argue that unbiased, racially sensitive white women should actually be the most outraged by Cooper’s stunt.  Readers who haven’t seen the video should really invest a few minutes of time, if for no other reason than to witness her multi-tasking animal cruelty with an Oscar-worthy (manufactured) performance on her 911 call, rivaled only by the acting talents of Reese Witherspoon or Meryl Streep.

By embodying the essence of “the boy who cried wolf,” Amy Cooper has contributed to the reduction of the credibility of white women everywhere — adding herself to the long list of Barbecue Beckys and Karens of the world, who relish in calling the police in retaliation to people of color who don’t stay within their boundaries.  At some point, future claims of “life-threatening” infractions will cause a delay in punitive action, with the 911 agent immediately wondering if s/he is being “Amy Coopered.”

From Amy Cooper herself, we’ve heard a watery apology and a claim that the video is “ruining her life.”  According to Cooper, she was scared, which I don’t buy for a second.  Scared people retreat, rather than threaten.  Her actions were those of an empowered, perhaps narcissistic person who believes that she’s the exception to the rule.  Cooper wanted the world to know that, while her actions appeared to be racist, that’s not really who she is.  I mean, she DID refer to him as an African American man on the 911 call, right?  It could have been so much worse!

Bless her heart.  Her parents must be so proud.

I’m not really a fan of apologies in general, because they always go a little something like this:

  • I’m really sorry (that I was caught)
  • That’s not really who I am (in public, and I certainly didn’t mean to expose my bullshit to the entire world)
  • I apologize if you were offended (because that would be your problem . . . not mine)
  • I hope you can forgive me (and I REALLY hope that my employer can be equally forgiving because the economic impact is truly the only reason why I’m eating crow.  I still have the same viewpoints, but going forward I’ll know to keep my mouth shut in mixed company)

I would have had more respect for her if she’d actually refrained from apologizing, and taken a different approach:

“I’ve given a lot of thought to my actions, and I’ve reached the conclusion that I did operate with bias, and my retaliation exposed my belief that an African-American man had no business reprimanding me about how I handled my dog in ANY setting — regardless of my having broken the rules of a park that is shared by millions of New Yorkers.  Upon reflection, I realize that I have a lot of work to do, much of which will be recalibrating my thinking, perhaps working against my upbringing and eliminating any actions that reflect my deep-seated feelings that I am better than others. If I find myself in a similar situation in the future, I will strive to react differently.” 

Or something like that.  Fantasy?  Perhaps, but maybe one day . . .

 

 

Sep 23, 2017 - Stories We'd Tell    2 Comments

Our podcast — Backstory of Stories We’d Tell In Bars – the good, the bad and the ugly

Hello beautiful people!

So . . . what’s new with me is that I’m contributing to a new podcast.  Here’s the story.  My fabulous friend, Jen Lancaster, recently wrote and released a memoir — her 15th book — titled Stories I’d Tell In Bars.  She self-published this book, which gave her the latitude and autonomy to supply her strong fan base with what they desired of her — fun stories as only Jen can tell.

The only trouble is that she has to do all of the promotions and marketing herself, and decided to also embark on a podcast, which I thought was a great idea.  Even though I’d never listened to a podcast.  Some people listen while driving but I’ve always opted for music, as it quells my road rage.  I have friends who enjoy podcasts and have had a few on my list but as I no longer have a commute to work, I never found the time to listen.

That said, when she invited me to join her, I was both flattered and concerned.  Flattered, because of course I was.  Concerned because a) as I mentioned above, I’d never even listened to a podcast, so I would have homework to do, b) I HATE my voice and c) I’m an extroverted introvert and while I love writing, my spoken sense of humor isn’t for everyone.  BUT we decided to proceed, with the BF graciously agreeing to engineer the recordings and master our sound, for which we are truly grateful.  Welcome to Stories We’d Tell In Bars!

podcast

We moved forward.  Jen sets and outlines our content, which mirrors the chapters in her latest book, and we chat about stuff.  We’re doing well and getting better as we go.  I’m getting used to the sound of my own voice . . . kind of.  We’re getting mostly good reviews . . .  and predictably we’re getting some bad reviews.

Jen advised me a LONG time ago not to read reviews because they will twist you and piss you off.  As usual, she is not wrong.  Yet I persist.  I’m learning to laugh at them, but I’m also growing because of them (as I laugh at myself in the process).

I don’t typically get shitty about reviews, because we’re in a society of opinions and there was certainly plenty of feedback when I wrote The Gina Spot.  I do, however, get sort of irritated when the perceptions are because of something that I failed to communicate.

I’m getting crucified in reviews mostly because of the “Straight Trippin’” episode where we talk about travel.  Jen and I are discussing all of the things we require in a travel scenario.  I talked about our trip to Indonesia this year, and I complained about the long-ass 22 hour flight and confessed that it was the first time that I’d ever taken a long flight in coach.

Oh Lord . . . WHY did I say that?  ”She’s pretentious”  ”Who does she think she is?” “She’s unrelatable.”  (Never mind that I can’t think of one soul who enjoys cramming one’s ample ass into a micro-seat for nearly a day, but I digress.  Also? There’s no pretension-inhibitor like being a black woman in America [especially now], but that’s a different  topic altogether) The bottom line is that I didn’t tell the complete story, which I should have (even though it would have elongated an already long podcast).

Here goes . . .  to be clear . . . I DO enjoy flying first class.  Whenever I can.  Because who doesn’t??  I will scrounge for an upgrade like no other!  But when I’ve traveled to the Caribbean?  COACH!  New York?  COACH!  LA?  COACH! Business travel for Naturals (my startup)?  Honestly? You could probably weld me to the top of the plane if I were guaranteed a cheaper fare, and I’d adjust to the wind.

There are exceptions to this:  1) When I’m business traveling for a corporation/entity and 2) when I’m injured.

Most of my farthest travel has been for business.  When I’ve business traveled overseas, I’ve flown business class, which I don’t think is particularly unusual if you work for a large corporation.  Which is probably why it’s called “business class.”  I went to South Africa on a press junket, and while it was an amazing trip, it was sponsored by South African Airways who flew the five writers in business class as part of the experience.  To complicate matters, I’ve had three knee surgeries including an ACL reconstruction, so I once upgraded myself on a European trip to accommodate my inability to completely bend my knee. (Once that charge hit my credit card, I might have preferred to re-injure my leg).

But really, none of that matters.  The entire point is that, whether people like it or not, the 22 hour flight was a new experience for me and I would do it over again. Now that I travel more for pleasure and less for business, I’m assuming that long uncomfortable flights will be the norm. Unless I got upgraded, which I would gladly accept.   Because, again . . . who wouldn’t???  Unlike the review suggests, I’m pretty sure you can relate.

All of this to say that I’ve learned to be careful without completely self-censoring.  Sheesh!

But despite all of that buuuullshit, we’re having a great time and it’s a ton of fun to work with Jen.

That said, take a listen for yourself and be the judge.  Subscribe if you like it!  Feel free to make constructive suggestions of topics.  And keep checking this blog for the stories behind Stories.

XO, G

What NOT to ask a couple

We attended a black tie gala about a month ago.  We’ve been to many, so there’s a fair amount of predictability:

  1. At the last minute, I will hate my dress, hair and shoes (but it will be too late to change any of the above)
  2. In an odd juxtaposition, the BF will LOVE himself in his tux (because he loves himself in most things . . . )
  3. My feet will begin to hurt about 30 minutes into the event (I organize my shoes by how long I can wear them before my feet stage a coup.  Most formal shoes can be worn for less than an hour before my dogs threaten to defect.)
  4. We will run into people that we haven’t seen in a while (sometimes this is a good thing!  Other times, not so much. )
  5. 1/3 of those people will ask when we’re getting married (and here is the no-no)

 

Now, let me be clear.  We — the BF and I –  find the marriage question to be funny.  Having been together for seven years, it’s certainly one that we’ve heard a lot, but there’s something about getting dolled up in a formal wear that puts people in the mindset of a wedding, which is the catalyst for the inquisition.

Incidentally, my favorite questions come from people who have been married for a while and don’t really recommend it despite their claims that they’re a happy couple.  They tend to lean in, and ask “You’re not getting married, are you?”  and they sometimes follow it up with “Don’t do that shit!!”

What’s super confusing is that people often pose this question of me, rather than him.

Ummm . . . . y’all understand that doesn’t make sense, right?

Not to be sexist, but there are things that you can ask a woman, and expect that she’ll have a legitimate answer.  Those are usually questions of logistics and details, like, what are you guys doing two weekends from now?  She can probably run down the entire calendar.  Or, which day does the cleaning lady come?  THAT’S definitely a question for the ladies.  But, when are you getting married??

If a couple isn’t already engaged, why in the world would a woman have that answer?  Even if a woman has the majority of the control in the relationship, the timing of engagement is the one thing that’s entirely up to him.  (There are exceptions to this, of course.  In some cases the couple has discussed it, and the woman has made it abundantly clear that marriage is imminent by the end of the year [or whenever].  The other exception would be if the woman decides to propose to him, which is an entirely different post altogether.)

If you’ve ever asked this question of a couple, what is the intention and what behavior should ensue?

Is the ultimate hope that the couple blurts out a date and extends an invitation to the blessed event? Because that’s probably not happening.  Or are you hoping that a couple who has been chugging along with their own agenda for several years  will be jostled into a lifetime decision based on your inquisition?  That’s kind of unrealistic too.  Or EVEN if you ask the man and he’s planning to pop the question, is it your belief that he’s going to potentially blow the surprise by confiding in you, a person who he runs into semi-annually?

What’s more likely to happen is that you’ll cause an argument that happens either the moment you walk away, or later that night, OR the couple will find a way to turn the joke back around on you.

In my personal situation, asking that question gives me carte blanche to clown and fuck with the asker.  In the past, I’ve employed fun retorts, like “Oh, he’s already married . . . to someone else.”  I’ve also been known to thrust my left hand into someone’s face and do my best Eddie Murphy impression: “I don’t see no rings on these fingers!”  The BF has his own fun with the question, but typically says “If it ain’t broke . . . “, although a few times he made people uncomfortable by saying ,”Well, Gina already told me that she doesn’t want to marry me.”  It can be a wonderful source of entertainment if you’re in the right place.

Because on the flipside, I’ve seen other couples cringe when a nosy person unwittingly causes the next Civil War by asking about marriage.  Maybe the woman has been wondering that same thing, and now instead of a fun evening, she’s saying things like: “See . . . EVERYONE wants to know why we aren’t married.  And so do I!”  I’ve seen these conversations digress into breakups. (One could argue that the question only exacerbated what would have happened eventually, but do you REALLY want to be catalyst for a relationship implosion??)

And, honestly, I understand the intention and know that most of the time, the question comes from a good and innocent place.  Maybe you think this couple works really well together and should take the lifelong plunge.  There are just other ways to go about your inquiry that don’t involve a heat lamp.  Or maybe you just wait for the mystery to unfold naturally without trying to find the spoiler.

Aug 5, 2017 - Rants    No Comments

Why Hamilton Pissed Me Off (Don’t Get Excited . . . I Loved It)

Full disclosure — I went to musical theater camp.  It was a wonderful place in Wisconsin where I spent roughly 6 summers, starting at the age of 7 (because my parents had shit to do over the summer, and I drove my mother to drink).  I and my cabin mates — 98% of which were Jewish white girls — and our male cabin counterparts, spent the entire summer dancing, singing, acting and preparing musical productions to perform for our parents to watch when they begrudgingly retrieved us at the end of four weeks.

It is for this nostalgic reason that I love musical theater.

When Hamilton debuted in NY, I had dreams of procuring tickets on one of my many trips.  I wanted to be one of the people who could proudly say that I saw Lin Manuel Miranda perform in his own genius production.  It never happened.

What did happen, however, was the increase in popularity to the point where people were considering compromising their mortgage payments to secure a position in a high balcony seat, just to be in house to see the critically acclaimed play. When I had a day job in a rather conservative office, all of my colleagues raved about how “life-altering and amazing” it was to experience Hamilton.  Definitely worth the $500+ ticket price, they assured me.

I was super excited to learn that Hamilton was coming to Chicago!  But not excited enough to post up at the box office with a lawn chair to wait in a 6 hour ticket line.  A) I had a job, and B) I figured that I’m pretty well-connected in this town.  At some point, a ticket would find its way to me.

Now, in the meantime, I didn’t want to know a lot about the musical.  Of course I knew the basic plot and that it was updated with brilliant music, with a hip-hop theme.  But I didn’t listen to the soundtrack or do a lot of reading about it.  I wanted to be surprised.  I wanted a fresh experience without spoilers.

Months went by and I was losing my optimism that I would ever see Hamilton, but lo and behold, one day, a few months ago, a dear friend called with an extra ticket, which I claimed before she could get the entire word “Hamilton” out of her mouth.  It was the total hookup!  A great seat with VIP lounge access beforehand and during intermission with promises of food and an open bar.  THIS is what I’m talkin’ bout!

I apologized to the BF, telling him that I would get us both tickets at a later time.  (Again — full disclosure — the BF isn’t exactly the king of the musical.  He will entertain my nostalgia because he’s a good guy, but really? Watching dudes in tights singing about their feelings isn’t exactly his schtick [I did mention that I went to camp with all Jewish people, yes?])

The day came, and off to Hamilton I went.  And LOVE it, I did.  There were things that I didn’t expect, like deep-in-the-crates hip-hop references, and an ode to immigrants.  I expected to see more white people on stage, and surely didn’t anticipate a predominantly black cast.

The show was fabulous from start to finish.

Now here’s the rub  . . . when I looked around the audience, my friend and I were the clear minority.  As I guzzled wine during intermission, I said to my friend that I was somewhat disturbed.  She asked “why?” in between bites of her roasted veggie kabob.  I went on a tear about how this wonderful play, rooted in black culture, written by a Puerto Rican was taking the world by the storm, and causing people — even people in the highest ranks of conservative government — to fork over thousands of dollars for the pleasure of being well entertained for three hours.  And yet I look around the audience into a sea of white faces, most of whom don’t even understand the homage paid to the Notorious BIG’s Ten Crack Commandments, or Going Back To Cali.  There are countless other references, but it was actually kind of dumbfounding.

At the end, I joined my fellow audience members in an enthusiastic standing ovation, except I think I stood for reasons that 90% of the viewing audience missed.  This play has taken the account of a historical incident that we’ve all learned about in grammar school and informed us that Hamilton was biracial, while taking many elements of modern black culture, and with the buttresses of an amazing cast and extremely clever writing, has spoonfed it to an unsuspecting audience who eagerly digested it to the catchy tune of several hundred dollars per ticket.  In fact, Hamilton is the hottest ticket in the US right now.  I can’t help thinking about the special ingredient pie from “The Help.”

Because here’s the problem . . .SO many people who flock to Hamilton still somehow manage to hate black people.  They look down on hip-hop, yet they’re lapping it up like ice cream — the Hamilton soundtrack was the highest selling Broadway cast album of 2015.  A good percentage of the Hamilton-going faction loves everything about us — except for us.   They’ve dedicated research to create medical procedures to get their skin darker, lips plumper, hair curlier, asses larger — never mind that black girls were teased by white girls for having large rear ends in grammar school.  Something was wrong with it (and us) then, but apparently something’s REALLY right with it now!  But, oops!  I forgot!  Black men prefer having sex with them anyway, right?  Because black women aren’t beautiful? Ha! They like hip-hop, want to sing along with the n word without physical retribution.  But, that’s right!  Hip-hop is violent ghetto music.  Unless it’s on Broadway.  And then it’s masterful!

Oh, and please don’t think I’m an angry black woman.  I’m just observant.  And verbose.  And asking us all to dig a little deeper. That said, I’m not sure whether to choke on the irony or choke back the tears.

Final full disclosure — it’s taken me a few months to write this post.  I was so supercharged the night of, that I thought I would come straight home and write everything out.  But I waited, just so that I could calm down.  And then I saw “Detroit” in a special screening on Thursday night, and said “You know what? Fuck it. I’m writing it now.”  LOL!

In all seriousness, I’m kind of over the hatred in our country, and I posted on FB the other day that I’ve evolved to a place where I can handle the passive hate. It’s the active, violent hate that’s eating away at me.

So  . . . because we have many choices in this world — more than we know — my assumption is that there are people who choose to remain ignorant and rooted in hate.  And I can’t concern myself with that.  I can only protect myself.  However, I also feel that attitude and happiness are choices, so I’m going to choose to applaud the creators of Hamilton, not just because it’s a great show that has amped the “cool factor” of show tunes, but for potentially opening some minds and starting dialogues toward positive relations.  At least that’s where I am today.

Rant over.  Thanks for reading!  XO

Jul 25, 2017 - Rants    3 Comments

The Perils of Sensitivity

Okay, I’m going to need everyone to stop being so sensitive about EVERYTHING all the GOTdamn time. We have somehow found ourselves in a society of paranoia.  Can we PLEASE just give each other the benefit of the doubt???

If I make a decision about my life or how I spend my time, and you’re adversely affected, I’m sorry and it’s not intentional. I’m not doing anything AGAINST you. I’m doing something FOR me. There’s a difference.

If I don’t invite you out to hear my dad’s band play, I promise that I’m truly flattered that you would like to join me and support the band, but I don’t always get advance notice on his gigs and I can’t stop to make 100 phone calls before I go out. I try to post on social media as soon as I learn that he’s playing, which is right now the best I can do.  If you learn about the gig, just come.  I’ll be happy to see you.  But I won’t be happy to hear you bitching about why I didn’t call you.

If I don’t call you back immediately, it’s not because I hate you, it’s usually because I’m legitimately busy and trying to wait until the moment where I can give you my undivided attention.

If we work together (which none of us do, because I’m not social media friends with any colleagues, but it’s worth mentioning anyway), and I refer to you as, say, a Research Analyst as opposed to a Research Associate or whatever, MY BAD!  Please don’t get caught up in titles in general.  I don’t even know what my OWN title is, and I don’t really care. As long as I respect you and your work, it’s really not worth getting all wrapped around the axle.  (When I don my recruiter hat, I have a very different opinion, but for social purposes, this opinion holds true)

If you feel that I don’t support your cause, your charity, your crowdfunder, your situation etc, enough, please don’t take that personally either. Nobody is being selfish, cheap, uncaring or unfeeling. We all have causes that we care about and we get behind them in our own way. We’re also overstimulated by too much content. If I contributed to everything that tugged at my heartstrings, I would be broke. And we all know how much I hate being broke.

And finally, I promise you that if you’re reading this blog, you weren’t the catalyst.  If you have my phone number, PLEASE don’t call and ask if I’m talking about you in this rant.  Don’t email either.  If you think this is about you, Carly Simon, it probably isn’t.

Please know that, if you’re my friend, it is not my interest to hurt you, make you feel badly, neglect you, etc.   I love my friends, but please have appreciation for how I show that love.  I promise that I have neither the time, energy or quite frankly the desire for sabotage . . . or managing anyone else’s sensitivity. Get out of your own head for a second, and enjoy your day.  I truly mean that.

Thanks for entertaining this rant.  I had to get this off my chest, and maybe this message can help someone. Does anyone else ever feel this way?  Just me?

XOXO

 

Jun 29, 2017 - Holidaze, Rants    No Comments

Chosen Few Picnic Survival Strategies!

Alrighty, so a few weeks ago, I provided a few festival behavior guidelines, but I feel the need to release an addendum, especially since we’re almost upon July 4th holiday weekend, which means the hottest party of the year in Chicago — The Chosen Few Picnic!! 
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Now . . . if you’ve never attended this event, this post will likely be wasted on you because many of these items are specific to the Chosen Few Picnic.  My apologies for the regional focus, but this post might actually inspire you to come to the event to see what all of the fuss is about.

That said . . . here goes . . .

  1. The first rule of the Chosen Few Festival — don’t complain about the cost of the Chosen Few Festival.  Yes, at some point the picnic-turned-festival did not have an admission fee, but that was also before tens of thousands of people were in attendance, and what was once a cute little get together has turned into an event that probably wouldn’t even fit into the space of most stadiums. The free days were also before international exposure and the addition of an impressive roster of entertainers and world renowned DJs.  You spend more money on well drinks in a weekend of socializing at bad clubs with worse music.  You’ve also given lots of money to people that you don’t know, so support the people you know and love, who have built an amazing brand, quit yer bitching and enjoy the weekend.
  2. This event is an outpour of peace and love.  Leave the weapons at home.  You won’t need them.
  3. If you’ve never been to the Chosen Few Festival, it’s all about HOUSE MUSIC.  Don’t come to the Festival and complain that there’s no hip-hop.  There will be no hip-hop.  You knew what you were getting yourself into.
  4. Dress for comfort . . .  and good taste.  The Chosen Few Festival is the time to be cute . . . but not TOO cute.  By the end of the day, you will be covered in dust, dirt, your own sweat, other peoples’ sweat, barbecue sauce and spilled drinks.  Wear your favorite gym shoes.  Also?  Just a gentle reminder that if you wore it in high school, it might not fit properly today. If that’s the case, have your clothing flashback in the privacy of your own home rather than at the Festival.  Because that’s too much . . .
  5. If you have a tent and want your friends to find you, make it stand out.  Preferably something aerial — like a flag. Describing your location by saying that you’re in “the gray tent, due south of the stage” is tantamount to telling someone that you’re somewhere on the lakefront and expecting them to locate you.
  6. If you’re a “stroller” — meaning you don’t have a home base and prefer to wander around the festival all day — don’t just assume that you’re going to tent surf, eat everyone else’s food and drink their liquor.  First of all, it’s rude.  Second, you should probably concern yourself with who made the food, how long it’s been sitting out, and who’s been hovering over it all day.  Bring your own stash, or prepare to patronize the vendors.
  7. On the flipside, don’t bring an abundance of food and chafing dishes, and then complain that nobody contributes. Festival day is NOT the day to complain. If you wanted people to contribute, you should have coordinated with them well before the event. Also, if you don’t want to be hemmed up in a tent with 20 overserved friends who are gobbling your burgers, don’t invite them in.  Find them on the dance “floor” instead.
  8. Don’t try to move through the crowd in a large entourage.  You will get lost.  Spend more time partying, and less time coordinating with your 12 friends.  In fact, mentally prepare yourself NOT to see 1/2 of your friends who are in attendance. If you see them, great.  If you miss them, you’ll see the pictures on social media the next day and say: “How did I miss you!?!”  There are 20,000 people in a park, half of which are in tents.  That’s how.
  9. Bring several external batteries for your phone.  Because thousands of people are jamming the signals in a small area, your phone is working extra hard, and will suck through your battery in 1/4 of the normal time.  If you separate from your friends and your phone dies, there’s a good chance that you might never see them again.
  10. Think twice before bringing your children.  I realize that you want to show off your spawn, and while it’s a lovely thought that you will expose your infants and teenagers to your old friends and the music that served as the backdrop for your coming of age, I promise you that it’s not a good idea.  Your baby doesn’t want to be pushed in a stroller in a sea of thousands, with the view of the backs of everyone’s sweaty legs, and your toddler will get lost in the shuffle when mom and dad get stopped every five minutes to talk about what they’ve been doing since high school or reminisce about that legendary night at the Power Plant.  Your kids don’t really want to be there anyway, and it will be disappointing to you that they don’t care for the music.  And unless you would like that degenerate friend from high school to offer your teenagers a hit of weed and tell them about when he and their mom used to date, you might also want to leave the older kids at home.
  11. If you DO bring your children, don’t enlist anyone else to watch them while you go dance. Nobody is in the frame of mind to be a responsible babysitter at the festival, and God only knows what your kids will have learned upon your return.
  12. Manage your consumption according to the facilities.  This is a porta-potty environment, and the event lasts for several hours each day.  If you’re like me, you would sooner insert a catheter than use the porta-potty if you can at all help it.  I’ll let you in on my Economy of Liquids rule, which means that I will be trying to consume the smallest amount of liquid that has the maximum desired outcome.  Specifically, this means that I will be sipping whiskey from my flask throughout the day, rather than drink 5+ beers.  First of all, I hate beer.  Second, that would be setting me up to consume over 60 ounces of liquid, forcing me to hit the porta-potty multiple times during the day.  Be mindful of mixed drinks, which have a sugary base and will cause a headache before the day is over.  Also?  It’s probably not the best day to try out new foods (like Ree-Ree’s special collard greens)  if you have a questionable digestive system.
  13. Festival weekend is NOT the time to experiment with edibles.  Some of you have prescriptions for medical marijuana in the form of candy or other deceptive treats, and others of you are anxious to try it.  You will be in a very bad place if you eat an entire “special gummy bear” in general, but definitely if you try it for the first time at the festival.  I’ve seen the results.  Take my word for it.
  14. Don’t get hands-y with someone else’s significant other.  You’ll probably run into a lot of people with whom you have history at this event, but that gives you no right to pretend that you’re back on the floor of the DJ booth in the Warehouse.  You don’t have to reminisce about it either.  Everyone has moved on.  Keep your hands off of your ex-hookups and the Festival will remain a weekend of peace.
  15. Read the previous post about general festival etiquette, and pay special attention to #3 and of course #6.
  16. Have a GREAT time, enjoy the music, and dance your ass off!!!

 

For more info about the event, visit the Chosen Few DJs website.

 

Jun 4, 2017 - Rants    2 Comments

The rules of festival season

Who doesn’t love a good outdoor festival?  I’m a Chicagoan, and once the weather gets right, I and my fellow Second City residents love nothing more than to party outside like we’re getting paid.

But some of y’all get a little excited and forget your festival flow manners.  Don’t worry, though.  I’m here to help.

Festival Behavior Guidelines

  1. No serious conversation.  So, here’s the deal . . . everyone at an outdoor festival is happy that the weather is warm enough to actually be outside without the threat of double pneumonia.  Do NOT kill my sunshine-induced high by trying to embark on a conversation about business, meetings or quite frankly anything that doesn’t involve drinks or music.  Just don’t.
  2. The answer is “I’m fine.”  Generally, I love an honest answer to this question, but when you’re at a festival, the answer to “How have you been?” is something like “I’m doing great”  And keep it moving.  When we’re having lunch, I can hear all about your in-laws, your bad-ass kids, your bunion, the gory details about your coworkers who make you work life hell.  But festival day?  IS NOT THAT DAY.
  3. Don’t play the “guess how we know each other” game.  Nothing is more aggravating than someone who enjoys quizzing people they’ve met one time at a dark party on how they know each other.  While it’s great that you have amazing recall, ain’t nobody got time for that.  Just remind them, if you must.  And keep it moving.
  4. Manage your bodily fluid.  Granted, I’m not so much a hugger in general, but I do enjoy a hug from my friends — if you’re clean!  In short, if you’re sweaty, a bear hug is NOT necessary (or welcomed).  I have on my summer fashion, which can be ruined by your sweat.  So, if you rode your bike to the festival, or you’ve been walking around drinking all day, maybe a nice air kiss on the cheek would be appropriate.  But engulfing me in your sweaty armpits is a no.  A hell no.
  5. Pace yourself.  If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably well into adulthood, and if you’re not, you’re probably one of my younger relatives who could stand to benefit from this information (AT SOME POINT).  That said you know damned well that, when you start drinking at noon — in the sun — there’s a good chance that keeping up that pace will have you passed out behind a tent, in a pool of your own vomit, by 3:00.  This is NOT a good look.  To avoid embarrassing yourself (and ultimately me, if we’re friends),if you plan to be at a festival all day long, divide your drink tolerance by the number of hours you plan to be there.  For example, if you can only consume three cocktails before making out with a stranger, and you plan to be there for 8 hours, you are allowed to drink only .375 drinks per hour, and THAT’S IT.  If you want to increase your tolerance, drink lots of water and eat a meal.  For the record, funnel cake and churros are not meals, and in fact due to the high sugar content, will exacerbate your stupor and cause a ridic headache the next day.  Grab a nice grilled chicken sandwich or burger and keep it moving.
  6. Do not ask for a sip from my flask!  Yes, this is how I roll.  I had the foresight to manage my own cocktail situation.  I suggest you do the same.  And I also don’t want you wrapping your nasty lips around the mouth of my pristine whiskey-filled flask.  There are bars everywhere.  Find one of them.
  7. You are responsible for your drunk friend.  If you have a friend who is out there, falling all over herself, and one second away from doing her best Exorcist projectile vomit impression, puh-leeze take it upon yourself and get her drunk ass out of there.  I say ‘her’ because there’s always some woman, drunk out of her gourd, flashing her underwear in public due to the over-consumption of frozen margaritas.  It sucks that she’s curtailing your fun, but if you didn’t encourage her to follow rule #3, this is the price you pay.
  8. Have a supply of gum or breath mints.  This should be self-explanatory, but nobody wants to smell your gyro while you’re violating rules #1, 2 or 3.  Keep it minty.  And moving.

 

 

I’m going to reserve the right to add to this list at a later time, but in the meantime, enjoy your festival season!

 

XO, G.

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