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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.

Sep 29, 2015 - Rants    2 Comments

White People’s Guide to Hiding Your Racism At Work

Before we get started, I will say that there are plenty of my corporate colleagues who are not racists.  Some of them are perfectly lovely people whom I count among my close friends.  This post does not apply to them. My musing of the day applies to the quasi undercover racists who make offensive comments that many of us feel that we have to ignore and/or absorb angrily (because hitting someone in the head with a stapler is a quick route to arrest and firing.  Ain’t nobody got time for that)

Having been in corporate America for a while, I’ve encountered many of the archetypes of corporate racists.  Instead of just dealing with their remarks quietly, I enjoy finding ways to apply my inappropriate sense of humor to . . . well .  . . fuck with them in much the same passive aggressive manner that they employ (or aggressive aggressive, depending on my mood).

That said, if you’ve stumbled across this blog and you are an undercover (or overt) corporate racist, I’m here to keep you from being victimized by people like me.

  1. Eliminate the belief that any black person in the office automatically works in the mail room.  You would be much better off asking “Are you the new SVP?” rather than saying “Are you the new girl who works the copy machine?”  
  2. We don’t always look the way you think we should based on how we speak, and there’s no need to call attention to that. For example, staring at me incredulously when we meet face-to-face, after having spoken on the phone, while continuing to say “Wow.  You look NOTHING like I thought you would,” only tips your hand that, had you seen me first, you would have assumed that I didn’t understand the proper conjugation of the verb to be.  Keep that shit to yourself.
  3. Per #2, many of us actually speak the Queen’s english.  That said, don’t even THINK about referring to any black person as “articulate.”
  4. Don’t ask too many questions about our hair.  In fact, ask no questions at all.  The workplace is not a forum for your curiosity about our hairstyle strategies.  If you’re so goddamned curious, use your downtime to watch Youtube videos dedicated to the topic and say nothing to us at all.  (Warning, touching our hair might make some of us forget that hitting you in the head with a three-hole-punch would get us in trouble.  I speak from experience)
  5. All brown people do not resemble one another. If you screw up and call me by the name of the only other black woman in the office, she and I had better be identical twins. You won’t like it when the retort is “I know . . . we all look alike.”  (Again, I speak from experience)
  6. It is not appropriate to volunteer to fix one of us up with your only other single black friend simply because we’re both unattached and of color. It doesn’t really work that way.
  7. While I think that Michelle Obama is a beautiful woman, I do not look “just like her.”
  8. Don’t assume that my predominantly black neighborhood is “the ghetto,” and ask if I “feel safe” there . . .  unless you would like for me to inquire about your experiences in the trailer park.
  9. Don’t violently express your disdain for rap music, and proclaim that it’s “noise.”  A) I don’t care, and B) well . . .there really doesn’t need to be a B.
  10. I’m probably not the right audience for your claims that diversity efforts are unfair for white people who might be “the best person for the job.”  In fact, sharing this opinion with me or anyone who looks like me (although not JUST like me, as we covered in #7) will only further our thoughts that you’re an idiot and probably not the right person for any job.
  11. The office is not the place for your paltry attempts at urban colloquialisms. You don’t get extra points with me by saying that something is “the bomb.” In fact, your use of slang is only an indication that any card-carrying black person should remove it from the vocab.
  12. Here’s a bonus tip:  I realize that holiday season is approaching.  It is completely inappropriate for you to have 3 glasses of wine and 7 healthy pours of scotch at the Christmas party and, at around midnight, wax endlessly about your secret physical attractions to black people. Guys, it isn’t as though any of the women are going to find your slurry words and excessive drooling to be sexy and complimentary, or reciprocate the sentiment. Ladies, your fate will likely result in providing gratuitous parking lot oral to the man whom you’ve previously mistaken for the janitor (per #10, you’re clearly the right person for this brand of job). In any case, those of us who look alike will get a great laugh out of it in the office the next day.

 

I hope I’ve been of assistance.  Now carry on, and remember . . .if you think it might be offensive, it probably is.

More Life Rules

Inspiration comes from everywhere — sometimes the most surprising places.  Today’s inspiration comes from having spent time with one of my 16 year old cousins whom I haven’t seen since he was a tiny child.  He has grown up to be a really nice kid and incredibly handsome young man, and I hope that I can be in his life a little bit more – as much as he will allow or tolerate — and teach him anything I have to offer.  Even though some of my lessons are a bit off-kilter (and many have to do with cocktails), here’s the second installment of the tidbits of information that I feel are worth sharing with young people.  I’m continuing this list not because so many people were interested, but just because it’s fun.

I hope some of these inspire thought, at very minimum.

  1. There are reasons why you need to excel in school.  Elementary or grammar school prepares you for high school.  It’s important to do well in HS so that you can get admitted to the best Universities — not just for the programs they offer, but because of the network to which you’re exposed.  When you become an adult, you will want to have a good network of smart and successful people to leverage for connections to great jobs, business partnerships, or even just informed opinions.  Those relationships are developed in college and continue throughout your life. A reasonably smart person with a great network will go a lot further than a genius who operates in a vacuum.
  2. Take a genuine interest in getting to know the people in your life.  Make a concerted effort to know them — what makes them happy, their motivations, their goals and anything they’ve learned along the way.  Especially your parents, who are so focused on raising you that you might look up and realize that you don’t really know them at all.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  You will hate to have missed the opportunity.
  3. Get a good handle on the basics.  Know how to load a dishwasher, unload a dishwasher, do laundry, iron a shirt, remove a stain.  Life hacks will get you through.
  4. Understand that, by and large, people just want to be heard. It’s worthwhile to listen, even if you don’t take their advice. You might learn something that will change your course, or not. But you’ll never know if you don’t listen.
  5. Err on the side of formality until you’re invited to do otherwise.  This includes manners, the use of nicknames and business attire.
  6. If it’s introduced, it has to be addressed.  Your job is to keep things that you don’t want addressed from being introduced.  Sometimes it’s best to fly under the radar.
  7. Pick your mate for the right reasons.  It’s great that she has an incredible body, or that he has a nice car.  But look for personal traits — signs of integrity.  Watch how he/she treats the important people in his/her life.  Is this person determined and deliberate?  Goal-oriented?  Examine the family before making a true commitment.  And always remember that how you align is how you’re defined.
  8. Make a valiant effort.  Life is much more fun when you actively participate.  This rule is one that I learned the hard way.
  9. Have a signature dish that you  master and enjoy cooking.
  10. Find an older person in your life who cares about you, in whom you can confide.  This can be an aunt or uncle, a godparent, a cousin or an unrelated person who you connect with.
  11. Don’t be mad at your friends for being themselves.  They might not show their love for you in the way that you expect or hope.  Sometimes you have to adjust your expectations to accommodate what they have to offer.  If you try to change them, you will only frustrate yourself and alienate them.

 

That’s it for now!  I welcome all comments, questions are rebuttals!

bigsecret

Jul 2, 2015 - Rants    No Comments

Life Rules

I don’t really have a lot to teach — just random bits of info that I’ve picked up along the way.  This list wasn’t created for adults.  My peers understand these rules all too well. But because I have no children, at some point I thought it might be interesting to put together a set of life rules for my godchildren and younger relatives who might like a perspective that doesn’t belong to their parents, and since I’m reluctantly allowing some of them to follow me on social media, I feel a responsibility to impart good information every now and then (as opposed to my endless selfies with wine).

So, my little people, these aren’t absolute truths, but they’re things that I’ve found pertinent to my life.  Some of these might be a little crazy, but consider the source.  :-)  Here are the first 20 (it was going to be 10, but I got carried away):

  1. Your parents are meant to be frustrating, but they always mean well and they’re often trying to keep you from making their mistakes (or the mistakes they’ve witnessed during their lives).  Just listen to them with the understanding that your parents have the most honest intentions of anyone you’ll ever encounter.  You might decide to take another course of action, but realize that they only want to be heard and considered.
  2. You might not be excited about iambic pentameter, but there are a lot of life lessons buried in the words of Shakespeare.  My favorite is “Neither a borrower nor a lender be” from Hamlet.   Borrowing and loaning money — or anything really — will go wrong the majority of the time.  Decide if potentially losing your friendship is worth it before entering into such an agreement.
  3. Since we’re learning life lessons in poetry, check out The Ten Crack Commandments by the Notorious B.I.G.  I’m certainly not suggesting that you sell (or smoke) crack — or any drugs whatsoever — but he does make a few good points when it comes to business in general.  And as a bonus the song has a great beat.   Enjoy.
  4. While driving or biking, stay away from the following drivers:  a cabbie (especially one without a fare), a U-Haul truck driver (they are generally untrained and don’t know how to manage their blind spots), a Zip Car driver (they don’t tend to drive frequently enough to be good drivers).  There are others that we can discuss offline, but staying away from the big three will be a great start when it comes to road safety.
  5. Whether you’re a male or a female, know how to cook and clean.  There is not ONE good argument for filth and the inability to feed yourself.  Also, nobody is excited about dating a dirty dependent person.  And if they are, you don’t want to date them.
  6. Driving is 30% skill and 70% managing everyone else’s lack of skill. Similar ratios apply to life in general.
  7. Options are everything.  Try to have as many as possible, and then learn to properly choose among them.
  8. If you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.  Look for opportunities to learn, and always make sure you’re in good company.
  9. Money doesn’t solve all problems, but it determines your level of problem.  Life is much better when you’re not worried about keeping the lights and heat on.  You would much prefer to have trouble choosing investment accounts than trying to figure out how to pay your rent.  This is realism rather than materialism.  Know the difference.
  10. Enter each relationship with the thought of what you are able to offer rather than receive — whether it’s work, friendship, or romance.  Don’t be influenced by takers, because nobody wants to be around those who seek to suck the life out of everyone they encounter.  Call to say hello without ulterior motives and do nice things just because.  Sure, you will encounter a taker along the way and you might learn hard lessons, but those people are only sent to show you who’s worthy of your gifts.  Ultimately, givers reap great rewards.
  11. Embody the qualities of the person you want to attract.
  12. Don’t get caught up in other peoples’ opinions of you.  If they’re not paying your bills — or enabling you to pay your bills — their opinions are generally biased and irrelevant.
  13. Life can be a game, but everyone has their own style of winning. You won’t win at someone else’s game, but you can be expert at your own.
  14. Don’t talk about yourself; allow others to ask.  That way you’re certain they’re interested.
  15. You’ll spend a good percentage of your life figuring yourself out.  Get started on that as early as possible. You’ll spend another percentage of your life trying to determine the motives of others.  This will be a waste of time.  Focus on yourself instead.
  16. In school, study for the CLASS rather than the TEST.
  17. Try to avoid being judgmental, but definitely be discerning about whom you choose to have in your life.
  18. Per #17, stupidity and laziness can be contagious.  Don’t get infected.
  19. If you don’t want to get in trouble, stay away from places where trouble resides.
  20. Be beyond reproach at all times.  If you’ve performed well and checked all of the boxes, nobody can criticize your style.

 

If there is interest in more, I’m happy to continue this list.  I welcome any questions.  Within reason.  :-)

Aug 17, 2014 - Rants    3 Comments

Natural Hair Rant, or “Why I Look a Hot Mess”

This won’t be a popular post, but I really don’t care.   There’s a big push toward natural hair among the Black female population.  Black women everywhere are discarding their previously coveted jars of relaxer in an effort to celebrate their natural hair textures and stop adapting to an anglo aesthetic.

I’ve been natural for many, many years now — at least 10 – and not because I was so excited to embrace my culture, per se.  It was more of a decision that I made because relaxer isn’t necessary to straighten my hair.  A little bit of heat from a flatiron and my hair is stick straight.

Now . . . before you go thinking that I’m “bragging” about this, please know that my wavy, easily straightened hair texture is more of a curse than a blessing.  In fact, I honestly find very little to celebrate about my hair.

I’m normally what is referred to as a “straight natural,”  which is a person who has natural hair that chooses to straighten it.  I honestly love my hair straightened.  It’s easy and doesn’t require a cocktail of 5 perfectly mixed products that combine to make me look human.  I’m often vilified for this decision by women who choose the textured natural look, and I occasionally get irritating snide comments: “Oh.  I didn’t realize you had natural hair.  It’s always so straight.  Why do you do that?”

Okay, beeyotch, I’ll tell you why . . . because my natural hair is a scorching hot ass mess!  I’m not appreciate of my quasi-curl pattern (which is more like a very unsexy wave pattern), and my hair isn’t big and voluminous like others who have the natural hair that I covet. Believe me when I say that I would love nothing more than to have gorgeous curly hair that I could wash and go and wear with pride.   And before you ask, yes, I’ve tried any product that you are about to suggest.  But unless you can guarantee that there’s some sort of solution that will transform mine into an entirely different head of hair, I will work with the large collection that I already have.  Because, honestly?  Beautiful hair will be beautiful hair, irrespective of the treatment.  And my hair will be my hair.  Unfortunately.

The other delicious byproduct of being a straight hair natural is that the flat iron used to straighten my hair actually contributes to the ugliness of it all by providing the gift of heat damage, which means that any curl I had is now reduced (if not eliminated) and reinforces my need to straighten my hair in order to avoid looking like a taller version of one of those early cave women depicted in the Museum of Natural History.  My hair was horribly heat damaged some years ago and I’ve never recovered from it.

The only good thing about my heat damage was that my quest to fortify my follicles resulted in the creation of Naturals by Gina B., my body products company.  The leading product, Kiss My Ash, was originally created as a solution for my hair in my effort to rejuvenate my hair with natural ingredients.  The good news is that it did amazing things for my skin and it’s also a magnificent hair moisturizer.  The trouble is that heat damaged hair can’t be revived, irrespective of the product.

Natural hair enthusiasts adamantly suggest that I never straighten my hair again if I ever want to regain my curl pattern, but that means that I would have to walk around looking completely unkempt until my hair does . . . what, exactly? Maybe I’m waiting for it to grow out so that it can be . . . what?  Longer?  So, twice the amount of messy hair?    I don’t see how I can win here.

That said, I’ve made the executive decision to abandon my closet full of products and continue my tendency toward being a straight natural.  I might one day make a return.  In the meantime, I hope that the natural hair purists will understand that it’s not personal.  I respect and appreciate the mission, but straightening my hair is the only way to keep me from ripping it out in frustration.

 

Jan 21, 2014 - Rants    1 Comment

Ode to the valet parker

I have an aversion to valet parking.  I’m not comfortable with the concept of other people driving my car, and I cringe at the thought of handing my vehicle over to someone whose driver’s license status is questionable at best.

I’ve tried it.  I don’t like it.

Some of my friends don’t quite understand my hesitation — especially Jen, who is an avid customer of the little men in red jackets.  I maintain that my experiences have forced my mistrust, and I’m convinced that if valet parkers would alter their business practices just a tad, I might reconsider my stance.

If you know a valet parking “technician,” please pass this along . . .

Dear Valet Man:

Please know that I love convenience.  I really do.  To the extent that I am able, I go out of my way to reduce or eliminate the complicated, unpleasant aspects of my life.

And, really?  What could possibly be more inconvenient than having to:

  1. Competitively hunt for a parking space
  2. Parallel park in an impossibly small spot (being mindful to leave enough space so that the raggedy hoopty behind me and the urban assault vehicle in front of me – complete with ominous tow hitch – don’t scrape my car upon departure)
  3. Navigate the often inclement weather of Chicago while trying to avoid killing Divvy rental bikers, who don’t obey the rules of the road
  4. Locate the parking meter (the closest of which always seems to be 1/4 mile away from my car.  Especially when it’s raining or snowing)
  5. Wait in line, in heels, in the cold to pay for parking, while praying that the suburbanite chick in line ahead of me (who has been toying with the meter for what seems like an eternity) realizes the correct orientation of credit card insertion and knows that one must hit the ‘print receipt’ button in order to complete the transaction
  6. Fork over $176 for a mere two hours of street parking (because our dear former Mayor Daley sold us up the river, likely for his personal gain.  [But I'm not bitter])
  7. Trek to my destination in cute shoes that are only meant to be worn inside while mingling, for no longer than two hours
  8. Nervously check my watch every 15 minutes while at social outing, to make sure that I don’t get a $50 ticket on top of having to take out a second mortgage to pay for street parking
  9. Limp back to the car on stiletto-clad bloody hooves in enough time to avoid getting a ticket issued by a soulless meter reader who is lurking around my car, waiting to issue a ticket the second the clock ticks 9:31

 

Doesn’t sound like a fun experience, does it?  In fact the whole thing rather sucks.  Yet I typically opt to deal with the irritating process of parking my own car rather than use your service.  It has nothing to do with the cost or the obligation to add gratuity.  The recent surge of street parking fees in Chicago has made valet pricing seem inexpensive by comparison.  

Although the parking situation is tantamount to Mission Impossible (more like Mission Ridiculous),  parking my own car gives me a greater peace of mind than entrusting you.  Because I’ve simply had too many bad experiences with your profession.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions that might make the transaction a little more pleasant:

Be nice to the customer.  When I pull up to your station, please don’t beat on my window or open my door before I’m ready to exit.  It’s annoying and not a great introduction.

SAFELY park the cars of your customers.  Many of us love our cars, and when we valet park we hope that you will treat our cars with care and that you know what you’re doing.  Slamming the door, peeling out and violently turning the corner — nearly steamrolling three pedestrians –doesn’t instill confidence.  I don’t think to myself: “This man is a professional; he obviously knows what he’s doing.”  Instead, it makes me want to run down the street behind you, screaming “Give me back my car, you bad driving freak!” (Fortunately my dignity has saved me many times.)

Realize that I have not LOANED you the car; you are merely PARKING the car.  While I understand that some adjustments need to be made for you to drive safely (although I think we’ve established that safety isn’t your concern), please try to return my settings when you return the car. And, let’s refrain from programming your favorite radio stations and altering my carefully chosen temperature settings.  In fact, you shouldn’t be in the car long enough to get quite so comfortable.   Also?  Know that many of us track our gas levels and odometers.  You should not have driven 22 miles in my car and burned 1/4 tank of gas while I’m having dinner.

Do not treat my car like a dining room.  Granted I’m a little quirky about this, but let me be clear . . . I don’t eat in my car.  I don’t allow my best friends to eat in my car.  If my boyfriend even thinks about pulling out a Tic Tac in my car, he gets the side-eye.  I wouldn’t dream of eating in anyone else’s car, especially when I haven’t been given permission.  That said, you can imagine my annoyance and anger when I find evidence that you’ve been eating Flaming Hot chips in my vehicle!  Especially when said evidence consists of an obnoxious empty bright red bag carelessly left on the passenger seat, and red sticky stuff on my steering wheel!

Don’t rifle through my things and think I’m not going to notice.  I know what’s in my ashtray and glove compartment and I know when things are missing.  I will check for those things before I leave for the evening, and I will shamelessly sit there and block the valet station until they are returned.  And while you’re at it, stay the hell out of my trunk!

Please don’t park my car in an area where it will get ticketed.  If I wanted a ticket I would have parked it my damn self.  But if you do happen to screw up and get a ticket, let me know.  So that I can make you pay for it before I’m surprised with a boot.

Don’t lose my car.  If I give you my claim ticket and you nervously ask me about the color of my car and whether or not it has four doors, it’s painfully evident that you have no clue as to where it might be.  And don’t try to appease me by saying that you’ll return in “a few minutes,” when you know damned well that it will be at least a half hour before you remember the location of my car.  Which probably has a ticket on it.  Because you were too busy eating dinner, checking the glove compartment, adjusting my seat and listening to my radio to make sure that you were safely parking my car in a memorable area.

Know that each and every new scratch will be noticed . . . and discussed.  Let’s not play the “it was there when you dropped it off” game.  Not only is that game absolutely no fun, it makes the customer feel like you think we’re stupid.  I know my car and all of its scratches.  Don’t make me hurt you.

I thank you for considering these mild behavior modifications, even though something tells me that I lost you at “Dear Valet Man.”    Which is fair, because you lost me at “Flaming Hot.”

 

Warm regards,

The owner of the dark silver four-door sedan that passes you by

 

 

 

 

 

Dec 24, 2013 - Holidaze, Rants    3 Comments

The most useless appliance of 2013!

Every year I peruse the hundreds of Christmas catalogs that overflow my mailbox — especially the Bed Bath & Beyond circular — to determine the most inane appliance that’s being marketed as an amazing holiday gift. This year, the winner is the Cake Pop Maker!

cakepopmaker

So, while I see cake pops in Starbucks and assume there’s a market for them, I didn’t realize they were sweeping the nation to the point where there’s a need for a dedicated appliance to make bite-sized cakes that then need to be pushed onto a stick and decorated.  I don’t really get it.  I guess it’s for people who want a little bit of cake, and are afraid to have entire layer cakes at their disposal.  But, really?  If you make 12 cake pops and decorate and eat them all, you might as well have enjoyed a fabulous slab of decadent devil’s food.

My prediction is that, as early as next year, yard sales and Goodwill stores will be full to bursting with rejected, unused cake pop makers — right next to the discarded quesadilla makers, panini presses, flavor injectors and salad shooters. Or anything else by Ronco.

And guys?  Just in case you’re desperately seeking a last minute gift for your girlfriend, and somehow think the cake pop maker is the answer to your question, say no.  There are better ways to spend $17.99.  Ways that won’t elicit a breakup.

Happy holidays!

 

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