Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Hiatus...

hiatus - n. a break or interruption in the continuity of a work, series, action, etc. [though i hardly would describe this space as having "continuity"]



"If you want to know the truth
I could care less about a period
at the end of this sentence
for i have no desire to stop here..."

-"Your Self-Fulfilling History",
Mbembe Milton Smith

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

One girl's New Moon is another girl's New Edition

Ah, boy bands. Is there anything more wonderfully corny and tweenaged? I’ve had my share of fixations with these well groomed groups of “Tiger Beat cover boys”, to steal a phrase from Ocean’s Eleven. Their melodramatic lyrics and polished choreography have haunted the dreams of PTYs long before NSync/Backstreet Boys. (I always confused them, sorry.) Here are some of the groups I think of, when I hear “boy bands”…though none of them really play instruments – that’s curious. This is by no means an exhaustive list, as there are many groups that came before and many more who will surely come after, but I have a soft spot in my heart for these fellas:

Oh Ronny, Bobby, Johnny, Ricky, Mike and Ralph. (I know Johnny came much later, but that sequence sounds best.) These guys were equally coveted as boys and men. We LOVED New Edition in my house – from “Cool It Now” to “Can You Stand the Rain”. How serious was it? Well, when “Can You Stand the Rain” came on Video Soul, we sang the song in 5 part harmony. There were 4 of us at the time.


More near and dear to the hearts of me and my sister were The Boys, ABC (Another Bad Creation) and ultimately Immature. Don’t judge. “Dial My Heart” and “A Little Romance” are the sweetest songs – even today. So lovey-dovey and yet so age appropriate; I appreciate the latter more in hindsight. My crush was the lead singer. He was the second oldest brother; I was the second oldest sister – we were kismet.


ABC was a little more street, but no less cute – and again with the age appropriate lyrics. “At the Playground” and “Iesha” were their biggest hits, and every girl with a 3-syllable name that ended in “A” was happy to put herself in the song. (“Te-res-a! You are the girl that never had, and I want to get to know you better…”) After all, what good are boy bands, if you can’t convince yourself that they’re singing to you?

As mature, junior high school students of a certain age, we discovered Immature upon seeing them in House Party 3, though the group had released an debut album by then. The 90’s trio was so inappropriate. Their first hits (to me, anyway, since my personal catalogue begins with album #2), “Constantly” and “I Will Never Lie”, were chock-full-o teenaged melodrama. That was fine, but the bird chest of a shirtless Marcus Houston was a bit over the top. (That’s right, Marcus. Some of us remember). But they were cute, and not so grown up as Jodeci or Genuine, so we listened. We listened all the way to “We Got It”. (And man, did they.)

In occasional fits of frenzied nostalgia, I go to YouTube and listen to all of them - never fails to put a smile on my face. Not as innocent as Jackson5 but less pornographic than…well, most recent stuff (I’m looking at you, B2K and Pretty Ricky), these R&B boys struck a happy medium with the little ladies and the Powers-That-Be who bought the CDs and posters and concert tickets. Being an ex-tweenager who may one day find herself buying such posters and concert tickets, I really appreciate the happy medium. And the happy memories.

Honorable mentions: Soul For Real, Mystic, 112...and the list goes on

Monday, November 16, 2009

The soul of wit


He asked
how I got such long lashes.
I said
I water them regularly.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Untitled first draft

I have learned too well
what is acceptable--
what is good and right.
I have learned so well
that I police myself.
Nothing muzzles quite so well
as a tongue afraid to move.
Nothing bounds so tightly
as an uncertain self.

I know all the words to say.
I can turn a phrase,
sprint a rebel word run
that will have your mind
meditating on freedom.
I can sing a song that will incite
a riot. I can do all those things for you,
but not for me.
When we all go our separate ways,
and the picket signs are scattered
in the streets like so many bodies.
I count myself a casualty—
the living dead.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"The 'F' Word"

Who am I, to call her oppressed?
How do I know that all she has
isn’t all she wants?
That all she is
isn’t all she every wanted to be?
Dreams change.
She is the center of her world,
so to hell with ours –
filled with wrongs we can’t seem to right.
Within her range, she affects change.
Improvement.
Enlightenment.
Revolution.
I come home every day,
leaving the world outside my door
exactly the way I found it.
But in a single day, she
has formed an opinion,
changed a mind, laid a foundation…
she has labored at love
and bore much fruit.
In her world, nobody’s hungry.
So to hell with ours.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thinking about family (a micro-retro-post)


After letting passengers off and allowing fresh riders to come on board, the train pulls out of the station. The sudden jerk causes even experienced riders to wobble a bit. Teresa turns to her uncle.


ME:
Being short has its advantages when you ride the subway. I don't sway as much when we pull off - lower center of gravity.

UNCLE:
Yeah, but you've got everybody's armpits in your face.

SCENE

There is no more a Leggard response than that.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

"Rubble"

The air is so thick,
and no step is a safe one.
There are ghosts passing
on either side, but even they
are not weightless.
Wait less.
Move more.
Can’t stay covered in the ashes.
Have to find ________.*
Torn and tattered,
bruised and bloodied,
heads are swimming.
The only parts that feel clean
are the tear track marks.
Salt water makes the skin raise up—
Pagliaccis are everywhere.

*yes, that's a blank. this is only a draft, after all.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Addendum

(i know i'm not writing a bunch, but these aren't throw-away posts.)

After reading Cowgirl's comment, I started thinking about the familiar.

Have you ever heard or saw something for the first time, but you still recognized it somehow? That happens to me from time to time. I remember experiences I've never had - long for a time (past, future) that I can't really lay claim to.

For the song "Summertime" (see last post), Jazzy Jeff sampled this gem from Kool & the Gang. It makes me nostalgic for something, but I don't know what. Maybe I have hidden memories? Maybe I've been here before...



You can't tell me this doesn't feel delicious on the eardrums.
(Well, you could, but I wouldn't believe you.)

Take a listen and mellow out. Happy Friday.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Once more for the road

So long, Summer. It was pretty touch-and-go for a minute there anyway, huh? I figure this is a proper send off, and any excuse to play the feel-good classic by DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince is fine by me.

Until next time...


Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Fear


"When you want what you want more than you fear what you want, you will have it." - Alan Cohen


I want to talk about fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, guilt for being afraid – all of that.

This space gives me leave to articulate whatever I please, no matter how profound or mundane. People read it if they want to and click to a different space if they don’t. I don’t really divulge, so I have very little on the line here. It's not particularly therapeutic because I am not willing to be completely raw and vulnerable in this space. Hell, there are very few spaces in even the 3D realm where I’ll take that risk…

Wait, I’m wandering…

Okay, so this space allows me to put my thoughts out there, but as a writer (I have the nerve to claim that again) sharing this way isn’t enough. What’s so special about something everyone can do? Or, as Groucho Marx (as retold by Woody Allen) put it, “I would never want to be part of a club that would have someone like me for a member”. I’ll never be a writer if all I do is blog. (Which is not to say that writers don't blog, but not all bloggers are writers, dig?)

If I really want to test my mettle, I have to submit my thoughts to someone who can turn them/me down. I need a door closed in my face, so that I can a) get creative and find an open window or b) get angry and break that shit down. So many success stories hit a turning point when the protagonist has nothing left to lose. Those of us who have little more than nothing may hold onto our scraps so tightly that we can’t reach for anything else…

Here lies the body of Teresa. She played it safe…

And there are copouts, so many copouts that I could distract myself for the rest of my breathing days with other things that “need to get done”. But I know that I am never more alive and full than when I’m scribbling in a damn near blind fury or performing. I know this. So what do I do with this information? I don’t know yet, but I can bet it starts where fear stops.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Just a thought...

"Dreams"

Unrealistic,
but that still doesn't make me
want it any less.

Friday, September 11, 2009

About Face




Dear Break-outs,

This is how it works. I vow to wear virtually no make-up and not to pick. In exchange, you happen very seldom – only a few pimples at a time – and in a singular area on my face. I let you run your course, using only a mild astringent, and then you leave me be. WTF, Breakouts? This was not part of the deal.

Aggravated & Self-Conscious,
Teresa
**

Dear Teresa,

You don’t own me.

I do what I want.

(RHASBERRY!)


That’s “Miss Break-outs” to You,

Miss Break-outs

**

Dear Break-outs,

Do I really have to get reinforcements?
Because I will. Don’t make me do it.

Teresa
**

Dear Teresa,

Empty threats. You can’t just up a change the skin regiment all willy-nilly! That’s not even your style – gimme a break! What’chew gone do now, punk? Bust a move!


B

**

Dear B,

Please leave sooner than later. Uncle.

Teresa
**

T,

I’ll think about it. (Chump.)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

At the End of the Rainbow


Last Friday, Reading Rainbow aired its last episode in a 26-year run, and it feels a little like I lost a friend. I grew up with this show; the likes of it and Sesame Street and Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood (to a lesser degree) swirl together in my nostalgia to create this rose-colored childhood memory.* I think on that time now as a golden age in children’s television programming, where leaving your young ones in front of the TV could actually be a good thing.

Now I can’t recall specific episodes, but like the NPR article states, everybody knows that soulful yet accessible theme song and those familiar three notes that followed the oral book reports. (“But you don’t have to take my word for it!) And if I recall correctly, there was great diversity in the children cast on that show; at the very least I remember thinking that I could be one of those kids.

In an NPR segment, Reading Rainbow is credited with teaching children why to read, rather than how. And as the focus has shifted from comprehension to phonics, “research shows” that children may benefit more from gaining skills like spelling and grammar than content. That makes my Humanities heart bleed. It’s like the difference between teaching children to read to expand their thinking and teaching them to read to follow instructions. Children are maturing much faster and becoming more savvy all the time, and I think the why is more important now than ever.

We need something composed of complete sentences and full thoughts to compete with the flash-bang! of texting, twitter and other malformed incarnations of language. I’m not so parochial as to want to eschew all new rhetoric and language conventions, but we not only speak with this language – we think in it. And I fear the more we shortcut and abbreviate ourselves, the more we shrink our thoughts and ultimately narrow our own minds.

I’m sure this makes me sound like some stodgy English teacher or librarian, but I think this is a great loss. I hadn’t watched Reading Rainbow in many years, but I’m still sad to see it go – and the era along with it.

* I would be remiss not to give Fraggle Rock and Zoobilee Zoo honorable mention.


(image from here.)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

20-Something [Social] Life Cycle

- subcultural rebirth

- clique gestation/ interpersonal maturation

- technological disenchantment

- psychoanalytic introspection

- existential crisis

- burst into flame

- repeat




Is it really that serious? Of course not... and absolutely.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ramadan Reflections

(because, clearly, i'm a sucker for alliteration.)
**

Yesterday, I overheard someone say, “I’m starving.”

Really? Really?

It was the 3rd day of Ramadan, and my body was still adjusting. I wasn't walking around sad-faced and pitiful; my stomach didn't even growl too much. And I didn’t intend to indulge such dramatics. For one, it’s not becoming, and for two – it isn’t necessary.

However, hearing that hyperbolic turn of phrase (for surely she wasn’t serious) actually made me grateful for the fast. Through it, I will recognize hunger, but it will confirm that I know nothing of starvation. That’s one of the benefits of Ramadan; Muslims get closer to the experience of the unfortunate. Hopefully, it will not only make us more diligent in our compassion but more thankful for our bounty.

Ameen.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ramadan Mubarak

The Islamic month of fasting began last night at sundown.



It makes me feel especially connected to Muslims across the world.




And I think the President feels connected too. Very cool.




Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Peculiar Kind of Optimisim



An excerpt from a recent conversation with one of my sisters:


"I have good news!"

"What?"

"I went to the doctor today and found out that I have poison ivy."

"You're stupid."

"I thought there was a parasite living under the surface of my skin."

"Well, in that case."

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Dude. 3 Years.

A few days ago, HomeBoy & I celebrated our 3 year wedding anniversary (it sounds so stodgy when I say it that way). He wrote me this amazing message that made me cry the second time I read it (the first time I was too busy trippin' because other folks could see it).

What a beautiful soul.
What a blessed life.
I don't want to ramble,
but I believe Ingrid Michaelson said it best.


PS - We went to this delicious Italian restaurant. Ever had really good canneloni? It will change your life.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

An Exercise in Nostalgia


You know, senior yearbook quotes can reveal a lot about a person.

In my high school, the seniors had the most detailed portion of the yearbook. Unlike the under classmen who had all of their images squeezed onto a double page spread like so many sardines, our photos were laid out three per page, so we could include a list of all our extracurricular activities, our signatures and a quote of our own choosing.

People pulled activities out the woodwork. I’m convinced some even made them up. My own list wasn’t very robust, as I worked all through high school. But the most interesting part wasn’t the list of extracurrculars; it wasn’t even the highly stylized signatures of the senior girls – complete with hearts and smiley faces, ad nauseum. The most interesting thing about the senior section was the quotes.

Being several years removed from high school, I’ve gone back to peruse my yearbook on occasion. I’ll read a few of the handwritten messages; then I make a B-line for the senior section to see who’s quotes exemplify their high school selves, and who’s quotes were foreshadowing the people they would become. Of course, I have not kept in touch with everyone from my graduating class, so maybe the quotes just fit my memories of them. At any rate, here are some of my favorites:


  • "...in my pants" -Original
  • "Nothing left to do but smile smile smile" -Grateful Dead
  • "I get by with a little help from m y friends.
  • I get high with a little help from my friends." - The Beatles
  • "Carpe Diem"
  • "Insanity, think of it as a survival kit." - Anonymous
  • "We are such stuff as dreams are made on; and our little life is rounded with a sleep." - The Tempest
  • "I don't want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it again." - F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise
  • "When I know who I am, then I'll be free." - Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
  • "Four years of Academic [our high school]...'And still I rise" - Partially Original/ Maya Angelou
  • "Deaf people can do anything except hear" - Original (and from a hearing-impaired student. awesome in my opinion.)
  • "College is for girls who don't want to marry the first idiot they meet and push out his illegitimate children." - Original
  • "I wish they would only take me as I am." -Vincent Van Gogh
  • "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." - Unknown
  • "Nitwit blubber oddment tweak." (I believe this is take from Harry Potter)
  • "My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor." - Ecclesiastes 2:10
  • "Both tears and sweat are salty, but render a different result. Tears will get you sympathy, sweat will get you change." - Jesse Jackson
  • "We all go a little mad sometimes." - Norman Bates, Psycho
  • "If I could say a few good words...I'd be a better public speaker." - Homer Simpson
  • "The difficulty is not to die for a friend but to find a fried to die for." - Anonymous
  • "Silence, here I am. Here I am -silent" - Nirvana
  • "Verily, when Allah intends a thing, His command is 'Be!' and it is! So glory to Him in whose hands in the dominion of all things: and to Allah is the final return." - Al Qur'an

I could have included more, but I don't want to transcribe the words of my entire senior class. Like I said, I haven't kept in touch enough to know if any of these quotes have proven to been ironic or prophetic, but I hope we have a reunion because I would love to know.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

"Peacetime"

[edited to add]

I like technology most when it helps me do something timeless – like create poetry.

While watching The Good Shepherd the other night, I saw a scene in which the main character and his love interest were dancing at a night club and the band leader interrupted the music to share the news that France and England had just declared war on Germany. “But please continue dancing and enjoying our music,” he said, “I’ll update you as information comes in.” The protagonist’s love interest held him closer – tighter – for as long as she could. And continue to dance they did.

Even after I turned off the movie and went to bed, I couldn’t get that scene out of my mind. I didn’t want to get up and grab my notebook, but there’s a memo app on my BB. So I opened a new memo, and wrote the following: (tentatively titled, “Peacetime”)


Hold me close;
we’re on the brink of war.

Let’s keep dancing.
Soon enough there will be no music,
and we will ration smiles.

But tonight we can pretend
that our hearts are light, our spirits free.

And the only bloody Marys
are the ones served with Sunday brunches.
Not the ones with futures and families.
Not the ones named for the mother of Jesus.
**

I question the line breaks.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Are you talking to me?


As I rushed through the halls at work yesterday morning, a building maintenance gentleman with a huge cart stopped short right beside me. Then I stopped. He said, "ladies first", and I almost tripped standing still. "Thank you," I said. As I scurried the rest of the way back to my desk, I had a flurry of feelings and thoughts. I’ll try to illustrate them:


“Ladies first” => was he being facetious? => Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman” => I wasn’t offended => it seemed genuine => race/class/gender (minus class in this instance) => should I have insisted that he go first? he was pushing a heavy load… => (so am I – Rimshot!) => is this chivalry or decency? => is there a difference? => was taking his cue an anti-feminist act? => maybe he wasn’t in a rush? => when did I become a lady? => woman, yes. lady? I don’t know => it was a nice gesture, at any rate => sometimes a cigar is just a cigar => I don’t smoke


Yep. That's pretty much the inside of my head at any given moment.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

poetic license...


Yippien.  a term used to describe the young and upwardly mobile who despite their education, professional careers and relatively affluent lifestyles persist in expanding consciousness through nonconformist, unconventional and free-spirited behavior; a cross between a “yuppie” and a “hippie”; ex. It’s good that she’s buying local and handmade items, but that yippie spends way too much!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Happy Birthday, Bighead


Dear HomeBoy,

I know you don’t really celebrate your birthday, and that’s fine by me.  But I do.  So, how can I satisfy my need to recognize and your request to keep it quiet?  I think a post will do the trick.  Here it goes…

 

“Twenty-Eight Endearing Things About You”

28.  You look like a child when you’re sleeping – totally unassuming and peaceful.

27.  Your search for humor is relentless, and you always share your findings with me. (Whether I find them funny or not – that’s a different story ;)

26.  My friends love you, and my family respects you.

25.  You’re a rather good impersonator; your Nas and Mos Def are pretty good, but your Elijah Muhammad is the best. 

24.  However, your impersonation of my dad still leaves much to be desired – keep working on it. ;)

23.  Your competitive edge is pretty funny.  Phase Ten has never had such an intense interpretation before you started playing, I’m sure.

22.  You love your friends and family with steadfastness and intensity.  I admire that.

21.  You introduced me to Aesop Rock, L’Roneous and Aqua Teen Hunger Force.  How can I ever repay you?

20.  WWJD – What Would Jay Do?  If I'd had you as a math tutor, maybe I'd remember a few things.

19.  I love to see you and your sisters together; you have a beautiful relationship.

18.  You don’t buy me flowers, you bring me ginger snaps.

17.  When you get into a hobby, you REALLY get into it.  RC Cars, boxing, MMA and jiu-jitsu… need I say more?

16.  You are the reason I know anything at all about the UFC, and I really do listen!  BJ Penn, Royce and Roger and all the Gracies, Tap Out, Affliction, Sherdog, arm bar, triangle choke, oma plata – see?

15.  You may single-handedly keep afloat the protein powder industry.

14.  I see a tree limb, a doorway, a set of monkey bars; you see a pull-up opportunity.

13.  Somehow scaring me as I walk into dark rooms or turn corners is still funny after all this time… to you.

12.  You, in a most beautifully articulate manner, defended feminism to my father.  While I observed in absolute silence with a smile that could rival the Cheshire Cat.

11.  Your pragmatism and frugality can be irksome – they also come in great handy.

10.  You research EVERYTHING, from laptops to what’s the best method for making coffee.  (I love our French press, by the way.  Thank you.)

9.  You’ve relinquished any creative control in the interior design of our home, but you help me carry out the ideas.

8.  After only 3 years, you’ve nearly mastered the art of dishwashing. ;)

7.  You are kind to all animals, and even pet the strays.

6.  You have high school memories of me from before I even really knew who you were.

5.  You never hold me back from anything I want to do.

4.  You make me question myself, which ultimately results in a stronger resolve or a clarified perspective.

3.  You were a soldier, and you are a scholar.

2.  You’ve pondered a multitude of ways to embarrass our future children.

1.  You are who you are all the time.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ways to Keep Busy While the Power's Out (in the morning)


(Besides the obvious - gutter!)

- Call the electric company and report it, of course.

- Wash dishes by window light.

- Make shadow puppets.

- Wonder if I should have spent that extra $$ on a backup generator instead of interior paint.

- Listen to the rain fall & remember when that used to be a soothing sound.

- Count all the things in the refrigerator that could spoil. Do this in my mind, of course; don't open the fridge and let what little chill is left escape.

- Write a letter, like they did in Olden Days. If I really want an authentic experience, tie my letter to the foot of a pigeon.

- Write my blog post by hand and laugh hysterically at the irony.

- Marvel at my dependence on modern amenities.

- Meditate on gratitude. My situation is only an inconvenience - a discomfort at the most - and it's temporary.

- Be Still. (Seriously, when was the last time I did that?)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


Truth is,

I hadn’t been listening to you recently.

You were like milk –

fortifying me in my youth,

but less tantalizing as I got older.

Sure you were still important,

but I needed you less and less…

Still you were a part of me,

as familiar and requisite in my world

as the building fund, alter prayer

and aluminum foil at the tips of cornrows.

Maybe I should have

shook my head in defiance

instead of in shame

because maybe you didn’t do those things you were accused of?

Should have been more vocal

instead of lending my silence to the swell

of rumors, cruel jokes and accusations.


When the news came, I didn’t believe.

But when it was confirmed,

I retreated into my catalogue and let the whole thing play.

You never miss the water…

or in this case, the milk.

I’ve kept my sadness to myself, mostly.

Not really wanting to join the throngs of mourners

whose sincerity is only outdone by their amnesia.

Could a little more kindness have saved your life?

Yes, you have Gone to Soon.

Yes, I Want You Back.

Yes, those are very clich├ęd things to say –

I guess that means I’m just like all the others.

But you are not, and you never were.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Transformers


I am ready.  So ready to transform this house some more.  I have a love/hate relationship with our Queen Mum.  Sometimes, I am dazzled by her stateliness, endurance and potential, other times I wish she was a brand new modern condo.  My dream for this house is somewhere between restoring her to her original grandeur and updating everything with just a wink to her history.

I’ve visited blogs and websites of people who have been in this same 100+ year old Victorian ship that we’re in.  I’ve seen some scary befores and inspiring afters, and they make me want to make this house all that it can be – inside and out.  HomeBoy and I, for the sake of our savings and sanity, are taking things slowly.  Last year, we focused on the LR and DR; not too shabby, if I may say so.  Both rooms still need finishing touches, but we’ve made great progress.

This spring and summer, I want to take things to the next level.  No, seriously.  We’re going to do some work upstairs.  The initial and ambitious plan is to finish all the floors, repair a little cracked plaster, customize our bedroom closet and paint and paint and paint.  We’ve already been to Home Depot and made some color decisions; it went relatively quickly because I knew what I wanted.  Warm colors are downstairs, so we’re doing all cool colors upstairs – calming, soothing blues and greens and gray (for the office). 


We’ve learned quite a bit from last year’s projects:

1) Projects should be done in a specific order to minimize unnecessary work.  Last year, we had the floors done before we did the painting, and though we were very careful, there were still a few spills to pine over and clean up.  This brings me to the next learning...

2) We are not painters.  You put on your coveralls and your scarf and it’s all cute for about an hour; then you want to call the crew that HGTV keeps off camera.  I will be pricing some interior painters; if the cost is reasonable, I will gladly turn over my brush and roller. 

3) There will be times, outside of moving into a new place, where you will have to lift your furniture, and it will suck.  

4) And finally (for the moment at least), house renovating is hard work.  Take the time and appreciate the process.  Sure we worked on weekends then went to work on Monday; sure we came home to a dining room covered in tarp and tape and a bedroom with a dining table and chairs in it; sure taking a full couch up a full flight of stairs will make you feel like every push-up you’ve ever done in life meant nothing.  But when the tarp comes up, the furniture goes down and you love what you see – it is all worth it.

**

image from this cool blog.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Words to Live By

"Don't stop till you get enough."

-Michael Jackson

The Prototype

The first time I saw Love Jones, it was in the theaters.  I was in the seventh grade, and I remember going to the movies with a friend of mine – still high from Erykah Badu’s debut album, and couldn’t wait to see a good romantic drama about black love.  (Though I doubt we would have articulated it that way back then.)  From the leather, denim and sepia saturated cinematography to the bluesy soundtrack to the flawless beauty of Nia Long, everything about that movie excited me.  And Darius Lovehall (Lorenz Tate)?  Darius Lovehall was the best thing since sliced bread. 

The character’s pomposity and wordplay were an intoxicating combination that could make you slap him and still invite him in to “talk”.  I’d experimented with writing poetry by this time, but Love Jones introduced me to the performance aspect.  Though it would be a little while before I began performing, from the night I left the theater I was hooked.  Spoken word was this intellectual, grown and sexy thing in my mind, and Darius Lovehall was it’s patron saint.

Fast forward some years, and I’m at the New York comedy club about to slam against some dude named Talaam Acey.  I’d never heard of him and the prize was a paltry $25 (enough to cover the drink minimum, the host joked), but no matter –  this was just for the love of words.  I. Was. Floored. He had an amazing way of intertwining sensuality and social commentary ( p**sy and politics) that tricked the audience into learning something.  His delivery was wonderful; his demeanor – haughty and humble at the same time.  After a close judging, we complimented each other and I invited him to a bi-monthly open mic in Jersey City.

When he showed up to my stomping ground in JC, he brought some copies of his latest CD to sell.  The title was Morally Bankrupt, and it was the best $10 I ever spent.  I played it on all-day repeat for weeks, and I dethroned the fictional Darious Lovehall as patron saint of spoken word because here was a man who made Mr. Lovehall sound like a beginner.  Since our first meeting, I have purchased two more of his CDs and even saw Talaam when he came to KCMO earlier this year.  (It was a Tuesday night, folks.  I don’t go out on week nights for just anybody.) 

He’s made a living at this performance poetry thing for over a decade.  He travels and performs and writes.  He’s still just as haughty and humble.  He’s still teaching audiences on the sly.  And for a limited time only, he has a free download (courtesy of Microsoft) of a piece called “Five Women”.  I’ve listened and I enjoy it; though I think some of his earlier work had more fervor.  Check it out, if you have a chance.  For some, this will be an introduction; for others, sweet nostalgia.  Either way, I offer a taste of the Good Deacon and his Reformed Church of Lyrical Lucidity.  (Oom Sha-lock-lock.)*

 

*The italics reference specific pieces of Talaam’s poetry.  Though I would like to take credit for “The reformed church of lyrical lucidity”, I cannot.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Time Traveling


I had lunch with a Colleague the other day.  We talked of creativity and occupation and ULTIMATE LIFE PURPOSE – nice light conversation.  As we talked, Colleague began to muse about the near future, “…in three years, I’ll be 26.”  And just like that, I was older.  Colleague’s future is my present.  In 3 more years, I’ll be 29 for the first time…

Last weekend, I attended my baby brother’s high school graduation; it was yet another reminder of the passage of time.  his current milestone was my past cornerstone in a foundation that has, thankfully and prayerfully, been building upward ever since.  Combine that with all the recent weddings and babies, and it’s a surprise I haven’t started to grunt when I get up from a chair or forget my sunglasses are on top of my head.


“I feel my mortality,” Colleague said. 

“It’s better than the illusion of immortality,” I replied.

“But ignorance was so much fun.”

 

“Yeah, but I wouldn’t go back to not knowing.”  We both agreed on that.  We both also have had the experience of growing up as mature youths – old souls, wise beyond our years or whatever.  It’s funny how you can be those things without ever feeling like a grown up.

“I feel like a grown-up now,” Colleague said.  So what does this mean?  Maybe it’s like the bird feeder said – about feeling the changes as they approach (and while in the midst of them, I might add). 

As a purported Millenial, I am part of the “it” group right now.  Everybody wants to know what we think/feel/want.  That could easily be no more than our society’s obsession with youth culture.  What about when this glorified decade passes?  Who will we be then, and will anybody care?  

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Not Post-Its, "Post-ettes" - as in little ones

1
stayed up last night watching Caveman Valentine with Sam Jackson. while his ridiculous hair distracted me from his character development, initially, i found the story very interesting. at the end of the film it occured to me that maybe the only difference between an eccentric and a nutcase is their tax bracket.
**

2
dear lady on the NJ Transit train who asked me about the Trenton stop,

i didn't know that the train we were on was a local and that it would stop in Trenton. i hope you weren't too late for you appointment. in my defense, i had just stepped onto the train. i should have looked for the ticket attendant and asked. i didn't lie to you; you asked if it was the 8:32 to Trenton, and i said it was the 8:25 to Long Branch. that's why i was on it. anyway, i know how much it sucks to get lost, so I hope you had safe travels in spite of my back advise.
**

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Requisite Birthday Post


PART I

A colleague of mine saw a Kenneth Koch book on my desk last week, and he engaged me in a brief yet enthusiastic conversation about the author/poet.  Later that same day, said colleague left this poem on my desk, and though I am still in my twenties it feels appropriate to share:


To My Twenties

How lucky that I ran into you

When everything was possible

For my legs and arms, and with hope in my heart

And so happy to see any woman--

O woman! O my twentieth year!

Basking in you, you

Oasis from both growing and decay

Fantastic unheard of nine- or ten-year oasis

A palm tree, hey! And then another

And another--and water!

I'm sill very impressed by you. Whither,

Midst falling decades, have you gone? Oh in what lucky fellow,

Unsure of himself, upset, and unemployable

For the moment in any case, do you live now?

From my window I drop a nickel

By mistake. With

You I race down to get it

But I find there on

The street instead, a good friend,

X-- N--, who says to me

Kenneth do you have a minute?

And I say yes! I am in my twenties!

I have plenty of time! In you I marry,

In you I first go to France; I make my best friends

In you, and a few enemies. I

Write a lot and am living all the time

And thinking about living. I loved to frequent you

After my teens and before my thirties.

You three together in a bar

I always preferred you because you were midmost

Most lustrous apparently strongest

Although now that I look back on you

What part have you played?

You never, ever, were stingy. What you gave me you gave whole

But as for telling

Me how to best use it

You weren't a genius at that.

Twenties, my soul

Is yours for the asking

You know that, if you ever come back.

**

I am not familiar with Koch’s work, but I definitely want to get acquainted now.


PART II

And as I am in the habit of creating connections and naming things, I hereby christen this my Marathon Year.  Whatever does that mean?  Well, bare with me as I make something up, won’t you?  Twenty-six is the number of  miles in a marathon; the Greek myth of the battle of Marathon concludes with a foot soldier running the distance of 26 miles, despite fatigue, to tell of a victory against the Persians.

lesson #1: fight through the fatigue

lesson #2: try to have good news

Marathon runners today have tremendous endurance and strength, though you can’t always tell by looking at them.  They train hard and often, but always give themselves time to recover.  The night before a race is critical; they always eat well and rest up.

lesson #3: endure

lesson #4: never reveal all of your strength

lesson #5: give yourself time to recover

lesson #6: carbs are okay, if you have a long journey ahead

In the case of the Battle of Marathon, the Persians outnumbered the Athenians 4 to 1.  In the case of modern day marathons, those who start strong don’t always finish strong.  Yes, training and preparation are key, but there are always variables we cannot foresee.  It would behoove me to remember this the next time I’m feeling like I’ll never get ahead or when I’m feeling like I can’t be stopped.  Both self perceptions are false and could cost me dearly.  A lot can happen in twenty-six miles, which brings me to my final lesson:

lesson #7: it’s anybody’s race

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Silly, but true - a retropost


(This actually happened a few weeks ago.  I can laugh at it now because it's over.)


I came back from a meeting to find a tiny bug on my screen.  I flicked it, but it didn’t move.  Why?  Because it was beneath the glass of my monitor.  I had to watch it crawl – up, down, across, along the edge.  I called IT, 

“This is going to sound weird, but um, there’s a bug in my computer and I can see it crawling around, but it’s beneath the screen so I can’t kill it.”  

Silence.  

“I was wondering if I should use some compressed air or something; I think it must have gotten in there through the speaker holes.”

“Well, uh…” 

He’s obviously struggling to find a response.  I put him out of his misery.“It’s not really affecting my work.” That’s a lie.  I was totally losing my shit as this thing crawled across my word documents and excel spreadsheets and NY Times homepage. 

“Well, there’s nothing we can really do.  What kind of computer do you have?”

“An all-in-one.”

“If any more show up, we can replace the entire unit.  Definitely call back if you see any more.”

“Okay.  I’m sure this is the weirdest thing you’ve heard all day.”

“Yep.”  

He laughs to make me feel less lame.  Thank you, IT Guy.  I hang up the phone convinced that this is karmic payback for the innumerous and terrible puns that I have tossed about with reckless abandon.  I changed my desktop wall paper, which was a super focused and close cropped photo of a flower petal.  (Do I look like I’m kidding?)  I opted for a black and white landscape shot with a few strong lightning bolts in the middle.  If this little nuisance was going to traipse around on my screen, I didn’t have to sit there and bare witness.  Of course when I open anything that wasn’t a predominantly black screen – there it was!

I haven’t seen the little bugger all day.  I guess it’s gone, as quickly, quietly and uneventfully as it had come.  I couldn’t be happier.  In the future, I’ll be more sparing with my bad puns, but I’m tucking this experience away for a time when I am old, quirky and have to be tolerated.  Then I will turn to the young’uns and say, “Ask me about the time my computer had a bug.”

Friday, May 29, 2009

That's a Test of a Different Color


Courtesy of VSL (Very Short List), I found this cool little visual IQ test. It sort of feeds my latent designer, so I was pleased to have gotten such a good score. I didn't do the whole thing straight through - had to take breaks and go back a couple of times. Some of the colors are so subtly different that they all started to look the same! I could explain it, but the sight explains it better. So just go play!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Seriously?

"Proud Non-Reader, Kayne West Turns Author"

I don’t know how to say this without sounding like a stuffy, pretentious, self-important poser.  Maybe it’s because I graduated from college.  Maybe it’s because I was an English major, but to have a self proclaimed "non-reader" co-create a book seems a rank offense.  Like he is intentionally thumbing his nose at articulation and literacy. In this 52 page mega pamphlet, some pages have a few odd words or phrases and others are completely blank.  It irks my life.  I’m not taking away from his capacity to create catchy music and clever wordplay.  I am dismayed, however, at the outright frivolity of  the endeavor.  I wonder if this is how actors feel when some random celebrity “tries their hand” at acting - or any aspiring or established craftsperson, for that matter, who has to entertain the wanton antics of some smug dilettante suffering from a case of self-entitlement.  

If you want to write things down and make those things available for others to read, that’s cool – put it in a CD jacket, publish it through Kindle or post it on your blog.  Hell, put it on a T-shirt even, but don’t waste the resources to print and bound something you don’t even believe in.  You’re a non-reader?  That’s cool.  Now you can add “non-author” to your credits as well.


See the article (with my orange interjections) below.  

It's like writing in the margins - the margins of books.  Take that!

**

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Rapper Kanye West does not read books or respect them but nevertheless he has written one that he would like you to buy and read.

The Grammy Award winner, known for his No. 1 albums and outspoken statements on everything from racism in America to the banality of Twitter, is the co-author of "Thank You And You're Welcome."

okay.  I do like this title.

His book is 52 pages -- some blank, others with just a few words -- and offers his optimistic philosophy on life. One two-page section reads, "Life is 5% what happens and 95% how you react!" Another page reads "I hate the word hate!"

 ever notice how words that lack any real impact tend to be followed by very strong punctuation?

 "This is a collection of thoughts and theories," West, 31, said in an interview about his spiral-bound volume, which was written with J. Sakiya Sandifer.

because heaven forbid you ever throw away something you’ve written down?  I guess you’ve forgotten the better stuff.

West said he put his thoughts in a book because "I get paraphrased and misquoted all the time." He calls his wisdom "Kanye-isms."

"My favorite one is 'Get used to being used,'" he said.

"I feel like to misuse, overuse or abuse someone is negative. To use is necessary and if you can't be used, then you are useless."

wow, to be a hater of books, he sure is a fan of semantics! this is kind of clever – in a suessical sort of way or like a freestyle. however,  the thing with freestyle fodder is that much of it is really clever in the moment, but if you have time to think about it, you come to a conclusion like, “WTF are you saying?”

So does he fancy himself a modern-day Confucius?

"I'm trying to end the confusion," he said, laughing and adding, "I'm gonna put that on the next album."

again, with the wordplay; look for that Confucius / end confusion line in the next single.

West's derision of books comes despite the fact that his late mother, Donda West, was a university English professor before she retired to manage his music career. She died in 2007 of complications following cosmetic surgery.

"Sometimes people write novels and they just be so wordy and so self-absorbed," West said. "I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book's autograph.

All artists are self absorbed to a degree.  How else can we think that our perspective and opinion are so important that the whole world ought to know about it?  And don’t you worry about getting a book’s autograph; I doubt you’ll ever find a book to give you one.  (That’s personification – something people tend to use in books and other such contraptions with words in them.)

"I am a proud non-reader of books. I like to get information from doing stuff like actually talking to people and living real life," he said.

I get this.  there’s no substitute for experience, but books are not simply purveyors of someone else’s life.  they are also playgrounds of inspiration and doorways to worlds unknown.  not to mention we don’t all have the means to get up and go whenever we’re curious about something.  “I wonder what Paris is like in the fall?  I think I’ll go in September!”  and limiting this statement to real life leaves no room for fiction.  even you can’t disregard the importance of imagination.

West, a college dropout, said being a non-reader was helpful when he wrote his book because it gave him "a childlike purity."

should I read “childlike purity” as “infantile intellect”?  hmm…

West dedicates the book to his late mother.

"My mom taught me to believe in my flyness and conquer my shyness," he said, defining "flyness" as confidence. "She raised me to be the voice to allow people to think for themselves, to find their own way."

know what makes your closing statement appealing?  rhyme and assonance – literary devices.  you are a walking contradiction, sir.  now if you will excuse me, I have to find my own way to the library.