It’s Complicated: My Relationship With Beyonce

Would I throw her one?  Maybe after enough tequila…but that’s not what I was talking about.

Yesterday, I made a comment that I thought Beyonce and I might be dating after seeing her video for Partition.  That comment was misconstrued as sexual.  But in truth, the comment is about context, not sex.

So, let’s get started – can someone please tell me – how did we get from Pablo Neruda prowling and searching, silent and starving…and craving, don’t forget craving (Daaaamn! Ummm…he can get it, y’all)…to Twittered crotch shots and unimaginative descriptions that seem designed more to shock than titillate?

When I see Beyonce writhing and gyrating nearly naked it seems a little out of context for the very casual, dissociated nature of our relationship.  It seems to me that we should get to know each other a little better before she is spread eagled in front of me showing me her pancreas.  The hard way.  I mean…shouldn’t we reserve that kinda sharing for more private places or at least charge money for it like decent people?

I know the easy answer is “don’t like, don’t look.”  But, remember the good ole days?  Before we reduced each other to body parts and monosyllabic grunts.  Before we used our genitals to get to know each other.  Before it was passé to anticipate and imagine.  Before we came out of the starting block naked and ready to go.

I’m sad to think those days are gone.

Today, when I see a bunch of bulbous, silicone-stuffed girls and overly stimulated boys – I feel sorry for what they will miss.  I know, I sound like a hater.  Maybe if I had a few…um…protuberances of my own, I’d be less worried about what others were doing.  But still…these kids?  How will they ever know the fun of crushing on someone or playing a little game of chase if everything is so out there and in their faces all the time?  Without the buildup, it’s just biology.  It’s all just amoeba.

In our humanity, we can add a little something to it.  In the words of Darius Lovehall, “it’s about the possibility of a thing.”

Now…that’s sexy.  That and nerds.


A Different Kind Of Bucket List…

Confession:  I love to travel.  Above all else, my ass just likes to be somewhere else.  Now, I have to be creative because while I travel like a rock star, I earn the salary of an organ grinder monkey.

So, thanks to a hook up, I’m sitting in the restaurant at the InterContinental in Rome in the midst of a bunch of folk who don’t have to be nearly as creative as me.

I can tell because they are smiling while downing several €15 espressos (yeah, that’s $21 in the US.  No…not pesos…dollars) and choosing between the Dom P. and Moet as the sommelier walks around their table with a bottle of each in his hands.  They don’t have the same pained expression as me.  They didn’t ask the waiter, “Now…what now?” when they saw the price.  A gentleman one table over just raised his hand at the waiter and said, “We’ll take three lobsters, please…and the menus!”

Sometimes, you gotta get into some shit to know the truth about it.  To be in Italy, to have God’s record so closely juxtaposed to man’s opulence, I am finding, without fail, that material trappings truly lose the contest.  Rich or poor, we all have the exact same access to this city’s heart.  She woos us all equally.  Yes, my friends, Rome is a bit of a tramp.

But this new experience is just one more on the ever-growing list of things that reset what I understand about life.  Ten years ago, I always had to have the dope shit and be in the middle of shit and know the latest shit and be the hottest shit.  Well, all that shit is exhausting and certainly has an expiration date.  Slowly but surely, my old bucket list has morphed into my new f$#% it list…and I have a another opportunity to reshape what I value.

So, here’s what I confirmed about myself today in Italy.  I am, at heart, a cheap date.   Give me a nice breeze, a place to people watch (throw in a good zoo, if you’re tryna get lucky) and, maybe later, a sunset to remind me to return to Spirit and reflect.  (Ok, full disclosure – I AM going to be wearing some hot ass shoes while I do all that…)

But today, I am easily walking past the best designer boutiques in the world, some exclusive to Italy even, in order to light a candle in a church, walk a local neighborhood or play with children at a fountain (as long as they don’t touch me…baby steps, y’all)  This morning, I meditated in front of the Vatican.  I’d rather pound this city by foot, exploring every public sculpture and historical landmark than experience upscale places whose price of entry (sometimes monetary, but more often not) would prohibit my contact with every day Romans.  In other words, I’m certainly more interested in talking to the bartender than I am this well-heeled old-as-magma gentleman (using the term loosely here) who keeps staring over here, clearly titillated by the perceived prospect of working out some kinky slave girl fantasy.

Anyway, my point is — who knew I would have to cross an ocean to discover what I’ve carried inside of myself all along?  Wait…that doesn’t make sense anymore…it started out as my point but these words took on a life of their own.  Oops!

DISCLAIMER:  For the record, none of this means my ass is flying coach on my return trip.  I was a having a moment of growth, not insanity.

Teaching Moments And Life Lessons At Register 9

My local grocery hires people of differing levels of ability and gives them an opportunity to earn a living wage during the day when the store is not busy. I appreciate that.

So, I had to pick up a few items today and went a bit out of my way to shop there and support them.  They weren’t that busy so each register had just two or three people in line and because I was in a rush to get back to work, I passed 8 registers until I came upon one that had only one person in line.  (Y’all, my ass has NO patience!)

The guy working Register 9 used to bag the groceries but he hung in there and tried his best every time he came to work and now he’s a cashier. I know this because he told me.

He was a good bagger but he likes being a cashier better because you get to talk to all of the nice people because you have to talk to people to get to know who they are and that’s a part of his job – customer service.  I know this because he effin’ told me this, too.

Only problem is he’s not that good at talking to customers and ringing up groceries at the same time…but he’s working on it. I know this because despite my hurried attempts to rush him along, he stopped ringing out my shit to tell me that, too.

So after 10 minutes in line and another 15 minutes to ring up my THREE items, including a pack of gum that I nonchalantly tossed on the belt at the last minute, I left the market frustrated but strangely also encouraged that I was indeed smart enough to figure out the iOS 7 download because he did it and now he can play games on his phone.  And if he can do it, I can do it, too, if I don’t give up.  I know this because this is yet another thing he told me….today…while I was in line…waiting for my three items…including the pack of gum…for 25 minutes…total.

As I stood there trying to keep my whole head from exploding, somehow I heard a little voice (no, not THAT one…the good one) tell me to shut the hell up and LOOK at this man who, in just 25 minutes, somehow managed to exemplify tenacity, commitment, vulnerability, kindness, encouragement and mindfulness – qualities that I struggle with every day.  But more importantly, I caught a glimpse of someone who learned to value what really matters above all this other b.s. in our daily lives – our connectedness as human beings – and is paying it forward every chance he gets.

Next time I’m there, I’ll ask for him by name.

Miss So-And-So, The Unmasked Crusader

There’s a feisty little Panamanian woman, about my mother’s age, who comes to clean our offices twice a day.

Every time she comes into my office, she sings out, “It’s a good day, bay-bee!” in her heavily accented English.

“Hi, Miss So-and-so,” I reply, smiling.  “How are you today?”

It’s a loaded question, really.  The answer to which is invariably a colorful 15-20 minute story from her younger days; sometimes in English, sometimes in Spanish but always ending in a defiant, “Bullshit!” – her go-to response when someone, somewhere attempted to get in her way once she set her mind to do something.  These are the stories she chooses to tell.

Then one day after sharing her story, she walked over as if to emphasize the gravity of her next point and put her hand on my arm to make sure I was listening.  I’m not sure why she did this because I’m always her most captive audience but I felt warmth and wisdom in the connection so I covered her hand with my own.

There, connected like that, she told me, “Bay-bee, you have only one life.  USE IT UP!  And go get more!”

With that, she filled the moment with laughter and pushed her cart out of my office.

I marvel at this tiny force of nature.  If I roll her up tightly enough, she can probably fit in my purse – the big striped one with the double handles.  But she is 90 lbs of pure fiyah – a substance not yet controlled, certainly not defined and perhaps not even known by man.  Yet, in spite her small stature, she is one of the biggest forces I know because when she walks into a room, she, like air, fills the entire space.  Elemental, indeed.

And for 15-20 minutes a day, she’s my hero.  Just thought I’d share her with you.

A Blues For Trayvon…

This is nothing new.

I remember, as a student at Trenton State College twenty plus years ago, male classmates teaching the local high school boys in Trenton how to survive a routine traffic stop.  Yes, survive a traffic stop.

Listen, I know there were countless incidents before and since where we had to teach our boys, our sons, how to survive.  How to not stand up fully in his own power and presence in front of people who did not look like him for fear he would frighten those around him who did not understand him.

Our challenge still is to teach our boys to navigate a life where they are hunted and still find joy, still see beauty, still know love.   Indeed, to experience the fullness of life.  But more importantly, our challenge is to disabuse the notion that young, black life is disposable so that our sons value each other more than they value a larger society that seeks to destroy them.

Right after I heard the verdict last night, I heard story after story on the local news of our sons victimizing one another.

What are we teaching them?

We must teach our sons the value of the person they see in the mirror and others that look like him in spite of what this country and this culture say.  C’mon, get real.  Zimmerman is a bumbling idiot.  He is not scary, he is lucky. What is scary is generation of black boys who have been taught that young black life has no value. And the senseless killing within our own community will get worse.

Genocide by suicide.  That’s what really frightens me.  All of this young, black brilliance turned inward to eviscerate and destroy rather than to build and preside.

So…let’s do this for Trayvon.  And Raheem.  And Percy (that’s right…don’t forget our West Indian brothers)

We gave birth…now let’s give life.

Look! A Goose! (And Other Meaningless Distractions…)

Ok, so Rachel Jeantel is probably functionally illiterate.  I don’t have an inside voice.  We all have faults.

Let’s not get distracted from the issue at hand.  Somebody shot that black boy in a cold, hard murder and whether this girl is ignorant or not…her friend is dead.

Pointing out this girl’s social shortcomings is not fodder for shits and giggles.  There is real danger here.  Her humanity is at stake, her value as a human being.  If we can let her be profiled into this stereotypical hoodrat, we will be distracted while the defense subversively dehumanizes her…and eventually dehumanizes Trayvon.

Quiet as it’s kept, the defense loves this.  This witness gets marginalized; she’s just like the rest of the uneducated black chattel.  And Trayvon was her friend.

We watch while this girl is torn apart and by her own people.  Stop playing.  We know who she is.  She’s our daughter, our sister, our cousin…for whatever reason, she didn’t turn out the same way we did but she is no less family.  And, lest we forget, Trayvon was her friend.

That girl has been traumatized in a way I can’t imagine.  I think of all of my black male friends and family.  I know they are hunted daily by a predatory society that seeks to kill and destroy them.  God forbid, I would be a witness to the day, the moment when one of them was overcome.  Which one of their murders should get smaller than my shortcomings when I step on the world stage to tell his story?

Remembering Trayvon means remembering TRAYVON.

Slow But Steady Wins The Heart

As much as leaving broke my heart, I sometimes find myself surprised, even annoyed, that L.A. had the nerve to continue on after I left.

True story.

Ok, someone might need some medication to manage her narcissistic personality disorder.

I mean, it was difficult for me to leave L.A. and even harder to go on after L.A.  Don’t get me wrong…I’m a Jersey girl to the bone. For real, for real.  But me and L.A.?  We was homies.  And you know what it’s like when you lose a homey…you pour a little out.

In this case, I’ll pour a little out from my heart.

So it occurs to me, this feeling is precisely why it’s special to miss someone.  Because in a small way you’re saying, “I don’t go on the same way without you.”

I will never take it lightly again when I hear someone say, “I miss you.”  Contrary to my initial belief, it’s not just something you say to make folks feel good…and then put down the phone and forget about them until the next time they call.  It speaks to a loss, however subtle.  We may figure out how to live around it, we may make up for it in other ways but there is definitely something…well, missing. (Do you see what I did there?) It just ain’t the same.

Now everyone in the free world may already know this but I just figured it out.  Just now.  At 41 years old, I just figured that out and poured a little out of my heart.

I miss you!  (I also miss having viable Republican candidates for public office but not in the same way.)

Ahhh…now I feel all girly and shit.  A little slow but still…girly.  I’m think I’m gonna finish pounding this beer, scratch my ass and go paint my toenails.