Wednesday, July 30, 2008

WHITE FLIGHT

I didn’t even want to be there.


But I had no choice really. Between the gorgeous midsummer evening breeze; the looming guilt that would ensue had I driven past the lake on my way home; and the threat of having to buy a whole new wardrobe…I found myself stretching my hammies against my back bumper, and adjusting my ipod*shuffle.


Even so, I wanted to be home relaxing with a Bud*Lime. Reading thesis stuff. But I took my place amongst my fellow joggers, bikers, bladers, strollers, and dog walkers… pumped up my volume and set out to circle the lake. As I’m walking, I’m looking down at my thighs. I like ‘em thick, rubbing together even, but my slacks don’t necessarily. My arms could use some toning, but they aight. Dare I say I wish I had a rearview mirror so I could check out my ass. I can use all the help I can get back there. It’s the midsection that’s a problem. A combination of emotional eating, binge drinking, a penchant (compulsion) for Sub*way cookies, and a lover with the southern sensibility and distinct intention of “fattening me up,” have done me in. So I jog. The effects of those damn clove cigarettes constrict the shit out of my breathing. But I trudge on as best as I can.


One time around is all I’m in for. That’ll satisfy my nagging laziness. Tomorrow I’ll complete my requisite three lap minimum. And I’ll remember to update my music. No offense to Kelly*Clarkson and Sean Paul, but I’ve pretty much memorized the order of every possible shuffle.


I’m about a half mile in, scooting between a group of walker-grandmas. I emerge in front of them and catch out of the corner of my eye an impending white arm. I ignore it, until I see it again, this time pulling slightly ahead of me. I skip a step ahead then pause to pretend like I’m scratching the fresh mosquito bite on my shin. Sure enough there’s this frumpy white woman hopping alongside me at a slightly amped up pace.


See, this what I be talking about when I be talking about shit.


I’m simply not having it. Not physically, not psychologically, not historically. I don’t know if it’s the 400 years of it all, or some washed up athlete thing I'm feeling, but something ignites my engine. I’m sailing now, weak lungs be damned. And dammit if Frumpkin isn’t keeping up. Has the nerve to almost pass me. I’m coming up on where my truck is parked, and what was just a moment ago a consolation work out, suddenly turns gladiator on my ass.


My juices are flowing, I’m in a rhythm. The bitch won't die. Is she even sweating? Is that grey hair? Holy shit, I'm losing to Jonie from Happy*Days. I'm shaming Flo-Jo and Wilma who came before me. What the hell ever happened to white girls being scared of us?! If we can't win a foot race what's left? (a dance-off, obviously).


It’s not easy. I'm struggling. I’m…challenged. It’s very Jesse*Owens 1936 Berlin Olympics, except the only aryan here is in my mind. I’m determined not to let this white woman pass me under not no circumstances. I focus. I coast.


“This is a good pace,” she says. All I hear is Portis*head blaring from my earphones. I notice her gesture to me, and I hit mute to hear her repeat herself. I agree, hit pause again and keep moving. We go on like this for another mile and a half, until I see my car again. I spurn it like a bad fcuk, and move on. A few minutes later, Frumpelstein gestures to me again.


“That was really good,” she pants, and veers off the path toward her car. I wave good bye and trudge on. I’m spent, but I won’t let her know that. ‘Give her about a minute or two to drive off then double back and quit,’ says my inner-scoundrel. Easy enough.


But I fought off easy a couple miles back.


If only there were frumpy white people running beside me all the time.

Maybe I’d get a lot more done.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

VIP

I am VIP.

I’m not on any list. I didn’t tip the guys at the door. Nor do I know the owners. I’m just a loser who happens to win this time. Win big, even.

The preparation is typical. I wasn’t looking for a party, still reeling from the last one actually. Hung over. Swearing off the scene with a sincere exhaustion. But then I caught a glimpse of a flyer. Heard whispers that folks were hanging out. That there's someone I should meet. I decided on a whim to head out. Again.

It’s crazy cuz the preparation is usually a production in and of itself. The outfit, the entourage, the chaser. But this time I went easy, seduced mildly by the music, though miles away. See, the pulses found me. Got my fingers tapping. Had my feet happy. Head nodding. Easy. Soon I was in full effect mode, three-stepping myself into a full sweat all the way to the velvet rope. Again.

I didn’t know the promoter from Adam. Never laid eyes on the club. And yet I slid in like a seamless DJ transition. Like a Fat Man Scoop mix [editor’s inside joke: Why did I forget until this very moment Scoop and the matching sweat suits. Cannot? Oh yes you can, and you will! All my real live bitches throw ya hands up!...] Even fit in with the d├ęcor as if I had somehow been privy to the blueprint. It’s fly. One of those rich ngga lounges. It’s all plush love seats and beautiful people. Free drinks and dope music. I’m old school, so I always go for the music. Seduced by the ladidahdi of it all. I’m wopping my ass off.

This place is for frontin'. So clearly, it’s packed. There’s every type of somebody here. The sexy deep oak of a brother in jeans that are a prisoner to his perfect high ass. The seductive beholder of long loose curls and unruly spaghetti straps. The breathtaking chick with the brush cut and impossible heels. Dude too fine to get turned away at the door just because he’s got on a wife beater and Timbs. The pouty bartender with the felatial lips.

I feel the eyes as I walk the gauntlet of who’s who. I barely glanced at the mirror before leaving the crib, yet I’m hyperaware of all the skin I’m showing. Aware that I’ve yet to shed that pesky winter weight. Well aware that I’m thick all over, no vestige unclaimed, my skin chief among them. My reflection is clear to me in your eyes. I walk directly into them, sight unseen. Except from the inside out.

I’m digging this party shit.

I like the way you knew our rhythm before it was even ours. You pulled me close, and I fit. Your hands log carefree miles along my spine. Your fingers find the loopholes in my logic while lining my scalp. Pulling at my sensibilities, and my locs, like I won't notice. You aint slick, son. But your moves are, and I fall in step, again. You dumb down your classical training and Bogle with me.

You grab my hand and I think we're on our way to refresh our glasses. Instead, fingers tightly interlocked, you lead me through a tunnel that seems buried, soundproof and sparcely lit. Your lips graze mine and we exchange a split second of secrets. In that muted moment we're once again tangled. I'm on my back, wrists gripped together and pressed into the sheets. Kisses rained on my forehead, my lips, over my neck, my breasts, my stomach, my thighs. Tiny nibbles on my bottom lip. Gentle sucking that easily becomes more urgent. My own voice is foreign to me, a coarse whisper of moans and unintelligible mumbles, my breath still tangled mercilessly in the cage of my throat. Warm breath on my skin. A soft kiss. The generous offering of tongue, a deeper parting. I'm struggling to maintain some kind of composure, my eyes filling with tears because I'm so damn overwhelmed because everything about this touch, this skin, is just perfect. I'm fighting it, fighting giving in, letting go, and flailing in vain to keep a hold on my last wisps of sanity. Well placed pressure, one hand on my hip.
And I'm gone.
Lost.
Falling. Again.

We climb a narrow stairway and enter another space. This one more beautiful than the first. More exclusive. Intimate. Thrilling. I'm pleasantly surprised by this spot, glad I came. But even this, this next level, is unexpected.

You open my hand and kiss my palm. Hold it to your face, then to your chest. You pull it away for one more kiss, but not before allowing me the thrill of a beat. It is then that I hear more music, a litany of all the sweet things you mean to me. This is clearly our soundtrack. All the songs repeat your name.

You put in my possession your keys, your ID, your phone... your lifelines. There is an entire party whirling around us and yet I see only a tint of brown, your eyes meeting mine, as you tell me to hold tight. The colors of music splash in bold strokes around me. Is it possible that this level is more crowded than the last? In fact, as my head stops spinning I'm realizing the chaos that ensues. Where have you taken me? It's mad familiar, these heavy hues and shrieking signs. This is the place you been telling me about.

Your eyes never leave mine, and I try to follow, but I stumble. Your shit goes flying. I reach to collect them but the velvet rope that clipped me, is in fact a barricade. This is some bullshit.

Yo, but I'm VIP! There's no one to whom I can plead my case.

I can't get past the rope. What they dont tell you at the door is that despite your admission, there is a rope beyond the rope. A space where even you cant reach. VIP has VIP. And I'm losing. Again.

I'm sitting here watching you and I can't reach you. I'm inside, you brought me up to the highest level, you've entrusted me with your life, and I can't even keep it safe. It's my job to see what only a select few are allowed. I've made promises. We've made investments. And there you are, beyond my reach. I can't hold you to me and let tears stream down my bare skin. That's what it's there for.

Your shit weighs a ton, so you step away and make sure it doesnt nudge me. That I don't break a nail or something. You share some when prompted, but it's a rather foreign concept to you. I know this. So chivalrous with the heavy lifting, you are. I stand and watch you crumbling from the stress, unable to help. Maybe it's because I'm half naked that you won't let me. Or because my locs are thinning and greying. Am I losing my strength?

Or is it just that there is nothing I can do? Like there's a wack (down souf) song playing and we just gotta wait it out.

"I'm worried about you."

"I know, mama."

"It's killing me."

"Me too."

"What should I be doing?"

"Just being with me."

"It's not enough."

"Why not?"

"Because neither of us is ok," I say.

"But I'm honestly at a loss for what else to do."

"Just feeling helpless."

"It'll be over soon, babe."

The music plays on. We dance this oblivious dance, as if there isnt a million miles between us. Between us and the next level. Between where we stand now, and from that which we came. I gather both strength and patience in that quiet path we traveled. I collect desperation from the sadness in your eyes, and mostly in your voice. It doesnt stop me from reaching. And dancing. Doesnt stop our music.

I'm glad I came. You're very important to me.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

JULY 14

My mother was born the second oldest of 10 children in Spur*Tree, a small bush town in the parish of Manchester in Jamaica, West Indies. The oldest daughter.

This is an important fact, because by virtue of birth order, my mother inherited a litter of children at a young age when her own mother died a painful death. Cancer. My mother doesn’t speak of her mother very often, so the one time she told me details I listened with an intensity that rivaled only the directions given as child to avoid an ass whupping.

“My mother had 10 children. One didn’t make it. Not long after your Uncle Gilly was born my modda [because shortly after delving into her mind’s museum, the Patois accent appears, heavy, and I feel almost like an intruder] get cancer. Ovarian. She wasn’t a small woman but I’ll never forget how she blew up, so swollen, she musta been bout 200 pound.

“She was laying in her bed in pain and all the children were outside around the house bawling. All you could hear was bawling, and my father singing. He could sing! That man had a voice, boy! I was outside hanging clothes and my father called me and said that my mother wanted to see me. I walk in the room and all I could say was I could feel death coming close. And my mother just looked at me, and said....”

I wish I could remember what my grandmother had told my mother. I’ve blocked it out. I remember it being grave and curt. Not the kind of frilly, heartwarming last words you’d see in a Lifetime movie (so this is how you know I’m getting old right…all of a sudden Lifetime is my SHIT!)

I guess subconsciously I cannot bear to curate those last words. Partly because of the pain so visible in my mother’s voice and face as she recalled it to me. Partly out of fear that remembering might somehow summon a similar scene between me and my mom. That it might speed up the slowdown. Or something.

So my mother was a mother long before she was a mother. Actually I take that back, because my oldest sister is really not that much younger than my Uncle Gilly. My mother, his oldest sister, is the only mother he’s ever really known.

Some years later her beloved father also died. The kids were pretty much grown by then, save for the two littlest, and my mother had had two more of her own. And soon after laying her father to rest she made the decision to leave her children in the care of her closest sister. She moved to Washington, DC, in a immigrant worker program which imported many young West Indians to this country to work as domestics.

As fate would have it, this is where my mother met my father, and where the context of my conception begins.

My mother never passed on to me the issues that so many of my friends have inherited from their mothers. That’s not to say we don’t have our issues. That’s not to say that my mom’s not as crazy as every mother is biologically and psychologically destined. Instead there is a healthy distance, a respectful boundary that she’s established. It doesn’t really exist between her and my older sister. I’m guessing because my sister was born in Jamaica and knows that life. The life, and subsequently the history, from which I’ve always been sheltered.

I imagine that there are things my mother has repressed. Actually, I can’t imagine. The dim echoes of her scant recollections of life with her own mother are haunting. I probably won’t ever ask her about it until she is nearing the end. If God willing we are granted that type of ending. When it wont matter any more, those recollections. When she’ll soon have to face her mother herself.

In the meantime I call her every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, after Wheel of For*tune. Sometimes on my lunch break so I can hear her fussing with my nephews. Or to hear what she’s cooking for everyone. Or to let her vent about her latest shenanigans down at the grocery store. (shout out to Weg*man’s!) To respectfully tune her out when she makes a dead dad reference without warning. To smile wide at every overwhelming ounce of support, every reminder to pray, to stay safe, and to remember that "Mommy loves [me] much, much, much."

In the meantime, I wish my Mom a Happy Birthday, and many moooooooore!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

S.O.'SHIP

Since I'm in a long distance relationship supported monthly almost exclusively by South*west Airlines, I feel compelled to share this PSA that the airlines emailed me...





An Open letter to All Airline Customers:

Our country is facing a possible sharp economic downturn because of skyrocketing oil and fuel prices, but by pulling together, we can all do something to help now.

For airlines, ultra-expensive fuel means thousands of lost jobs and severe reductions in air service to both large and small communities. To the broader economy, oil prices mean slower activity and widespread economic pain. This pain can be alleviated, and that is why we are taking the extraordinary step of writing this joint letter to our customers. Since high oil prices are partly a response to normal market forces, the nation needs to focus on increased energy supplies and conservation. However, there is another side to this story because normal market forces are being dangerously amplified by poorly regulated market speculation.

Twenty years ago, 21 percent of oil contracts were purchased by speculators who trade oil on paper with no intention of ever taking delivery. Today, oil speculators purchase 66 percent of all oil futures contracts, and that reflects just the transactions that are known. Speculators buy up large amounts of oil and then sell it to each other again and again. A barrel of oil may trade 20-plus times before it is delivered and used; the price goes up with each trade and consumers pick up the final tab. Some market experts estimate that current prices reflect as much as $30 to $60 per barrel in unnecessary speculative costs.

Over seventy years ago, Congress established regulations to control excessive, largely unchecked market speculation and manipulation. However, over the past two decades, these regulatory limits have been weakened or removed. We believe that restoring and enforcing these limits, along with several other modest measures, will provide more disclosure, transparency and sound market oversight. Together, these reforms will help cool the over-heated oil market and permit the economy to prosper.

The nation needs to pull together to reform the oil markets and solve this growing problem.

We need your help. Get more information and contact Congress by visiting www.StopOilSpeculationNow.com.



Robert Fornaro
Chairman,
President and CEO
AirTran Airways Bill Ayer
Chairman,
President and CEO
Alaska Airlines, Inc.
Gerard J. Arpey
Chairman,
President and CEO
American Airlines, Inc.
Lawrence W. Kellner
Chairman and CEO
Continental Airlines, Inc. Richard Anderson
CEO
Delta Air Lines, Inc. Mark B. Dunkerley
President and CEO
Hawaiian Airlines, Inc.
Dave Barger
CEO
JetBlue Airways
Corporation Timothy E. Hoeksema
Chairman,
President and CEO
Midwest Airlines Douglas M. Steenland
President and CEO
Northwest Airlines, Inc.
Gary Kelly
Chairman and CEO
Southwest Airlines Co. Glenn F. Tilton
Chairman,
President and CEO
United Airlines, Inc. Douglas Parker
Chairman and CEO
US Airways Group, Inc.
=====

Save Our (relation) 'Ship!

Thank You, kindly.
~MANAGEMENT

Thursday, July 03, 2008

CONVENTIONAL INDEPENDENCE

Independ*nce Day…a time to declare freedom from whatever bullshit you got going on in your life.

I hereby declare Independence from conventions. No, not the cleverly marketed annual gatherings of likeminded professionals… though I’m bout sick of them shits impeding on my time to enjoy the host citieswith these essential ass workshops…I mean, the things that are universally accepted, and expected, without reason or provocation.

I’m standing in the conventional meeting place, where many a family meeting and announcement has gone down…the kitchen. I’m standing amidst the conventional gathering of generations…my mom and her sister run behind my nephews, while my sister in law mans the stove and I sit, drink in hand, in the center of it all.

“Wise, you’re a waste of a vagina.”

Based on the lead-in, I’m actually in fact, a waste of a womb. My vagina functions at an optimal level, thank you very much. I’d rank it up there with the best of ‘em. That’s not the point. Fine.

My sister in law, who declared my womanparts DOA, has two fantastic children. The oldest is my favorite, and the baby is pretty much the embodiment of what I’m sure my biological child would be. And therefore, though he’s beautiful and hilarious, he’s also absolutely and inexplicable insane. Unabashedly out of control. And I love it. For THEM.

I, on the other hand have absolutely no attachment nor desire to be knocked up. None. The irony, I suppose, or perhaps the logic is that I want 4 or 5 kids. My family finds this hilarious. Partly because they know personally how psycho you get when you have kids, but I think partly because, bless their conventional old school hearts, they still don’t see how I could have kids without the belly.

So I’m a waste of a uterus, fine. I can accept that, though I’d argue the uterus is the waste, not me. Either or. But it’s the conventional labels I can’t co-sign. I’m much too contradictory for them.

Because I’m probably the only girl in the world who (on most days) doesn’t want a ring (or wedding for that matter).

Because you will never see my black ass eating a watermelon, neither publicly nor in the privacy of my own home (did you ever see the episode of the Jeff*rsons where George said he refuses to carry a watermelon in public. So if you ever see him with a bowling bag that’s what’s inside?!!)

Because I’m a backpacker who thinks Tal*b is mediocre.

Because I’m an African American alcoholic who hates Hennessey.

So… *cue balloons and confetti and band*…conventions be damned!

I’s free now!!

From what, or whom will YOU claim independence?
Happy 4th!

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    I'm older than I look, and stupider than you think. But I'm quite proud of my sharp eye for The Ridiculous, and by Ridiculous, of course I mean Me.

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