real talk

Unlucky

Tis the season to share (labeled) dishes!

But not all called upon should serve.  Some of you are not clean; still others are downright repugnant.   Read more

Posted on by Beauty Jackson in Grub, Uncategorized 3 Comments

Only the Small…

People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. Read more

Posted on by Beauty Jackson in Jewels 2 Comments

Avoiding Questions That Don’t Matter

 

You can’t prepare for death.  Even when you know that the person is at “the end,” you can’t predict it.  Death comes in an instant, leaving the living to make sense of it all.  Everything about death hurts. Read more

Posted on by Beauty Jackson in Remembrance 1 Comment

The Bastille Pt. 2: Solitary Confinment

I hate when it creeps up: That sick feeling that begins in my belly, swelling up to my chest.  There’s not always a trigger.  Some days, I can deal with stress without incident.  Others, it’s paralyzing.  Read more

Posted on by Beauty Jackson in Jewels 1 Comment

It’s Not At All Different…Except it Totally Is

A week or so ago, one of the young fellas I follow on Twitter asked about the difference in dating after you’re 30.  It was perceived as a soft launched missile, but it made me think to myself, “Yeah…what is the big damn difference?  Wait a second…is there a difference?”  And the answer is yes.  Dating as a 35 year old woman is far different than dating as a 25 year old woman.  But not for the reasons you think.

Though I didn’t expect a grand revelation on my 30th birthday, I thought that my experiences would improve.  I’m older, so I will meet older, more serious-minded fellas.  Sounds good, right?  Allow me to introduce you to two facts of life:

  1. With age comes experience.  Unfortunately, this does not mean that with this age and experience will come the insight to benefit from what one has learned.  In certain aspects of life, age really is just a number; and,
  2. There is a large segment of the 20-something male population, who enjoys nothing more than getting his smang on with a “seasoned vet.”

So here we are, right back where we started.  We’re not only dealing with the 20-somethings we THOUGHT we abandoned in our 20s, but we’re also dealing with the less than mature over-30-somethings.  Adding insult to injury, these are the same immature over-30-somethings that our younger 20-something selves laughed at for being “too old to act that way.”  Now he’s your peer.  And was quite possibly your prom date.  Awesome.

But, what about the differences I mentioned?  Well, here they are:

  1. “Do you have kids,” becomes a polite and perfunctory question.  It’s code for “How many kids do you have?”  It’s not that everyone in their 30s has kids – it just seems like it.  It takes the strength of Sampson to stop your eyebrows from lifting in shock when the answer is no.
  2. Everybody has advice for you.  Suddenly, dating has become a team effort.  I know for an absolute fact that I managed to date successfully for years without a tribunal.  Now everything requires a decision by committee.  And no matter what you do, the committee is against you.  Girl where yall going? Oh I wouldn’t have gone to that restaurant. How did you meet him? Oooh…there? Who paid? He did? He probably wanted to get some? Did he try to get some? He did? Ugh. You gon’ give him some? No? Why not?!  Well why ain’t you talking about him? For someone you just met, you don’t think you’re talking about him too much? Are yall doing okay? Seriously.  They’re all well meaning, but it’s a bit much.
  3. The dudes in your age range either never want to get married, or they want to get married three weeks ago.  The happy medium is rare. One the one hand, you’ve got the dudes who have been hurt/are fearful of commitment and flat out don’t open up.  Often, there’s some chick out there that still has her hooks in him, whether he wants to admit it or not, and it prevents him from establishing new attachments.  In the other case, a dude may have enough self-awareness to know who he is as a person.  That’s fine, but he still doesn’t know me, or how he will react/relate to my brand of shenanigans.  “We ain’t gettin no younger, we might as well do it” doesn’t even sound good in that “Let’s Get Married,” song, let alone real life.
  4. The night of your most awesome date ever, the one where you abandon all of your hangups and decide that you are going to give him all the goodies on the first night, your period is going to start.  It doesn’t matter what the calendar says.  Your body starts staging little mutinies around 31, letting you know it gives not one solitary damn about your plans, goals, happiness or (largest of all) sex life.  It’s gonna happen. You will deal.
  5. You have to combat the urge to over-think EVERYTHING.  Well what did he mean when he said see you later?  Later tonight?  Like tomorrow later?  I have things to do tomorrow!  Wait…my schedule just freed up! Did I allude to being busy?  What if he won’t call because he thinks I’m busy?  Did he call? What if he calls?  Is Sprint tripping?  Am I getting all of my text messages? What if he doesn’t like receiving texts?  Can he read?  I never asked?  OMG AM I OVER-THINKING THIS!?!?!  Yes, fool.  You are, now chill out.  Things are going to be what they are going to be.  Be yourself, not your representative, and if it doesn’t work out, then you know that it’s a compatibility issue, and not something you created in your mind.

Whether you’re dating in your 20s, 30s, 40s or beyond, people are people.  Neither the players nor the game have really changed.  The only thing that does change is your perspective of them.  I’m not here to tell you how to score your next boo.  There doesn’t seem to be a true formula for that.

Here’s what I do know:  If you view dating as this horribly tragic activity, then you will always attack (and attacking is NEVER a good thing, unless you are a mother lioness eying the last antelope on the plain) dating with a sense of desperation.  If you see it as a meaningless thing, then you shouldn’t be surprised if you make a bunch of meaningless connections.  But my experience tells me that if you go into it open-minded treat people like humans rather than assembly line numbers, at the very least you’ll connect with some great folks.  Honestly, who doesn’t have room for decent, fun people in their corner?

Posted on by Beauty Jackson in Afro-dite 5 Comments

It’s Not Funny Anymore

It’s become something of a running joke… the differences in how cases in which whites go missing are handled by law enforcers and the media, versus similar cases in which blacks (and other minority groups) are the victims.

- Tambay – Shadow and Act/indiewire.com

Next Wednesday “Find Our Missing” will debut on TV One.  S. Epatha Merkerson will host the show, meant to shed light on missing African Americans.  The linked article quotes TV One President and CEO, Wonya Lucas who says, “Nearly one-third of the missing in this country are black Americans, while we make up only 12 percent of the population. Yet stories about missing people of color are rarely told in the national media.”  I posted this article on Facebook, my dear friend Monica had this to say:

Yep. But it should also be an eye-opener. Remember that case where the little Dominican girl in NYC survived a kidnapping after she escaped through a window in the house where she was being held? On some level, our children know no one is going to rescue them.

But what happens when our kids are too overcome by fear, stubbornness, or too troubled to protect and rescue themselves?  When that happens, you get Jakadrien Turner, the fifteen year-old Dallas, Texas resident, who was wrongfully deported to Colombia.  Each time I attempted to gain an answer in Jakadrien’s story, I unearthed another question.

Following her parents’ divorce and the death of her grandfather, she ran away from Dallas in November 2010.  In April 2011, she was arrested for shoplifting in Houston, and gave a false name, belonging to a 21 year old Colombian woman who was supposedly in the country illegally.  She was then held for 52 days and by May 2011, despite speaking no Spanish, she was deported to Colombia.

Jakadrien acted against her own interests.  She dogmatically stuck to her story, fooling  the criminal court judge, the immigration magistrate, and whoever else she was in close contact with in the 52 days prior to her deportation.  I find it hard to believe that no one who spoke to her could determine that she was neither Colombian, nor 21.

So far officials have hidden behind the excuse of this minor, “slipping through the cracks.”  Would she have slipped through these cracks were she not a person of color?  In plain English, would a 14 year-old white girl who only spoke English, regardless of how troubled, have been deported to a foreign country without concrete evidence?  A nagging question I have is the word choice in all of the articles I’ve read, which say she was “given Colombian citizenship.”  Was she just randomly shipped to Colombia.

One, it shows me how on the whole, this country does not see our children as children.  I look at her pictures, and see the face of a baby – a pregnant baby.  Not a 21 year old woman.  It also shows how a missing 14 year old girl barely registers in a major city a mere four hours away.  She was reported missing.  In almost two months, no one recognized her?  No one thought there could have been more to her story? No one picked up on the fact that she was clearly troubled?

Certainly the federal government has more resources at hand than Jakadrien’s grandmother, Lorene Turner, who was able to find her on Facebook.  And once she was found, the Colombian government was hesitant to send her back, and held her in a detention facility for a month. Tell me with a straight face that a pregnant, 15 year old white girl who had been wrongfully deported to Colombia, would have been forced to wait a month before being reunited with her family.  The country would have been in an uproar.  How do I know?

In 1994, 18 year old Michael Fay lived in Singapore with his parents.  He was arrested for theft and vandalism.  These were crimes that he committed.  In Singapore, they don’t have a whole lot of time for your crap, and their punishments are quite brutal.  He was found guilty and sentenced to six strokes of the cane.  I ain’t talking Kappas.  Basically, you strip naked and a very strong dude beats the snot out of you with a huge bamboo cane.  I knew more than I cared to know about Singaporean caning practices, because it was in the news every night.  The country was in an absolute uproar over this guilty teen, who was legally an adult.  The outcry was so great that Singapore reduced the cane strokes from six to four.  For a guilty man.

Meanwhile, a pregnant 15 year old black girl, wrongfully deported, sat in a Colombian detention facility for a month.  Just because, and with barely a whisper.

This story offers more questions and answers, for one simple reason:  No one wants to go on record as saying, “We didn’t care enough to look.”  Whenever a person hides behind “slipping between the cracks” and  due diligence jargon, it means they’ve done the bare minimum.  When it comes to our children, we have to take it upon ourselves to advocate and create the village where our children can be safe and looked after.  I brim with hope when I see people are beginning to use social media to spearhead this effort. We may never have the ear of mainstream media.  I believe that if we work hard enough with the goal of our children’s safety in mind, mainstream media may not be necessary (but will probably get on the bandwagon should it become profitable).  No matter what, it’s time to take the legs out from underneath this running joke.

 

Posted on by Beauty Jackson in Uncategorized 2 Comments

Hurt People

I’ve spoken on this blog, and with one of my closest friends, about how we never know a person’s back story.  This holds especially true on the internet.  We only get glimpses of people.  I believe I approach my blog and Twitter with a great deal of candor, yet there are still chunks of my life that are private due in part to people’s ability to be cruel.  One thing holds true, especially in the social media age – great anger stems from great pain.

It had me thinking of my own circumstances.  My mother basically spent my senior year of high school dying before my very eyes.  My friends were at football games, prom and the mall.  My life was about home health nurses and hospital visits.  Once I was older, I went through a rather tumultuous divorce.  A few years after that, I lost everything I’d ever known.  Knowing that type of hurt and pain still did not give me carte blanche to punish others.

I’ll call a spade a spade here: many people go to the internet, and specifically look for a site or persona that gets their goat and wait for the opportunity to pounce on something.  Have you ever seen the comments on Youtube?  Their are people that will take time out of their day to watch the video of an artist that they hate, only to rip him or her to shreds.  Because Justin Bieber is an easier target than, say addressing their mother’s harsh criticism of their life choices, a bad relationship or just generalized loneliness.

I’m not exempt.  There are times where I am more critical or acerbic than is warranted, and I have to check myself and address the real issue.  I’m a human being that hurts like anyone else, and I don’t always deal with it properly.  Thankfully, even when I don’t have the ability to see when the ugliness is escaping, my friends and family will check me.  I have two Shauns in my life (one is a blood sister, the other, as good as one) and both of them have this hilarious way of saying, “WHAT is your problem?”  It makes me get myself together, or at least share with them and lighten my burden.

I’m not saying that when you are going through pain, you should “smile, though your heart is breaking.”  Feel what you feel.  Share those feelings in a safe space.  However, we don’t have the right to use our own personal misery as a projectile weapon.  Hard times don’t give you the right to be rancid.  If I consider you friend, my door, arms, ears, email, phone and IM window are as good as yours.  If you feel you can’t talk it out, back off from people briefly.  Not in isolation, but take a few quiet moments with your own thoughts to better help you articulate your pain.  Read a book.  Take a walk.  Don’t be one of “those” people.  It’s ugly, and it looks ugly on you.  “Hurt people, hurt people.”  G’on and get you some healing.

Posted on by Beauty Jackson in And That's Real 2 Comments

The Stage

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lin’d,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well sav’d, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

- Jacques of William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII

When my twelve year old self read this for the first time, it was as an assignment for my eighth grade speech class.  Even then, those first words struck me as powerful.  We’re characters.  I get it.  Adaptation to our respective roles is an essential part of survival.  The way I behave at a picnic is not the way I behave at work.  But in those different roles, I’m still Mel.  Persona is fine in its place, but not at the expense of your conscience, true self and spirit.  There are times when we allow what is expected to dictate actions and and reactions, rather than our authentic beliefs.

Let your inner self define the role, not the other way around.  I believe in the better nature of people.  I’m sure that though there are some bad apples out there, most of us at least have a skeletal knowledge of what is decent.  We know how we want to be treated.  Be true to that part of yourself.

That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

We go out the way we come in.  That part of life is constant and unavoidable.  Fortunately, we have control over making everything that takes place in-between count for something.

Posted on by Beauty Jackson in Jewels 1 Comment

I’m not yo mama, I’m yo grandma!

I’m becoming my parents.  More and more every day.  As a woman, I knew turning into my mother was inevitable, but my father?! The Fanny Packer?! Hell to the no!  (Heh heh…I said Fanny…Packer. Get it? In retrospect, saying this about my father is beyond gross on several levels so…)

Both of my parents were wise.  Both were giving.  Both were given to temper.  I think some of this comes from two people coexisting for 18 years.  Even though I wouldn’t count them as one of the great love affairs of our time, they did have a certain level of respect for one another as partners, so the grew from each other in many ways.  But then there are nuances that are specific to each of them that I have managed to absorb.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the evidence:

Exhibit A:  The Squint (Daddy)

Ladybug: *to me as I look at the computer* Ooooh, I see why everyone says you look like Paw Paw.

Me: *horrified to the Universe* NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

My pops has this very distinctive squint.  The only other person I’ve witnessed even come close to replicating it, is my aunt; and apparently, me.  It’s a combination of raising his head, looking down, squinting so that his two front teeth are exposed and wrinkling his nose.  Sort of like a middle-aged near-sighted bunny rabbit…with forehead wrinkles…and thick black hair…and enlarged pores-LOOK! The point is, someone snapped a picture of me doing this, and I wanted to die.  At 34, the last thing you want to hear is that you look like a middle aged man.

Exhibit B:  Literal translations of everything (Mama)

My mother enjoyed arts and music, but once things passed the realm of what she decided was “decent,” you could cancel Christmas.  One of our most hilarious memories of our mother is when she was trying to be cool.  Her idea of being cool was  letting us listen to rap music.  I was 11, and “Supersonic” came on.  See, I loved to beat box, so Baby Dee was my hero, therefore, her verse was my favorite.

Me: *mimicking the radio, word for word* You see my beat box is fresh, it’ll blow ya mind/and if you don’t like my beat I’ll go DIG ON YO BEHIND! *proudly doing the snake*

Mama: *horrified* DIG IN YO BEHIND?! *click*

My ass was Supersonic no no more.

Fast forward to 2010.  The radio is on, and Trey Songz’s “Bottoms Up” came on.

Finge: *mimicking the radio, word for word* Oooh, oh oh OHHHH! IT’S MISTA STEAL YO GIRL!

Me: *totally unamused* That’s how people get stabbed. *click*

Exhibit C:  Calling the kid into the toilet (Mama)

I staved it off for YEARS, but I managed to have received that gene where I have to forget something each and every time I go to take a shower.  Of course, once I’m in, I can’t leave until it’s mission accomplished.  I may never get back in here.  My son escapes this bit of indignity, but my poor daughter does not.  To add insult to injury, I found myself yelling at her “DON’T LOOK!”  One day she gave me the “BITCH? WHY? WOULD? I? EVER?” stare.  I managed to stop saying that to her.

Exhibit D:  Deep Sigh Followed By “Alright” then the explosion (Daddy)

You can literally tell my father anything.   Anything.  He’ll give a disappointed sigh, then seem non-plussed.

Me: Daddy, I just shaved my head, joined a cult and married the reincarnated spirit of Saddam Hussein.

Daddy: *Deep sigh* Alright Mel.

But once you get that alright, you better know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold em.  ANY subsequent information you provide is liable to set off Mt. St. Pops.  It’s typically the most innocuous thing in your laundry list of shenanigans.

Me: Yeah dad.  We robbed a bank, sacrificed two virgins in  pagan ritual and I shot a senior citizen for making fun of my blue socks.

Dad: BLUE SOCKS?! BLUE SOCKS?! Look, I didn’t work at the phone company for 30 years and sometimes take on two jobs for your ass to run around this city wearing blue socks.  I really don’t know what to say about you.  My GOODNESS!  Blue socks *off the phone to the step0mom “yeah…BLUE! I know!”* So, you’re just a blue sock wearer huh?  Hmph.  I’m gonna have to call you back.  I’ll call back you AND your blue socks.

I have become a delayed reaction person myself.  My kids can tell me any bad thing they’ve done, but they’d better cut their losses.

Me: WHAT THE HELL YOU MEAN YOU RAN OUT OF PAPER?!  So I go to work for you to not bring paper to class.  You just want to be a paperless student?  Just…borrowing paper from everybody you see, huh?

Son: But…the principal is in the trunk though.  This doesn’t bother  you?  Because I’m pretty sure it really should…

Me: Well, does she have your paper?!

It makes no sense.  I’m working on it.

I always knew about the curse, “I hope you get one just like you.”  Apparently the unsaid portion of that is, “And you’ll be just like me.”  I thought it would really bother me.  I thought it would make me feel old, and tired, and maybe just a little defeated with the knowledge that I in fact do have to deal with myself as a child.  Then I remember that they handed me the blueprint.

Truth be told, I’m not so sure I mind this metamorphosis at all.

Posted on by Beauty Jackson in Golden, Grown Folks' Business, Uncategorized 3 Comments

I ain’t saying you CAN’T blow it out though…

That I’m trying to be the sex police, I feel I should clarify my position regarding yesterday’s post.

What people do in their bedrooms is their own damn business.  I have friends that range from the extreme of not doing oral (and yes loves, THAT is extreme) to…well, I’ll direct you to Knob-Slobbing Feminism (which is NOT solely about knob-slobbing, but she is a self-professed kinkster and dear friend).  Whatever floats their boat and keeps them happy, I implore them to stay true to self and sail on.

Further, if a partner hits me with some futuristic I’m all this:

and none of this:

101 dalmations,side-eye

It’s not about not wanting the good time.  It’s not about not enjoying and appreciating (the hell out of) the good time.  I guess to a certain extent, what I said could have been construed as not endorsing a person to have any regard for their partner.  Or maybe I sounded petulant. “The hell he thinks he is…coming in here to give me orgasms.”  Neither is the case.  Great sex is muy importante.  And as with any good partnership, there will be times where their enjoyment takes precedence over your own.  Seriously,

HOWEVER, we’ve all had that partner(s) who have seen one too many flicks.  Or maybe they are missing a little something within, rendering them oblivious to the fact that they are worth more than the sum total of their genitalia (or whatever other fancy cliché you deem appropriate).  I’m sure every woman can think of an experience where their entire reproductive system was treated like an enemy combatant in the name of back blowing; more for the sake of ego than any shared experience.

Feel free to share your thoughts.  I actually await them.  Yo, I SEE the tallies.  I know yall are reading.  So holla at a sister. Let me know what you think!  Even if you think I suck, tell me that so I can get better.  Just please note I may or may not say unflattering things about your mother, but that’s just the hurt talkin.

Posted on by Beauty Jackson in Afro-dite 3 Comments