Sunday, July 30, 2006

I Don't Think I'm Ready for This

My 10-year old son came to me today and told me there's a girl he likes and he wants to kiss her. I mean i'm happy as hell that he feels comfortable coming to me and talking about stuff like this and i hope i don't screw it up and make him think twice about it when he's older but i was hoping for at least another year before i had to start thinking of my sweet little boy wanting to win the affections of some unappreciative, mean little girl.

Cuz girls are mean at this age. They will "Ew, you ugly" you with the quickness. So a boy's gotta be careful. Right now, he somehow instinctively knows that he should not tell her or any of the other kids. Knowing him, he shows her every chance he gets that he can do back flips and other cool tricks...

He says he doesn't know if she likes him too. He got a lil annoyed when I asked if the girl was Black or not. He rolled his eyes and said she was Puerto Rican. It totally makes sense that he'd like a Puerto Rican girl...back when he was 6, he said he was going to change his middle name to Jose. And he's always asking me to take him to Puerto Rico.

I'm gonna have to get a look at this girl tho...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Short Stories.

Short stories are special. They are little tasty morsels of verbiage that are just right for when your time is limited. Or for when your imagination needs a boost. Its like eating 3 m&m's instead of a whole chocolate just wanted to taste the chocolate.

Growing up an avid reader, i never really was interested in short stories. Chapter books were my thing. I don't know why though. One would think that a child with a medium-length attention span would welcome a story that you can begin and finish in one afternoon...maybe it was because whenever i'd see a collection of short stories, they just weren't short enough. Twenty, thirty, fifty pages they'd go on and on... It felt like a cheat. Like people who make 35-minute-long "short" films. To me, a short story should be only 1 page long. 3 at the most.

Even as i'm writing this, i've suddenly gained a new appreciation for my Fruit Nazi story. I wasn't really thinking of it as a short story as i was writing it, but when i re-read it today, i was like, hey now! *shakes a short-story tailfeather*

In last month's magazine, Oprah challenged 8 well-known authors to tell a story in 300 words or less. Here is my favorite one:

With One Wheel Gone Wrong
by A.M. Homes

With one wheel gone wrong, she careens into the checkout line. A perfect shopper, she prides herself on sailing the circulars, clipping coupons, buying in bulk. Her basket is overflowing with catnip and kitty litter, Pull-Ups and pomegranates -- plenty of all. She takes a magazine out of the rack; there's a spot to scratch, an offee she can't resist -- "Got an itch you can't identify, don't know what you want, let this be your moment." The background photo is of a beautiful house with everything just as you would want it to be -- untouched by reality. She scratches; her finger is quickly coated with gold powder and under that is something a little sticky -- tugging at her. It is as thought she is being pulled in to the magazine. A sudden burst of light, an explosion of inspiration, a fleeting illumination, and she is inside the picture and it is clear -- this is her house, this is who she is, the life she is supposed to live.

It is incredible -- she's seeing not only the future but the pathway there -- and it's a new kind of floor tile -- you just put one foot in front of the other, don't stop, and watch where you're going. And then, as thought in a faraway dream, she hears the scanner beeping, she hears the checker say, "Are you taking that magazine?" Drawing a deep breath, she pulls herself back into the checkout line. She takes every copy of the magazine out of the rack. "I'll take all you've got," she says.

"Paper or plastic?"

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Fruit Nazi.

His territory is the northwest corner of 54th St and Park avenue. He always looks weary whether its 7am or 7pm. Long days for the sake of selling fruit come easy to him. And sell fruit, he does. He has many tools in his arsenal...the Slavic accent, the raggedy clothes, the unshaven beard, the pot belly...he oozes 'hard working-immigrant' cannot say no to him.

You just want one banana? HA!! The Fruit Nazi will somehow force-cajole you into buying 4 for $1. As you walk away in a daze carrying your little black plastic bag and your 4-pack of nature's perfect fruit, you vaguely remember that you were hoping for that 75 cents in change for the office soda machine. But that's how he gets you...

Monday, July 24, 2006

Fuck Therapy; All I Need Is Music.

I can't stop listening to this song...

In My Mind by Heather Headley

Imagine seeing him on the town, holding another hand.
She's staring me down so I figure that he told her who I am
But it don't matter either way
what they do or say
'cause ain't nothin' changed
he's standin with her
but his soul is callin' out my name.

In my mind, I'll always be his lady.
In my mind, I'll always be his girl.

Saw his momma just the other day
said he'd been through a spell (well, well)
had a bad breakup
thinks he's on his way up
it's hard to tell

She said i think it'd do some good
if you call him every now and then
you see he's been through some things and
I'm thinking he could really use a friend

In my mind I'll always be his lady. (I'll always be)
In my mind I'll always be his girl.
Only time will tell if I'm his lady
But in my mind I'll always be his girl.

*my favorite part*

They say if you love something
you've got to let it go (Oh----)
and if it comes back
then it means so much more.
Fine if it never does
at least you will know (Oh--)
that it was something you had to go through to grow

In my mind I'll always be his lady.
In my mind I'll always be his girl.
(I don't care what nobody else says)
Only time will tell if I'm his lady.
But in my mind i'll always be his girl.
I'll always feel this way about you.
I'll always be your lady!
In my heart,in my mind
In my heart,in my mind
In my soul,in my mind
baby you should know
you're in my thoughts,in my mind
you're in my prayers,in my mind
I'll always in my mind keep you my mind

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Title-less. (is that a word?)

So I'm attending an office function tonite. Some guy here got promoted President of our European operations and his department is throwing a cocktail party in his honor at some swanky private social club. No dinner, just hors d'oeuvres. (i spelled that from memory; i hope its correct). Well as any broke mofo will tell you, one can most certainly get full off of hors d'oeuvres if you eat enough of them.

*aside: how does one get intelligent enough to spell hors d'oeuvres but is still broke enough to look forward to dining on them?*

the only thing i dread about these kinds of events is the small talk. I mean you're not at work, but you're still with co-workers so you can't exactly be yourself but you can be the slightly-more-relaxed and funny version of yourself, if you've got one. some people don't. I have one.

and in closing, my favorite word right now is schadenfreude. I love it when writers use it but, sadly, i haven't yet been able to work it into a conversation. I will tho. and when i do, i will tingle inside.

Monday, July 17, 2006

World War III

I remember being a kid growing up during the Cold War era. In middle school, we were shown a film called The Day After (to our collective horror). Some of the images in that film are still burned into my mind to this day. According to the film, World War III would come in the form of various nuclear-powered countries obliterating the hell out of America and each other. I remember after seeing the film, everyone in the school was familiarized with our local bomb shelters and the cool kids had basements with jars of peaches lining the walls. I guess i missed the memo where home-canned peaches were the key to surviving thermonuclear war.

Over the next 20 or so years, various nuclear disarmament treaties have eased collective minds as to the dwindling possibilities of World War III. But that's only because we were thinking of World War III in narrow terms. We viewed it as countries officially declaring war on one another and fighter bombs and warships engaging on all sides.

What we did not and probably could not have anticipated is happening now. Radical and individual extremist groups waging their own personal wars on countries with bombs in rucksacks and timers in #2 pencils and cellphones. They don't need government support. They use the internet to claim their crimes and disseminate their propaganda.

that reminds me of a quote by Einstein...i'm paraphrasing but the jist is that technology has advanced at a much faster pace than the human race itself has evolved. It's gotten ahead of us. Our common sense and self-preservation is lagging behind. And people just like me who live in Israel and Lebanon and Iraq and Iran and Afghanistan and India..regular folks who are just trying to make a living and see a concert, and catch the train to school and find a good ice cream cone and get to the doctor's office...we/they pay with life. It is not lost on me how lucky i am to not be faced with uncharted bombs raining down on my home and office. I sleep in peace. i feel a mixture of relief and guilt about that...

But back to the issue at hand...mainly government and media denial. I can't stand it when i see Condi et al saying that Iraq is 'on the brink of civil war'. No. they are IN one. But it seems to publicly declare it so would force someone in the U.S. government to say that we've caused it. and of course no one wants to do that. Now Israel and Hezbollah. the dominos keep falling. The Taliban and Al Qaeda keep getting stronger. Some speculate that we are heading 'towards World War III'. No. We are in it. And i'm terrified.

I envy the innocence of my children. They only worry about school and swimming, and what's for dessert. They concern themselves with the release dates of their favorite films and the theme songs of their favorite cartoons. Pumpkin likes to watch Wheel of Fortune. Munchkin prefers Millionaire. I wish i could go back in time and be that oblivious. What good does all this awareness do when there's nothing i can do to help anyone who is suffering?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

This Is How It Should Be Done..

This is how I write:

As I walked up to the lecture hall, I checked my syllabus to make sure i was in the right place. Intro to Black Studies, Room 415 Hamilton Hall, 4:45 pm. Yup. I'm good. I'd heard that the professor was Umamu Shaheed Alam. He's a dark-skinned, overweight man who tends to always be found in tailored suits, loafers and designer eyewear. I guess professors are more well-paid than I thought...

In the front row, I noticed Andre sitting next to a pretty black girl in a headwrap. Probably one of those super-studious types as she seemed to ignore whatever flirting he thought he was trying to do. As the hall was filling up, Professor Alam arrived and awkwardly shuffled his way towards the podium. He tapped the mic twice to get our attention.

This is how Adam Mansbach writes: (in Angry Black White Boy)

Intro to Black Studies, Room 415 Hamilton Hall, 4:45 pm, Associate Professor of American Studies Umamu Shaheed Alam presiding: three hundred plus two dime-sacks of esteemed chocolate-brown scholarship poured into an expertly tailored girth-streamlining double breasted olive suit, accented with Armani eyewear and compromised by rubber-soled load-bearing loafers.

In the front row of the cavernous slant-seated lecture hall, Andre slouched next to a light skinned honey in a headwrap. She'd smiled back at him, then unsnapped a leatherbound notepad and crossed her legs, pen poised, preparing to look busy instead of sideways until class started. The hall was full when Professor Alam entered, swinging his legs around his belly in an
overweight pimp-shuffle. He strode directly to the podium and tapped the mic twice with a sausage forefinger, silencing the room.

It's all in the descriptions, the detail. The ability to paint a picture so vividly. sausage forefinger. overweight pimp-shuffle. load-bearing loafers. wow. It's taking me a long time to read this book cuz i read paragraphs like that over and over while shaking my head. That's the kind of writer i'd want to be if i was going to seriously pursue it. I guess any good writer knows how to do that well. Isn't that what they teach you in college? I mean i've never been to any kind of writing workshop or course but i'd imagine that they give you some bland paragraph and ask you to bring it to life. Or give you assignments on describing simple things like air and water etc. I don't know. Maybe one day i'll join a workshop and find out.

One day. yeah. that day will be right after the day I finish writing all the scripts i have in my head. Or the day after I learn to play the guitar I got for Christmas 4 years ago. Or maybe the day after I buy that franchise. But wait, that is supposed to come the day after I start a non-profit organization for underpriveleged teen girls. Yeah but first, i gotta record my debut album. Which is the day before go back to school to finish my degrees. Which should fall about 6 or 7 days after i've gone back to dance class.

I suffer from the Cosby Closet Syndrome. You open the door and out tumbles all the things I've started and never finished. Vanessa and Theo ain't got nothin' on me.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


this is an audio post - click to play

On July 1, I turned thirty-five years old. In this audiopost, I talk a little about how i feel about that and also provide a guide to the photos below. After listening to it again myself, I think my voice sounds a bit dead but that's only because i was sad while i was talking..

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Happy Bornday, mami.

Happy making it this far. Happy taking it this far. It often seems that birthday wishes are enthused in the selfish spirit of making up for lost time, lost praise, or lost love. But this isn't the case here, both compliment and sentiment are genuinely felt like evergreens, fall thru freeze, springbloom thru summerjam.
I hope your special day was a reflection of you, and that it segues seamlessly into an entire decade (let's shoot high, yo) of spectacular specialness.
Enjoy, and try to blow out the candles before you eat (*no theo*).