June 28, 2015

In This Skin

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:39 am by 24karats

So after several nudges from each of the four of you reading this, I decided to resume this exercise in narcissism.  I wrestled for much longer than I should have over what to write about.  And then I was given a gift.  Rachel Dolezal, the gift to comedians and assholes everywhere (I’ll let you decide which category I fall into).  I had So. Many. Jokes.  Quality jokes, too.  But the more I thought about the deeper implications of what her “blackface farce” (I can’t take credit for that, that was my dear friend A) represented, I started to take a real serious reflection on what all the questions about race and blackness her spectacular clusterfuckery caused..

My thoughts soon developed into this broad introspective piece, which would have been perfect for the grand comeback I had hoped for.  With a couple of my best jokes because, I’m still me.  And I had a pretty solid draft too.  But before I could finish, I got distracted by a policeman in texas pulling his gun on children at a pool party.  And then Obama saying nigger and white people collectively losing all their shit.  And then a white boy with a chip on his shoulder shooting up a church.  And I got tired before I started.

So here’s the thing with me.  You may or may not have picked up on this, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist.  And people far smarter than me wrote more eloquently than I could on all of these things.  So I thought perhaps I should just go back to making cynical observations about my daily struggle not to get an assault charge when somebody steps on my pumas.

But I was drawn back into my feelings in the most unexpected way.  I work for the state of Illinois, and given all the massive problems we are having, I regularly check out capitolfax.com, a blog by a reporter dedicated to the goings-on in Illinois politics.  The author attempted to applaud Senator Mitch McConnell for advocating for the Kentucky legislature to pull down its statue of Jefferson Davis.  In doing so, the author, a Kentucky native, gave a narrative of his upbringing and his acknowledgement that some of his relatives and friends weren’t the most enlightened when it came to race relations.

As I’m scrolling through the article, I come across this sentence.  This, FTR, is a quote:

“Like many of my contemporaries, I’ve been exposed to casual hatred of black people since before I could walk.”

I was stunned.  Then I was confused.  Then I was outraged.  I really wanted to go up to an Ask A White Person booth and ask if this was a thing.  I sort of tried to ask a coworker.  But I knew the answer.  Of course it is.  All over this country, right now, white people are striking up a friendly conversation with neighbors and coworkers about how stupid/lazy/disgusting I am.  White people who have never met me or anyone I know or know anything about us.  White people are disparaging the way I look, the job they think I do or do not have, my friends, my values, my family, my clothes, my body and who knows what else.

And apparently, this is hardly noteworthy.  The author expected that his white readers would hardly take notice.  Largely, he was right.  And of the commenters that did mention it, it was to say “yes, casual hatred is a good description.”

I honestly think the “casual” bothers me more than the “hatred”  (though I would like to point out the grammatical impossibility of having a casual hatred of something, but that is a different rant for a different day).   There’s something about the idea of just carrying around a disgust for an entire group of people that is horrifying.  But beyond that, the idea that one can speak about said disgust so openly, so casually, that infuriates me.  As though this is okay, somehow equivalent to the way I hate spiders or olives.

The thing about this “casual hatred” is that we have to acknowledge that this affects the way these haters treat black people.  In a world where racism doesn’t exist unless a cross is burned and nigger is spelled out in spray paint, do they think they carry around this hatred, but then treat each black person they meet with dignity and humanity?  Do they think that black people cannot see or feel this disgust when we interact with someone who does not view them as deserving the same level of respect?

I’m probably going to be word vomiting my feelings on race and racism for the next several posts.  And then, back to borderline inappropriate jokes.  So until next time, this will have to do.

July 17, 2013

One Step Forward, Ten Steps Back

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:12 am by 24karats

It has taken me some time to articulate my feelings about the acquittal of George Zimmerman.  I hesitated to write this because I was afraid it would turn into a dissertation (and in fact I have a completely separate article to write on the trial itself).  I was afraid that I would be just one more voice complaining about hoodies and Skittles.  Quite honestly, I was afraid to venture into the dark place to even articulate what it was that has caused me so much pain about this whole ordeal.

There are many things to be saddened about: the prosecution’s arguably weak showing, the outrageously combative comments by Zimmerman’s brother, lawyers and other supporters, the handling of the case by the police, and, most simply, the sad loss of life.

What has angered me and caused me the most grief throughout all of this was the staunch refusal by Zimmerman’s supporters to acknowledge that – no matter who started the fight, no matter who was winning the fight – this was all George Zimmerman’s fault.   Instead, his supporters treat any critique of Zimmerman’s behavior with a derision so vile I can almost physically feel it.

On the night of Trayvon’s murder, Sanford police arrived to find a 28-year old George Zimmerman calmly waiting near the body of a dead child.  Zimmerman explained to some degree that Trayvon attacked him or was beating him up so he shot him.  The police said, okay, sounds good.  Let’s ride to the station and fill out some paperwork so you can get home.  Meanwhile, the dead boy?  He was sent to the morgue without so much as a second thought.  (After he was drug tested, because, whether or not his death was justified is directly related to whether or not he experimented with drugs…) His body lay unclaimed, unidentified, for  days while his parents went crazy with worry because the police could not be bothered to identify him.  The police couldn’t be bothered to scroll through his cell phone and call someone named Mom, Dad, or even Most Recent Call!  He was assumed to have instigated a threat that warranted his death, and he was assumed to be unimportant to anyone.

Why was that?  How can police – or anyone – see the body of a child who has died a violent death and not feel compelled to bring simple finality by contacting their family?  Unless that life was never worth anything in the first place?  Where is the basic compassion for the loss of life – any life?  Where was it for Trayvon?  Certainly not in Zimmerman, and certainly not on the Sanford PD.

And then there was George Zimmerman himself.  Much has been made of the hoodie, the Skittles and the iced tea, so I won’t go through those again.  What I want to focus on is the refusal of Zimmerman and his supporters to even look critically at Zimmerman’s behavior.  Because it is this dismissal of any suggestion that Zimmerman could have acted differently that causes me such outrage and despair.

Zimmerman, who had been appointed leader or participant in some sort of neighborhood watch group, was concerned about a recent string of robberies in the neighborhood (a neighborhood, mind you, in which Trayvon himself lived when in town).  Zimmerman thinks to himself “a) there have been robberies; b) here is a black kid that I don’t know; c) ergo, this kid must be responsible for or connected to those robberies.”

Did he explicitly connect Trayvon’s race in his conclusion that he was suspicious?  Maybe, maybe not. (But see this excellent Harvard study on implicit, subconscious racism)  But why exactly was Trayvon suspicious if not for his race?  Neither Zimmerman, nor his attorney, nor his brother, nor any of his supporters have given any credible reason for why Trayvon might have been “suspicious.”  Allegedly the perpetrators of the recent burglaries were black, but so were 20% of the residents in the complex.   Supposedly Trayvon was peering into houses.   This is not just subjective, but presumptuous to assume that even if he was doing so that he was doing so out of criminal intent and not just simple nosiness of peering inside other people’s home when the opportunity arises (something I have done on countless occasions).  Or there was the fact that Trayvon was walking slowly – a point so ludicrous I cannot even respond.

Yet Zimmerman’s supporters have NEVER questioned his conclusions.  If he thought Trayvon was suspicious, Trayvon must have been suspicious.  And it is that point that makes those of us who see this in racial lines despair.  Not whether it was reasonable or not to think that Trayvon was suspicious, but that Zimmerman’s conclusion that he was is unquestionable.

Furthermore, said supporters cannot, do not, or will not recognize the ways in which George Zimmerman was suspicious to Trayvon.  Here is a teenager on his way home, talking on the phone on a dark rainy night.  He sees an SUV slowly trailing behind him.  He continues on his way.  A strange man gets out of his car and follows him on foot.

Wouldn’t you be scared if you were walking home and someone got out of their car and started following you?

Yet this is a question that Zimmerman reporters refuse to even acknowledge, let alone answer.  And it is this lack of acknowledgement that speaks so much about the lack of racial progress in this country, and the outrage of those of us who have to live with that on a daily basis.  At no point can we have an honest discussion about perception, assumptions, and race if it is ridiculous to even entertain the idea that Zimmerman’s actions directly (and some might argue equally, others might argue primarily) contributed to the ultimate ending that night.

Rather, Trayvon was responsible at every turn.  Why didn’t he run or simply go home (He did run, as Zimmerman’s 911 call indicates)?  Why didn’t Trayvon call the police (in a town in which black residents had long complained about an adequate lack of response by the police)?  Why did he speak to Zimmerman at all?  Or why didn’t he simply calmly and rationally answer Zimmerman’s questions.

Let’s be clear about something.  Every person, including Trayvon, has a First Amendment right to tell some creepy guy stalking them to fuck off.  We teach our children not to talk to strangers, not to divulge personal information to people we don’t know, not to tell who we are or where we are going.  Yet Zimmerman’s supporters think that this is what Trayvon should have done???  And to them I say – would you?  Would you want your child to tell anyone who asks where they’re going and who they’re going to see?

But those that say that we are overreacting, that we are blowing this out of proportion, miss the meaning behind their dismissal of our concerns.  It suggests that Trayvon never had any rights.  He couldn’t wear a hoodie, he couldn’t walk slowly, he couldn’t stare at the houses he was walking past, he couldn’t get angry, he couldn’t refuse to talk to a stranger (nor, conversely, could he confront that stranger), and he certainly could not defend himself against what he (and I think we can all say reasonably) believed was a threat.

By refusing to engage in the conversation, by refusing to even give credence – whether you agree with them or not – to our concerns, is to suggest that we are in no position to question the status quo.  We are not supposed to speak up or speak out.  And we damn sure should not expect or demand that anyone else reconsider their behaviors, their preconceptions.  No, we are to behave as we are told, not how we want to.   We are being told that anyone, at any time, can demand to know our whereabouts, to demand that we account for ourselves – much like almost 200 years ago freed slaves and free blacks could be stopped and questioned by any white person who wanted to know where (or to whom) they belonged.

During his first presidential campaign, then-Senator Obama gave an epic speech on the topic of race relations in America.  As a biracial individual raised by his white mother and grandparents, yet (because of his skin color) seen and identified as a black man, Obama was in an excellent position to articulate the feelings of many white people who have not been personally responsible for the systemic injustices against minorities in America, as well as the feelings of frustration of black people at still not being seen or treated as true equals in society.  Obama did not purport to have any answers, but his eloquent identification of the problems, and the relatively warm reception by the public, gave me hope that the door to honest discussions about race had finally been opened – or at the very least unlocked.

Yet the disdainful treatment of Trayvon, his memory, and anyone who is outraged by the above, tells me that the door to racial equality is still padlocked shut.

In all this time, we are still treated as visitors in our own home.

April 27, 2013

I Don’t Want a Hero, I Just Want Spider-Man

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:36 pm by 24karats

As girls go, I consider myself pretty bad-ass.  I fairly regularly watch football, I like to climb shit and jump off of shit (within reason), I swear like a drunk sailor and I hang out with some of the most foul-mouthed, crass, irreverent guys you can find – and I hold my own with them in all three departments.

What I don’t do, however, is fuck with spiders.  Under any circumstances.  Ever.  At all.  One minute I can be challenging a young man to grow a pair of a certain body part, and if I see a spider, in the very next second I am squealing like a 9-year-old girl and running for cover.  Like a straight BITCH.  Spiders – and their assorted creepy-crawly brethren – are gross and icky and terrifying and nasty and OMG I think I’m giving myself the vapors just talking about them.  One time I had an apartment in which the landlord lived on the ground floor.  When I discovered a spider (in my defense, this fucker was HUGE), I ran down three flights of stairs to come summon him to kill said arachnoid.  He strolled casually upstairs, with his 11-year-old daughter in tow, to kill the beast and laugh at me.  I did not care that he tried to punk me with a child that had yet to learn algebra.  My sense of pride and shame are nonexistent when it comes to the total girl I turn into when I see a spider.

Often, when I read blogs or magazines or what have you on the great male/female divide, a lot of men express concern, or even disdain, that women want men to “take care of them.”  They paint a picture of some lazy prima donna who needs her man to hand feed her organic strawberries and scratch her arm when it itches and call the cable stations to demand better programming when there’s nothing on television, and carry her to bed on a mattress made of goose feathers and soothe her to sleep with a foot rub or some such nonsense.  Personally, I have never met this lazy broad these guys are so afraid of, but I agree with them, this chick sounds boring as hell.

Other men out there in the blogosphere are afraid that they will be required to write Shakespeare-worth sonnets every day, and learn to play the guitar so that they can serenade their love with the most haunting melodies Bob Dylan could only dream of writing.  They are afraid they will go broke with a lifetime account at 1800flowers and that every birthday, Christmas, Labor Day and anniversary-of-the-first-time-we-watched-tv-together will have to be acknowledged by a tennis bracelet.

I’ve never been serenaded, but that shit looks mad uncomfortable.  I mean, what am I supposed to do while this guy is singing his heart out?  Do I just stare at him?  Do I dance or try to sing along?  I mean five minutes is a long time to just stand there.  And for someone as self-absorbed self-conscious as I am, this is fraught with peril.   And besides, the only jewelry I ever wear is earrings, and only because my grandmother has instilled in me that “a lady always wears earrings.”  

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there really are lazy primadonnas and romance-aholics walking these streets.  And if I were a guy, I’d be afraid of that too.  They sound like a lot of work.  And to be fair, love can involve all of those things.  I’m not going to lie and say I would turn down a ruby bracelet, even if I did only wear it on special occasions.

But real love doesn’t look like that.  At least not every day.  Not most days, really.  And I’m not that fancy anyway.

I just want a guy whose going to tell me I look nice when I’m feeling anything but, because he knows it’s what I need to hear.  I want someone who will make get off my behind and go to yoga or go for a run or whatever my fad exercise of the month is.  I want someone who is willing to jump in the car and go for a random road trip, because we’ll have our music, each other, and endless possibilities ahead of us.  I want someone who doesn’t mind vacuuming or washing the dishes, which I hate with the fiery passion of a thousand suns.  I want someone who will buy me strawberry sour straws or Baskin Robbins mint chocolate chip ice cream because he was thinking of me.  I want someone who will take my writing seriously.  I want someone that can push me, yet encourage me at the same time.  I want someone that will put together the bookshelf with me.  I want someone who will run stupid errands with me, simply because he likes spending time with me, even if all we’re doing is buying light bulbs.

I just want someone who will kill spiders for me.  

December 14, 2012

A Pledge to the Fallen

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:49 pm by 24karats

When I was 10 years old, a mentally ill woman named Laurie Dann walked into a grammar school (elementary school for my non-Chicago readers) in a tony suburb of Chicago and randomly opened fire on students and teachers.  A child was killed, and several others were wounded.  Dann committed suicide later that day.

25 years later, a man has walked into a grammar school in a pleasant town in Connecticut and randomly opened fire on students and teachers before taking his own life.  At the time of this writing, 26 people have been killed, including the suspect’s mother, who was a teacher at the school.

In that time, we’ve had Columbine, Aurora, Conyers, Virginia Tech, Jonesboro and now Newtown.  Just to name a few.

25 years and nothing has changed.

It’s way too soon to tell what the issues were surrounding Lanza’s decision (assuming such a rational word can even be used to describe such a heinous act) to go to a school and kill his mother and 25 others.  I’m sure he was, at best, in a very dark place, and at worst suffering from severe mental illness, and my heart is heavy for his suffering as well as for the unimaginable grief of the those who lost loved ones today.

But what we do know is this.  Someday, and someday soon, we need to talk about gun control.

I love Chicago.  I truly believe Chicago is the best place on earth.  But every day – EVERY SINGLE DAY – there is a news report about someone, usually a child, being killed in the crossfire of a gun.  Every day men with anger management issues are killing their wives or girlfriends.  George Zimmerman was walking around his neighborhood with a gun, looking for whoever he thought might be a petty thief.  Chloe Belcher will celebrate her first Christmas as an orphan.

After Jared Lochner opened fire on a congressman and involved citizens who attended her local event, some people said “it’s too soon to talk about gun control, we should respect the privacy of the victims and their families.”  When Jovan Belcher committed suicide in front of coach and other team staff, people said “well, we don’t need to talk about gun control because Belcher was clean so he would have gotten a gun anyway.”

I’m an attorney.  I recognize that the constitution protects our right to own guns (there’s some debate about what the 2nd amendment was actually trying to protect, but given the interpretations of that amendment to date, let’s just assume we have a constitutional right to own firearms).  However, like any other constitutional rights, there are (or should be) limits.  Freedom of speech is limited by slander and libel laws.  There are limits to the actions one can take in the name of religion. Why not guns?  Why is it that merely suggesting that everyday Americans don’t need military-grade assault weapons is stomping on the Constitution?

There are increasing limits on abortion.  In no small part because anti-abortion activists feel the need to protect the life of embryos – even when they are not viable outside the womb or when the mother’s health and life is at stake.  Those lives, they claim, are worth protecting.

But not the lives of children playing in their front yards on the south side of Chicago?  Not the lives of movie lovers in Colorado?  Not the lives of Christmas shoppers in Oregon?  Are those lives are just collateral damage in our society’s obsession with guns?

For those that would have unlimited access to guns, without background checks, without waiting periods, without denying them to people with criminal histories and or sufferers of violent mental illness, I ask you this:

Exactly how many people have to die before it is reasonable to ask you to wait 4 days to buy a gun?  How many fathers have to bury their sons? How many 10 year olds have to grow up without a parent because you’re in a rush to go hunt deer?

Let’s be clear, guns have one purpose – to kill.  Whether you’re killing elk or burglars or girlfriends or rival gang members or 5 year old children, you only use a gun to take life.  That’s its only purpose.  We don’t have any other constitutional right that protects our ability to own methods of taking life, and to suggest that there is nothing we can or should do to constrict that right to save as many lives as possible is both offensive and just plain stupid.  I can’t use this blog to spread lies about people I don’t like, but I can go to Walmart and stock up on as many guns as I can fit into my trunk?  How is that okay?

When I was in grammar school, we had tornado drills. We’d all file out into the windowless hallways and bend down next to the lockers, covering our heads with our hands.  We were 9, so there was a lot of whispering and giggling, and thankfully, not much else.

These days, children in school have drills on what to do if some form of mass murderer comes to school.  Let me repeat that: THERE ARE SCHOOL DRILLS ON HIDING FROM GUNMEN!!!  Schools and school districts have to obtain professional assistance from safety planning organizations for procedures to put in place so that kids don’t die in math class.

This is not okay.

11,000 people die in this country each year by guns.  In Canada last year that number was 173.  In England it was 41.  Yet there are those that suggest that anyone who is determined to kill or to obtain a gun illegally will do so anyway, so they throw their hands up and suggest there is nothing we can do.  No, there is probably nothing we can do to completely eliminate gun deaths in this country.  But do we just have to keep losing twice as many lives each year than the number of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq combined?  This country put a man on the moon.  We cured polio.  Yet, we can’t find a murder rate lower than 11,000?

Yes, the Constitution is important.  And we should protect it.  Just not with the lives of innocent children going to school.

The child that Laurie Dann killed would be in his 30s had he lived.  Maybe he would have been an accountant or a graphic designer or an engineer.  He’d probably be married, maybe even with a couple of kids of his own.  Instead he was buried before he lost all his baby teeth.  25 years later, he has an unspeakable number of fellow victims.

The people in Newtown, Connecticut are living out our worst nightmare.  I cannot even begin to formulate the words to express my heartwrenching sadness for what they are going through.

All I can do is promise to fight for Congress to make sure that the lives lost today will not be in vain.  If we were to let this moment go by without doing whatever we could to make sure that no one else has to go through the horror of another Newtown, that would be the biggest tragedy of all.

October 8, 2012

Big Girls Don’t Cry

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:23 pm by 24karats

I can be honest. At first, your words hurt. Your actions hurt. They hurt because despite your best efforts, despite what even I have thought at times, you did not and cannot take the essence of who I am. I believe that people have a tendency toward goodness and kindness, and to be reminded otherwise is a shock, especially from someone for whom I once cared so deeply. I could not believe that after nearly a decade you would still speak so hatefully about me. And I was hurt by that.

But then, I remembered a few things about you. I remembered how you need to be the sun and the moon to a scattering of – how would you put it – fans. I remembered how there was nothing about you to warrant such undeserved fandom, nor were you particularly interested in earning it. I remembered how exhausted I was trying to raise a grown man. I remembered that at 20 I thought you were immature, but at 30 I realize it was much worse than that.

You’re not simply immature, you’re small. For as great as you want to be, you will always be less than me. That you even want to devastate other people’s lives, and play with people for your entertainment, just to say you can, makes you small, less than small even. You know who plays with toys? Children.

Want to know a secret? Not a single person was sad for me when we broke up. Not one. They hurt because I hurt, but they weren’t sorry to see you go. They were relieved for me. Even people who only met you once or twice. It took me a while to understand their relief, but that’s because I saw you not for who you truly were, but for the person I hoped you’d become. But I understand now what they knew all along. I’m too big for you. I would have crippled myself always shrinking myself just to try to make you feel like a man.

We both know you’ll never admit it, but this eats at you – your inability to consume me, to ruin me. It keeps you up sometimes, wondering why I never fully bought into your charade. You constantly wonder why people always saw me as the prize, not you. You can’t figure out how I was never eclipsed by you, even when I tried to let you. It’s because of this: your flashlight will never outshine my sun.

So despite the hatred that you are still spewing, THAT is the real reason we broke up. So go ahead and hate me all you want to. I’ll be here, doing what I’ve been doing – not thinking about you.

August 21, 2012

Fifty Shades of Utter and Complete Nonsense

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:40 am by 24karats

Yeah, I read it.  I might be suicidal.  Anyhoo, lest I suffer from some PTSD flashback in trying to rehash the many, many many things that are wrong with this uber-trash, here are some of my thoughts.





August 14, 2012

An Open Letter to the Homeless (and Other Assorted Beggers)

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:50 am by 24karats

I get it. I do. Life is a real c**k-sucking bitch. I hate her too. She has at some point screwed me royally in every conceivable category. And then while I’m walking bleary-eyed at some ungodly hour to a job (that is not going to do a damn thing toward helping me pay back Sallie Mae) that I have to go to because my marriage didn’t work out, them lottery numbers didn’t hit, my mama spent my trust fund on shit like groceries and rent I got bills to pay, I see you and I have to thank that bitch life for not screwing me as much as she has you. So you are undoubtedly pissed. That’s totally understandable.

Here’s the thing though. And pay close attention because this is really important. It ain’t my fault. I didn’t do it. I didn’t evict you, I didn’t fire you, I didn’t deplete your savings, I didn’t kick you off the welfare rolls.

So what does all that mean? It means all that hateful ass passive-aggressive bullying you try to do to get my last .37 cents…needs to stop. All that “so you just gon walk on by huh?” All that rattling that nasty ass cup in my face that’s got more change in it than I got on me. All that “I know you can spare a dollar”. All that “you could at least speak.” Needs to fucking stop. Like right now.

Let me take this opportunity to quote one of the great bards of our time, one Mr. Marshall Mathers:

And no I don’t owe you
A mother fucking thing
I’m not Mr. Friendly
I’m not Mr. N*Sync
I can be a prick if you tempt me
My tank is on empty

Here’s our problem. Your rage is misplaced. You’re mad at life – not me. But you’re in very serious danger of giving me a reason to make you hate me. From your vantage point, my set up looks pretty good. I understand that. But you have no idea the b.s. I’m dealing with right now. My rage-o-meter is stuck on 110. And neither of us wants to know what’s going to happen if it goes any higher. Trust me on that.

Furthermore, while your shit is bad, I know you’re not at the end of the rope. Know how I know? Because if you’ve got time to be hateful and spiteful, you’re not desperate enough. Now, I don’t know you. Maybe that’s just a personality flaw. But I know what desperation looks like. I’ve seen it, live and in technicolor. When somebody is really desperate, there’s no room for anger or bitterness or disgust. Every single fiber of their being is focused on getting that one thing – all that extra goes out the window.

But you? You’ve got time for cat-calling and shit-talking and bumming cigarettes off strangers and joking around with your arguably non-homeless friends. You’ve got space in your day to say no thanks to the woman that offers to take you into McDonald’s and buy something to eat. (Yeah, I know about that. MF I see you EVERY GOD DAMNED DAY!) And you’ve got space in your life to harass me. Maybe I’m more desperate than you. Cause I’ve got one goal – to survive the day.

So, no. No I am not reaching my nicely manicured hands into my designer purse to pull out .19 cents that I don’t have anyway because I have this designer purse to give it to you though you utterly failed to ask nicely, or ask at all for that matter. Stank? Probably. I guess life isn’t the only bitch in town.

So how am I going to walk right past you? Watch.

July 10, 2012


Posted in Uncategorized at 10:32 pm by 24karats

I don’t propose for a second to have all the answers.  Part of the reason I have this blog is so that you and I can figure my shit out.  But there are a few things I’ve come to learn lo these many years of mine.

As the home girl once said (and I believe she was quoting some Oprah-type shit): “No is a complete sentence.”  It was one of those things that you will never forget hearing, because it impacts you just that much.

I’ve spent far more time than I will ever admit wondering what I should be doing/feeling.  Am I being [childish/petty/sensitive] or what have you.  I think a lot of us do, some more than others.  But “others” ain’t really the point of this post, so we’ll stick to me.

What I’ve come to know is this.  Turns out, I’m just as touchy and quirky as anyone else.  There’s a lot of shit that doesn’t bother me.  Things my home girls get worked up about I can barely muster a kanyeshrug for.  Then there are other things that just absolutely set me on fire.

I try to rationalize, analyze.  Am I making the right choices?  For the right reason?  What is behind my anger/hurt?  Do I owe someone else the benefit of the doubt?  

But I’m asking the wrong questions.  The real question is what do I owe myself.  I owe myself the truth of my feelings, the openness to learn and grow from them, but mostly, the opportunity to be comfortable in my own life.  Turns out I’m not perfect (I know, caught me by surprise too) and maybe my boundaries are as nonsensical as a gerrymandered congressional district.  But so be it.  They are MINE.  And more than anyone else, I should be the one to respect them.

April 29, 2012

The Last Letter

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 8:17 pm by 24karats

I can’t tell you these things because you won’t listen. Because you actively choose not to hear me. Because you will argue with me instead of understanding what I am trying to say. You challenge my feelings instead of accepting them, let alone addressing them. And if I can’t express how I feel, what is there to say to you?

I miss you. I miss us. I miss the person that I was when I was with you. I miss the empowerment that love, or, specifically, your love, gave me. But those days are gone, those people are gone, and they are not coming back.

Somewhere along the line you got the idea that you could force me to do and become your everything, without any regard to the personal cost to me. You thought you could demand my time/money/attention. And I was a selfish bitch for even daring to think about establishing boundaries for myself. It was like you weren’t mad at what I said, or even how I said it, but for daring to say it at all. I served no purpose other than supporting you. And the fact that you thought it was okay to treat me – or anyone – like this means, on a fundamental human level, you are not someone that I can even respect.

I have tried on numerous occasions to keep you in my life (albeit at a distance that I intentionally created) because you requested that presence. I don’t know if you ever meant it, or if you just wanted it for your own ego, or if you simply forgot that you requested it. You asked to be a part of my life, to be able to call me, to see me. But somehow we always ended up here. With you lashing out on me for having some self-respect.

The thing that I have tried to make you see – the reason for the aforementioned intentional distance – is that your words and your actions have consequences. You can’t just say whatever you want and think that there will be no price to pay for that. Your actions came at the price of my mistrust of you. Your lies came with the price of me not believing you the next time. I guess I assumed that you knew that and were just being difficult. Or trying to get out of paying. It occurs to me now that perhaps you really don’t know that.

But it doesn’t even matter anymore why we are who we are, what is just is. And what I am is tired. I gave you numerous chances as a boyfriend, and numerous chances as a friend. I don’t have anything left to give. You were once a very important part of my life, and you were once someone that was there for me when I needed someone most. But I can no longer give you opportunities on the basis of that reserve of decency alone. In time you have striven, quite successfully, to be someone I don’t need. And while I will always love you for who you once were to me and for me, I now have many more reasons to not love you.

Six months from now you’re probably going to contact me again. And you’re probably going to ask me something benign like how I’ve been as though nothing happened. And when I respond that I don’t want to hear from you, or don’t respond at all, you will probably tell me I’m holding a grudge or throwing the past in your face. And when I remind you that you asked me not to contact you again, you will probably tell me that I’m playing games for being so literal. You will accuse me of acting as though “I think I am the shit” and you will not-so-politely point out to me that I’m not. What you will not do is realize this is the bed you made. You will not understand that it’s precisely your inability to take any responsibility for anything that has drained me of the energy to deal with you. You will not see that no one wants to be bothered with someone who acts like you do.

For a long time I thought, or maybe hoped, that I was allowing the space and opportunity for us to develop a new relationship built on some real basics in human decency – trust, respect, etc. I wanted to believe that the boy I fell in love with all those years ago still existed. He doesn’t. He disappeared and he is not coming back.

I hope you figure these things out, but if you do it will be without me, and I will never know about it because I will never speak to you again. I guess you could say the price just went up. You don’t seem to want me to have boundaries in our relationship, so I’m redrawing the line, and putting you on the other side of it. That sounds cruel and maybe even melodramatic, but I can’t grow up for you, and I’m too tired to keep being the chair you try to pull yourself up with.

I want to be able to have this conversation with you. To explain to you why. But you won’t listen. And honestly, if I thought I could have this conversation with you, I probably wouldn’t need to. I don’t like sloppy endings. I like for everything to be discussed and wrapped up nicely with a little bow on it. But I’m okay with this particular mess. Because there’s no cleaning it up, all we do is add to it. So I’m walking away. It’s really that simple.

They say that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. In that case, I am squarely on the other side of love with you. Well, that’s not entirely true. Because I care very strongly about one thing regarding you, that I never hear from you again.

February 15, 2012

Forgiveness: Celebrity Edition

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:04 am by 24karats

So much ado has been made over whether Chris Brown has been “forgiven” seeing as how he got to bore wow us with his stage performance and even won a Grammy for best R&B album. The problem is, it’s just not that simple.

I like to think of myself as fairly objective on this topic. When Chris Brown first arrived on the scene (actually, probably about 6 months after he arrived on the scene; me and R&B have been on thin ice for quite sometime but that’s a different post for a different day) I thought “if I were 10 years younger I’d probably have his poster on my wall.” That was about the extent of my feelings for him. His song “With You” was by far my favorite – I gleefully sang along when it came on the radio, and when it went off, I moved on.

So, naturally, I was appalled when the news surfaced that he had beat up Rihanna. Note, he didn’t merely hit her, he beat her up. While I’m generally unsupportive of TMZ and similar papparazzi that dig into the gruesome details of celebs’ affairs, I must say that the pictures of Rihanna immediately after the beating helped, in my opinion, to paint a real picture on, if nothing else, the physical toll of domestic violence on women.

I was even more appalled by some women’s immediate defense of Chris Brown. Pointing out that “we didn’t know the whole story” and “we don’t know what she did” or, my personal favorite “but he’s so sexy, I don’t care.” (Don’t believe me? Some chicks are still holding to that theory even now.)

True, we certainly didn’t then and probably still don’t know everything, but what we do know is that a man beat up his girlfriend. What scenario would have made that okay? If he caught her cheating? If she talked shit about his manhood? His music? Maybe if she hit him first? No. If any of the above scenarios did in fact happen, it would have already been a problem if his reaction was to hit her. But his reaction was to beat her ass. There is a big difference. And while she may very well have provoked him with her words and maybe her little bony sixth-grade-sized fists, part of being a man is to recognize that you can’t always do what impulse tells you. And while your impulse may very well be to pop this reckless-talking-broad in the mouth, manhood means you either need to stop talking or walk away. Acting on impulse is for children. And acting on impulse to the extent that it puts another person in the hospital is a crime. But to say we don’t know her role in it means that it is somehow in a woman’s control to prevent domestic violence, which is simply false. It’s just not true. I don’t know how else to say it. But it appears that some women who (presumably) have never been in that situation think that victims of abuse, must be doing or saying something to provoke their attacker. That’s just not how it works.

Furthermore it doesn’t matter. Rule: it’s not okay for a man to hit a woman. It’s just not. If two dudes get into an argument in a bar and one of them talks trash and the other one swings, we can debate whether or not that dude deserved getting hit. With women, it’s a no brainer. Just don’t! Most men are stronger than most women and to whom much is given much is required. The benefit of having all that strength and putting us into frenzies with those arms and those abs are that you have to sit on your hands. Even when we are being a complete and total bitch.

But back to Chris. So he beat up Rihanna. Much though I despise the action, he was also 19, i.e., a child. And it turns out that both he and Rihanna grew up in households where domestic violence occurred. So the real question is not whether the action was defensible, which it was not, but whether it was understandable (and how to prevent him from doing it again). Honestly, I waffle on this. Sure I know better, but I’m not a cute clean boy that was performing for throngs of screaming girls before I could drive. Nobody ever hit anybody in my house. And I’m an adult – I’ve seen enough and done enough to know better. None of those was true for Chris.

The court adjudicated these facts and determined the right amount of punishment for the crime, but what should that mean for him as a celebrity? That we boycott is music? Have radio stations pull his songs? Should his label drop him? The Grammys have essentially shut the doors on him (until Sunday). But is this right? Are we expecting the Grammys to take a stand? If so – why? His label hasn’t cut him and apparently people are still listening to his music – as an artist (not as a person), does he not deserve recognition for that? While stupid women all over the world were tweeting that they would let him beat them up, the other reaction to Chris Brown’s Grammy performance and award has been outrage that Chris was even let back in the building. Somehow it has been seen that he had served his penance and the prodigal son had returned home; that the music industry had forgiven his abuse. And they were not amused. But even if we interpret that as the intent and not the controversy-inducing ratings-grabbing money-making decision that yours truly really thinks it was, how long is a long enough exile? 5 years? 10 years? 2 more unrecognized albums? 3? And Chris is far from being the only musician with faults. Oddly enough, Chris himself makes the point rather succinctly. Note that Chris’s co-nominee, R. Kelly, notoriously sleeps with underage girls* which is certainly on par with domestic violence on the “horrible person” scale. However, no one is outraged that his work was recognized, perhaps because he was thankully conspicuously absent.

(*Ed.’s Note: R. Kelly may have been acquitted on criminal charges, but anyone who was on the south side of Chicago during the mid- to late-1990s has been hollered at, or had a friend who was hollered at, by R. Kelly while they were in high school. And for those who doubt such anecdotal evidence, let’s not forget that he married Aaliyah when she was only 15)

I’m not a fan of his. I could have done without the CB performances at the Grammys not because I’m taking a stand against his actions, but because I was bored and underwhelmed. I also find it suspect that he even qualified for a Best R&B album nod, having never heard anything he did that made me think “oh here’s a real spark of genius.” But that’s just one woman’s opinion on one guy’s musical talent. Obviously at least a few other far more influential people thought otherwise. But that’s whatever.

Do I think Chris really truly understands the damage he did to Rihanna and himself? No. Do I think that will be the last time he ever puts his hands on a woman? I’m not too sure about that either. Do I think he’s learned the error of his ways? Given his notorious twitter rants that his publicists have the good sense to delete a few hours later, no. But the larger question is at what point is a person no longer redeemable? I don’t know where that line is, but God help us all if it’s for something horrible we did when we were 19 years old.

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