Google Yourself or Regret It Later

How many people Google themselves? If you are honest you have already shaken your head and said yes or perhaps you proudly said hell yeah and for others you may have even justified self-searching by claiming the need to make sure you’re not being ‘violated’ (identity) in any way. I fall into the slightly apologetic crowd; it seems very narcissistic to search oneself online but for some reason it is awesome to see yourself in print. That being said, does anyone remember that Curb Your Enthusiasm episode, the last in season 7 where L.D. and Seinfeld went on a total bender over that phrase? Anyway, I digress, that being said, I just Googled myself as I do every now and again; this time I jumped into the fray because a co-worker told me how she had Googled my name to look up an article and lo and behold, my name came up in-between some legit stuff and some appalling stuff. For the purposes of those who are highly litigious, I will not share the middle name of this other Cija Jefferson (I still don’t believe it), but suffice it to say, any employer who is looking me up could easily think I have a criminal past. Let’s be honest, unless you work for the government in a position that requires security clearance, the folks in HR aren’t gonna dig that deep to ensure they have the right individual unless you have a super common name like a John Smith, but Cija Jefferson, both my first and last name…are you freaking kidding me? I have gone my entire life watching teachers pause and their lips tremble as they try to sound out my name. In fact growing up in a not-so diverse environment my name felt like an eyesore and now with the advent and sheer hysteria that is the internet, I’m finding out that my name is no longer extremely unique. I was found on Facebook by a woman, also named Cija but not the afore-mentioned criminal background Cija, who started a FB page so the Cija’s of the world could unite, turns out there are quite a few of us. Apparently most of us had mothers into science fiction who had read the story of Princess Cija in a series written by Jane Gaskell. The author clarified her pronunciation of the name in the foreword of the book “The City”, saying it was slightly Celtic. You know I wondered how my Mom managed to get the pronunciation Kia from Cija. Let’s get back to the real reason I started this though, to see how many other folks Google themselves; based off my story, it may be useful to check your internet self out and see who else might be out there with your name giving pause to potential employers, boyfriend or girlfriends (I’m definitely an internet info searcher when it comes to relationships)… you might just be surprised by what you see.

On Today’s To-Do List…

The Post-Ritual of Washing My Hair

Fingertips slicked with loc butter plunge into the spongy dampness of my hair. Pulling tightly away from my scalp, I twist soft new growth, securing it with a metal hairclip, creating a seamless continuation of the strand.

This process repeated bi-weekly over an 8 year period, has yielded a shoulder-length series of deeply compacted, inextricably intertwined individual strands of hair unified as one.

Preconceived Notions

So while perusing some tweets last night, I stumbled across an interesting post on the blog, Feministe, authored by Captain Awkward entitled “Step into My Film School! The Importance of Casting in Breaking Open Movie Stereotypes” (link below). The title alone drew me in, so I clicked on the link to read more and what I discovered is that although subliminally I know race inequality still exists in television/film roles, I never thought about how I, as an individual may contribute to perpetuating this systemic problem by what I choose to watch. Let me explain, the author of this post is a film teacher and has casted films before, she challenges her first-year film students “…to understand what happens to a story when actual human beings inhabit your characters, and the way they can inspire storytelling.” She goes on to describe a ‘small’ experiment she does with her first-year film students each year:  students pull from a diverse (age, gender, race, size) file of head-shots provided by her, and then take a few minutes to make up a story about them. What she discovered was a trend with all of her students, no matter their ethnic background, each had a stereotypical response to this experiment. For instance white males tended to always identify their actor as being a main character, non-white males tended to identify their characters as some kind of sidekick/friend, terrorist, drug dealer and non-white women tended to identify themselves as friend or girlfriend. Now I’m in no way saying that this experiment means that everybody who casts a movie is always casting to these stereotypes, but what the author illustrates is how we all subconsciously have a first impression that is of course based on our own life experiences. In a nutshell, none of us can act as if we don’t have preconceived notions about others and this is of course not only evident in film school, and in real-life casting situations, but it also colors the way we treat each other in our ‘regular’ daily routines. I know I struggle with this and I work for a global educational organization that tests my preconceived notions daily. This article is well-worth a reading and has made me revisit the idea of ‘diversity training’. If you haven’t noticed, diversity training is a professional buzzword that has been around for quite a bit and is touted often in human resources but is not taught. I worry more about the person who says he/she has no preconceived notion than those who can admit their own shortcomings. A good way of airing these things out, in a respectful manner, is to have a mediator start a discussion in a safe space (no judgment, can’t take what was discussed out of the room) and create an innocent scenario, like the afore-mentioned film teacher Captain Awkward. These types of exercises are great to challenge the status-quo and force each individual to look inwards. I was challenged on this level in college. I grew up in rural/suburbia Maryland where my parents, exposed me to the richness of my Black heritage, and my mother taught me and my siblings about Jewish, Russian, Mexican, Japanese and African cultures to name a few. What I was not exposed to (so I thought at the time) in my small town, home , and Catholic college prep school was homosexuality and so I went merrily off to college with a homophobic perspective. I was stunned by my first run in with a flamboyantly gay man and was good for saying F*g this and F*g that until one day, a female freshman approached me and said, “I’m not gay, but I’m offended by your constant use of the word F*g and I wish you wouldn’t use it!” Well I was taken aback and at the time, had a mildly derisive private laugh at her opening line, “I’m not gay, but…”  Typically that’s a sign of one’s own insecurity to make a statement with a lead-in like that, but I am someone who can take criticism, sit on it and ponder and that’s what I did. After thinking about it, I was like, “What do I care? Why would I not get to know someone based off of their sexuality? What makes this person different from me and what makes me think I’m better than them?” After mulling over all these questions I realized I was the one missing out on gaining new friends and experiences. In retrospect I am so glad this then-girl now-woman/wife/mother challenged my narrow-minded ways, which I came by honest. In the end, we are a conglomeration of all of our experiences and choose how we will expand our horizons because of or in spite of them.

Dear Redman…

I miss you so much. I know I sound like a needy chick…’Redman oh Redman, wherefore art thou Redman?’ but I need your kind of verbal wordplay and tomfoolery right now. Let me tell you, as grimy as you are (remember your episode of MTV Cribs?), you are also just as attractive because you are a true wordsmith. I remember meeting you at Peanuts in LA; you were high as a kite and confused by my friend’s attempt to partake with you. I was so caught up in the visual stimulation that is Method Man, that I never took advantage of my opportunity to have a conversation with you. Look I’m tired, I’m hungry and I hate the radio-on the way home from work, I had to shut that mess off. This is total stream-of-consciousness so it might seem that I rambled for a just a minute but I’m trying to express how I feel right now. I need that good ‘ol mobbing to the city (NYC) kinda feel I used to have listening to you while getting ready for a night out in my dorm. We girls would congregate on ‘the lawn’ around 11 or midnight, dressed in some form of black in keeping with the unofficial NYC dress code, we’d then pile into Rachel’s car, and hit the Major Deegan, rolling to some then-hotspot like Tramps, Bentleys (I hated that place), or S.O.B.s.  I used to get so pumped and ready to party when listening to your music. When I first started college Dare Iz a Darkside was out, that joint was dark and gritty, but still witty.  Muddy Waters was released several years later and had the catchy single ‘Whateva Man’, leading to why I even started my Redman ramble in the first place. While stopping at the store after work today I spied a 40-something year old black gentleman, who from a distance looked well-dressed, crossing the street against a green light (that should have been why I stared at him, but sadly in Baltimore crossing on the green is everyday behavior). He was wearing a faded dark blue button-down collared shirt with the sleeves rolled neatly to the elbow and on the bottom, a pair of starched lime green khaki-style pants. Well, his color combo against his own deep-brown palette made for quite a look and not in a good way. The first thing that popped into my mind after seeing this image, was a line from your song ‘Whateva Man’, “Everything that’s lime green ain’t the bomb bitch!” I swear that just popped into my mind like a little leprechaun. What’s especially funny is that at the time this album was released lime green was the ‘in’ color, mostly favored by chicks although some of the fellas got in on the action. I hee-hawed in my car, less at the man’s outfit more for the memory that seeing his pants conjured. I should thank this man for taking my mind off the mundane details of my evening to-do list. As soon as I got home, I flipped through my cd book, pulled out the Muddy Waters cd and immediately started playing it. Thank you for your lyrics; I’m not just responding to the beat when I listen to your music, I’m connecting on all levels and your skits, should be stand-up acts. I’m definitely stuck in the mid-90s when it comes to you even though I like some of your later work particularly both Blackout cds, but the ones I mentioned here will be in rotation forever.

Take a look at the ‘Whateva Man’ music video on the site

East Coast Earthquake…sounds like a sci-fi film

So I’m embarrassed because I didn’t realize a 5.8 magnitude earthquake happened today because I was walking in Fells Point and didn’t feel anything, although I did hear unfamiliar sounds. My lunch partner was frantically asking, “Do you see the cars shaking?” My response, “No, I was looking up!” I really was looking up at a building across the street trying to pinpoint the sound of what I thought was a huge metal garage door closing, problem was there was no such door. As we continue sauntering up the block, a gentleman with a wide-eyed look was like, “Was that an earthquake? I watched as that building cracked over there!” His arm outstretched, we followed his pointer finger all the way across to the new Black Olive boutique hotel where a jagged crack was visible on the side of the building right next to the parking garage. At this point, people flooded the streets from every direction and we hustled back to find some of our co-workers. Harbor East workers and out-of-towners from surrounding hotels mingled outside discussing what happened; apparently the intensity of this quake was felt mostly by those inside the buildings. It was clear that this was a shocking event that scared the piss out of everybody. Now, some of my west coast friends might find this humorous, but we east coasters aren’t trained from an early age to navigate an earthquake. We are lucky that straight up anarchy didn’t take place and should be commended for keeping an overall level head. Something else different, the whole east coast was strongly affected by an earthquake whose epicenter was in Virginia. I do not know of San Francisco earthquakes that have that strong of an impact in Los Angeles. Today wasn’t my first time in an earthquake; I remember walking to school as a little kid in Utah and felt the ground tilt, but nothing more since I was outside. The next time I was living in Los Angeles and had partied like a rock-star earlier that evening so was mercifully passed out in my bed. When I felt the shaking I thought I had the spins until my roomie’s younger brother burst into my bedroom without knocking (a definite no-no, so should have alerted me to the severity of the situation) and shouted, “Do you feel that?! It’s an earthquake!” Me- “huuuuhhhhhh?” Him- screaming and gesturing “Your blinds are swinging back and forth!” Me-unresponsive. I know he was disgusted because he slammed the door. Sometimes I look back on that story and feel bad, after all he was probably 18 and I was in my mid-20s so should have offered up some solace, but at the same time, he was raised in Los Angeles, not me, he should have been equipped to handle it. I am still glad that I’ve been blessed to always be outdoors or heavily intoxicated when faced with earthquakes. This just in…aftershocks have already been tracked, so we should be good for the night, at least I hope so.

A Case of the Mundays

Today I was back to work, after a weekend filled with cable binging: first the current seasons of Weeds, then Entourage, and Curb Your Enthusiasm, followed by Basketball Wives (once the boyfriend left the house, he won’t tolerate this show), and the first 2 episodes of the final season of Sopranos, which I never got to see although I heard about the much ballyhooed finale. In short, I was happy; enter Monday. The day starts off with my being late because I was so beat when I went to bed last night (who knew watching tv was so draining), that I forgot to put my phone (aka alarm) next to me, soooo this morning when it went off at 6:15, I never heard it. Thanks to my inner clock and a brighter light than I’m used to seeing at 6:30 a.m. I woke up without the aid of the alarm clock. Now all of this would have been admirable had the clock not read 7:30am, which is about the time I’m putting on my shoes and hitting the door. Top this off with the fact that I can’t find my phone and I’m starting to freak out; this is an important detail, having an iPhone or any kind of ‘smart’ phone changes your life, the addiction is real people! Anyway I roll out of the house, head to work and am 20 minutes late…of course I didn’t want to start off my week being late, but that’s just the beginning.

I get to work and have a ‘busy enough to keep me occupied’ kinda day but have to battle several work land mines that have cropped up recently: the smell of human feces wafting down the hall from the individual bathrooms across from my cubicle rows and dodging the unsolicited advice or rhetoric of people whom you are being work-friendly with but who impose far too much on your individual time. Let’s deal with the bathroom drama first. Men and women who ‘drop it like it’s hot‘ in these bathrooms need to remember their fellow man. We all know what it feels like when the urge to go is so overwhelming that you can’t help but do your biz at work, shoot I’m not immune but here are some tips to follow:

·         Absolutely do not drop a deuce in one of the individual bathrooms and then leave the door open to ‘air it out’. Note: It airs out…right down the neighboring aisles. Not a good look son!

·         Take some damn matches in there with you…yeah we’re not supposed to light things on fire in the building, however, in this case, I think all and sundry would greatly appreciate a few struck matches to cut the air pollution.

·         LOOK behind yourself after you flush; if that joint hasn’t disappeared you betta flush again, because you can’t kill that funk if you’ve gotta floater.

·         Finally, and this is more for your own protection, don’t look both ways when you exit one of these bathrooms, that’s the surest sign that you just ‘peeled the wallpaper’-I borrowed that J.

Now, for avoiding unsolicited rhetoric from people with an amazing amount of gall… I’m still working on that one. I’ve been approached within the past 2 weeks for the following things: life coaching and religious conversion. A co-worker who does the same work as me-on the same ‘level’ as me, offered me a ‘free’ life-coaching session…let that sink in…ok, there are more personal details that made this extremely uncomfortable but why would you look to the person in the trenches with you, doing the exact same work and want to be coached by them? Let’s be honest, do I really want to seek advice from someone who’s taking certification classes to be a life coach, with no demonstrated life successes? I’m just sayin’. Next up is our proselytizing co-worker, a perfectly nice-seeming individual who after a few conversations and imagined intimacy thrusts some ‘literature’ into your hands. You glance over it quickly, noting that there seems to be a lot of ‘us against them, racial mentality’ and you realize this person has you all wrong, now what?

  • Instead of taking the paperwork (like I did), and studying the website (like I did), you should simply follow the gut instinct you had about the person in the first place and just be honest…
  • To clarify, just being honest, does not mean being totally insensitive and saying what the devil on your shoulder suggests: “I think this ‘religion’ is crazy and I’ll take my Catholicism any day over a made-up religious off-shoot shrouded in black nationalism with a website littered with misspellings most notably the non-word ‘shrimps’-which incidentally is one of the diet restrictions. Rather, I was coached by a friend to approach this uber-delicate scenario by being clear, “Thank you for sharing the information, but I’m not interested…” wait I’m not finished, “…nor do I wish to discuss politics or religion at work (inside voice: unless it’s with my friends or sane people who can have differences of opinion and not get their feelings all twisted).

Let’s see if I can follow some of my own advice tomorrow on day 2 of the work week.

Cable Sweet Cable, Oh How I Have Missed Thee…

It was yesterday morning around 10a.m. when the ‘cable guy’ showed up to help me get acquainted with the 21st century. While he quickly hooked up and synced the cable box to the tv, I happily anticipated catching up on Weeds, Entourage, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Thanks to free Showtime for 6 months and $6 monthly HBO charges for a year, I’m experiencing cable as I never have before! For years my apartment building had a cable-ready hook-up that allowed me the pleasures of my favorite channels (Bravo, FX, and TV One) with no impact on my wallet, but when, almost a year ago, digital cable was introduced in the Baltimore area, I was relegated back to plain old tv antennae status, meaning I had ABC, NBC, CBS, and MPT (Maryland Public Television). Hating the idea of paying for tv, I tried to embrace my newfound smug point-of-view: not being a slave to the established system of the private-industry monopoly ruling my ability to access television, but kept having a nagging dissatisfaction with channel options. I took up re-watching episodes of King of Queens and Seinfeld and due to sheer lack of choices started watching How I Met Your Mother (turns out this is a pretty good show!). Problem is, once the pre-primetime shows were off and the final season of Friday Night Lights ended, I was left with summer primetime which is abysmal at best; have you ever found yourself watching Wipeout or plagued with two hours of America’s Got Talent? If yes, chances are you don’t/didn’t have cable. To compensate for lack of riveting content on tv, my man decided that streaming Netflix would be a good alternative and it was, until I realized every movie I wanted to watch was DVD-only and I ran out of random documentaries to watch, most notably Joaquin Phoenix’s I’m Still Here (definitely shaking my head on that one). Lack of  channels, irritation with not being able to contribute to ‘water-cooler’ conversations about Basketball Wives, the imminent football season (this is for the boyfriend), and a desire to experience DVR all lead to my decision to bite the proverbial bullet and join the cable crowd; 24 hours in I don’t regret it. Today it’s Sunday, and I’m typing this while outside my window is a stormy-gray torrential downpour, perfect for curling up in the easy chair and exploring On Demand; in this moment  I am shamelessly happy…don’t judge me.