Dishes to Madonna?

I didn’t set out to write a post about Madonna but I just finished washing dishes (see that sparkly sink above) and decided to plop down in my easy chair and check out Spotify while looking at my dashboard. Apparently last time I perused Spotify I was trying to check for some newer Madonna albums; to be perfectly frank the last one I was into was Confessions On A Dancefloor. Before that, the last one I loved was Music and before that…who even knows, I had to buy her second ‘best of’ collection, GHV2, just to cover lost ground from Bedtime Stories to American Life.Now I’m trying to use Spotify to check out some of her newer albums: Hard Candy and Celebration, in fact right now I’m listening to herSticky & Sweet Touralbum but I had to take a break to watch an oldie but goodie music video…drum roll…Borderline. 

Remember how gritty Madonna was during those early days in the 80s. I remember being between 6 and 8, hungrily drinking up that video, wishing I was her in all her make-up’ed, punk rock’ed, lace-gloved, boy crazy glory! I couldn’t get enough and that little bonnet with the big bow in the front…whaaaat? I was sick with jealousy, I wanted to slap one on my nappy hair and hope that maybe our hair would look the same, or correction, my hair would look like hers. My Mom would be pained by this little admission, I can hear her now, ‘Ugghhh, Cija!’ 

As I type this I wonder at the fact that I was watching a Madonna music video at this tender young age but I distinctly remember living in Utah (that’s a whole other story that I remember quite well despite my youth) which means I was no older than 8 since I turned 9 shortly after my family’s move back to Maryland. I digress though, so back to Madonna in the 80s, there was nothing she could do wrong. I was mesmerized by her. I could tell she was the kind of chick that didn’t give a damn and it showed; she seemed totally fearless. Me and my sister used to lip synch to Madonna songs, copy her dance moves and generally ache to be her. When you’re young you really have no concept of ‘doing you’, you just know this person has that ‘je ne sais quoi’ you can’t put your finger on and you wish you did too. Clearly I’m a fan and yes I have drifted off into other musical genres (grunge/alternative in highschool, ‘back-pack’ rap in college) for awhile but I always float back to Madonna. I do love her earlier albums and still cherish them but as a fan I feel kinda like I’m cheating since I missed a couple of big chunks of her work, but trust and believe I’m still diggin this chick and the fact she’s still going hard post 50. I’m going to give her newest albumMDNAa whirl thanks to Spotify!

I’m actually slowing down and getting tired, probably because I did all that manual labor and have yet to eat dinner, so I’m gonna go eat and if you’re inclined enjoy this oldie but goodie music video here goes, re-introducing Borderline:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSaC-YbSDpo

Hustle, Hustle, Hustle Hard! *

Courtesy of Google Images

*Say title like the Ace Hood song

Awwww shucky ducky! I just clicked ‘accept’ in my application portal to verify I will begin grad school this coming fall, so now something theoretical has become quite real: I’m going to begin an MFA in Creative Writing & Publishing. Imagine my pointer finger poised, Grinch-like over the mouse button, hovering ever so slightly before the resounding click sealing my fate as a pending grad student. For the first time in months I’m feeling foot loose and fancy free, the caul of a not quite fulfilling stagnant professional life lifted to reveal shiny new opportunities.

I have all kinds of mixed feelings: extreme excitement as well as anxiety. I’m so excited because I worked my arse off to put together a solid writing portfolio for this program. What some of you may not know is that this time last year I didn’t even have this blog and I hadn’t written anything just for the hell of it beyond journal entries. My trip to LA last year for my friend’s birthday was the catalyst for all that is happening right now. In addition to getting a pep-talk and a lead for a newly created (now industry fave) website where I could submit my work (thanks B!), I also started a piece while there, that morphed from ‘why the heck did I move from Los Angeles back to Maryland’ narrative and blossomed into a memoir about my late father. As I write this it’s sinking in that my little weekend cross-country trip to Cali inspired me to set off on this path that has now yielded my admission to University of Baltimore. I’ve been celebrating all weekend long, but I’ve also started to have niggling feelings of doubt and anxiety.  My anxiety stems from the ‘oh shit’ it’s been 15 years and about $30,000 in undergrad debt since I’ve been in a degree program and here come the questions… How am I going to balance school and work? I mean it’s really important to me that I do a fantastic job in school, no squandering opportunities! How am I going to pay for this, if I’m pretty much to my financial limit right now? How many years am I going to be doing this- after all I can’t attend full-time? Ultimately I know I’ll do well and I’ll graduate just fine and eventually pay off those pesky student loans, but in the meantime there’s a lot of work to be done which is why I’m feeling like this summer needs to be reminiscent of the summer immediately following my high school graduation (note how I did not say post-college graduation, too many life questions at that time). Post-high school and pre-college I had no worries about what I was doing for the next four years, plus for the first time in my life I was choosing the next chapter of my life, kinda like now.  I plan to party like it’s 1999, although now that I think on it, I don’t think I partied like it was 1999 when it really was 1999 but that’s a whole other topic. I plan to get it in, get it done, see everybody, hit LA again, hit NYC a couple of times, run up in mad cook-outs, see some fireworks, enjoy some happy hours, watch my nieces play, love on the b.f. and really mentally relax, all in preparation for dusting off the ol’ brain and getting ready to reinvigorate my mind and delve into some creative non-fiction…now for figuring out just the right amount of financial aid to accept…

Trayvon Martin: unwittingly cast in a role he never sought to play

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you have already heard about the indignity that Trayvon Martin’s family has had to endure with his untimely and unpunished death. For the most part we are all adults who have a reasonable knowledge of the law, so anyone can understand everyone’s collective outrage right? Wrong. Zimmerman’s implied protection from the powers-that-be aka lack of interrogation is confusing to many of us. There are so many unanswered questions: Why didn’t Zimmerman follow the 911 operator’s directive to not follow Trayvon; why didn’t the police not take Zimmerman in for questioning; why doesn’t it seem clear to officers of the law that Trayvon -at a lower weight and with a pack of Skittles and an Arizona iced tea in hand- couldn’t be, as Zimmerman (who was armed with a gun) alleged, an imminent threat; why has this case moved so many people of diverse nationalities to come together to fight for this young man’s human rights even if in retrospect?

Today I was talking to a friend about how outrageous this all is and I told her that I don’t want us to focus solely on race; I want us to really focus on this young man not as an image or a symbol but as a person. Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe race and sex played a part in this interaction between Zimmerman and Trayvon. Anyone of any race that is typically profiled knows exactly what I’m talking about: he was young, black and male. From the perspective of being a black woman, I’ve definitely had some incidents with folks that were based on my race alone but I really can’t claim that I’ve been profiled as every black man (old and young) that I personally know and interact with has. I can promise you, if you talk to any black man you know I am certain that they would describe a clutching purse, locking door, crossing street, catching cab incident. These moments are so deeply rooted in our history that it becomes subliminally acceptable, correction, we become desensitized to these indignities because they are so regular as to be rendered meaningless…but they’re not.  These small moments of profiling happen every day and the rest of us can’t claim that we don’t do the same thing whether consciously or subconsciously. Where I draw the line though, is with taking matters into your own hands and deciding that just the sight of an individual makes you so uncomfortable that you decide to become Dirty Harry and take the law into your own hands.

It hurts my heart to know that Trayvon’s parents have to live with the senseless loss of their son’s life. I can’t even imagine not only losing your child but having folks in positions of authority passively support this outrage and not even pretend to try to help you bring the killer to justice. There is nothing anyone can say to me, to justify Zimmerman’s choice to pull the trigger even after being advised not to follow the young man. It is an absolute outrage and we all should be mad. This case impacts everybody’s human rights; I’m definitely standing with Trayvon’s family and I pray that they are able to find some kind of closure…as I wrote that line I meant what I said but it sounds so corny and inadequate, but truly if there’s any peace to be found, any at all, I hope they find it. RIP Trayvon Martin.

If you would like to take action you may go to the ColorofChange.org and sign a letter asking Attorney General Eric Holder to have the Department of Justice take over the case: http://colorofchange.org/

If that’s not your cup of tea simply reblog this and continue to get the word out to everybody no matter what race, creed, or country. Thanks!

Living for the Citay 3: Charm City Redux

Pic: View from back patio; the plastic bag, the only blight on the scene.

While I’ve been enjoying the beautiful weather and forgetting that it’s March not May, I forget that others haven’t been enjoying life as much as I. For the last two days I have blissfully sought the sun, taking advantage of its rays during my lunch hour, feeling it massage my scalp through the sun-roof of my car, and warming my face as I sat in my backyard facing the sky. Now today it’s a little chilly-considering our past two days of 77 degrees-and my mood started to dampen. It could be the fact that I also have my car back at the body shop so have had to spend my day off running errands I hadn’t planned for…but that is boring will not jump on that tangent. So while I wait at home for the call to come pick up my vehicle, I began to read this month’s Urbanite magazine. For those who don’t know Urbanite is a gem of a free magazine that features local stories about folks in the Baltlimore community, city and neighborhood histories and initiatives, and showcases readers’ creative non-fiction writing in a section entitled “What You’re Writing”. This magazine is well-written, a treat that I look forward to each month.

As I perused this month’s edition of Urbanite I came across several stories of interest: two were under the “What You’re Writing” section (June 7. and It’s Hard…), another is a profile of a local florist entitled “Flowering of Station North” and finally “Recipe for Change” which is Urbanite’s 2012 Healthy Food Project. Each of these stories impressed me for different reasons; while the stories about the florist and the healthy food project made me want to take more than a cursory interest in the city I have chosen to live in, the afore-mentioned stories featured in the creative non-fiction section were like an arrow to my heart. ‘June 7’ is heart-breaking because the anonymous author narrates his first day of homelessness; it hit home if only because I know I live check-to-check with a miniscule savings and a retirement account that is still young. ‘It’s Hard…’ hit me because the author, Melody McSweeney, begins her first sentence, “It’s hard to believe Dad’s been gone almost twenty years.” My father also died (unexpectedly) going on almost 4 years this coming August, so I was immediately tied into our shared story. Then she went one step further narrating her family’s history and her subsequent losses which reminded me of my father’s family, by the time he passed away on August 30th 2008, his entire ‘growing up’ family: Mom, Dad, and younger brother had all passed before him. Sometimes when I’m experiencing my own pain and sharing it with my Mom and siblings I forget that others have had the same experience or worst. *Link to “What You’re Writing” included at bottom of post; scroll down the page to read ‘June 7’ and ‘It’s Hard…’, both are short and poignant.

I’m glad I decided to pick up Urbanite today; I feel inspired and since I’m someone who, for instance, could never renovate a home because I have a hard time seeing the ‘big picture’ when I’m mucking through the grime, today this magazine has provided that ‘big picture’, now it’s just up to me and other city residents to identify and offer our services. I’m not sure yet how I plan to help yet as my thoughts are developing as I write this. I sometimes look at this burned out shell of a city and really wish I could beam myself back to the 60s and 70s when now non-desirable avenues (think Pennsylvania and North Ave) were cultural centerpieces with nightclubs featuring jazz and blues artists. North Ave was even featured as a bustling corridor in one of my favorite John Waters’ films Hairspray (the OG version). I don’t know if I’ll stay in Baltimore since I yearn to go back to Cali and settle back in LA but Baltimore-formerly nick-named ‘Charm City’-is like an extension of my northern Maryland hometown and its residents deserve to have these abandoned and boarded-up areas utilized for the greater good of neighborhood residents. Baltimore has come a long way but it still has some growing to do and while I’m here I plan to contribute to its positive growth.  

* http://www.urbanitebaltimore.com/baltimore/what-youre-writing/Content?oid=1469680

Isn’t this awesome?! I discovered this fun item in my mail yesterday thanks to my brother Mezei:-) This gift spawned from a conversation we were having about my missing actually holding a handset up to my ear (work doesn’t count) while laying across my bed and gossiping on the phone for hours. I’m not positive this  will inspire me to be on the phone more often, especially since my job involves so much phone time, but I’ve already put it to use and it feels way better than holding my cell to my ear or having an ear-bud stuffed against my ear drum. I love this thing and by the way, mine is red…one of my favorite colors!