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What Have You Done This Year To Make You Feel Proud?

Before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to write your New Year’s Resolutions . . .

Before you berate yourself for how much weight you didn’t lose, how much money you didn’t save, how many unnutritional meals your kids consumed this year, how much debt you amassed. . . .

Before you do any of this, ask yourself one thing:

What have you done this year to make you feel proud?

Yes, to borrow from the theme song from “The Biggest Loser,” (which, by the way, was a big hit in the U.K. before it became the theme song from “The Biggest Loser"), think about it. Surely you did something right this year. Surely you did one thing to make yourself proud, giving you pride to carry on into the next year.

Well, let’s get this party started right! Here’s my list:

1. I walked away from a toxic job with dysfunctional people.

2. I devised a real estate transaction that resulted in two of my family members moving out of the ghetto. And before you accuse me of being bourgie, which I cop to, let me…

To Die For

I was saddened to hear of the murder of Benazir Bhutto. Saddened to know that there are still people out there who believe that might is right and that they can win by violence, as if the world is going to stand still and just put up with their crap. Saddened to think that this 54 year-old woman will never see her children grow up and will never know her own grandchildren. Saddened for the prospects for democracy in a country that so desperately needs it to work – not for the international security of the world, but for their own self-determination.

Ms. Bhutto’s death got me thinking: What would I be willing to die for?

In truth, not much.

Oh, I’d be willing to die for the usual – my husband, my family, and, if threatened, my faith. I’d like to think that I wouldn’t deny my Christian faith if faced with anti-Christian assassin asking me if I believed in Jesus, as occurred at Columbine.

Would I die for my country? Probably not. Not because it isn’t worth it. Because the idea of “dying for …

Merry Christmas From Me and SWIE

My late mother, hereinafter referred to in this blog as “She Who Is Exalted” or “SWIE," was able, year after year after ever-loving year, to get a turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, rice, greens, another vegetable I probably wouldn’t eat, rolls, scalloped potatoes, stuffing, and salad all on the Christmas dinner table at the same time, with all the hot foods still piping hot. That effort didn’t even take into account the two sweet potato pies and the two apple pies she baked the night before. All this while holding down a 40 hour a week job and raising six kids and juggling Lord knows how many credit card balances to fulfill the wishes of said six children whose births spanned ten years and didn’t have a clue as to how poor they really were. She was more determined than Scarlett O’Hara that, as God was her witness, her kids would never, ever have a piss-poor Christmas.

Now you know why I refer to her as SWIE. She had mad domestic and creative finance skills that I don’t’ have. I…

Obamaudacity

Obamaudacity: The possibly irrationally exuberant belief that Barack Obama's candidacy will energize young voters, sweeping him into the White House and causing Generations X and Y to take ownership of their country.


Yes, I've been on the fence for a long time regarding what has now become the Obama/Clinton /Edwards race, partly because none of them was my first choice. Long before his movie won an Academcy Award and he shared a Nobel Prize, I had hoped that Al Gore would take all his newfound populist energy and fame and make a final run at the White House. It was not to be, but I held out hope.

But now we're getting down to the wire, and I feel like I have to choose. And, given my choices, I've come down with a mild case of Obamaudacity, for a variety of reasons.

First, I'm not a Hillary hater, but I can kinda understand those who are. I would love to see a woman in the White House as someone other than the First Lady, but I'm not certain whether Hillary is that…

Bad Girl, Bad Girl . . . Whatcha Gonna Do?

I always loved the movie "Thelma and Louise." I thought the only thing wrong with it was the ending. Instead of clasping hands while driving the car off the cliff, I thought Thelma and Louise should have been giving the police the "rigid digit," i.e., the finger.

Well, yesterday I did the equivalent of driving the car off the cliff AND giving the finger. At least in my world. Without saying more, I walked away from a situation that wasn't working for me, hadn't been working for me. A situation that I initially tried to make work against my better judgment. I walked away, leaving others to pick up the mess. I had had enough and couldn't bear to remain one minute longer. It reminded me of when my friend Sheila was breaking up with her bankrupt-but-fronting-using-her-money boyfriend. Like a debtor to a collection agency, he asked her, "Can't you give me just thirty days?" She replied, "I can't give you another thirty seconds."

Yes…

Seasons of Noes, With Apologies to Jonathon Larson

Fifty thousand six hundred forty words
How do you measure, measure a month . . .

Measure in Noes . . . . .

Adapted from "Seasons of Love" from the Broadway musical "Rent" (With apologies to Jonathon Larson)

Well, I did it. With 50,640 words, I crossed the National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo.org) finish line. I completed the competition, like thousands of others, winning nothing more than a PDF'd certificate and bragging rights.

But I won so much more.

This is my first "Nanowrimo," and, in my estimation, you cannot finish Nanowrimo unless you fully embrace the second syllable of the quasi-acronym -- that is, the word "no." In order to make time to work on my novel, which has been kicking around my head and in various short stories for more than nine years, I had to say a lot of "noes" to a lot of people and things:

No, I won't be cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year, but I'll bring a bottle of wine to yours if you invite…

Scuse Me While I Nanowrimo (With Apologies to Jimi Hendrix)

Dialogue haze all in my brain
Lately things don't seem the same
Packed my laptop, gotta go
Scuse me while I Nanowrimo . . .

(Adapted from the lyrics to Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix)

There are a ton of things I could blog about today:

*Why I think Sen. Dianne Feinstein has gone nucking futs by voting to confirm Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Mississippi Judge Leslie Southwick to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

*Sen. John McCain's failure to respond adequately to a South Carolinian's entreaty, "How do we beat the b(*&^?" (in reference to Sen. Hillary Clinton)

* What's your mojo dance?

* Why I'm not feeling Hillary Clinton. Two words: Lani Guinier

* Why my political contributions are the kiss of death (Harold Ford, anyone?)

But I can't. I'm too busy doing Nanowrimo.

Nanowrimo, or National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo.org), is a writing competition in which the only thing you win is the satisfaction of completion. The objective is simp…

What's Your Mojo Song?

Everybody has what I would call a "mojo song." You know -- that song that, when it comes on the radio, you greet it with a heartfelt "Hey!" like you're reuniting with an old friend. You start bobbin' your head and doing a little booty shaking (not to be confused with booty poppin', which is best left to professionals -- strippers and Beyonce). Your mojo song is what gets your mojo (or your inner spirit, your chi, or whatever you'd like to call it) going. It's the song you sing at the top of your lungs, no matter how bad you sound. I have a lot of mojo songs, and today is as good a day as any to reflect on them. Today is International No Music Day (nomusicday.com), during which we are supposed to abandon music and contemplate our relation to it. Well, I can definitely contemplate my relationship to music, but asking me to abandon it for even a day is like asking me to hold my breath for a day. Can't do it, wouldn't want to.

For me, I have …

Avoiding the Holiday Woman Olympics

It's coming on Christmas

They're cutting down trees

They're putting up reindeer

And singing songs of joy and peace

Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on

"River," Joni Mitchell


Too bad they don't have a song like this for Thanksgiving or the entire holiday season.

Thanksgiving. The beginning of the Woman Olympics.

Don't act like you don't know. In the run-up to Thanksgiving and through New Year's Day, women all across America will be going into hyperdrive to put perfect meals on perfectly set tables for their imperfect, dysfunctional families, as if they will have a place on an Olympic medal stand somewhere if they succeed, whatever success means.

Somehow, somewhere, the ability to put six or more dishes and a perfectly browned turkey (and, in some places, a ham, too) on the table at the same time and temperature on Thanksgiving became a measure of one's womanliness. All hail the holiday cooks, for they shall inherit . . . a bunch of critic…

Divide Over Values Splitting Black Identity -- Ethnicity, Anyone?

From the Washington Post:


Conventional wisdom about black America is being turned on its head. Nearly two out of five black people (37 percent) surveyed in a new Pew poll, done in association with NPR, said that blacks "can no longer be thought of as a single race."

Only half of all black people in the country (53 percent) say it is possible to think of blacks as one race. And young black Americans -- ages 18 to 29 -- are more likely than older blacks to say that blacks are no longer a single race.

The growing perception of two races is really a divide over values.

More than half of all Americans -- people of all colors -- believe that the values of poor and middle class blacks are becoming more different. When the question is limited to black people, the answer is even more definitive: 61 percent say values are now more different between middle-class and poor blacks. The perception of a class divide in black America has increased nearly 20 points since a similar question was as…

The Enemy of My Enemy Is My Friend, or Why OJ Won't Have Black Support

"The enemy of my enemy is my friend." Ah, that wonderful saying that describes the geopolitical terrain of the Middle East as well as, IMHO, support from the black community for O.J. Simpson. Looks like O.J. is back at it again, going to trial again, without benefit of a Johnnie Cochran, or a Willie Gary, John Burris (at least Barry Bonds had the good sense to hire Burris), or Johnny Griffin for that matter. And this time, I doubt that black folks will utter a peep about "squeezing The Juice" because, unlike last time, there is no common enemy (read: LAPD).

Mind you, I grew up with a terrible crush on O.J. Simpson. I adored his swagger, his undeniable excellence, you name it. I even adored his first wife Marguerite because I thought, in my warped teenage logic, that if a black woman like Marguerite Simpson could get a man like O.J., she had to be worthy of emulation.

Then I grew up. And, after law school, the "Trial of the Century" happened.

If anyone of the…

Pessimism, Depression, and Motherlessness

Today's themes are Black Pessimism, Black Women's Depression, and Motherlessness. Grab your Paxil, light a cigarette, and kick back a triple-shot, extra hot, venti caramel macchiato. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

From USA Today (Nov. 14)

Poll: Blacks Grow More Pessimistic

Black Americans are more dissatisfied with their progress than at any time in the past 20 years, and less than half say life will get better for them in the future.

A poll released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center found that one in five blacks say things are better for them now than five years ago. In 1984, almost two in five blacks said things were better than they were five years earlier.

Less than half of blacks surveyed say they think life will get better, compared with 57% in 1986.

"There's a great deal of anxiety, cynicism, and pessimism today," says Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League. He says growing rates of crime, unemployment and mortgage foreclosures are shrinking we…

One Black Woman's Voice

Welcome to my blog!

What a cheesy opening. Oh well. I'm new at this blogging thing, so here are the ground rules (Yes, I have control issues):

1. I do not speak for all black people. Here's a newsflash: No one does. So, the next time some talking head reporter interviews Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jessie Jackson, or someone else for the "black point of view," listen with a critical mind. We're not monolithic. But if I were going to nominate someone to speak for all black people, it would be a black woman, not a man. Probably Johnetta Cole or Julianne Malveaux, although I would give Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson honorary Black Female status.

2. The views expressed on this blog do not reflect the views of my family, friends, employer(s) or dog. My husband doesn't even read blogs and uses the Internet only for retrieving e-mail and paying bills online. He shall be referred to as Black Man Not Blogging (BMNB).

3. If you can't engage in civil, reasoned discourse,…