Black Woman Blogging

One black woman's views on race, gender, politics, family, life and the world.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Free Willie (Nelson)!

Willie Nelson was busted for possession of marijuana. That's like busting Santa Claus for possessing a beard and a jelly belly.

Mind you, I don't partake of the stuff or like to be around it because it makes me nauseous, but I really feel the resources of our law enforcement authorities are better spent chasing down violent felons and sex offenders, not stoners. That's why I voted for Prop. 19.

Besides, Willie Nelson is a national treasure. He gave us Farm Aid. For goodness' sake, didn't he get high on the roof of the White House with Hamilton Jordan during the Carter Administration? Marijuana is what Willie Nelson does. Given his age and his contributions to our nation, can't we just give Willie a ghetto pass on the weed thing? Busting Willie Nelson for possessing pot is, to borrow one of his song lyrics, "crazy." Heck, we out to give Willie a ghetto pass on pot simply because he wrote "Crazy." That's one of my favorite songs. It's a national treasure.

Also, Willie's done a lot for the Texas music scene. I would think the good people of the state of Texas would give a son of the soil some leeway on this.

Willie, come on over to California, where you can get a "recommendation" for some medical marijuana and smoke 'till you choke. Not that we'd want you to. You might have some trouble keeping Snoop Dogg off your tour bus, though.

Free Willie!

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Monday, November 29, 2010

No, That's Alright. I'm Good. (Save the Va-Jay-Jays)

My husband, Black Man Not Blogging (BMNB), cuts his own hair. As he stands in front of the mirror in nothing but a towel, clippers in hand, I often suggest in jest that he let me take the clippers in hand and tidy him up "down there." "You know, some man-scaping, " I say with a wink and a smile. He always smiles, shakes his head and says, "No, that's alright. I'm good." Of course he says this. What man would let anyone -- male, female or otherwise -- close to his manly parts with a pair of clippers?

This is where, I'm sorry to say, men have more sense than women.

I spent much of Sunday on the couch watching TV and recuperating from the cooking marathon that was Thanksgiving. I happened upon a documentary on the BBC America channel about women getting surgery on their personal lady parts to make them "perfect." I'm talking slicing labia, ladies, in pursuit of some idea of what the perfect punani looks like.

Ieeeuuuw!!!!! You don't see men going around getting cosmetic surgery on their stuff. Most men are born thinking their stuff is perfect and, if you don't think so, that's YOUR problem, not theirs.

We ladies need to think more like them.

Think of all the things we do to ourselves in pursuit of some idea of perfection -- we wax our eyebrows, upper lips, chins, legs, personal lady parts, and, for porn stars, butt cracks. We inject collagen in our lips and Restylane, Juvederm and Botox in our faces. We use lasers to remove underarm hair. We dye the hair on our head and sometimes the hair down under to "make sure the carpet matches the drapes." We get breast implants and breast reductions, butt implants and butt liposuction. For goodness' sakes, we wear Booty Pop panties!

Do men do any of this stuff? Noooooooo. Why? Because they think, "No, that's alright. I'm good."

The documentary featured a teen-aged girl who wanted to get surgery on her hoo-hoo because she had been teased about it by her sister and her friends. WTF?

First, I haven't seen any of my sisters' va-jay-jays since I was a kid in the bathtub. The only people who should be seeing your hoo-hoo is you, your gynecologist, and maybe your husband. Maybe. Heck, I can't even think of the last time I took a mirror and explored my Netherlands. Why bother? I can wash without looking -- I could wash my stuff in the dark. Why do I need to look? Why does anybody need to look? As long as everything is clean, healthy and in good working order, who cares?

Second, maybe it's because I'm older, but I'm not getting surgery on anything unless it's a last resort. Surgery is by definition an invasive procedure that opens the body up for infection. Va-jay-jays, by virtue of their location, are a prime spot for infection. Can you imagine how stupid you would feel going to get cosmetic surgery on your personal lady parts and coming out of the hospital with flesh-eating bacteria on your personal lady parts? How stupid would that be?

Third, I think God put all those nerve endings down there for a reason -- so it would hurt if you messed with his creation. Imagine how you would feel once the anesthesia wears off.

Fourth, I think this is just another conspiracy from the plastic surgery industry to get women to part their legs and part with their money. Who said there's an ideal look for pocketbooks? What next -- Va-jay-jay beauty contests, complete with scholarships and talent competitions? Just skip the foolishness. If you feel insecure about your personal lady parts, just go put a tiny tiara on them and keep stepping. Tiaras always make me feel better.

Ladies, let's save the va-jay-jays. If someone suggests that yours doesn't look right or needs surgery, just smile, shake your head, and say, "No, that's alright. I'm good." Because you are.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Give Perfection The Finger

I can't make gravy. And I don't care.

I'm not fond of sweet potato pie, either, and I don't make any at all. Way too much competition and way too many critics in black families for that, which is why I don't make gumbo, either.

Chitlins? As if.

But I do make some mean dinner rolls from scratch, if I do say so myself. In fact, there's not much in the way of baked goods with yeast that I can't do if I put my mind to it. If there's yeast involved, I'm your girl.

Wait. That didn't come out right. But you get my drift.

In other words, I'm not your quintessential Martha Stewart or Patti Labelle -- women who seemed to be blessed with a multitude of talents they perform with equal excellence. Some things I'm good at; others, not so much. And I no longer care. I've given perfection the finger, and so should you.

You see, I haven't lead the typical female life in America. I didn't settle down with some guy right after college and start having kids. There are many skills I would have been forced to acquire had my life taken that turn, like making gravy and soothing colicky babies. But it didn't. Instead, I traveled, worked hard, and dated for, oh, about twenty or so years. I have no regrets.

And I'm not alone. My best friend can kick butt at trial, get your company's diversity and inclusion program up and running from scratch, produce plays, and organize fundraisers that will take a non-profit's balance sheet from red to black. But cook? Not on your life. She's proud of it, and so am I. She is the daughter of a caterer. Why learn to cook when you've got professional grade food at the ready? She focused her energies on her talents and developed them well -- extremely well. Cooking just wasn't one of them. To this day, she refers to me as "one of them cookin' bitches" (because I actually attempt to cook) and says about holiday meals, "That's what caterers are for." I agree.

Look, life doesn't give everybody everything. There are things I can do that not a lot of people can do, like write an appellate brief that can make your dog of a case sound compelling, or run a winning political campaign. Conversely, there are things a lot of people can do that I can't, like make gravy. And at this stage in my life, especially as the holiday season approaches, I'm at peace with this. I've given perfection the finger, and so should you.

Mind you, your imperfections are manna from heaven for your haters. They will publicize and celebrate them. "Do you know the girl can't even make gravy?" I can already hear it. But I don't care. I'm giving perfection, and them, the finger. And so should you.

So if you burn the turkey this year, guess what? Flip that bird the bird. And keep steppin'. That's what caterers, or rather, Boston Market, is for. They make gravy, too.

If you're still beating yourself up and trying to pursue perfection, remember this: Beyonce can't cook. Clearly, she's given perfection the finger, too, and I adore her for it. She's put her life's energies into her true talents. That's something we should encourage all of our daughters to do, no matter where that leads them, because in the end, they'll be happy, even if they aren't perfect or can't make gravy.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Waitey Katey? More Like In-Law Willies. Ain't Love Grand?

Prince William and Kate Middleton recently announced their engagement. When asked what took them so long, Prince William responded that he wanted to give Kate the chance to witness the incredible pressure of living in a fishbowl and, if she couldn't handle it, to back out.

That may be what they told us, and that may even be what she told him, but I'm betting the truth is a little different.

What no one really talks about with marriage, especially with the newly-engaged, is this: When you marry the person, you marry the person's family.

I don't think it was the prospect of paparazzi that gave Kate cause to pause. I'd bet you dollars to doughnuts she was trying to decide if she could handle living among the royals, not as a royal.

Think about it: As sweet as Prince William may be, but for the jewels, castles, titles, and history, his family would be considered, well, ghetto. His dad, Prince Charles, brought a mistress into his marriage from day one. Not some hot babe, mind you, but a woman who paled in comparison to his wife and looked like a breed mare on her best days. He later voiced his desire to be reincarnated as this woman's tampon. Prince William's brother Harry liked to dress up as a Nazi and may very well be the world's most famous "Mama's Baby, Daddy's Maybe." His aunt, the Duchess of York, previously liked getting her toes sucked in public and most recently got caught on video pimping access to his uncle, her ex-husband. And technically, the whole lot of them are on welfare.

Were Kate some down-on-her-luck commoner with no education, no money, and no prospects, Prince William's family might not be such a potential deal breaker. But given that she comes from money and what appears to be a relatively stable family, she would really have to love this guy to marry into this royally dysfunctional family.

And that's what makes this love story so endearing -- that, knowing what she knows about her in-laws to-be, she's still willing to to marry the guy and join their gene pools. Love never ceases to amaze me.

However, just because you love someone doesn't mean everyone else does. I'm talking to you, Prince Charles. Had you a shred of decency, you'd abdicate instead of giving even a hint of a possibility that the Duchess of Cornwall could be queen and you the nominal head of the Church of England. I'm not a Brit, but even I find that offensive. If Wallis Simpson was unfit to be queen, you know good and well that Camilla shouldn't even be in the running. Should you be so socially tone deaf as to ascend the throne, may I suggest that your mother bestow upon your beloved the title, "Duchess of Ho-Tramp"? Maybe you'd be the "Archbishop of Tampax"?

Ain't love grand?

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Take A Small Piece

For most of this year, I've been working on a political campaign. The good news is that my candidate won; the bad news is that I've neglected a lot of people and projects along the way.

For example, my house is a hot mess. I can't remember the last time I cleaned baseboards. But for my husband, the film crew from "Hoarders" would be on my front door step. And that's just the tip of the iceberg of things that I neglected or ignored during the campaign, including my husband.

Anyone who has ever worked on a campaign can tell you that it is a job unto itself. Add to that my day job, and, but for the furloughs, I'd have been hospitalized for exhaustion.

When I think of all the things I neglected and all that lies ahead, like getting ready for the holidays, I just want to go back to bed and pull the covers over my head until, say, January 2011.

To make matters worse, I'm reading Condoleezza Rice's memoir of her family, "Extraordinary, Ordinary People," in which she admits that not only has she been a procrastinator, she remains so to this day.

Great. One of the most accomplished women in the world procrastinates, just like I do. I really wish she hadn't shared that. Not the encouragement I need right about now.

I do have to give myself credit, though. Instead of being totally overwhelmed into procrastination, my usual M.O., my mantra for trying to get my life back on track has been this: Take a small piece.

It's so easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the tasks before you, especially if you've neglected them for, say, six and a half months. Now I don't even allow myself to think about how much I have to do or how much time I have in which to do it. I just say to myself, "Take a small piece."

For example, I desperately needed to organize my office at work, especially my desk. My inability to find files for my cases and projects was starting to hamper my work performance. But when I looked at my office and the two foot high piles on my desk, I just wanted to crawl under my desk.

Instead, I said, "Just start with a corner of your desk. Take a small piece and work on that." I'm ashamed to admit to the undeserved degree of accomplishment I felt just by getting the files off of one corner of my desk and organized into my file cabinet. It was childlike, for sure, to the point that I even rewarded myself with Starbucks because I felt like I had "done something." But I did: I started. And if just saying to myself, "Take a small piece," was what I needed to do to get me started, it worked.

I'm glad to report that 90% of the piles on my desk are gone, replaced with photos of my husband, pets, and siblings. My file cabinet is organized, and I'm still taking a small piece, so to speak -- working on discrete sections of my office and the one remaining pile, a little at a time. I've got other things I have to work on, too, but now I can work on them because I can actually work at my desk. I'm even back to editing my book, a small piece at a time.

So if you're like me and you've been feeling overwhelmed by large tasks that grew bigger while you ignored them or while you procrastinated, stop beating yourself up about it. Take a small piece. Just get started. And reward yourself when you finish with that small piece. Trust me, it will get and keep you motivated.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Unwritten Rules of Life

I wrote these a long time ago while sitting in a boring meeting, and I recently ran across them. Mind you, I've definitely broken a few of these rules myself, like trying to raise grown boyfriends and not saving enough money, but these pearls of wisdom I've learned from my parents, family and friends might help you, too.


1. You are responsible for your children's education, not the government. If they drop out of school, they'll probably be living in your house, not the government's.

2. You are not where you live, what you drive, or what you wear.

3. Do not attend funerals of co-workers' relatives unless it is clear your presence is requested. Your co-workers are not your family.

4. Pets are not disposable. If you cannot commit to caring for a pet for its lifetime, consider gardening instead.

5. If you drive a luxury vehicle and live in the ghetto, the barrio, or a trailer park, your priorities are misplaced.

5a. Same if you have rims on your vehicle and live in the ghetto, the barrio, or a trailer park.

6. If you are wealthy and your parents live in poverty, you are most certainly going to hell.

7. Three things women cannot and should not share: 1) A kitchen; 2) underwear; and 3) a man.

8. There is no shame in these four words: I can't afford it.

9. Never be financially dependent on anyone, especially if you are a woman. A man is not a plan.

10. Appearances do matter IF the judgments people make based on your appearance prevent you from achieving your goals, like trying to work in corporate America.

11. The Joneses are frontin', plain and simple. Do not try to keep up with them.

12. Blame and anger, in excess, are wastes of energy. Redirect that energy towards achieving something positive.

13. A dog that will bring a bone will carry a bone. Beware the office gossip.

14. Never give your adversaries the tools of your own demise.

15. Your children don't really care about your work. At best, they feign interest to make you feel better.

16. If you are still seeking the approval and validation of others after the age of 40, seek therapy instead.

17. You cannot raise a grown person.

18. If you are underrated, chances are you are underpaid, too.

19. A line of credit does not equal savings.

20. Nobody owes you anything, especially your parents. If you want something, you better work for it.

21. Ain't nothing free but Jesus.

22. To the persistent go the spoils.

23. Your children will value what you value. Conversely, they will not value what you don't.

24. There are no atheist parents in a pediatric emergency room.

25. If you don't teach your children to distinguish their wants from their needs, they will grow up believing that all their wants are needs.

26. Things you should never buy new: a car; musical instruments; wooden furniture; books; music; DVDs. Things you should never buy used: underwear; mattresses.

27. "Please," "Thank You," "Yes, Ma'am," and "No, Ma'am" aren't just for southern children.

28. Before you have a child, ask yourself, "If I were coming into the world, would I choose myself as a parent?" If the answer is "no," don't have a child.

29. No tombstone has ever read, "Beloved lawyer." Who you were to others in life will be reflected on your tombstone.

30. We all dine at the table of the consequences of our decisions. Choose wisely.

31. If your significant other is a liar, a thief, or a philanderer, just walk away. See Rule # 17.

32. The only people who want to hear about your sex life are perverts. Don't engage them.

33. Money is not the root of all evil -- it is a means to financial peace of mind. Save as if you have no one to help you if things go bad. Chances are, you won't.

34. If you really like something at Target and you can afford it, buy it. Merchandise turns over quickly there.

35. If you have ever hit your parents in anything other than self defense, you are pond scum.

36. Your children neither want nor need your negativity. If you are constantly criticizing your children, maybe you aren't happy with yourself.

37. Do not drag infant children by one arm on the bus or subway. They are not rag dolls. Pick them up.

38. Anger is no excuse for hitting a child. If you're the adult, act like it.

39. A well-rounded education includes knowledge of the arts, foreign languages, and different cultures.

40. If you don't travel, you are less likely to see the humanity in people unlike yourself.

41. The world isn't fair, and when it comes to Scrabble and Monopoly, you probably aren't either.

42. Disabled people aren't office pets. Don't treat them as such.

43. Before your criticize, analyze.

44. If you want your child to marry a good spouse, you should be married to a good spouse and be a good spouse yourself. Children model what they see.

45. Do not teach children that it is acceptable to disrespect teachers. If they disrespect teachers, they'll have problems with authority figures for the rest of their lives. See Rule # 1.

46. You are responsible for your children's nutritional habits.

47. Marriage does not excuse you from self-sufficiency.

48. Your spouse or significant other is not your:

a. Parent
b. Child
c. Bank
d. Credit card company
e. Maid
f. Social secretary
g. Tech support
h. Laundry service
i. Therapist
j. Sex worker
k. Repair person
l. Personal stylist
m. Mechanic
n. Proofreader
o. Teacher
p. Cook
q. GPS for lost household items

49. You may not get what you deserve in this life, but you'll damn sure get what you settle for.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

It's The Economy, Mr. President . . . And Some Better Communication, Too

Dear Mr. President,

You described the turn of events in Tuesday's mid-term elections as a "shellackin'." The Republicans have claimed victory and a rejection of your policies, Speaker-Elect Boehner has declared himself the new sheriff in town, and Speaker Pelosi is pondering her future.

Were this about any of you personally, your collective opinions might matter. But they don't because it's not about any of you, your parties, or the normal shift of power that happens during the midterms.

It's the economy, Mr. President, plain and simple. Oh, and some better communication, too. At the risk of being brash, let me, as the young kids say, break it down for you, Mr. President.

With all due respect, Mr. President, when people were losing their jobs and their homes, you failed to make the case clear as to why bailing out the Wall Street whackjobs was going to make Michael and Mary Middle-Class or Wendell and Wanda Working-Poor any better off. Bailing out AIG, BofA, and Goldman didn't translate into apparent gains for the middle class and the working poor. Sure, you probably staved off having the entire world economy go off the cliff, but you never clearly answered the gut-level, self-interested, Adam Smith-esque question on every financially terrorized taxpayer's mind -- "What's in it for me?" You simply failed to connect the dots or show your work in this transitive equation. Plus, you didn't dot your I's and cross your T's to make sure that the bailed-out banks that were "too big to fail" were also required to start lending again and to start modifying the very mortgages that got them in this hot mess in the first place. And when Goldman was getting zero interest loans from the Fed and turning around to buy t-bills, basically pimping the government that helped them, I know I felt like a piece of taxpayer tail. I'm sure other hard-working, tax-paying Americans did, too.

Second, you failed to make people who were losing their jobs and their homes understand why health care was such a high priority that it had to be dealt with first before the economy got back on track. Sure, you passed the stimulus, but you got so bogged down in the health care debate that you failed to again connect the dots as to when, where and how the stimulus would work. With unemployment higher now then when you took office, you no longer get to blame your predecessor --even if it is his fault -- because things got worse on your watch. I'm to blame, too, as I got caught up in health care reform fever and the idea of what could be accomplished, and I did so from the comfort of a secure job, albeit one with wage cuts. But health care reform isn't and wasn't a priority to folks who don't have jobs and don't have homes, especially when no emergency room is ever going to turn them away if they're in dire straits.

Third, you failed to communicate consistently and substantively about your accomplishments. Frankly, Mr. President, I think you assume a level of understanding that's over the head of most of the people you lead. Sure, you need the facts and figures to back up your assertions, but you need to speak simply, plainly, and consistently about the results you've achieved. When you face setbacks, as you have with unemployment, you need to do more than commiserate -- you need to state simply, plainly and consistently what you're going to do differently when confronted with bad results.

Fourth, you didn't take the Tea Party seriously until it was too late. I live in Tea Party Central, and I have friends and neighbors in the Tea Party. They know I'm a liberal Democrat, and on local issues, we are actually in agreement -- local governments have to be fiscally conservative because they don't print their own money. You needed to not only respect the Tea Party but address their concerns early and head on, as well as confront their policy inconsistencies -- like opposing health care reform as Socialist but not wanting to lose Medicare or Social Security -- in a consistent and respectful manner. And you needed to ask this very important question: What would you do differently, and how would that accomplish the goal of lowering spending and reducing the deficit? I get along with Tea Partyiers for two reasons: One, I'm respectful and admit they do have some valid points, because they do; and Two, I have the luxury you don't have -- I don't have to engage them on issues of national policy. I'm able to agree with them on local issues. Maybe you need to find some issues -- ANY ISSUES -- with which you can agree with them and make peace. If they fail to meet you halfway in finding solutions to the nation's problems, then that reflects on them, not you. Perhaps you should have just the newly-elected Tea Party candidates to the White House for -- what else -- tea?

Fifth, you failed to keep the momentum of your campaign going. You got all these new young voters and unlikely voters to the polls, and then you hunkered down with the usual wonks and pols and didn't use them, didn't call them until the midterms came around. Pardon my language, Mr. President, but you made the movement you created in 2008 into an electoral booty call. The problem with a booty call is that you can't call two years later asking for another one. By that time, the other person has moved on. So did your youth vote and your unlikely voters.

Finally, you forgot that you are a black man in America. There are people out there who want to see you fail just because of that and the fact that they believe you're not entitled to what you have because of your Ivy League pedigree that they don't have. As you know, politics is all about relationships, and maybe you need to be more accessible and overcome the latent prejudices I know some of our political leaders may have by simply getting to know folks better. Quite frankly, when I voted for you for president of the Harvard Law Review, I thought you were kinda aloof then, but since the Law Review tries to appear to be a meritocracy, it didn't matter -- you were able to win on the sheer strength on your intellect. And, quite frankly, I hated Law Review and was pretty aloof myself. Well, Mr. President, the nation isn't a meritocracy -- in fact, we embody the "tall poppy" syndrome of our neighbors south of the equator and enjoy taking down in size the folks who are smarter than we are, especially if we believe their good fortune is undeserved. People can oppose you as a smart-ass Ivy League elite when in fact they despise you because of your race, and they can find common ground with those who despise you because you appear to be a smart-ass Ivy League elite. That's why Republicans are doing the happy dance on a whole host of fronts. That's why Bill Clinton never played the "Rhodes Scholar" card in public -- he understood that he had to get along to go along and not to appear as smart as he was. In other words, instead of appearing to be a tall poppy, he chose to embrace being a Bubba poppy in public. With all due respect, stop being a tall poppy and start being the likable poppy.

But net-net, as my best friend says, you gotta get people back to work. Co-opt the Republicans' plans to do this if you must, but if people aren't back to work soon, all of you in Washington will be turned out in 2012. It's the economy, Mr. President, plain and simple. It's not personal when people don't have any money. They'd vote for a goat if it had a workable economic plan.

Mr. President, I would really like to see you have a second term because, more than any other president in my lifetime, I think you understand that the decisions you make have to be good for the country for generations to come and not just for the next election cycle. I believe the Democratic Party and Speaker Pelosi believe the same. But if you don't get people back to work, you won't have the privilege of making the long-term decisions for our country's best interests. I think that if you take these points under advisement and plan accordingly, you can have a second term. You're not the first president to get shellacked during the midterms. This is your challenge, and I believe you can rise above it.


Black Woman Blogging

P.S. Could you also get a consistent policy on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"? If you don't support it, let it die, no matter how it gets killed.

P.P.S. Please tell Speaker Pelosi to man up . . . uh, I mean, woman up. As my mom used to say, "We all get knocked down in life. And you can lie there for a little while. But then you have to get back up." If she allows this defeat to keep her down, she's going to take a generation of future women leaders with her.

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