Monthly Archives: April 2011

He Needs My Loving in the Morning

It started with a sudden moan that progressively got loader and loader that culminated with him screaming my name. As I pulled him closer to me, he wrapped his legs tighter around my waist, burying his face into my breasts. He would be denied neither attention nor affection. As we rocked and swayed together in twilight, he sighed his contentment, our eyes locking in the soft glow of the moon.

Disturbed by the unnatural bouncing on the mattress at 2:30 am, his father groggily uttered a suggestion.

“Maybe he’s hungry and thirsty.”

I glanced back into Stone’s eyes and wearily hoisted his 40 lbs weight onto my hip and carried him downstairs. His incessant screams of “Mommeee! Mommmeeeee!!!!” had assured that I would be denied sleep for the remainder of the night anyway, so I may as well have attended to his needs. My only comfort was that he had miraculously failed to waken his sisters with his shrill screeches.

After tripping over toys and shoes in the darkness, I finally made my way to the kitchen where I sat him on the counter. He kicked his feet in glee. He munched contentedly on Wheat Thins and cold milk, still refusing to sleep. Every attempt to place him back in his crib was met with a whimper of protest and a tightening of his hands around my neck. An hour later and I had made no progress.

And all this before I was scheduled to work a 15 hour day between my two jobs.

  As I looked into the adorable brown eyes of my son, the title of a book I wanted desperately to read to him kept flashing across the bill board of my mind. In truth, it was the title itself I wanted to mutter at him in the darkness, but the little decency that resides within me prevented it.  

If my son really loved me, this is exactly what he would have done last night. Have a great weekend everyone. I have a long day ahead of me m’self.

Bet you thought I was talking about something or SOMEONE else, huh? ;)

*Yawwwwn!!*

Sacrifices for the One You Love

You may have heard that there’s going to be a wedding this Friday over in    England, but in case you’ve had your head buried beneath a rock for the last 8 months or so, Kate Middleton will be wedding Prince William in some obscure abbey in in London in 2 days. Westminster I think it’s called.

As I was driving in to work yesterday, one of the presenters on a radio program announced that she’d just learned that she had been approved to go cover the wedding in the UK. This is turn sparked a more probing conversation about the nuptial of commoner and the prince, and what that ‘commoner’ (Kate) would be giving up to marry Will. The topic? Sacrifice; and more specifically the sacrifices Kate is and will be making. Furthermore, is there ever a point in time when she tried to make herself fall out of love with the prince, knowing what kind of life lay ahead of her if they did get married? (If she did, she clearly failed miserably – that or he’s so totally irresistible and the thought of living without never really firmly lodged itself in her psyche. I’m going with the latter.)

 A whopping 87% of British women surveyed said that they did not envy Kate’s position as a royal bride because of the freedoms that will be stripped away from her and the looming pressures of a life in the public. The press will rip apart her every outfit, down to the soles of her shoes. Every word she utters will be analyzed, interpreted and reinterpreted. What she eats will be inspected. There are certain haunts she’ll never be able to return to. Her life will be protocol, protocol, and yet even more protocol.

Everybody gives up something…many things…when they get married. At the top of the list are the usual: Endless nights out with your buddies; spending money on whatever the heck you want; the novelty of disappearing for weeks on end only to reappear to inform everyone that you’ve been hanging with the Sherpas in Nepal; pick your poison. But what do you do when you’re devastatingly in love with someone knowing that they are from a different country/culture and may one day want to return? Or if they suddenly make a life style choice that you just can’t live with?

As Ghanaians, the risk we often face when we emigrate- even for the briefest periods of time-  to America, the UK, etc is falling in love with (or impregnating or being impregnated by) a foreigner and suddenly finding ourselves stuck in an unforgiving labyrinth that can only be solved by logic and the discarding of emotion. Do you logically say: “I cannot marry this person because I know that they would be unwilling to move back to Africa with me” or “I cannot marry this person because I truly cannot bear the thought of being a pastor/politician/soldier’s wife” OR do you allow emotion to prevail and naively lean on the faith that love will conquer all?

   

Some of us do.

 My husband married me knowing that I never had it as a plan to live forever in America, because I never minced words about it. His sacrifice is that he will have to move away from his family and his country, assumedly because he loves me just that much. And then that becomes the question: Do you love your spouse, or your potential spouse, enough to sacrifice significant portions of your life, your dreams and your personal ambition because their lifestyle or life choices eclipse your own by virtue of the sheer magnitude of them? Is ‘love’ truly enough?

Many of us would say yes, but we’re lying. We live in an age that teaches us that we must be fiercely independent, self-reliant and ambitious. Nothing in our culture extols self-sacrifice and painful compromise, which is what marriage is built on. After the white doves have been released and the euphoria and adrenaline of the wedding festivities have died down, you’re faced with your new spouse and a new reality that you didn’t bank on. Suddenly, 5 months down the road you find yourselves divorced, wondering where all the ‘love’ went.

That being said, I wish good luck to William and Kate…and you too if you find yourself in a similar ‘bind’.

So which team would you ideally find yourself on, Reader? A Fool for Love or a Champion for Logic and Self preservation? Do tell.

Bill Clinton was a Black President Because —-???

I had the most intolerable and tedious conversation with one of my coworkers yesterday. It started off well and amicably enough, as most irrational discourses do, but as a matter of course ended in disaster 10 minutes later.

‘Mark’, the newest addition to my department’s team is a 30-something year old Black man from Mississippi – which in turn may lead you to make certain assumptions about him, all of which would be correct. He’s both affable and defensive, and so navigating his moods has proven to be a bit of a challenge. Yesterday, he broke from listening to the sole source of his news: V103 (That’s not fair. He listens to Hot 107.9 to get his news and opinion as well), and swiveled around in his chair.

“Malaka, these dudes is crazy with this Obama birth certificate!” he ‘whispered’ harshly.

I don’t whisper in the office.

“I know right! The whole thing is stupid,” I agreed. “Whether the birthers like it or not, he’s already the sitting president of the United States. American presidents have power that we don’t even know about. They do deals that we’ll never hear about. If he wanted to have someone type up a new birth certificate at the State Department real quick just to squash the debate, he can do that.”

Mark nodded his head.

“Yup, yup.”

I don’t know exactly what was said next, but suddenly Mark invoked the name of Bill Clinton.

“I LOVED that man, you hear what I say?” he grinned.

“You lov’ded him, huh?” I joked back.

“Yeah,” Mark smiled. “I just liked him, you know? With the saxophone and coming on Arsenio. He was just cool. To me, he was the first Black president.”

I bristled, and was no longer smiling.

“And what made him the first Black president?” I asked flatly.

“I just feel like he was the only person, the only president in our history, who ever really looked out for Black people,” he said matter-of-factly.

“And what did he do for Black people?” I asked even more insipidly.

“You know, just through his policies…His policies helped Black folk a lot.”

“And what policies were those?”

“It was just the stuff he did!” He was clearly becoming irritated because I was not following the scripted Black discourse where we all chuckle and reminisce over the days when Bill was running things.

But I did try to help him.

“So was he ‘Black’ because he played a saxophone…?”

Mark did not appreciate my apparent sarcasm. His emotions heightening, and he frowned and titled his head dismissively.

“You can go on ahead and say that he was Black because of the saxophone and try to put words in my mouth –“

“I didn’t put any words in your mouth,” I retorted. “You mentioned the saxophone.”

He clearly wasn’t going to win this one, so he did what people who are failing to prove their position with facts and a persuasive argument do – he deflected.

“Well, you’re not from here, so I guess you wouldn’t understand.”

What a twerp.  I’m not from Germany, but I know Hitler was the original OG Terrorist.

“I’m half American…so I’m “half” from here,” I retorted.

“Yeah. But I’m FROM here from here. You’re only half from here.”

“Hmmm.  Alright.”

With that, we both turned around and went back to doing our ‘work’.

The assertion that Bill Clinton was the first ‘Black President’ has steadily become one of my most exasperating pet peeves. In fact, the whole assertion that Blacks thrive under Democrats and flounder under Republicans is absolutely asinine. Mark didn’t want to say it, but the qualities that made/make Bill Clinton ‘Black’ aren’t admirable ones. He was caught receiving head in the White House; he habitually cheated on his wife; he likes fried chicken and fast food (and has had to have open heart surgery as a result); and he lied to congress about his affairs. Not ONCE has anyone said ‘Bill Clinton was a Black president because he is charming (which he is), persuasive (which he is), and because he’s a shrewd politician’. NOT ONCE. Why? Because those aren’t adjectives typically ascribed to Black men, and because Black people don’t have a patent/monopoly on any of those characteristics.

And as far as any policies that Bill Clinton enacted, those weren’t designed to help Black people exclusively. No matter what Black people, or any people think, the only color that matters in this country is green. When Bill Clinton signed NAFTA, he did so knowing that many jobs would be gained, and many would equally be lost as more and more corporations shipped their operations overseas. If you happened to be a Black man working at Navistar in Springfield, OH and lost your job in the 90’s, you have Billie to thank for that. Equally, if you suddenly find that many of your commodities are cheaper to buy, you have him to thank for that as well. He was merely continuing an economic policy trend that was conceived during FDR’s era.

 Do you know what happens when you try to serve one community exclusively? We have ourselves a Great Depression. George Bush (who apparently hates Black people, and showed it by appointing more African Americans to his cabinet than any other previous President) pushed policy that would put an end to process of red-lining urban and poor communities – communities that were overwhelmingly populated by Blacks and Latinos. 

And what did my people do with this reversal in fiscal policy? Answer: Go shopping for McMansions on a McDonald’s salary. Literally, people were shopping for $300,000 homes with a gross income of $25,000. Enter the predatory lenders and loan sharks, sprinkle in a few hundred thousand layoffs, and we find ourselves where we are today: mired knee deep in a fiscal pool of crap.

But here’s the kicker: George Bush is just the Republican face of Democratic failure. The Dems had control of the House AND the Senate the last 4 years of his presidency, as well as the first 2 years of Obama’s presidency. (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15620405/ns/politics/) When the Democrats are hollering about Bush’s ‘failed policies’, those were their policies. So who’s really to blame for where we are today?

The president’s charter is to serve the nation. If you are Black and recall that you were thriving under Clinton, believe me it had nothing to do with the color of your skin. It had everything to do with your education, your median income, and your ability to manipulate the markets to the best of your capacity…just like your Hispanic neighbor, as well as the Caucasian one. Unless we’ve been living in communist China for the last 50 years and I didn’t know it, it’s fair to say the government didn’t do any of those things for you. Your family helped you get those things. Your efforts got you what you have…or don’t have.  

BILL CLINTON DIDN’T DO THAT FOR YOU, BLACK PEOPLE. GET THAT THROUGH YOUR HEAD.

While we’re here, can I beg my people to choose our anointed objects of adulation a little bit more carefully? #RKelly.

‘Nuff said.

Good Friday Tidings

It’s Good Friday y’all! The day Jesus was murdered on the Cross by a sect of pompous haters. The goal was to get rid of him, but the result was mankind’s salvation. Now there’s a version of the Salvation story you’ve never heard before.

I truly do enjoy being a Christian. For one, it’s extremely economical and for another it’s really simple. In polytheistic religions/societies, there is a constant fear of offending the 16 or more gods that rule over your sphere of existence. So if, for example, you eat shell fish on Tuesday, it might not rain during the wet season because the goddess of the ocean, Tigali, is furious that you dared to defy her by eating shellfish on Tuesday – a forbidden day! She then angrily approaches the god council and tells her cousin, the Rain Goddess, to teach all mortals a lesson by withholding rain. That’ll show you.

In Christianity, there’s only one God to offend, and that’s just better time management. Furthermore, we’re luckier than other religions, because our God pretty much does all the work for us. According to His word, our righteousness is as filthy rags and there are no good works through which we can earn our way into Heaven. Jesus is the only perfect sacrifice and all you have to do is say “Yeah Father, I’ll have me some of that Jesus…some of that good ol’ salvation” and you’re home free!

My years spent as a Muslim were some of the most tedious of my life. All that washing up and bending and bowing 5 times a day…and the hatred! Ugh. Hating people of other religions was so exhausting. As a Christian, you go ahead, preach your gospel and if the people don’t receive it you dust your sandals off you keep on trekking. In the brand of Islam I was instructed in, if you reject Islam, then the Islamists have every right to proclaim a holy jihad on your a**. You can debate and dispute me on this if you like, but have a chat with the few hundred Sudanese animists who have had their tendons sliced by their Arab captors for refusing a conversion to Islam – this week.

I digress.

The point of today’s blog is give props to a player who rarely gets any recognition in the Good Friday Story: Mary. Jesus couldn’t have died for the sins of the world if he had never been born, and He was born because Mary allowed it. Mary was an extraordinary woman, because had I been in her shoes, history would have looked mighty different.

Come with me -2050 years ago to the ancient Middle East.

******

Malaka was kneeling in the modest kitchen of her rented clay home, frantically kneading bread before the Sabbath. Suddenly, she heard a voice she didn’t recognize.

“Behold!” the voice said cheerfully.

Malaka jumped in surprise and flung a cleaver in the direction of the voice. It lodged into the wall.

“What the…?!?”

“Who are you?!” she demanded.

The man cleared his throat and regained his composure.

“I am Michael, the Archangel of the Lord. I have come with glad tidings for you. Behold, Malaka! You are far blessed among all women. The Lord has chosen you to bear His Son! This very night, you shall receive the Seed/Spirit of the Lord and will bring hope and joy to all mankind!”

“Wait a second,” she said in protest. “You want I to do what now?”

The angel was getting frustrated. Things weren’t going as he’d practiced in his head. She was supposed to be really glad to hear this news, and they would move on from there.

“God wants you to have a baby so He can offer salvation to mankind, a’ight?”

“Nah partner. That ain’t about to happen. Have you looked around you? This is Bethlehem. They murder unmarried women for having babies around here. I was only able to escape the first time because I fled from another town. I told them I was a widow.”

The angel looked puzzled.

“The first time?” he asked.

“Yeah. I’ve got a daughter.”

“You mean you’re not a virgin?”

“Nope.”

“Why would the Lord want to use a womb that has been tainted and abused by another…”

The angel let his voice trail off. Malaka was glaring at him. He continued.

“Nevertheless, He uses imperfect vessels for His divine and perfect work and He has chosen you.”

The angel smiled eagerly. Malaka was skeptical.

“Look here…Michael?…you seem really nice, but I got a good thing going here with Joseph. He’s one of the few men, maybe the ONLY man, in all of Israel who is willing to take on a single mom and MARRY her. Can you imagine what it’ll look like if I turn up pregnant…and just a few months before we’re supposed to jump the broom?” She shook her head. “For real dude? That’s not cool at all. The Lord wouldn’t ask me to put myself out there like that!”

Michael looked defeated and confused. Humans were supposed to want to live for God! He slumped over in the kitchen, breathing shallowly and rubbing his temples. Malaka felt a little bit of compassion for the being. He seemed genuinely upset.

“By the by, what does the future for the son that I might bare hold?” she asked. “I’m not making any promises.”

The angel brightened up.

“He is destined to save Mankind! He will be called Emmanuel, and will lead millions of people into the Lord’s bosom!”

“And how will he do that?”

“By dying on the Cross!” the angel explains, whispering with passion.

“No.”

“What?”

“No,” Malaka repeated. “MY son is going to the IIC, will become a skilled carpenter, marry a pretty girl with hazel eyes, and give me a gaggle of beautiful grandchildren.”

“The IIC?”

“Israeli Institute of Carpentry.”

The angel was trembling agitation, as if he had the mind to just put God’s Seed in her, regardless of how she felt. But that’s not how the Lord operated. Malaka had to be willing, just as her son would have to be willing to die on the Cross. He glared at her.

“Would everyone be given the opportunity to receive salvation?” she asked, pausing to put her bread dough in the earthenware oven.

“Yes!” the angel said excitedly. “All mankind could enter the gates of Heaven, upon accepting your son…or God’s Son rather, as their Lord and savior.”

“Even Douche Bag?”

“Who?”

“Douche Bag. The dude who knocked me up and left me alone with this baby. The reason I’ve spent the last 3 years in turmoil, running from city to city. Douche Bag…does he get a shot at heaven?”

“Well…yeah. I guess. If he accepts salvation…”

“The definitely no.”

“What???”

“If Douche Bag gets to go to heaven after all he’s done to me, and then the baby I give birth to gives him a shot a paradise, I’m going to choose ‘Things that ain’t going down today’ for $200 Alex.”

The angel was stunned. He knew women were stubborn, but he had never met one that was so…belligerent.

“So that’s it, huh?” he asked with much irritation. “You’re just gonna let the whole world go to hell?”

“Does that world include Douche Bag?”

“Yes! Of course!”

“Then yes.”

Malaka went back to kneading more bread and turned her back on Michael. He had had enough anyway. He floated off to give a full report to the heavenly hosts and to ask if they have a Plan B in mind.

Fortunately for us all, Mary was obedient and I was neither born in that day, nor asked to sacrifice my body for you cruel ingrates. Now go celebrate the Lord.

Happy Good Friday.

Have you read the news today?

The whole world has gone NUTS.

Africa in the News

Why is it that every time there is a story done on Africa, the quotes come from persons who “speak on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to reporters”?  Can they never (ever) find anyone who has a prepared speech, or who is truly knowledgeable about the situation (usually a violent conflict) in Africa that is authorized to speak about the situation? I dunno, perhaps like a press secretary?

Mommy is a synonym for Alcoholic  

I came across this in the news today: Vintners are suing each other to trademark the use of the word “mommy” on their wine labels. Apparently, overworked moms are the new hottest demographic for large corporations to target and peddle their wares to – and by ‘peddling’ I mean ‘exploiting mom fatigue and frustration so that they can sell a couple hundred more bottles of wine’.

The owners of “Mommy’s Time Out” are suing the makers of “Mommyjuice”. Apparently, Mommy’s Time Out thinks they have a monopoly on the name. I wish they would sue my kids.

The front label of Mommyjuice features a drawing of a woman juggling a house, teddy bear and computer. The back label advises moms to “tuck your kids into bed, sit down and have a glass of Mommyjuice. Because you deserve it.” The wine is available in a white Chardonnay and a red mixed blend.

The front label of “Mommy’s Time Out,” an Italian wine sold in red and white, shows an empty chair facing a corner. A wine bottle and glass sit on a table next to the chair.

I wonder which of these companies is going to take responsibility when there is an increase in violent crime and abuse towards children, stemming from weeks of mommy’s wine fueled binges? No takers? I didn’t think so.

Disbelief at Their Disbelief

The Pope is apparently lamenting the decline of ‘belief’ in the West.

“Have not we — the people of God — become to a large extent a people of unbelief and distance from God?” he said during a ceremony in St. Peters Basilica.

“Is it perhaps the case that the West, the heartlands of Christianity, are tired of their faith?”

Naw Benny, I don’t think people are tired of their faith or are even bored with it…but I’m pretty sure they’re fed up with the Church shuffling pedophiles from parish to parish and refusing to prosecute and punish the monsters who hide behind the frock. I have yet to hear the Church make a repeated impactful statement regarding the continued and scandalous abuse of children – however, I did see a commercial on TV that was done so well that I considered abandoning my evangelical leaning and join the Catholic Church.

Is that #Failure or #Winning? I can’t be sure…

The Price of Chocolate is Increasing

Here’s the problem: I talk too much. I ascended my soap box and opined concerning the spiraling price of gas, apparently attributed to the unrest in the Middle East and to the war in Libya.

“Uh huh. You see that? The Arabs act up for 2 weeks, and my gas goes from $2.50/gallon to $4.20! Ivory Coast has a decade old dictator in place, has been engaged in unrest for months, and my Kit Kat is still 70 cents! It’s racism, racism I tell you! When the commodity in question is sourced by the Black man, no one gives a crap, because our spilled blood shouldn’t mean a change for the rest of the world’s life style!”

(For those of you who don’t know, Ivory Coast is the world’s largest cocoa producer; Libya only produces 2% of the world’s oil.)

Indignant, I went on this rant for weeks…and now the price of my Kit Kat is increasing. A whole TEN bloody cents! In the world of sweets and candies, that’s not a gradual increase; that’s price gouging!

So, as I prepare to cut back my Kit Kat consumption from one a day to one a week, I pray for peace in the world. Let’s find some qualified African PR professionals, and keep mom off the bottle, save our kids from the booty bandits and enjoy a reasonably priced piece of candy. Let’s get the world back in order.

Meet My South African Kangaroo: Pete

I supposed she thought she was being terribly witty, the 23 year old brown-eyed brunette who just graduated from UGA 5 minutes ago with a degree in childhood education, but she wasn’t. If you work long enough, you’ll realize that at any place of commerce, there is one person who fills to role of office dumbass. You know: that one person who consistently utters the purest imbecilic and infantile expressions, while believing themselves to be of superior intellect, while also possessing the firm belief that they are a person worthy of admiration and respect —> DUMB ASS.

Nicole is my employer’s dumbass.

I have April 29th circled on my calendar at work, to serve as a reminder that in a few days, the shackles of self-imposed serfdom will be loosed from ankles when I voluntarily leave the work force. About a week ago, Nicole noticed the marked date.

“Why do you have the 29th circled?” she asked in her whining, suburban drawl.

“That’s my last day working here,” I replied.

“Oh really?” She looked shocked. “Why are you leaving?”

“I’m moving. My family is moving to South Africa.”

A quizzical look took over her face.

“Why would you want to move back?” she asked with obvious disdain.

It was my turn to take on the look of confusion.

“Back? I’m not from South Africa. ‘m from WEST Africa.”

I could see the cogs in her head shuffling around. North, South, West…Oh. She smiled slyly, smuggery consuming her countenance.

“So what…are you gonna have a pet giraffe in your back yard?”

“Huh?”

“Or like, maybe a pet zebra?” she chuckled, emboldened by ignorant and archaic images of Africa floating around in the vacuous space that ideally would house a brain. “Maybe you’ll have a pet kangaroo too!”

That stupid nigga.

“That’s Australia, Nicole. Kangaroos are native to Australia.”

 

“Oh yeah…So when are you leaving? In March?”

I looked at the calendar. It said April 12th. What the hell was she talking about??

“What?” I asked incredulously.

“Are you leaving in MARCH,” she asked a little more slowly, like I was the dumbass.

I responded by looking at the calendar and then looking at her. After what seemed like an eternity, she recognized her folly.

“Oh gosh! It’s April! Heehee! Gosh, I wonder what else I’m gonna say!”

I couldn’t (and didn’t want to) even fathom what that might be.

Nicole is of German descent; as in her mom and dad moved to America from Germany just a few years before she was born. As a German, she ought to have the wherewithal to construe that asking me as an African if I planned to raise zebras (or kangaroo) in my back yard is as offensive as ME asking her if she planned to attend an SS rally after work and maybe go see about some Jews she may have chained up in her back yard. But again, she’s a dumbass, so there’s no way she could even come to that conclusion.

Y’all think I’m lying, don’t here? To prove my point, here is but a small sample of the casserole of dumbassery that I am served on a daily basis. Please partake of some of Nicole’s finest quotes:

After looking out of the window and seeing a goose perched on the roof of the building opposite ours:

Gasp! How did that goose get up there! Wait…is it pronounced ‘goose’ or ‘geese’?

“It’s goose for singular and geese for plural,” someone answers.

Yeah…but how did it get up on the building? They fly?? I never knew geese flew!

Regarding if she should wear a mini skirt or dress to a wedding reception:

Should I wear a mini skirt and a top? I guess I could wear a short dress. They’re the same thing.

“No…” someone replies, “they are different.”

Oh okay, whatever…so one has more fabric than the other, but a mini skirt and a short dress are the same thing.

Regarding the issue of slavery on the movie ‘Song of the South’:

Okay, yeah fine, they were slaves…but maybe the point of this movie was actually about those slaves that actually WERE treated well by their owners!!

 

Woooow…

What’s the dumbest thing anyone has ever said on your job? Or is Nicole, as I have come to suspect, truly the Dumbass Master of the Universe? Oooh, and lets not forget! – she’s supposed to be teaching kindergarteners as SOON as she can find a job in teaching. Parents, interview your child’s teachers very (very!) carefully. These are the geniuses who are educating America’s youth.

How Ghana Cured My Depression

I used to be an insufferable pessimist. How Marshall ever endured as long as he did is truly beyond me. Heck, how I survived that long is beyond me as well.

My life hitherto to my healing (because I’m a firm believer that depression is a disease) was motivated by fear. I had to do well on exams to avoid punishment if I failed, rather than having my motivation come from the personal satisfaction of success. I had to get through college (and do well) so that I would not be poor, rather than having the mindset that my higher education could be applied in areas I’d never thought of. When I (unexpectedly) had kids, I mourned the loss of my past life and stayed in that place of mourning for many years. What I should have done instead is embrace my new life, and consider the possibilities.

Possible: That was the keyword that was missing from my vocabulary. I was always looking at life through the lens of what was probable, instead of what was possible.

And then I went home – ‘home’ to Ghana – last August.

Fed up with the American rat race, where my life was a repetitious round work (and then unemployment), limited/no help with the kids, an hour or two of TV at night and finally sleep that more resembled a coma than peaceful slumber, I took 3 of my 4 children to Ghana where I was promised more than enough help with the children and rest for my weary soul and body. What I got instead was even less help with my children, strenuous physical demands, no means to feed my children economically, and the constant nagging fear of not having any money.

With a few exceptions, people in Ghana didn’t show up when they said they would. If they did show up, they were late (as was to be expected). I lived in an area with no running water and had 3 kids – and a 3 month old infant – to bathe every day. My father was tyrannical about how his house was run. “Don’t put that there”, “Don’t put this here”, “Why would you raise such a disrespectful child?”, “You and Marshall don’t know what you’re doing,” blah, blah, BLAH. No one was allowed to help me do our laundry, which had to be done by hand, for fear that they’d case his house and return to rob him. I had no car, and the kids were constantly in my ear about having nowhere to go. I had no buffer, and no help, why? Because as my dad said in confidence to my sister “If Malaka knew she couldn’t take care of all these kids, she never should have had them.”

Ouch. Suddenly, my former “sucky” American life didn’t seem half so bad.

So, broke and way over budget, back to America I fled. Here I had a car – MY car. Here I had committed friends. There is order in America. Heck, there is frikkin’ food in America. Is there food in Ghana? Of course there is…it’s the access that was lacking.

The first day I woke up in my bed, in AMERICA, I felt refreshed and renewed. The next day was the same, and the day after that. Was my house as small as I remembered it and had my bank account actually contracted? Absolutely, but there also existed the possibility to improve my circumstances, which I daresay is a lot easier to do in America that it was (for me) in Ghana. For some Ghanaians it’s different. Life in the Western world seems inconceivable and equally often times leads to depression.

But me? I was cured, and it only cost me $6000+

Now that I’ve begun looking at life through the lens of what is possible, anything seems achievable. And when you feel like you can achieve anything, you feel invincible. Invincibility is the red-headed cousin of immortality, the perfect culmination of which is godliness and there is no room for depression in a godly life.

Ok, so my reasoning is a little reaching, but I make a darn good point, don’t I? ;)

Gangsters Through the Ages

Have you ever sat back and considered what we used to consider “hard” – like really taken the time to consider the images that strike fear and unease in us as the human race? I’ve watched the evolution of thuggery with some amusement, as some periods in the thug life cycle have proven themselves to be a massive FAIL.

For instance, in the 18th century, a pirate was the scariest dude on the high seas.  Look at him. Doesn’t he frighten you with his gayness? Like he’d rape you and then rob you for your money.

 

Then there’s THIS guy. A gangster from the 70s. I mean, who takes time to get dressed up in a 3-piece suit before heading out for an afternoon of extorting money and shooting civilians?

 

In the 80s EVERYTHING went wrong. This is Laurence Fishburne in the Charles Bronson flick Death Wish II. Pink sunglasses? Really? But in the 80s, a guy in a cut-off, navel baring sweatshirt and a bandana spelt Trouble.

 

Have a gander at Ice-T in his tight tee and tight jeans. Those are the roots of gangsta rap. *Shudder* 

  Michael Jackson didn’t improve things either on the cover of Bad. But boy, weren’t we all shocked when he transformed himself from a clean cut, trouser wearing crooner to a leather clad badass screecher.  Whooo! Even my husband has vivid recollection of being somewhat scared of Michael Jackson and questioning why he had become a “bad guy”.

Come on! LOOK at him!

In the 90’s NWA and those Cali boys set everything to rights. This is what thuggery is supposed to look like: Smokey, sweaty, unkempt and trigger happy. This is the image that endures even till today. This is the image that scares the crap outta me.

 

I wonder what thuggery will look like in the year 3000?

Perhaps….

 

Nah.

The Birds, The Bees and Herpes

Nadjah will be turning 7 in 6 months, which means I have to start gearing up for a chat about sex, and now that it’s 2011, sexuality. 40 years ago, this conversation could have been postponed until she was at least 14 or 15, but with more and more elementary school children engaging in sexual activity, waiting that long to even have the conversation could have devastating effects for all of us.

The good thing about my eldest is that she has no secret thoughts -you’ll know exactly what’s on her mind. The troubling part is discovering what is actually on her mind. My trepidation concerning this next phase in her development stems from a very verbose comment Nadjah made the other day. She announced that she was going to “long kiss” her boyfriend when she got older. “Long kissing” a member of the opposite sex (or potentially a member of the same sex) is not something I think my, or any other, 6 year old should be concerned with. Her world should be focused on dolls, cartoons and cookies, not swapping spit with some pimple-faced high school jock/nerd.

Equally un-amused, and even more appalled, her father shut that aspiration down and stomped on it with his size 13 feet.

“You will not be long kissing anyone until you’re married,” he announced.

“That’s right!” I echoed.

“But you long kiss Mommy,” she objected.

“That’s because we’re married,” we said in unison.

“But girls long kiss boys on TV,” she reasoned further. (This is why we have removed ALL cable channels – including Disney and Nickelodeon – and rely solely on PBS for edutainment.)

I was going to say something about ‘jumping off of cliffs and would you do it too if you saw it on TV’, until Marshall broke out with “Kissing boys will give you mono.”

Wow. Okay. Well, since he brought up disease, I guess I’d have to roll with it. The next question was only natural:

“What’s mono?”

Off to Google we went, to explore the world of viral diseases. Mono didn’t look so bad, actually. I thought that I should show her a picture of chlamydia or gonorrhea, but there was more time for that. Satisfied that she did not want mono, she said that she would wait until she was married before she long kissed anyone.

This is only a temporary resolution, and I know it. It’s only a matter of time before some slick talking, dishonest little snot tries to approach my little girl with his version of “game”. As I said, 40 years ago, this would have been harmless, but we live in an age with the sexual landscape can actually kill you. In the 50s and 60s, the worst thing that could happen to a girl is that she got pregnant out of wedlock. These days, unprotected sex can lead to HIV/AIDS, the clap, pubic lice, cloudy piss, and a VD that can actually eat away your genitals. People are nasty.

Nadjah doesn’t have far to look for an example of the dangers of unprotected sex. Why, when she’s older, she can consult her Douche Bag sperm donor for a real life scenario.

While he was stationed in Germany/Japan/Italy/God knows where, Douche Bag entered a sexual relationship with another officer’s girl-friend, which as I understand it is not uncommon. They carried on their clandestine relationship for a number of weeks, until one day Douche Bag experienced pain in his nether regions. He went to the medic and discovered that he had the clap. Sparing no detail, he told me how they treated it. I, being kinder, will spare YOU those details, dear Reader.

Douche Bag was incensed. He called his booty call on the phone immediately.

“You gave me the clap!” he thundered.

“What?” the woman was bewildered. “I’m so sorry!”

“Well, we ain’t gonna see each other no more, but you need to tell your boyfriend you got a disease.”

As it turns out, her boyfriend was sleeping with a local whore, who in turn gave him VD, who in turn gave Douche’s booty call VD, who in turn gave HIM VD. It was just one big merry-go-round of venereal disease.

As society becomes more and more amoral, and people are less forthwith with what they do it secret, only Heaven and Hell know what awaits our children by the time they enter the dating arena. How sad is it going to be in 15 years when the word “love” becomes a synonym for “herpes”? As in “I love you…and I love her too. I could possibly be about to give you herpes.”

Happy Monday every one, and don’t forget to do your taxes!

Shelby J: My New Power Crush

Shelby J, Shelby J, SHELL BEE JAY! Her name evokes so many emotions in me. My feelings for her are so mixed: I’m torn between extreme adoration and immense jealousy. You see, Shelby J is one of Prince’s backup singers…No, she’s more than that. She’s a prolific member of the New Power Generation, and she is a power house!

My connection Shelby came at the Prince concert in Raleigh that I attended with The Fabulous Akuba Sheen(!) last month. She was waving a white flag adorned with an angel and musical notes, and I was waving my white handkerchief, equally saturated with sweat. We were in perfect harmony.

 My feelings of adulation stem from her remarkable vocal ability and confidence. She puts it all out there. She is completely bald, unabashed about any of her perceived flaws – like her enormous lips and high forehead – and that makes her flawless. It is those enormous lips that allow her to hit the notes that she belts out, and that expansive forehead that perfectly balances her trademark black top hat. She embraces her body. The girl is thick.  The few times that I’ve seen her she has either been wearing tight thigh-baring shorts/tights and 80’s inspired thigh high boots. And Lawd, can she work a stage!

And then there’s the other side of me that is radioactive green with envy. As she and Prince vamped it up on stage, she knelt to her knees while he her rubbed her gleaming head as they sang a duet. It was she that Prince sent into the ululating crowd to bring more than a few lucky concert goers to the stage. At the BET awards, she was the mysterious woman chatting and smiling widely by his side as he sat shyly in the midst of his tribute. Is she Prince’s best friend? She must be. There’s only one way to find out. I’ll have to ask her, won’t I?

Lights fading out******Lights fading in

It was hot, sticky June afternoon, and my canary yellow waitress uniform was stained with pancake batter, bacon grease and ketchup. I had sought out several positions in quiet diners all across rural America. There was a rumor going around that Prince and NPG often stopped in these places to nourish themselves with cheap diner food and thrill the commoners with their futuristic tunes; like minstrels from a foreign age. Four years of searching and I’d still had no luck.

On this day, a massive roughneck with camouflaged jeans sat down and ordered pancakes.

“Pancakes?” I probed. In this part of the world, they were called ‘flapjacks’. He must have ridden from out of town. His kindly grey eyes danced as he took my clammy hand in his.

“Yes, Malaka. Pancakes.”    

Recognition suddenly flooded my eyes. This was it! This was code for the arrival for the most regal being on the planet…Prince! My eyes searched for him at the door. My knees could barely bare my weight, and I felt them buckle beneath me. As my heart pounded in my throat, I saw a shadowy figure fill the tiny door frame, a halo of light surrounding them.

“Hello, Malaka,” said a grating alto female voice.

“Shelby?” I whispered.

“Yes,” she smiled. “Prince sent me to find you… to seek you out and answer all your questions. His unicorn, Prometheus, has been watching. We know that answers that you seek.”

“Oh Shelby!” I cried. “I have toiled for ever so long. My arms are weary from mixing pancake batter. My complexion ruined from over-exposure to maple syrup. I-I just want to know one thing…are you Prince’s best friend?”

My breath stopped as the world spun around me. My years of searching were finally about to bear fruit!

“Come with me,” Shelby J said, taking my hand and placing my note pad on the table.

She took me to a nearby creek and commanded me to purify myself.

“But this isn’t Lake Minnetonka,” I objected.

“I know…but you reek of processed food – and I can’t talk to you with the stench of Crisco and egg yolk hovering around you.”

I nodded and wadded into the creek, fully clothed. The air would dry me.

“Malaka,” Shelby J began, “Prince does NOT like pancakes.”

“What?”

“He doesn’t like pancakes,” she repeated. “At least not the kind you serve.”

“Oh…wow.”

“Prince is a vegetarian, Malaka. He doesn’t like animal fat.”

“Yeah…instinctively I knew that. But I was kinda hoping that…”

“That he would pop into one of your diners and partake of your stack of flapjacks?”

“Yes,” I replied quietly. I felt foolish.

“You don’t have to feel silly, inadequate, moronic or idiotic at all,” she said.

Ouch.

She led me to a giant bolder and commanded me to climb to the top. Sun rays filtered all over my massive, sopping wet body. Tears stained my face. Prince did not like pancakes. My quest had been in vain. Suddenly, Shelby J began to sing. It was like nothing I’d ever heard before. It was a musical casserole of opera, rap and mariachi music. The birds stopped chirping and animals struck curious poses. Only the doves began to cry as the tears ceased their flow onto my full cheeks.

Shelby J’s eyes bore into mine, translating a secret message. I understood fully.

Suddenly, a strong whipped all around us. It was Prometheus, Prince’s winged unicorn! Shelby J leapt onto his back.

“Wait, Prometheus!” I was choking on all the beauty that was surrounding me. There was fantasy everywhere. “Do you like pancakes?”

The unicorn snorted in exasperation.

“Nigga, what is with and pancakes?!” he howled. “It was just a Chappelle skit. Get a frikkin’ life.”  

And with that, they were both gone.

And then I knew. I knew that Shelby J was Prince’s best friend. She was too splendid to be anything else.

Lucky whore.