Monthly Archives: May 2011

No degrees.org

So, the day is finally here. We’re leaving to get on a plane at 2 pm today to go to South Africa. Notice I said ‘go’ and not ‘move’ to South Africa, Reader. A great deal has changed.

It would be inappropriate for me to write about the details of the events that have taken place over the course of the last 3 weeks, but suffice it to say that a journey that started out with so much faith and optimism has morphed into a veritable festering, seeping scab, caused by the daggers of the 3xC’s – Crazy Colored Church-folk. If you’re ever looking for a group to drag you down back into a barrel, find a black church. There’s always that one gossipy, misinformed, self important individual ready and willing to insert themselves into your affairs where they have no business, and equally ready to spread their arsenal of misinformation to thwart your plans. With good and ‘godly’ intentions, of course. They start a firestorm and a chain reaction of mess and then step back and watch, wonder why and how everything has gone so awry?

So here we are: Thousands of dollars spent later, and tens of emotional hours spent on the phone with grandma and good friends, tearfully saying our good-byes and relishing the shrinking number of days we will all have left together on the same continent. That is, until I discovered that we did not have approval/support/whatever to go to South Africa as of, I dunno, 10 minutes ago.

WTH??

I counted up the cost, analyzed the tidbits of conversations I have been privy to, and came up with this conclusion:

I need to find me a White church.

I’ve said it before when I thanked my White friends for being White: When I want excellence, I need to go to White people. When I want to find a (well paying) job – White people. When I want hot fries, I gotta ask White people. When I need a solution – its always White people who bring it. Black folk cause 96% of my problems, and I’m finally sick of it.

The only good thing that has come out of all this is that I finally made it plainly clear that I have zero interest what-so-ever in being a pastor’s wife, co-pastoring a church, or having any association/job description that sounds like or rhymes with pastor/preacher. Don’t. Wanna. Do. It.

Hopefully, I’ll have more humorous fodder once we land…and get internet. You know how Black folk like to take their time when they’re in control of the services you need.

R.I.P: My Former Cool Self

Caroline says I have a permanent scowl on my face.

“I never see you smiling,” she burst one day.

I looked up from the diaper I was changing/floor I was sweeping/laundry I was washing/child I was chastising (I don’t recall, but surely I was doing one of these many things) and met her concerned gaze. Instantly, I felt my forehead relax and un-slit my eyes.

It was true. My brow is always furrowed and my jaw is always tight. My face had gradually morphed into a perpetual expression of disgust/disdain/forlorn and I hadn’t even realized it. I had no answer for Caroline, and as if reading my thoughts in those brief seconds, she answered for me.

“I guess it’s kinda hard when you’re spending your days slogging through mountains of poop.”

“Yeah,” I said. “It is.”

I used to smile all the time. I mean, I was living life footloose and fancy free as a 20-something single. Why wouldn’t I be smiling?

 Later that night, I walked into my closet and looked through all the outfits I hadn’t worn in years. Low rise jeans. Belly baring T-shirts. Clinging dresses that still managed to leave enough to the imagination. Spiked heels with 0 support. I finally made the decision to throw them out. I used to follow fashion religiously, keeping  up with every whimsical trend; but I am now a reformed utilitarian. Even if I did get back to my pre-pre-pre-pre pregnancy weight (that’s 4 ‘pres'; please keep up), how ridiculous would I look as a 33 year old woman geared up in sequined Old Navy Fleur de Lis  and with the back of my trousers racing towards my crack? With her 4 kids in tow? Not a good look.

The death knell on my Cool sounded when I came to understand that my music choices were to be (and are) dictated by how the lyrics of any song in question would sound in the tone of Aya’a squeaking, cracking soprano. Equally, each item of clothing I adorn my body with is chosen by giving special consideration to their possible appearance after any number of probable mishaps during the course of the day. Most of these mishaps will include a child’s bodily fluid of one sort or another.

I finally realized that any sense of ‘cool’ I had garnered in my teens and 20’s had died and gone to Hell when I went to a party this weekend – a party at Chuck E. Cheese, mind you. (I don’t have time for adult frivolity anymore.) Audry, Aya’s pre-school classmate was turning 5, and she invited all her classroom friends. For anyone who’s ever been to CEC on a Saturday, you know it’s a zoo. We got there at 12, when everyone in the N. Fulton area decided to pour in at once. Trying to make myself feel better by looking better, I opted to wear a spaghetti strapped maxi dress, which in turn required a strapless bra. It became clear very quickly that this was a poor decision, as every running child and rambling employee stepped on the hem of my dress…exposing my breasts. Liya, who I was forced to take along and therefore forced to hold on my hip, ALSO found it necessary to pull on the already plunging neckline of my dress…and therefore exposing my breasts.

I looked around at all the parents who had come to the party. Despite their best efforts, they looked equally exhausted. One woman looked like she had given up on any sense of cool half a decade ago and was wearing a puke green t-shirt, oatmeal colored shorts, and those Gawd-awful Abbadabba’s that they on sell in Roswell, GA. She didn’t even bother to throw on lip gloss. After CEC, she had to take her son to a Karate Party, and then get back on the Mommie hamster wheel and run a trillion errands. Her outfit made sense. Mine did not.

I looked up at Audry’s parents, Melissa and Jake. They were both blond, and I assume very athletic in their pre-parental life. He was tall and jovial, and she had the build of someone who used to be very petite. I sat fanning myself, and she caught my gaze.

“Hot?” she asked.

“Yeah!” I said sheepishly. “I get hot very easily these days.”

Her eyes widened.

“Me too!” she ‘whispered’ above the din of screaming children. “I thought I was going through the change. It was so bad, I went and talked to my doc about it.”

“Wow.”

“Yeah,” she continued. “It never used to happen before I had kids…”

Her voice trailed off, as we turned our attention to our children who were devouring a hitherto very beautifully decorated cake.

Jake was joking around with the staff and guests. He was wearing ‘dad jean shorts’, with white tube socks and blue and white Asics. His multi-colored striped polo shirt rounded out the outfit. This is a man who looked like he probably used to drive a Porsche, and with reckless abandon; but today we arrived in the parking lot at the same time, as he carefully pulled up with in a black 2009 Jeep. That’s about as pimpin’ as he’s gonna get, I’m sure.

The party was just 2 hours long, but most of us left with 20 minutes to spare. I was exhausted just being there and wanted to go home and take a nap (which only happens in my most fanciful dreams). By 9 pm I’d be asleep, and the next morning I would be back on the hamster wheel.

With the birth of my children came the death of my cool. I’ve paid a steep price and lost a great deal (flat abs, free time, thousands of dollars…). But in the end, it’s all worth it – because one day THEY’RE going to have kids, and my snotty, whining grandchild(ren) is going to rob THEM of all the hipness they once possessed as well.

And I’m going to be there pointing, laughing and mocking the whole time.

Mauhahahahahahaha!!!!


Reader: For your homework today, your job is to think and list 5 people with kids whom you would describe as “cool”, “modern” and just over all “with it”. (No part time/ weekend parents. They don’t count.)  Bet you can’t.

The Sound of Purple

One Friday afternoon, 2024

It was a sticky , sweltering afternoon in July. I lay motionless on the wicker two-seater that now served as my sofa, since my husband had sold all of our furniture, dishes and cutlery to fund some crack pipe project, like saving disadvantaged gnomes in the inner city.

It was so hot that I was afraid to think, lest the power and movement  of my brain waves cause me to spontaneously combust internally. Still fearful that any sudden movement would elevate my core temperature, I slowly raised a paper cup of lemonade to my lips, pondering my life as it was.

The kids were all gone: Nadjah was pursuing her modeling career, Aya had run off to France to become a painter, Stone was probably crushing some poor kid on a football field somewhere, and Liya was practicing her shtick for Mad TV.  Everyone had something to do…but me. Suddenly, the phone rang, interrupting me in the middle of the thoughts I was trying not to think. It was Akuba Sheen(!). Despite the years that had passed, she and I had maintained a solid friendship; a sisterhood if you will. Our bond was a shared rabid, aggressive, visceral love and adoration for Prince.

“Hello?”

“Malaka. It’s time.” She hung up the phone without another word.

Oh my God! It’s time! I thought.

I didn’t have time to think anything else. From that moment on, I was working on instinct. I grabbed the bag that had been sitting by the front door for the last 12 years, packed in anticipation of this very moment. I hoped into my car and sped as fast as I could to Hartsfield-Jackson airport. I parked in the weekly lot and ran at break neck speed towards the terminal…but which terminal?

Oh mercy! I thought. I don’t know where I’m going!! Is it terminal South? North? What do I do??

I darted back and forth between two ends of the airport for about 40 minutes, knowing that I would have to find the appropriate ticket counter, and soon. One of them had a reservation for me, but which? I sat in the Atrium of the airport, about to give up. Airport security had been watching my every flighty move. As I lowered my uncombed afro’d head into my hands, I heard a voice call out to me.

“Malaka!”

It was Akuba Sheen(!)!

“This way! We’re flying Delta.”

Delta? Those rat bastards? Ugh. But today, it didn’t matter. For Prince, I was storm the very gates of Hell itself, and it was for Prince that I was at the airport.

You see, 13 years ago, Akuba Sheen(!) began honing her photography and documentary skills, with the sole aim of becoming so amazing and renown at her craft that Prince and the NPG would come calling. And when they did – as they had done that day –  we would be ready to do whatever he needed.

We embraced each other tightly, dazed and and confused by our fortune. A single tear fell down my cheek. Finally, I broke the silence.

“Are you ready?” I asked.

“Am I? To Paisley Park we go!”

We spent the 2 hour ride in silence, each of us engrossed in rock/R&B/country/futurist Prince tunes that were loaded on our respective mePods. (iPods were sooo 2 decades ago.) We looked at each other only occasionally, grinning like school girls who had successfully snuck off campus. When we landed in Minnesota, we were greeted by an old friend.

“Prometheus!” I exclaimed. I threw my arms around the unicorns neck. I had not seen him since that fateful day in 2011 when Shelby J came to visit.

He ordered us to hop onto his back and within minutes we were at the Mecca of Music: Paisley Park. (By the by, if you ever have the chance to ride a unicorn, I humbly suggest you do. It’s really a very comfortable ride.) He dropped us off at the massive oak entrance leading into the compound.

Akuba Sheen(!) pulled out her camera and I got my notepad out to scribble down my observations. It was everything that I had dreamed of, down to the tile mosaics of the Symbol on the walls and floor. There were 15 doors in the lobby of the Park. Which were we supposed to go into? Which held Prince, our Cracker Jack prize at the end of this little adventure? As the oak door swung shut behind us, a hairless bronze skinned woman – hairless save for the single massive dread-lock sprouting from the front of her forehead – beckoned us silently towards a low door with a copper frog hanging on the front. Odd – but whatever! There, behind the miniature door, sat a miniature man in a silvery track suit.

“Prince,” we whispered breathlessly.

He twirled his wrist and held up his hand, imploring us for silence. We didn’t dare breathe. When he did speak, he asked us to sit on the floor opposite him. He was puffing on a Hookah.

“But I thought – ” he cut me off, as if sensing my thoughts.

“I don’t smoke,” he said smiling benevolently. “It spoils the wind pipe. I’m inhaling steam, which loosens up the chords.

Ahhhhh...”

Wanting to get down to business, Akuba spoke first.

“We’re here to shoot a documentary -” she began.

Again, he twirled his wrist, which was suddenly adorned with a lace handkerchief. Amazing.

“I know why you’re here,” said Prince. “And pretty soon, you’ll know why you’re here too.”

We both drew a sharp breath. Were we going to be asked to bathe in the Waters? Perhaps to draw graffiti on the bridge? So many questions…

“Prince I -“

“Shhhhhh…,” he whispered. “Close your eyes, and just listen.”

So Prince, Akuba Sheen(!) and I sat like that – for 2 hours – not speaking – only listening to the sound of our own breathing and his fake smoke machine bubbling in the background.

“Did you feel that?” Prince asked.”Did you feel the power of that”

Akuba nodded.

“Good. Now you know what to do.” He spread his arms like a tiny pterodactyl, flapped them once and disappeared into a thick mist.

“Wow,” said Akuba Sheen(!)

“Wow,” I replied.

Wow…I still don’t know what the heck we were supposed to do.

Tinogona: It IS Achievable

Well, it’s almost 10 pm EST and the world didn’t end. I wish I had made the time to print up some t-sirts.  They would say:

May 21, 2011 – No Rapture, No Judgment, No Sh*t

Today’s post isn’t about the wack jobs who quit their jobs 6 months ago to spread “God’s” message that the world is (or was) slated to end 4 hours ago. Rather, today’s post is about a message that we don’t hear too often and certainly not often enough: Anything is possible.

In just 4 short days, the phrase “did you see Oprah yesterday?” will become obsolete. There is a mourning in my spirit that I am almost ashamed to admit exists. How can I be so bewildered, befuddled and bereaved that Oprah is going off the air? It’s ‘just a talk show’ for Heaven’s sake, isn’t it?

Nah. Nah, it’s far more than that.

Yesterday Oprah revealed her favorite host of all time – Tererai Trent. I was unaware of Tererai’s story, having missed the interview she did with Oprah 2 or 3 years ago. It’s definitely an amazing one that I encourage you to look up. Tererai was married off at age 11 to a man who beat her almost every day because she wanted to learn, By age 18, she had had three children and had not yet achieved her dream of getting an education. Despite her setbacks, she held fast to her heart’s desire: she wanted to go to America and get a doctorate degree. As though scripted like a Ron Howard film, a kindly American worker with Heifer International who tells her that if she truly wanted these things, ‘it is achievable’. Her mother told her to write down those dreams and hide them under a rock…the rock would keep her dreams safe.

 Watch this and learn about Rocks!

I am surrounded by talented, intelligent women who – despite their talent and intelligence – do not truly believe their dreams are achievable.  And when I say ‘believe’, I don’t mean ‘hope’… I’m talking about a knowledge and a belief in your ability that is unshakable because it’s grounded in fact. Just as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow morning (now that we know Jesus isn’t swooping into town this weekend), we – and talking to myself as well-  have to know that anything we put our mind to is achievable.

In that spirit, I did some things today I would never ordinarily do. I went to look at a  real estate property that is everything I have previously envisioned (and I mean down to the cobblestone walk way); because I want that building. I went into Carmax and asked if I could sit inside a Ford Flex; because I want that car. I wrote to an old boss to ask her for business advice, because I want to succeed in my new venture. Now, I didn’t actually get to go inside the property today, and  Carmax didn’t have a Flex on the lottoday, and I haven’t heard back from my ex-boss today…but that’s not the point. This conversation I had with Akuba Sheen(!) is the point:

“Aunti!”

“Sweetie! How is it?”

“Fine o. Did you watch Oprah yesterday?”

“O. No…I was on a photo shoot.”

“Then let me tell you what happened -> insert 10 minutes of talking about Tererai <-“

“Wow. You have to stop! You’re going to make me cry. So all these things can really be done?”

“I’m telling you man…we can do it. Look at you with your photography. You’re so talented, and you’re taking steps in directions you’ve never been before. We’re planting seeds.”

“Seeds…”

“Yes! Seeds! Live seeds! And do you know what the amazing thing about seeds is? You have to let them lose from your hands, put them into the ground and allow to roots to grow. A tree doesn’t start with a mighty trunk and bushy leaves. It starts with strong roots. All we have to do is be brave enough to plant the seeds man!”

-> insert some cackling and the conversation later comes to a close <-

I know people come to my blog for comedy and poop and fart jokes, but since the world isn’t coming to an end this weekend, I want to encourage you to reach for your dreams. If your thoughts and dreams a honest and good, keep them protected from predators. Find a rock to hide them under. When you are feeling weak in your resolve, renew it by reciting those goals again and again.

There’s always a dream killer ready to tell you why you can’t do something; but there is a bigger God who says you can. It IS achievable.

Attracted To Black Women? Then You’re Gay!!

The title sounds completely outlandish, doesn’t it? I mean, what an as(s)inine thing to say! Well, this seems to be the week for people who generally talk out of their asses to take center stage – the largest of which is Satoshi Kanazawa, a racist, bigoted misogynist with a number of fancy degrees from the UK. Satoshi, it seems, does not like Black women; nope. Doesn’t like us at all. We are genetic “mutants” . He said so in his article in Psychology Today, entitled: Why Black Women are (Rated) Less Physically Attractive than other Races.

Every 3 to 5 years, some scientist/social psychologist/medical professional – and even a random politician or two – comes up with new evidence to support their doctrine of presumed Black inferiority which says that Black people – and Black women in particular – are impossibly mediocre, be it intellectually, physically, fiscally…whatever. I hadn’t realized the hour hand had swept past our period of reprieve, and the time had come for Society/Science to re-up on the psychological beat down that Black women have been made to endure since, I dunno, slavery. Thus, I was ill prepared for Satoshi’s comments which include:

“The only thing I can think of that might potentially explain the lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women is testosterone.  Africans on average have higher levels of testosterone than other races, and testosterone, being an androgen (male hormone), affects the physical attractiveness of men and women differently.  Men with higher levels of testosterone have more masculine features and are therefore more physically attractive.  In contrast, women with higher levels of testosterone also have more masculine features and are therefore less physically attractive.  The race differences in the level of testosterone can therefore potentially explain why black women are less physically attractive than women of other races, while (net of intelligence) black men are more physically attractive than men of other races.”

Man. And I had just begun to feel pretty good about myself this week. I had to tell my husband…he had married a man.

“Babe…you’re gay.”

“What???”

“Yes. Did you not read the article by the Japanese dude this week? The one where he said Black people had some weird genome load and all Black women were less attractive THAN OTHER RACE OF WOMEN ON THE PLANET? Oh yeah. The one that says we have more testosterone, making us androgynous, and therefore making you gay. You like men…because I am a man.”

Marshall leaned in an kissed me quietly.

“That’s not true,” he said. “Now what do you want for dinner.”

I love this man for a reason.

Here’s the crux of the matter: Satoshi needs to be stripped of all his degrees, honorary and otherwise and go back to school. He clearly learned nothing concerning research, compilation of data, and empirical presentation of that data. A quick look into the history of how this article was fashioned will reveal the following: Japanese dude, who already harbors a racist bias, traipses down to a university (which is coincidentally south of the Mason-Dixon line) to ask some college kids (who have very little world experience outside of what TV and their friends tell them) who is hotter: Loretta Devine or Lisa Ling or Lauren Conrad.

And that’s supposed to be “science”? That’s supposed to represent the pinnacle of academia? Give me a break.

At the end of the day, who really gives two sashimi sandwiches what Satoshi thinks? The subject of beauty is subjective, and his opinion of me, my race or my sex has as much importance as what Bin Laden was planning on having for dinner this week. It doesn’t matter. I mean, this was the man who penned such thought provoking articles as Are All Women Essentially Prostitutes? 

You know the good thing about God? The good thing about God is this: When Jesus died on the cross and hung out for a few weeks before heading back to Heaven, he didn’t look down on his disciples and say “Ei y’all! Don’t you fret. I’m leaving, but I’ll be sending you a Comforter to take my place…his name is Satoshi Kanazawa.”

It is only in Satoshi’s world that full lips and wide hips are “masculine features”; that a full bosom and a swaying backside are the result of an over abundance of testosterone. The man is clearly an idiot, because I am SO hot.

Photo courtesy of The Fabulous Akuba Sheen(!)… unedited, un-retouched, and taken within several sweaty minutes of chasing Stone around the ‘hood.

Who Gon’ Clean Up All These Flowers?!?

Marshall and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary this weekend, and it was honestly the best anniversary we’ve had – ever.

After I cleaned out the shoe store in my closet, it was abruptly time to head to a marriage conference that was coincidentally happening the same weekend as our anniversary. I had been working so hard that I had let time get away from me, and we had to leave before I had time to freshen up. As I nestled into the front seat of Marshall’s car, I got a whiff of steam from betwixt my clammy legs.

“I smell like sweat and oppression,” I said to Marshall. “Do you smell that?”

I fanned my crotch in his direction.

“Nope. I don’t smell anything,” he said. “Besides, I have something for that later.”

A combined 850 sweaty pounds rolling around on hotel sheets is not going to make me smell better, I thought.

We sped off.

Caroline had graciously offered to watch the kids Friday night, and Marshall had arranged a surprise for our iron year anniversary. We had already planned to stay at a hotel for the evening and get up early for the second part of the conference, so I wondered what the “surprise” could be. I’d have to wait to find out.

The marriage conference was amazing, with loads of really good advice (some that I found I would have to use sooner than I contended with). Unlike other events at our church, this one actually ended at a decent hour. There was still time left in the evening to do something. As it turned out, Marshall had gotten us a room at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia – a hotel I’ve been waiting to have the occasion to stay at for the last 11 years.

 

 I was like a squealing villager in the big city. The air was cleaner, the lights were welcoming…I mean it was just nice. It was hard for me to stop grinning. When Marshall opened the door to our suite, there were roses and rose petals all over the place. How romantic! Not one to miss an opportunity to ruin an otherwise passionate mood, I exclaimed:

“Ai! Who gon’ clean up all these flowers??”

 

Marshall rolled his eyes and shook his head in disbelief, while I stood in the walk-way, eternally pleased with my quick wit.  He walked me to the bathroom and showed me my surprise – a bubble bath. In a tub large enough to accommodate my enormous frame. Oh wow, what a gift! I soaked until I was prune-y…no kids, no screaming, no rushing…it was brilliant. We exchanged symbolic gifts for our 6th year:. He gave me a flat iron; I gave him a copy of Iron Man 2. 

The whole scene was very reminiscent of our wedding night, except we were both at least 20 lbs heavier and had earned a few more grey hairs and 6 years worth of wrinkles. Also, unlike our wedding night, I made no attempts at sex appeal or feigning anything resembling demure. Six years of marriage have morphed me into a horribly pragmatic woman, leading me to seduce him with the following statement:

“I have to go take a dump,” I said. “I’ll be in bed in a minute.”

Isn’t he a lucky guy?

A wedding anniversary lesson from my shoes

Yesterday Marshall and I celebrated our 6th wedding  anniversary. I spent the first half of the weekend clearing out old shoes that have accumulated in my closet over the course of 10+ years. Each one had its own memory. Some people collect stamps – I collect shoes. Caroline had come over to watch the children for us while we went to a marriage conference at our church for the weekend,

“I used to wear these with a red and black floral dress,” I said pointing to a pair of black T-strap sandals. And I used to wear these all the time work…when I was thin, single and had some money.”

My face advertised the disappointment I was (apparently) feeling. Six years into my marriage, and I was still lamenting the loss of my life as a single woman. My kids were throwing our freshly laundered clothes onto the floor and mashing Cheerios into them. I didn’t even care. All I could focus on at the moment were my carefully selected companions that I was about to toss into a Goodwill bin, as though our years together meant absolutely nothing.

“Well, this is a new life you have, Malaka,” Caroline said. “It’s a new beginning. You shouldn’t be sad on your anniversary day!”

I peered at my shoes again. In just 6 short years, I had progressively gone from a size 9 to size 10, my feet getting bigger with each child. As I looked at the soles of the 9s, I was suddenly struck by how dusty and worn out they were…some of them to the point of near disintegration. I had danced, run, sauntered, shopped and picnicked in these shoes. I had gone on dates in some, and had my heart broken in at least a few others. But all of that was behind me now, and I had neither use for many of those memories nor many of those shoes. In a fiat, I felt the strength to let them go.

What use are 6” platform heels at the zoo anyway?