Category Archives: Marriage

A Week in Belize, Where it’s Always Sunny with a Chance of Beautiful

It requires a fair amount of hubris and cheek to go on vacation and assume that anyone anywhere would care to have you share the gritty details of how you idled endless hours in a hammock munching on fresh fruit and being lulled to sleep by the ocean’s waves…so allow me to express my gratitude to the many people who have sent messages expressing their anticipation of my doing just that. That you would want to participate in my experience, albeit it vicariously, means a lot!

Me and my hammock were like *this*!

Me and my hammock were like *this*!

MOM Squad. Man. There’s just so much to tell. I could write and vlog for weeks and still not properly convey the mix of sounds, smells, sights and emotions I experienced on this short trip. Still I must try so, I will begin by sharing my most immediate reactions and observations. Also, it is incumbent on me to advise that if you ever have the opportunity to visit Belize (or Placencia, to be precise), seize it! There’s no way you’ll regret it.

Marshall and I visited the country in order to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. We had originally planned to visit Greece, but changed our minds when Belize literally dropped in our spirits.

“Let’s go somewhere super exotic. Like Ibiza or Las Trampas (not a real place),” I said.

Marshall was Googling the earth and said, “What about Belize?”

And that’s how we ended up on its sunny shores instead of Greece’s debt-ridden coast.

The entire trip was fraught with excitement. After we landed at the international airport in Belize City, we took a much smaller aircraft to the peninsula of Placencia. The 10 seater plane, about the size of matchbox, was piloted by a handsome West Indian chap who handled the craft like it was a Hyundai taxi. Our landing strip at the Placencia airport – which was constructed to look like someone’s house – was the size of a postage stamp. A dog jogged onto the runway as we offloaded our bags. A shuttle driven by a stocky Mayan man named Cirilo took us to Robert’s Grove where we would spend the week.

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The first thing we both noticed about Belizeans is how friendly they are – and not in that trained, tourist tolerating way that you become accustomed to when you walk into a Hilton hotel or Five Guys hamburger chain. Belizeans connect with you on a human level. It’s amazing. Marshall and I spent the first 36 hours trying to ascertain whether they were putting on or if this was their demeanor as a culture until I finally put an end to the query.

“Let’s not question this anymore! This is the problem with Americans….always so suspicious! This is just the way life is here, babe.”

Poor Marshall. All he could do was nod and agree with his wife.

To be honest, this aspect of Belizean culture has proven to make my re-entry to the United States most difficult. Since I have been back, I have had to make a conscious effort to “unlook” passersby and people with whom I share public space. When I first came from Ghana to the US, I would offer a greeting or at least nod in deference if I happened to make eye contact with a stranger. I was greeted with hostile stares in return. Then I moved to the South (Atlanta) and continued with the practice. True Southerners will nod and greet in response. But since there has been an influx of Northerners to this part of the country, that culture has quickly died as well. Now, I have learned to stand my ground, continue walking in a straight line and coldly refuse to look anyone in the face in passing. The person coming in the opposite direction does the same. But in Belize? My word… I couldn’t say “hello” enough! Every who walked by offered a hearty “Good day!” or “Good afternoon!” with a smile. A real, honest from the soul smile. I looked forward to making my way to the street just so I could interact with people in this way.

The second thing that has been hard about returning to the US has been that you can’t see the stars at night. Do you know how devastating it is to look up at the night sky and KNOW the stars are there, but be unable to see them? All the night pollution and artificial light blocks their view. I’ve been back two days and still haven’t adjusted.

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the food. It’s absolutely incredible. We eat crap – actual, verifiable CRAP – in this country. Rafi, our tour guide told us as much. On our way to Nim Li Punit, we passed several cashew, orange and banana plantations. There were bright, blue plastic bags covering the hanging fruit of the banana trees. Marshall enquired about them.

“Oh that?” said Rafi. “That’s so that the pesticides that they spray from the airplane don’t get on the banana fruit itself.”

“Oh. Ok.”

“We don’t eat dat sh*t,” he continued. “That’s they stuff we ship to you all in de US. Our food is organic.”

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No apologies, no remorse. And why should he be remorseful? The FDA and grocery chains are the ones who request and approve the chemical covered and infused swill that we stuff into our bodies and call “food”. It’s not Rafi or Belize’s fault. They are just giving the customer what they asked for. But by God, you haven’t tasted a mango or a pineapple until you’ve had one in Belize, one grown in “good ground” as they call it. Rafi gifted us a mango from his yard which we ate on the morning of our departure. I had just gorged on fresh coconut and don’t particularly care for mango, but Marshall didn’t care. With a wide-eyed stare, he commanded me to eat this.

It wasn’t just a mango. It tasted like honey, nutmeg cinnamon and fleshy joy. It felt like pleasure sliding down my throat. It was divine. I never want to eat another mango after that. Every other mango will fall short.

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In my next post, I will tell you about the sea. In Ghana, to ocean makes me very sad. Apart from the fact that it is absolutely filthy and fetid, the ocean holds a particularly melancholy place in my heart. It’s deep and spiritual. I didn’t feel that when I looked over the beach in Placencia at all… and I was shocked (and pleased) when I unearthed why that was.

 

 

*Check out my IG @ malakagrant if you want to see a few pictures! My iPhone was acting up, so there aren’t that many.  :( Boo. I know!

Did 90s R&B Ruin Marriage for an Entire Generation?

I recently had the occasion to take a 10 hour road trip with my four children. Let that sink in: 4 kids – all aged 10 and younger. Obviously it went well enough. I’m back at my computer and have lived to tell the tale.

My musical choices for road trips of this length usually vary between hip-life and heavy metal. I find that submerging my psyche in guitar riffs and subtle misogynist lyrics is a comforting alternative to road rage. But on this particular trip something peculiar happened: on a whim, I decided to shake up my playlist and added a new channel on Pandora. That channel was Boyz II Men. That’s when the trouble began.

If you’re age 34 and over, you will remember that Boyz II Men, Shai, Jodeci and Joe (and who could forget Silk!) defined 90s R&B – and romantic relationships by extension – for legions of impressionable teenagers who suddenly found a rise in hormone levels coincide with the introduction of this new style of music. We were spellbound and with our senses led astray; utterly powerless. “Let me lick you up and down?” Ebei. Okay…sure! Who could resist such an invitation, nasty as it may have seemed at first. You people reading know what manner of salivary bathing rituals you subjected yourselves to at Silk’s suggestion.

The first song that debuted on my playlist was Boyz II Men’s End of the Road. Spiritually, I was transported back to that era I spoke of earlier: that 16 year old crush-giddy-gnashingness that many a girl experienced in those days. Here were four men in various shapes and octave ranges promising to make your evening a long and unforgettable one. For those of us who lost our virginities to clumsy, inexperienced age mates who were eager to cross organism’s finish line, this was only something we could dream of. *Sigh*…

The 37 year old woman listening to these lyrics – the one who was now married with children – was horrified. Lies! So many lies! I suddenly understood why so many modern relationships that began with the promise of “forever” had crashed and burned and disintegrated into a million pieces. These musical groups were feeding us the Oxfam version of a romantic utopia, never taking into account that there are not enough men alive (then or now) who could deliver on the sort of sexual, financial or spiritual fulfilment they were promising hordes of young women and girls looking forward to eventual marriage. In just 4 short years, we were all deceived into thinking that the man of our eventual choice would do whatever it took to keep our relationship intact no matter what the transgression, perceived or real. We were that special.

Look at this:

Girl, I know you really love me,

You just don’t realize

You’ve never been there before

It’s only your first time

Maybe I’ll forgive you, hmm

Maybe you’ll try

We should be happy together

Forever, you and I

 

You know the story. The girl(s) in this story had cheated and were being implored to come back and work on making the relationship a success with promises of being made love to all through the night in later songs. Jodeci only made matters worse by declaring in Feenin’ that we could:

Take my money

My house and my cars

For one hit of you

You can have it all, baby

Cause makin’ love

Every time we do

Girls it’s worse than drugs

Cause I’m an addict over you

And you know that I (can’t leave you alone…etc)

Open your eyes and stop lying to me!!

Open your eyes and stop lying to me!!

So what did we do? Like fools, we traipsed into marriage and long term relationships built on clouds. Jodeci and co would have done us all a better service if they had told us the truth about unprotected sex, STDs, abortions, side chicks, and broke dudes who hole up in your house eating up the last of the gari and using all the hot water. Then of course there’s THIS line of thinking that is the final destination at the other end of the bridge of the “typical African marriage”.

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You want your wife to treat you like a baby in the bedroom? What does that even mean? You want her to dress you in a bonnet, wipe your butt, dust your body with lavender scented powder and breastfeed you at 3 am? This is not what 90s R&B promised, but that’s exactly what this president/king/baby is expecting out of his wife.

What else is there to do but divorce? The blame lays at the feet of Jon B and Babyface, guys who promised to work, cook, draw bubble baths and pay bills for the object of their amorous feelings. We each imagined ourselves to be the quality of woman worthy of this level of attentiveness. But what did the 50% of people who decided to terminate their marriages in the last decade get instead? Some chap who wants to know why his underwear hasn’t been washed or why dinner wasn’t placed on the table as soon as he got home from. All this after his wife has usually put in 9 hours of work herself.

Oh ho.

These days, there is no R&B to cloud anyone’s judgment. Many young couples don’t even bother with the farce of aspiring for a fairy-tale marriage. It’s unattainable. They are wiser than we were. Nowadays, music is much more realistic. Men are honest. They want to make truffle butter and cheat on you and have no qualms about admitting it in song. In return, women are delaying or eliminating the prospect of marriage. More people are winning.

In the meantime, I’ve gone back to putting Van Halen and Timaya on blast for long road trips. Unlike K-Ci and Jojo, they are honest gentlemen.

Singing about Love in the Black Community: From Barbershop Quartets to Making ‘Truffle Butter’

Warning: This post contains images and descriptions that you will not be able to mentally unsee. Please continue with caution…or not at all.

I had the ‘opportunity’ to watch a rerun of the 2015 BET Awards this week. It would be more accurate to say I was obliged to watch it, since my cousin provided me with the option of watching “Black Sparrow”, “Black Poison” or “Black Scorpion” On Demand. I stared at the title choices in disbelief, so she decided for us.

“BET it is!”

She wanted to watch Diddy take that infamous swan dive through the bowels of the stage. I never tire of seeing it, so I didn’t object. I’ll grudgingly admit that I was glad we watched it. Smokey Robinson was being honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award, and it gave me the opportunity to revisit some of his greatest hits, including Tracks of My Tears and Tears of a Clown. I came up in an era when Motown’s power was just beginning to wane after defining not just Black music, but pop music for decades. It was nice to see a face and hear a voice that I associated with happier childhood times. In that segment, I discovered that Smokey Robinson was credited with writing over 4,000 songs, many of which form the basis of a hip hop hook or two or have been remastered by prolific R&B crooner such as D’Angelo. Cruisin’, Ain’t No Woman Like the One I Got, Baby Come Close to Me, Get Ready, My Girl…the list is endless.

Dudes that set a thousand hearts aflutter!

Dudes that set a thousand hearts aflutter!

It was a beautiful tribute, but it got me to thinking about themes in popular music. Above all, Smokey wrote about love. Love –either in the religious, erotic or filial sense – has always been a strong theme in Black singing, but I sense a shift…a change in the tide if you will. There are no more “love songs”. There are only porn anthems. How did this happen?

Let’s be honest: All music about love has at its core the end goal of getting to sex, but there was a certain beauty in the dance. When the Four Tops sang baby I need your lovin’, got(s) to have all your lovin’, it was implied that at some point, there would be a meeting between the sheets after the proper protocol had been executed. A woman and her beaux might go for a walk, talk about this n’ that, dare to tell her how stunningly beautiful she was, and enquire if he could call on her again.

R&B and pop music have its roots in Barbershop Quartets. Allegedly, Black men who would find themselves spending a leisurely afternoon waiting to get their hair cut would entertain themselves by singing and harmonizing in groups in the barbershop while they waited for their turn for service. This culture was then bastardized by white entertainers who used the technique and its elements during minstrel shows. From Barbershop, doo wop and singing under street lamps was born. Rock was just emerging as a force. Barry Gordy seized the opportunity to bring some order (and to profit off of) to the chaos when he created Motown Records. For the first time, Black artists had more control over their craft than they had previously under white owned labels and management. The foundation and formula for making pop culture hits (and profit) was solidified. There hasn’t been any looking back sense. The only thing that has changed is the heart of the music. In less than 100 years, we’ve gone from expressing hopeful, wistful love with the desire to be together forever to the expectation that one’s encounter with the object of the song’s lyrics will last no more than 10 minutes in the back of the club…or at best, all night long.

Ooooo… All NIGHT long, you say?! How’s that for longevity? Please; people have had yeast infections that have lasted longer. Oh, speaking of crotch yoghurt… The lyrical concoctions in today’s most popular urban music (as they relate to relationships and love) range from amusing to flat out disgusting. They describe sexual acts and/or fantasies that the singer has either played out in real life, or expresses a desire to inflict upon his/her sexual partner for the duration of the encounter. If you’re unfamiliar with these terms I am about to share, please know that there’s no easy way to serve this up to you, Dear Reader, and for that you have my most sincere apologies.

  • Superman Dat Hoe: The act of pulling out at the point of climax while in the lower mammalian procreative position, spraying the female participant with one’s semen whilst laying a sheet upon her back, thus creating the appearance of a “Superman cape”.
  • Strawberry shortcake: After performing fellatio, the female participant in the act will eagerly and unsuspectedly look up at the recipient after he has discharged in her mouth. He will then punch her in the face, as hard as possible. The mixture of blood and semen will create a crimson and cream mix, known as a “strawberry shortcake”.
  • Bucking Bronco: Two “dedicated” lovers must find themselves in the act of sexual pleasure, again in the lower mammalian procreative position. As they near their romantic peak, the male will grab his partner by the waist while purposefully call out the name of another (unknown) woman, much to her irritation. In the moments after, she will undoubtedly twitch and attempt to wriggle away from his grasp, but he must hold firm and continue to “plow”. Bucking bronco.
  • Making Truffle Butter: While in the midst of anal sex, the person in possession of a penis (or a replica thereof) will withdraw from the anal cavity and re-penetrate his partner through the vagina. The tan, buttery substance created in the aftermath is known as “truffle butter”.
  • Spiderman Dat Hoe: Are you still reading? Gosh, you’re a trooper! This one’s not so bad. A man merely gratifies himself, ejaculates into his palm, and flings the stringy substance into his partner’s face…like Spiderman blinding the Goblin, I assume. Who knows? I’m just waiting for someone to create series of maneuvers named after all the Marvel comic heroes and destroy my adolescent memories forever.

 

I admit I have a certain level of nostalgia for olden days and the music that defined my parent’s era. In a time when men were not ashamed to plead with a woman to not take away her affection after he’d committed some egregious act or when crooners sang of forgiving their lovers even though “s/he done did me wrong”. That there would be an intimate make up session to follow thereafter was always implied, but never explicitly explained. There has been freaky sex in private and public spaces for as long as human beings have procreated – but there has also always been a certain mystery to it. You could speculate, but never say conclusively what two people were doing in their private pleasure time; but now folk will just walk up to you and tell you what they cooked up on their 300 thread count sheets. Mmmm mmm! Truffle butter!

I am most forlorn because there is so much emphasis on sex  – and culminating that act in violence towards women – and hardly on love at all. Like, there are 15 year old girls and 20-something men who equate being given gonorrhea or a vaginal rash with “love”. They’ll never experience the wistful longing of waiting for love to bud and blossom, of cultivating a lasting relationship, because they’ll have been too busy sitting in the gynecologist’s office getting that buttery butt seepage checked out…and that’s a tragedy. That’s not love. That’s a UTI.

As a Christian Living in America, the SCOTUS Ruling on Gay Marriage Doesn’t Bother Me in the Least

On Friday, June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 5-4 in favor of same sex marriage and many people are in their feelings about it. The media would have you believe that the only people who have a problem with this ruling are backwater, semi-literate, Bible thumping, snake wielding traditionalists sweating out their angst in the middle of the American heartland, but an honest conversation with your neighbor will show that this is not the case. People of all faiths – or NO faith – do not approve of this ruling. Hispanics, Jews, Arabs, Blacks and whites do not approve of this ruling. Heck, even some gay people have expressed reservations about the method in which the right to marry was achieved. Like Roe v Wade and Brown v The Board of Education, whenever you have a federal ruling mandating a major social shift like this instead of allowing it to happen “organically”, the results are frequently disastrous. In America, Blacks often bear the brunt of that calamity. Our schools are in shambles and our unborn in the womb are under constant attack. Time will only tell what this SCOTUS ruling will mean for Africans living in America.

Much of the hand-wringing that is taking place over this ruling is going on in the church. When the news that there would be a federal decision on the matter broke, churches around the country were implored to pray for the judges and that God’s will be done in the end. I don’t know if this is God’s will or not, but I know that God was not surprised by the outcome and neither was I. Not because I’m a soothsayer, but because like the Almighty Herself, I am well aware that this country was never built on righteousness or the word of God.

Let me make that plain: the ONLY people truly suffering apoplexy over the issue are those who have accepted the falsehood that America was built on “the word of God”, justice and fairy dust.

America’s foundations are sodden with blood and made solid by the destruction of native peoples. America was literally acquired by theft, and that theft was justified by turning it into law. The halls in which congress would govern and make proclamations about freedom, justice and rights were built by slave labor; men, women and children who were brought to these shores by men stealers. Even the food Americans eat today is grown and harvested by people who have been exploited by this spirit that made America. That spirit is Greed, and not the Holy Spirit as so many would suppose. So does this ruling bother me as a Christian? No. Because in the grand scheme of things, America has much to atone for in the areas of corruption, slavery, dishonesty, theft, murder, sloth and any other deplorable sin you can think of. Gay marriage is not the beginning of America’s turn away from God. America’s face was never toward God.

I know, I know. I can hear you hollering America WAS built on Christian faith, Malaka! The Pilgrims came here with Honey Baked Ham and paperback copies of the New England primer to share with their “Indian” neighbors. But let’s be honest: the Bibles and Bible based books that many children learned to read from weren’t so much of a function of a desire to be godly, but rather because Bibles were already being printed in mass. Why draw up a new curriculum when there was already something in print. If America was really built on the Bible and the teachings of Christ, the conscience of this nation would never have permitted half of the atrocities that took place here. To quote Malcolm X: “We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on us.”

America’s system on government is based on the Roman system of democracy, not Judeo-Christian philosophy. In a theocracy, there would be no senate, congress or Prime Minister or President. In God’s plan (according to the Bible), God’s people would be governed by judges who heard from God and directed the people accordingly. The Hebrews didn’t want that. They wanted a king, and they got Saul. It didn’t work out too well for anyone.

Because America is structured on an anti-Christian form of government, it would only make sense that it would bear its fruits in the long run. Almost everyone in Rome was in a homosexual relationship, particularly in government. Senators and the ruling elite had sex with men and boys for pleasure and with women for the sole purpose of procreation. White gay men have always been the most powerful bloc in the history of mankind, and they have centralized that power to themselves and used it to destroy entire communities. From ancient Rome to Washington, DC, the rights and privileges of others have found themselves subverted in favor of white gay men. Seriously, Barack Obama can get gay marriage signed into law, but he the best he can do for the protection of Black people is to get behind a pulpit and hoop – albeit it eloquently – even as we’re shot unarmed in the streets and in our houses of worship? He can’t fix the school to prison pipeline where Black and Brown youth are visibly herded from their desks to a cell for things white kids do with impunity, but can ask celebrities to rally behind #NoH8 and other social media campaigns? Who else do you so this for but for the powerful?

Let me tell you what’s coming down the pike next: The Pulpit to Prison pipeline. They are already calling parts of the Bible “hate speech” and several pastors have spoken openly about being threatened by the government if they do not change the tone or message in their sermons. We never thought there would be a day when we’d see Black kids being scooped up from their schools and thrown in shackles for doodling on desks or for science experiments gone awry. Sit here and delude yourself into thinking that feds or the police won’t haul your pastor from his pulpit for reading Leviticus 18. But again, this would only come as a shock if you really thought that America was a nation that “loves God” or whose foundation was the Bible. Gay rights advocates are already persecuting anyone who refuses to sell them flowers or bake them a cake.

There is one thing I need for gay people to stop doing today, right now however: Stop trying to make people in history gay when there was NO proof of this. I heard that there is a theory that David and Jonathan shared a homoerotic relationship because the bible says in 1 Samuel that “There was an immediate bond between them, for Jonathan loved David.” What? You never met someone that you struck up an immediate friendship with? Stop thinking with your genitals and try the love of God for God’s sake. And STOP trying to make George Washington Carver a “gay Black hero”, based on faulty evidence (like the fact that he never married). George Washington Carver never talked about anything but science and gave all his credit to God. But he was a sickler as a child who was raised by a white family. Do you know what they did to Black males – like butlers and house servants – who shared quarters with white women in those days? They castrated and took their virility from them. Listen to his voice for the evidence. Don’t you dare pour bleach on Mr. Carver and the horrors of our past to service your present day agenda.

I saw this cartoon floating around on Facebook and was amused by the jubilant reactions by my friends. The image of the Confederate flag going day and the gay flag coming up does not excite anything in me but displaced anxiety. While one was an assault on my Blackness, the other represents an assault on my religious freedom.

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“Oh no,” you say. “We come in peace!”

So did the Spaniards. You see how well that worked out for the Mayans.

Congratulations to the supporters of gay marriage. I hope that we all can get along, and that my people won’t suffer too much in the face of whatever unintended consequences are coming down the line. But as far as Christians and the destruction of the soul of this nation are concerned, there shouldn’t be any anxiety at all. America has long been the devil’s playground.

Marital Bliss: Year 19

Written by: Julia Nelson, friend, philosopher and master fruit smoothie maker.

So I keep seeing all these articles and blog posts with titles like “Ten Things I Never Knew About Marriage,” or “Eight Things They Never Told Me About Marriage,” or my favorite: “Four Thousand Three Hundred Things the CHURCH Never Told Me About Marriage or About How You Have to Get Someone to Water Your Houseplants When You go on Vacation or They Will Die.”

I realize that Dean and I are extremely blessed to have been married for 19 years now without murdering each other or resorting to mood-altering substances stronger than coffee. But I am not sure this is due to the possession of any special wisdom that is being systematically withheld from the non-blog-reading population. To my eyes, 99 percent of the deep insights shared in these marriage posts boils down to:

Marriage takes a certain amount of effort
You have to, like, care about the other person

I kind of think these truths would be a tad obvious to anyone who has had extended contact with another human being. Yet week after week, extremely earnest articles continue to valiantly debunk the myth that marriage requires no effort or concern for the other person. It almost makes me want to write a parenting article debunking the myth that the diaper is supposed to go on the baby’s face.

I realize that the fact that many people do not grow up with a good model of marriage is a real problem. But honestly, wouldn’t that make you go into it with lower expectations? I see two possibilities here:

People are willfully disconnecting themselves from all of their life experiences and basing their marital expectations on what they absorb from television, movies and crappy romance novels.
There is some widely read, but wildly inaccurate marriage article out there that I must have missed.

We all know #1 is more likely, but in celebration of the 19th Anniversary of the Day We Tried to Feed Several Hundred People at Our Wedding Reception on Plates that Were, in Hindsight, Way Too Large, I thought I’d have some fun with #2. So without further ado, here is my attempt to recreate the Original Myth-Perpetuating Listicle on Marriage, Deceiving Millions and Providing Blog Fodder for Centuries to Come:

Have you never had a sibling or a roommate or interacted extensively with another human being? Great! Here’s your comprehensive guide to Marriage Truths that will prepare you to find profound revelation in thousands of generic marriage articles for the rest of your life:

The qualities that make a great boyfriend or girlfriend in a movie—extreme hotness, quirky personality and wild displays of emotional intensity—always translate into the stable, responsible, reliable behaviors that make humans tolerable for more than five minutes at a time.
Since all human beings are raised with identical habits regarding money, cleanliness and daily routines, you and your spouse will find that your lives will easily and automatically mesh together.
The day of the wedding is far more important than the decades of living together that will follow, so you should definitely spend all your time, energy and money on that.
Marriage causes a cosmic shift in the soul of your spouse that will transform someone who has been an entitled narcissist his or her entire life into selfless and caring human being, all because of YOU.
Marriage also causes a metaphysical change in your own soul whereby all of your dissatisfactions with yourself or your life will instantly evaporate. Should any of these dissatisfactions reappear, they will automatically be your spouse’s fault.
Living with someone for the rest of your life means that you will never run out of things to talk about, so you should definitely marry for looks. Also, once you get married you start aging backward, so you will both actually get hotter as the years pass.
You will be so hot, in fact, that you should feel free to gain 4000 pounds and become generally unpleasant.
A lifelong commitment to another human somehow causes there to be fewer dishes and clothes to wash, less clutter to pick up and less hair in the shower drain, so you will never, ever fight about housework.
Staying up late with a little human who poops and pukes all over you puts everyone in a really good mood. Look for your relationship not to be challenged at all during the early years of parenthood.
The society-wide rejection of gender-stereotypical roles means that men are now able to tell the difference between a tub that has been thoroughly cleaned and one that has been briefly Windexed and to know intuitively that fingernail clippings do NOT belong in the armrest of YOUR WIFE’S CAR.
Furthermore, the rejection of the idea that the man should go out and earn a living while the woman takes care of the house means that NO ONE actually has to do either of these things. Just focus on enjoying each other’s company and the bills will somehow get paid and the house will somehow get clean.
Also, don’t worry about your kids. The Village will take care of them.

By way of disclaimer, I am not suggesting for a moment that all marital problems are related to items on this list. Some are exceedingly complicated and tragic, and I don’t pretend for a moment to understand them. But the good news is that if you do experience less-than-perfect feelings related to items on this list, nothing is (necessarily) (very) wrong! You are just a person who married another person. (Better luck next time!) And people—in case you are newly arrived on the planet—are great, but they can also be the worst. (Although as a general rule, adult people will fare better in marriage than overgrown adolescent people who still think of themselves as protagonists in a Taylor Swift song.)

I realize I have probably had an easier journey than many. I married an easygoing, kind, low maintenance man (I highly recommend this course of action). And I like to think of myself as an easygoing, kind, low maintenance woman, given to the occasional spontaneous panic attack, lest my easy-going man become bored.

Dean and I are also not overly ambitious in our marital aspirations: we feel no need to be a cool couple, a powerful couple, or a couple who makes their own organic toilet paper from fibers grown sustainably in their yard. Most weeks, we aspire chiefly to be a couple who remembers put the recycling out on the correct day, whose children are preparing for some sort of useful adulthood.

Is this settling for too little? Is this not bold (or “radical”) enough? Year 1, it might have felt that way. Year 19, it feels pretty frickin awesome.

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Governor Adams Oshiomhole Must be the *Nicest* Man in Africa

Last week, Marshall and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. *Confetti…yay!*

As we sat down to dinner, I casually opened my Facebook app (a habit of mine he has long hated, but has grown accustomed to) and saw that another couple in Africa had just tied the knot within days of our anniversary. That couple comprised of Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole and Lara Fortes. Iara Fortes is (or was) an airline hostess. There are media reports that she is a model as well – but this is Africa we’re talking. Every light skinned woman above the height of 5 feet is a “model”. Iara Fortes needs to be proud of her position of a sky hostess and stop this attempt to disguise her true talents. If you are awesome at bringing businessmen ice water in first class, own it!

Although Marshall hates that I spend so much time on my phone during the precious few hours we generally have together, he can’t deny that I generally find interesting items to discuss and dissect. The marriage of Governor Oshiomhole and Ms. Fortes was definitely worth dissection.

Reaction to the union on social media has been pretty predictable. Obviously – according to the Twitteratti and Facebook Kids – Iara Fortes was marrying the good governor for money. That’s the only reason pretty girls/women marry dudes that look like this, right? Because he’s wealthy? No, please. That explanation did not sit well with either of us.

AdamsOshiomholeIara2

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is single and wealthy.

Idris Elba is single and wealthy.

Several footballers on several African teams are single and wealthy.

There was no reason for Iara Fortes to merge her body and soul with this man for the mere benefit of wealth…not when there are so many superior looking and equally wealthy men on God’s green planet. It’s not as if she wouldn’t have the opportunity to meet these men. As I said before, her job was to bring chips and ice water to business and first class customers in the sky! We surmised that something deeper was at play. This was a puzzle that needed solving, and my husband and I (okay, just *EYE*) am proud of what we came up with for possible reasons to make sense of this marriage:

Juju was at work

Nigerian men are not above using juju to get what they want…at least in films. The dark arts are employed to acquire wealth, revenge, super human strength. But when it comes to matters of the heart, the stereotype is that it is usually women who turn to magic to capture the affections of a desired mate.

I don’t think Iara Fortes used juju, but it would not surprise me if the governor sprinkled some ground chicken bones in her Coke and whispered incantations over her in her sleep to ensure that this union took place. I mean, ah. Look at the way he has gripped her hand to put on the ring. What woman allows herself to be manhandled in this way without protesting? He is manhandling her in public…imagine how he will treat her away from the gaze and clicks of cameras!

gripping

The Governor was a rebound

It is a known and proven fact that good looking men – and especially men who know/are convinced that they are good looking – treat women like crap. They know that they can, because even if you leave, there will be another woman in the wings waiting for her turn to be treated like garbage. As for this one, I have experienced it myself. It’s ridiculous. There is no explanation for it!

My theory is that the good governor swooped in at the right time and saw that Iara Fortes had some sadness behind her eyes. He offered her some kindly (and fatherly) words, offered her his card, told her to call him anytime she wanted to talk and BOOM! Before she knew it, she was saying “I Do”. He hit her with that ‘nice guy’ act and she was powerless to resist.  This leads into Marshall’s theory which is…

your-brain-on-love

Iara’s Right Brain Beat the Left into Submission

The right side of the brain controls emotion. It recognizes faces, controls creativity and is associated with intuition. The left side of the brain controls logic, critical thinking and reasoning. When a person is “in love”, your brain is in a virtual fog. It emits neurotransmitters into your bloodstream that produce a feeling of euphoria whenever you think about object of your desire or are in his/her presence.

Marshall thinks Iara is thinking (or not) with her right brain, and when that left kicks in, she’s gonna be like “Awww shucks…I’m stuck now.”

 

She’s trying to spite her parents

Look at the faces of Mr. and Mrs. Fortes. Do they look happy to you? The mother didn’t even bother to do her hair properly to witness the wedding. It looks like they had just come back from lunch at the Golden Corral and were like “Well, I guess we better head over to Lara’s wedding. Did you bring the vodka? I’m going to need it to get through this day.”

Parents-of-the-bride-Mr-and-Mrs-Fortes-650x407

We’re all being catfished

No. Seriously. Is this a joke?

kissing

Supporters of the marriage have come out en force to enquire why so many people are in arms about the union. If Iara Fortes is marrying Governor O, why does it concern you? Is it your marrying?

“No!” say their detractors, “but it is our taxes!”

African politics and social norms will never cease to amuse and amaze. I don’t care about the money. History is full of advantageous and powerful marriages that have shaped our reality today… but this one, I can’t understand.  I care deeply about unlocking this code. I want to understand.

 

What do you think? When Marshall and I first got married, many people thought we were oddly matched and couldn’t make sense of our relationship either. Do you think these crazy kids have a chance? Is she in it for the money? Is he in it for her body? Discuss!

couple

Confession: I Have A Thing For Pale, Frail White Men

Interracial dating and marriage can be a very tricky thing, depending on your geographic location. My sister went to California a few years ago with her Black American boyfriend and came back to report that they were the oddest couple in whatever city she was in. (I forget.) NO ONE was dating anyone of the same race. In Ohio, every third person is of some sort of mixed heritage. With a few exceptions and further south, however, we all pretty much stick to our “own kind”. We still have yet to truly heal the wounds of slavery and Jim Crow, and up until just recently, one of the WORST things you could do was date outside of your race. Nevertheless, this doesn’t stop a sistah from looking, does it?

Please, I beg you. I am very happily married to my husband and my eye is not wandering with the intention of picking up a side piece. I am merely here to confess to you that there are certain aesthetics in the opposite (and white) sex that I appreciate…those aesthetics being the appearance of needing a hot meal or six and a big bossomy hug. Yes folks: I find pale hungry looking white men attractive, and if I had been braver, I would have sought one to bring home to introduce to my parents. However after my mother go completely ape on my brother for taking the Russian girl as his date to his prom, I knew she would pull a full on Lady Galadriel if I showed up with a fiancé named Brad. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop a sistah from looking, does it?

galadriel

Black men got over the hurdle of interracial dating a long time ago and have gone full throttle in their pursuit of lighter/whiter skinned women. Popular culture made this shift easier for the brothers to navigate as well and 20 years or so ago, this was a cause for distress for Black women, myself being one of them. As time has passed though, Black women really couldn’t care less whom Black men date/marry. In the 1980s and 90s, watching a Black man open doors and dine white women felt like a slap in the face, but I assure you it doesn’t sting nearly as much now. It’s just one of those things that has become normalized within our culture, like gay marriage or nylon socks and Nike beach slippers. Weird at first, but meh in the long run. The other day I saw a (Black) dude walking with his (white) woman to Chipotle. I looked at me with terror in his eyes, like I was judging him or something. It took all my strength not to shout “Bruh! It’s all good! I’m just here to get a burrito…not monitor your love life!”

I digress.

Back to that whole bravery thing: I am always intrigued by comments people pass when Black women are brave enough to date not only outside their race – but to date white men in particular. These comments are often passed by Black men. Here’s a small sample:

“She must really hate herself to be with a white guy.”

“I bet he thinks he’s on safari.”

“I wonder if she calls him ‘Massa’ in bed…”

These were all the comments that were passed at a bar-b-que I attended here in Atlanta a few years ago when this FOINE Ivorian girl showed up with her geeky white boyfriend. I didn’t know either of them, and to my shame, I didn’t defend them. I suppose I was just amazed to hear the audible thoughts of Black men on this subject. I can’t help but wonder what people might say about me, given the type of white man I find attractive.

Chris Pine is a very good looking man, and so was Paul Walker (God rest him)….but I would pole vault over both of them to make my way to Benedict Cumberbatch. Benedict Cumberbatch? The frail looking chap with the crooked nose? Yes! That very same one. The one with the intense eyes and the soothing baritone voice. But should it behoove Benedict to beware of me, I would immediately turn my attentions to Alexander Vlahos, the skinny Welsh kid with those dreamy blue eyes. The way I would punish him, eh? He doesn’t know! Serve him up with a side of Buddy Holly and we have a proper pale-frail buffet!

Buddy_Holly

I can see your faces. You are aghast. What kind of self-respecting African woman likes a white man whom she can subjugate and conquer? But that’s just the point, isn’t it? It wasn’t tall, strong white men who orchestrated the takeover of the entire globe, was it? It was the little devious ones with the devilish eyes. They made you trust them, them BAM! They made off with all your artifacts and your cultural dignity. I suppose my desire cum attraction is some visceral need to avenge the wrongs done to people of color centuries ago. Of course, that’s not true at all. I know exactly where my appreciation stems from.

Source: mnn.com

Source: mnn.com

When I was in elementary school, there was a kid named Todd that was in my third grade class. Todd was tall, blonde and brilliant. Todd had a late birthday in December, which also made him one of the older – and therefore more mature – kids in our class. Once, we had a project to do. President Regan was visiting our school and we had to make signs to welcome him. None of the other kids would work with me because I was an “African booty scratcher”, but Todd came over to my table and gave ideas about what my sign could say to welcome the president. I crushed on Todd like no third grader had ever crushed on a boy before! I tried not to be all weird about it, so I showed by appreciation for his kindness by refusing to speak to him or moving away from the lunch table when he sat down next to me.

*Sigh*

People in general make a lot of assumptions about interracial couples, but there is usually one constant when one half of that couple is a Black woman. Folks usually assume – and remark with pity – that that woman is being “exoticised” by her white partner. That could be true. I met a white man who only dated women of color – any color – because he really did think he was on a dating safari. I don’t have a problem with this sort of thinking, except in the way that it treats women like objects. You don’t think we also exoticise people of other races? I used to work with this Serbian guy named Vladimir that was so washed out and pale, he made rice look tan and toasty; and I was taking him to lunch every chance I got. Took him outside and showed him off like he was my favorite Serbian accessory. We were both married and wore rings, and I reveled in the quizzical looks that people would give us when we sat in public laughing like the great friends we were. What would such a gawky looking white guy and a buxom Black woman with natural hair have in common? Plenty, it turns out.

Sisters! Sisters looking for a date! Sisters looking for a good husband! Do something for yourselves. Tomorrow is Saint Patrick’s Day and the Irish boys will be out en force. Don’t let them fool you: they like Black women and like them very well! (Except for the overtly racist ones, of course.) They are just afraid they will be rejected or worse, cussed out by a Black woman in public. Wink, flirt, wear a green wig and learn an Irish jig or two. Knowing the words to a Bob Dylan song or two never hurt either. You’ll be wed and making little leprechauns in no time.