Thursday, November 4, 2010

...You have to follow through...

Although he may be like so 2006, I really like Gavin DeGraw – and so, he occasionally comes up on my Pandora station. Just a bit ago the song “Follow Through” came on and, although I’ve heard it a good many times before, today it was profound. Why? Well, let’s explore.

“So, since you wanna be with me
You'll have to follow through
With every word you say
And I, all I really want is you
you to stick around
I'll see you everyday
But you have to follow through
You have to follow through”

This song embodies that something in me that hates flakiness and hot-air. The motto is simple: Do what you say you’re going to do and if you’re not going to do it, don’t say it.” I expect nothing less than follow-though (or at least honestly attempted follow-through) on everything someone says as that’s the mark I strive for. Don’t always make it, but I try to acknowledge the times that I fall short – and make it known that it wasn’t for lack of trying. I’m an advocate for this being a value in everything that we do: with the people we date, at work, with our families & friends, etc…

“Follow though? Mmmkay…On every word I say? Whoa.” I’m gonna argue that this is the general attitude of most of us youngish folks these day. Follow-though is a foreign concept and holding people accountable elicits one of two usual responses: (1) blank stare or (2) anger. I once had someone ask me, what right I had to require that they keep their word. This would have been amusing if it wasn’t so sad. Why has become unreasonable to ask for someone to follow-through? Shouldn’t it be a requirement of anyone who choose to closely interact with – particularly when they’ve chosen you too? It’s simple responsibility…but no one wants to talk about that.

But let’s…

Words are powerful. They mean a lot, they can lift and carry and they wound. Words are real and too often we wield them without thinking about their gravity. We say ‘yes’ when we should be saying ‘no’ or nothing at all; we make plans and promises that we can’t keep and in turn, we disappoint people. For some reason, there’s an idea circulating around out that disappointing people isn’t our problem; that we are someone off-the-hook for the discomfort and/or inconvenience and/or hurt that we cause others. I dunno, maybe it’s from our yuppy, Me-generation, parents telling us how perfect we are – engendering selfish brats. Or maybe its just we’re emotionally lazy and it’s so much easier to divorce ourselves from others than it is to accept responsibility for them, for our words and for our failure to follow-though…

So how about it: Follow through…on every word you say.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Politics of Birth

The other day I submitted an abstract for a paper to a Women's Studies conference at a small university not too far from here. I am a serial abstract submissionist who rarely gets around to ever writing the papers, but it's October (that school spirit is in the air). I'm no longer a student, but this time of year always makes me feel all intellectual and I get the overwhelming urge to contribute something to the academy.

After attending a Reproductive Justice conference this past spring, I've been thinking quite a bit about the politics of birth or more specifically - how childbirth rights are indeed reproductive rights, and I can get involved.

So...I have a tea-time appointment next week with a interesting (sounding) doula/midwife here in DC about the prospects of my becoming a doula myself. I'm kinda really excited about this. How earth-motherly of me.

In all seriousness, birth is the literal first stage of a child development and the first interaction it will have with it's parents and the beginning of that parent/child relationship. With this in mind, how incredibly important is it to make sure this experience is safe and healthy and educational and empowering for the families involved? But, as it's probably easy to imagine, women at the margins of society (poor women, girl mothers, queer mothers, disabled mothers, incarcerated mothers, etc...) must endure birth experiences that are much less than ideal and that rife with misinformation, negligence, abuse of power, patronization, and other injustices that start these new families out on the wrong foot. Because of who they are and what they don't have, many women enter and exit the birth experience uninformed and unsupported - something that no woman should have to do. Birth is at once physically and emotionally traumatic and, life changing, and wonderful, and on and on...

While most of this discourse removed the birth process from the topic of motherhood and parenting and family relationships, I would argue that it's essential to the discussion. Therefore, in my paper I'm going to construct and argument for (1) not privileging one expression of reproductive rights over another (abortion trumping childbirth) and (2) making sure childbirth is included at the heart of the discourse. I've printed out (and have yet to read) a bunch of interesting-looking article on this subject and I'm excited to embark on this research...

Civilian scholar - or trying to be.

Monday, September 6, 2010

On confronting insecurity...and therefore, on being human

Insecurity is a bitch.

It creeps up on you and effs with your head until you end up doing or believing something dumb. It's problematic if not addressed honestly.

Insecurity is also inevitable - it's simply part of the human condition. Anyone who denies dealing with it is either lying to you or themselves, or you and themselves. We all have those moments in time and/or areas within ourselves in which we just can't get it together enough to believe (really believe) we are worthy, or deserving, or good-enough, or acceptable or whatever. But, how do we deal?

Everything about us is imperfect, for sure - but isn't it all in how we deal with those many little (or big) idiosyncrasies that make us human? If so, I choose to fight this battle by reminding myself of what's true - in order to counteract those unproductive myths that foster insecurity. So, here it goes:

The good things that others see in me are probably true.

The bad things that others have expressed about me should be taken in context. Not that they may not be true, but that people with good intentions and truth to share do so with love, not negativity.

I am my own harshest critic and if I must be self-critical about anything, it should be about how I should often be kinder to myself.

It is okay to believe that I deserve really good things, because I do. It is also okay to accept good things into your life without guilt or fear.

Weapon of choice? Speak on it...

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Best Things

Maybe the best things in life aren't things...but here some of the best things!

1. Kink Curly Curling Custard

Because there are so many new natural hair products out there for women of color, I'm always cheating on this stuff. But, like a lame-ass dude, I always come back. It really is the greatest styling product for curly hair...the bestest (Nicki Minaj voice)

2. Vegetarian Nachos...

In order of assembly: Tortilla chips, refried black beans, shredded cheese, sautéed mushrooms and spinach (these are the most important parts!), fresh tomato salsa (refrigerated section of the grocery store...yeah, the one with the expiration date), sour cream...

It's good - trust.

3. Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle Body Wash & Unscented Moisturizing Cream

Both are really pretty fantastic and cheap - $3.99 each, I think. The bodywash leaves you feeling so fresh and so clean, but not squeak-like. The lotion is thick, but not greasy and lasts all day (but has it's hard to get the last 1/4 out of the bottle)...but that's workable.

4. Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz (Wine...)

I love shiraz and I love sweet wine...BONUS! A really yummy sweet shiraz...and it comes in a cool bottle...and it's a twist-off! Easy access.

5. Janelle Monae!

Um, yeah...she's awesome (girl crushing....). She's gorgeous. She can really sing. She dresses androgynous. She's got great hair. 'nuff said...

Monday, August 23, 2010

On letting go and making room for good things...

So, I unexpectedly find myself with a really good thing...actually, a really great thing.

I went somewhere random on a whim and engaged in a conversation just for the fun of it really and the rest is well...just what it is - goodness.

It was the day after this whimsical experience that I let something go, not to replace it with something else, but because I simply recognized that something had to give, even if there wasn't anything at all to fill the space left behind. But, you see, I had to release the one to experience the other, it was just the way of things. It didn't feel good at the time and was actually horrible and frightening and sad, but it opened up the space needed for what was to come next.

Some things just aren't good. Some things are painful and uncomfortable (not in a productive way) and ambiguous and other not good things that are bound to eventually outweigh any goodness that might be in them. We hold on to and sometimes even hoard these things (people, relationships, feelings, thoughts, etc...) for all sorts of different reasons that I won't speculate on here, but I'm a believer that we shouldn't. When something isn't good (or at least mostly good), let it go.

Let it go and make room for those good things that might come unexpectedly or in time or tomorrow or with patience and hope...I dunno. Just make sure that when a good thing comes to you, you are not too cluttered to receive it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Things that just aren't cute (Part III): Silly Women

*A silly woman might be seen wearing a shirt like this, but's usually not this obvious.

Women are socialized to be silly. Mary Wollstonecraft made the case in the 18th century and unfortunately it’s still true. Why? Good question. Maybe because we are still taught that femininity = sugar and spice and everything nice and nothing substantive, and although most women bust through this paradigm, we all occasionally have lapses. ‘Tis true and I’ll own up. However…there exists those women who are consistently and perhaps, hopelessly, silly – through and through. They are it is problematic, particularly to us everyday girls just trying to make it out there. Silly women throw other women under the bus by serving as evidence for sexist folks in their case against women’s autonomy while simultaneously making men the center of their universe. But basically, silly women are a product of a sexist environment – yep, the one we live in. Here’s the MO:

**Note the tense…there is method to the madness. Get it?

***Being equal opportunity and all, also note that silly men inhabit the categories in the first two “things that just aren’t cute” posts…I’m not being a hater

Bending over backwards to please a man that (1) doesn’t really like you and (2) just likes to be bent over backwards for

There is nothing wrong with working towards making the person you’re with happy and comfortable, but pulling out all the stops for someone that isn’t at all invested in you is just sad. Don’t do it. One can argue all day and night that women are no longer socialized to please men, but the argument crumbles next to fact that you just heard (from a silly girl friend or an opportunist douchebag guy friend) about some girl going above and beyond the call of duty to make a guy that doesn’t even like her feel all warm and fuzzy. While you don’t need to go throwing “bitch” at everything in pants, how about saving the “extra” for a guy that’s into you enough to appreciate it? Do it for you and do it for the rest of the women out there who have to deal with the spoiled, entitled jackasses that silly women have help spawn.

That’s right…no more fried chicken, back rubs, rides to work, and you know what else for dudes that don’t even have enough interest in (or respect for) you to take you out on a date.

Chasing after or allowing oneself to be chased by a taken man

I was going to write “unavailable” men, but men can be unavailable for many reasons – some of which are subtle enough to get the best of us. But some aren’t so subtle…like wives and fiancés and girlfriends. Word. Whether a woman is predator or prey to a taken man, just entertaining him as a would-be love interest/sexual partner is enough to move her into the realm of the ‘silly woman.’ Some men stray –
Unfortunately, it’s a given…but that’s never an excuse to act a damn fool and participate in it. By messing with a taken man you’re not only sabotaging your own integrity, but you’re also behaving in a way that violates the frickin GOLDEN RULE! No bueno. Karma is a bitch…and if you choose to dip into someone else’s pot – so are you.

Being mean and otherwise unpleasant to anyone that isn’t a guy you are interested in

Silly women are often unpleasant women not because they are silly, but because unless you’re a man they want to impress, they aren’t so nice. It’s like they have a limited capacity for kindness that they reserve for catching men (who, once caught, will no longer benefit from it). These women are often mean to other women (who they see as they enemy), to men they aren’t attracted to, to their restaurant servers, their coffee baristas...geez, they even kick puppies (but only when cute boys aren’t looking). They are the women that live out their relationships being catty and petty and competitive with other women and who mercilessly shoot down and below the belt when approached by a guy she’d rather not talk to. Silly women don’t understand the value of caring for others (in acts or words or otherwise) if there isn’t something obvious in it for them.

Okay, I’m done venting. Let’s keep it moving….

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Things that just aren't cute (Part II): Being an out-of-character asshole...

We all have our moments...those times that we wish we could erase or at least forget about in which we have acted like total asses. It happens and usually it's forgivable. However, there are those instances where a douchebag move is and should be a dealbreaker.

1. Telling lies or other "non-truths"

Tell no lies. Just don't. Using the excuse that people don't like to hear the truth or aren't ready for the truth or some other nonsense like that is just that, nonsense. Of course there are times when the truth is something that we don't want hear and it makes us angry or sad, but that doesn't mean most reasonable people don't appreciate it - even if only in retrospect. Telling the truth means providing other people with accurate information from which to make decisions. When you lie you essentially taking another's ability to make an informed decision about you, that's no good...actually, it's fraud.

2. Fighting unfairly

Cardinal rule of interpersonal relationships should be to always fight fairly. There will always be disagreements and maybe even fighting, but you gotta be grown-up enough to fight on the up-and-up. Which name calling, no lying (see above), no using the words "always" and "never." There could be more said here, but I'll keep it basic and leave it at that.

3. Being sexist

Not cute = Dudes, who are otherwise progressive and reasonable, caught in the act of telling sexist jokes, hating on women as a group, blaming women for their own interpersonal pathologies, etc... Sexist behavior doesn't make you look like a "man," it makes you look ignorant, pathetic, whiny and just basically like a sexually frustrated guy who can't get any. Lay off the women, they are not your are.

4. Being decidedly not-chivalrous

No one needs anyone to wisk them away on a white horse, but that doesn't give you a free pass at common decency. Give up your seat on the DC Metro train (or at least move the hell over), open a door, help someone lift something, when out with your girl, walk on the outside of the sidewalk for her. Why? Because it shows that you care about someone other than yourself, which is one of the top three traits of a good guy.

Anything to add?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Things that just aren’t cute (Part I): Grown-ass men dudes acting like underage frat boys…

*Idris Elba is fine...but would not be nearly as fine stumbling around like a San Diego State freshman...not like he would, or anything. Right, Idris?

A buddy of mine is currently living it up in Vegas for a few days and this morning I got a 9am text telling me that he had yet to go to bed and how hard he goes in the “mutha f*ckin paint,” among other things…SMH. Dude is 33. This is so uncute…

While I get that everyone at every age needs to let loose and get wild from time to time, this shouldn’t be an excuse to regress back to the nonsense of freshman days past. You might have been cool back then, but fellas…that look no longer fits – kinda like that post-college interview suit. Goodwill it and get something new, like age appropriate behavior.

This doesn’t mean you need to walk around with a stick up your a** as the icon of absolute maturity, but it does mean leaving the juvenile shenanigans to the juveniles.

Most goings-on are fair game, but how about we avoid these:

1. Public drunkenness

So you’re grown, you have a job, you have a mortgage, you handle your business – why are you trying to hard to look like you don’t? Huh?

2. Macking (or worse) on women that either appear too young for you or who are trying to appear too young for you…

Either way, this is problematic.

3. Nostalgically clinging to the “good ol’ days,” of which you hardly remember.

Word: If your early 20s were the best years of your life, maybe you should evaluate your life. Partying hard and living it up is a fun way to bide your time as you are working to get your ish together…so that you can actually live it up. If, at 28-33, you already looking to the past and not the future, well, you have some pondering to do…

4. Bragging about how hard you can party…

Dude – you are almost middle aged. No one in your age cohort is impressed by that anymore and…no one cares.

What am I missing?