Friday, January 30, 2009


I was in an undisclosed location the other day with three other women. Woman 1 was going on and on, rather loudly, about her ex-boyfriend and their daughter. Apparently, the father was not holding up his end of the parental bargain. She was venting about his failure to keep his committments in spending time, money, and energy parenting. And yet, he had plenty to say about the job the mother was doing. This was becoming a source of much discontent between the two. Woman 1 seemed fully aware of the detrimental effects of poor fathering on young girls and she was at her wits end about why he A) didn't simply do what he should be doing with his daughter, and B) didn't realize the horrible cycle he was setting up, possibly for the rest of her life.

Meanwhile, Woman 2 was on her cell phone having a woefully similar conversation about her husband and their two sons. They may be separating again. I think he's lost his job and is spiraling downward. Woman 2's assessment was that he had been a wonderful father (until now), although he was an off-and-on husband. Now, though, he was not meeting his parenting responsibilities consistently. Moreover, her conversation revealed, she had been the framer for their relationship all along. She had orchestrated his career path, cared for their children, and carried the burden of their living arrangements.

While these issues have been discussed to death lately, I rarely see discussions that address the need for young people to observe healthy couples. Without that information, choosing partners and planning a life is difficult. Is that the major issue, though? If we--communities, families, churches--stopped pretending that condoms, education, and responsibility are not important tools in the journey towards adulthood, would we make some progress? When we wish that people would "get it together", do they know what that means? So, how can either children or adults find out how to fix their personal problems unless they have a realistic standard? And, with the excess of single parent, dysfunctional families, how can most people intimately know that standard? Television isn't enough; it's manufactured and made for profit. Still, am I wrong in thinking that conflict resolution, communication, family planning, and decision making are tools that must be taught, not instinctively known?

Monday, January 26, 2009


Okay, I have a son. I have the highest of hopes for him and for his life. Now, I can say that the sky is truly the limit (thanks President Obama; that's true for my daughter, too, by the way). Here's what I don't think I'll be needing, though--Rapper T.I. as messianic role model.

T.I. is performing 1000 hours of community service as part of a court mandate. In addition, he thought it wise to also film a reality show that will chronicle his activities before he serves a prison sentence. Here's what I don't understand: why would I want him talking to my children? What is he going to say? Of course, one of my major issues with rappers is that that refuse to pronouce the entire word when they speak. I know I'm from the South, but come on; we can manage to say most of the word most of the time. Aside from the way he speaks, though, is the question of exactly what he'll say and why anybody thinks he's going to scare children straight. Don't they think he's cool? And is this reality show really going to be part of his redemption? How?

What kind of fool do you think I am? He's trying to redeem his image so that somebody will buy CDs after he gets outta the joint.

I think this is ridiculous.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Hope over fear"

There's a lot to say, and yet not enough words to say it. I'm here in Washington, D.C. My vantage point for the actual swearing in was severely limited, but the crowds of people, the hustlers peddling merchandise, the exhuberance in the voices of attendees--it's exciting and overwhelming. The anticipation the last couple of days as we walked on the National Mall has been uplifting.

Here are a few random thoughts that occur to me now:

1) Michelle Obama's outfit is a beautful color and she wears it like she's a woman to be reckoned with.

2) Please, please, no one buy the T-shirt I saw on the street that read: I was there and you wasn't. If you can't manage to get the grammar right, you don't deserve my money.

3) Why didn't the President (ah, I smile every single time I hear it now) have a hat on his head?! I know how cold it was out there! I know this jumbotron image (see below) is about as far away as the sun, but surely it's cold way up there, too.

4) John Roberts, didn't you, like, practice the two lines you had to present today? It was kind of important to get it right.

5) Did I just see Michelle Obama tell her girls to "get down from there"? She looked out of the corner of her eyes, and I could just barely read her lips, saying, "No" and something else, and following with "So . . . ." with a turn of her head; it looked a lot like she was "checking" them. Maybe it's just me, but I think I've seen that scenario before; I think I've created that scenario before.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pondering Art and Character

The other night I was watching one of my favorite movies, The Five Heartbeats, which features Harold Nicholas of The Nicholas Brothers. Although the man was 70, he was still able to make some fancy footsteps in that movie. I was impressed as I am whenever I see footage of him and his brother, Fayard. But it left me wondering: can you admire a person's talent and/or work even though you deplore their person? How do you separate the art from the artist?

I don't exactly deplore Nicholas, but I think he seems like a shady character. He married Dorothy Dandridge and when she wouldn't give up the marital goods (because she couldn't), he threatened to leave. Then, he didn't want to deal with the mentally-challenged daughter they had together. That's shady. Although I understand that I only have Dandridge's side of the story, I forever have a bad taste in my mouth about him which, for me, makes it difficult to appreciate his work.

But is this right? I mean, the man could really move his feet! And along those same lines, how am I to feel about Miles Davis who was a musical genius but who liked to beat his women? And R. Kelly, who is certainly creative and talented (even if he wastes that creativity and talent in order to sell records), but who, let's be real, likes teenage girls? How can I like the artistry of these men when there is so much egregious negativity surrounding their character?

The other day on The View Elisabeth was--surprise surprise!--defending President Bush. She gave some regurgitated diatribe about how history will look more kindly on him as it did with President Lincoln. Anyway, she and Barbara went on to say how Bush is actually a very likable man. I've heard this before. I mention him because his case presents the opposite situation--a likable person whose work is shoddy/shady. But his case is an easier one to consider. Of course you can like a person and recognize that they are not skilled in a particular field or are not qualified for a particular job. But what I am asking is, what if they are the best at that job yet they are not skilled as a good person?

This conundrum has plagued me before. I have no answers and it bothers me because there are things I want to like, but I feel I can't because the person producing it gets all in the way.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Movie List Again

I want to talk about my movies, too. As much as I like books, though, I don't know if I could do it for books. And you're right, I can't believe you haven't seen The Matrix (any of them). But anyway, here are my movie selections:

Films With Which I Fell In Love Forever At First Viewing: The Color Purple, Rent, Malice, The Five Heartbeats, Underworld

Films That I Like But I Don't Know Why and It's Weird: White Chicks, Legally Blonde

Films That Make Me Weep: The Joy Luck Club, The Five Heartbeats, Forrest Gump, Mulan

Films That Make Me Sing For Days: Rent, The Temptations, The Five Heartbeats, The Sound of Music

Films I Cannot Turn Off If I Catch A Glimpse On TV: The Temptations, The Negotiator, Blade I, II or III, Harlem Nights, Transformers

Films That I Quote (Even Just One Line From) Far Too Often: The Color Purple, Dirty Dancing, Don't Be a Menace to Society While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood, O Brother, Where Art Thou
Films That Are Beloved For Mostly Nostalgic Reasons: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Imitation of Life, The Wizard of Oz, Batman, Beetlejuice, The Wood

Films I Wish I Could Un-See: The Piano, Apollo 13, Hostel, Menace to Society, Sex and the City

Films You Won't Believe I've Never Seen: Casablanca, Citizen Kane, The Godfather (any of them), Basic Instinct, E.T. , An Officer and a Gentleman

Films I Saw (and maybe liked) But Don't Remember a Thing About: Big Trouble, The Seventh Sign

Films That Made Me Love a Performer: My Fair Lady, Peggy Sue Got Married, Legally Blonde, What's Love Got to Do with It

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Movie List

Per the funny and fascinating list on outside voice, I've apparently been tagged. So I'm writing my own list of films and maybe I'll do the one about books, too. I like her categories, so I'll start with those. Here's what I came up with:

Films With Which I Fell In Love Forever At First Viewing: Dirty Dancing, The Color Purple, Steel Magnolias, The Last Dragon, Six Degrees of Separation, Forrest Gump, A Place in the Sun

Films That I Like But I Don't Know Why and It's Weird: Dead Presidents, Scream, Forget Paris, The Butterfly Effect, Malice, When a Man Loves a Woman, Clueless

Films That Make Me Weep: Love Story, The Joy Luck Club, What Dreams May Come, Ghost, (again) The Color Purple, Philadelphia, Mississippi Burning, Glory, Dead Man Walking

Films That Make Me Sing For Days: Chicago, The Sound of Music, (again) Dirty Dancing, The Wiz, Coal Miner's Daughter, The Five Heartbeats, The Temptations, The Jacksons: An American Family

Films I Cannot Turn Off If I Catch A Glimpse On TV: Notting Hill, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, Misery, Delores Clayborne, Citizen Ruth, Hoop Dreams, Imitation of Life

Films That I Quote (Even Just One Line From) Far Too Often: (can't say it enough) The Color Purple, (and for good measure) Dirty Dancing, What's Love Got to Do With It, Boyz in the Hood, Jerry Maguire, Citizen Kane, It's a Wonderful Life, A Few Good Men

Films That Are Beloved For Mostly Nostalgic Reasons: Breakin' (I and II), Back to the Future, An Officer and A Gentleman, ET

Films I Wish I Could Un-See: The English Patient, Mannequin, Invisible Maniac (such a loooong story), Freddy vs. Jason, Don't Be a Menace to Society While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood, Stop or My Mom Will Shoot

Films You Won't Believe I've Never Seen: The Matrix (any of them), The Green Mile, Annie Hall, American Graffiti, Die Hard, Jaws, Network

Films I Saw (and maybe liked) But Don't Remember a Thing About: The Crying Game (okay, I remember that one thing), The Cider House Rules, About Last Night, The Piano, Bladerunner, Endless Love

Films That Made Me Love a Performer: Norma Rae, The Graduate, Sophie's Choice, Top Gun, Jungle Fever, Pretty Woman, Malcolm X

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

For Real, though?

So, I'm watching this tell-all, retrospective-type show about MTV's "The Real World" and how fabulously fabulous the show is. I realize that I haven't actually watched this show in several years. I used to watch it religiously, and in the back of my mind I thought that I'd be on it one day. Since everyone has to have a "character" on this reality show, I'd be the innocent Southern belle with Malcolm X tendancies. I'd spend my time regurgitating brilliant ideas from all my thoughtful, idealistic reading material, and my roommates' eyes would be opened about race and gender and the beautiful contradictions of the South. I'd be angry and passionate, but sweet and endearing. Some cute guy would fall hard for me, but it would be fleeting. "That girl," my roommates would say, "She's a sweetheart, but don't cross her!"

Had I been on the show several years ago, perhaps my fantasy season would have come to pass. But now, the sex-ed up, hot tub, type cast show would never have me; they've had a thousand versions of my imaginary character. It's just ridiculous and not at all real, and I remember why I stopped watching this silliness. Most importantly, though, I realize that I am now waaaayyy too old and jaded to ever be cast on that show. Now, I'd roll my eyes at the cast's whining and arguing and go crochet something.

Still, I feel a little sad that I'm no longer young and restless. My "Real World" dream is never going to happen. It seems like every twenty-something has a media presence, whether on TV or the web (I don't really envy that--I'm sure they are making dumb decisions that will come back to haunt them). Instead of those exciting experiences, I'm wondering why my 3 year old is suddenly wetting her pants 3 times in a week and being depressed because my university President just gave the most depressing speech today about the economy and the sad state of the school (and of the jobs therein, many of which will be vaporizing soon). I'll never have flat abs to show off (did I ever?) or some exotic manufactured experience of my youth. Who's thinking of me and wondering, "Where are they now?"

Anybody think there'll ever be "Really Real World"? Maybe that's the show for me.

New Year, New Goals

As this new year has dawned, all the morning shows have talked about creating "a new you." People make resolutions and even you, SM, have set forth some aspirations to be better during the coming year. I try not to make resolutions because like many people, I rarely keep them. Instead, I try to make goals. But really, isn't a rose by any other name just as sweet? Whatever, I will still set forth some more goals.

Several years ago, a friend of mine challenged me to list 101 experiences that I wanted to have in my lifetime. Regardless of feasibility, likelihood, money, limitation, etc., I was to write out 101 experiences. It's sad, I know, that to this day, I am only able to list 31 things! Well, you could look at it from the perspective that I don't think very imaginatively (which is sad) or that for the most part, I do what I want to do without having the chance to list it. (Okay, probably the truth leans more toward the former.) This year, I will try to accomplish some of the things on my list. That is my goal. And maybe to add more experiences to the list.

The experiences on my list are not necessarily that big or that hard to do, but sometimes life gets in the way (of living--isn't that ironic) or I forget to try to do them. For instance, I would like to taste marzipan. See, not a big deal and readily available at Christmas time. But between grading papers at the end of the Fall semester, squeezing in time to shop for gifts, and visiting family, I have forgotten to buy some time and time again. Another experience I want to have is to participate in a scavenger hunt. These do not present themselves everyday. However, can you believe that there was one at Biblebelt Unviversity just last semester?!? I was all ready to sign up, but they said only teams could sign up and I didn't have a team. Also, I had something come up and I had to do it that same afternoon, so even if I had signed up, I would have had to bail on it.

There are some items that require a little more effort and a little more money that I have not accomplished, too. For instance, I'd like to go to Venice. On top of time and money being obstacles, DH is not interested in going in the least. But I am going to get to Venice one day. And Paris, France, too!

For this year, I will try to accomplish the following goals:
  • come up with more experiences I would like to have
  • have a glamorous makeover
  • be a mother
  • visit the Washington Monument
  • have a book published
  • taste a souffle

Some are small goals, some are a little loftier. Here's hoping this year brings me and everyone the accomplishment of all goals and resolutions!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

What's new?

So, as the new year rolled in I revisited a list that I began on my 30th birthday. It's a list of the things I hope my life will bring me. Places I want to go. Experiences I want to have. As soon as I wrote the list, one of the items happened right away. So, now I write down everything I can think of. Obviously, writing it down makes it come true, right?

Looking at that list again, I'm setting out on this year with an openness that I don't usually have. Well, I'll try. I want to be comfortable with the discomfort of not knowing, not understanding, being unsure. Leaping. The net will appear. Last year was filled with so many unexplained tragedies that I wanted to . . . I don't know, say screw it. But there were wonderful, unexpected open doors, too. So, I'm going to believe that happiness will surround me and prevail all over the world. And that we'll survive and sustain when it doesn't.

In the meantime, I'll look for ways to make my list happen. And thanks, TD, for bringing me one item on the list. :)