You are not a label

I don’t mind labels. I actually like them. A label is just a sticker. It can be removed. It can be moved around. It can stay on indefinitely.

Labels and categories are only measures of identification. They make things easier to sort through, to know what might occur.

A label is not a scarlet letter branded into your flesh, an Auschwitz tattoo pricked into your arm. People get riled up, proclaiming, “I hate labels!” or “Don’t put me in a category.” Bro, you’re a human being, there’s no singular definition. You’re not pigeonholed or limited to just one label for the rest of your life, sister.

Only time i dislike labels is when they’re inaccurate. Same goes for if someone talks about me: as long as it’s not a lie, fine, go ahead. Truth and authenticity. Truth and authenticity.

If i ask you what you do, please do not start off by saying, “it doesn’t define me.” I KNOW that. I don’t need a qualifier. I don’t want to hear or see you being defensive by a simple question. I don’t want the first words to be a sign of an insecurity.

I didn’t ask you, “Who are you?” Or something as loaded (or philosophical). I just want to know what you do for a living, what your occupation is, your career, your vocation. If i was a person to believe the all-encompassing definition of an individual was their job title or position, i’d be a sad, pathetic, singular-minded and -faceted human being.

The question is an introduction, like a name, to know some portion of the greater definition of you. It’s an easy start to further branches of a conversation. By me asking what you do, i’m interested in a sentence from your story. Use the question as an opportunity to craft the telling of your narrative. Make it your own bard’s tale.

You tell me you’re a teacher, i’ll have an idea that you’re into education, you like to influence folks’ lives directly. I’ll probably then like to know what grade(s) you teach to see what type of disposition you have; can you deal with little children?—do you have patience? Why a teacher and not a professor? Are you a world traveler, picking up English-teaching gigs to keep your wanderlust afloat?

Everything is deeper than the tip, the rabbit hole goes farther than the shadowed entrance you see. The what do you do inquiry is a springboard to more knowledge for me.

It is troublesome when i hear people reply with it doesn’t define me because it speaks that they assume their jobs are who they are. Maybe they didn’t learn this as a youngster: an occupation doesn’t define a man or a woman. Maybe they didn’t have blue collar or no-collar ancestors, those who cleaned toilets, built houses, washed clothes, toiled in factories from sun to sun. Whatever gets the food on the table.

Football Hall of Fame shoe-in, Kurt Warner, was a supermarket bag clerk while trying to make it into the NFL; do you think he believed asking, “Paper? Or plastic?” was who he was? No. He had to make a living, biding his time until he had the right opportunity to do what he loved for a living.

These anecdotes from people’s lives add to their character. Can be an inspiration or a red flag.

Using myself as an example, i’m curious to see how some of my labels look when written and how they interact, how they co-exist and seem to be at odds with each other, but when viewed as a whole, make up my personal artwork:

I’m a Brooklynite. I’m a Sigma. I’m a dread. I’m a momma’s boy. I’m a computer geek. I’m an atheist. I’m a heathen. I’m a Black non-believer. I’m an athlete. I’m a writer. I’m a social butterfly. I’m a homebody. I’m a Cancer. I’m a Gemini-cusp. I’m an HS diploma-holder. I’m an auto-didactic. I’m a bibliophile. I’m a tattoo fiend. I’m a lover.

Now, take any of those entries and let them stand alone: would they accurately give a full story or a definition of me? Of anyone? No. But, they would be bases for further stories to unfold, would be ready to be unpacked further.

Each label, though static in itself, aren’t the only ones that can exist in a given space or on a given person. Put one or six atop another, rip away an old one, one that no longer fits. Embrace the labels knowing they are forever able to be changed or replaced or given company.

Keep an open eye and mind to everything. Live organically rather than statically. It’s what i do, how i am, how i live. Mercurial and quixotic. I speak from experience of doing a lot and nothing.

Post-Racial America? Ha!

Post-Racial America? Ha! I can’t help but scoff at the notion of this term whenever it’s uttered.

We live in a post-racial America in the same vein that god exists: it makes for a cool story, bro—something soothing yet entertaining enough to tell the kids while tucking them in; a story of hope, possible triumph, leaving them with a smile and no ill-thoughts brewing nightmares. But it’s all a fallacy, a charade, smoke & mirrors—as real as having rocks as pets. One should not be a grown adult, experienced in the world and still believe as truth faery tales, crafting organic life and companionship from inanimate objects. I can only tolerate animism for so long.

The notion of god and the too-easily-thrown-around term ‘post-racial’ are both tools of placation—they exist as salves, as balms assumed to work because we want to believe—ephemeral psychosomatic healing. Both are placebos. Both are nothing more than snake oil, though not sold, only handed out, gobbled up with requested seconds and thirds aplenty.

Its use is an attempt by White folks to absolve themselves of generations—read: hundreds of years—of defining themselves and all humans based on the socially constructed and oppressively-used idea of varying races amongst humans, with their race as the superior one over the rest. This race thing they’ve championed, used as a political, intellectual, and social pejorative, shaming non-Whites, culturally inculcating us to believe their way is the right way, their looks the right looks, etc.

The denial of racism as purported by public figures such as, Rush Limbaugh, Santorum, Larry Elders, and Geraldo Rivera, is unsettling. They have growing support, or even if not growing, still have an audience that shares their beliefs.

Although there are progressive Whites who are just as ready to move forward, away from skin color and bloodlines, by turning on the sign too early, they’re overlooking the never-gone-away throng of folks who hold these values as the basis of their life; who’ve adapted, learned to adorn a baseball cap and a button up, hiding their true colors, the look in their eyes of contempt, social ninjas, hiding within the crevices of the populace for survival, roach-like. They believe in the superiority of their race. They wholeheartedly believe all others are not worthy. It was only 45 years ago interracial marriage was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. It only took two centuries, a score, a decade and a couple of years for us to elect a bi-racial president—but since you only need ‘one drop’ i guess that makes him overwhelmingly a Black man. One point for us.

You never liked the president. Why not?–No, it’s not because he’s Black. It’s because he’s a half-breed. – From Bill Maher’s “Southern Voters” video above

This post-racial term is a panacea for Whites to believe that all their “sins” have been marked as ‘atoned’—that now nothing they say or think is racist; we’ve apparently moved past it. Since we’re now in a society where only merit and prowess are important, everything is by the numbers and the feel for a person, never discussing or influenced by skin color, the need for affirmative action is irrelevant. We’re in a society all of a sudden where the color of a boy’s skin, dressed like any other teenager his age, doesn’t indelibly and alarmingly mark him as ‘suspicious’, make him stalking-worthy, soon-to-be-hunted game.

What a crock of shit.

Non-White folks use it prematurely as hope. Maybe, just maybe, we will not be unfairly judged, or negative stereotypes used against us, viewed through a muddy kaleidoscopic lens rather than reality. Non-Whites who seem happy to champion this term, i cannot help but believe, do so out of naivety, or within an oblivious daze as they walk their paths amongst White folks: they, and their regularly associated with cohort, are not relegated to the same issues as the rest, are somehow in an express, HOV lane, whooshing by the rest, until a 16 car pile-up forces them back into the main pathways as the rest of us. Not so fast, brother. Not so fast. The laws of race still apply to you in this here country whether you want to believe it or not.

Believing one presidential election will instantly evaporate all the poisonous malarkey, the racist inculcation for generations of White folks against people of color, and the Whitewashed, European mindsets of deluded, self-hating people of color against their fellow victims of slavery—Black people specifically—is ridiculous, is naive, is unrealistically hopeful. November 4th, 2008 may have been Raid for a ton, but as we know, can’t kill em all, these nuclear war adapters.

I stumbled upon the image of a ‘Abraham Obama’ and instantly thought, how fitting. It’s a perpetuated myth that Abraham Lincoln “freed the slaves” for the slaves’ sake; as if he did it out of the kindness of his heart; that he did it because he saw the inhumane system of chattel slavery—only the worst kind of slavery we’ve had truthfully documented in our human history. The Lincoln myth is inaccurate. He wrote the Emancipation Proclamation to, and if not solely for one reason, damn near 99% of it: to save the Union. He needed more supportive troops enlisted to fight against the Southern states. If not, we might not be the same US of A we are now. I’d probably be on a plantation, or, most likely, not even born. If your history teachers gave you shoddy lessons, read up on it here: Constitution Daily. I’d also like to point out that though he emancipated slaves in Southern states, because they had seceded, he no longer had jurisdiction over them.

Moving back into the 21st century, the racist shit people say on the Internet is vile, repugnant, so seeped in putrid hate, it’s astonishing only because of how “well” they disguise their disdain and loathing in everyday, face-to-face life, easily unmasking their inner selves when given a buffer of a computer screen or smartphone, all levels of hell spewing forth. May i draw your attention to the images below, Exhibit ABG:

Yes, these are real: a smattering from a neverending litany of Tweets reacting to the web series, Awkward Black Girl, winning a Shorty award.

Oh, and that’s not it. From earlier in the week, probably a day or two before:
the Tweets below are the racist vomit upchucked this past weekend in reaction to The Hunger Games casting of Black actors for—get this—Black characters.

As i’ve been saying the past few weeks in reply to folks’ “surprise” at the recent “racially-charged” (this term irks me, too!) activities, the racism has never dissipated. It’s only been in a pot simmering. With the heated campaigns for presidental nominations being turnt up with each day, regular citizens throughout the Land of milk and honey are being riled up, their passion for racist ideals curdling, the cause of that putrid smell wafting in from the vents and in the corner.

I was beginning to think with this growing generation, possibly the next, we’d be truly ready for a post-racial society, raising folks amidst diversity, prejudice only against universal mores of laziness, lying, stealing, cheating, reveering hard work, integrity and good-will, but if the above are any indication, we’re still moving at a snail’s pace, possibly even a sloth’s in many regards.

I can’t help but sigh, bend down to tie up my boots, secure my backpack, and continue trudging forward, hoping everyone else is ready to continue on this journey. It’s gonna be a long one. Guaran-damn-teed.

disambiguation: black is a color; Black is culture, history, music

I’ve been sitting on this piece for quite some time. It’s witnessed two Black History Months pass by, actually.

After the resurgence of racial upheaval and tensions (e.g. Trayvon Martin), racist ideologies and commentary spewed forth, tipped over by yesterday’s Gawker post regarding the outrage of the Hunger Games’ casting of Black folks for—get this—Black characters, a piece indicative of a large slice of mainstream America, its pop culture and racist attitudes, i figured it was about time i published this.

Let’s put this out there from the jump: black is a color; Black is an embodiment of culture, of history, of music—a people.

Black people: we are a collective having been put through the ringer of slavery; we have been ripped apart, shredded, sold, re-sold and re-packaged, attempting still today to piece ourselves back together, tattered remains Elmer’s glued, hand-sewn with reused thread; for that, at minimum, ‘Black’ demands capitalization.

There is a stark distinction that needs to be highlighted or else the continued descent in importance of positive names will never cease. It is discouraging and disheartening to see the perpetuated interchangeable use of the words black and Black, of pronouns and “normal” words in general.

Capitalization of a word versus the lowercased version means more than many folks would think. Take for instance the words catholic and Catholic: they may look exactly alike, but their meanings are far from the same. The former means “liberal or open-minded” and the latter, “religious devotee of the Roman Catholic faith.” And, looking throughout history, the atrocities in the name of the Cross, the ignorance and extreme prejudice of today’s world regarding immigrants and homosexual marriage, the perpetual oppression of women, Catholic is not a shining example of being open-minded; it’s the total opposite. But i won’t get into religion. Not now. I’ve a forthcoming website with my brother strictly for that.

black |blak|adjective1 of the very darkest color; the opposite of white; colored like coal, due to the absence of or complete absorption of light : black smoke | her hair was black.deeply stained with dirt : his clothes were absolutely black.2 (also Black) of any human group having dark-colored skin, esp. of African or Australian Aboriginal ancestry : black adolescents of Jamaican descent.of or relating to black people : black culture.3 figurative (of a period of time or situation) characterized by tragic or disastrous events; causing despair or pessimism : five thousand men were killed on the blackest day of the war | the future looks black for those of us interested in freedom.(of a person’s state of mind) full of gloom or misery; very depressed :Jean had disappeared and Mary was in a black mood.(of humor) presenting tragic or harrowing situations in comic terms: “Good place to bury the bodies,” she joked with black humor.full of anger or hatred : Roger shot her a black look.archaic very evil or wicked : my soul is steeped in the blackest sin.noun1 black color or pigment : a tray decorated in black and green | a series of paintings done only in grays and clothes or material, often worn as a sign of mourning : dressed in the black of widowhood.darkness, esp. of night or an overcast sky : the only thing visible in the black was the light of the lantern.2 (also Black) a member of a dark-skinned people, esp. one of African or Australian Aboriginal ancestry : a coalition of blacks and whites against violence.

Looking at the above, i cannot help but want to separate self from the antiquated definition of a word—a word used daily by us all. It’s an association that has become an unconscious collective embodiment. From children choosing white dolls over black dolls, to holidays (Black Friday or a white Christmas), to the dark or white knight, to anger and hatred or evil and wicked.

Thankfully, the term “black” is now considered archaic in the eyes of dictionary editors; however, ask anyone—ask yourself—is the connotation still “evil” or “bad” in your mind? Can you picture an innocent person with dark skin? (If one looks at the Hunger Games outrage, a ton of folks cannot.) When we use the term “black humor” what is meant? Or what about “black films?” By the dictionary definition, it would mean grossly tragic, but without a capitalization, there’s room for confusion: is it being a movie made for and/or by a Black person, or the comedic trope for/by Black folks. Ambiguity isn’t a good thing here—hell, it rarely is. Cut the fat off and get right to the heart of the matter.

We can start with the lowercased version: black means dark, gloomy, absence, evil, a sullen or morose mood. Black on the contrary is a pro-noun, an embodiment of history, culture, music; it’s the collective of a people, one bloc that has continued to be striated over something as fickle and asinine (biological charade, socially perpetuated) as the color of skin dignifying different “races.”

Of course i had to quote Malcolm X, who opined an important facet of the words ‘black’ and ‘negro’ decades ago:

The term “negro” developed from a word in the Spanish language which is actually an adjective meaning “black,” that is, the color black. In plain English, if someone said or was called a “black” or a “dark,” even a young child would very naturally question. “A black what?” or “A dark what?” because adjectives do not name, they describe. Please take note that in order to make use of this mechanism, a word was transferred from another language and deceptively changed in function from an adjective to a noun, which is a naming word. Its application in the nominative (naming) sense was intentionally used to portray persons in a position of objects or “things.” It stamps the article as being “all alike and all the same.” It denotes: a “darkie,” a slave, a subhuman, an ex-slave, a “negro.” Malcolm X,

At what point did we stop believing in ourselves, respecting ourselves? When did it become less important for self-aggrandizement? Going back to our leaders during the 50s through 70s, we made sure to uplift via literary devices, to show we mattered in the smallest of matters. I’m not a fan of putting other blocs down, i.e. how we would de-capitalize “white” while we used “Black,” but i get it, i understand why—we were taking back our power. Today, though, we are not in that dire climate of the pre- and directly post-Civil Rights Movement era; we have a president with similar blood flowing through him—DNA of our kin.

When i capitalize White, it is for equivalency reasons; it’s to maintain a standard, to stave away ambiguity: they represent the other, the non-Black, they are the Europeans, the ancestral lineage of our slave masters, the current holders of immense power—the “leaders”—in the world. With that said, the Black collective is not limited to those who were involuntary volunteers from Africa to the Americas and the Caribbean, but Asians and Natives of what we deem North America, all whom were enslaved, displaced, diseased and/or thoroughly eradicated—our collective histories share a common thorn in our sides, roots ripped out by similar if not the same generations of hands. In many circles, this is known as Pan-Africanism.

We give credence to other groups by using these terms: Latinos/Latinas, Asians, and other peoples—but anything saved for us, Black folks, is not put into printed form with a capitalization, but always in the same way as an ink’s color: black. It’s unsettling.

Even if we were to adopt the terms brown or yellow or any other color, there is no association that is so attached as black—black in itself has its own long history, centuries long even.

When white and black are lowercased, used right now to talk about a person or people, white is still greater: they have more social and economic power than we do in this country, in this world.

Looking back through America’s history, there are tomes where the names of Black people were bestowed on us without our say, and they were lowercased, while White’s were not. Even in the printed form, a medium in which we were not privy to for we were actually banned from learning to use, was a platform for subjugation, even if in such a seemingly trivial way, yet it would slowly termite its way into the mental foundations: we were not deserving of capitalization. I’d liken it gendering of deities in religion, specifically the most powerful one almost universally being made male.

Moving on to a more collective outlook, it was refreshing (reassuring a better word?) several weeks ago during the Linsanity phase to see an Asian writer employing similar tactics in his writing as myself (if a tad bit inconsistent; but i blame that on proofreading lol).

One can be a Black person with White humor, writing black poems in blue ink on white paper, awaiting death by the hands of a White executioner with black thoughts. Distinctions. This is an example of side-stepping ambiguity, but also giving all people their just distinction.

It is the littlest things to me that mean the most. And the littlest things are most overlooked, eventually amounting to grander issues that could have been avoided.

Love to travel? Love me? Support Nomad•ness Travel Tribe Kickstarter

I love to travel. Being the ever curious one, a veritable sponge, i’ve had the bug since i was a child—always wanting to see the sites and distant lands i read about, whether fantasical or real, didn’t matter.

As a kid i wasn’t presented with the opportunity to travel outside of the Tri-State often. Before i was 19 the farthest i traveled that i can recall was to DC. I believe i went once to North Carolina with my god mother, but i vaguely remember it, i may even be making it up. I didn’t get on my first plane until i was 23—i went to Lexington, Kentucky for specialized Lexmark printer repair training courtesy of my job. Good times in a random American smalltown. I was able to experience the best porterhouse of my life at one of the top steakhouses in all of America, Malone’s (number 9 on top 10 list if i’m not mistaken). I love flying, by the way, and always get a chuckle, giving an incredulous look at those who hate it or are afraid to get on an airplane.

Once i hit college, i began traveling up and down the east coast, mainly to college campuses, and have since been on a roadtrip to Arizona from New York, stopping at various sports arenas and stadiums along the way, had my first In-N-Out burger (i’m in the background eating lol), as well as the magnificent snow-capped Colorado Rocky mountains and experiencing the Grand Canyon at sunrise—by far the most beautiful sight i’ve ever experienced—crossed the border from San Diego into Tijuana, drunken Homecoming and rivalry game antics in Michigan and Indiana, as well as across the Atlantic to Paris and jaunting in the Caribbean for a wedding in Jamaica. I need to hit up Europe again, as well as finally experiencing South Africa, Japan and The Philippines, not forgetting to tackle many more States and college campuses.

I would not consider myself well-traveled, not by a long shot, but i would say i’ve earned various notches in my wanderlust belt. It’s funny, though, how my peers, family and friends stay saying i’m always traveling. I like to make it out of New York at least once every three months, if not monthly. My life is in constant flux, even my daily commute is 2-2.5 hours each way to work.

With all of this said, serendipitously because of Facebook and commenting on a friend’s status this past summer, i was introduced to the most amazing group of people in the Nomad•ness Travel Tribe, and one of the most inspiring persons i’ve ever met in its founder, Evita Robinson or @evierobbie.

The Tribe as we commonly call it, is a collective of wanderlusters, folks who love, who live by, who eat, sleep and breathe travel. We have members who are teachers, nurses, marketing execs, filmmakers and producers, journalists and writers, engineers and flight attendants. You name it, we got it. We’re educated and cultured, experienced and privy to the various cultures of the world, not to mention the numerous languages spoken (albeit 99% of conversation within The Tribe group page is conducted in English), ethnic backgrounds and nations of citizenship.

At the time of this post, we are almost 1,600 members strong, have Nomad•ness tee shirts and bracelets for sale (other apparel down the pipeline), have collectively visited over 150 countries, have had one official Nomad•ness trip (Panama), threw our first official New York NYE party, and have hosted numerous Tribe Meetups throughout the United States (NY, New Jersey, LA, Atlanta, and DC), in South Africa, South Korea, and in London, with many more events and trips to come, including Berlin and Spain in June & July.

Ahh, now that i’ve gotten your attention: membership is a two-parter: have at least one stamp in your passport and must be invited by a current member (via Facebook).

The Tribe is more than just a group of folks who share a love, though—it’s a movement, a televised one at that. Evie started Nomad•ness a few years back as a one-woman online TV show: her chronicles of tackling one country at a time. She’d backpack, hostel and hike it up, live as the locals did, trying her hands at everyday tasks, tasting the foods, vibing to the tunes, learning the tongues, experiencing and embracing the various cultures. The Tribe is both an extension of her and a newfound family. We encourage each others’ lust to wander, share stories of our travels, provide tips, plan trips together, heck, we’ve even helped a Nomad•ness member raise money within a few weeks to purchase a new laptop after hers was stolen. We’re a family, for real for real.

So, how can you support The Tribe? And, how are you supporting me, if that’s what you actually want to do? Well, for the latter, Nomad•ness is no longer raised solely by Evita, she’s entrusted its growth and forward progression to myself and a few other select members (The High Council!). So, it’s well-being and success are now partially in my hands, hence the if you love me part ^_^.

Of all of the Kickstarter projects i’ve supported, the one for our First International Tribe Meetup is one that actually hits close to home, i’m not just investing hoping it succeeeds, but helping to foster its growth (i’m in charge of all things Internet-related). I’ve put my own monies into it because i fully support the group and will do all i can to see it grow.

We are currently at 61 backers for this project, about 33% of the way towards our goal with a little over a month to go. To learn more, be sure to check out the Kickstarter page, the official website, which will be revamped come March 31st, and also checking out videos regarding Nomad•ness (i’ve included two below).

Oh, and with Kickstarter, when backing a project, no funds are taken from you until the final date (so, this would be March 31st) and only if we reach our goal of $10,000.

Thanks for the support :-)

No, Rihanna is not responsible for your child

With the recent social media mosh pit over Chris Brown and Rihanna’s rekindling, at least for music’s sake, i’ve seen the word “responsibility” thrown around all willy-nilly. It has been said that she is not upholding her responsibility to her impressionable young fans. Ummm. Wait. What!? Since when did releasing music come with the caveat that someone must now be given extraneous responsibilities? Ahh, probably when Americans began to blame others for their faulty parenting.

Every human being is responsible for, in order: self, child, family. That’s it. Now, if you want to rebuttal with, you’re not a parent or else you’d know children come first, well, you’re mistaken. If you’re dead or thoroughly maimed or otherwise incapacitated, you cannot take care of your children. So, once again, self trumps all in priority, followed by children being as close to self as possible. Family can be extended or curtailed to include or exclude close friends, adopted nieces and nephews, etc. With that said, can we stop passing the buck here? Please, America? Please, parents?

From Charlie Sheen to Kim Kardashian, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan, Tiger Woods and Tim Tebow, Rihanna and Chris Brown, they are not responsible for nor have any obligation to your children. None. But, you know who does? Yes, you.

Of course your children are impressionable—they’re the sponges of the world. Yes, they gawk at these pretty and zany folks on their TV screens, in the palm of their smartphones, or strewn across check-out aisle stands—but, these persons granted celebrity owe you nothing, nothing more than their artistry (or what passes for artistry these days).

If your child does something that is “unfit,” it is your duty to them to either scold, teach, coddle, ignore, or do really whatever you choose. Whether you birthed or adopted them, you chose to raise them, so it’s your responsibility. It must also be known that you cannot control your child’s (once they reach a certain age, at least) every action, every thought. They will decide to do things, they will test boundaries, will see what works for them and what doesn’t, what they like and abhor. Monitor them.

All throughout the media, from journalists to bloggers and other such writers and whatnot, there’s been a passing of the blame onto celebrities, quasi-celebs, athletes, musicians and artists of all walks by utilizing “obligation” and “responsibility.” That needs to stop. Don’t pass the blame onto the artists; they’ve never met your kids, they’ve no interaction with them, and most importantly, they’ve already fulfilled their obligation: creative trinkets and entertainment.

Back to Rihanna, i’m reiterating this: she is not responsible for anything regarding your kids. Nothing. She is an individual, an artist. She did not conceive your child, did not carry your kid, did not push your child out of her womb, did not name your child, does not pay for your child’s food or clothing or shelter. You know what she does? She entertains; she may inspire, too, with her lyrics, or even get the child through a bad day somehow. That’s what artists of all generations, for decades, do and have done. Rihanna is NOT responsible for anything regarding your offspring’s well-being or upbringing. She may be an influence on how said child dances or dresses or sings or how to be an independent-thinking woman in this continuing sea of clones, fighting off the marauding patriarchal pirates, but even through all of that, she is NOT responsible for the kid. You are. When you purchase that album or single, there’s a contract: Rihanna provides music, entertainment. There are no hidden clauses stating, “Rihanna must act like a Puritan woman, unable to make her own choices, cannot wear what she wants, if anything at all, cannot date whom she sees fit, tattoo whatever body part, etc.”

Folks have been all in a tizzy calling for Rihanna’s head because she is not embracing being made the living martyr of domestic violence. It is not her responsibility to do that. Sure, it would be a boon to the awareness of domestic violence for Rihanna to be more outspoken about what occurred three years ago inside that Lambourghini with (ex) beau Chris Brown. Yet, she doesn’t want to, she shouldn’t have to, and shouldn’t be chastised or pressured into doing such. Holy shit. Someone doesn’t want to fall into the collective trappings and pressure of the world. Please forgive her insubordinance. She wants to live her life how she sees fit; whether that is in personal dealings or business dealings, is her choice.

I’ve questioned why she would want to get back with Brown, why would she release a single with him, but that’s all it is, pure curiosity. I’d love to know what is making her tick, how she came about that decision. But, at the end and the beginning of every single day, it is and always will come down to individual, personal choice—all hinges upon personal responsibility and wants. I will never disrespect someone by denying them their ability to utilize that right of free will.

We only see the public personas of both Brown and Miss Fenty, only what they allow us to see. Whatever happens behind closed doors or on untapped phone calls or direct messages we’re not privy to, so let’s give both of the young twenty-somethings the benefit of the doubt—they may be on to something regarding love and forgiveness for themselves. They are not here as the whole world’s personal Sims, moved around here and there as we see fit, as if we’re trying to rectify some failing in our own lives. I guess it’s why we hang on celebrities’ every movement, spending oodles of time and support through money for these “reality” shows, isn’t it? Want to see if maybe we can learn something from them, hoping they don’t make the same mistakes we did/do—or, maybe we do want them to. We are a people that fostered the Saw franchise after all.

Rihanna is far from the first artist to be involuntarily tagged with this “role model” label, and i’m sure she will not be the last. During the early 90s we witnessed the stomping of hip hop records, ill-conceived effigy for violence in the inner-cities of America. Remember the tragedy of Columbine? Media and politicians brewed up a nasty gumbo consisting of videogames and Marilyn Manson. Ridiculous. Now, if President Obama or the First Lady did something unbecoming of America’s highest couple, the world would rightfully thumb their noses at us, and our citizens would have a right to be incredulous. The Obamas represent our country, have agreed to said responsibilities.

All i ask is for people to discontinue the shifting of what’s on their plates to others, especially when the others have no horse in those races.

marriage, oh boy; or is it, oh girl? ::shrugs::

It’s funny the way life works: growing up i learned about marriage through broken relationships, innumerable constant failed attempts—one after another—with every pairing i witnessed my family’s and friends’ of the family, and not to downplay the backdrop of the vast populace around me, or on the tube or covering magazines or spread eagle on billboards, attempts at society’s golden hallmark when it comes to courting and pairing up, procreating and rearing. The participating folks never hesitated to think about what their actions, what their example would do/still does in the eyes of the to-come or the babies growing, following footsteps laid in sand turned to concrete or dirt to asphalt. Shit was—is!—a shitshow.

Married for maybe two years, separated (legally is the right adjective i think) for the duration of my child- to adulthood, my parents never were a shining example of this institution called marriage, the sanctified vow under and in the eyes of “God.” Only my maternal grandmother existed as a testament, yet, i never knew how much stock to put into it for my grandfather, her husband, was no longer with this world as of two years prior to my knocking on the door with his name tagged to my premature chest. It warms my heart to believe they would have remained together for ever and ever, but i’ll never know.

An oft-uttered resentment grumbled by my mother for my father’s sister and husband, derailed my embracing and looking for inspiration in their marriage, something close to home to understand it possible, this marriage thing—a healthy one, at least.

A family friend example, a Black love couple: years and years together, house and home built (well, bought), children reared, yet, through the channel of going it alone—my brother, mother, and i—it was difficult to see a true connection for i never understood how to disconnect from only self to connect with others. Life is confusing with what it throws at you. Difficult to distinguish between the chaff and the wheat at times.

With each celebrity couple calling it quits these days, the surgically perfected face of marriage shows a new wrinkle, a hidden dent unmasked. Our desires to live off and through these larger-than-life figures losses its luster. The magical couplings being derailed are microcosmic of what every-day folks go through, except more and more hope is being lost and reality is setting in. These so-called paragons of perfection are mythical. As we fortunately become a more secular society (and hopefully it’s not a facade), the already loosening seams are having their  threads of religious marriage ripped apart. There’s an awakening that marriage needs to evolve, to adapt to true goings on in the world.

Polyamorous, the new buzzword of the day (yes, it’s a real word, old as dirt, but now it’s en vogue) is what humans are supposed to practice—i’m not a denier of that. Yet, when it comes to that innate practice, i believe it doesn’t have to be that way. Sure, i will have my cake and eat it too when i’m single, but like i said earlier, when i get into a relationship i don’t take it lightly—it’s for a reason, usually very good reasons, because i can pretty much, as i told my mother a few months ago after coming home a tad bit inebriated, i can get any woman i desire, usually. They seem to like me for whatever reason(s). So, as i was saying, when i put my sights on someone, if i believe they are the one for me, they are “worth” being in a monogamous coupling, i’ll do it, or be open to such as long as they’re willing, too. Mutual acceptance and comfort.

I’ve realized, i’ve embraced, i’ve come to terms with really, being jealous in some situations. It’s only natural. I can’t deny human make-up. It’s a futile endeavor at best. I cannot fathom being able to share someone if we’re “boyfriend” and “girlfriend.” However, if we’re just seeing each other, fuckin’ around, “dating,” friends with benefits, fuck buddies, whatever the heck is the cool term to use these days, then sure, so be it—have fun, do what you/we want. Yet, even then, it’s still difficult—here come those feelings of jealousy again, of “territory” trespassing sneaking in.

Now older, approaching the societal “down hill from here” limit of three decades lived—surviving, really—has my thoughts again unsure of how to feel. With each relationship, and i don’t get into them lightly, i hope for the one, for that sure sign that i’ll be ready, willing to settle down, to spend the rest of my days with the right woman. It’s honestly harrowing. I don’t believe in absolutes, so the prospect of marriage is off-putting a little. But at the same time, it’s traditional, it’s instilled at a young age and paraded around from birth to death, so it has some learned and accepted value.

Life should be a constant “working through,” a continuous series of progression and regression, attempting new and retrying older things to see what works in a given situation. As of right now, i’m growing in a sense of understanding where i stand, and with that growth i’m taking in all types of information and varying opinions and viewpoints from all angles and people (muses, friends and lovers–oh, and others!).

All i do know for sure: i do believe marriage can work, i want it to, i have faith and hope in it, yet with most things, nothing’s predictable, and when it comes to relationships, it comes down to acceptance, to a modicum of compromise, as well as a steady stream of truthful communication.


of muses, of lovers, friends and others

In case yet said

along parchment rooftops cursive

or ruled awnings bold:


Women are God’s gifts laid

upon Earth’s mantled soul.

Born in whispers

A muse is more

than mere influences.


Existing in a word

Living off sentences

Birthing paragraphs silent

Raising chapters alone

Destroyer of books

Standing atop volumes

Queen of sounds

Empress of visions

Goddess of gods

Breaker of hearts.

She is

The ultimate lover.



Conceived as prose, transformed into verse, the above consciousness streamed via pen dripping sloppily jotted chicken scratch soon becoming livelihoods, usually uttered using different words over libations to best friends female—my internal love glowing in need of a release vocal—they’d answer simply, “We know,” served gratefully with a smile.

Mayer scribed, “Friends, Lovers or Nothing,” and i shall craft: “Friends, Muses or Lovers.”

Not all muses are lovers, nor are all lovers muses, and rarely do either become friends, but the possibility of a friend becoming either of the former is lesser still. Even then, though, there can exist hybrids; those muses that are lovers and become friends. Nothing exists in absolute terms, of course—well, save for change (this is my mantra!).

Muses are born instantly—in a whisper. The spark of inspiration, of energy, of an emotion, of an impulse to create or to destroy, is not something grown or conceived—there is no planting of a seed, no gestation period. It is instantaneous. The first glance towards, eyes meeting, the first lambent touch of fingers, the electric charge felt, a stirring, an arousal—a flash uncanny, not limited to the flesh.

Muses exist as lightning rods, as portals into windows of souls darkly lit. Muses are finger pricks, blood trickling catharsis. Muses are jazz sonnets performed, composed on the spot—heard even by the deaf.

Muses are desired, yearned for; they’re addicting, drug like. And, as such, may flutter away at first snore. Drink their already-sieved juices, quaffing without regard to spillage, each drip potent enough to allow some waste.

A lover is serendipitous, kismet, coincidental—rarely planned. One (or many) can come along as a result of a one-night stand or a fortnight courtship. A lover is a companionship, may be a brief two-day rental or years-long occupation, a shared acknowledgement of experience, or a drink of misplacement. Not always profound, but it will leave a mark, only superficial or perhaps indelible, lasting until the turning of the next season, or until the next bag of skin comes around—regardless, the experience and the person will influence later couplings.

The third head of this mortal horse is friends: they can inspire, yes, but becoming one’s muse has to occur right away, upon first physical interaction—something explosive has to ignite. Or, maybe not: once that proverbial line is crossed even years later into carnal lands, senses ignited, something clicks, it just works out that way. There is a risk, however: Mr. Songz, Trey being his given name, sings “Can’t Be Friends,” giving heed to the situation of friends crossing that line and never able to return to platonic lands, indefinite deportation.

Can one have a lasting relationship with either of these three? Sure. Why not? Yet, as with all things in the realm of love, of desire, it must be made clear your interests, and not to the significant other, not at first, but to yourself before embarking on that path of commitment. Determine own state of mind, own status of heart, then relay that to her/him and go from there. Or don’t.

Lovers have been useful, been great help with me working issues out. Though, many times, such help was never explicitly asked for nor hinted at. Only told sometimes after salved wound or problem fixed had already occurred. (Or drunkenly.) It seems if looked at superficially, i retain relationships with previous women after some time—a unique type of friendship develops. We know each other in Biblical terms, in Platonic terms, curating a relationship gallery of stickered labels.

In Mayer’s absolutes, it’s understandable: attachment can lead to pain, to unrest, to actions and emotions not worth the pleasures; it’s better to evade outstretched fingers, to escape, to tie one’s self to lamp posts, ears filled with wax, than play daredevil with life, attempting heroic feats of love. It’s all a choice. The one thing we all possess, just more options than others.

Life is a gumbo—for me, without shrimp or i’ll die—edible, with bits and ingredients delectable, some saline, others sweet, altogether scrumptious, nutritious, possibly not enough. With each type of muse, of each lover and friend, each becomes its own other, there isn’t anything cookie cutter, really, when inspected, only a shadowy mirage from afar.

Put on your specs, pull out your notepad and ruler, little hammer and chisel, be ready to learn a little, to teach some yourself—we’re each an ingredient to someone’s gumbo.

i don’t like phone calls

What people don’t know or if they already know, don’t seem to fully get: i don’t like phone calls. Not any. Well, okay, let me explain that a little bit: i don’t like unsolicited phone calls. I prefer phone calls treated as if they were emails: i want to know the subject beforehand. I want to know what i’m getting into before i get on the phone. It’s like reading a book without glancing at the back or inside cover, watching a movie without seeing the trailer or given a blurb of what’s (or who’s! lol) about to go down.

I don’t like phone calls because they tend to be too long—anything more than five minutes i don’t believe is necessary. (I have this same rule when it comes to meetings. Yes, plugging my ReWork review right now. Sue me.) The only time i don’t mind ‘em, well, i can tolerate ‘em, is when they’re from my job because then i know 99.5% of the time they will be work-related: a user is calling to complain, or a coworker has a quick question about something i just worked on or i know a fix for. That’s fine. There’s a long-standing subject already, even if it’s not always the same, giving me a general idea of what i’m getting into.

Caveat and/or loophole: these rules don’t really matter when it comes to my mother, father or grandma calling me, and if my brother actually has a phone, he’s on there, too, along with a significant other by default: usually if they’re calling, something is important or dire, which the latter i hope is rarely ever the case. If mother calls, depending on the time of the day, i worry right away, even if not full-blown panic, because i never know if it’s something tragic or bad that’s happened. Take for instance two years ago when i had just met my brother for some drinks, like literally within 30 seconds of saying, “Wattup,” mom called, shocking us with the news that our cousin was shot—it wound up killing him, the third person i knew that year to be murdered senselessly. These types of phone calls are dreadful. Don’t wish them upon anyone.

The uber positive or happy, ecstatic, i just won Powerball, or the utterly devastating, tragic phone calls are the categories that call for vocal communication—the emotions and urgency are needed. Everything in the middle can be sent via digitally printed missives—shoot, send me a telegram (do they still do those?).

Back to the unsolicited calls: when friends or frat bros or unknown numbers call me, i am prone to not pick up unless i know with certainty what the conversation will be about. If said number or person calls back-to-back, then i’ll pick up. I hope they send a text after the first call, however.

Phone calls get in the way of my multitasking: being on the phone ties my hands and mind up. I have to give said person pretty much my full attention. This reminds me of the scene in The Social Network when a lawyer asks Zuckerberg if he deserves Zuckerberg’s full attention, whereby Zuckerberg honestly answers, “No,” and only because he doesn’t want to “perjure himself.”

Another loophole is with a lover—no, wait. More than that: a potential girlfriend or someone i’m heavily digging—she gotta be heavy, man! (Lol.) The whole courting or whatever on the phone is cool—but i definitely am not for the high school-esque two or three hour or longer conversations. Not on the phone at least. Skype or OoVoo is a different story. I can still do other things at the same time. It all comes back to multitasking!

And you know what, ringing phones make my skin crawl; it irks the shit outta me. This reaction has to come from somewhere deep-rooted, probably because while growing up in my house my mother hated em, so i grew to despise them, too. The fact that once we got caller id i was wont to not pick up anything that wasn’t for me, so the phone would ring incessantly—i’d let the voicemail or answering machine get it. I guess that has managed to stick along for the ride into today’s realm. Definitely. Possible remedy for this? Google Voice transcription of voicemails is great, but, i don’t really use my GVoice number so it’s kind of a wash on that front. Oh, well.

So yeah. That’s it in a nutshell.

Safe bet when attempting to contact me: email, Twitter DM, Facebook private message or wall post, text message, anything other than a phone call. It’ll save time and be faster. Plus, it’ll lower the chances of me being in a dour mood while we converse.

You know who you are if you’re exempt from all of this, though. This post isn’t for you—but those who don’t know. Lol!

stream of consciousness #0009: music is god’s daddy & mommy

There is a train of thought that is constantly chugging along the great mental metal of minds too great to fail.

That was the thought pattern behind the Titanic—right? Or, was that off since it wasn’t a train, but a large ship atop water, the icy depths of death soon awaiting its foolish passengers believing they could tackle the grandest of behemoths that are the oceans of the earth?

Foolish pride is not pitied. Or, it shouldn’t be. The hamartia of the engineers and architects, the media and the politicians, the crewmembers and the passengers, was tragic on scales more epic than even the Ancient Greeks. Hyperbolic? Possibly. It’s my go-to tactic with gab.

Anyway, the point of all of this is that there exists constantly moving from coast to coast—east to north, north to west, west to south, back and around again—trains without any crews or passengers. Merely trains of synaptic ghosts floating around houses and shacks of greater and lesser minds, alike. That is the great design and infallible construction of the human mind: we are all equal, just not the same. The individual is cut from the same cloth, only varying colors, and possible a little thicker or thinner at some points, as the next individual. However, the slight differences create the most profundity: it is what makes us unique, each of us, including twins—regardless of their categorical typing—that we should lionize.

Classical and jazz music are two bastions of beauty, two sonic means allowed us pity bags of flesh—to take from Rob Plath, mentor and professor—a couplet that should be celebrated. Instead, it is usually only stumbled upon randomly or drunkenly or ideally both with some apprehension until the time in the recepients’ lives are ready to receive. That could be as an infant or as a senior whose life is tapering off to the unknown abyss. Either way, adopting, embracing—loving!—this pair is the true great achievement perennial of one’s life. Truly. I believe it. Yup.

Don’t take my word for it. Go out to Nawlins, listen to some real lives, to some real stories, to some real soul—to jazz. Hit up an orchestra. Download the 99 Darkest Pieces of Classical Music album from—i think it’s like $5, digital download. Hell, i’ll WeTransfer or upload it to my ftp. Dive into the depths of the might-as-well-be ancient music of the last five centuries, it has lasted this long for a reason.

Music is more important than words, is god’s mother and father, daddy & mommy. Music lasts when paper is destroyed. All tongues can create angels and devils at first breath. All fingers cannot craft understood words.

If anyone is looking for God, buy a mirror or a tape recorder. Look into that shit. Smile. Enjoy what you see—it’s reflected eternity, beauty nodding. Speak and replay the words or sounds impregnated in your mind and birthed from your mouth. Give them names. Rename them. Be your own creation truth, crafted in the image of myths.

gotta gotta gotta write write write

Remembering why i blog, or really revisiting it, i’m determined to actually put my foot forward and to blog more often. This really has more to do with looking around at my peers or even strangers i stumble past on the Interwebs than it does with fulfilling some personal mantra. I see ‘em post all the time, even if a lot of it is drivel notwithstanding since it’s still being put out there for eyes other than its originator, and i (of course) compare my paltry offerings to the writing world, look aghast then cringe and berate myself (if only i had the means of self-flogging…lol…joshing, only joshing). I need to produce and publish.

Gotta gotta gotta write write write. Daily. Published (almost) daily.

With the first iteration of Mental Ephemera a few years back, i would blog daily, sometimes three or four times. I don’t know what happened to that. Not saying i need to get to that frequency again, but i definitely need to be more prolific than scant when it comes to weight on the writing scales.

If i can Tweet or post a Facebook status, i can use 15-20 minutes to jot down 500 words. Minimally. I’m sure i’m capable of at least that much. My Stream of Consciousness writings have been a trickle when they should be a, well, stream. Somewhere in the caverns and crevices of my mind lurks a dwarf twiddling his fat thumbs, yearning to be called upon to metal out some scripture. I gotta let him loose more often. (Metal…dwarf…fantasy fans may find that to be clever…or, maybe not lol.)

With my piece on the purposeful randomness of inspiration, it was a spur-of-the-moment blurting-out of thoughts—a reaction to @ChristophNYC’s recent piece paying homage to Rachel Lou-Salome (i first learned of her reading Yalom’s When Nietzsche Wept, an excellent fictional account of Nietzsche and Lou-Salome, by the way). Striking: Lou-Salome was a muse, Valentine’s Day is encroaching upon us non-coupled-up folks; both of them together lurking under my conscious sparked some thoughts. Figured better out than in.

Gotta gotta gotta write write write. Daily. Published (almost) daily.

There’s way too much going on in the world, events to comment on, or people to piss off with my opinions (grounded in fact!) to ever run out of ideas to write about. Heck, with the amount of music i listen to constantly, lyrics being in abundance, i’ve another endless source of inspiration. Fuckyeah. It’s actually what spurred the Skin & Bones post. Anthony Hamilton and Fiona Apple have been catalysts for joints, as well. Though, those are more for private or at least for a sole person’s viewing. So, they remain unpublished. No matter. Better out than in, right?—even if it be for a selective audience.

I’m going with: if i keep on saying it out loud, maybe one day it’ll come true. Sorta like Jesus. Or Rumplestiltskin. Or Candy Man.

Gotta gotta gotta write write write. Daily. Published (almost) daily.