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.

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 blacks.black 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, malcolm-x.org

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.

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.

~m.j

 

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!

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.

 

 

Valentine’s Day: no, i’m not a fan

Typical, a man is not a fan of Valentine’s Day.

An often heard and witnessed harangue, the woe is me charade: a man who has to spend buttloads of cash and oodles of time with a significant other or sometimes-jump-off-turned-friend-with-benefits who may very well be wifey material but you haven’t given much thought, all for the prospect of some carnal pleasure. But, more importantly, it’s truly for evading the days-, weeks-, months- or maybe year-long (because they have a mulligan once another 365 days passes) pissy mood their said woman (or multiple women for the enterprising debonair male) will surely be in if a particular ovaries-toting human does not receive her favorite Godiva-brand heart shaped chocolate, all-time favorite book (first edition, out-of-print), bushel of roses (nope, a single bouquet isn’t enough), whispers of sweet nothings, and not to forget the modern-day proclamation of undying love via Tweets and Facebook statuses. Heck, they may even expect a profile picture change.

Ahh, yes. That’s how it goes. But honestly, before this begins to reek of the i’ve-heard-this-before: i don’t have that strong an issue with the materialization or commercialization of the “holiday” nor the publicly digital display of affection. Go for it. Dole out monies, one-up your best friend with lavish gifts and trips—treat your woman like the goddess she is; i’m all for it.

My issue with Valentine’s Day (in America, for i’ve recently become privy to the stark contrast in Japanese culture where the men are the objects of pamperdom, not the women!) has to do with obligation and the all-or-nothing aspect that love’s showcase has become because of V-Day.

Valentine’s Day makes us—men!—feel obligated to do something special for their significant other on this day. What if i—we—do something heartfelt many (random) times throughout the year? You know, showing love, affection, care, insert whatever word you want here, by taking her out to places or buying gifts, cooking her favorite dish(es), writing sonnets or lyrics, heck even a full song, or just watching a horrible TV show marathon just because she’d like it. And even after all of this, what if February 14th is not on the agenda? You better stock up on hockey protective gear or (for you religious folks) pray for protection, because all hell is about to break loose on your ass. And i’m not speaking without experience: i’ve been on the receiving end of you-didn’t-do-for-or-get-me-anything-on-Valentine’s-day-(or so i thought at first)-and-now-i’ll-be-mad rants, equipped with scowl and looks of impending death. It’s ridiculous.

V-Day is a get out of jail free card for those who consistently f*ck up in their relationships: you cheated (8 times)? Make up for it on Valentine’s Day. You forgot her birthday or your anniversary? You killed her dog, goldfish, pet snake or dreams and slept with her best friends? Make up for it on Valentine’s Day. All will be forgiven.

I shall hail this day for its power of absolution of a year-long litany of sins! Religious- and relationship-wise, i’m not for any of that mulligan type ish when the rap sheet is not equal to the forgiveness.

Now, this is interesting and perfectly timed!: Don’t Drive Your Wife to Cheat the Day After Valentine’s Day. And you thought i was wrong in feeling this way. Shit, i didn’t even know there were (limited) statistics backing up the asinine nature of this one “holiday” superceding all other days’ pampering or gift-giving or just overall being a quality partner/companion/lover/whatever.

Equating love with a 24-hour span is flawed. The “report” that more women sign up on this i-want-and-will-cheat website the day after All Absolution Day because they do not “feel appreciate or loved” is ridiculous. I’m not sure how others cannot see this problem. I would personally be offended if the only time out of the year i received “i love you this much” was during a designated day out of the year, one where every other women in the world is told the same thing, given the same cookie cutter gifts and cards. There’s nothing special about that. Maybe i’m just more romantic than that—i want and strive to do things that are, not necessarily original, but at least unique to that person, to her likes and loves, wants and untickled fancies. Hmmm…i don’t know, man, maybe i’m the irregular one here, and i should just pipe down. Oh, but before i forget:

Father’s and Mother’s Day fall into this, too, by the way; i’m just not as up-in-arms about these two, and i’ve not given much thought yet as to why. Once May and June roll around, i’ll probably have some bubbled-to-the-top thoughts on it i’m willing to share.

Till then: keep buying chocolate and roses one day out of the year, making sure to deliver them with a mirage of a smile. It’ll get you laid rather than laid out.

Ayn Rand’s Night of January 16th

Last night i caught a showing of a play performed on campus: Ayn Rand’s The Night of January 16th.

“Your life, your achievements, your happiness, your person are of paramount importance. Live up to your highest vision of yourself no matter what the circumstances you might encounter. An exalted view of self-esteem is a man’s most admirable quality.”

I loved the line, “I’m an atheist—there’s no use for that [the Bible]” when Miss Karen Andre is sworn in to tell the “whole truth…” so help her God.


The above was the start of a 365 Days post (day 011) from a little over a year ago. I’m really not sure how i got so sidetracked that i didn’t continue writing it. Hmm, maybe it had to do with my then recent breakup, not ready to truly talk about my love for atheism and antitheists, the secular passion within toiling and bubbling. It might be in my journal/diary. Not looking to go back, though; not now at least.

Anyway, i’ve been doing a “spring cleaning” of sorts on all things in my life: from digital missives and notes and blog posts, to my recent (not really since it was in October!) move, which i still have boxes of books and bags of clothes and a mixture of both still strewn around and adorning walls. I’ve been in a mental fog and muddling through a physical swamp of crap from my past, years and years ago, to more recent trinkets gathered—so completing or getting rid of hangovers is cathartic right now. Much needed.

Playbill for Ayn Rand's The Night of January 16th
Playbill for Ayn Rand's The Night of January 16th

That block quote way at the beginning of this post is significant at present as it was last January. It’s a parallel to people in my life, their ideas and motivations, as well as my recent Twitter conversations and Tweets, ruffling the feathers of religious zealots, brandishing my own (and others’) refutation of religious myths as truth (as gospel), exposing their fictitious nature.

Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged did something to me. I was about 20 or 21 when i read it (i need to re-read it soon). I’ve since read her seminal offering to individuality: Anthem, thinking about getting the protagonist’s “name” (Equality 7-2521) tattooed. Yeah, it’s that real. I’ve Wikipedia’d her. I’ve shared quotes & other tidbits from interviews on Tumblr and Twitter. She was an outspoken and unabashed advocate for individualism, enriching literature, and dispelling myths of women’s inferiority in academics (and maybe socially? not too sure). She continues to live on, is the point i’m concerned with—but, of course! it all revolves around legacies for me.

Darnit! My wifi went down in the middle of writing this, and i’ve yet to catch up to my train of thought—it has probably been derailed miles ahead. Hmmph.

So: read Ayn Rand, a paragon of personal strength and believer in individual’s having power, too. It’s the best i can offer at the moment. I’ll return later to this.

Peace.

stream of consciousness #0013: all i do

For years my tears carried screams muffled by showered water, “I am not my father. I am not him.” I hated my given for years, not changing till i met poetry, spoken words from a friend familiar. Even still, i refuse to use my sur; i see little equity in it, this name more reminder of ancestral tarnish and pain, fatherly shadows, nothing to build upon.

I’ve embraced a duality of innumerable voices bouncing around: pain & joy, happiness & sullen ways, morose visions holding sunshine thoughts. It’s unsettling at times if allowed to creep, spill over and to be soaked up paper towel like.

All i do in life has a center mass, that of filling silos with corn husks, fodder and sustenance for my future offspring. I shall not break the convenant with my 13-year-old self: i am not and will not be him. It’s not out of hate; it’s out of love. I cannot throw away what the DNA coupling of my mother and father bestowed upon me. It’d be a waste. There’s a purpose(s) for each of us, but figuring it out takes time, takes courage, an understanding of why & how. I’m sketching out my plans, coloring by Roman numeral: a mixture of alphabetic & numeric symbols.

Before their questions are uttered, i wanna put a tome of answers on the table: ‘Because’ the title. As a youngster i was given my favorite book, one i know sowed a life-long quest and actions: The Big Book of Tell Me Why. From then it was clear to me all the answers about life were in a book. It prepared me for not talking, to not asking people first, but seeking out the answers myself.

I earned an honorary doctorate via absence, distance learning almost like experiencing sex through abstinence. All my figures of fatherhood were remote: i collected card collectibles of Black men, light & dark skinned athletes, musicians, names unlike mine—slaveowner & African; no grandfathers, one passed two years before my birth, so i believed my middle name was only shared with a long dead King, and a crackhead for an uncle; the other taught me a language i no longer speak, abuses & neglect perpetuated didn’t begin with me. Where was my paternal Northstar?

Vocally uttered words have less meaning to me than printed married characters: empty truths, promises broken bounced along my eardrums when eyes pored over kept secrets. Words heard are mere dust and ashes; words seen are written with blood. All i ask for is never to be lied to; at least not cut deeply. But then, who’s to know how far the knife will plunge?

Never wanting that for my progeny, this vow of a promise to them is unwavering. All my knowledge and experiences shall be at their disposal from jump, syphoned or guzzled, heated up and devoured, or laid on a shelf collecting dust till readiness. I only want there to be a direct line, a number brightly emblazoned & hung above, fluorescent light guiding 24/7.

The Big Book never had unpublished answers: how to deal with a sick parent; why must a teenager be a father figure to a young brother when a parent isn’t dead? Where to go for school? How to tie a tie? What the hell is being a man?

My mother is prone to say a lot these days, “I gave up my life for you and your brother.” She’s just being dramatic as usual, yet, hyperbolic statements and sentiments come from somewhere. I’m already a decade older than the age she had me—8 yrs older than my pops—and i couldn’t, wouldn’t want to imagine having to raise a child right now. Especially not alone.

Life is cyclical, and i want to break mine Staind-like; if not, nothing short of failure is my life. So, for them, all i do is theirs.

Neither confession nor indictment

I want this to be neither confession nor indictment but more of a review, maybe a prospectus.

So, 2011 was a tempest of a year for me. Fitting, I guess, that “tempest” has been used to describe me by a person whose life i may have inadvertently thrown for a loop; though it would be an echoed action since they had torn up mine, my head, lashed out and scarred my heart years prior. However, i’m not truly one for revenge, even if incidental.

Anyway, after the ravaging typhoon remark, i began to think and see myself more as an innocuous plague: i understand i can wreck havoc and mass effect upon a given sector or prospect—read: women—with relative ease, and with little wont nor worry. I will get and do whatever i want. It’s really that simple—i am a grown ass precocious child, understanding i can obtain whatever i fancy, and not giving a damn what it costs nor the effects. It’s ridiculous, really, since (i believe) i’m such a giving and caring, a sensitive and aware person. Ahh, i chalk it up to the intricacies, the paradoxical and ironic nature of being a Gemini as skin covering the skeleton as Cancer—i should call myself a walking astrological triptych, if i were to be so forcefully artistic or, gasp, poetic.

Several weeks ago it was brought to my explicit attention that i’m an “intense” individual. Bugged out because i never pegged myself as one—at least not in such a direct manner, as if i was the crazed blond fiance in Wedding Crashers, but without the malice. Remarks from a loved one, from a lover (a muse), from a reflection, always pierce the deepest, cover the warmest and secure.

I’m well aware of my seriousness—it may seem odd to outsiders who’ve only seen me in social settings, the jovial me, or the rambunctious side, but it’s more of who i am than anything. I wrote a poem a few years ago (it might be on Facebook, not too sure, but it will be in dust) where i concede, “Even when happy / my constant mood is pensive.” There exists at the basis of my thoughts and all my actions, a desire to know what it all means, what makes it or something important—why being the driving force. Everything i experience, taste, smell, every person i meet, every conversation i have, i look a la Sylar for how it can help me, what i can gain from it, what its or his/her use is.

For me, i’ve found so much solace, a veritable crutch and enabler, an inticer in the form of Liquid Jesus—for Kravitz, that would mean “love,” which has a fitting side, too, in all this. I’ve many unpublished posts and written notes on my romance, marriage, and constant separation/possible divorce with alcohol. It’s the gift that keeps on giving—and taking. Crazy, though, i’d parallel love and alcohol, intertwining them in a twisted tango of sorts.

This shield i’ve placed on the shelf for 2012. So far for the whole of January it has collected dust—our everlasting marker of history: dead skin cells, hair follicles, matter. My contact lenses have been able to dry off from the alcoholic solution, gazers again without hazy distortion. It’s allowed me to focus on myself, my mental, more than carnal pleasures and desires, no thrill seeking.

The human psyche has layers, i believe, sorta like the make-up of the skin. The epidermis is the facade, is the outter mask, the distraction that is shown to the unpiercing eyes of the world—even if that reflected vision be off mirrors or tempered waters. Some will show the secondary and tertiary levels with relative ease, possibly at the same time as the primary, but others, most of us, will take some slashing and gash-inducing to peer below into the depths. That is—unless alcohol (and possibly other toxins) is introduced.

The lurking monster residing in each of us is not unlike that of our favorite serial killing Dexter: he is boxing with shadows in each episodes, both his own and those of his victims and loved ones. It is the mental battle waged (and won) that is hardest of all. Without the mind being in tow, all bets surely are off regarding the outcome of life physically. Each of us has a monster breathing heavily or as a whisper, yet the strength of each is similar: unknown. Some of us learn early to keep it tamed, or to maintain it under toe and key, but many of us—and i take liberties with believing i’m well-versed in the wild things under our beds, skin and residing within—are simply afraid to acknowledge their existence, to truly know what is awaiting our first misstep or mishap.

No longer afraid, and not totally angry at the moment, but more aware with a greater sense of clarity about me and a possible future, i’m heeding my tattoos, “procrastinate tomorrow; live for today,” by writing daily, sticking to budgets, shunning cigarettes and alcohol, ingesting copious (not really) amounts of caffeine, and manifesting my vision board.

The past few months i’ve been around too many link-minded people, by that i mean those who want to be great, and who are taking that ambition and doing something about it. It’s inspiring. Being the utmost competitor, even if this is not a race nor a sport or game, i will see it as such. I have too many skills, too high of an intellect, and other assorted “things going for me” to squander them—or, truthfully, to allow peers to reach heights possible for me, but i didn’t, i refused to, or was plum lazy.

That lingering fear i talked about is stronger than ever—but now i’m unchaining it, unafraid it will consume me, instead it will be my hybrid against all foes, namely the vampiric partier. I’ve built more than enough frat boy, social butterfly, “man whore” equity to fight off inquiring attacks of why and surprised wows. Now it’s time to establish a strong intellectual credit base, constructing ground-up scholarly and didactic complexes and parks.

It’s the first day of our wonderful slice of American pie, Black History Month—a leap year, too, meaning one extra day of Black goodness!—so i’m invoking my ancestors for some galvanized resolve in looking at the world around me, at my self, and understanding where i stand at the moment—is this a plateau or a springboard?—with hopes of adding to the world this time around.