Wednesday, November 30, 2005

what's good?

i am inspired by my parents' 30+ year marriage. i am inspired by my friend's work

i am


ethic and tenacity that has her being a sister ceo - founder, publisher, editor, head of a non-profit - wow. i am inspired by my anonymous friend's hustle to get to spread constructive messages to as many stages as possible, and producing music and writing advice columns and whatnot. both folks while working for the man... (but not for long, i'm sure!) so proud of them... i am inspired by the willingness of friends and family members to help me when my car needs a new alternator and transmission adjustments and i need rides to and from the shop. i am inspired by innovative new music that shows me that people still value creativity and talent. i am inspired by the community organizations in camden that are changing the world by enabling real people to have homeownership and helping to poise my city for healthy urban life. i am inspired by having gotten this far and knowing that i have my youth and talents to pull on as resources. i am inspired by the knowledge i soak up by reading for the overwhelming majority of my days. i am inspired to see good men i know out there searching for the "her" that they are most

it helps me


compatible with, cause it helps me believe that my good man believes that i exist somewhere, which is good, 'cause here i am. i am inspired by what i learned about the egyptians on tv last night. building those pyramids without the wheel or batteries, or electricity or gas, but with engineering that we still can't figure out today. i am inspired by readers' comments on my writing (not just on this blog). they let me know that i do have the ability to express things that we share in a way that taps someone on the shoulder and says, "yeah, you're not alone." to me, writing - any communication - bridges the gap from body to body, mind to mind, soul to soul, and somehow affirms our presence, because if i am thinking and feeling, and someone else is thinking and feeling, whatever connection between us comes out of that makes each of us less

growing a bit

each day

alone, and makes each "other' person that much more real and relevant, worthy of recognition, respect, and love. to be an instrument of building those bridges humbles me and makes me proud all at once, and makes me feel useful and happy in a way that other things do not. i am so very inspired by that. i am inspired by the jazz station that i am listening to - that people still have an appetite for jazz music is encouraging. i am inspired by the artwork in my room - one of which i painted myself. and i am so inspired by the new growth on my wandering jew plant. i rooted it such a short time ago - potted it such a short time ago, and here is new growth coming out of the dirt, growing a visually noticeable bit every single day! how amazing! i can't imagine what it felt like to create existence, but if watching this plant grow is any indicator - how much more inspired can you get? that's good...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

hardheaded bet on the black...

i was gonna put a disclaimer on here, but that's not like me to be apologetic for the way i feel. and since i got some years in learning how to love myself despite what people think about what i think, i might as well sit up straight and tall at this keyboard and get my word on.

my word today is about a certain preference of mine when it comes to who i decide to allow to court me. date me. spend time with me. et cetera and ditto.

the setup: i am with my best friend and her sister among others at a public event. i'm chilling minding my own business, and this young man approaches me. he seems about my age. and even though this was some time ago (as in not yesterday) i can see his face as i type this. it's making me smile as i imagine it. he was quite handsome. bright beautiful eyes, proportionate facial features, welcoming smile, cool demeanor, reliable job. we talked for some time about some general matters and a little bit about ourselves. i got the sense that he was intelligent, friendly, energetic - all good stuff, right? he was drawing me in a little. so i pulled back - excused myself to break the momentum, and found something to do somewhere else. when i came back, my best friend and sista friend had a sidebar with me. eyebrows raised, nods of approval, they encouraged me to take advantage of the full court press the young man was giving me...

naw, that's aight.
no, seriously - he's cute!
yeah, i know, he really is... but come on, i don't go that way.
awww, glory that's not right. you could at least get to know him. it's just dating.
like i said... i don't go that way. i don't see the point.
ain't nothing wrong with it - i've done it before.
yeah, okay but that's you. i don't get down like that.
you could be missing out on something special.
that's a chance that i'm willing to take.

i stuck to my guns. the rest of the afternoon passed uneventfully. he and i spoke again here and there, but i gave him none of the my-number-is-yours-if-you-want-it vibes. i told this story to my homeboy later. he is disappointed in me. he is frustrated that, knowing how ready i am for showtime, i would take the chance on passing up what could wind up being good lovin, just because a guy is white.

now for everybody else on this planet, i am cool with saying go for what you know. if you like it, i love it. people are people, love is love. i have several cousins in interracial relationships that i have not challenged. i have several mixed family members. my dad dated interracially before meeting and marrying my mom. but when it comes to me... i'own know... i just have this kneejerk "no" reaction to it. i don't see the point in dating interracially knowing full well that i have absolutely no intention to marry interracially.

i have always pictured the man i marry being black and nothing else. black features.

like some shade of coffee

skin like some shade of coffee. hair that doesn't blow in the wind. a black voice to whisper to me at night in the tones and rhythms that have comforted and and fed me all my life. i have always pictured little, brown, fuzzy-or-nappy-headed babies whose hair i could shear like sheep or cornrow. and i would hate to get my (and some innocent man's) emotions all caught up in something that i have such a huge reservation about. i really don't feel like dealing with everybody worrying us over why we're together, why i didn't get with a brother, what church could we both feel comfortable in, worrying about whether his family accepts me cause they like me or cause they just don't want to be accused of being racists, worrying about explaining my husband's white privilege to our black children. or if he isn't white, explaining how regardless of whatever other people say, both their cultures are embraceable and claimable, even though they'll always be seen as black. however, i know that plenty of interracial couples live life everyday, happily and without angst. i'm tough like a day-old, air-exposed biscuit, forget a cookie. i could handle it just like they do.

what really worries me are the cultural differences. i'm attracted to a certain type of black man. (hope that i can describe this well... here goes...) i am well-educated, book-smart, articulate, et cetera and ditto. i'm charming in an evening gown, i know which fork to use, and i'm a good tipper. but i am also street-smart/working-class(/country even). hip-hop generation. urban. i'm a little bit of a chameleon - many black folks who are new arrivals to the middle class through

i need a man who can

relate to who i am

education can relate to this. but when i'm at home... when i'm letting it all hang out... i need a man who not only understands my duality but who can relate to who i am when i'm not trying to make money. glory of the irreverently imperfect grammar. glory who does her own hair in the kitchen sink instead of paying the hairdresser. glory who loves f.un di.p and quarter bags of barbecued d.ipsy do.odles from the corner store. glory who prefers to live amongst brown people like herself instead of being the only darkie on the block. shoot, there are a lot of brothers who can't hang with me, either because they never left the hood and don't fly at my altitude, or because they've never been to the hood and would be too scared to visit my family there with me after dark. i want a man whose relaxed diction and demeanor don't remind me of work or school (or the folks i work for), but who doesn't resent (and can even appreciate) the fact that i've studied and appreciated william faulkner and cornel west in addition to malcolm x. a man who isn't annoyed by my possible use of a double negative and an s.a.t. word in the same sentence. a man who i don't have to explain thanksgiving dinner to because the menu in his mama's house is the same as in mine. i don't want a boule bound son of a link. i don't want a brother who idolizes jay-z and is lost once outside the city limits. and to be honest, based on experience, my prospects are slim among brothers, let alone among white men... *right eyebrow raised, lips pursed.*

well, time waits for no (wo)man. my friends have a point. i could be delaying happiness for myself by cutting out a whole swatch of the eligible male population (the one with a better life expectancy and earnings potential, to boot. damn!) but my preference is my preference. a beloved uncle of mine told me to never, ever, settle. a schoolfriend of mine is happily married to a white man. she didn't seek out a white man. but according to her, he came correct and the brothers who were approaching her did not. she wasn't settling. she was just open to the possibility of love, wherever it came from. perhaps i have something to learn from her.

but on the real for real? for now, i'd rather be hardheaded with my preferences and take the chance.

Monday, November 28, 2005

where's my exit?

i'm not too ashamed to admit that at times (most times) i lack direction. life seemed a little simpler when my only job was to aim for being the head of the class and qualify for college scholarships. to use my spare time to entertain myself (reading, tv, watercolors, music, double dutch) and/or learn how to function like an adult (minimum wage jobs and first bank accounts). happiness then meant staying out of trouble and being allowed to do increasingly more grown-up things. i had so much time to entertain myself and was so busy learning and discovering that, barring some minor crisis, happiness wasn't something i questioned.

but now it's different. school is behind me now. little love letters show up once a month, reminding me that i am an indentured servant to the government (chris rock says uncle sam is like the one who sent me to college... but molested me.

i want out

before i get too deep in...

when i think about it, he is so right.) meanwhile, like most sharecroppers in generations before me, i do what i must to fulfill my financial obligations, and ration the rest of my time for what can take my mind off of the reality that i don't belong to myself. and now that i'm no longer aiming for school... my trajectory has to be set by me. if i let societal expectations paint that picture for me, i guess that means to aim for promotion after promotion, pay raises, mortgage (or two), nest egg, phat retirement account, car, husband (oh joy! two-income household), 2.5 kids, dog. and maybe, if i'm a good girl, about 30-35 years down the road, uncle sam will stop sending me love letters once a month.

something ain't right. cause somewhere in that path, my watercolors and canvas got lost. maybe they are off the path somewhere, laying in some weeds beside the stories i want to someday write. and the music i want to someday make, and the poems i want to publish one day. somewhere the trip i need to make to west africa is sitting idle, feeling rejected in favor of societal expectations.

oooh. there's got to be a better way. i understand why people lose their identity in their work, struggling to get to the corner office, hoping for the money that should buy them more time. or why people spend $20 a day on lottery tickets. and why some people abuse the concept of the tithe, giving readily to the church hoping that God will bless them with a windfall just because they give ten percent or more. we want out of this box. get money to make money. have credit to get credit. walk the tightrope of debt over the ominous pit of minimum payment hell or worse yet, bankruptcy. feed your babies m.cdona.ld's cause there's not enough energy for dinner. quickie sex 'cause epic intimate symphonies take too much time and energy to compose. we want out.

shoot, i want out before i get too deep in. cause a life sentence of middle class lock-step, check-to-check servitude is counter intuitive to my understanding of happiness and it endangers the creativity within me that is one of the characteristics i cherish most about myself. i'm looking for the alternate path. can't waste too much time. some radical faith-based action may soon come.

i need to pray.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


i love myself. because when all else fails, i am here to love myself. sing to myself. dance with myself. write for my own pleasure. play music and sing for myself. cook good food to eat myself. affirm myself. counsel myself. celebrate myself. congratulate myself. teach myself. learn myself. i wonder if being an only child was to prepare me for now? no (wo)man is an island. but i think if i was, i'd be a'ight.

for a while, anyway.

the thought of this, stretching on, month after year after decade after phase of life, is stark. conjuring images of a melancholy me, an apparition of myself, more like the watermark than the real deal.

i love myself.
so i keep the faith. choosing to be upbeat and anticipatory. and loving.

in the face of phantom kisses. the memories of decadent embraces, joys and the stomach flutters of nervous anticipation. under the memory of unparalleled friendship. carrying the phantom limbs around my waist or over my shoulders or intertwined with my own. confronting the images of familiar countenances on the back of closed eyelids struggling to shade out the world to seek the peace within. finding only sentimentality that may not be uttered and tears that aren't allowed to form over time that cannot be salvaged, words that cannot be rescinded. feelings that can be recalled, but not felt with the poignancy of times past. sharing that will never be duplicated. optimism that will never have its original shape, fuzzy and stretched and faded like an old sweater, appreciated, but worn faithfully to the point of trial. discarded foolish wishes, lurking, not for serious import but as reminders of tender injuries and surgically precise cuts, just painful enough to build fear and the occasional apathy. and finally, restraint that refuses to take these bricks and mortar and create the wall that has no real chance of protecting that most valuable tenderness or benefiting that most valuable hope. as madness threatens, the temptation for frenzy succumbs to faith and so

i patiently love myself. actively, and not only in cliched utterance. choosing to be upbeat and to look forward. away from the haunting memories. ahead to the ones i want to make someday.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

i am woman, hear me choose

seems like, in the blogs and messageboards i've been reading, that people are trying to figure out the roles of the respective genders. seems like some men and women just want to know what expectations apply to them and where they stand, especially in matters of relationships and households. that's really interesting to me that there are seemingly so many questions and discussions about the subject now that rigid societal rules are more flexible now than ever before. seems like people are all over the board with their opinions, too. i bet if i got about 5 men and women in a room to talk about the roles men and women play, they could go for hours.

what do you expect from the opposite sex?
what should their reasonable expectations be for you?
is it ideal for a woman to stay at home?
is a man a punk if he takes his wife's name?
should a woman play it innocent on her first sexual experience with a man to avoid the ho label?

and so on and so forth. fascinating stuff. anyway, i was watching wif.e s.wap again last night. (love that show!)
leader of the household

one of the wives had her man waiting on her hand and foot with breakfast in bed. he worked all day, came home and did housework. she watched soap operas. and made sure her daughter made it to cheerleading practice. that's about it. when she switched to the other household, she skipped out on any share of the household duties. her host husband all but called her lazy. meanwhile, in the other house, his real wife was in the other house telling her host husband to get a backbone and wear the pants in the family by sharing in decision making for the household and for himself, and sharing his household responsibilities. she was basically insinuating that he was less of a man because he was not the leader of his household. meanwhile back at the first house, the dishes were piling up because the host husband and his guest wife were at a stalemate on who would do the housework.

you know, in the house i grew up in, there was a clear delineation of man's and woman's work. house maintenance, car maintenance, fixing, building, yardwork, and taking out the trash were my dad's job. dishwashing, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and shopping were my mom's job. my folks are old school. and that's the division of labor that they basically agreed to from the beginning. i wouldn't say it's a completely perfect division, but it seems to be at the very least, functional at their house.

it's a new millennium now. it's been 50 years since that was the default.
things have changed

lots of things have changed. the economy basically demands a two-income household for comfort nowadays. many women work outside the home and have switched aprons for pantsuits and pumps, or even overalls and workboots. unlike my dad, men change diapers too now, and aren't ridiculed for it. i suppose that in this age of expanded women's choice, both women and men sometimes need orientation.

i do white collar work. i understand finance and current events. i check oil. i kill bugs. i pump gas. i've done yard work to keep my rent down. i assemble and move furniture. i painted my own kitchen. and (i am my father's child, after all) i have a little carpentry and drywall and wallpapering experience. h.ome de.pot doesn't intimidate me. i love the smell of fresh sawdust. oh yeah, and i take out my trash, too.

but last night, i cooked dinner. cleaned the kitchen and bathroom. swept and mopped. tended to my houseplants. and mended the buttons and the lining on my pea coat. it felt good. and while i was putting my sewing notions into my self-decorated bag full of yarn and crochet needles and knitting needles, it struck me, especially in light of all the cooking i'll be doing wednesday and thursday, that i love domesticity.

i don't want to feel like

a traitor...

is that because i like the tasks of their own merit? or is it because i am a woman, and i've internalized the idea that that's a woman's place, anyway - to the point where my self-worth as a woman is tied in to whether or not i can do (and like) such things?

now wait just a minute. i'm not supposed to say that i like domesticity, am i?

i'm not supposed to

say that... am i?

i'm supposed to say that domestic things are just chores, mere matter-of-fact tasks that have to be done. that the best case is to share them with my spouse, since i don't (well, since i'm not supposed to) like them. um, yeah - that's it... but would i be wrong for saying that if funds permitted, i would gladly sacrifice a career for children? or would i be just terrible for admitting that i view day-care as a necessary evil - emphasis on the evil? would women think i was dragging womankind back 50 years by saying these things? would men resent me for secretly desiring to be financially supported while raising our children and keeping a home? i know my mom wouldn't be happy with me for "wasting" my lengthy (and expensive) education on cookies and vacuuming. may the angry feminists forgive me, but i find more value in taking care of the homefront than i do in earning money for it. i find the latter to be the true mere matter-of-fact task that has to be done. i value my career opportunities mainly for the ability they give me to contribute to the household of my future. not so much for the career itself. wow. what year is it? 1955? sorry for being the anti-feminist. just wanted to be honest.

that said, lest any gender studies major come to rip me apart for this narrow discussion, i realize that feminism is about much more than who does what in the house.

i appreciate

the strides...

i realize that society is set up to make men and women play certain gender roles that are at times absurd and detrimental to the psyche and well being of both women and men. that we should all examine the ways we think about gender. that both women and men, girls and boys, would do well to challenge established ideas and traditions that demean the value and worth of women in society. i also appreciate the strides that have been made - i can own things in my own name, conduct business without my man's permission, get published without a male pseudonym, live without a necessary dependence on the benevolence or whims of a man - and that's great, and i'm thankful for it. i love having a choice. i just don't want to feel like a traitor to my gender for choosing to exercise it.

as with everything else, balance is good. i'm not trying to be a man or be better than a man. i understand and truly appreciate that there are differences. i'm perfectly happy being a woman. i like when men get the door for me or walk me to my car. but i also like not being shushed in conversation about current events or feeling like i offended someone's manhood when i sincerely offer to pick up the check. what i get out of the whole thing is that choices in life - options - are important for women to have as human beings who are no less valuable than men. and as long as women have a choice, and men respect that choice in the same way that women have had to respect men's choices since forever, then that's what counts.

Monday, November 21, 2005

not a victim

i am not about to say anything novel or groundbreaking. this is some very matter-of-fact common sense stuff i'm about to talk about. but it needs to be talked about. cause too often we find ourselves in situations that we could/would/should, but simply don't, avoid. this post is inspired by some conversations i've had with some loved ones that i wish i could make decisions for...

three words.


i am not on prozac or paxil or zoloft or anything like that. no offense to those who are. believe me, i think i understand to some extent what you're going through. sometimes it's all just too much. i don't mean a little blue. i mean stop this ride and let me get off. i mean the hell with everything. because sometimes it's all just too much. that's why prohibition didn't work. why weed is probably as popular now as it's ever been, if not more. why smack is back. why some people, despite what they know, still try that first hit of crack, why people share their bodies with no discretion on how it may affect their spirit, why people stay in relationships that drain them more than enrich their lives, or why people become stagnant and bitter.

ask my friends. i am strange. often strangely optimistic. strangely upbeat. peculiarly silly or happy. certainly not all the time. but enough for people to sometimes earnestly ask me, what you been smoking? what you been drinking? ok, no. that's not it.

i simply make a concerted effort to be this way. i must be this way. i must find the small joys where ever i can. i must create joy in the spaces where it is needed. i must play the peacemaker between myself and this complicated and often harsh world i live in. because if i don't, i might as well start looking for my crack pipe. i might as well come up with some bs injury to start my oxycontin habit with. i must find things to have faith in

- like the presence of Divinity in our midst. the possibility that people can impact each other's lives positively, whether it's through the social work my best friend does for a living or through the elevating words of some of my poet friends, or whether it's me sharing my struggle on the web so others know that being okay takes effort. i must sometimes laugh to keep from crying, dance with what seems like my last breath to keep from collapsing. i must. it is the difference between me being someone i like and me becoming a zombie, going through life grumbling, complaining, growling at others, contributing to the spiritual pollution that endangers anyone not resolved enough to fight against it and through it for a breath of life sustaining, life affirming, life encouraging air.

this effort is made in the form of choice. every second i breathe i have a choice. i can change my attitude at will.
i can change my actions with a changed attitude. i can change my circumstances through changed actions. and my changed circumstances can change my attitude. that can go positively or negatively. and everybody makes the choice which - i'd rather break my neck to go for the positive. i don't expect everything to go my way. i don't expect to enjoy every moment of this life. but i can expect more out of myself than resigned complacency in the face of that which threatens my peace.

so i have to be mindful of the perspective i choose to take, while i try to embrace a balance between the extremes of victimization and absolute power. there will be good and bad.
i can learn from both. i can remember during the good that as long as i live, challenges will come. i can choose to hold on during the bad, or succumb to the madness. this is a perspective that i choose that helps me to stay balanced. i'm aiming for balance. i'm aiming for peace.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

weekend not wasted

have you ever played monday morning quarterback on your weekend? or felt like it went by too quickly - so quick you can't imagine what you got out of it?

this weekend i managed to get lost.
which made me late.
for two separate meetings.

i think i need gps in my car. it's a shame i'm too paranoid to get it. if i ever need to get away, they can track me... (says the genius who would probably forget to throw the cell phone, a.k.a. homing device, out the window while on the getaway mission...)

i actually like getting lost while i'm driving. that's how i learn new stuff like shortcuts and where that place is that i've heard of but have never seen before. forgetting for a moment that being late was embarrassing both times, forgetting that i was disappointed in myself for having been late, and forgetting for a moment that the second time was especially annoying because i was simultaneously hungry and running out of gas, getting lost was cool. i have a good sense of direction, as in which direction i was coming from before i got lost, and a decent sense of north, south, east, and west. but city blocks have slants that go north north east, or west south west for example. or you can follow a number street in a grid system that won't let you go from a to b without some twists and turns.

i'm pleasantly tired...
or you can know two highways are parallel and try to drive between them to get from one to the other, but maybe there isn't an on-ramp where you think one should be. kind of a metaphor for a lot of other things, but anyway, since this post is getting out of control and i am reminding myself of O, let me get to the rest of the weekend. LOL!

i got my face painted at camden family day where i "volunteered." (they already had too many volunteers by the time i showed up so there was nothing much for me to really do - but i hung around anyway and pitched in where i could.) i usually get a butterfly but this time i got a sun. i witnessed a virtual mob scene where they were giving out free books. i wish all the people who have umpteenth negative things to say about camden could have been there to see the excitement on those kids' and parents' faces as they left with as many books as they could handle. i was one of them. my cousin's kids could use some books, so don't think i wasn't digging superfudge, the mouse and the motorcycle, roll of thunder hear my cry, and biographies on black people out of the piles of free books. don't assume that we don't want our children to have knowledge or that we don't care about them. don't assume our kids can't read or don't want to read.

i helped a friend and some others brainstorm for this wonderful project she has going and growing. i am so proud of her - first for the project itself, and second for having the wisdom to know that it's good to ask for help sometimes. handled some business with the sorors. got some time to spend with friends and cousins. my baby cousin's parents don't know it yet, but i'm going to adopt her one day. i also hung out with my "fake" nieces who are really my best friend's nieces. pure joy being around their little honest faces! oh yeah, and i got some new sweaters and jeans. can never have enough skin tight blues. i got my oil changed and my tire patched and my transmission fluid checked (cause he ain't running right - and yeah, i said "he" not "she"). my baby has to go in the shop. not looking forward to being car-less while i get him worked on. but it will happen in the next week or so. nj transit here i come...

i flirted a bit with the cashier when i made groceries today. shameful, i know, but he was cute. and yeah i said "made" groceries. shaddup. new jersey notwithstanding, i am a bit southern and country by legacy - get me angry (or around another southern accent) and watch that virginia vernacular play out on my chameleon tongue... LOL! my parents aren't coming for the holiday, but i am still cooking a small pot roast, candy yams, baked macaroni and cheese, collards and kale, and of course, sweet potato pie. it'll be too much food for just me, but i'm sure i'll find somebody to eat it. friends will come by. and/or maybe i can take some plates to some people. but i won't feel right unless my house smells like food and my windows are all steamed up on thursday. thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. i'm looking forward to the cooking and the eating. i'm a part of at least three families around here, so i'll be sampling and driving all day thursday (provided my baby is feeling better).

felt a little down after i got the groceries home and carried them upstairs to my place by myself. unloading my car without help always has that effect on me. i put the groceries away and mused awhile... and then some afro-cuban jazz
shaking it, breaking it, sashaying it
on the radio had me up, shaking it, breaking it, sashaying it - whirling and leaping around the room doing my best impression of someone who knew what she was doing, and just like that, the lil' spell was over. i'm pleasantly tired from the weekend. grateful for every experience i had, and every blessing i was able to take advantage of. and not mad that i have to go work tomorrow. i have to pay the costs of these weekends. this luxurious life ain't cheap - gas, food, leisure time, general overhead - it all costs money, so i have to work. so went my weekend. not wasted. spent with loved ones doing things i love to do - service, socializing, quality time with the friends and fam, shaking my booty, and uh, getting lost.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

ask and receive sho as hell right somebody owes me
a why,
a how,
some type of explanation
of why my hood is so burnt out...

i passionately yelled these lines from a poem of mine, "used to be," at an open mic a few weeks ago. the words vibrated along with the similar experiences of many of my listeners, who told me after i got off the mic that they completely understood what i was talking about. fast forward to now. i spent yesterday evening getting through the first few chapters of, "Camden After the Fall: Decline and Renewal in a Post-Industrial City," by Rutgers history professor Howard Gillette, Jr. apparently, while i was away getting an education, professor gillette was running around my hometown compiling information in order to give me and anyone else who cares "some type of explanation."

it's really something interesting to grow up in a city that carries stigma like indelible freckles. from the time magazine article that asked, "who could live here?" that came out when i was in elementary school to last year's crime ratings that declare camden the most dangerous city in america, the place just can't shake its shadow. i won't front like camden's reputation is wholly unfounded. but having lived there, and having it woven into the story of my life and my social consciousness, i am tied through emotion and nostalgia and genuine concern to the life and times of this city and its inhabitants. shoot, i'm even trying to figure out how to get back in. so yeah, i went to rutgers-camden's bookstore and paid full price for the hardback, hot-off-the-presses copy of professor gillette's book.

thumbing through the pages looking for familiar images and names, i see memories from my life. reading my city's post-wwii story fuels my imagination - i imagine my mom's family and weave what i know about their lives into the story that gillette tells with the intelligence and perspective of a good historian.
i am tied... to the life and times of this city
i am learning so much (and exercising the noodle - thank God for too many sociology courses and a decent vocabulary). in the book, the pictures (i wish there were more) show so much - i can actually see the shopping district that my grandmother told me about that no longer exists. i see pictures of white folks living and working in the streets that i've grown up associating with darker hues. i even see a picture of my high school classmate, whose dad, once the mayor, still plays a pivotal role in my city's destiny.

but what's more interesting is that camden's story is about so much more than camden. any inner city could relate to the social and economic phenomena that gillette discusses in his book. i've seen camden lurking in north philly's streets, walked in camden while in the "wrong" neighborhoods of baltimore and richmond and d.c., and heard camden's stories in the verses of countless rappers from brooklyn, compton, chicago, and the south bronx. my hope is that people who didn't have the privilege of learning firsthand about the futility and misguidedness of judging inner city dwellers will actually read this book or something else like it - especially people in the immediate surrounding areas. it highlights an important truth: today's bad inner city conditions cannot be solely blamed on some supposed inferiority of its inhabitants, who are of course, overwhelmingly, people of color. urban decay is bigger than that - more pervasive than that. and i just got this from the first couple chapters (even though i already knew this from experience). i can't wait until i get through to the back cover...

anyway, i really like that two-week turnaround thing. maybe my next poem on the mic will demand a monetary fortune... i figure it's worth a shot.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

when i miss him

i missed him yesterday. (the intended beneficiary of my "honey i'm home" letter.) i had good news to share yesterday, and i couldn't share it with him because he just isn't here for me to share it with.


i miss him at moments just like that. when i want to share my joy and i scroll through the phone book in my janky cell phone looking for people to share it with. and after i've called my parents and best friends and homies, and even exes i'm still cool with, and shared the good news... i still wind up feeling like the celebration is incomplete, because... sheesh, i don't know why i have this need to share such a moment with that special someone, but i do. that someone who would truly know and understand why my joy is such a joy to me. someone who'd know what it took for me to get there. someone who would congratulate me with a kiss. someone who might even sweep me off my feet into the hug that you can't get from parent or homegirl or homey or ex.

now that i look at what i've just typed, i have got to be the most melodramatic woman on this planet. it's really not like my joys are less joyful just because i don't have him to share them with.

is it?

shoot, i am doing the damn thang. self-sufficient. independent. surrounded by friends and family. leading a lifestyle that i like. making friends, having fun, enjoying my youth. truly autonomous and free in this my adult life. i don't need him to make me happy. i know this for sure. if i have to go it alone, that doesn't take away from this beautiful life i'm living.

does it?

of course not.
... of course not.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

she picks her nose

glory picks her nose when no one is looking. she uses profanity. sometimes she uses profanity a lot. she's not a virgin either. she really really likes sex a lot. don't let her discretion fool you. she wouldn't ever want to be called a freak or disrespected based on her healthy appetite, but um, yeah... glory doesn't go to church every sunday. as a matter of fact, she only goes to church when she feels like it. and get this: it's not because she isn't a faithful person. she just likes sleeping in on sundays. and she likes staying out late on saturday nights. glory often wears clothes more than once before putting them in the hamper. and sometimes she goes weeks without doing laundry. she is the worst procrastinator that she knows.
and glory is a hypocrite because she will dance to music that goes against everything she claims to stand for. she always sounds like she's all down for uplifting the black race and ever

a damn shame
ything but she has yet to do community service that impacts any one person for any longer than a short period of time. glory is hard headed. and sometimes irreverent. rude. politically incorrect when maybe she shouldn't be and politically correct when it's most annoying to be. she talks over top of other people before they finish because she has no patience. she gives unsolicited advice even though she knows better. sometimes glory will eat ice cream for dinner. glory sometimes is amused by the smell of her own flatulence. that's a damn shame. glory prides herself on her honesty but sometimes she still doesn't know how to be bold with the truth when it matters most. glory has road rage. and violent tendencies. which is funny because she really has no desire to get into it with anyone (coward!)
vain heffa...

glory thinks she can write. vain heffa... she's too picky with men. and judgmental in general. she can't stand how her father thinks he knows everything yet to hear her get on a soapbox, it's obvious that she is just like him. sometimes glory lies by omission and creative truth telling. and she knows better. she lets her dishes sit in the sink overnight. and if she doesn't feel like taking a shower, she doesn't until she feels like it. sometimes glory makes promises with the best of intentions and just doesn't keep them because of her own agenda or because she was overreaching in the first place. glory's need to get along with everyone and do good to everyone and extend love to everyone just might be more narcissistic than altruistic - jury's still out on that one. glory is lazy. glory doesn't take care of her car like she should, but will be the first one to play "woe is me" when it stops running and she catches a car payment like how r. kelly catches cases. oh yeah, sometimes glory thinks she's funny and she isn't. but when she's not trying to be funny, people laugh. at her, not with her. (she's paranoid, too.) glory is always fronting like she's harder, less sensitive, and more aggressive than she is - she really needs to stop but old habits die hard. what's worse, she loves herself in spite of (because of) all these things (and others she won't allow herself to mention while referring to herself in the third person).

Monday, November 14, 2005

can you hear me now?

my mobile phone is a worthless piece of excrement from the most dismal and smoking pit of hades and i rue the day the resources were ever wasted on its manufacture, especially in light of the fact that it hasn't worked properly since some distant day last week.

and to paraphrase a comedian i often detest, my wireless company can kiss the darkest part of my posterior. you offspring of unwed parents, to the molten banks of the river styx i condemn you, donning drawls doused in the most flammable of rocket fuels. may your eternal torture give you at the very least a small hint of the inconvenience and frustration that i feel dealing with your incompetent, inconsiderate lack of both service and utility.

Friday, November 11, 2005

try it

if i was given the opportunity to say something to other black people in this country, and i was somehow guaranteed that my words would be heard and heeded by all, based on what i am feeling today, this is what i would say:

it's okay to love yourself. maybe your surroundings or circumstances don't tell you what you want to hear. but that's okay because within you lies the ability to tell yourself love, tell yourself strength, tell yourself potential, tell yourself power, tell yourself happiness, tell yourself safety, tell yourself to dream.

it's okay to dream. it's okay to love your neighbor. it's okay to open the door to trusting other people. close it if need be, but nothing beats a failure but a try. try to forgive those brothers and sisters who have hurt you. try to forgive yourself for hurting others. try to believe that the way things are now haven't always been this bleak (because they haven't - once upon a time, we spoke to each other when we passed in the streets, and once upon a time, we checked in on our neighbors, and once upon a time we pooled our resources so that not one of us would fall by the wayside).

tell yourself to dream...

try to believe that we can reclaim and renew and redirect our love toward each other. try to believe that that would change us for the better. that that would change our world. just try it. don't dismiss it off hand. have faith in whatever it is (you know what It is) that has us all still standing here after all our ancestors went through. have faith.

believe that we can learn, we can achieve, that we won't tear each other down, that we have the ability to disassociate poor from apathetic, and money from true success, and fear from respect.

it's okay. just try it.

just try considering what our ancestors would think, what would they do - they got us this far, let's expound on their persevering vision and strength. just try considering what our children have to look forward to, what they need from us, and how much better we can provide for them. just think about it.

i know we can.

you have to know we can.

if we all know we can, imagine the outcome. let go of fears and reservations and doubts and just imagine the outcome.

and then, as one of my favorite bloggers might be apt to say, THINK IT HAPPEN. make it happen. do it happen. prove it happen.

on a another note, may all my beloved sorors of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. have a productive and happy founder's day tomorrow, as we continue to think/make/do/prove it happen. thank you for counting humble me amongst your ranks of those who have the vision to implement greater service and greater progress. luh y'all.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

james, james, james

i love james evans, sr. been loving him for years. one of the realest black men on t.v. of all time. now there are some good images of black men in the media, to be sure. but when you talk about who's my favorite, it's james evans, hands down, no hesitation. james was a proud man. he worked when given the chance. he loved the mess out of his wife, and communicated that to her regularly and lovingly without embarrassment or prodding.

the unsung hero, the one the statistics miss...

he lovingly fathered his children. found a way to balance lightheartedness with the hard stuff. respected the Lord but recognized that God put james' destiny into james' hands - and that james was no slouch. he believed in old school discipline and made sure his children knew it. he believed in busting somebody's behind if need be if they messed with his family - america wasn't ready for james, so the show balanced out his strength with a comedic temper. but even in his temper tirades, john amos made sure that after he furrowed his brow and shouted and threw around an insult or a curse or two, he would be quick to put love in back his eyes so that although you knew that james wasn't playing, you also knew that was he not the simple minded angry black man harboring an inability to reason and love that some people to this day still believe black men characteristically ail from. i thank john amos for challenging the age old american tradition of perpetuating the distortion of the strength of black men. in addition, james encouraged the talents in his children - he was proud of his son's art, his other son's brainpower, and his daughter's sweet spirit. james' relationship with thelma and florida was so beautiful. there was always a gentle word for them. always a generous hug. always a soft spot - not that he was dominated by the whims of a spoiled daughter or always bested by intellectual or emotional superiority by his wife - not in the least. the household was his - and yet florida never had to shuffle and drag her feet because of something her husband forced on her. florida and james shared a mutual love and respect and a balance of household leadership not seen since john amos left good times. florida never stayed up all night wondering where he was or where he spent his check. james never brought home a bunch of disrespectful foolish friends to intrude on the sanctity of their place. he was a man not unlike my dad - the unsung hero, the one the statistics miss, the black man with a character that one could take seriously. the black man with a character that one could love. i could point out where other black husbands and dads on t.v. fall short of james' mark, but far be it from me to make it seem like i'm not glad those images existed too. it takes all kinds. but let it suffice to say that i just love me some james, was glad that good times had a james, and am glad that in reruns, we will always have a james.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


my hero... my best friend... she dropped what she was doing cause she heard the foreboding tone in my voice. she listened to my subdued, sullen words as they grew harder and angrier and then pained and choked with liquid sorrow. my issue, an issue that she is only one of a select group of trusted few to know about, had managed in its characteristic fashion to unexpectedly intrude uninvited upon what was otherwise a peaceful day. i needed some ears to absorb the blow of all the emotion which was sure to follow. i needed someone to witness the sound of my tears streaming down this forlorn face, to witness the sound of my sniffles, the sound of my futile attempts to control the mucus and salt water that made me grieve for the woman who produced them.

sometimes you need to know someone is listening.

she listened. she put on her it's-okay tone and ministered to me with its concern. she patiently encouraged me through silence and the occasional word of support to continue to talk it out, let it flow, honestly, in all of its raw ugliness. she told me that she understood. she didn't admonish me when the tears stopped flowing and i tried to pretend by giggling that the floodgate of powerful emotions hadn't just broken loose. she let me know without saying so that my emotions didn't make me weak, didn't make me anything other than human, didn't make my imperfections or mistakes or feelings anything other than a reality that could be dealt with. i needed a hug, and she wanted to hug me, but we were on the phone, so i had to settle for continuing to talk until my emotions came back down to a manageable equilibrium. she and i talked until i didn't remember why i called her in the first place, until i did remember but didn't feel the same rage and sorrow that prompted me to break down, until i didn't mind getting off the phone and being left with the silence that was left after the click. i understand now why it's good that emergency personnel stay on the phone with callers even after the appropriate units have been dispatched. sometimes you just need to know someone is listening. i thank God my best friend was listening. i love her for it.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

pros and cons


it makes for great poetry
the ability to be selfish at will
the freedoms...

no pressure to cook when i don't feel like it
the freedom to flirt at will
the freedom to sample all different kinds of men
strengthens character by reinforcing the need to be self-sufficient
no sacrifices of time or money necessary
no compromises necessary
no pressure...

no pressure to change or to stay the same
no being worried for someone else's safety or wellbeing
no wondering if i've settled for something less than what i deserve
no waiting for the other shoe to drop
no pee sprinkles on the rim
no fighting over covers
no snoring in my ear
the freedom to come home when i want without calling to check in
no constructive criticism on my cooking, style of dress, hair, choice of friends, or decision making
no rationing time to my friends and family
no struggling to be understood or to understand communication
a lower cell phone bill
no monopolization of my television
no pretending everything's okay so as not to cause worry
no enduring silly excesses of protectiveness
no patience with things i have to struggle to understand
no struggling to contol jealousy
no having to listen to someone else's problems
no feeling powerless in the face of someone else's problems
walking around naked without inciting a riot
no compromise...

no fighting for room in bed
no forgiving morning breath, belches, and farts
no witnesses to my morning breath or belches or farts
no having to hang out with other couples cause i'm too slow for single people
no unexpected surprises
not having to go through what others experience


missing out on great poetry
the other side of the bed is cold
always carrying everything myself, fixing it myself, making the decision myself
having to climb up on the counter to reach the top kitchen shelf
self pleasure instead of in house pleasure
no one to be as excited about my joys as me
no one to listen to my stupid problems
not inciting a riot when i walk around naked
no spontaneous tickle fights or wrestling
no embraces on demand
no miscellaneous emails or text messages to make me feel thought of
noone yelling at the tv on sunday
noone to appreciate my food
having to put on a brave face...

flirting is accompanied by trepidation
first dates
deciding whether or not to give someone the time of day
no one to welcome me home or call home to or come get me if i'm stuck somewhere
no one to make me feel safe and protected (stereotypical and sappy, yes, but very real)
having to break up with people
getting broke up with
no compliments coming from the sincerity of one who already has nothing more to gain
no one to fuss at me about how i don't take the best care of myself
no security in knowing i'm in a good thing and don't need to entertain others
no sweet surprises
no ring and kids on the horizon
wanting to be slower than single people
no license to open this heart.

quiet evenings at home means being alone by definition
no license to open my all to someone who wants to see what's in this mind and heart
having to settle for flirting
having to settle for hope
having to put on a brave face to save face when the world makes this seem like a race
no in-house masseuse
no sharing dreams
living with the reality that this may be as good as it gets
those damned statistics
no cheerleader
it's a scary world out here
constantly having to pit my wisdom and patience against an understandable longing
not getting to go through what others experience

(happy birthday grandma and nadia...)

Monday, November 07, 2005

simple pleasures over the weekend

autumn leaves are a simple pleasure, the way they pop out against the backdrop of a blue sky that lacks the heavy humidity of summer. the brisk chill of morning - just enough to make your fingers nippy, but with a hint of warmth because the sun hasn't started lying to us yet - is a simple pleasure. blogging is a simple pleasure. the satisfaction of eating a homemade sweet potato pie slice after lunch is a simple pleasure. getting emails from friends is a simple pleasure. having time to spend with friends is a simple pleasure. add to this list having clean drawls because the laundry is done, potting a plant cutting because the roots have come in, hearing an expectant mother fawn over her child, and having a friend do something nice for you just because she knows she can.

having time to spend with friends is a simple pleasure.

enjoying the peace and comfort of your own place is a simple pleasure. talking to God for no particular reason except to say hi is a simple - no, a profound - pleasure. getting the ailing car from point a to point b without incident is a simple pleasure. having the memory of good hugs is a simple pleasure. hearing my parents' voices over the phone is a simple pleasure. getting the crust just right is a simple pleasure. the warmth and smell from baking all day that hovers in my place is a simple pleasure. sharing terence blan.cha.rd's latest cd with friends and talking about the virtues of fer.tile grou.nd's performances with like minded music lovers is a simple pleasure. my best friend's mashed potatoes are a simple pleasure. seeing that my cousin's baby girl has outgrown her walker because she walks so well is a simple pleasure that makes me proud (though wistful because her innocence is fading so rapidly).

such things do much to outweigh the chores of paying bills, making adult decisions, bad dreams, and first dates which incidentally happen to be last dates.

Friday, November 04, 2005


woke up to sunlight and the sounds of steve sparrow under the softest covers on a mattress of satiny peace, remembering the feeling i felt leaving jus words last night after sharing the best part of myself with people i respect and admire. offering them my most sincere smiles and hugs and applause and encouragement and sisterly concern and advice and willing laughs and listening ears. i give in earnest - i offer out of love. but i'm selfish. cause i offer the love i look to receive. when i'm on that stage, karma brings all that positive energy i give right back to me, giving me the courage to try new things with my poetry, giving me the confidence to read what's in my heart, knowing that i'm amongst my people. it's not often that you receive what you give in equal or ample measure from people. from the Creator, it's to be expected. but sometimes His creation is so self-absorbed that they have no true interest in giving of themselves. so as most folks come to eventually find out, there's no point in expecting to be offered love - if you're going to pour love out of yourself, you need to be surprised to see it fly home to you like birds in spring. except where i went last night, i've gotten spoiled. i've been respected like the queen they call out in their poetry, like the sista they care about in songs, like one who is loved just because that's what we're supposed to do for each other. and never in my life have i seen black men and women loving each other like they do when we watch each other on the mic and share each other with our words - you don't get that at the grocery store or in school or at work. and no offense to our churches - but sinners feel comfortable in our presence, and still leave with positivity to chew on and inspire them. i know God is present when we gather. and i keep wondering if this is what it was like in africa, before there came people to hate us and confuse our love. i wonder if the ancestors watch us and smile and feel solace when we sow our knowledge and humor and spirits into each other. so no wonder i leave feeling beloved and cozy the mornings after. no wonder i find myself drawn to the scene like people are drawn to the light in the eyes of that special someone. there is love there. and it makes me cozy.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


there is a time for everything,
a season for every activity under heaven.
a time to be born and a time to die.
a time to plant and a time to harvest,
a time to kill and a time to heal.
a time to tear down and a time to rebuild.

God has made everything beautiful for its own time.

a time to cry and a time to laugh.
a time to grieve and a time to dance.
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
a time to embrace and a time to turn away.
a time to search and a time to lose.
a time to keep and a time to throw away.
a time to tear and a time to mend.
a time to be quiet and a time to speak up.
a time to love and a time to hate.
a time for war and a time for peace.

what do people really get for all their hard work? i have thought about this in connection with the various kinds of work God has given people to do. God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end. so i concluded that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to enjoy themselves as long as they can. and people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God. and i know that whatever God does is final. nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God's purpose in this is that people should fear Him. whatever exists today and whatever will exist in the future has already existed in the past. for God calls the past to account.

solomon, "the words of the teacher," ecclesiastes 3:1-15 (holy bible, new living translation)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


something in me felt a little uncomfortable about putting this issue out on front street, which is exactly why i know i have to blog about it - flying by the seat of your pants to keep confessionals real but just removed enough from the core of your being is challenging and fun and requires creativity - all the stuff that i LOVE about writing. so here goes...

from what may become a classic movie for my generation, amy's c.lue.less:

TAI : Do you think she's pretty?

CHER :No, she's a full on Monet.

TAI : What's a Monet?

CHER : It's like a painting, see? From far away, it's OK, but up close, it's a big old mess.

sometimes i wonder if i am a monet. i don't mean physically. i think i have a healthy balance of self-esteem, realism, and modesty. there are some women that look good to everybody, some that don't look good to most, and then there are the rest of us that clean up nice and generally do alright, which is pretty much where i land. so that's not what i'm talking about.

i am talking about the substance of who i am. i have lived enough life and experienced enough relationships to know that unless i am purposely being opaque (which happens sometimes out of shyness or distrust), i tend to leave a good first impression on people. as in when they first meet me, they generally get along with me, can chat freely with me, and aren't offended by any major vices or assaulted by scathing character flaws. and this generally serves its purpose in superficial relationships with those people who are most likely to be called "acquaintance" or "associate" or casual "friend." but with the exception of close, long time friends or family members, who are apt to sincerely tell you how wonderful they think you are, relationships are tricky, and more specifically, new relationships with the less fair sex are tricky.

why do men show interest in you and then over time, the interest wanes? i mean, of course, meeting people is an exploratory process, and flirting and dating are ways to explore new people to see if you like them. in any case, people will be drawn together or will drift apart after a certain amount of discovery. but in light of the ephemeral nature of the initial attraction, the thing is, why all the enthusiasm at the outset?

…am i a Monet? ... a "big old mess?"
is it because upon first impression, you are the best thing yet to your new friend? is it because your new friend is just happy to have a new friend in you? is it because your new friend needs you to believe in their interest in you so that you will be more open to their advances? actually, i suspect that it is some combination of all of these reasons. and sometimes (but hopefully not often) we can add to the mix that they are just using manipulative means for selfish ends.

contrast this enthusiastic rising action i just spoke of with the falling action and conclusion in the plot. you see, the basic story structure consists of an introduction, rising action which leads you to a climax, which is the high and turning point of the story, and then falling action which brings you to some conclusion. think of our little explorations between the sexes as stories, in which the introduction is just that, the rising action is the rushing amplification of being sweet to each other, the climax is when it feels as good as it's gonna get between them, and the falling action and conclusion between the people happens when the climax doesn't start a whole 'nother story of some perennial love fest, so the exploration gets old and comes to its inevitable demise. now this divergence of paths - rising action on a longterm love or falling action leading to a breakup - may happen for any number of reasons. but for women the conclusion often leaves them asking, "am i a monet?"

well, am i a monet? am i the type of woman whose personality draws you in... to a point? at which point you discover what amounts to you as a "big old mess." i have heard sisters ask this question time and time again. was it me? what did i do? why me? is there something i should change? am i easier desired than to deal with acquired? shoot, am i easier acquired than consistently desired? i know this isn't just a woman thing. i have beloved guy friends that wonder the same thing, though not so much on a painstakingly personal level as it seems women do.


no for real - y'all.

stop it. i knew the answer to this question before i began typing this post. and hopefully most of you know the answer to this question during your single intermissions between explorations with potential paramours. it's not so much that something is wrong with you as it is that not everybody is for everybody. the operative word here is exploration. that's why you can walk through an art gallery and what may appeal to the tastes of one patron may not appeal to the next. but that's okay. because there are plenty of works in the gallery. but the only way to see what else is in the gallery is to walk through it, checking out different pieces, imagining them in your space. ya feel me? people buy monet's paintings, and van gogh's, and bobo-the-who-is-that's depending on their tastes.

the operative word here is exploration
i am such "a keeper" in my own right. a damn good woman, a damn good friend. but that perception won't be universal to every man i meet. to some men, i may look better from a distance than up close, but they have no way of knowing that until they approach and see what's there, hit that climax and realize that falling action is the path that the exploration needs to take. to other men, upon approach they may like what they see, but that doesn't mean that i complement their space well, which, you guessed it, will lead to falling action. but to one particular man (with very good taste, if i do say so myself), what he sees when he will look at me - the view from a distance, the view under different lighting, and the up close view of my Creator's very brush strokes - will please him and intrigue him and complement his space, "big old mess" and all. (let's hope i want to hang at his house, and if so...) let the perennial love fest begin!

i really should put this post into word count just to see how long it took me to say "beauty is in the eye of the beholder." hope you're not mad you read all this for eight words... thanks for reading it anyway, and have a blessed day :-)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

friday mornings

every friday morning i was eager to get to school to laugh with my friends about what we saw on the cosby show the night before. the show was funny and it had black people on it and one was a doctor and another was a lawyer and their kids went to college... wow, college... like my parents wanted me to go to college. if i wanted, i could grow up to go to college like sondra and denise and become a doctor that delivered little babies like cliff. and i could live in a house with expensive artwork and go on homecoming trips with my family to a historically black college and have my own room like clair with french doors - "inside... outside!!!"

the older i get, the more i see

i kinda understood what dr. cosby was doing when i was a child. i knew there was a difference between married with children and the cosby show - that there were shows with "good" families and shows with "bad families." i also knew there was a difference between what's happening and the cosby show - that there were black people on tv that you laughed at, and black people on tv that you laughed with. i also understood on some level that there's room for all kinds of entertainment. but i think that's as far as it went.

watching cosby reruns today, i find it amazing that i sat through some of those episodes, that i watched and understood them as a child. but i realize that i watched them with a child's understanding in the same way that children witness the adulthood of their parents with a child's understanding and inquisitiveness, watching them for clues and habits and behaviors. maybe i didn't have the comprehension then that i do now, but that's how children learn. and so i learned. the cosby show was like a field trip. there were cameo appearances from famous people like lena horne and dizzy gillespie and miriam makeba - names i wouldn't have known from the hood, not in my generation anyway. nancy wilson and phylicia rashad sang moody's mood for love. framed black art adorned the walls of the home. "hillman college" became a symbol of the destination i wanted to leave home for. bill cosby was basically being the black mr. rogers. y'all remember mister rogers - the one who would teach children about the world around them by speaking plainly and breaking it down? well, his chocolate counterpart was heathcliff huxtable.

i remember hearing that the show was unrealistic because most black people didn't live like that. okay, so maybe most don't. but did that make the show any less valid as entertainment? it was funny. it made us laugh every thursday night. and let's not forget the mr. rogers factor. besides, did good times reflect all of black experience? of course not - we don't all live in the projects. but that's the thing - we are not all alike, our experiences vary, and the cosby show showed just one of many experiences.

what's interesting is that the older i get, the more i see in the show. things i understood in 1985 were seen from a different angle in 1995 and here it is 2005 and i still pick up things from a different angle than i did before. time and life experience give me new lenses with which to relate to the story lines and understand the character traits. i myself have been denise, headed towards flunking my college classes because of bad study skills. i myself have been vanessa, ready to defy convention for love, and ultimately too scared and unprepared to take the chance on it. i understand now why cliff and clair were so mad at sondra and elvin about the wilderness store and i also understand now why they put off law school and med school. i so understand why denise left hillman to go to africa and why she had such a hard time settling down. maybe one day i'll better understand why sondra went on a rampage when the grandmothers took her babies, or i'll better understand denise and martin's challenges with a precocious three-year-old.

my "friday mornings" have changed now. instead of singing kenny and b.b. king's "i gave you seven children, now you wanna give 'em back" to entertain my classmates, i now think of the value of seeing b.b. king and lucille when i was a kid and having had exposure to that part of the black experience. i'm not saying the show is the end-all be-all of television. but it does tell facets of our story - our culture, our family values, our history, and our challenges - very, very well.