3 Reasons Why I Loved “Black Panther”

By this time, everybody and their momma has seen the new “Black Panther” movie, so I hope it’s safe to write about it. I don’t want to be that guy who spoiled things for others.

I had been avoiding most social media coverage of the film to make sure I did not accidentally read any spoilers. Aside from watching the trailer and seeing all of the excellent reviews, I knew almost nothing about the movie.

I finally saw it on Tuesday and I LOVED IT. Here’s why:

Women Warriors

This movie broke with the tradition of a muscly/smart/rich/kindhearted/some combination of the four White dude being the savior of everyone in the film. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love muscly/smart/rich/kindhearted White dudes probably as much as anyone else. I love the other Marvel movies (Thor, IronMan, etc.) and I even love the DC movies (even though, shame on them for not doing more with the latest Superman story, but I won’t get into my disappointment about that).

HOWEVER…
I am both Black and female and of course it was a welcome surprise to see Black female leads playing WARRIORS and SCIENTISTS. I won’t spoil it for anyone else, but OMG GO SEE THIS MOVIE. No matter your color or shape of your genitals, it’s amazing.

To be honest, I actually CRIED when I realized the warriors were women. Yes, I sat in the movie theater and cried real tears of joy. I was SO EXCITED to see Black women being the warriors. Is this what it’s like to be a White dude watching “Star Wars?” OMG I can finally relate. I GET IT. The shit’s super exciting!

I can also honestly say that I never *truly* understood how important it is to see representations of yourself in media until yesterday. I have read countless magazines and never felt the pressure to be skinnier, or lighter, or have a specific kind of hair. I usually feel nothing. I am writer, so I have always focused on the written content of printed media instead of the photos.

But, to actually feel SOMETHING when you see people in media who look like you, wow, that’s amazing. So I cried. Now the internet knows about it and I don’t care. Go see the damn movie. I’m going to see it again.

The gentlemen in the movie are lovely (Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan are both intellectually and physically amazing, for sure), but THE WOMEN make the movie. Lupita, Letitia, Angela, all of them, I love them.

Beautiful and Rich Cinematography

When you go see it at the theater, try to see it in IMAX if you can. I just happened to see it in IMAX because the movie timing fit my schedule, but what a happy accident. Seeing it on such a huge screen, I felt enveloped in all of the colors and emotion of the story. I especially loved all of the high tech and fight scenes. It’s a beautiful experience, both visually and emotionally.

The After Effect

I actually took a mid-day break from work to go see the movie because I wasn’t feeling well and I was in a deep funk. I couldn’t concentrate at all, so I figured it was worthless to just keep sitting at my desk, getting more and more frustrated.

After the movie, I felt so lifted and inspired. Sometimes I am a pretty staunch cynic, pretty much walking around in my own atmosphere of logical reasoning. But after the movie, the first thing I did was drive to Starbucks and engage a STRANGER in talking about the movie.

I did not drink or eat anything during the movie because I have a bladder the size of a peanut and I couldn’t bear the thought of missing a millisecond to go to the ladies’ room. So, at the end of the movie, I was parched. The drive-thru attendant asked me how my day ways, and I YELLED “IT IS GREAT! I JUST CAME FROM SEEING BLACK PANTHER!!!” GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

I was on some kind of weird high! I told her to go see it and after she responded with a nice, but cordial, response, I said again, “NO, YOU REALLY MUST GO SEE IT.” It’s like I’d found the cure to melancholy at the movie theater and it was my job to tell everyone about it.

Those are my top three reasons for loving “Black Panther.” It is amazingly well done and it truly deserves all of the praise that you read about on the Internet. I hope you, too, will go see it…and again, and again, and again, and a fourth time for good measure.

WAKANDA FOREVER

Until tomorrow, my friends…

 

Mundane Adventures

Tonight, my tutoring session ended early, so I popped over to the grocery store.

I usually go to Whole Foods, not because I am a pretentious hippie, but because it is usually pretty quiet. The workers are super nice and friendly and know things about food, like what kind of cheese to buy for a picky eater.

But tonight, I happened upon the Central Market and decided to try it out. I’ll be going back! It’s like Whole Foods and a regular grocery store had a huge baby. A very huge, meandering baby.

Saki

I didn’t buy this saki, because it’s alcoholic (right?) and I consume very little alcohol. I had a martini last Friday and that will probably be the only alcohol I drink this month.

But isn’t this bottle super gorgeous?

Caviar

I also didn’t buy any caviar aka roe aka fish eggs, but I just had to photograph it because it is so beautiful. Look at all those tiny little would be fishes!

Bakery

I never go into a store without looking at the baked goods. I didn’t buy anything sweet; I just admired the artistry of the bakers and the gorgeous arrangements and displays.

Teas

I also didn’t buy any teas because I have SO MUCH TEA (see post from two days ago.) I almost wanted to donate some of my tea so I had a legit reason to buy more. Ah! I’m a tea hoarder!

I liked the names of these teas.

Curiosities

I have never seen a red pear or dragonfruit in real life. How delightful! And apparently you can buy a bundle of mushrooms. Fascinating!

What I Actually Bought

Sooo…I bought a random assortment of things.

I bought some of the most gorgeous scallops I’ve ever seen and will cook them tomorrow for lunch. I almost can’t wait. I also bought salmon and two peaches; the other things are shown clearly in the photos. I bought a bath bomb for $7. I can’t eat it, but it’ll be such a lovely thing to experience when I use it.

I hope your day was full of some kind of low key adventure.

If it was , leave me a comment below and tell me about it.

Until tomorrow my friends…

I’m Tired Of This

Whose idea was it for me to write every day for a year?!

I haven’t made it through even 60 days of the challenge and I’m kind of sick of it!

Me and my bright ideas!

Maybe today I’m just feeling tired and a little burned out, but also, I know that almost no one is reading this,which is demotivating.

Is this important enough for me to keep writing just to keep the promise to myself?

Well, I suppose keeping a promise to yourself is the best kind of promise you can keep.

But today, tonight, honestly, I just want to throw the whole blog and promise in a big, shiny trash bin and light it all on fire.

Speaking of trash bins, I keep mine in the garage and I swept the garage early this morning. Have you ever swept a garage? After it was done and the floor was all clear, it was SO SATISFYING! My gawd! I actually stood there, still wearing my robe and bonnet, hands on my hip, and admired how nice it looked after I swept. It was amazing.

Maybe I should start writing about cleaning hacks? Just kidding, other than sweeping the garage once a year, I know almost nothing about being a super tidy person.

How was your day?

If you’re out there in Internet land, please like or comment on this post.

Let me know that you’re reading my weird blog and are enjoying it.

If you hate it, keep that to yourself. I have enough critical nature in my own mind and I don’t welcome it from outsiders.

Unless you mail me a snickers bar.

Until tomorrow, my friends…

5 Things I No Longer Apologize For

Who am I kidding? When have I ever apologized?

Just joking…I have apologized before, but I have to admit that I have used apologies quite sparingly in the past.

These five behaviors are really more like five things I have been embarrassed about in the past and perhaps no one that I know would have any idea that I used to be a little self conscious about these things.

My Affinity for Mayonnaise 

I am that person who asks for a little more, and then some more, and then just one more pass, and then just a tiny bit more mayonnaise at Subway. Or McDonald’s. Or Burger King. Or anywhere. I absolutely love mayo and when I first when to Paris and learned that the French eat mayonnaise with their fried potatoes, I felt that I had finally found a lost piece of my heart and soul.

My Affinity for the Color Red

A few months ago, a friend commented on how there’s a LOT of red things in my house. He opened the cupboards and counted all the spots where he saw something the color red. He counted a lot of things.

I absolutely LOVE red. Red anything. Lipstick, standing mixers, cars, doors, pens, it just doesn’t matter. Red is the color of life to me. Once, I was brave enough to paint the biggest wall in my apartment bright red, like stop sign red. Needless to say, that was my favorite apartment.

My General Dislike of Most of Humanity

I’m not a people person and I don’t understand how anyone could be. I have a LOT of respect for people who seem to just endlessly enjoy the company of other people. I am not one of them.

I am not introverted, however. On the rare occasion I do find a person I quite enjoy, I could spend lots of time with them and not get sick of them. I am pretty friendly and can be quite social. I just strongly prefer my own company and the peace that being alone provides. Is that weird? Don’t answer that question in the comments section.

I have been reprimanded pretty much my entire life, from childhood to yesterday, about how I have such low interest in other people. I am an intensely private person and usually operate under the presumption that so is everyone else and they don’t usually want to be bothered.

I suppose I look at it as if I DO hang out with you, you can be 100% sure that I like you and I want to be there. I think that’s better than the plethora of phony friendships that most people experience throughout their lives. In a way, perhaps I am a trendsetter.

My Indifferent Feelings Towards Mexican Food

I might lose a lot of friends because of what I am going to write next, but, I am not a huge fan of Mexican food. Where I live, in Houston, err body and their momma has a favorite Mexican place, and it’s usually not Taco Bell. Aside from some stellar street tacos I had one time, Chinese food remains numero uno in my book. I also have a very, very high affinity for Indian and Italian food.

How My Aging Body Looks and Feels Sometimes

Have you ever lived in a body that has lived over THIRTY FIVE years? Goodness grief, let me be the one to tell you, living thirty five years is an awesome blessing, but by this time in the game of life, your body might be telling you to sit down sometimes.

So, now when I am tired, I rest. If I am sick, I rest. That might mean cancelling plans sometimes, but I am over apologizing for it. Still being alive is a blessing and having the life experiences to teach me to better take care of my body is *also* a blessing.

I also wax my eyebrows less regularly and I occasionally just put on things I want to wear, with little regard to how well it matches. Last week, I wore a red and white whale print cardigan with a pair of burgundy and white checkerboard boat shoes. I could tell that the two reds did not perfectly match, but I looked in the mirror, smiled, and said, “This is what I look like today.” No one gave even half a shit and this strange outfit did not affect my day in a negative way at all. It was glorious.

New style trend to watch for in Vogue: plaid and whale prints.

 

What are some things that you don’t apologize for anymore?

Let me know in the comments below! Also, I TOTALLY FORGOT to write yesterday. I literally have no excuse. I just plain ole forgot. My bad, y’all.

Until tomorrow, my friends…

Whoop Whoop

If you grew up in the 00s and 90s, you’re probably familiar with a song that goes :

“Pull over, dat ass too fat! Whoop, whoop!”

It was performed by a female rapped named Trina and some dudes whose names I don’t remember.

Today, I was pulled over, but not for having a fat ass.

My version of the song goes: “Pull over, dat ass TOO LOST!”

I was pulled over today by a lovely campus police officer as I drove around trying to find the right place to park.

In my attempts to focus on where to go, my ability to focus on what I was doing, fell by the wayside and I made an illegal left turn.

Luckily, I got off with a warning. Thank goodness I wasn’t wanted for anything else.

How was your day?

Until tomorrow, my friends…

What It’s Like: Working With a Muslim Family

I want to start off this post by saying that I am very grateful for my life and the series of choices and happenstances that have put me in this exact spot, in this very moment. I am very, very fortunate and I am practicing being more grateful and observant of my good fortune.

One of the things that I am most thankful for is the many opportunities I have had to meet different people. And by different, I mean people who are of a different race, religion, background, nationality, gender, and experience than I am. You know, all of the typical things that humans use to segregate themselves and to judge the ones not in their special little circle.

Sometimes the opportunity to meet different people come because of me reaching out or because of some other self-directed involvement or effort. Most of the times, however, I find that opportunity comes simply by being open to it coming.

A few months ago, I started tutoring two children from an Eastern block country, near Russia. I will provide as few details as I can about this family, in an effort to protect their identities and keep the focus on the story and my experience, and the religion of Islam, which I am in no way qualified to even begin to discuss.

The first time I went to their house for a tutoring session, there was no answer on the phone for 15 minutes. Tardiness angers me, and over time, I have had to learn to manage my anger when people are late. But, this time, anger kind of got the best of me. I’d driven almost 50 minutes in hellish Houston traffic, just to be on time. And there I was, still on time, even after navigating around a big wreck, and the people were not answering the phone.

I looked at the clock on my dashboard and said to myself, “I’m only waiting 15 minutes; then, I’m leaving.”

I also had a bunch of other bad thoughts about these people BEFORE I even met them. Perhaps they were sharpening their saws, so they could cut me up into little bits? Is there such a thing as the “Tutor Strangler” in any popular movies? They must be absolutely terrible people; how dare they be so late?

I worked myself up into an almost seething frenzy when my phone rang at exactly 14 minutes past the hour. I couldn’t make this up if I tried.

The frenzied sounding father apologized profusely and asked me to please excuse them and come up to tutor the children. Not wanting to break the rule I’d set for myself, I reluctantly went up to meet them.

I immediately thanked myself for the decision to try, the decision to trust the universe, which is absolutely not something that I usually do.

Upon entering, the entire family came to warmly greet me, one by one. The father told me that he appreciated me tutoring his children and that he trusted my abilities as a teacher. Having taught public school in rough areas for several years, hearing the words “appreciation” and “trust” the first time I interacted with a parent was a rarity, to say the least.

After the session was over, the mother meekly came up to me, and handed me a warm, paper towel wrapped bundle. I said thank you as graciously as I could, not knowing at all what was customary or rude to them, realizing I knew nothing about the culture of their home country, and also realizing that my “American guilt” is still pretty strong.

I left the apartment and walked to the elevator and opened the napkin. She had given me two freshly baked rolls of bread, the steam gently greeting my grinning face as I pinched off a piece and ate it.

At that moment, I realized that something really beautiful had happened. A shared experience between people who are seemingly nothing alike, joined together by the universe’s pull and their own collective abilities to extend a bit of trust to another human being.

For the family, they had trusted a strange American to enter their home, the first time they met them. Given the media and hatred and negative messaging about Muslims in America, if I were them, I do not think I would have had the courage to invite a strange American into my home. But, they did.

For me, I had continued with the tutoring appointment, even though I was angry that they were late and a little afraid of going into a strange home. I also greedily ate home made bread from a stranger, something that I am pretty sure children are taught not to do, and there I was, as an adult, eating a stranger’s food, in an elevator, no less.

By the time I reached the first floor, I loved those people. I loved the children. I loved their kindness. I loved the open and loving energy that you can feel in their house. I texted my mother and told her I was all right and that everything went well and I even told her, “I love them already.”

I continue to work with the children and the family continues to treat me better than any parents have in all my years of teaching. They have invited me to stay after the session to have dinner with them. They have given me other food gifts. They’ve taken the time to share things about their culture and food with me. They’ve even let me hold their infant child, which for a woman who is terrified of small children, was a big feat for me to even agree to do such a thing.

Somehow, the fact that I know almost nothing about Islam, or their home country, or their language, yet I am still able to share very human experiences with the family makes me feel incredibly fortunate.

My experience with the family is truly a testament to what great things can happen when, even if you are scared or emotional, you can summon up the courage to trust others and the universe.

You just might not be disappointed.

Until tomorrow, my friends…

 

3 Songs I am Embarrassed to Admit I Love

Do you ever sing in the car?

Like REALLY belt it out?

I sing in the car like my life and driving abilities depend on my singing. The music is usually very loud to drown out my own voice, but I wonder if I might have a really great singing voice. I’ve never sang in front of people, but even without the affirmation from other people, I know that I am no Whitney Houston.

But, maybe I could be a Miley Cyrus?

Part of my desire in creating this blog is to develop more comfort with myself through sharing more things about myself, with the world, metaphorically naked, for all the world to see.

So, without much more explanation, here is some information that is essentially the equivalent to me baring my soul. Here are three songs that I absolutely love, but am kind of embarrassed that I like.

1. Miley Cyrus: “Party in the U.S.A.”

How can you  not like this song? It’s essentially about a girl moving to a new town and feeling scared. I have done this, IN REAL LIFE, two times. When I first moved to Houston, I played Gwen Stefani’s “L.A.M.B.” album pretty much on repeat, to find courage to be here alone. I can totally relate to this song! Feeling out of place, feeling homesick, feeling pressured–all of those things SUCK! But, when a song you love comes on, you know you’re gonna be o-kayyy (like she sings in the song).

2. Cardi B: “Bodak Yellow”

BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITCH. I love this damn song!

Ok, enough profanity on this blog. But, do not click the link to listen to this song if you do not enjoy profanity. Here are some admissions I should make about this song: 1) I don’t know what the title means and I’ve never Googled it. 2) What is this song about, like, really, in the greater meaning of life and the universe? I have no idea at all. 3) I am perhaps totally shallow because I really enjoy this song, even though it’s primarily about being rich and wearing “red bottoms”. Those are Louboutin shoes, for all you people out there who are busy thinking about important things instead of designer shoes.

I became a little obsessed over this song, and eventually read about Cardi B’s life. Turns out, she was a physically and mentally abused stripper who hustled her way into the rap game. Like her music or not, you gotta respect her hustle and desire to get out of her less than desirable situation. I can literally rap along with this song, line for line. Please, no one tell my mother.

 

3. Train: “Drops of Jupiter”

I have been teased about my affinity for “White boy music” (whatever the f*ck that truly means) since I first began to listen to Alanis Morissette back in 6th grade aka a LONG TIME AGO.

More recently, I was teased for liking Train. A friend told me that “all of their music was garbage” and I just have to politely disagree. I love the lead singer’s unusual and somewhat raspy voice and I LOVE the quirkiness of their lyrics.

My favorite lyric is “Did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there?” The lyrics don’t plainly make sense, but there’s something about this song that I just inherently understand and I don’t really know why.

 

So, there’s my embarrassing list! But, before I go crawl into a hole, tell me your most loved, yet most embarrassing songs.

Until tomorrow, my friends…

Cheat Day Writings

Is everyone and their momma still posting about the Super Bowl? Is that why my Internet is so slow?

Ha!

Congratulations, Philadelphia Eagles. I did not watch the game. I did laundry and washed my hair. But I read online that it was riveting and I do love it when an underdog wins.

I washed my hair and clothes for a little too long and had a late dinner. So, here’s a cheat day writing from almost 10 years ago. I wrote this little thought piece back on July 7, 2008.

Until tomorrow, my friends….

 

Fighting Cynicism

Lately, I’ve been fighting with feelings of cynicism.  Some people fight with obesity, depression, self-hatred, hatred for others.  For myself, my internal fight, at least at this stage in my life, is definitely with cynicism.

I can remember back to when I first became familiar with the idea of cynicism, even before I knew that it had a name.  I was perhaps in sixth or seventh grade, and we were learning about the life of Anne Frank.  I remember being immediately infatuated with her life, her letters, and her struggle.  But the thing that fascinated me most was her seemingly unwavering belief in the goodness of human beings.

Thinking about Anne Frank and my first associations with her life makes me feel hopeful, yet ashamed.  I feel hopeful because if Anne Frank could maintain her positive outlook on human beings, then I know it is entirely possible.  I feel hugely ashamed because my own life hasn’t been nearly as eventful, trying, or terrifying as Anne Frank’s, yet I still find myself battling daily to maintain my love for people.

In all honesty, I’ve never been much of a “people person.”  I have never used that term to describe myself.  I’ve never been that bubbly, personable person with whom others fall in love quickly.  I’ve never been a great salesperson, or even terribly interested in the mundane, everyday activities of other people.  I’ve always found it weird and uncomfortable if anyone ever showed any interest in my everyday activities.  Not to say that I am heartless; I strive to be very kind.  Contrarily, I have found that general “niceness” is overrated for the most part, unless it’s used to talk one’s way out of a speeding ticket.

Kindness, on the other hand, has always been hugely underrated to me.  It seems that as humans, we put greater  value on how we are perceived (as nice or not) rather than what we really are (kind or totally unconcerned about the welfare of others).  I, rather it happened purposefully or not, have always been more concerned with trying to actually be kind.  I learned at a very young age that I am unable to pretend to be nice, but I’ve never found it hard to be kind, even to assholes who are totally undeserving.

Cheat Day

The past two weeks have been so busy. My candle wick has been burned down to a tiny little nub.

Here’s to a cheat day!

This is a poem that I wrote on January 8, 2018. Not that long ago!

Have a great weekend and as usual, see ya tomorrow, friends…

What’s in the sun’s rays?

It’s the boyish grin of a fella on a first date,

It’s the warm smile that a balding father gives to his kids,

It’s the delight of children who know that they picked the right day to play sick,

It’s the lonely eyes of the writer, the observer, who watches it all

What It’s Like: Teaching Kids

Some contents of my purse serve as the muse for tonight’s post. Inside my purse are some meat-pie looking pastries, carefully wrapped in a napkin, a gift from an Azerbaijani grandmother.

I tutor two great kids a couple nights a week. I tutor them in English: reading, writing, and speaking. Their grandmother is in town, visiting from their home country, Azerbaijan, a place I’d barely heard of before meeting these children a few months ago.

About 12 years ago or so, I started a career as a school teacher. I taught elementary aged kids. After I did that for a few years, I transitioned to a job in corporate America, and taught at the collegiate level (freshmen and juniors) on the side for a few years.

Now, I am tutoring two kids and two adults. I’ll write about the adults in another post, perhaps.

When I changed from teaching kids to college adults, many of whom were older than me, everybody and their momma asked me the same question: How is it different? My go-to, cheeky answer was always, “You don’t have to take adults to the bathroom.” Karma laughed at me and once sent me an adult student who did ask, on several occasions, if she could go to the bathroom.

Teaching is kind of “old hat” to me now; even when I meet new students, I have now done it long enough that I can at least PRETEND to know what I am doing. It takes a lot of practice to even get the confidence to be able to pretend to be a confident teacher, unless you’re kind of a pompous, know it all asshole, which in that case, please do  us all a favor and stay out of the classroom. What I’m trying to say is, teaching should have a sense of respect and humility, both for your students and for your profession.

Teaching kids is challenging in its own way. Children are PAYING ATTENTION. Don’t believe the horseshit you hear on the news about how six in one children have ADHD. They might, be even then, they’re still closely paying attention to everything you do. EVERYTHING. Understand the difference between paying attention and judging you. The kids are attentive; the adults are probably judgmental.

Children aren’t thinking about bills or if they took the chicken out to unthaw. Depending on their age, they may not have a good sense of embarrassment or self awareness. They’re doing their thing and watching you do yours.

With kids, it’s a lot of work to exemplify an excellent role model, pretty much at all times. When I taught elementary school, I did not cuss, not even on the weekends. I just recently started to feel comfortable saying the word “stupid”, even though I’ve taught for years. Working in the oilfield helped me develop a hearty potty mouth, which I thoroughly enjoy, but you’d never know that when I am around young and impressionable ears.

Kids are also way smarter than most adults give them credit for. Children pick up on and absorb energy better than adults, too. If you let your child know your burdens, they will help you carry them, regardless if you have asked them to or not. I once worked with a kindergartner who came to school looking very concerned. He eventually began to cry. When I pried an answer from him, he told me that he was worried because his mom and dad “were down to their last $5,000.” He had overheard them fighting about money and even though he couldn’t even count to 500 or 5,000, his little mind could clearly interpret that something big and scary was wrong, so he worried about it. He internalized it.

I have dozens of stories like that; stories of children truly being sponges, and not always soaking up the good stuff.

Teaching a child also has a weight to it, at least it does for me. Since children have much less life experience, I find it to be so important to do two things: 1) be present with them while you are around them because 2) that affects their perception of the world.

A child that experiences an angry parent can grow up to be worrisome and fearful. A child that experiences a neglectful (physically or emotionally) parent will fight the demons of inadequacy for the rest of his life.

It is really an honor to be able to be a teacher. The job REALLY SUCKS, but it’s still an honorable one. Between utterly ridiculous parents, pushy school districts, and insane principals, I have no idea how I survived with even a shred of sanity in tact. Oh, and don’t forget the year that I had strep throat three times and my vocal chords became infected, which irrevocably changed the sound of my voice. Almost no one that I know now actually know what I used to sound like. Ah, that was fun. Good times.

Kudos to you if you’re a teacher. The job can be so damn thankless, but from one former teacher to another, I THANK YOU.

Until tomorrow, my friends…