Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's Been Ten Years...

Ten years ago today it was unusually rainy. Usually in most parts of Texas it'll rain for a few minutes and then stop completely, but that day, it rained the whole day and night. The world felt different and somehow lacking in something. Ten years ago, Aaliyah died. Ten years...has it really been that long?

Today, here in Texas, it's unusually cloudy and rainy as well and I'm reminded of the sadness that I felt that day but also the joy that I feel now. I find that there is still that sadness at her passing, but whereas so many people get caught up in the loss, I like to think of it as if (as DMX said) we've just gone a long time without hearing any new Aaliyah. I find joy and happiness and so many of the things I think I'm lacking when I listen to her. She was the ultimate in sexy - the kind of sexy where you know it, you feel it, but it's not overt and all over the place. Classy. Sensual. Sweet. And always herself.

My father had always held Aaliyah in the highest regard; if he wanted me to grow up to emulate anyone it would be Aaliyah. No pressure or anything. For the most part I agree with him that, when I grow up, I want to have that same sort of essence about me that's undeniable. That essence that's sure and calm, mysterious but light. I'd want the wisdom she always had behind her eyes, and the sly smile that always played across her lips when she'd thought of something witty. But more than all of that, I'd want to be myself, just as she was always herself, and if that's the case, then I'm already on the right path.

I have too many well loved Aaliyah song's to pick just one, so how about five? 1) Came to Give Love; it always reminds me of my purpose in life (minus fans of course). 2) I Can Be; it's nothing like what you'd expect from her, but exactly what you'd expect from her. 3) All I Need; it explored her deeper range vocally as well as by genre. 4) At Your Best (Remix); cause that sh*t's just smooth and classic. 5) It's Whatever; it makes me feel heavy and weightless at the same time - it reminds me to keep being the hopeless romantic I am in the hopes of one day knowing exactly what she's talking about.

I often wonder where she would be now. What she'd be doing. I'd like to think she'd have come out with a rock infused album. Maybe a classic, old school album too. She'd be sought out for Tyler Perry movies for sure, but I think she'd politely turn most of them down until he came up with something really good. She'd be trying comedies and dramas mostly, but maybe a horror here and there. Maybe she'd be writing. She'd have changed her hair, maybe cut it, and left women everywhere trying to emulate her sleek style. And maybe she and Dame would still be married.

It's fun to dream. Where do you think she'd be now? Any favorite songs? Remember her, today and any day where you think there aren't truly beautiful people in the world.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I Always Forget Something...

It's funny how rides on planes always make me feel like I've forgotten something.

As clouds rolled by like trees on a roadtrip, I wondered why things always seemed so much harder on the ground. What about being above it all made me feel so...above it all? And why did I always feel as if I was leaving something behind, be it an attitude, an item, a person?

I flew into my home state for my dad's wedding; it was beautiful actually. Maybe living in Texas has that effect where seeing green grass and trees excites a person, but the air felt truly clean down there; I found myself taking deep breaths and reveling in breezes more often than I do at home.

I felt more relaxed. Sure, it was a stressful time as I played bride assistant and cheerleader (for both bride and groom) and a new role of "big sis" (which is taking time to get used to), but at the same time I just felt...better. I wasn't tired, I wasn't anxious, I was just fine.

A small dinner party the day before the wedding introduced me to a plethora of new people, one of whom caught my attention in roughly 4 minutes. He's a lanky type of dude, taller than me by at least six inches. Very quiet nature about him, with squinty, wise brown eyes. Conversing led me to believe that he was older than he was, which made me feel like such a cougar for even vibing him like I was, but maybe it was my new attitude that made me just not give a damn.

The wedding came; it went as perfectly as weddings usually go. It was calla lily themed and classy. I wore a wine dress with matching shoes and a hair weave that nearly split my head open (nother post, nother time). The bride was beautiful and the groom composed and handsome (and I'm not just saying that because I'm related to them either, they're seriously super cute). My dress fit perfectly (the shoes were gorgeous, so of course they hurt) my natural hair (gelled within an inch of it's life) had held throughout the wedding and exorbitant amounts of dance tracks (although under my gelled "swoop" bang I held a tissue to stop the brown goo from weeping- so not sexy).

I had my first slow dance ever, albeit a little off beat, with the young heart throb who, at the end of the night, told me how good I looked (even though he later said I looked prettier with my hair the way I usually wear it which was a "yay" moment). My family of instigators literally ran with that, let me tell you, and started wanting to all of a sudden ask me how I was doing, if I was seeing someone, yada yada. What can you do?

What did I do? I rolled with it; usually I'd get all high strung about it but I realized that they've never seen me, not the real me anyway. They see the little girl in the big dresses and shiny Mary Janes. They see the awkward preteen with braces and really terrible acne. They've never seen the me that's real, the me under all that, and the young'n brought out the best of the real me; I heard 'em say I was blushing glowing, and it's true that when I hear the right things a glow does happen. And when the young'n speaks and looks so earnest and intent...well, yeah, I was glowing. I was energized and dancing, socializing, hugging, speaking briskly but eloquently to all the guests who wandered by.

It was such a nice night. It was such a nice trip. And as soon as I landed back in Texas it all felt like a dream; I got tense and was thinking ahead a mile a minute. And then I looked in my phone and saw messages from the young'n, reached into my purse and felt the necklace that I wore to match the shoes, and remembered while inhaling the sweet smell of tree-grass-and-dirt that centered my anxious spirit.

I always leave things behind I suppose, but it's the things that I can take with me that make more difference.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Lil Wayne: A Critique of a Culture

I'm not a fan. Now that that small fact is out of the way I can say that I do admire the man's hustle and the twinkle in his eye when he's doing what he loves; he's got a way with words that make people feel smarter when they get his metaphors which I think is admirable. Hell, before him, none too many dudes knew what metaphors were, so I definitely respect that. However...something is missing lately in his rhymes.

For that paragraph up there, I often get looked at as "that one girl." You know, that one girl who's always a bit different; she's always reading and using four syllable words. She's always listening to "alternative" music. The snooty black girl. A musical purist/elitist. And yeah...I can kind of see that; but I still have a point.

Take for instance the new leaked single, "She Will" with Drake. Yes, I'm Aubrey biased, but at the same time I can listen objectively ("Marvin's Room" was shallow, sappy and pointless - see? I can be honest.). "She Will" has sick production; it has a throw back 90s West Coast vibe with trilling bells layered under the bass; the bass is going to boom in cars across America at all times of the day and night, I can already feel it. Then the strings add a bit of an eerie feel, bringing the vibe down to make the song feel heavier; they make it feel like the words over the music have weight to them.

And then you listen to the lyrics and it sounds like everything he's ever said in a song before. Disjointed ideas with witty punchlines doesn't make a great song. Interesting, sure, but not so much as engaging as it would be if there were a common thread between each set of 16.

"She Will" is (I'm guessing) about what a girl will do when you've got all the money and influence behind you, but throughout the song the "she" takes a backseat (no pun intended) until Drake's hook (which is debatably about either a stripper, or Nicki Minaj or Nicki Minaj stripping?) which isn't in the least surprising as Drake tends to put a lot of focus on the woman - positively or negatively is debatable as well.

 The "she" is an afterthought, kind of like all the items and imagery sprinkled throughout the song; "she" is just another thing to acquire along the way and forget about in the end. The song is just a front, in my opinion, for Wayne to boast about himself and what women will do for him. And like that, it's just like every hip-pop song I've ever heard by him.

You want a sum of up the song in a few sentences? He's blind to the criticism. He gets b*tches. He's got a preoccupation about his soul going on, hence his preoccupation with hell and heaven imagery and the thin line of "life" between the two. He's the man right now in rap. He gets money. And oh yeah, he gets b*tches.

It's not so much Wayne (really) but what he reps that I have a problem with. An artist being good at what he's good at isn't a crime; it isn't like I want a painter to pick up a mic and spit something awesome. It's not that he himself is a self-absorbed poser (*cough cough*) but his obnoxious followers (fans) typically are. You disagree that Wayne is the greatest rapper alive and you don't know hip-hop. You don't think Young Money is taking over the world, you don't know hip-hop. You don't pop it for a real dude to a YM beat, and you don't represent hip-hop. And there's where I find my problem.

I am hip-hop. I'm jazz, alternative, pop... but more than anything, I'm hip-hop. Hip-hop is innovative and broad; it takes from many cultures and styles to make up an array of interesting and unique mixtures that shouldn't work, but do. I can't say that Wayne is the greatest alive, because I haven't heard every rapper in the world. I can't say YM is taking over the world because I don't think any company has captured the world the way Bad Boy circa 1996 did. And I don't pop my booty (in public or otherwise) to music I think demeans me.

I am my own person. I have my own thoughts. I love hip-hop...but I don't love hip-pop, or it's current leader, Lil Wayne.*

*You know who the exception is; I'm not ashamed to be a girl with a crush :P.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The "Once a Month" Conversation Irks Me

W and I have had the same talk every month since we've met each other. Truth be told, it's tiring on both sides as we're two sides of the same coin and thus see the world different. I'm usually the side of the coin with my face on the ground.

It's usually prefaced with a small dig at my perpetual state of being single that turns into an hours long debate about what my "problem" is. Why is it whenever I'm talking to somebody and voicing an opposing opinion I am the one with the "problem?" In any case, the conversation is always about why I'm still single.

As a matter of fact, I'd say that was a common conversation with all my close friends. George doesn't understand why it is, unless he's arguing with me, that no man has laced me up. Soul Brotha believes in timing and openness and a willingness to be loved, and that none of that is in line yet. W says the same thing, but for the most part she's got no real reason why either. None of them do and for most recent memory, I haven't brought it up anymore.

Honestly, I've stopped thinking so hard on it. It's not my time, sure. I've not met the right guys, whatever. But when W said earlier that she wasn't a lucky SOB when it came to relationships and that I was supposed to be the "It" dating girl and it just "wasn't time yet" I kind of lost my sh*t.

I like everything to be explained as logically as possible or it eats at me. Me not finding love is one of those things that just doesn't seem logical to me. By anyone's definition I would guess I'd be the "just right" girlfriend (as I think nobody's girlfriend is "perfect"); I like to cook just as much as I like to go out, I'm creative, and damned funny. I understand sports and that sports time is a man's time away from his woman. I understand a need to be an individual in a relationship and not a relationship oriented individual. Logic, see?

W keeps saying that love has no logic and timing is it's own thing all together that I can't ever hope to understand. I keep telling her that that has no bearing on what I may or may not be doing wrong here to not have ever been snatched up. Today it finally hit me to sum it up for her in a short, five word sentance: I am tired of waiting.

It seems like my life has been spent waiting on things. Waiting to be older. Waiting to get a job. Waiting to go to school. Waiting to live. And I am tired of waiting. I have a job, I'm getting friends and broadening my interests; I am finally living. Why, given all these other things I've attained, would I focus on the one thing that I feel keeps alluding me? Why would I still wait on some dude to see in me what's always been there?

I Hate Taking Pictures

I've never been one for pictures. I don't particularly enjoy posing or being caught in the moment; I don't feel like those are genuine representations of who I am. You can only get so much from a picture- I like to believe I'm better in real life.

On my mirror I have two pictures, one of me as a toddler in an over sized hat with a Maggie Simpson binkie in my mouth, and the other a portrait from my senior year of high school. They're on either side of the mirror and I always find myself standing in the middle when one day it hit me; I don't like taking pictures because those girls in the pictures are never me.

The baby girl is flawless and full of this innocent explosion of life. She's new to everything and earnest. The teenager's smile doesn't reach her eyes. She's self-conscious and shy. She takes everything to heart. Then there's the me in the middle. Me in the middle with the slightly jaded eyes. Me in the middle with my big transitioning hair not hiding my insecurities behind buckets of concealer and powder. Me in the middle not giving much a damn of what people say behind my back, or to my face, as I don't think too many people know me well enough to "real talk" me anyway. That is me and has been me for a very long time.

Those girls in the pictures were never who I was meant to be; maybe that's why I don't enjoy pictures. The girl in those pictures aren't who I was, but rather who I was posed to be, or portrayed to be. Why does it take us so long to get to that point where we know that who we are in that moment is who we were always destined to be?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Storytime: Heartbreak

It felt strange. I was warm and cold, full and empty, but more than anything else I was angry and confused. Everyone had crowded inside; it had started to snow again.

It was snowing. Piles of it had been scooted to the side of  the walk ways and everyone was bustling to get inside. The beat of my heart and rush of blood behind my ears just kept getting louder and louder the longer I held up my dam of emotions with toothpicks of sheer will. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't think, I just had to get out of there.

I found myself in a gazebo near the forest surrounding the school; nobody was trying to stay out in the cold so I was alone. Snow flurries blurred my vision, mixing with the tears I was finally letting fall. I couldn't stand any more, instead I was kneeling, praying as the comforting chill moved in and around me. The sound of my heart was ironically being drowned out by a Paramore song of the same name. My dam burst.

It wasn't so much the person breaking my heart that left me feeling so much and so fast, because truthfully, Captain is nobody worth crying for (at least not yet). It was the rush of realizing how little I truly valued myself if a person could make me into someone other than I am in such a short amount of time. It was the crushing power of my own strength caving in on me. It was my shame, my disappointment, my anger and my feeling of hopelessness that had me prostrate before God in the snow on a Tuesday morning.

To this day, I can't listen to that Paramore song without becoming teary. It reminds me to never go back to that place that took me so long to get from, that place of no longer knowing who I was. It reminds me to not just come to God in times of turmoil, but to come all the time and with a grateful spirit. As I see it, that heartbreak, even under the guise of a know-nothing boy, shaped who I am now. It lead me to better understand myself and further solidified a lesson that had taken so long to finally cement in: Tears are not weakness.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Storytime: Tes' First Day

The room is small; most of the rooms are small. There are old, rolling office chairs and small cubicles with enough room for a computer, a phone and a keyboard. And I'll be showing up there eight hours a day, five days a week for as long as they possibly let me. I've got a job.

I'm a representative for a cell phone company, the "first layer of defense" as they say, for the company. I've been training and training for the past three weeks, absorbing and asking as many questions as I can, enjoying the down time as much as I can, because I know, as a customer, how call center calls usually go and yet...

I have such a hard time with nerves. No matter how prepared I think I am, I always get that antsy feeling in my stomach (or maybe, in today's case, it was the potluck food). Today was no different; even after hearing my partner for the day go through her calls (which were really tough by the way. She was super hard on herself, but she was awesome.) I still felt queasy, extremely so.

I took my time setting up, making sure everything was perfect. I made my station look like I actually worked there, placing around knick-knacks that I carry in my purse in the spaces left between the imposing equipment. I tested my headset, and tested it again. I cleaned off the mouth piece and made sure I was signed into everything I needed to be.

And then there was a beep.

And after that, I rocked it. I was punctual with my responses, precise with my assessments, and polite throughout the entire call. I held proper procedure; I ran down the situation, summed up what I'd done, made sure my customer felt secure and closed out the call with a smile. I may have been shaking in my chair, but my voice never wavered; I was confident and in charge.

And then the shift ended.

I amazed myself today. I had so much anxiety built up around this idea, this fear of failing, and for it to end up not happening just blew my mind. It's like planning to get mugged, and then receiving a half a million dollar windfall. Am I confident that every day will be that way? Of course not. But I do know that with every call there's a chance to be the person who changes another person's day for the better. And with every call you get another shot at being greater than I was before.

I've got a job, and I think I'm going to do amazingly at it every chance I get.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

That's Deep Irks Me

I've gotten immune to being called "deep." It seems like the phrase people throw around when they don't know how to respond to what you said, but they know it means something; instead of coming up with something equally "deep" to say, they just say "that was deep."

In my training class a few days ago we were asked, during downtime, if we could travel to any place and any time, where would we go. After the few preliminary Jaimaicas and Hawaiis I was asked the same question. It was a tough one, as I enjoy lots of different time periods and cultures (namely the 1920s and '60s), but I decided on Civil Rights Era America. I know, not much of a vacation.

But life now is like a vacation to most people, as opposed to what it was back then. I feel like I don't appreciate how much has happened to make not only my life, but life in general, as good as it most times is. Sure, I'm usually dissatisfied, but that's more of a me being dark and twisty thing than me actually complaining. As my philosophy class taught me, it's better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied.

Seconds of silence passed before someone said the inevitable "that's deep." And then they went on to discuss Hawaii versus Jamaica.

I think my problem with the "That's deep/You're deep" conundrum is that so many people say it, and then forget about it thirty seconds later. I understand that for the minute or so I said it, it took some resonance but for the most part they were unchanged in their thinking and unwilling to elevate themselves to that frequency of thought. And that irks me.