Friday, October 12, 2012

Dear Rap Music,

For 20+ years, I have piped you through every speaker I've owned; recorded you off the radio onto cassette tapes; bought your CDs, dressed like your disciples, spoke your country grammar. 

Your videos taught me all I know about being a woman - how to dress, how to do my hair, how to roll my belly to make men fall at my feet (because that's what you showed me would happen). You taught me that if only I could make some words rhyme, I too could own yachts, gold chains, diamond studded goblets, and the permission card to wear sunglasses indoors. That by having a somewhat mediocre voice, a beat machine,  and later autotune, that I could be anything I wanted to be (and from the way you spoke, I wanted to be you). 

Your lyrics - well, your lyrics inspired me. To "lick you from your head to your toes", to having "racks on racks on racks", to being "the coolest nigga". What. I learned I could call my mother every hateful thing under the sun, as long as I apologized to her in the chorus and then justified it with "I'm cleaning out my closet". I figured out many men wished death upon me, and that I should be ready at every turn with a Glock in hand. Even found that I don't want, I don't need, and I can't stand no minute man - life advice right there.

And I loved you for it, every bit. I felt like such a renegade, pissing the neighbors off by blasting Yung Joc and doing the handlebar dance while I should have been driving. Boy, you sure made juke parties the place to be, the mass of strangers dry humping one another as if sexual deviance was something you could water down with clothing. That was all a part of the world I was in. And again, I loved it. 

I am writing you today to let you know, it's over between us. I can't do this any longer. And rest assured it isn't's you. 

I was listening to a song some months back..."I Don't Like", I believe - maybe you're familiar. The entire thing is just the rapper talking about, well, stuff he doesn't like. And it dawned on me...why would I care what some random 15 year old doesn't like?

Slowly, the realization settled in that most of your output was similarly irrelevant to my life. I mean, I go to work 5 days a week - how many of your songs make me feel good for having a real, day job? I have to pay my own bills, why do I need to hear about you slanging rocks to pay yours? That's not applicable to my situation! You talk about having 5 cars, I have one, and it's hard enough to keep that one in order with flat tires, gas, insurance, parking tickets, and road rage abound. You have a huge mansion in LA, I'm struggling to pay rent for a garden apartment. Elections happen and all you can talk about is how Bush hates blacks (whether I agree or not being irrelevant here), and Obama is black, and Nixon did whatever. 

When I was dealing with breakups, where were you? When I was frustrated, why weren't you there? When I needed a pick me up, when I was fallen and needed a helping hand, you were NO WHERE TO BE FOUND. Too busy out slumming with your candy cars and gold grills to help a sista out, I suppose. 

This summer we went to Lollapalooza again, and saw a group of your disciples spreading your word. 5 dudes jumping around onstage - NOT ONE INSTRUMENT TO BE SEEN. How dare you call yourself "music" when you use none of the musical implements available to you (you can choose between pianos, guitars, drums, violins, flutes, triangles, chimes, accordions, trombones, clarinets, shall I go on)? The last instrument I heard was a violin in Twista's Overnight Celebrity. And that MAY or may not have been sampled. To be fair, I guess I understand now why everything you produce is a "sample" of someone else's song - beat machines make it so easy to chop and screw anything you can find on the internet. Why bother being original and "reinventing the wheel" when you can just take someone else's idea and "Make it your own"? 

"Oh, you're a fan of rap? You are AUTOMATICALLY MY FRIEND, and must be a generally cool person. Let's talk about all of the awesome rap concerts you've been to that I should research, all the great times you've had with other rap fans. You like Run DMC? I like Chief Keef, but since they're both rap, we still have something in common! Want a beer, dude? I'm so glad I met you!"

- Ever, No One

I'll tell you the truth : there is someone else in my life. Someone else who takes care of me, who was there to pick me up when you couldn't even extend your hand. Someone who isn't afraid to scream for me when I can't, who will inspire me to get up off my ass and get moving, who won't allow me to just take anyone's bullshit. Someone who forces me to acknowledge life for what it is and not be so concerned about everyone else's haves and have nots. Someone with variety, real instruments, and a group of fans who are some of the best people I've ever met in my life, of all ages, from all over the world and all walks of life. 

You don't need to know who that someone is - knowing you, you'll just try to jump on the scene and mess it all up for the rest of us. 

I will never forget you, of course. You are too large a part of me for me to turn my back on you forever. But as far as supporting your cause, lending credence to your words, buying your albums or merchandise, or seeing you on tour (if you DO even tour) - well, that's all over and done with. 

I wish you the best of luck in all of your future endeavors. 

Take care of yourself. 

P.S. - I realize my one voice means nothing when drowned in the screams of prepubescent boys in skinny jeans. I know Lil Wayne is still going to sell records, Kanye is still going to wear skirts (please Kim, slap the shit out of that man), and Nicki Minaj is still going to perpetrate like she's a black Katy Perry. I'm just glad I jumped off your Titanic while it was still only 3/4s submersed. Too bad you're too busy listening to your Beats headphones and spinning mixes on your laptop to see it sinking yourself.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


Recently, the teachers in the Chicago Public Schools held a strike, and did not teach for a week and a half. Students were sent to alternative "day care centers", where they spent their days doing who knows what as they waited for the adults to get their stuff together and return to their jobs. 

I'm not a teacher. I'm not a student, either. This wasn't my battle, so I tried to distance myself from it. But there was no escaping the matter. Teachers swarmed the downtown area, causing massive inconveniences to business there. I have all sorts of teacher friends on Facebook who felt the need to post about their level of support...Every. Damn. Day. I have coworkers and friends who have school aged children, and even my two baby girls are in the system (though only one, the younger, was affected). 

Being unable to completely escape the matter, I tried to do my due diligence so I could at least be armed with knowledge should a confrontation arise. But I couldn't get a straight answer from anyone. One day, the teachers were fighting for quality of education. The next, they're fighting over wages. They said it was to protect students, but they sure weren't teaching, and besides, they were fighting to not be graded on progress. What?

The administration, on the other hand, said the teachers were being greedy, that they had been offered plenty of fair contracts but would not compromise. They said they didn't have the money to give them what they wanted, but that the children's education was most important and at the forefront of the fight. 

Hold the phone. 

Teachers said it had nothing to do with money, but all I could hear was "we want our raises!" and "we have to pay for our own books and it isn't fair!" and "you want us to work longer work days, but you don't want to pay us!"

Administrators (and Rahm Emanuel) said they didn't have money to support a raise. But, we're planting flowers all over the city? We're tearing up the streets everywhere? Property taxes, which pay for schools, went up? But we don't have the money?!

Worst of all, all I heard from parents was "my kids just want to go to school". The first few days, they said, were like a vacation, but by the end of the first week of striking, they were tired of the shenanigans and wanted to return to their place of learning. This is what broke my heart - and made me angry.

On Sunday, we found out the teachers would continue to strike for a second week. On Monday, Mayor Emanuel filed a lawsuit to force the teachers to teach again. By Tuesday a deal was reached.

Look. If you're going to fight about money, fine. Adults do it all the time, that's why you see people striking all over the place, that's why people get killed. I get it. Just don't throw kids in the middle of the battlefield and hide behind them like sissies! Jesus Christ, what is wrong with you people?

Like it or not, kids were still learning during that week and a half. Not about the "power of democracy", as the teachers would have believed, or the "power of compromise", as the administrators say to the press. They learned that it's okay to have a "play my way or I take my ball and go home" attitude about adult affairs. They learned that it's an all or nothing world, that they can fight for everything they want (consequences and casualties, be damned!) and not back down until every single one of their desires is fulfilled. They learned it's okay to be selfish, especially when you have so many scapegoats to hide behind. People complain that kids these days have no manners....where do you think they learned it from?!

This COULD have been a powerful lesson in synergy. It could have been a serious win for both sides. Rather, everyone lost (most drastically, the kids). 

For shame.

**Sidenote: I have no idea why this "Text Enhance" crap is all over my blog. But I HATE it. Do not click anything underlined and colored unless it is properly used in context. Text Enhance: Stop it. Stop it now.**

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Gun Control (Or Lack Thereof)

Unless you've spent the last few years hidden in a barrack in the Middle East, you've heard of the many mass shootings and other manifestations of gun violence sweeping the US.

Every time something happens, the nation is flung into a high stakes debate over gun control, with some saying weapons should be banned completely, and others saying we should be able to carry them under our Second Amendment rights. And a week or so later, the debate inextricably dissipates into nothing, and not another word of it is spoken until the next wave of violence hits.

I'm not surprised at the lack of discourse surrounding gun control - normally it becomes a question of interpretation of the Second Amendment, which unfortunately in wording states that only citizens being of a well-guarded militia (police, SWAT, etc) should be allowed to carry weapons.

My question is, when did we become so narrow-minded that we stopped looking at the big picture?

Our government would never send an army of able-bodied men into battle without weapons with which to defend themselves. Arguably, it is just as dangerous to step outside of your house, yet we are sent out every day with little to defend ourselves with. Why is it okay to leave our citizens defenseless against those with the wherewithall to purchase guns and use them at their discretion, knowing the retaliation will likely be nonexistant?

Many say, "you can find alternate methods of protection: use Mace!"

I hate Mace. Besides, that stuff is aerial...just because you spray it at your attacker doesn't mean it won't spread through the air and affect you too. I'm far less likely to be hurt by the recoil of a handgun than Mace.

I have also admittedly carried knives of all sorts, from ordinary steak knives concealed up my sleeve to butterfly knives in my purse. But as it goes, who carries a knife to a gunfight?

At the end of the day, I care far more about my safety than I care about the law. If I get shot and killed, God is not going to let me in the gates because I abided the concealed carry law and died as a result! But at the same time, I'm not so grossly disrespectful of the law that I'll risk jail time simply because I wanted to protect myself.

If guns are illegal because more money comes into the government as a result (versus regulation), then our officials should be ashamed of themselves. Putting citizens' lives in danger to make a buck - isn't that more criminal than having a gun?

In the meantime, I'll continue to watch the news, and feign shock every time I hear of a new shooting - as if these things aren't commonplace by now.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Hey, It's Getting a Little Crowded Here

Since the day I registered for a Facebook account (back in 2005, when it was first made available to high school students), I have amassed some 425 Facebook friends. I really have met most of these people at some point in my life, whether face-to-face or through the internet.

Yet, I speak to very few of these people on even a semi-regular basis. Some of them are through my own shortcomings - plans I made that I missed, calls I never returned, messages I sent that may not have sat too well. Those, I understand.

In some cases I've reached out, but the gesture was never returned. I suppose that comes with the territory.

 I scroll through my newsfeed daily, reading what's new. I see plenty of Godspeak, those witty pictures with the quotes, photos showing what was eaten for breakfast/lunch/dinner, cocktails in plastic cups next to half empty liquor bottles, BABIES, and engagement parties with smiling attendees. Yet, even with all of this juicy news popping up, I more often than not feel even less fulfilled than I did before I started reading. Why?

I suspect its because most of this stuff doesn't apply to me, in any way, shape, or form. Take babies, for example. Most of my friends have children. I don't. And as assholio as this sounds, I don't like spending a whole lot of time around kids right now, for a host of reasons. First, I'm too old to be default babysitter, which is normally what happens when I'm around people with kids ("Here, you hold the baby! We're going to escape for a few minutes...."). Second, I don't want to be responsible for anyone else's spawn, given I have none of my own. Third, I participate in all sorts of adult debauchery, and I hate having kids around when I do it.

From my point of view, this all makes sense. To my friends with children, I'm sure I come off wrong. So I talk to very few of them anymore.

Then there's the whole God thing. I've said it before here, I'll say it again - I'm not the most glowing example of religion there is. I believe in God, sure. I also believe in guardian angels and the Holy Trinity. I ALSO believe wholeheartedly in superstition. And I think the Bible is a man-made document (a belief that inevitably starts a shitstorm of argument and hypocrisy, and normally ends in hurtful epithets being flung like monkey poop across the room). Most of my FBF hold God to a high point in their lives, and feel the need to tell us about it. Every. Damn. Day. Given that I violate at least a handful of Biblical rules everyday, and I hate having religion pumped into every aspect of my life, I don't speak much to them, either.

There's hypocrites, chauvinists, whores, sluts, teachers, radicals, and vegans on my news feed. I don't identify with any of them, I keep them around for my own entertainment. It's purely selfish. I don't care.

I can't help but wonder, though: when did all of these people become nothing more to me than pawns for my storytelling pleasure? When did people who once played a huge part in my everyday life fade away into the distance, never to be reached again?

I know that many of them are associated with periods in my past - the business groups I joined, the trips I've taken, the schools I've attended. They are who I was with during those times, they provided support, and friendship, and laughs, and good times.

Now that I'm past those periods, as are they, their role in my life has assumed an entirely different level of importance. I do not see them everyday as a force of life; now, if I want to make connections, I have to work towards them. I have to cultivate them.

Life grants you certain opportunities to meet people, but those people are what Life gives you in its own mixed bag. Some of these people, you will connect with. Some, you will not. You might find someone with whom you make a lasting connection.

What I learned through my Facebook feed was that most of the people there were the ones Life had given to me - stock issue, if you will. They were the teachers, classmates, and coworkers that I had acquired, somewhat by default. Sure, I am compatible in certain ways with a number of them. They help me figure out the kinds of people I'd like to keep around, and those I shouldn't.

There are people I met through interest, not proxy. Those are the ones I have the least trouble reuniting with, and the most fun doing so. The people I had to work hard to see in the first place are the ones I'm more likely to still communicate with now. It's an interesting phenomenon. But it makes perfect sense.

Facebook does something that we were not able to do before - it reminds us of all those people that were only supposed to be in our lives for a particular time. It doesn't allow us to move different ways, as we should. It doesn't allow us to move on, as it should.

Truth be told, I don't think I want to move on just yet. Facebook has become a social experiment of sorts for me, opening my eyes to the hilarious and yet horribly mundane things people do (and hold of high regard) in their lives. It shows me different ideologies and beliefs that I might not have learned otherwise. So for the time being, I'll leave my 425 friends as they are. And if any of them are meant to come back into the forefront of my life, well, I'm open to that too. As the world turns.......

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Feels Like Home

I'm baaaaaaaaaacccckkkkk!!!!

It's been FAR too long. Time has seemed to just float away - I guess it tends to do that when you're learning new things, and trying to find yourself in the process. 

Here's what I've been off doing for the past few years: 

- I started working at a law firm, finally! Initially, I was in the billing department doing data entry. After a year of that, I got promoted to an assistant position handling property tax appeals. Which has been, in its own right, quite the experience. More on that in future posts. 
- I attended two WWE events. Had a blast at both.
- I went to Wisconsin Dells twice. The highlight of both trips, of course, being the Wisconsin cheese. Bacon cheddar is addictive. 
- For the first time ever, I went to Disney World! We went for New Years. It was absolutely ten times more magical than I ever expected, and we were definitely there with no children. I am amazed I had so much fun. 
- I went back to school, briefly. Until they messed my financial aid up AGAIN. They can't keep me back forever though, so of course I'm working on getting back in. 
- I've gone through 5 phones: an iPhone, two Crackberrys, an LG Rumor Touch, and now, my LG MyTouch Q. I still want my Sidekick back. 
- I developed a random allergy to pineapples recently. Which sucks, because I rather enjoyed pineapple until it almost killed me. 

I have been hopping around to the blogs I used to visit, just to see how you guys are all doing :) I missed my friends here more than anything else. 

I am working on getting my Shoutbox back, and I'm sure I'll be changing the theme sometime soon. I want to create something that is totally my own. 

Finally, before I go, here is a song I've been listening to a lot. I'm not even from L.A. but I can feel the pride, and I love the beat. 

I will be back soon - there's so much going on in sports, news, current events, I can't WAIT to get back into the groove!

It feels so good to be home.