WTF Wednesday

Hi Lovies,
So I’m starting a weekly check in with ya’ll as I work to process the shit storm that is our day-to day lives. From crazy making and blood boiling to hilarious and absurd, Brown Betty is bringing you some delicious foolishness to chew on for a spell. Ready. Set. Boo yow:

Tablets for Women – Apparently, iPads are way too complicated for women. The complexity of technology just alludes us, and agitates our delicate sensibilities. Never fear, the ePad Femme is here! To accommodate our limited intellectual capacity and our one dimensional interests, this lovely she-gadget comes preloaded with apps geared towards female interests such as cooking, fashion, and yoga. Such a crock of shit. Why don’t they just wrap it in tulle and include a complimentary apron and signed copy of The Rules too? Not sure how these companies keep outdoing themselves with the insulting sexism, but somehow they manage.

Harlem Shake – I’m not trying to let my angry black woman flag fly, but wtf is all the rage about this nonsense? Seriously, explain it to me. Don’t get me wrong, I like to wile out as much as the next hard working sista, but these videos just look like tragic outtakes from a remake of Porky’s. Someone begins frantically humping the air, then the crowd responds by seizing, flailing, and tweaking, many times half naked or in superhero costumes. Now, back in the day the original Harlem Shake was a fresh lil move born out of hip hoppers to make the upbeat joints crack. The move was originally invented by the late Al B., along with his crew the CrazyBoyz in the 80’s. As always, the innovation of young black folks astounds. The community catches on, and you start seeing it in in videos, like here. Check it at 2:10 to see little mama go hard with her Harlem Shake. Mind you, this video dropped in 2001! Another discouraging example of how Black creativity/art is undermined in the name of humor; and tasteless humor at that. Hip hop culture is art. Period. Don’t dis it by making a mockery of it. If you choose to pay homage to the authentic move, give this a few plays, practice, and impress your friends and family with your new found swag. Anything less, is just a damn shame. Kick ass article here by Sara Kugler on this very issue.

The Evil Eye – I’m not referring to the new trend in jewelry, I’m talking about this little dude here. I literally laugh every damn time I see it. How do little little people pick up on our expressions so well? It’s a reminder to watch myself around the youngins. An unsuccessful reminder, but a reminder nonetheless.

Vinum – Food: yum. Drinks: a generous pour like Betty likes. Black owned? Oh hell yes! Support this place, ya’ll. Have your after work drinks, lunches, and quick check in’s here. Ideal location in downtown Tacoma, open mics, intimate soul sessions, chill vibe; what more could you ask for? We can’t complain we don’t have enough minority owned business if we don’t support the ones we have.

Not-so-Happy Birthday – I hate Chuck E. Cheese as much as the next parent. Shitty food, even shittier libations, and a bunch of kids you can’t stand or control. Cooties abound, and before you know it you ain’t got a nickel left to your name. But these dumb asses took it to a whole nuva level. Two dads start arguing and it escalates into an 18 person brawl to include gunfire and a trampled grandma. Oh, did I mention they were BLACK? Yep, we need more bad press. The cold kicker? Empty vodka bottles in the diaper bag. I’m out done. Out. Fucking. Done!

Rubber Pope – Artist, Niki Johnson uses condoms to make a statement on the Church’s position on birth control, and as a response to the comment that the use of condoms in Africa would spread the AIDS epidemic (back in 2009) . Go ‘head, girl. Outrage is such an exceptional muse. Peace.

BB

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Traditions We Should Break

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Hi. Miss me?
In the spirit of welcoming possibility and stepping bravely into new territory (in my suede platforms of coure), I’m dreaming of a blissful space for my peeps; black, brown, sista girls and rough necks, ultra gay and straight as an arrow, all ya’ll. When I think bliss, I think of a superfly world that’s managed to learn from, but not be held hostage by self-imposed shackles, historical scars, and the stinging ugliness that comes with being human. When I think of what it would take to arrive at said Blissville, I’ve identified some stuff we gotta stop. Check it.

Traditions We Should Break by Brown Betty
Regret (No fuckin’ thank you)
Missed opportunities out of fear (it’s much scarier to think of what might have been than pick up the pieces after being unsuccessful)
Jheri Curls (I feel very strongly about this)
Homophobia (If someone aint worried about you, don’t f— with or judge them; humanity above all, ok?)
Selflessness (overrated with few real positive outcomes and absolutely no trophies/rewards)
Using the Bible as a weapon of intimidation and divisiveness (God is love; period)
Overseasoning and overcooking our vegetables (not everything needs to swim in a sea of Johnny’s until it’s unrecognizable, people)
Indignant individualism (if we could just mobilize…damn it, we could really get some shit done)
Chronic consumerism (you know you don’t need another damn thing from T.J. Maxx; this is SO hard for me)
Mullets (no need to expound)
Dirty fingernails (ok, this is just my hang up)

What would you add to this list? What long standing, time honored tradition should we shake in the name of personal and/or collective progress?

We keep the best parts of us hidden underneath the minutia and cowardice of habit, pattern, and convention. We settle into the grooves and footprints others have left, often out of complacency and fear. I believe, and I always will, that we are better and much, much bigger than we will admit. I don’t assert that we should not honor the achievements and strides made by our fore-folk. I am suggesting that we make some of our own achievements, our own unique and important strides. What do you want to do differently, better than those before you? C’mon, I need some inspiration.

Me? Well, I want to love. Relentlessly, intentionally, and unapologetically. Call me corny, cheesy, or naive if you want, no matter. Trust me, I’ve been called much worse. I’m not incredibly wise or skilled at the art of lovin’, but this is my desire. And where there’s desire, the conviction of will can take root. And when will is sustained, folks defy textbooks, doctors, theory, and most importantly, nay sayers. So I will myself to love. Each day. In some way, some act or exchange, in which I can be proud. Shit, it’s a start, right?

Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_love2.html#u5bdMreq4c7mUBi3.99

-James Baldwin

Love Overboard, Part 2

Ok loves, thanks for your patience waiting on Part 2 of Love Overboard. I love you for coming back.

Now, that we are all loved up and affirmed, here’s a quick re-cap:

  • My 8 year old son, Zion (aka Z), fell in love
  • I was a blubbering idiot trying to handle it
  • He wrote the young lady a letter confessing his feelings
  • I convinced him to focus on friendship and keep the letter at home
  • He was bummed
  • We both went to bed

Alright, so it’s about 6:45 a.m. I wake Z up to get him ready for school.  I’ve laid his clothes out, and pulled the SpongeBob comforter back to swing his little caramel feet around to plant them on the floor.  He’s not what you would call a morning person.  Neither am I, so it’s been a challenge to wake him up without going off my damn self.  Helping him stand up to make his way to the loo is an effective way of getting him up without either of us having to actually speak.

He’s up and doing his prep (teeth, getting dressed, watching some Disney teen over-actors), and Jaeda and I are doing the same in our respective rooms.  I’m dressed, and move on to the kitchen to prepare breakfast (the other essential component of triggering the happy parts of Zion’s brain in the morning).  No sooner have the beaten eggs hit the skillet then I hear the familiar shuffle of Zion’s socks on the kitchen floor.  I don’t bother to turn around because Zion always shows up when he smells breakfast cooking.  I rarely compare my children to dogs, but if I did…I’m just sayin.  Nothing makes children appear like the aroma of breakfast meat and/or pancakes. So, like I said I didn’t bother to turn around, until I heard the stools at our bar table being shuffled around.  I pivot on one heel to see my son sitting under one of the stools, with his legs hanging over the bottom bar of the stool.  He is determined to look as pitiful and tormented as he can.  His effort is a resounding success.  I tilt my head to silently ask him what’s the matter.

“My life is over,” he laments, eyes downward, little rosy lips poked out.  I’m in disbelief for two reasons:

1) He’s 8, this drama requires him to at least be 11 or 12

2) It’s too damn early to muster up maternal empathy

“Huh?” is all I’ve got.

“Aurora, mom?” he explains, exasperated by my stupidity. “I want to tell her how I feel, but you said I shouldn’t.  Now she’s going to be with Alex.  He is mean and dumb.  My life is over.”

Again, as I mentioned in the last post, I’m working so hard to not draw from my personal experience that would demand that I snatch Z up by his polo, pop him on the rump for “tryin’ to be grown,” and send him off to his room.  Desperate to hold on to the precarious reigns of motherhood, I choose to empathize with the little fellow.

“I hear where you’re coming from, bruh,” I say, taking him by the hand, and leading him to sit on the stool rather than under it, “but you are still great friends with her.  I have a feeling this Alex fellow ain’t gonna work out anyway.  The butt heads of the world have a way of ruining things for themselves.  Just be respectful and nice to Aurora, keep being reading partners, and pushing her on the swings, and you’re gonna end up being the guy she thinks is the coolest.”

He nods, considering the potential of my advice. I turn to the counter to put his eggs on his plate, next to his toast. I feel a little relief that I’ve interrupted the pity party.  Until, that is, I put his plate in front of him, give him a fist bump, and open the fridge to pour him some juice.

I start to freak out.  Here’s the internal monologue:  Did I just give my 8-year old dating advice?  Wait a damn minute!!! Oh hell, I’m condoning it.  No, I was just being understanding.  No fool, you are telling him it’s ok to be girl crazy at 8!  I am not!  I’m helping him talk through is feelings…yeah, that’s it.  I win his ear with compassion, and then I hit him with age appropriate boundaries and wisdom.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.

With my minor panic attack avoided, I give Zion his juice, kiss his cheek and go off to my room to finish getting ready.  I’ve just completed some masterful accessorizing when I hear Zion ask, “Can I just ask you one more question?”

Based on the most recent line of questioning, I pray that I can beam myself away.  Far, far away. No such luck. So I look over my shoulder in terror and ask, “What’s up, kid?”

Here’s the doozy.  As if he was clamoring for a 2013 MTV Breakthrough Performance Award, he asks, “How am I supposed to move forward?”

At this point, I am certain I’m being punked.   Then I realize Zion, like me, doesn’t have the short-term memory to memorize these kind of lines.  I am in total disbelief though, because I had no clue my youngest could formulate or much less comprehend such a loaded question.  Reminder to self: Never underestimate the power of little people.  Still flabbergasted, I was forced to rely on recovery lingo, and reply, “Take it one day at a time, sweetie. Just face today like the great guy I know you are, and each day it will get better and better.”

What a crock of shit, right?  If someone said something like that to me right now, they would get the original Brown Betty eye roll, and I would promptly un-friend them on Facebook. I know it was lame ok, but I’m doing the best I can, people! It was either that or crack open a Heineken and play some dominoes.

Thankfully, he’s young and optimistic, because this message seemed to encourage him, and we went about our day.  As always, I picked him up from his dad’s house after work.  I watched him skip to the car, and hop in the back seat.  He was surprisingly upbeat and grinning.  I turn around and said to him, “Wow, it looks like the day turned out okay for you, huh?”

He extends his little fist in the air and pulls it down with all his might as he exclaims, “I got her! She’s mine.”  He was so satisfied with himself I thought he was going to pull a pimp cup out of his WWE backpack.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“It was all a lie, Mom,” he recalls, “she was never with Alex.  He just held her hand once, but she doesn’t like him.  So I told her how I felt.  I told her that I thought she was pretty and had a sense of humor, and that I really like her.”

I was so intrigued, my dumb ass asked, “Dang, Z! What did she say?”  Mind you, I’m still parked alongside the house, unable to continue without knowing the end to this saga.

“Well,” he says, “she came to the side of me, and put her hand on my shoulder.  I was so freaking out!  And then she said, she thought I was cute and funny, and she liked me, too.”

The boy’s smile is practically jumping of his face.

Coming back to earth, I say, “Well I’m glad things worked out, sweetie, but please remember to keep your hands to yourself.  Keep your lips on your face.  And when you’re pushing her on the swings, make sure your hands are in mommy approved places.”

“Mommy, I know, I know,” he assures me, “I know what’s appropriate.”

Appropriate?  Really?  Why would I expect anything less from this guy:

 

Zion at age 5
brownbetty253.wordpress.com

See what I’m sayin’? I’ve gleaned a couple of lessons from this one.

1)      As a mom, I’m feeling a whole lot better trusting my instincts.  I CAN indeed do discipline and caring simultaneously.  As adults, we often remember the punishments and break offs we suffer, but can’t always recall any real conversations with our parents.  I want my kids to remember both.

2)      I should probably hire my son as my dating coach

Thank you for allowing me to share this saga with you.  Please tell me your moments of complete parenting confusion.  How did you handle them?  Who did you call on for help?  We’re all in this together, after all.

BB