Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fried Chicken Wednesday: Halloween for Dummies

My favorite holiday is Halloween and because it falls on a Wednesday this year, I am inclined to compare that love to a platter of buttermilk-battered deep fried chicken!  I'm not sure how long I've felt this way, but maybe it is because I have lots of great Halloween memories: like the year that the future husband and I spent an entire afternoon in my parents' basement with a bunch of kids carving pumpkins.  (Of course, the same is true of every other major holiday with themes that encourage creativity with construction paper, scissors and glue sticks.  Which is probably why I have yet to find the excitement in Thanksgiving.)

However, as an admitted Craft Project Junkie, Halloween takes me there without pushing me totally overboard like Christmas.  Let's face it--there comes a moment when no amount of tinsel, glitter, glue guns, beads, baubles, pipe cleaners, Popsicle sticks, felt, and artificial snow will make up for the fact that no one really cares that you made all those crappy ornaments and decorations yourself.  Yet, people are actually impressed when you make your own Halloween costume, even if all you did was dress in all black, accent with a few leopard print items already in your wardrobe, staple some cat ears made from construction paper onto a headband, and draw some whiskers on your face.  Voila, you were a cute kitten and you can wear that belt again! 

Of course, Halloween has its downside.  There are those weird people (like my grandmother) who give away toothbrushes, fruit and rolls of pennies instead of candy.  Or the people (like my Dad) who pass out candy that no one wants like candy corn, butterscotch or Almond Joy.  Sometimes there are overly protective parents who politely chastise you for not offering alternatives for kids with nut allergies, or mannerless children who neglect to say thank-you after demanding extra pieces of gluten-free candy.  Among those in the the too-old-for-trick-or-treating-set, there are teenaged girls and grown women dressed like slutty naughty maids, cocktail waitresses, nurses, police officers, animals, angels/devils, cheerleaders, or anything else that encourages fishnets paired with micro miniskirts.  This is especially problematic when the male compliment is a pimp costume...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Just Another Busy Saturday

On Friday night a friend was IM'ing me and attempting to understand what had possessed me to book an entire Saturday from morning to night with activities.  I tried my best to explain that it was just another Busy Black day in the neighborhood, but she was not buying that and almost as if she was hexing me, she accurately predicted that I would get sick--and wouldn't ya know I'm sick RIGHT NOW as I am writing this piece?!

But let me set the record straight.  I am not sick from overdoing it.  I am sick because I spent 2 hours in a germ factory masquerading as a Halloween party for kids.  I am sick because in addition to being in an enclosed space full of coughing and oozing children, I was too close to farm hay and as a person who is allergic to everything, I apparently neglected to take my antihistamine yesterday morning.  And just maybe I am sick because instead of going straight home to bed after returning the Baby Niece to her father, I sat watching in amazement as she shot back and forth around the room like a firecracker, all the while ignoring the congestion taking hold of my chest. 

I assure you, I did not overdo it yesterday.  It was a typical Saturday for me.  I started the day at the Alzheimer Walk, attended a college fair, visited my parents, went to dance rehearsal, and then took the niece to the aforementioned Halloween party.  Sure, I missed church this morning because I woke up in the middle of the night terrified that I might have pneumonia and then overslept well past the time for me to have been respectably late for church.  But this is not an illness that will keep me down for too long.  My body will heal itself and I will be back to running around hither and yon just in time to prepare for Frankenstorm.

Because I've got too much to do to be sick.  I've got a two parties to plan, tulip bulbs to plant, recital pieces to rehearse, a conference to attend, tee shirts to sell, articles to write, an election to monitor, prospective students to recruit, a committee meeting to lead, and all of that is before I even think about Thanksgiving!   

So, no my dear friend, I appreciate your concern, but this is not running myself into the ground.  This is what Busy Black Women do.  Saturdays are supposed to be tiring, which is why I don't feel all that bad about missing church this morning despite the fact that I haven't missed in a month of Sundays...

OK, maybe a little guilty.  But as you aptly pointed out, I cannot be all things to all people nor can I be everywhere all the time.  God understands and will forgive me. 

But if it turns out that you were right and I do have pneumonia, it is all YOUR fault for hexing me!!!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Grown Folk Problems

One of the downsides to adulthood is the preponderance of real-life problems.  Remember how easy it was to solve problems at age 25?  Broke?  Move back in with your parents.  Lonely?  Adopt a pet.  Overweight?  Eat cabbage for a few weeks.  Overworked and underpaid? Get used to it.

Lately, I have been suffering through a series of oh-my-goodness, I'm really a grown woman panic attacks.  Daily.

If life was a romantic comedy, this would be the scene in When Harry Met Sally when Sally (Meg Ryan), cries to Harry (Billy Crystal) that she is going to be 40...eventually.  If this was a horror flick, it would be that moment right before someone got stabbed.  If life is really just an 80s melodrama, then apparently I am Sally Field.

In Norma Rae, she portrays a reluctant union organizer.  In Places in the Heart, she is a Depression-era widow.  In Steel Magnolias, she loses her daughter.  Currently, in The Busy Black Woman Chronicles (of which I am the star), I am a reluctant cat herder Recessionista who is losing her mind.

I am making light, but this is no joke.  I am just not ready for this very adult role of being the de facto family matriarch. I am not Claire Huxtable--most days I feel very much like Denise. 

(Of course, Lisa Bonet is all grown up and crazy, so maybe I should pick a better role one of the Olsen twins.)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Working, Working, Working Day and Night

A couple months ago I was in Atlanta and observed an all-too familiar phenomenon--Busy Black Woman cell-phone coaching. Or put another way, a woman was on the phone with some poor clueless person (significant other, child or supervisor) who was obviously dependent on her to keep the world upright on its axis.  In the scenario that I witnessed, a woman was giving directions to someone from 600+ miles away.

Now the humor in this is not the other person's failure to use a GPS, but it is the fact that this sister excused herself from a social event several times to speak to the same person!  And even funnier was the fact that at least three other women had to the same thing...

I've done it too.  During that same weekend, I had to excuse myself to take a phone call to give instructions to family members.  Except in my case, the scenario was not at all funny as this was an emergency regarding my mother.  Of course, I doubt that it ever occurred to anyone back home that there was very little I could do from 600+ miles away.

I suspect that many of my fellow Busy Black sisters find it exhausting having to think for the collective, kind of like the Borg Queen.  Fans of Star Trek will remember that she was the only individual among the drones in the borg cube. 

Come to think of it, quite a few of the most formidable leaders in the Star Trek pantheon were women--the Dominion, Kai Winn of Bajor, the Romulan Commander Sela, T'Pau of Vulcan, and of course, Captain Janeway (yes, I am a Trekkie). But I digress...

The point being, the person who takes the lead, takes the fall when train goes off the tracks.  I cannot begin to tell you how often I hear 11 million versions of the same excuse: you didn't tell me what to do so (a) I did nothing; (b) I did it wrong; or (c) the blank stare.


Can a sister get a break? Can I trust you to use the common sense you've gained from several years of living on this planet, or to use that expensive education that you are so proud of to make just one decision that does not require my approval?  Or better yet, can I trust you to think outside of the box and do what I would do in the same situation?  Do I sound like one of the adults from a Charlie Brown cartoon?!?

Woosah! Namaste! When is Happy Hour?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

An Ode to Yoga Pants

The husband recently made a comment about a pair of pants that I was wearing. Specifically that I was once again wearing my brown yoga pants, and for that reason, maybe I should give my mother a pass for wearing the same three outfits all the time.

[Insert neck roll].

First of all, I had not been wearing the same pair of brown yoga pants. I had been wearing several different pairs of yoga pants--three black and one brown. Second, I had long ago ceased to comment on my mother's attire even though she insists on wearing summer clothes all year.  Third, when the h3ll did he start paying attention to my clothes?

Although I cannot find it on YouTube, comedian Kathleen Madigan has a routine about yoga pants being great for many things, including but not limited to yoga.  I would agree and add that for most women--especially Busy Black Women--yoga pants are a more stylish alternative to other workout clothing such as baggy sweatpants, booty shorts, or anything on last week's what not to wear list.

What is there not to love about yoga pants? They are made from stretchy opaque material, have an elastic waist band, are multi-functional, and of particular benefit to me as a tall girl with hips, they come in an array of lengths and figure-flattering fits.  Unlike shopping for jeans (which is akin to preparing for battle), most women can find a decent pair of yoga pants anywhere.  So yes, yoga pants are my default option for most non-formal situations.  Travel? Quick errands to the store? Impromptu coffee shop run? Flea market browsing? After work lounge wear? Pajamas in a pinch?

Check, check, check, check, check and check.  If I could get away with, I would not wear yoga pants every day.  I would at least switch things up and wear a dress to church. 

And for the record, the husband is dead wrong about me being in a wardrobe rut.  I am simply a victim of too many clothes with not enough places on my weekly itinerary to wear them.  If the best going out opportunity I get presented with on a Saturday night is dinner at Chipotle or carry out on a Groupon, then yes, I am probably going to throw on a pair of yoga pants since no one really cares what the next person in line is wearing anyway.

And another thing, I am proud to say that for the first time since April I've actually worn yoga pants to YOGA class recently! And they were not the brown pair, so there!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Red Beans and Rice Monday: Steel Magnolias Remake

I just don't know where to begin...

So, let me start off by offering my take on the general concept of a remake. Hard. Very hard. Super hard when half of the folks in your intended audience are old enough to remember and recite lines from the original.  And let me add, a much beloved original.

Not that remakes can never be successful, but certain conditions have to be met. First, the update needs to offer a different take on the original. Second, the remake should be influenced by, but never an outright clone of its predecessor. And finally, the new film should be able to stand on its own merits.

So, with all due respect to the very talented Phylicia Rashad, Alfre Woodard, Queen Latifah et al...your magnolias were just not made of strong enough steel.

This remake fell short on every one of the conditions, starting with the most obvious reason for its existence: the casting.  Queen Latifah was miscast as M'Lynn. Jill Scott was miscast as Truvy. What's her name was miscast as Annelle. Phylicia Rashad's daughter was miscast period.  And as much as I wanted to love Alfre Woodard and the aforementioned Mama Rashad, I just didn't.  At one point, I actually tweeted that someone should have called Jennifer Hudson, but I am sure that the casting director would have found a way to misuse her as well. How does one film have so many character flaws?

Perhaps I was too distracted by the six degrees of Queen Latifah thing that was going on in my head: remember how she was in Barbershop 2, which led to Beauty Shop in which Alfre Woodard co-starred (along with a Eurotrash Kevin Bacon!) and Keisha Knight Pulliam, who starred in The Cosby Show with Phylicia Rashad who starred in Tyler Perry's For Colored Girls alongside Anika Noni Rose, who was in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency which starred Jill Scott, who also happens to be a Tyler Perry alum from Why Did I Get Married which also starred Janet Jackson, who as you remember appeared on Good Times as the abused daughter of Chip Fields who is Kim Fields' mother in real life and on screen in Living Single, which also happened to star Queen Latifah.  And should I mention that Queen Latifah starred in Joyful Noise alongside Dolly Parton, the original Truvy?  I need someone to make a wiki of all this...

Bottom line--since the racial conscious casting did not quite work, the movie needed to chart its own course in order to stand on its own as an independent work.  Which, ironically it does, despite the fact that it only made a few minor departures from the original film.  However, those subtle changes modified the central theme from a story about a diverse group of strong-willed southern women to a mother-daughter melodrama set in a southern beauty shop.  Unfortunately, that was enough to make this just another run-of-the-mill Lifetime movie.

Thus if given the choice, I will always prefer the original, which is sad because I desperately want to see more actresses of color breathing life into empowering stories.  I will avoid dissing Tyler Perry today to say that at least he tried to do something original with For Colored Girls and generally he tries with most of his work to offer his version of strong black women (even if Madea is a man in drag).  The point is, for better or worse, he does his own stuff.  There is no shortage of excellent material written by women of color that could be adapted, so must we wait another 10 to 25 years for the next The Color Purple (1985), The Women of Brewster Place (1989), The Wedding (1998) or Their Eyes Were Watching God (2005)? 

Oprah, do you read me???

Monday, October 1, 2012

First Monday

Today is the first of October, one of my favorite months of the year.  For me, October marks the true start of autumn--my favorite season of colors, food, clothes and holidays.  As usual, it is shaping up to be a pretty busy month for me, but I will not complain just yet...

On the Facebook page, I posed a question about new beginnings because for many of us, October marks a transition point.  October is the start of the fiscal year in the federal government (something that every DC denizen knows).  Today is also the first day of the new Supreme Court term (something that every law nerd knows).  October is the month when most women change over their wardrobes from sundresses and sandals to sweaters and boots.  October is the month for observances, such as Breast Cancer Awareness and Domestic Violence Awareness.  October brings us Oktoberfest, which like most good Americans, I enjoy despite the fact that I am not even a smidge German.  October is also Apple Month, Caramel Month, Pizza Month, and Sausage Month. 

Are you suddenly craving candy apples or sausage pizza?

Yesterday I attended a baby shower for a friend and it gave me hope (again) that God can and will show up when least expected. So on this October 1st, I am choosing to believe in miracles!

And for now, that is all I wanted to say.  Happy Monday and Happy October!