Sunday, December 31, 2017

The "Thought" That Counts

My little Christmas tree got decorated on December 23rd. I had hoped to have it decorated by the 15th of the month, but I spent most of December sick with one ailment or another--and I'm still not 100%. I still have Christmas cards to mail. Yet, in these last hours of December 31st, I have decided that I have no more fucks to give in 2017. And it doesn't look like there will be anymore to be harvested, at least not until mid 2018:


I should have put this picture in our Christmas newsletter...the one that I wrote, edited, and printed on December 23rd and then sat up until the wee hours of December 24th preparing to be mailed on December 26th. I did that along with all of the laundry (folded and put away). And the shopping for most of the gifts, all of which I wrapped. And the driving that made it possible for us to arrive only five hours late for Christmas Eve instead of seven.

Earlier this month I had been working on a piece about Santa Claus and how to introduce the concept to the Toddlersaurus in an era of woke parenting, but it hasn't come together yet. Now that it is a few hours before midnight on New Year's Eve, I really don't need to revisit the subject again until November of 2018. And it doesn't matter what she believes about that elaborate photo prop from the mall because in time she will know the truth--it is ALL me.

I'm the one who bought that little tree on clearance several years ago to much ridicule, but we've used it for the last seven years. I'm the one who gave a six-foot tree to the parents so that no one else would have to go out to buy a real one at the last minute. (And I would have finished decorating it, but folks got tired. And it sat there in the middle of the living room with no ornaments for days, even though I brought all of the ornaments up from the basement. And several gifts that I purchased and wrapped, still unopened and unclaimed.)

Yes, dear daughter, it is all me. I am the reason why you will have holiday memories and traditions. I am the reason why you will learn the value of giving thoughtful and meaningful gifts instead of a handful of gift cards all bought at the same store. When you are old enough to drink coquito, it will be my recipe that you inherit. I suspect the same held true for my mother and grandmothers, and also for your aunts. Men don't care about rituals unless they involve drinking or watching a game.

According to my unscientific studies on the Christmas traditions followed by other families, it appears that I am not the only woman who plays Santa for her family. If women did not do the baking, the shopping, the planning, and everything else that makes Christmas what we expect it to be from year to year, then there would be no memories to reminisce about or cherish. Without women, Christmas would be Arbor Day.

I could go on to tell you every single task I completed this year, but that is unnecessary. Because I was sick for most of the month and didn't accomplish half of what I did last year when I did all of this. In popular culture, Mrs. Claus doesn't have a consistent back story, and I don't think anyone wants a treatise on the sexism of Christmas mythology. But let me tell you daughter, you can call me Mrs. Claus because every year at Christmas, I sleigh!

Just Another Crappy Day

(I've had writer's block for more than a week, so this might finally be the first of several completed pieces I post over the next few hours.)

I agreed to give a friend a ride to Baltimore on Friday. He offered to take the train to my neighborhood, which would save me an unnecessary trip into downtown and would help to expedite our departure from the city. All I needed to do was to get ready and wait for his call.

Which I did, but of course as soon as I got myself showered and dressed, I received a strange call from a doctor's office about another friend. She's listed me as one of her emergency contacts, so I had to check in with her to make sure that everything was okay. Minor delay, but I kept things moving. At the appointed meeting time when I expected to hear from my other friend, there was nothing, so I decided to get a few additional things ready for our departure (the kid was coming along for the ride). Because the Hub was working from home I assumed that he could help...and he did help the Toddlersaurus into her fleece while I ran around to get everything else done.

In the meantime, my friend arrives at the station. The mailman is extending holiday greetings and noting how much the kid looks just like me. The Hub isn't wearing any shoes so I have to pack the kid and all of our extraneous stuff into the car. I am now 20 minutes late (of course, he was 20 minutes late first, but that is a minor point). He needs to be in Baltimore in 20 minutes. It takes that long to reach the Parkway. At some point during our ride, I detect a faint odor, but there is nothing I can do about it until we reached our destination.

Another friend calls while we are en route, and knowing that she will need something, I let her call go to voicemail. I deliver my mercurial friend to his appointment 45 minutes late. Just as we pull up to the front door, there is an ominous, yet familiar sound that vibrates the entire car from the back seat. Both of us turn to look at the Toddlersaurus in acknowledgement.


Busy Black Women plan ahead. So there is a change of clothes, extra diapers and wipes, and a puffy winter coat all in the backseat of the car. We are at a hotel, and I find a convenient parking spot in the adjacent alley. But I misjudge the severity of the situation and leave everything but an extra pair of pants and an extra diaper in the car. And to make matters worse, I also leave my ginormous Mom bag behind, so all I carry inside with me is the diaper clutch.

The concierge directs us to the Ladies Room and as soon as we got inside, it is clear that I am ill-prepared. The kid is covered in shit. She is essentially baptized in shit that has permeated three layers of clothing. Shit that didn't even smell, but still, torso to toes SHIT. And while you might think it was lucky that I brought in that extra pair of pants and that extra diaper, well that it was dumb luck since the wipes in her diaper clutch WERE FROZEN! And did I mention that she shit through THREE LAYERS of clothing down to her socks?

Busy Black Women are crisis managers, so with all of my backup supplies in the car; with my friend in the next room full of strangers presiding over a wedding rehearsal that started an hour late; and with a naked kid half covered in shit, I concoct a plan. There are plenty of paper towels on the counter and the water from the sink isn't too cold. The wipes thaw enough under the running water from the faucet for me to wipe the shit from her sensitive areas. She is wearing a clean diaper, a pair of clean pants, and a fleece that can suffice for a quick trip back to the car to deposit the shitty clothes and swap out for the clean extras and another pack of wipes. And we can do this before the car gets ticketed and/or towed (private lot) in fifteen minutes, tops...

Make that 20 minutes after the hotel maid, a couple of guests, and the concierge all poke their heads into the bathroom to inquire about the Toddlersaurus' inconsolable cries. After she refuses to let me open her diaper for a more thorough cleaning. After she collapses to the restroom floor in an unbuttoned onesie, refusing to put on any additional clothes. So I did what any other Busy Black Woman would do in this situation--I drag her half-dressed screaming ass out of the hotel. Damn if I get ticketed/towed because this child insists that she doesn't need to wear anything other than her fleece, an unbuttoned onesie, and a pair of $5 yoga pants from J.C. Penny's in below-freezing weather in fucking Baltimore!


Of course back in the car, Princess Poopsie is all calm while eating her snacks and listening to her Daniel Tiger music. So I return the call of the friend who had called and texted and called me during the bathroom ordeal. She has texted a request for my assistance with something for next week. Then my Dad calls to check in and to make his weekly request that I move heaven and earth, when I find the time. And since I always get turned around when trying to leave Baltimore, I'm hoping that another long drive will put the kid to sleep. It doesn't until four hours later.

Moral to the story: I agree to do shit, but other shit comes up. Shit intervenes and causes delays. Messy shit permeates everything. Shit is complicated, unexpected, and inevitable. Shit never goes according to plan. Shit happens.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

If You Really Want to Protest...

As a woman raised on protest, I was amused by the proposed silent protest some actresses might wage at the upcoming Golden Globes. Like really, whose bright idea was it to suggest that everyone wear black? I got more of a chuckle when I read actress Rose McGowan's response until I realized that she probably wasn't nominated for any Golden Globes, so she doesn't have a designer dog in this fight anyway. Not that it matters because I don't even have a mutt in that fight.


But I am going to offer up some free advice to any Hollywood actress who wants to engage in some kind of symbolic gesture at the Golden Globe Awards ceremony on January 7:
  1. Don't go. Especially if you weren't nominated for anything.
  2. Don't go. Even if you were nominated for something.
Okay, see how easy that is?

Now, I realize skipping the ceremony is the most radical choice to make. For some of you, this might be the biggest moment of your careers so not attending probably isn't an option. Thus, I have better advice for those who need to go but still want to raise a fancy manicured fist against the ills that plague our society (and not just Hollywood).

Go on and wear black, just not some high fashion couture little black dress. Wear a Black Lives Matter tee with your knitted pink pussy hat and a pair of jeans that were made here in the USA. In your acceptance speeches, please remind folk to register and vote in the 2018 midterm elections. And instead of eating that expensive meal during the ceremony that was probably prepared and served to you by underpaid immigrant labor with families who live with the threat of deportation by the current Administration's goon squad aka ICE agents, donate that food to a battered women's shelter. Instead of going to one of the fancy after-parties to booze it up, channel that money towards paying the bail for parents who have been incarcerated for petty offenses but weren't able to get out of jail because the fines are too high.

See, those are just a few of the alternative ways that you can protest that will actually make a difference in the lives of some of the most vulnerable in our society. There are genuine sacrifices you can make that can demonstrate how this moment of reckoning over sexism isn't just a public confessional.

Obviously, your industry isn't the cause of our society's ills. But Hollywood prides itself on being the vanguard of change. It prides itself on representing how art can heal and educate to close divisions in our culture. So this is your grand moment. Give those Hollywood Foreign Press folks something to write about other than fashion hits and misses. Give them real drama to report, and not a glorified Twitter beef among actresses about who knew what, when they knew, and why they waited to come forward.

That isn't to marginalize the scandal, but protest isn't about spitting in the eye of dethroned despots. You don't need to wear designer black dresses to mourn the demise of Harvey Weinstein, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Spacey, Brett Ratner, Russell Simmons or any other powerful man who has been outed for his wanton predatory behavior. Save your fancy black cocktail frocks and your Swarovski encrusted safety pins for a benefit to raise money for the people of Puerto Rico still living with NO ELECTRICITY. Or auction it off as a fundraiser for any one of the thousands of political neophytes who are stepping up to answer the call to public service.

Protest is about speaking truth to power. So if you really want to take a stand at the Golden Globes or at any other awards show that congratulates your industry for all of its do-goodness, then speak out against the lack of diversity among the nominees for these awards. Ask yourselves why very little ever changes in terms of representation of and opportunities for people of color at all levels of the industry. Your personal assistant, your nanny, your driver, your security detail, your makeup artist, your personal trainer, and all of the other support staff that help to facilitate your fabulous life might all be people of color, but what do you know about their lives? Did those people all come to Hollywood to serve you...or did they have other dreams?

Monday, December 18, 2017

Red Beans and Rice Mondays: The BBW Christmas Playlist

I feel like I was such a crank last year and might have given the wrong impression concerning my feelings about this time of year. I don't hate Christmas...that much. Even though I did write this, which was apparently more popular than the follow-up. And I wrote this a few years earlier (and yes, I am also repeating myself).

To avoid being the Grinch again this year, I wanted to write a feel-good post that focused on the good things I enjoy about the season, but I already did that. So instead of repeating myself (again), I am offering up a few suggestions from my Busy Black Woman Christmas playlist (which happens to be a much longer list than my top three most annoying songs I posted to the FB page by the way, so be still my Grinchy heart). 

Silent Night, Temptations
For most of the people I know, if you haven't heard this song at least once a day during the month of December, then Christmas just ain't Christmas. Black radio stations start playing this song the day after Thanksgiving at least once a day, then gradually increase frequency until the week before when it must be played at least once every two hours. I assume those 24 hour Christmas stations play it at least once a day.

Unrelated aside: I was perplexed by the accompanying montage on YouTube...as in, this has to be one of the blackest Christmas songs ever, so where is the black baby Jesus??? Here's one (because you're going to need His image in your head as we continue on with this list) :



The Christmas Song, Nat King Cole
No, it isn't called "Chestnuts" which is what I called it when I was younger. Nat King Cole is absolute perfection.

This Christmas, Donny Hathaway
Again, in the category of Blackest Christmas songs you will ever hear, Donny Hathaway's classic is in heavy rotation on the R&B Christmas playlists. If you prefer anybody else's inferior version, it probably won't revoke your invitation to the ugly sweater party, but maybe it should.

Santa Baby, Eartha Kitt
This is the definitive rendition. Every other version you've heard is trash, especially Madonna's.

Christmas Ain't Christmas, The O'Jays
This is classic brown liquor R&B Christmas music. The kind of song that is playing in the background when the old folks in your family have retreated to the basement to play spades. Stick around if you can, and you'll probably learn several family secrets.

Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto, James Brown
This song is the reason why black parents traipse all over town to find the black Santa.

All I Want for Christmas, Mariah Carey
I actually don't love this song at all. It could just as easily go on a list of most annoying songs. But it happens to be a very catchy tune, and if I'm in the right mood, I will happily sing along.

What Christmas Means to Me, Stevie Wonder
There are no good reasons to ever remake a Stevie Wonder song, unless you happen to be Stevie Wonder. He didn't remake this song, which is brilliant, but he did remake Someday at Christmas with  Andra Day, which is a pretty damn good remake.

White Christmas, The Drifters
I love this song. You love this song. Everybody loves this song.

Sleigh Ride, The Ronettes
On the list of confessions I could make about this song, let's start with the fact that I had NO idea that the Ronettes were a black group until ten years ago! Not that it matters because I loved this song enough to download it to my original Christmas play list. In some ways, that proves music is universal and can bridge all kinds of divides...

So speaking of mind-blowing racial revelations (because this topic came up on Facebook and Very Smart Brothas last week), Bobby Caldwell is still white. And though this song isn't technically on the playlist, his duet with Vanessa Williams on Baby It's Cold Outside is one of the superior versions, and yes it is still creepy as f**k.

Behold the Lamb, Kirk Franklin and the Family
I know I just abruptly switched to religious music after faux cursing, but this song gives me chills and makes me cry and it is one of the best Christmas songs ever. I just learned that David and Tamela Mann were the soloists, and I still love it!

Joy to the World, Whitney Houston
It's no shock that this song made the list because it comes from the best-selling gospel album of all time (still holds that distinction after all these years). This is Whitney Houston in her element and it shows.


Unrelated aside: I just watched The Bishop's Wife with Carey Grant, which was just meh, so stick to the Denzel Washington/Whitney Houston remake. And while we're on the subject of black Christmas movies, I just need to highlight Langston Hughes' Black Nativity as an alternative to any Madea Christmas movie you might be tempted to watch as an alternative to any Hallmark movie you might be tempted to watch.


Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah: A Soulful Celebration
This is the best song to end this playlist because it truly captures every sentiment of the season--triumphant, inspirational, and joyful...and hopefully it reminds you of the reason why we celebrate this time of year. Hallelujah!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Fight on Black Women

This is not going to be another piece that offers high fives and chest bumps to black people for that nail-biter of an election "victory" that occurred in Alabama. Nor is this going to be the piece I intended to write months ago on the "role" of Omarosa Manigault Newman, formerly of the current Administration. This is actually a warning. The events of the last 24 hours have convinced me that if black women are the canaries in the coal mine when it comes to issues involving this country, then your President threw down a gauntlet today.

Admittedly, it has been fun to wonder why Omarosa had a job in the Administration from jump. If we look back to her tenure on the very first season of Trump's reality show The Apprentice, we all remember her as the villainess who sabotaged every teammate, especially Kwame Jackson in the finale. We also know that she went on to appear on several other reality shows where she essentially perfected the persona of the mean black bitch. And then we know that she starred on a single season of her own forgettable reality show, sponsored by Trump, as a knock-off of The Bachelorette. And then she went to divinity school, inherited all of Michael Claude Duncan's money, and then she ended up back at Trump's side as his liaison to black folks during his presidential bid in 2016.

Earlier this year, Omarosa got into a spat with journalist April Ryan (which was supposed to be the subject of the piece I wanted to write about her), and then with the National Association of Black Journalists, and then with the current chief of staff--all of which should have provided credible reasons for her to have been fired. She garnered more press for her shenanigans than for delivering anything of substance. Yet she got dumped within twelve hours of Doug Jones' victory speech. The Trumpet tweeted an odd note of congratulations, and while every black friend I have on FB did a church holy dance, I sat still to wait for the other shoe to drop.


My spidey sense tells me that while we all long ago wrote Omarosa off as merely an ornate vase that couldn't display anything, the Trumpet kept her around because he assumed that she really might have some sway in the black community. As the one recognizable black person who was willing to serve as his emissary, her presence was meant to disprove the alternative fact of his racism. Perhaps even her new husband could work with like-minded brethren to persuade their meager flocks to follow along for the ultimate payoff. But when those election returns showed how 97% of the black women who voted in Alabama yesterday supported Doug Jones, and then were universally applauded for keeping Roy Moore out of the Senate, Omarosa's uselessness became evident.

Men like Trump who have no respect for women, hold the women who have no respect for him in special disdain. Witness how vulgar his statements were about Kirsten Gillibrand, Carmen Yulin Cruz, Frederica Wilson, and every other woman since he flamed Rosie O'Donnell. Knowing that he can't come out and say something truly vile about thousands of black voters, he can strike out at the only black woman in his orbit and allow her fall to represent his first strike against the rest of us. Especially those in power...

Like each of the recently elected mayors of major cities where his Department of Justice sent word that they plan to withhold funds from any of them that declare themselves as sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants. Any crimes that he can mischaracterize as weakness will be exaggerated  to undermine and de-legitimize them just as he relentlessly trolled President Obama. He will use every opportunity to paint black mothers as failures if any of our children become casualties of street violence. He will never call for police to reform lethal tactics and he will reward departments that move aggressively to contain black protest. There will be no federal legislative action on gun violence prevention as long as he can invoke images of urban unrest and pathology.

Not that he hasn't been setting the groundwork to do all of this and more while Omarosa's stunting azz was sitting over in the Old Executive Office Building giving herself unearned honorifics and ordering crap from Amazon Prime. It doesn't matter if you believe that she was fired or if she resigned because the only difference is the color of the paper upon which the letter was written.

And one last point about this victory lap folks want to take around the state of Alabama...don't be the crowd that lines the sides of the race to cheer on the runners. It is way past time that black women (and black men and other people of color) who live in these states began to strap up. We can be encouraged and cajoled to get out the vote every two to four years to elect somebody else, or we look inside our churches, sororities and fraternities, alumni associations, Mocha Mom and Jack and Jill Chapters, and PTAs to support the folks whom we already know can handle the job. The husband of one of my classmates ran for that same Alabama Senate seat as a long shot--but he ran. My hope is that he will get another chance to serve the people of his community in some significant capacity. And maybe he will be joined by more than a few of those thousands of black women who voted on Tuesday.

And maybe, Omarosa can finally get a real job.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Our Regards to Anita Hill

This morning began with the announcement that the TIME Magazine Person of the Year is actually the group of silence-breakers (mostly women) who have captured our collective attention since October over the issue of sexual harassment/abuse in the workplace. By mid-afternoon, a friend was taking a FB poll to inquire the path forward for embattled Sen. Al Franken amidst more allegations of inappropriate sexual advances.

Y'all, this is not going away.

So I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the debt of gratitude we owe to Professor Anita Hill, the woman who brought forth allegations of sexual harassment against her former boss, Clarence Thomas, during his Senate confirmation hearings for the U.S. Supreme Court. Her effort was unsuccessful and would have been largely forgotten, but as we now see, it was her public sacrifice so many years ago that has helped to pave the way for this moment.


By the time anyone reads this, it is possible that Franken would have decided to resign his seat. It is also quite possible that by the time a decent number of people have read this, Al Franken would not have resigned, but Roy Moore would have given a defiant and smug victory speech. Or maybe Al Franken would be gone, Roy Moore would have lost, and Melania Trump would have spoken out against bullies and we finally believed her sincerity.

None of that matters, though, because the winds of change are blowing and the days when unacceptable and inappropriate behavior in public spaces is tolerated in order to keep things moving are coming to an end. It might not end tomorrow, or next week, or even by the mid-term elections next November. But change is coming.

I was a college student in 1991 when Clarence Thomas was nominated for the Supreme Court. I remember how initially, there was a cautious mood about that choice because President Bush had nominated a black conservative to replace the legendary Thurgood Marshall. I caught the irony of his selection but did not fully grasp the stakes of this maneuver until the allegations came from Professor Hill. And suddenly, it felt like we were caught between the prospect of seeing Marshall's seat go to someone else (white), or have it 'maintained' by a black man even if his ideology was problematic, all because she had the audacity to dredge up the past.

I thought about this situation anew when I responded to my friend's post on FB about Franken. I thought about the fact that there have been plenty of situations where women have been asked to remain silent, or have been told to stay quiet, or it has been demanded that we shut the fuck up. Assign your own historical analogies to each one of those statements, but I distinctly remember how my righteous young Morehouse brethren argued that the seat being vacated by Marshall had to be filled by another black man, regardless of his disturbing flaws. Some questioned whether Hill had been harassed or if this had been an office romance gone bad. Others suggested that she was just mad because Thomas' wife was white.

In hindsight, the seeds were sown. Her complaints would not bear fruit, and we've had all the proof we need that Clarence Thomas was not a worthy successor to Thurgood Marshall. Yet, we know that for every young impressionable woman like me who witnessed her public humiliation and his elevation at her expense and spent the last 25+ years watching this cycle rinse, wash, and repeat; for those of us who have wondered whether our silence/tolerance in fact made things worse for this next generation of young women if nothing has changed; and for the women who realize that every concession made for the sake of keeping the peace, political expediency, waiting our turn, etc. is BULLSHIT--yeah, it's time to clean house.

Al Franken can go. He can endorse a woman to replace him, and then campaign on her behalf. He can write her speeches. He and Garrison Keillor can sit by Lake Wobegon and think up a quirky new show for satellite radio. Save the arguments about taking one for the team, or the unfairness of it all if the President gets to stay in office. This isn't about the Trumpet right now, but trust that his day is coming. This isn't about fairness either...it is about justice.

Anita Hill was seeking justice when she appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee and it was denied to her and every other woman in the workplace until this recent wave. If she had been taken seriously, then powerful men might have known how intolerable certain behavior is and maybe we wouldn't have to endure this painful moment of watching so many fall from grace. Justice for Anita Hill in 1991 might have meant that all these men whose careers we are eulogizing now might have unfolded quite differently.

Anita Hill doesn't need to be featured on the cover of TIME or named the Person of the Year. Justice is so much better.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Rude Awakening

You don't need to guess what I was doing yesterday when the news of Matt Lauer's abrupt dismissal from the TODAY Show broke, because I'm sure everybody was doing pretty much the same thing...scrolling through FB and Twitter or searching for the remote control to determine if what we were reading/hearing was true.

The sad thing is how so many of us reacted in shock over the swiftness of the dismissal, and not in that much shock over the allegations. At 7am, when Savannah and Hoda opened the show, there were no details to report. Thus, by the time we started to learn about Lauer's secret door-lock button under his desk and his general bitch-assiness, we were learning that Garrison Keillor might be as creepy as we always thought. By the evening, we had moved on from those revelations to "learn" that almost no one who works at 30 Rock, except for the folks on the TODAY Show, actually knew Matt Lauer personally. Which is total bullshit.

I am not even going to defend the fact that I continued to watch the TODAY Show even though I was personally bothered by the way Ann Curry was treated. And the way Tamron Hall was treated. And let's not even talk about Megyn Kelly. Or the way I think Matt and Savannah were just as complicit and responsible for the normalization of #45 as Mika and Joe (and every other news team or anchor that gave him a megaphone for his opinions).

But since I am raising the issue of complicity, I need to acknowledge my own. As a loyal viewer of the TODAY Show, I am one of the millions of reasons why Matt Lauer could be such an asshole and get away with it for so long. I always suspected that the rumors about his inability to keep his pants zipped were true. But his philandering was none of my business. His job was to keep me informed and entertained. If I just wanted the straight information, there was Charlie Rose...

Was I sufficiently tolerant of Charlie Rose's lecherousness? Yes, even though I had no idea that he was like that. I had occasionally witnessed the flirty banter that took place on the morning show with Gayle and Nora, but I didn't watch often enough to notice if it was anything other than on-air chemistry.  

With the revelations about Garrison Keillor, do I dare admit my suspicions that his jocular folksy persona was just a cover up for a randier alter ego? After we learned that Charles Kuralt supported a second wife and her family for nearly 30 years, perhaps we should have looked upon those cuddly bookstore owner types as the most likely to use that sweetness to their advantage. That and the fact that Keillor pretty much adopted the language of there-are-good-people-on-both-sides in his defense of Al Franken just hours before his own sins were revealed.

By now, you probably guessed that I am not really admitting that I approved of, knew about, sanctioned, excused, witnessed, or was ever victimized by any of these men who have been recently felled by their 'inappropriate" behavior. I am suggesting that my understanding and acquiescence to how sexism works in the workplace is part of the cover up that we are often too afraid or unwilling to confront. We all know that certain men have reputations and act with impunity; unfortunately, most of us are too invested in getting along to challenge their hegemony.

So Matt Lauer got flown into work by helicopter so that he could maintain the appearance of being happily married, while still chasing skirts. Al Franken could visit the country fair and brush up against his constituents because everybody wanted to take a picture with him. Russell Simmons could appropriate the language of yoga to mis-remember how he might have sexually violated a woman he thought was down. John Conyers checked himself into a hospital for stress because he's 88 years old. Roy Moore was just looking for virgins.

The President? Well, as long as he's still doing this, you tell me.

When Harry Met Meghan

Meghan Markle, future Duchess of Sussex. An American in the House of Windsor! Her Royal Highness, Sista girl M&M from Compton, is now going to have her own postage stamp and her image commemorated on collectible thimbles and teapots!


It was just a few days ago that I branded the latest announcement from Kensington Palace that there would be no daily updates on Prince Harry's love life as #RoyalNewsYouCantUse. I even quoted my Dad, whose knowledge of tabloid headlines is usually quite surprising and random, when he suggested that any upcoming Royal weddings needed to occur after the Queen and Prince Phillip's 70th Anniversary and the birth of William and Kate's third kid. My take was that we're all intrigued, but until there is a ring, nothing to see...

Y'all there has been a ring for like a month! And she looked pretty darn radiant as they casually strolled into the gardens to wave at the press, and then quite ecstatic to finally be able to flash that ice for the world to see.

Y'all, can we wrap our Busy Black heads around the fact that Prince Harry already wakes up next to a woman wearing a silk head scarf with a scalp moisturized by coconut oil?


That when they put together that wedding guest list, they will have to invite and sponsor several of her Compton cousins? And that they are going to need to reserve a section of the church for the delegation of black church ladies coifed in their peacock and ostrich feather church hats paired with matching satin suits accented with sequins and pearls, waving cardstock church fans depicting Jesus, Martin Luther King, Jr, and the Obama family?


And that the Obamas will actually be there, whereas Melania Trump will have to watch on TV like the rest of us commoners?

Does everyone get that there will be little curly haired ginger brown babies running after great-grandmum's corgis around Buckingham Palace?

Every bad joke we made about barbecues at the White House with the election of Obama now makes the reverse transatlantic voyage across the pond for British audiences. So we'll let our West Indian and Afro-Brit cousins translate the cultural equivalencies of having a black woman in the Royal family. She's American though, so we are still expecting some YouTube footage of Auntie Ree Ree teaching Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla the wobble. And right now in heaven, Princess Diana, Michael Jackson, the Queen Mum, Prince, and Elvis are working out that seating chart? (If not Elvis then Tom Petty, because we can't forget that Meghan's dad is going to have some say in this too.)

Which brings us back to reality and the controversy of her racial identity. Yes, to every black person on the planet, Meghan Markle is neither half white nor biracial. She is BLACK. And none of us gives a damn about her blow out, her fair complexion, her white ex-husband, or her suburban upbringing.  She can self-identify as she pleases, so if she wants to call herself biracial, we will just nod our heads in collective understanding that her choice is actually more about making white people comfortable than it is about actually denouncing anything. We've already seen her yoga posing Mama with the hair twists. They're from California...it's called La La Land for a reason.

To claim her as one of our own does not negate her father in order to elevate her mother. Contrary to what other folks think about racial identity, most black people are rather pragmatic in understanding how the world works. We didn't devise the one drop rule--it was bequeathed to us by our British/American colonizers/owners. So we're not going to allow y'all to revoke a 500+ year old rule just because it is convenient to support the lies you need to believe about racial purity. Phuck that. We all know about Queen Charlotte. And to those few whiny pants blackademic hoteps and bitter boos who are urging us not to celebrate Meghan because of their own issues with racial identity, phuck y'all and Sammy Sosa too.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Busy, Black, and Blessed

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. I got home this morning at 1am, after I chatted with my Dad and cleaned up my parents' kitchen. I was tired, and in that can't sleep mode where I was wide awake, sore, and trying to catch the last 30 minutes of both The Godfather II and Gone with the Wind (don't judge).

And then, as soon as both films ended, I was out like a light. Thankfully, I took the time to remove my makeup during one of the commercial breaks. I made a mental list of all the things in my life for which I was grateful and during another commercial break, I started to write this post to share that list. But as I said, as soon as Scarlett O'Hara declared that tomorrow is another day and the ending credits scrolled, I took her at her word and closed my laptop.

Today finds me no longer basking in the afterglow of feeling accomplished and satisfied about pulling off a pretty decent Thanksgiving gathering. Today, I was awakened by the Toddlersaurus' refusal to use the toilet. She lost one of her earrings because the Hub insisted that I should wait until she was calm to remove it (since he can't figure out how to do so). Apparently, her version of finding calm is to pee in her training panties and then spread her toys all over the living room floor. Such is life.

Earlier, I scrolled through my FB feed to "like" how all of you spent your day. I'm also looking to see who decided to brave the crowds to wade into the Black Friday madness. I'm impressed by your restraint, or perhaps your low tolerance for unnecessary nonsense. I've decided to avoid political news, if I can, until this evening. I'm sure whatever ridiculousness the President chooses to tweet about today will be sufficiently outrageous to occupy the news cycle until the evening.

I won't be making an endless list of gratitude as initially intended, but I won't complain either. Dinner was only half an hour later than I had hoped. The Toddlersaurus didn't get her nap, but she got to exhaust herself by running around the house with her favorite cousin. The Hub's macaroni and cheese (made with penne pasta...yeah, I know), was delicious. We will have the collard greens on Sunday since they didn't make it to the dinner table yesterday. My Mom ate her dinner and my Dad was pleased.

Although I'm still not ready to transition into Christmas, I accept that tis' the season. I'm going to check out a few online deals in advance of cyber Monday. I'll look for some Christmas music for the kid while I enjoy this marathon of first season Living Single episodes. I'll get dressed shortly to take my Mom to Arena Stage this evening. I'm going to plan my birthday outing and the Niece's 8th birthday bash. And I'm going to finish this piece with a shameless plug for my new Busy Black Woman side hustle--coffee mugs (sold individually $15 plus shipping). Email me at ayannadamali@gmail.com to place your order!


Friday, November 17, 2017

What's the Matter With Kids Today?

If a picture is worth a thousand words, it might also be worth a thousand gasps and sighs (although I am unsure if this represents $1000 of ruined product). And it's also worth at least a thousand different opinions about inattentive parents and the damage that can be done by one child who has been left to his/her own devices for a little too long. Idle hands, as they say. And trust, I could write a book about what my Toddlersaurus has done in the space of five minutes by herself...

I've already shared my initial assessment of what probably went wrong at the store, and again that is just one of a thousand thoughts with which you may feel free to agree or disagree. But there is this question out there posed by the photographer and subsequent internet mom shaming, which is how do parents go anywhere with their children without causing some kind of drama?

There is only one answer to that question--we can't.

Our parents and grandparents couldn't either, so before anyone tries to argue how much different it was in the golden era when children were always polite, well-behaved, listened to instructions, were respectful of property, etc...yeah, take a short trip with me down memory lane.


When we were kids, major department stores had toy departments and pet stores. There were electronics departments lined with television sets along the walls. There were record stores and book stores in the mall where we went to flip through albums and magazines. There were arcades and movie theaters. If we were out someplace where none of those amenities existed, sometimes we stayed in the car. Or at home.

At the grocery store, we began in the produce department where we were given grapes or berries (unwashed, right off the display). Maybe one of us was allowed to push the cart with a younger sibling seated up top. Or perhaps we were trusted to help find items on the list. At the checkout, we were rewarded with candy that was displayed by the register. If the trip was meant to be a quick one, we stayed in the car. Or at home.

Sometimes we had to go to places where there were no accommodations for keeping children distracted, like the bank or a repair shop. So we were given the warning not to touch ANYTHING, which was always a challenge and rarely was heeded, and which resulted in an inevitable meltdown. In response, we were disciplined in public, and the business was completed.

Yep, we were disciplined in public! We were also bribed to behave by promises to visit McDonald's or places like Farrell's. Snickerdoodles and pet goldfish were our rewards for staying out of trouble.

All of this was life before personal electronic distractions. Before parents had to be concerned about children being abducted or molested. Before parents were reported to Child Protective Services or became the unwitting stars of viral videos. Before malls began to fall on hard times and people began to do much of their shopping online. Before times changed.

Our parents had it rough because we were kids. However, the world accepted that children exist and enter into spaces that are not built for them, often out of necessity. Our existence was accommodated and tolerated, and it was understood that despite all of the distractions and activities that could keep us out of trouble, nothing was foolproof. A baby will cry, a toddler will tantrum, a school-ager will wander and explore, a teenager will get bored, and all of that is normal.

Our generation has it hard because we can't take our children's safety for granted, so we have to keep them essentially tethered to us in order to monitor both their behavior and our suspicions of strangers. And despite whatever herculean efforts we attempt to keep them out of trouble, isht happens. A display of glasses will crash and break because some kid bumped into the table (Bloomingdale's when I was eleven). There will be a harried Dad calling after his rambunctious kid to stop running and screaming, and to stand still so that they can leave soon (usually on a day with no Mom in sight). You will overhear promises to buy crap. You will see a child concentrating on a game or video on Mom's phone or ipad. And yes, some unsupervised kid might cause a lot of damage to the makeup display at the cosmetics store.


Monday, November 13, 2017

The Busiest Black Woman Holiday

Busy Black Women of the World are already making lists and checking them thrice. They are making the hard choice between disposable dishes and the wedding/heirloom china that rarely gets used. They have declared the proposed the logistics for the day. They have issued the assignments and then made contingency plans. With Veteran's Day now over, the countdown to Thanksgiving has officially begun!

This year, I will assume the great task of being the Busy Black Big Mama for my family, which could be described in one of two ways. On the one hand, it is akin to being the artistic director of a favorite theatre company; on the other hand, it could be described as herding feral cats. I haven't done all of the things that I have mentioned in the first paragraph yet, but how hard can it be to just coordinate a family dinner? My Grandmothers did it. My Mom and Aunt did it. My In-Laws have done it. One of my law school classmates organized a Friendsgiving dinner twenty years ago that I fondly recall as one of the best holiday experiences ever. Another friend, bless his heart, attempted the same 24 years ago with less success, yet it also ranks as one of my faves. And actually, I almost coordinated my first Thanksgiving a few years ago, but in the words of Forrest Gump, that is all I have to say about that...for now.


Why, you ask? Well, for starters, it is the duty of every Busy Black Big Mama to oversee the meal for Thanksgiving, especially the bird. It is my job to make all decisions about the meal, so when my passive-aggressive Dad offered to buy a cooked turkey from one of the grocery stores, I declined. I may not be a Food Network chef, but I can read and follow a recipe. And I've cooked a turkey before. I've also cooked plenty of other meals, so think I can manage without second-guessing from a man who prefers to eat pre-packaged food "cooked" in the microwave.

Second, this is my moment. My Mom took over the role of being the Busy Black Big Mama when I was in college from my Grandmother who became the supervisory BBBM Emerita. Grandma had managed the gathering for years, but she yielded the title with all rights and responsibilities therein to her daughters (my Mom and Aunt) once she determined that they were capable of handling large family gatherings. Unfortunately after her death, the extended family stopped gathering, so my Mom focused her efforts on our nuclear family unit. When I got married, we alternated the holiday with the Hub's family in New York where my Mother-in-law had begun a similar transition of power to her daughters. After a few years I was allowed to contribute the greens that were politely eaten or refused (because apparently nothing green is consumed by Puerto Ricans).

Sadly, both of our mothers took ill at the same time. My MIL had a succession plan in place, which has worked quite well as far as I can tell. My Mom hadn't begun the transition process, so when it became necessary that we would have to carry on without her leadership, I stepped up and devised a plan for our family feast. I understood the basics, so I made the necessary assignments, including provisions to secure a fried turkey from an Uncle. Then moments before the meal was to be served, my plan was upended by a wagon fully laden with food that was rolled into the kitchen. So again, in my Forrest Gump voice, that is all I have to say about THAT...for now.


This year things are different, so I've got this. Yes, I have a Toddlersaurus who might make implementation of my plans more challenging. Yes, my Dad might try to sabotage help. Yes, someone will offer a suggestion that will rub me the wrong way and I will have to lovingly remind them to stay in their lane. Yes, I expect this to be exactly like herding feral cats, and nothing like serving as the artistic director of a favorite theatre company. So what. I have rightfully earned and inherited this responsibility, and as such, I have the right to try and fail (or succeed) just as my predecessors. And like them, I have the grace and grit to fully manage the various personalities and their accompanying drama. That means I will let my Dad make his pumpkin pie from a can, but will not entertain any arguments about the superiority of canned cranberry. No thank you, we pass on the kale and mashed cauliflower. And look, there is no polite way to say this but don't nobody want any store-bought macaroni and cheese!

Look, I know Thanksgiving isn't for amateurs, and I get the inherent danger of punching above my weight class. I have learned from over-thinking almost everything that perfect is the enemy of the good, but good enough is never quite so...which is why we don't allow men to do that much except to buy last minute groceries, pray over the meal, and ceremonially carve the meat. The consolation for most Busy Black Big Mamas is the fact that Thanksgiving is literally just a speed bump on the road to Christmas, so the pressure isn't as great. Our sole duty is to ensure that everybody eats. My only other job is to set an example for my Niece and daughter. And well, if I mess it all up, then I guess that will be all I have to say about that.

Red Beans and Rice Mondays: Post-Halloween Wrap Up

I wanted to follow up on my impressions from Halloween 2017. And in what might be one of the shortest list pieces I will ever compose, you guys did pretty well:

1. Your children's manners were impeccable. Great job parents! Except for that kid dressed as a ninja who pushed past my kid for a ring pop (you're going to get cavities).

2. I started early, but a word of advice to those of you who want to have splashy Halloween decor: start working on your decor earlier than 5pm on Halloween.

3. I didn't see nearly enough imagination with those costumes. Everybody played it safe as a superhero, movie character, or princess (says the women whose daughter was Princess Jasmine, but on Saturday night she was a cat). Next year, I need to see a few kids dressed as Federal Indictments.

4. I went home early, so no slut-shaming from me. Not that I would do that, but if you were a$$ out in these streets, I missed it and the weather was mild. Carry on.

5. A group did knock on my door at 9pm. And I gave them several pieces of candy because according to the Hub almost no one else showed up and I didn't get home until after 8pm. I even set out a bowl and a sign at 4pm when I left the house, so what gives? Maybe it is because...

6. None of my neighbors distributed candy, despite the fact there are now at least six kids in our block. And that is why I gotta take my kid elsewhere!

7. How come folks don't know the Halloween rules (like my brother and Dad). Lights on = candy house. Lights off = no candy house (where there actually was candy inside, so now my kid has spent the week sneaking Milky Ways when Granddad wasn't looking).

8. No lame candy :)  And that includes the goodies that were on the porch of a former senator (one of the perks of trick-or-treating a block from the Capitol).

9. Books are an acceptable candy alternative from a used bookstore, I guess.

10. There is a major holiday between Halloween and Christmas called THANKSGIVING, not Black Friday!!! So, in case anyone wondered why the Grinch was so grouchy, that might be one of the reasons.


11. I am getting old and starting to repeat myself. Seriously...I wrote this in 2012 and this five years later the week before last. Why didn't somebody tell me?

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Ism We All Tolerate

I started this piece the same week that Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton was fired by Dannon for insulting a reporter with a sexist remark and maybe a few days before Hollywood mega-producer Harvey Weinstein was outed by an article in the New York Times for decades of harassing behavior. I had some of it written, but then every other day there came a new allegation, with the most recent notables being Mark Halperin, Kevin Spacey, and Louis C.K.

I couldn't keep up, so I will just set out my case and watch the chips continue to fall. It is dizzying, but hardly surprising that all of these powerful and influential men are being confronted with their boorish behavior. But this is the culture we have tolerated, driven by a relentless appetite (currently) for more news of sexual misbehavior and scandal.

My initial premise was to argue how sexism is the "ism" we tend to tolerate. We have very strong opinions about all of the others--either you are on one side or you aren't. Patriotism. Nationalism. Historical revisionism. American exceptionalism. Chauvinism. Trumpism. Capitalism. Racism.

But sexism isn't all that easy to define, categorize, or stigmatize unless the allegations are egregious. Take for example, a FB exchange I had the day after the Cam Newton incident. A friend posted an article to his page, expressed his opinion that the statement was problematic, and invited others to opine on the topic. And let's just say the lines were quickly drawn to forgive Cam's statement as not really sexist, despite the fact that it was.

And here is the thing--we can forgive Cam Newton for his dumb comment. But the one thing all women know is that sexism always starts with a stupid comment until it becomes a stray gesture by a revered old man who offers a friendly pat to someone's backside. Or it could be a series of uncomfortable requests, like a massage or forced affection. It could be meant as a compliment that is recalled as a humiliating experience. It could be bragging about what he can do if given the opportunity.

It is not just the overt acts, since those don't really clarify the matter. Apparently it was woven into the culture at FOX News that men could harass the women on staff with impunity. Harvey Weinstein's antics were such an open secret that nearly everyone in town was complicit. And with the balance of power at stake in the Senate, apparently a man can be forgiven for touching a child inappropriately, because the Virgin Mary was a child bride.

Marinate on that for a few minutes. Because I just went from a stupid remark to biblical pedophilia in two paragraphs. There are plenty of other behaviors I didn't explicitly offer up as examples, such as offering commentary about someone else's body or inviting someone to watch or participate in someone's personal sexual gratification...

We have spent the last six weeks exposing the misdeeds of powerful men, but it will be meaningless if we do nothing else to dismantle the wall we have built to protect all abusers from accountability for their actions. When we tell young girls from the earliest ages that boys will be boys, we send the message that the power to stop sexism requires evasive actions by us (the potential targets), and not affirmative behavior by them (the future harassers and abusers). We reinforce the message that in order to get along, get by, or maybe get ahead, we must exercise infinite forgiveness and patience, with no real guarantees (just ask Hillary Clinton how that worked out for her).

And that is the real problem of sexism--the excuses, the false equivalencies, the re-visioning of history, the defensiveness, the outright lies, the victim-blaming, and of course, the silence. A little over a year ago when I was talking to myself out loud in my little corner against supporting admitted sexists in their artistic and political endeavors, I recall feeling demoralized whenever I read alternative viewpoints. Our tolerance for sexism served the greater good, it was argued. By looking past the "allegations" (which are always just allegations), we could accept the philanthropy of Bill Cosby; celebrate the artistic vision of Woodie Allen and Roman Polanski; and maintain the quota of one by supporting the presence of Clarence Thomas (yeah, him too). Ignore the fact that our tolerance for sexism stigmatizes, marginalizes, encourages, tolerates, perpetuates, and ultimately normalizes reprehensible behavior. Because our Pu$$y-grabber in chief will make America great again.

What to Wear

I posted this article a few weeks ago on the Facebook page and am just now getting around to addressing it's central premise: Do women waste too much time worrying about their attire?

The easy answer is yes. But there are ways to streamline the effort so that the answer can become no. However, that isn't my gripe with the article. My gripe is Arianna Huffington's assumption that in order to achieve more success in our careers, women have to become more like men. I would prefer to argue about how we can better support women than to argue about what to wear.

Back when I was a college student, I remember that we were told to invest in a good navy or gray blue interview suit, a simple strand of pearls, some silk blouses, and a sensible pair of black heels. We were also instructed to invest in professional accessories to complete the ensemble, so everyone I knew set their sights on a Coach briefcase and a Montblanc pen/pencil set for graduation. This was the result:


And for years, this was the look I adopted for interviews, important meetings, and court appearances. So to respond to Arianna's initial argument, women do have a professional uniform of sorts. And most of us adhered to that look until we got better paying jobs and could shop somewhere else other than Casual Corner and The Limited.

When we got a little more take home money and a real job title, some of us began to branch out to shopping for more options at department stores. We got to wear real name brands. We realized just how heavy that Coach briefcase was, so we ditched it for a lightweight designer commuter bag. We lost the Montblanc pen (or maybe it was stolen by a jealous colleague), but we soon realized that we needed several pens that work and that don't stain. We experimented with different looks because that navy suit got a little too tight once dinner was no longer ramen noodles every night. We bought scarves to add a pop of color. On one uneventful trip to the department store, we ventured past the jewelry counter and saw a really interesting bracelet cuff. On that same visit, we noticed that one of the cosmetic companies was offering free makeovers. Next thing you know...

And so, yes, women spend way too much time on our appearance. For those of us who have jobs that don't require a uniform, we have choices. Our definition of professionalism has changed over the years to accommodate weight changes, lifestyle choices, and children. We responded to the example of a glamorous First Lady in the form of Michelle Obama and decided to diversify beyond the structured suits. We determined that pantsuits could send the right message of authority and confidence. We rejected the casual Friday tendency to wear anything clean because we are grown ass women (except during the summer...some of y'all need to rethink those outfits #ijs).

Point is, women have earned the right to decide how much emphasis to place on our attire. So have men, and as we all know, plenty of men have rejected neckties, button-down shirts, and leather-bottomed shoes in favor of casual collared-shirts, khakis and Cole-Haan loafers. When I got pregnant, the Hub took over caring for his work wardrobe...and let's just say that the iron hasn't been used in a while.

Back to my issue with this premise that in order to succeed, women need to act more like men because we don't. Women just need the same opportunities as men. And that is a much harder effort.

It means enacting policies that support working mothers that don't pit them against the other women in the office without children. It means providing mentors who actually provide help and advice, not those insecure folks who feel threatened by promising young talent. It means setting reasonable expectations that allow workers to have a life outside of work. It means treating people with respect and clamping down on any conditions that create a hostile environment.

It should not mean that women must conform to standards that have little or nothing to do with job performance or advancement. And for the record Arianna, most women I know (including the Duchess of Cambridge) do repeat their outfits so umm, I don't get your point.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

For the Birds

To the asshole who stole the package from my porch, phuck you. Phuck your children. And your mama. Phuck you.


I am so blown. This has been a rough month. So at the moment when I have convinced myself to take a step out on faith to try something new (another entrepreneurial venture), I get robbed. Again.

Remember when someone broke my window and stole the kid's diaper bag? Remember when someone took the drinks for my kid's birthday party from my trunk out in front of my house? Remember when someone broke into my car two blocks from my church and stole two purses? Remember when someone broke into the car in the front of the house? Remember when someone broke the window of my car just for kicks?

Maybe I didn't write about each of those experiences, but let me tell you how each time I really wanted to scream "I hope you break all of your front teeth and choke on your own vomit," but my better angels told me to pray for the person. And I kinda prayed that they wouldn't get audited or have someone smash birthday cake into their new carpet or endure some other kind of awful tragedy as karma for screwing me. And this time, I really want to try to find a silver lining, but I can't.

I can't think of the silver lining to having someone steal a package of mug boxes and crinkle paper from my doorstep in the rain, except that maybe they will feel really stupid for having made the effort to steal mug boxes and crinkle paper. I can't think of the silver lining from when someone relieved my trunk of water bottles and juice boxes for the kid's birthday party, except that hopefully the juice in those boxes was rancid. As for the genius who broke my car window to take the diaper bag, I sure hope they are still picking glass from my car window that has embedded in some really uncomfortable places.

I am tired because this is total bullshit. I wasn't being careless and nothing has ever been stolen from my front porch. Maybe UPS made a mistake, but as the company charged me $30 for shipping and didn't give me any options for alternative delivery, I think I'm screwed so I'm pissed. I'm trying to build something here, and you are phucking with me!

So phuck you, phuck your Mama, and phuck your mama's mama.


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Toddlers Don't Give a F***

I need to be doing any number of things right now, but I just had to write this down for posterity. I want my daughter to read this in twenty years to know just how much of a pain in the ass she could be at the worst possible moments.

I have been pushing through life these past few weeks on fumes. No chance to reset before the next intervening crisis or situation. And in the midst of that, I have a two year old who sincerely acts like the world only came into existence at the moment she became aware of it. Which occurs exactly at the moment she wakes up every morning.

Today is Halloween. I had intentions, but isht happens and while I was expressing my frustration with the Hub (a rant for another day or for someone who gets paid to keep me from going to the pokey), this child started running around in circles, standing on her head, and just doing any and everything to get my attention. I woke up with a headache. I was in a bad mood. I just wanted to sit still to drink my coffee. And she kept spinning.

I went to use the bathroom. She was attached to my leg as I climbed the stairs. I searched for some aspirin. She was pulling on my clothes. I sat down on the sofa. She got all up in my face and started pulling on my eyelids. I pulled a blanket over my head. She climbed into my lap, yanked at the blanket, and screamed "peek-a-boo."

I told her that Mommy isn't feeling well, and she looked right at me as if she understood every word, and then thrust her face into mine and yelled "trick or treat". Then she slid down my legs like a sliding board. Whee...

She's asleep now. The aspirin kicked in at some point during a repeat of Sesame Street. I wanted to get something to eat, but when she got all quiet in her car seat, I decided to drive until she went to sleep. I'm still hungry, I still have laundry to wash and fold, and I still need to get her ready for a Halloween party at the library this afternoon.

I feel like someone should have told me that toddlers don't give a f*** about anything. That we are duped into believing that they love us because they smother us in kisses and choke us with hugs and say our names incessantly, until we realize none of this is what it seems. Hugs and kisses are manipulative devices to distract from the pile of Baby Bell cheeses that are all over the kitchen floor. And saying Mommy over and over and over again is so much more effective than crying (even though not telling me what the f she wants is just as ineffective as crying).

I am also perplexed how any of us have siblings.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Red Beans and Rice Monday: Tricks, Treats, and Other Scary Stuff

(In the modern age, the equivalent of "the dog ate my homework" is "I forgot to save my file" so this is an attempted rewrite of what was much funnier last night. It may be only slightly funny several hours later.)

Halloween is one of my favorite times of year, right before everything gets super hectic and stressful in preparation for my least favorite time of year (Christmas). And over the years, I have come to love this holiday as the symbol of everything I love about Autumn. I love going to the pumpkin patch. I love picking apples. I love seeing children in costume. I love passing out candy. I love making chili and drinking beer. I love wearing sweatshirts and long sleeves and jeans and boots!

I could go on, but you are reading this to learn about all the things I don't like about this time of year, such as:

1. Sanctimonious religious folks who rail against the pagan origins of the holiday. A few years ago, we took my young cousin trick or treating in our neighborhood, and someone had posted a note on their door about how they were Christians, and as such they didn't celebrate Halloween. And then the note went on to quote several Bible verses and honestly, I kinda wished that I had brought along a carton of eggs...

Because seriously, there is no reason to proselytize by shaming people and their children who just want a few pieces of candy. Just keep your light off. Problem solved.

2. Teenagers who "chaperone" younger kids and expect candy. So that was me, about 20+ years ago, so I am not really in a position to judge. Except, I am judging all 6'4" of you, as you stand there without a costume or even a clever tee shirt. I bet you don't even know these kids. And yes, I saw you push past the smallest kid to thrust that old plastic grocery bag you found in the street in my face. So no, I don't believe that you have a sick sister who isn't with you, and you only get one piece.

3. Houses that have decorations but don't give out candy. For years, one of my neighbors put out plastic jack-o-lanterns on her porch for several days leading up to Halloween, which then mysteriously disappeared the day of and it always left me scratching my head. If you want to decorate for the season and not distribute candy, just put some mums on the porch and call it a night.

4. Trick-or-treating past 9pm. Again, I was guilty of that 20+ years ago, but when you know better, you do better. Halloween is always on the same night folks, which means it is usually on a weeknight. I know it doesn't have established hours, but I would say that a good two hours, from 6 to 8 is just about right. That way the kiddies can get home before too late, it isn't too cold out, and the hipsters can head out to the adult festivities. And I can get down to eating my chili and sorting through whatever the Toddlersaurus won't need to eat.

5. People who drive in from the suburbs to the city with their children. I see you idling in the car with those out of state tags. I thought the reason why you moved out there was to get away from us city folks, so what's up with that? Y'all living in McMansions and driving Escalades...I know someone in your cul-de-sac went to the Costco and bought that same big ass bag of candy I bought. Don't those mega churches out there host Trunk or Treat in those massive parking lots?

6. Howl-o-Ween. I am allergic to every animal except goldfish, but since it would be stupid to put a costume on my theoretical pet goldfish, please tell me why this is okay?



Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Yes I Am A Nag, And Here's Why

Years ago when I first got married, I wanted to be the cool wife. I wanted to be the type of wife that didn't get accused of being a nag because I assumed that the Hub and I would just be able to talk about the things that bothered us. If we had a disagreement, we could come to some kind of mutual solution.


Phuck that. After 16 years of marriage, I am going to embrace the title of NAG. Because if that's what it takes for him to finally pay attention to something that I tell him, instead of having to go behind him to fix stuff or listen to another one of his numerous excuses, then that's what I'll be. And if he doesn't like it, then either he will get it together, or he will start drinking brown liquor like every other middle age married man and that's just fine with me.

I am tired. And not just tired of the emotional labor, but sick and tired of it ALL. Like many women, I found the word nag to be disempowering and accusatory. It completely took the focus off the issue that I was raising and shifted it onto me for confronting him. And still the issue itself didn't get resolved unless I did it myself or until it bothered him. And apparently, almost nothing bothers him.

So now I'm convinced that has been the point all along--to only do the things they want to do and then to use the word nag to make women feel bad for having expectations. And we're not talking about extraordinary expectations, like exotic trips and jewelry. But basic stuff like putting down the toilet seat or noticing that I have carefully labeled where things ought to be so that I know where they are without having to search all over the damn house for them!

Basic isht.

Ladies, reclaim the word. Own it. And daggonit, NAG 'em!

Tell that man that your living room is not a damn clothes hamper. There is an actual clothes hamper up those stairs, so march yourself up there and put those nasty, sweaty clothes in there.

Tell him that if you went through the trouble of setting out the child's clothes, while he was sitting on the bed with the half naked child, the least he can do is put those clothes on the child. And don't swear on any dead parent that I didn't do it, because THE CLOTHES ARE RIGHT THERE ON THE BED WHERE I PUT THEM.

Tell him that you can bring him his forgotten wallet/phone/keys again for the umpteenth time, because that non-system for remembering his stuff still doesn't work.

Tell him that there is a right way to change a diaper and that it is not a "matter of opinion" especially since he isn't the one who does the laundry.

Tell him that it is ironic that he would rather listen to the advice of the random folks on his job who don't know his child. Because I would gladly switch places with one of those work-wives to have her come live here with the both of you for just a day.

Tell him that when we are trying to get out of the house to be someplace, that indecisive-hesitant-confused moving slower than a snail crap is going to piss me off and yes, I am going to tell you to move your ass or get mowed down.

Tell him that it has been more than two years, so in the name of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, for goodness sake get someone in here to FIX THIS DAMN LEAK!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Brand New Brand

You might have noticed a few changes around here. I hope you like them!

I am trying to solidify a consistent theme and "brand" for the Busy Black Woman which I hope will help to bring consistency to the look and feel of the blog.

I know, (I know) I have written out grand plans and ideas about this blog before. I chose a new template just last year. I said that I wanted to start a podcast. I posted one FB Live video last year and thought it might be the start of something new. I tried to launch a new fundraising campaign to support HBCUs. I've been posting a lot more to my social media platforms. And earlier this year, I sold a few more shirts.

I've made some progress, but I'm restless again. I'm disappointed by the ideas that I didn't get to implement. And I get into my feelings whenever it seems like I've had to make adjustments for circumstances in real life that impact my efforts here. Best made plans...lemons and lemonade...blah, blah, blah.

Another issue is my own confusion and lack of clarity at times. What exactly am I trying to do here: Is this a hobby? Is this a business? Is this a movement? Well, that is still an evolving question. 

So please stay tuned as I try to provide a few of the answers.


Monday, October 16, 2017

Mom in Charge

I had an epiphany this morning in the midst of an untimely Toddlersaurus eruption. And several hours later, I am thankful to her meltdown for my sparkly cool fingers and toes. As for my great awakening--I am DONE with feeling like I'm one of the worst mothers in the world. And I am done with feeling guilt that because the Hub has more patience, he is the better parent. Because that's bullshit. He is the indulgent parent, and this morning before I left him at home with a half naked child who should have been on her way to dance class, I told him as much. Because if she climbs up on my television set one more time...

This morning began with me doing dishes, making coffee, setting out her breakfast, fixing her snack, and then getting myself ready to dash out of the house to take the kid to her "dance class" (which is really just a movement class where I get to dress her up in a tutu and watch her run around for 40 minutes). The Hub was working from home today. So as I was busy in the kitchen, they were in the living room together--he at his computer and she at her table. I announced to both of them that we needed to get ready for dance class after I finished up in the kitchen. Which was the first mistake I made, but we will revisit that a little later.

Fast forward to the point when we had only a 15 minute window to get her dressed and strapped in the car to leave, and I had to call downstairs for a second time for her to come up to her room. The Hub carried her upstairs, then she hurled herself onto the floor while he was standing in the doorway asking her to calm down. Of course because Mommy was already annoyed that we were behind on time, I barrel into her room to tell her that we need to change her clothes for dance. Her response was to bite into her pajamas and collapse into a pile of clothes in her closet. You get where this is going...

In response, I told her that if she refused to get dressed, then we would not go to dance class. Then I turned to the Hub to add that I could go to the nail salon instead. She calmed down a little so I ask him (who was still watching from the doorway) to hand me her special light up shoes that matched her tutu. But she got a second wind and began to kick me, so I declared that we would not be going to dance class today, nor would she be allowed to watch any of her favorite TV shows. And then I went downstairs to gather my things. I can't recall how she ended up downstairs with me, but she noticed that I had made good on half of my threat, so she began to moan the name of her favorite show and then climbed onto the TV.

Then the Hub came downstairs with her tutu and her special shoes. She was still screaming at the top of her lungs and had worked herself into a frenzy. He intercepted one of her trips from the living room to the kitchen with a pacifier, and the next thing I heard were pleas to allow him to dress her so that he could take her to dance.

I was livid. The color I chose for my hands was called Cosmo with a Twist.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Insufficient Bandwidth

My BFF and I were talking recently and she used the title phrase to describe her inability to manage the constant changing dynamics of unmet expectations. And I got it. I might have been one of the people who had made a promise that I was unable to keep.

It is how I would describe my mood today (Saturday) after realizing last night how full my emotional plate had become. I was getting hit with unrelenting sad, tragic, and senseless news about others, in addition to some of the remaining psychic trauma I have been carrying from back-to-back natural disasters and living in the Era of the Trumpet. Add in my many personal disappointments and shortcomings, my high-strung daughter for whom every little thing is a crisis, my own unmet expectations, and just being 43 years old with a high-strung Toddlersaurus...

I can relate. These are a few of the things that I will no longer manage because I have insufficient bandwidth:

I will no longer worry about folks who do not show much concern for my Mom. I will not bother with staying in touch beyond holiday courtesies, and since I will probably take over the Christmas card list for my Dad this year, I'm guessing that I will be doing some heavy editing or they'll be getting the cheap cards.

I will no longer worry about the feelings or concerns of family or friends who don't respond to my generosity or outreach. I don't think it is too much to receive a text or a even a FB shout-out if I do something nice.

I will no longer expect that people will act out of appreciation for past generosity or respect. All debts are officially wiped out, so I don't expect anything from anyone anymore. And I hope you will do the same for me.

I am not taking on anyone else's children.

If we don't really know each other, my parting shot in any divergence of opinion will generally be "bless your heart". I have opinions and I don't like to be challenged, so even if you are a supporter of the current President, I will not attempt to shame or dissuade you. Bless your heart.

I will not tolerate anyone coming for any of my friends on my FB page or Twitter timeline. Meaning, I keep a jar of Vaseline by my keyboard. Don't do it!


I will try to overlook assaults on the English language caused by constant misspellings or poor grammar on social media.

I am not offended by being called a snowflake since I got a crew, and all of us coming at you is called a snowball, or perhaps even an avalanche.


I've got a toddler and a parent with dementia. I'm doing my best to keep my head above water with them, so I probably can't help you beyond a certain point. And I can't manage your issues.

I don't have Messenger on my phone. I am over GroupMe. My cell phone carrier charges for conference calls. I rarely check my email. I might miss the meeting. If you need to reach me, you've got my number. If you don't, then you don't need me.