Thursday, October 14, 2010

Networking or Self Medicating

I have to share this story…if for no other reason than to remind myself that everyone is not for me and to be cautious of whom I allow myself to deal with.

Many moons ago, I was a member of an online site. I met some really nice people and some not quite right people. The experience stays with me as I continue to log into sites like Twitter and Facebook. The site had a blog feature which I loved because I was able to write random bits about topics ranging from relationships to football to political topics. From writing, I met a group of people who commented on my blogs and the networking began.

There are certain levels of popularity online and the attention can come from a variety of things such as intelligence, talent, looks or lunacy. What I discovered however is the lunatics tend to trump anything else. While I had a pretty good following for my blogs, there was an undercurrent of madness that I was just too na├»ve to see. I appreciated people’s comments and it encouraged me to write. Well, I became friends with a woman due to some unforeseen issues (hot mess). We got to know each other, learned about our families etc.

After awhile, we stopped talking as much because I was busy and her blog/posts seemed a little…well erratic. One minute she was praising God and the next she was threatening to “go off”. Never really understood online beef, so I distanced myself.

Long story short…we fell out quite publicly. So glad it happened because I learned so much from the experience. Here are some tips I learned:

If you are online all of the time, how are you raising your family or focusing on your career? The clue I’ve now learned is if someone is talking about their “real life” something ain’t right. Your reality can and should include any online activity.

When the things you post online range from “I love the Lord” to “I’m gonna fuck you up” there is a problem. The best thing you can do is recognize the instability. I think social networking has become a new means for people with mental health issues to self medicate rather than seeking professional help. I have seen so many “I’m going to kill myself” messages as well as known of people who actually did it. Rather than encouraging help…real help, people would rather rally behind them. Someone who’s bi polar doesn’t need to hear that they are pretty; they need someone to love them enough to get them help.

Side note: My biggest pet peeve online is people encouraging poor behavior or “going in” on people. Sometimes all a crazy soul needs is encouragement to continue to be nuts rather than facing their real issues and seeking help. Mental health issues are serious and should be treated as such. At some point, it’s just not funny anymore.

I have never understood women who have no women friends. This extends to people in general. If you don’t have friends in your real life…why not put the phone down and enjoy life? Turn off the computer and look someone in the eye?! I’m pretty heavy on Twitter, but I’ve got a pretty solid group of friends and family as well.

People are only going to share what they want. Recognize and respect their right to do so. People don’t owe you a thing. If they’re married and don’t tell you, that’s their choice. If they only come on every blue moon, that’s completely their business. If they choose not to interact with you, so be it. Everyone is not for you. Everyone does not have the same purpose when they log on. And that’s ok. By the same token, protect yourself and your life. Don’t give all your info to someone you’ve never met. It’s just not safe or worth it.

As for internet dating: PROTECT YA NECK! Lol….I’ll do a separate post for this. It can be a beautiful thing or trauma. Also, completely up to you.

In conclusion, I am still a heavy social networker. I’ve made great friends, genuine friends online. I think that online just like life is what you put into it. I’ve gotten great music, TV and movie reviews, found some loyal Cowboys fans (yes!!) and been able to find another medium to communicate with my friends and family. But like all things, use at your own risk.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What Are You Mixed With?

UGH!!!! I absolutely hate that question! It is a question that I have been asked all of my life and to tell you the truth, I’m starting to get really annoyed with. I haven’t figured out if this is a geographic dilemma or people with no filter, but it is just not an appropriate question to ask…especially of people that you do not know.

Now don’t get me wrong…I am proud of all that I am, but if you are not in a position for it to ever really matter in your own personal life…why ask? Trust me…if you get to know me, you will soon discover what my ethnic combo is.

Let me replay my conversation yesterday. I was in training with about 20 other people. All of a sudden my neighbor (a sistah) leans over and asks who does my hair. I explained that I do it myself. Then she asks what kind of shampoo I use. Ummm…Pantene. Next thing I know she’s asking what I’m mixed with and who is what. Apparently, she’s dating a white guy and wanted some hair pointers if she ended up having kids with him. So many issues with this convo besides the fact that I was embarrassed.

First of all, I’m not black and white…so the chances of your kid having the same hair texture as me is slim to none. Second, you’re female. We will never have kids together, so how exactly does my background effect you? And finally, why are you asking me to explain who I am to you. Because my ethnicity, my family is who I am.

I have yet to meet one person of mixed decent who thinks this question is appropriate or ok. It’s offensive and ignorant. Please understand… we are people too. We don’t want people walking up to “pet” our hair, compare our skin coloring to yours or think we’ll co-sign on interracial dating just because both our parents aren’t black. Very few of us have hair complexes…well at least I don’t so discussing whether or not my hair can actually grow is mad ignorant.

I do feel different, but not because of what color my parents are…it’s because of who they are. WHO my family is. I don’t care what my hair looks like 90% of the time and I tan to even myself out. This doesn’t make me special and I’m tired of people trying to set me apart because of it. The divide has occurred pretty much all of my life and it hasn’t been all positive. I have had people not want to be my friend because I’m not “black enough”; I have had guys want me to have their baby because “our kids will have good hair”.

I hope that people take the time to really think before opening their mouths to ask “What are you?” I’m a human being that would appreciate you using some sort of filter before you open your mouth in the future.

Please and thank you.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The (Potential) Power of Ping

Why would you sign up for Ping?? That’s the question that lots of Apple and iTunes users have been asking in addition to artists. Ping is Apple’s version of Facebook/Twitter that allows people to network on their iTunes platform. The idea seems lofty; people are heavily using the other sites currently. To add another network would be to build up your followers all over again. Apple however has the benefit of being the proprietor of the largest record store on the planet. That power can be a blessing and a curse.
So let us dissect this a little bit….
Currently there is way more cons to the service than pros. One huge issue I have as a music fan is that many of the “indie artists” that I love do not have pages. They will need to be invited by Apple first. Twitter and Facebook don’t require this. The artists that have pages are obviously being handled by the labels rather than personally which again takes away the true networking that could be accomplished by the actual artists interacting. Also, the layout starts to get really cluttered after awhile. I can’t imagine what it will look like once people really start using the service. There is no clear benefit of adding friends versus artists or both. Concerns I have are royalty and packaging/pricing issues that Apple has historically had. I do not purchase from iTunes when I know that the artists are being shortchanged in any way. I would hope that Apple works this out to the artists’ benefit before this really gets going.
The pros that I see are in the potential of the service. If music blog sites (maybe even rather than artists themselves) utilized ping, it would allow you to explore the artists that are highlighted with links to previous/other work that they’ve done. What I love about iTunes is that you enter and artist and anything they are credited on will populate. Another pro of blog sites using the service would be getting a more personalized music experience based on the music you like which could in turn offer more selection combining the sites offerings with Genius. As a consumer, I am much more interested in variety. Having artist specific pages is encouraging the Stan mentality rather than musical diversity.
Another benefit would be adding a “one stop shop” for frequent readers of said blogs. If I had access to say “Grown Folks Music” on ping, I could see and shop all in one location. It would be in lieu of the websites or even Twitter and Facebook, but in addition to. I would also like to see DJ’s using ping more to highlight some of the artists that they incorporate into their mixes.
I realize that this is new technology and Apple has consistently shown that they will continue to revamp a product until its perfect so I have no fear that in maybe the next few months this will be a product I will use more. I just hope that they listen to both the indie artists and the fans in opening up their social network…so we can indeed network.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

It’s so cold in the D…

I’ve been slipping on my music reviews, but I must say…DETROIT STAND UP!!! Three bangers in the month of July/August. Dwele, Zo! and Slum Village put out some fantastic music that renewed my ears and soul.

So let me start off with Dwele’s Want.World.Women. It’s a little bit different that he’s usually pattern. More up tempo joints on this album, but he still has the lyrical content that defined his last three records. Another plus is the horns…oh the horns!!! Lol…classic stuff. Favorite tune right now has got to be “Dodging Your Phone” with David Banner. Nice mid tempo song with the horns blaring. He has the usual collaboration with Slum Village that’s also nice. He has a soulful vibe that you can ride out to.

Next up is Zo! I found out about him when he released “Just Visiting Too…” as a free EP on Twitter. I liked it, but I must say he outdid himself on SunStorm! Even the songs I wouldn’t normally like, I love. I am a huge fan of melodies and good/great lyrics. He has both. The vocals are all fantastic! Phonte, Yazarah, Sy Smith, Darien Brockington, Eric Roberson…just to name a few…really showed up and showed out on this project. Again, being a huge melody fan “SunStorm” and “ Flight of the Blackbyrd” are my current favorites. Honestly speaking though…the entire album is a winner. He definitely makes me regret not taking more piano lessons. It’s a beautiful album. Only warning…”Make Love 2 Me” may create some babies…be careful!!

Lastly is Slum Village. Oh Slum V….I really hope this is not their last album. This album, like Little Brother, just confirmed to me why they need to keep on keeping on. Where to start with Villa Manifesto?!! “Scheming”…I’m speechless, yet rock out to this song daily. Phife?!! Plug 1?!! SICK!! …if I only I knew just where to start…!! “Earl Flinn” makes me want to find somebody’s club and shake my ass. “Don’t Fight The Feeling” is slightly reminiscent of the De La-Nike Run joint but dope nonetheless. This is a solid album. You will not be fast forwarding any of it (unless u like garbage music…then this isn’t for you). What I got from this album is a renewed love of hip hop….it reminded me that there are still groups and artists out there that really understand putting together solid tracks and lyrics. That the flow matters.

I also got the new Roots joint “How I Got Over”. It’s The Roots though. They always put out classic music. No need to reiterate what everyone already knows.
Real music and hip hop is alive and well. Thank you Detroit!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Living My Life Like its Golden…And The Importance of Passing That On

So for my 35th birthday, I made a promise to myself to live my life like its Golden (Queue Jilly from Philly). I make time for what I have to do rather than making time for things that I want to do. My weekend routine is just that…a routine. During the week is work and school. And don’t get me started with my life when my kid is playing sports! I decided that now would be a great time to add a little “me time” into the equation.

I grew up ripping and running the freeways of southern California with my older sister and my mom. My dad skipped the weekend shopping trips and random museum visits, but he was always there for our family vacations and road trips up and down the coast. What I never realized is how much effort my parents put into plotting and planning activities for us. I never saw how those times we spent in the car, airplanes and hotels brought us closer as a family.

Confession: I’m from Los Angeles. I believe/know that it is THE best city on the planet for a multitude of reasons such as access to culture and events. See previous blog post for how I felt about Arizona and hanging out possibilities.

I started talking to co workers about hiking as I’m surrounded by tons of mountains. I was told by friends that there was no way I’d get on any mountain and walk around. So just for that…Jr and I hit South Mountain. We had no clue what we were doing and our legs shook for about 30 minutes afterwards, but we had such a great time!! So I decided that we would continue to hike as a team on the weekends. And so it began….adding a life into my routine.

What I didn’t expect was how tiring golden living is! Lol! I am so used to a routine of work, taking my son to practice and games and errands that actually adding me having a life really drains me. Now I’m getting invited to things and even though my instinct is to say no, I go because I never want to get into the rut of just going day by day again.

I have to keep going…have to continue to get out and see things and experience life. It helps that I bring my son with me for a lot of things so he can live his little 9 year old life like its golden as well. I realize that by him getting in the habit of living life that it is something he’ll continue to do as he gets older. And that would be the icing on the cake for me. Living life to its fullest is the best lesson I can leave him.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

It's a Child's Right Too!!!

I have a few male friends who have children that they would love to raise. However, because of the fact that they are no longer with the mother of their children, they have had to fight for the right to actively participate in their kids' lives. They don't want to cut a check or have funds taken out of their check. They want what every parent should have; the ability to see their children grow up and have a say in who their kids grow up to be.

Is our legal system bias? Well, of course. Why? Because our laws make assumptions about who is the more responsible and nurturing between men and women. But not all women fall into the category of "good mothers" just like not all men fall into the category of "good fathers". So how do we make a determination that really benefits these children?

What's so heartbreaking to me is that while these fathers (that I know personally) love their children and really, truly want a hand in the raising of their seed, our system just requires that they cut a check. That's great that the child support helps the mother with rent, but having a father figure in these children's lives will effect them in only the most positive ways. And especially with fathers who WANT to be dad's...not just the every other weekend type dudes...its speaks volumes about the men that they are.

As a non-child bearing parent (ask me later), I can only pray that my friends and other men out there that want to raise their children get the opportunity to be more than a check. I'm not turning my face to the bum baby daddy's...I realize they exist just like the bum baby mama's exist. But if you have adults who love and nurture these children...let them raise the babies!!! Why make life harder than it should be for all parties involved?!

So to my friends who are fighting, who will fight and who have won...thank you for being an active participant in the raising of your children! Let me know if you need me!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine’s Day Ya’ll!!

I love music. I love holidays celebrating the love I have for the people in my life. And I love connecting music to my experiences with those folk. So here is a brief list of some of my favorite love songs. Some I like because of the lyrics, some for the tone of the song…other’s for how I feel when listening. I tried to add the music that you have most likely never heard but should. Purposely left Jilly from Philly out because...well...its a no brainer! And these are in no particular order. Enjoy!!

Old Lovas – Dwele – Some Kinda

Angel – Anita Baker – The Best of Anita Baker

The Point Of It All – Anthony Hamilton – The Point Of It All

When Will You Call – Bilal – First Born Second

All You’ve Given – Carl Thomas – Let’s Talk About It

Break It Down – Eric Roberson – Music Fan First

Orange Moon – Erykah Badu – Mama’s Gun

I Wanna Know – Foreign Exchange – Leave It All Behind

Come Around – Foreign Exchange – Connected

Higher Than This – Ledisi – Turn Me Loose

Stop The World – Maxwell –BLACKsummer’s Night

I Can’t Help It – Michael Jackson – Off The Wall

She Lives In My Lap – OutKast – The Love Below

Complexity – The Roots – Phrenology

Day Dreaming - Saunders Sermons – Classic Delight

Lifetime – Usher – Here I Stand

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Right On Time…

I received an email today based on a T.D. Jakes sermon…all I remember though was him saying that he’s great at good-byes. That being able to recognize people’s part in your story being done is God given. I’ve always felt this way, but it was articulated much better by Jakes.

“You've got to know when it's over. Let me tell you something.. I've got the gift of good-bye. It's the tenth spiritual gift, I believe in good-bye.. It's not that I'm hateful, it's that I'm faithful, and I know whatever God means for me to have He'll give it to me. And if it takes too much sweat I don't need it. Stop begging people to stay.”

We tend to want to hold on to old relationships because of the history we share with folks not realizing or understanding that their purpose in your life…and really yours in theirs is a done dada. What makes us want to hold on to fake relationships? I’ve had plenty of conversations with “old” friends and leave feeling frustrated because of issues such as them being stuck in ruts, not making moves to make their life better, or just no emotional growth from when I first met them. And then I feel bad because I’ve kept my life moving.
But that’s what we’re supposed to do…keep moving. Progressing. Living our lives as best we can. And part of making that happen requires reaching up to people who are where you want to be. And letting go of the crabs that try to keep you where you were. Don’t get me wrong…there are some old friends that you will want to keep by your side; they provide stability and a grounding that you need. But the ones who don’t really wish you well if that means doing better than them or those who have made no positive moves since the like…90’s…you’ll have to cut lose.
There is some self pride and self awareness in recognizing the people who are emotionally harmful, but if you don’t believe in yourself how are you going to get ahead in life? There is nothing cocky or conceited about wanting to be comfortable, to raise your family in the best situation you can, or reaching for your dreams. That’s why we are here. To fulfill God’s promise for our lives. To not live up to our potential because of our surroundings is to throw away our blessings. I refuse to do that. No…I am not cocky. But I want a good life. I want my son to have a great life. And that won’t happen if I bring him around people who are ok with “just getting by”. I have bigger dreams for him then that.
Being on your grind, wanting a good life, taking care of yourself and the people around you are admirable. Making mistakes are part of the plan. Get the lesson and keep pushing. Surround yourself with people who love you. And say good bye to those who no longer do.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What I Learned Watching For The Love of Ray J Season 2

Ironically, I did pick up some pointers from this “hit” reality show. Obviously, the kid wasn’t/isn’t looking for the love of his life…he’s a young cat that enjoys fame. So any woman that auditioned and really truly thought it would be more is a tad bit touched. But here are some things I did learn:

1. There is something to be said about choosing to be with someone that lives a similar lifestyle to yours now and in the future. If you value family, you probably won’t do too well with someone who values running the streets. It just won’t work. And that’s not to say either person’s position is right or wrong…it just is what it is.

2. An important factor in dating is getting to know someone…the crust of a muthasuckaJ And to do that, you need to be able to ask question, express yourself, and have fun. If it’s not fun at the dating stage, why would your expectation be that it will be better later? That’s ass backward. It should start fun and than go downhill (jokes!...kind of).

3. Involving your family members in tomfoolery such as having them meet random men/women in your life is a little/lot self defeating. You’re wasting everyone’s time. And there’s nothing more embarrassing to experience than meeting family members that you’ll never deal with again.

4. Do your best to carry yourself as best you can. Even when someone acts a monkey in a potentially public environment (like a reunion show) be enough of a lady to keep it together rather than going Maury “I TOLD you you were the father!” on folks. Bad look.

So in conclusion, though I think Ray J is a hot mess he has willing participants in his antics. And if there is a season 3…maybe I’ll watch and pick up some more pointers. Ha ha!