Burnout is Real

“Don’t be so hard on yourself,” she said, looking deep into my eyes, making sure that I was listening intently to her. Her eyes, behind her thick framed yet stylish glasses, pierced my armor, touching me. Her reassuring words and comforting look somehow pacified my over-concerned spirit.

The last couple of days weeks years, I have been moving non-stop, engaged in emotionally draining work. It has become a running joke in my family that I am always busy and/or away, and it’s true. My work depends on relationships with my students, their families, and my colleagues. The majority of these interactions are often highly emotional, especially when discussing issues of diversity and inclusion, which are difficult topics. Similarly, I attend multiple conferences and professional development opportunities throughout the year, which are also exhausting, just by the sheer travel. Mentally, right now at this very instance, I feel drained from the traveling, planning, organizing, grading, teaching, thinking, performing, and challenging that my day to day activities require.

I need to find make some necessary time for self-care.

About an hour ago, I called one of my super busy friends and he was sounded relaxed when he answered the phone, a first. He later shared that he was finishing his manicure. Combined with his earlier pedicure, his self-pampering  was much needed because, like many, his job was stressing him the           out.

I need to find make some necessary time for self-care.

The last couple of nights, I have gone home and have not touched my school work. I felt guilty when I walked through the double doors into the teacher’s lounge to begin my work day. Thankfully, my colleagues’ word abated those negative, no-good feelings. Yes, I have work to do, but I also deserve time to relax and watch The Wire or chill with my homies (read: hang out with friends) or kick it with a shorty (read: spend time with a romantic interest, date). I need that respite from the constant pressures of work.

I deserve that.

I have to take care of me because if I am not healthy then my work and relationships will not be healthy either. More importantly, I have to take care of myself because no one else will do it for me. I play basketball, bike, read, write, spend time with me in order to sustain myself.

Please, find time for you; do something that re-energizes you. Make sure that you take care of yourself.

In the comment section, share the things that you do to sustain yourself. It will undoubtedly be helpful to others as we all try to find (new) ways to sustain ourselves.

 

 

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Brian McKnight and Mase Dominate The Music World

Yes, you read the headline correct. Brian McKnight and Mase dominated the music world. No, I am not talking about their 1997 collaboration “You Should Be Mine.”

Yesterday, both veterans shared the spotlight as each made news with his re-entry to the musical scene.

First up, Brian Pumper McKnight showcased his new song, “If You’re Ready to Learn.” If you are expecting a soulful, romantic, “Back At One”-esque ballad, then do not click the link. If you’re ready to “learn how to use your pu***,” then click the link. As the comedian, Kevin Hart says:

Brian Pumper decides to preview a song off of his adult mixtape, which deals with adult sexual issues, such as gynecology.

Needless to say, the song and video caused an uproar of laughter, confusion, and disgust. The laughter (this song cannot be real?) and confusion (is he serious?) are self-explanatory, but the disgust is a bit more nuanced. Rhythm and Blues tackles adult issues such as love, sex, and relationships. At the same time, there is a delicate line that separates seductive ballads from raunchy, disrespectful tunes. Masters of tip toeing this line include Teddy Pendergrass (“Turn Off the Lights”) and Marvin Gaye (“Sexual Healing”). Their songs were intensely sexual without the overt and graphic language. They capitalized on the idea, less is more.

And then there are the new R&B dudes like Trey Songz (“I Invented Sex”) and company who explicitly detail every and any thing they will do to your body. I ain’t knocking their hustle! I am illustrating a change in the game. No R&B discussion can ever be complete without the master of the habitual line stepping (no pun), Mr. R. Kelly. Rrrah Kelly plays hop scotch with this line of decency with classics such as “12 Play” and “The Greatest Sex” and all those other songs where he compares sex, women, and himself to random objects, including but not limited to: a jeep, a remote, a snake, and a Tyrannosaurus rex (and those are just the ones I can remember off the top of my head). And no, I did not make up the last one; he really used that imagery/analogy in a song!

I digress. Brian Pumper ‘s new song clearly sunbathes on the raunchy side, but honestly it would have been better if he changed “pu***” to “body” and removed any super squirter soaker language. Thanks Brian for the confused, disgusted laughs.

“Don’t leave the game while you’re hot, that’s how Mase screwed up.” –Kanye

According to my bestfriend, “[Mase is] my favorite rapper. He had it all: the rhymes, the charisma, and the style.” FACT. There was no hotter rapper in 1996-1998 then Mase. Even when he was forced by Puffy to wear the #2 jersey in the “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down” video (peep the jersey at 3:13), he made the #2 jersey look hot. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if John Wall confessed that he wears the #2 because of Mase because that is how hot Mase was when Mase was hot!

Then, he left for the church. Then returned to the rap game, flirted with 50 Cent’s G-Unit group, and then left again.

Until last night!

Mase back…again?

Mase dropped a hot, song-stealing verse on Wale’s “Slight Work Remix.” There is something about Mase that still, after 16 years in game, that drives New Yorkers, myself included, crazy. Mase influenced so much of the game in his relatively short reign as its top rapper that his return excites…each time.

“Name a rapper [Mase] ain’t influenced.”

It was a pleasant surprise to hear his lazy, aggressive flow on the song. Needless to say, he too had the internet going nuts after the song premiered.

And that is how Brian McKnight and Mase dominated the music world yesterday.

I wonder who will make news today…

 

 

Do You Remember New York Undercover?

The homie, Rembert Browne, wrote about Fox’s Five Greatest Moments and I was disappointed. His writing, as always, is superb and fresh, mimicking perfectly his voice and personality, his unabashed him. Instead, I was disappointed that one of my favorite shows from the mid-90’s, New York Undercover, did not crack his top five. While writing a disparaging, heckling email, I paused and remembered that he was raised in Atlanta. No slander to Atlanta, but New York Undercover resonated with New Yorkers. It was distinctly New York from the gritty scenes throughout the city to the incorporation of present social issues. And the soundtrack! The show’s soundtrack highlighted the city’s sounds and rhythms, captured precisely with the loving lyrics of R&B and the tough raps of the then emerging Hip Hop. More importantly, it resonated with middle school me. At the time, I was not in love or particularly tough, but I was a New Yorker and the show’s story lines of crime, family, and love/friendship were part of my everyday life in the Bronx.

Here are some of my fond memories of the acclaimed (by me) run from 1994-1997 [in my head the last season does not count because they changed the cast…they killed one of the main characters, Torres, and the show did not feel the same after that]

  • First, there were two men of color as the principal characters in a crime drama. That might have been a first! Someone wikipedia that for me. Please and thank you.
  • JC Williams’ (Malik Yoba) and Eddie Torres’ (Michael DeLorenzo) relationship was the epitome of true brotherhood, holding each other accountable and not afraid to do so even in feelings were hurt in the process. Their relationship was complicated, but its constant turns propelled the show forward.
  • Malik JC Williams, a single father, called his son, “G”
  • New York Undercover was a part of the Thursday line-up that included, Living Single and Martin. While White America was busy looking at NBC and their “Must See Tv” lineup, headlined by Friends and Seinfeld, I was glued to Fox.
  • Nina Moreno (Lauren Velez) was the sexy and brave addition to the force. She starred at a time when Puerto Rican women were washing the competition by 25 in the first quarter (read: there was no competition for Puerto Ricans; they were the most desirable…hands down!) In the last few years, Dominicans have overtaken Puerto Ricans, but this is a throwback shout out to the time when Butter Pecans ruled the land!
  • The nightclub, Natalie’s, had the biggest hip hop, r&b stars. I remember Biggie, Aaliyah, Boyz II Men, Tevin Campbell, and others gracing that small cafe. If you were a star in the mid-90s and didn’t guest star on New York Undercover, then you really weren’t a star. Truth hurts. Additionally, just because you guest starred on the show does not mean you guaranteed staying star power either: *looks at Monifah, Xscape, and Brownstone*
  • Ice-T was a prick for killing Malik’s JC Williams’ pregnant fiancee
  • Then Noami Campbell seduced Malik JC Williams as revenge for Ice-T’s character. Well played, Ice-T. Well played! Lucky Malik JC Williams
  • I think Malik Yoba is still one of the best names in the world. You have to say his full name though for the mesmerizing effect to occur though.
  • Torres’ dad battled drug addiction and eventually died from HIV. This storyline began continued the dialogue about the prevalence of HIV in Black and Brown communities, which at the time thought they were invincible because HIV was considered a “gay” disease. Don’t get me started on the rampant homophobia in the Black and Brown community. That’s part of the reason why the inclusion of this story was so memorable and touching!

What were your memories of New York Undercover? Please share them in the comment section.

Consequence of Blogging

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“This is my man, [insert name here]. He has a cool blog,” my friend introduces me to his two female co-workers. We are all on a Harlem terrace, overlooking the nearby 110th entrance of Central Park. Cherry tomatoe sized raindrops fall rhymtically against the awning, rolling off the edge into a growing, small puddle on the cement floor. Their eyes move away from the blue glow of their cell phones, acknowleding my presence. One set of eyes quickly return to her late night phone activities, while the other set lingers, glimmering with a faint hint of interest. I blush, slightly embarrassed, and smile. “Seriously, his blog is nice. You should definitely check it out,” he continues.

Moments like these are becoming more frequent as I continue to write and my readers continue to expand. I am often surprised when friends share with me their favorite post or a post that resonated with them. Their choices vary. I am touched when I receive text or Facebook messages that thank me for challenging a previously uninterrupted thought or adding a voice to a feeling that the sender has been unable to communicate. Additionally, I am floored with appreciation when a reader shares that s/he no longer feels alone because whatever emotion or experience that made him/her feel separate and different is one that I openly recognized and acknowledged. As a result, there exists an affinity, a meaningful connection, between the world and me.

I often think about my writing as separate from my personal life, though I consistently discuss my present and past. I enjoy writing about my daily life and often worry about sharing too much since most of the cooler things that happen to me involve others who did not sign up to have aspects of their life shared–and saved–on the internet. My bad, friends.

Surprisingly, when I started writing it was strictly for me, though I must admit that I check the number of blog views daily, fascinated with which posts generate the most traffic. My private shared publicly. Here is another seeming contradiction to add to the many others that color in the lines of me.

Not sure what to make of this post, of this inexplicable, blush-inducing feeling that manifested when my friend introduced me. Whatever it is, I am thankful that it moved me enough to write about it. Additionally, I am thankful that you have taken the time to read about it.

Aged Innocence

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We momentarily made eye contact.

She stood in the doorway of the fast food healthy restaurant within the train station, seemingly contemplating whether she was going to enter. Hurriedly moving through the aisle to an empty table, salivating the upcoming devouring of my pesto chicken sandwich on wheat flatbread, I turned my head toward the doorway.

We momentarily made eye contact.

She elegantly strolled past me, and I glanced at her again.

Her petite physique suggested that she was a young woman, maybe a teenager. Her style of dress, though, expressed a comfort with her own unique style, which is acquired with age. How old is she, I thought to myself as she moved easily toward a table in the back. Her face was filled with both youthful innocence and aged maturity. Her eyes seemed filled with knowledge, acquired through living life. At the same time, they seemed filled with wonder, a desire to learn about the world around her. The contradictory combination resulted in beauty:

A perfectly manifested juxtaposition, best expressed as aged innocence.

Slang from the 90s That I Still Use Today

The Way New Yorkers See The World

“Yo, B. It’s mad brick outside, son,” he would say with a semi-serious, semi-joking face. He disliked hated New York slang because of the pretentious New York contingent of students at [insert the best college here].  We, New Yorkers, always boasted and gloated about how amazing and special our city was, often, consciously or unconsciously, belittling the rest of the country, except for California. He hailed from a small city in Virginia and could not tolerate the elitist New York crowd. So, he took his disgust out on me via these random three minute monologues, sometimes joined by others, where he strung together as many slang words as he could.

“Yo son, dun, that’s stupid fresh,” he continued, pointing at some random object. “Word up, it’s silly fresh, B. Word. Yo, it’s crazy, dumb brick.” Brick was his favorite one to use.

While reminiscing about those nonsensical, comedic, often annoying moments, I realized that I still use a few of these slang words in my day to day vernacular. It surprised me because my slang is heavily influenced by hip hop culture, whose constant rush of fleeting songs that are only memorable for the moment (aka one-hit wonders) consequently produce forgettable sayings (and artists) like “wobble, wobble” or “a bay bay” or  a BX favorite, “lean back.”

Here are the ones that you will hear me use daily:

Hella–adopted from my Cali friends back in high school. It replaced my use of “mad.” I never vibed with the New England variant, “wicked.” It just seemed too…umm…wicked. No witchery over here, B.

Brick–this is a staple during the winter months, used to explained how cold the weather is. It produces a billow of cold air when used with a New York attitude, with the emphasis placed on the syllable.

Homie–instead of friend, I use “homie.” And my female friends are referred to as “homegirls.”  If you read this blog consistently, you would have met my lil homie. Yep, I really do use this one everyday.

Word–originally a term used by the Nation of Gods and Earths, also known as Five Percenters. The idea is that all Asiatic black men are gods (and the women are earths) and in godly conversation, one agrees with another by saying “word,” which a powerful term. I use “word” everyday because I agree with things I hear, but I also use it to question others as well (“word?”).

Dope–my absolute favorite slang word that was missing from my vocabulary for a few years, but has made a triumphant return. Anything that strikes my fancy is “dope.” When one of my friends in Chicago told me that she shared my blog with one of her black male students, my response was simply, “Dope.”

What slang words do you use on a daily basis? Please share in the comments section. It would be dope to hear what other terms the audience uses. Word.

 

 

Double Impact–Yep, Sex Sells

Sex sells!

You know that. I know that. Advertisers definitely know that!

The other night, while watching late night television, this commercial advertised the new double impact product by Liquid Plumber. Yep, double impact! You know where exactly this advertisement is heading.

Unfortunately, Thankfully, nothing will ever be lost again, thanks to the internet. With the help of my Google sleuths, I was able to find the full length commercial.

0:04 The way the freaky librarian, girl next door woman says the phrase, “Double Impact,” lets the audience know that she fondly remembers a double impact moment in her life. Peep her right hand disappear off screen, below her waist. And the facial expressions are a dead give away–Yep, she has ridden the train.

0:10 “I’m here to snake your drain.” While this might be a standard phrase uttered by plumbers around the country, it feels like the beginning of a cheesy pornographic tryst. Really, Plumber Dude, you just going to caress the snake like that? That’s what’s hot in these plumber streets, huh?

0:19 Before Mr. Plumber Dude can get two steps up her staircase, Mr. Plumber Dude #2 shows up. “I’m here to flush your pipe” said in a seductive manner. This tall, dark, and handsome man compliments yet contrasts the young, inexperienced pizza boy carefreeness of Mr. Plumber Dude. And our female protagonist can only stammer a breathless “Ok.” (Random: Where is Lil’ Jon? I digress).

0:20-0:30 She ready! Let’s the hair down while releasing a euphoric moan. True, it’s not a Sally moment but we’re getting there. Right?

0:31 Who invited this faux Barry White impersonator to the party. The more the merrier, I guess. While Mr. Plumber Dude and Mr. Plumber Dude #2 stand behind her, she works pushes that snake down her drain and clears her pipe. Lesson learned: sometimes ladies, you just have to do it yourself.

0:38 “Long snake to grab deep clogs…and a powerful gel to finish off the rest, baby.” No comment. If you don’t get it, then you don’t get it. Word.

0:46 Y’all seen that snap back into reality, that shake! I seen that leg shake…nevermind.

0:47-0:54 In reality, Mr. Plumber Dude #2 is a butcher, handling that meat. Whereas, Mr. Plumber Dude handles big sensual breasts melons.

0:55 After picking up a couple of products, she scurries out of that aisle like a freshman after a one-night double stand.

Sex sells!