Friday, August 29, 2008

Vote for President - Barack Obama

My mother and I spoke after Barack's acceptance speech, and she told me that she remembered when Martin Luther King, Jr. made his historic speech. She recalled racial segregation in Houston forty-five years ago: second-hand books from the all-white school, how blacks weren't allowed to attend the cinema, or the fact that blacks were only allowed entrance to an amusement park on Juneteenth, the day word arrived that slaves were free.

We didn't watch the speech together, but somewhere out there in the ether, our souls danced and cried together listening to the message of change during Barack's speech.

It was the first time I was emotional listening to a politician. It was unexpected. I thought about my recently deceased grandmother who would've been ninety-one this past February, and what the speech might have meant to her as she would've listened from the corner of her living room sofa in Houston.

I thought about my transfer and adjustment to an integrated high school in then swanky River Oaks. Things were different back then, and one of the reasons I relocated to the East Coast was because I wanted to escape the backwards mentality in Houston. Was there any truth to the stories of yore about The North being a mecca for African Americans? Would life on the East Coast be better for me?

My immediate world didn't change overnight, and nor has it changed drastically in the years I've been here. Racism is subtle and wicked in New York City. There are so many different ethnicities that live in clusters in the five boroughs. Police are still brutalizing and murdering African Americans, minus water hoses and attack dogs.

I cried because of the possibility of my younger brothers and cousins looking to Barack as an example of who and what they could become if they set goals. I released some fear and disbelief in the streaming tears during the speech. In the coming days and weeks, I look forward to breaking down more fears and marking this page in my personal history.

Yes we can!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My American Prayer

Lyrics:

This is my American Prayer
This is my American Prayer

This is the time to finish what you started
And this is no time to dream
This is the room
We can turn off the dark tonight
Maybe then we might see

American Prayer
American Prayer

And this is the ground
That keeps our feet from getting wet
And this is the sky over our head
And what you see depends on where you stand
And how you jump will tell you where you’re gonna land

American Prayer
American Prayer

My oh my
Couldn’t get much higher
Lets not kick out the darkness
Make the lights brighter

And these are the hands
What are we gonna build with them?
This is the church you can’t see
Give me your tired, your poor and huddled masses
You know they’re yearning to breathe free
This is my American Prayer
American Prayer
American Prayer

When you get to the top of the mountain
Will you tell me what you see
If you get to the top of the mountain
Remember me

Saturday, August 23, 2008

In The Stars, Under The Moon

There are relationships and friendships that aren't meant to last. If we pay attention to our personal early warning systems, we wouldn't be surprised when we're left alone, piñata untouched, in the middle of yet another birthday party.

I've never put much stock in astrology and zodiac signs, but in recent years, I've started to reconsider that there might be something to horoscopes, fortune tellers, and people and things that go bump in the night.

Why else would dating and social media portals list a box for zodiac signs, if not for compatibility?

I had my star chart done a few years ago by a woman who did automatic writing. Prior to this process, I knew certain things about myself, my coping skills (or lack thereof) in certain situation, and what types of people I'd be most likely to give food, blood, money, or an extreme, donate body organs. The report confirmed that I'm creative, nurturing, patient, and can sometimes be impulsive.

My mother's a Pisces, my granny was an Aquarius, and according to the time of my birth, I was born on the cusp of Pisces/Aries. Water and fire. Two fish swimming in tandem, or in opposite directions depending upon how you view the symbol. Aries is represented by a strong, horned, bucking, and protective animal.

I think this cosmic birthplace is equal parts blessing and curse. History shows that I'm most incompatible with Geminis, second to Sagittarius, and with certain emotional and moody Pisceans rounding out the top three.

Navigating dual perspectives as a practical romantic/creative isn't an easy path to traverse. At my best, I'm an idea man, protective, encouraging, and supportive. The opposite side of my abundant energy is not having enough time to do everything I want to do without feeling selfish.

How much of our interpersonal and romantic compatibility comes from how and where we were raised? Is astrology a sin as some religious zealots profess? Is it written in the bible that diviners shouldn't be trusted?

Geminis are attracted to me unlike no other, I think because of the Aries rising. When I'm in my creative Pisces mode, Geminis and I fight like the veritable cat and dog -- not enough room for two fish and a set of twins. Would two of you mind stepping outside please?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Increasing Daily Word Count

Beginning September 1st, and for a period of at least six months to one year, I will chart my daily word count. My goal will be to initially write 250-500 word blog entries that will open the floodgates for my fiction, screenplay, and creative nonfiction writing.

I know I'm capable of increasing my daily output once I've cleared away most, if not all of the daily distractions of TV, phone calls, and chatting via instant messenger and Twitter.

My writing goal for the next calendar year is to write three polished and marketable screenplays, one of which is a collaboration with my new surrogate Tunisian brothers, a series of seven to ten essays that will serve as the foundation for a family memoir, and a short story collection of five to seven short to medium length stories.

I've designed a way to focus my blogging efforts with daily headers/topics:
  • Monday Blues and Mayhem. I'll discuss ways I and others deal with the Monday blues and madness that oftentimes great us at the beginning of each work week. Please send information and tips on how you maintain your emotional, spiritual, and physical health. I've recently resumed early morning jogging around The Jackie O. Reservoir in Central Park.
  • Relationship Tuesdays. This topic was sparked by the success of the virtual book tour question: What Do Men Want? I'll add my two cents on dating, couples, and perhaps my own Sex in The City column. I'll also discuss interpersonal relationships, family, and group dynamics.
  • Wednesday Writer's Corner. Wednesdays are traditionally hump day, and it's always helpful to read about successful writers, writing tips, and news to get us over the mid-week slump.
  • Thursday Tantrum. Some people disagree on rants and complaining on blogs, but obviously I feel otherwise if I'm committing to a weekly entry on this topic. What upsets you most? What little or small annoyances that set you to thinking and perhaps gets you stuck, propelling you into a parallel fantasy world?
  • Friday Outlook and Gratitude. Who and what are you thankful for in your life? Who were or are your role models? Who and what brings a smile to your face? What good things are happening in your community?
Take the journey with me for moral support, leave comments, pose questions for future topics, or send links or electronic files for discussion.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Virtual Book Tour - What Do Men Want?

Other than a physical relationship, what are some other aspects men want in a relationship?

While I can’t speak for most men, I will venture to speak for the assortment of male relatives, friends, confidantes, and co-workers I’ve interacted with over the years. Relationships frighten some men because they have to compromise certain aspects of their male psyche, or altogether relinquish control to someone other than their mother, sister, or aunt.

If the adage is true that little boys grow up to marry their mothers, and little girls grow up to marry their fathers, it wouldn’t be a huge leap to accept that men covet what they find most familiar.

Example: my mother is a pastry chef. I’ve been spoiled by her homemade desserts over the years, and no one, absolutely no one else can or will make peach cobbler, oatmeal raisin cookies, or lemon glaze cake like she does. My mother bakes and ships oatmeal raisin cookies from Houston to New York whenever I ask.

Beyond the childhood memories of licking the remnants of the cake mix or cookie dough from the mixing bowl, I think there’s an element of loyalty entrenched in my taste buds when eating desserts at cafés, coffee shops, or restaurants with Michelin or Zagat ratings. I’m a dessert snob, plain and simple.

How does or would this translate into a romantic relationship? Any woman I date or eventually marry, best know that she will be in the shadow of a huge mixing bowl, blender, and spatula- decorative sprinkles, optional.

Is it Freudian or Jungian, that a large part of a man’s past, present, or future relationships is tied to his mother or primary female caregiver? We all want comfort, and seek out what’s familiar; however most men can’t or won’t acknowledge this basic human need.

In a departure from our mothers and female relatives, do we aim for women with qualities that are in opposition to those we love? Do men want to design an ideal woman as some affluent couples do with eye color, height, and IQ with their unborn child?

If most men could design an ideal mate, which women would we choose? Would we combine Lena Horne, Ruby Dee, and Halle Berry? How about Eartha Kitt, Naomi Campbell, and Diahann Carroll? What about Julie Newmar, Salma Hayek, and Angelina Jolie?

Do we want an athletic mate who’ll play weekend baseball after she’s picked up the overbooked kids from extracurricular activities?

Do we want a woman who’ll do our every bidding, not unlike a Stepford Wife?

Men: Ask a close female friend when she was last fully satisfied in the bedroom, and you might be surprised by her response.

Women: Ask a close male friend how many brain cells he exhausts thinking about how he’ll make his mate coo, ooh, ahh, and perhaps reach the high C similar to soprano Kathleen Battle.

Men want validation for a job well done outside the bedroom. I’m not talking about assembling a bookshelf or curio cabinet that was buried, still in the box, behind clutter in the garage or hallway closet.

Men want women to meet them where they are, emotionally and spiritually, and walk alongside them as the relationship evolves over time. A simple, “I see you for who you are,” goes a long way.

Please don’t compare us to your father, brother, previous jock boyfriends, or ex-husband. We’ll do the same with the women in our lives. Comparison breeds contempt and hostility in platonic and romantic relationships.

Women: If you’ve a history of buyer’s remorse, step back and reevaluate why and how you always seem to find Mr. Wrong, according to your best girlfriend.

Men: If you’re prone to shutting down emotionally and skulking about before you call your (mother, sister, aunt) and complain that your significant other just doesn’t get you – stop. Communicate with your mate.

Relationships are about compromises, battles won, and wars lost. Choose wisely or become accustomed to sleeping on the sofa, at your best friend’s house, or worse, your mother’s who’ll side with you most of the time while she’s preparing a hot bowl of grits, scrambled eggs, and coffee.

The secret language of women can be difficult to decipher. I’ve tried to over the years, and growing up in the Southwest with eight strong-willed aunts, my mother, and granny didn’t help. The women would speak in hushed tones to my six female cousins about minding their P’s and Q’s. I still don’t know what P’s and Q’s are, and my mother refuses to tell to this day. When one of the many boys would happen into the living room en route to the kitchen to get water at granny’s house, all conversations would cease.

Women, help us out, please. Men want to be understood just as much as women, if not more, in a society that frowns upon intuitive or sensitive men. Our society rewards aggression and competition.

Download or buy CD's by Barry White, Marvin Gaye, Sarah Vaughn (The George Gershwin Songbook, Vol. 1/2), Luis Miguel (Romances), Sade, or upcoming artist LeNora Jaye, as the soundtrack to making up, making out, and starting over when problems arise.

I’d like to know what you think about this topic. Are there more renaissance men than spoiled brats or cavemen among us? Are men constantly at a disadvantage in relationships because of radio and talk show hosts offering unsolicited advice, self-help books, and overprotective parents?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Virtual Book Tour - Relationships

I’m happy to announce that I’ve been invited to participate in a virtual book tour on Wednesday afternoon, August 20th, at 2 p.m. I’m hosting a live chat here on my blog, along with author LaConnie Taylor-Jones, who’s in the middle of her blog tour, hosted by The Grits Dot Com, a Houston-based online reading and book promotion community for readers and writers of all ages.

We’ll discuss what makes a man happy in a relationship, one of the themes in her new book, When a Man Loves a Woman. And she’ll be giving away books, too …

I look forward to interacting with those of you who can login and post comments on the blog. Brew a cup of coffee or tea, and get situated in your comfortable chair or chaise lounge.