Saturday, May 14, 2011

Really, My Man? Really??

And the award for Worst Person of the Week goes to........Libertarian God Congressman Ron Paul!

Feelings of cynicism and disappointment are commonplace when following national politics. However, this dude reeaaalllyyy offended me. I'm appalled. Really! I mean, really.

Earlier this week, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) implied that victims of natural disasters are "dumb," and argued that FEMA is unconstitutional and therefore should be abolished. *sigh* And this is only weeks after over 300 hundred of brothers and sisters lost their lives in one of the worst tornado disasters in our country's history. His reasoning:
Why should people like myself, who had, not too long ago, a house on the Gulf Coast and it’s – it’s expensive there and it’s risky and it’s dangerous. Why should somebody from the central part of the United States rebuild my house? Why shouldn’t I have to buy my own insurance and protect about the potential dangers? I mean it’s – it’s a moral hazard to say that government is always going to take care of us when we do dumb things. I’m trying to get people to not to dumb things. Besides, it’s not authorized in the constitution.
And a little more:
The big problem is Americans are getting poor and they’re not able to voluntarily come to the rescue. But to coerce people, to ask them to help, that is fine and dandy. But when you bankrupt our country and nobody has a job and then they say, well, FEMA needs to bail out everybody, then all we’re doing is compounding our problems.
No, you jerk. It is not selfish for people to ask their government to care for them in times of need. It is, however, for ELECTED OFFICIALS to believe that it is okay to compromise citizens' safety and welfare in an effort to solve budgetary issues.

Well, he wasn't done. The next day, he went on his "The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is unconstitutional" rampage. This is nothing new. In the past, he has repeatedly argued that the bill is an infringement on people's property rights and "individual liberty." Yes, the same landmark bill that ended segregation in schools and public arenas. How terrible that the government intervened with people's freedom to discriminate in their hiring practices!

Whatever asshole.

And for this, my dude, you are awarded The Worst Person of the Week.

Trials and Tribulations of Living in a mutha-effin' Blizzard**

My peoples. I had another beautiful day, praise be to God. word.

I chatted it up with some black women at the flea market, I supported three black-owned businesses and I experienced a sense of community and calm.

Why is this important?
Well, when I got back to where I stay in this city I was kicked back into reality and was reminded that I live in a blizzard. whomp. whomp. whomp.

What's the issue?/Que pasooo, mami?
Well, [Antoine Dodson voice], I had just picked up some delicious Liberian food. You read right my friend~ I stopped by a local joint and got some juicy + crunch fried fish, ripe fried plantains and some "ekchecku " [I don't actually remember what it was called]. I bounced back into the house with glee when I realized that my food would go great with the ice cold Malta in my fridge. I gathered my things and sat down to dig in!

I was drooling in satisfaction and reveling in the glory of the Black Diaspora. I, an American black woman with roots in the Caribbean, was eating food in the Northeastern US made by people from West Africa. Woweee.

I felt centered and content. Then, in came the blizzard and my warm glow was, temporarily, covered in snow and confusion.

In she comes, 'It smells weird in here,' she says with disdain. Her boyfriend replies,' no it doesn't. It's Zippy's food. It smells good.' His tone is pleading as if he's trying to prevent any potential backfire from me. I hear everything and just chose to ignore it and focused on my edible pleasures. This bitch, however, repeated that it 'smells funny in the house'. At this point, I hair flipped and kept munchin'.

Now, before you go singing homeboy's praises... watch out. He starts talking to some other people in the house about the local baseball team's change of uniform. Below is the exchange among them:

Boy A: Did you see the uniforms that Z from X team was wearing last night?
Boy B: Oh, yea. What was up with that?
Boy A: I think it was like for Civil Right's Awareness day (*side note-- only 25-20's come up w. that stupid shit. A DAY? ...really? just one day...)
Boy C: No it wasn't. It was for XYZ, the guy who was in the uniform just happened to be black. It didn't have to do wit the Civil Rights movement-- the two aren't always related.
Boy A: Oh... well they have something to do with each other.

Girl, please. It's great that Boy C called Boy A out. But it was still annoying to be the *only* colored anything, other than the furniture, and have to overhear that level of stupidity and conflation.

But, life goes on and so did my chewing. :P


Let's Work it Out!

One of my favorite songs is the The New Workout Plan by Kanye West. It not only cemented Kanye as one of my favorite artists, but also served as a true motivator for getting me to work out. It has served as a constant reminder that I need to get off my lazy butt and workout (as it comes on my itunes quite often and it makes a perfect work out station on pandora), and it has spoken to the age old not-so-secret quest of marrying for money that many women jokingly (guilty!) say is their fallback plan [1]. Listening to this song actually made me really think about myself and why I workout (when I’m actually not lazy, which is happening more often, thankfully).

In the past I would have bouts of working out for two weeks straight because I wanted to impress that guy I liked, or because my father’s illness (the sugar) was in the forefront of my mind, or I needed to fit into those really cute pair of jeans I bought online and just couldn’t bear to send back [2]. More recently I decided it was time to head to my doctor’s nutritionist (thank God for healthcare!!) and really set out a plan [3]. She set me off with a goal of eating just 1500- 2000 calories a day. I never realized just how difficult it is the actually maintain that level. Talk about a wakeup call. We also set out a workout plan where I focused on lifting weights and slowly but surely adding cardio into the mix.

If my sims can do it, I can do it to.

I’m happy to say it’s been 2 months and I’m still going strong. At the beginning I focused on lifting weights and realized just how much I loved it. This has been my first time bench pressing and I wish I had started before. I bought a pilates set back in the summer and finally started using it. I’ve even added an average of 20 mins of speed walking on the treadmill. Yet there are just days were I look at the gym equipment and can’t bring myself to do anything.

So I wonder. What gets you guys and gals motivated to work out?

It definitely pays to have a gym in the basement, or else I wouldn’t be bothered to workout. I definitely can go for days and even a full week without even lifting a weight. And when I get back to working out I wish I hadn’t taken that break, since it’s like I’m starting from the beginning again. But I reflected and realized that I’ve definitely matured and my motivations have changed as well. Yes I still want to go down some sizes in the clothes I wear, and with a history of heart disease and the sugar in my family- health is key, but I also just want to feel good. I like having energy after my workouts and I like eating what I want. I also like the definition in my arms and legs.

They say having a support system is key to maintaining a good work out plan. My family has been somewhat supportive with eating healthier and getting my younger siblings to work out (if only I could get my parents to do it too!). And it’s helpful when friends engage you about your fitness and even talk about their own successes and struggles (I’m looking at you lemonswithsalt).

But it’s a journey and one I hope you all won’t mind being a part of. I hope I can use this blog as another support system.

What are some of your struggles and successes? What specific workouts get you going? Any tips?

Spread the love y’all.

[1] Come one now. I’m not the only one who wouldn’t mind marrying rich. I actually wouldn’t even mind being a housewife. (Yeah I said it.) Is that my goal in life? Nah, but it would be nice. 
[2] For those of you not acclimated to African American slang, “the sugar” is another term for diabetes.
[3] Props to the government Obama for allowing parents to have their adult kids as dependents. Times are hard ya dig? 

Tales of Teaching Pt. 2

Well, today was a good day. The keeds' mouths were atypically foul but most of the students worked through both the reading and math lessons honestly and efficiently. A couple of female students even did an extra page in their math workbooks. Because of their studiousness, they were awarded fifteen minutes of free time where they tranquilly played board games, colored and nibbled on leftover snack. When I asked them at dismissal if they believed today was successful, Nia* responded "Yeah except for what happened between Kimberly and Jamal."

Then again, there was that incident between Kimberly and Jamal.

Jamal decided to fool around for about twenty minutes before he attempted to start his reading. He's not very good at it so he often delays starting his work and when he actually does work, he eagerly looks to be distracted. He's also unmotivated, so instead of doing the work on his own, he peeked over Kimberly's shoulder for the answers.

She responded with attitude.

He responded by calling her mother and family ghetto.

She responded by threatening to have her mother come to the school and 'punch him in his face.'

She wasn't done! Kimberly then mentioned that she was restraining from talking about Jamal's mother, considering the fact that she is deceased.

Oh Lawd!

We talked it over in the hallway about how Jamal was in the wrong, firstly, for cheating and secondly for confusing what was an issue he had with Kimberly (her attitude) with a non existent one with her mother. In an effort to be fair, I did mention to Kimberly that many times her stank attitude makes people uncomfortable and upset, especially when it is uncalled for.

But I understand Kimberly's attitude and I now better understand Jamal's poor performance in school.

Weeks ago, Kimberly was jumped by three boys from my class, including Jamal, in one of the school's bathroom. The assault occurred right after day time dismissal. Closely afterwards, Kimberly's mother begins that day's after school lesson by storming into the classroom, literally cursing out one of the boys involved and threatening to 'have his face punched in.' Kimberly has not been the same since. Though her aptitude is still strong, she has been showing an extreme amount of disrespect and defiance that she never before demonstrated.

Jamal, well, has poorer cognitive thinking skills than my three year old nephew. Before, I theorized it as being a combination of a mild mental retardation and the consequence of living in a poor social environment. That may certainly be true, but he's very likely to be suffering from depression as well. He's only eleven, so I assume his mother's death was premature. His grandmother informed me that last yea he was getting suspended a lot for fighting and that was largely why he was held back. Instead of getting him the therapy and tutoring he needs, his grandmother whooped his ass....a lot. *Sigh

They're both suffering. One with PTSD and another one with depression and abuse. One thing I noticed is that Kimberly *never* negated the claim that her mom or family was ghetto, leaving me to believe that she accepts it as truth.

Considering the shit these kids go through, I am quite content with that one occasional good day.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Bus X to Anywhere

My people. My people. I want to share one of the more intimate details of my personal life. No, no, this post has nothing to do with my personal array of postcards and natural hair conditioners, but instead is about how I de-clutter my mind. It's about how I remind myself of all the beauty and joy in the world.

This simple pleasure is not in the form of a joint, it's not at the bottom of a glass of E.J + cold Malta, it's just comes from riding the bus.

You read right, I LOVE public transportation and opt for the bus whenever possible. I know that for some of you who live in other [read:crap] cities, riding the bus is akin to using your cat as a lint brush. And that sucks, but hey, the bus is one of my closest friends. Not one bus in particular, any in transit bus will do!

What type of bus am I talking about?
Buses in Black neighborhoods... only. Not hatin' just appreciatin'. Beacuse there's nothing like being on the bus with a FUNKY smell and have a black woman, who does not give a damn, come on and loudly declare/ask, 'Who is fryin' chitlins? Woooooweee!'

Why else?
I love it when older, slightly overweight Black folk get on the bus and eye the seat with a hunger and thirst in their eyes for 5 minutes beore actually just sitting in it. And once, they have parked their derrier in the shiny plastic blue seat, they heave a sigh of deep relief and satisfaction. I love to watch people appreciate the little glories of life.

Still not convinced that the bus is where it's at huh?

Ok ok. Fair. Here's another reason-- you can find community on the bus.
Here's an example; I see countless young, black women traveling with their toddlers whenever I am on the bus. And when the toddler finally gets on, they usually make a mad dash to the back of the vehicle while Mom tries to gather her things and pay her fare. In this moment, the bus' passengers can a. continue to mind their own business or b. stop the child from falling flat on their foolish, yet adorable, little faces. I've only seen b. happen and I am grateful for it. For 30 seconds that toddler becomes the bus' collective child and we all look out for him or her.

I don't know about you, but that warms my heart keeps me getting on the bus.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tales of Teaching Pt. 1

"You're getting your Masters in Ghetto Education."

That was my dad, Papa Chele, talking. This was in response to my recollection of the day's happenings at work. For the last seven months, I have been working as a teacher's assistant in an afterschool program in an elementary school in Brooklyn. He, Mama Chele, and all of my friends have heard countless stories of the mayhem found in the school of where I currently work. Located in one of the poorest sections in the City, the "school" is a complete microcosm of the dysfunctional neighborhood it is surrounded by.

"When it gets hot outside, they are gonna go buckwild."

That was a fellow teacher, Ms. Black*, about a month ago. She was foreshadowing the terrible behavior that would soon come. She was right. Discipline was already poorly enforced. Now it is totally nonexistent and the kids have, indeed, gone buckwild.

Today, I broke up two fights involving "students" from my fourth grade class. This is the sixth altercation that occurred with my students in the past four weeks. Today, I was hit in the neck by one of the boys, Damien*, as he tried to swing at the other kid involved. I removed the pencil from Allen*, preventing him from seriously stabbing Damien or me. Two weeks ago one of the students, Kimberly*, was lured into a bathroom and beat up by four male classmates. Minutes later, Kimberly's Mom interrupts "instruction time" and threatens one of the perpetrators, saying "I want to see your face fuckin' busted in."

Nobody has been penalized. No suspensions, no detention, no nothing. The students show up the next day, completely unaffected. One of the fights occurred at dismissal, in front of my supervisor and most of the faculty. Damien left with his cousin, his friend, and his two siblings. But he'll be back on Friday, unchanged.

When does it stop? It won't. It will just be another day with another story to tell.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Transitions: Can 2-1 = 1.5

Hola, Zippy here!

One of the best moments in my undergrad career happened on a lazy spring day, when my professor said, ' Ladies, when you are in a relationship, any relationship, the equation should always be 1 + 1 = 2.5.' We all looked at her like she didn't have a Phd. Then she explained you should both support each other's growth and greatness during your journey as a couple. You should be more together than you are a part. That doesn't mean that 1 is the loneliest, saddest number, but simply that you should encourage the best in each other. Now that I am out of a 2 1/2 year relationship and back in Singledom, I am wondering if 2 - 1 can result in 1.5? That is, can you do and be better by yourself? And how do you come to that decision when the relationship you're in is fine... as in, he's a great dude, treats you well, really loves you etc.?

...More on life in Singledom...
Now that my bags are unpacked and I've settled into my new room in Singledom, I am trying to figure out just where I fit in. Am I ready to date? Do I wanna smang? Meh, neither of the above. For the first few weeks after the break up, I thought I was ready to jump in there. Get my pipes plumbed and what not. But, the more that I think about it the more I realized that I need to remember what it's like to be in a relationship with just me. Now that we are not together I have so much more time to just do whatever I want to do, when I want to! I almost feel like I am rediscovering myself all over again and just getting back in touch.

At the same time... when I feel my sexy and want to share it! And I'm the type to do that in relationships or prolonged casual dating situations and what not [read: my options are limited!] I had a talk with my cousin about dating and she said, 'when you're ready to date, you won't have to question it this much.' Bam. Words of freakin' troof! So, for all the other recently single ladies out there, take that chill pill and take the time to rediscover all the lovable unique things about you!

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