Autographed Letter Signed

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Sunday Soliloquy: What’s In A Blame? August 22, 2010

It was all Eve's Fault

Blaming is often a mechanism for escaping responsibility.

“I didn’t do it.”

He did.

There is no denying that with Barack Obama as our president, blaming has become quite an art form of late.

When executed with Ginsu knife precision and flair, one has to admire a good blame game when they see one.

This is not a game for the solitary.

Because someone else’s reputation is involved, the blame game requires at least two players: the blamer and the blamie. It is the blamer’s role to assert that ownership of the problem lies with the blamie.

There is nothing original about this game.

When God asked Adam why he was ashamed of his nakedness and what was up with the new fig leave fashion statement, he blamed Eve hence the first recorded “blamie” was in fact a women. Adam blamed Eve because it was she that was tempted by the serpent to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge. Eve then gave the fruit to Adam to partake of and being a trusting man just trying to please a demanding woman – he ate it. And there you have it folks, everything in the entire universe that is wrong is because of women. Now this is the blame game according to men. A more logical perspective would be that Adam had a mind of his own and did not have to eat the damned piece of fruit but being hungry and expecting a woman to wait on him hand and foot, he was too lazy to get his own food. Eve being nice and nurturing offered the fruit to him and Adam ate it of his own will. It was Adam’s fault for eating the fruit, not Eve’s.

Just as George W. Bush did not make Barack Obama eat of the tree of presidential responsibility.

Barry gobbled down those apples of responsibility all on his own.

He craved them.

He lied for them.

He even kicked a woman’s ass for them.

Hillary wanted to climb that tree but Barry pulled her down by the seat of her orange pantsuit and made it to the top beating on his chest like King Kong on the Empire State Building.

“I AM THE CHOSEN ONE” he yelled  from the MLK like mountaintops of the Styrofoam Greek Temples.  Yes Obama was the chosen one and everything from there on out was Bush’s fault.

Proof that centuries later after Eve forced that fruit down Adam’s mouth, the blame game is still a viable part of a man’s defense arsenal.Sure the fig leaf once covering his nuts have turned into a Burberry Suit but the sentiment of the blame game remains the same.
I will revisit  Barry the Blamer later.

My point is that the practice of blaming is well documented throughout history dating as far back as the creation of man and the presidency of the United States.

Even my mother practiced the blame game quite religiously.

My grandfather was credited with ruining her entire life. Mother made this declaration when I was six years old. That made her 37 at the time which I guess is a great age to determine that your life is ruined.

Explaining the absence of granddad’s defense was easy. He was dead and buried in a Chicago cemetery since 1973. I had only met him once when my brother took me to his home without mother’s knowledge because she had refused to speak to the man since 1968. My brother idolized his granddad, he was his first grandchild. However, my mother did not share the same emotions and was closer to her mother who reportedly left the abusive man during the 1950’s.

My brother being born in the middle of grandparents divorce profited somewhat from their competition for his loyalty. By the time lil’ ol’ Afrocity came along fifteen years and nine grandkids later, the novelty had passed and so had granddad. All I was left with were stories of how horrid he was.

Definitions of horrid ranged from his putting his steel toed black work boots in my mom’s butt to not allowing my grandmother to leave him with her eight children. Grandma left her kids behind under the threat of my knife wielding grandfather.


Eight kids ranging from 17 to 2 years of age. Eight kids who later would never agree on who was who in the which parent ruined our lives blame game. For the first five siblings, granddad was the consummate orge. Black migrant from Mississippi to Chicago, hardworking on the railroad, hardworking to keep his wife barefoot and pregnant. My mother was her fourth child at 27 years of age and she would bare five more within eight years.

I found this great drawing about weight gain blame.

As a husband, he was neglectful at best, as a father he was the meanie who savored WWII rationed sugar products in front of his salivating offspring. “He enjoyed every drop of ice cream,” my mother would recall. “We would ask him ‘Daddy can I have sum?’ and he would laugh in our faces, sometimes teasing us with a spoonful then take it away just as our tongues would hit it.”

The question remains, was my mother telling the truth? How would I ever know since I was not a witness? I can attest to the strange behavior on the part of my aunts and uncles when it came to ice cream. They never shared and acted as though a pint of butter pecan ice milk was the last source of food on God’s earth.

Mother did share her sweets with me but as a sibling group there was something going on with frozen confections and past trauma. Ice Cream was a symbol of something forbidden and whenever she could, mother had our fridge stockpiled with the tasty stuff.   She blamed ice cream for her battles with weight gain.  So was this my grandfather’s fault somehow because he abused her by denying ice cream -causing her to load up on it in adulthood thus ruining her life?    I would answer “no” but mother would constantly defend her ice cream binges by educating me on the psychological need to satiate what her father had cruelly kept from her.

The justification for blaming my  mother’s ice cream obsession on her dad  is not readily apparent when you look at her younger siblings.  They possess the same ice cream obsession yet paint my grandmother as the evil woman who abandoned them to live a thrilling life as a single maid.   “She had it good,” one aunt would tell me. “She just left us and was very selfish.”

Ah, but granny did not deny ice cream. To date there are no granny ice cream Nazi stories that have surfaced.

So who is to blame for ruining the kids lives?

Who is telling the truth?  The older siblings or the younger siblings?  If the latter were in diapers as their mother abandoned them would they really know if it was at knife point or of her own accord?

You be the blaming judge.

Now back to Barry the Blamer.

What are we going to about this kid who can’t seem to fess up to anything?

You just say “No, no no!!! NO!”

Just say NO to Barry the Blamer and his bunch of Bush  blaming bandits.  Obamabots dimiss any resposibilty assigned to Obama.  That is their campaign strategy going into the November midterm elections.  Do not let them get away with it.

But dear Nancy, didn’t the American people elect you and Barack Obama to make the problems go away?  I take it that your intellectually grounded argument is that they are still Bush’s problems if the Democrats are too incompetent to make the problems vanish?  So you were elected not to actually fix the problems that Bush left behind (which I am not denying that Bush left some big problems)but the Democrats were elected so the electorate could make dams sure that we had someone to blame?

Now nearly two years after Barry has been elected we have no solutions, no hope, no change and nothing but blame.

My strongest reaction to this, is to remind the Democrats that Obama wanted this job. He was elected by nearly 65 million voters because he said he would change things not blame things.  If we were to put up with four more years of this what would we get?  More of the same problems only with the unclear demarcation of whose responsibility it is to fix them.

Thus an enraged, over taxed, under employed America should not care that Obama is doing nothing but exacerbating the debt by spending more because he is not an evil Republican…like Bush.  In sum, no American would ever want to vote Republican again because Bush, a Republican, got us into this mess.

WRONG.

Such an assumption is one sure way to lose an election.

The Democrats were guilty of this faulty “they would never trust Republicans again” thinking when Carter was running against Ronald Reagan.  What works for one election cycle does not necessarily work for another.  Even when voters are leery of a party due to past mismanagement, history has proven that they somehow get over it within four years.  Just long enough for the Republicans to get a message out that resonates with what voters want to hear.

No one need  worry about your political party when you are actually fixing problems.  At the end of the day, a man wants a roof over his head, food on his table  and a pot to piss in.  If that roof and  pot comes from an elephant rather than a donkey, I am sure there are some Americans who would not blink an eye while taking it.

Sure Obama play the blame game.  It is as old as time itself.

As for the consequences, do be warned that while the game is old and has many players, like any game it also has losers.

Today the losers are the American people.

In 2010 and 2012 it may be your band of followers and YOU.

Autographed Letter Signed,

AFROCITY

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Birthday Soliloquy: The Lion Queens August 2, 2010

Filed under: Sunday Soliloquy — afrocity @ 1:01 PM
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Prairie Farm French Vanilla Ice Cream.  A bowl of cherries.  Strawberry shortcake…Red Baron Frozen Pizza.  A pitcher of Kool Aid. Homemade potato salad, oven cooked barbecue ribs. These all all foods that I associate with three birthdays.

Mom- July 27

Afrocity- August 2nd

Grandmother- August 6th.

Three Leo lionesses all laughing it up for a summer week of food stamp spending and fun.  The everyday things that would seem mundane to most were the very source of our pleasure.  Watching the Price Is Right, Family Feud, or MatchGame.  Grandma would always root for the African American contestants.   I would find a nice crisp sundress to wear for the day- my day.  August 2nd always hot.  Rarely has it ever rained on my day.   Even if it did would it have mattered?  This was a child’s love affair with her mother and grandmother.    Once three lionesses.  Now only one remains.

On this day, I should be happy.  I am forty-one years old.  I am alive, successful and independent of  government money.

No foodstamp bought birthday cake for me. I am a proud conservative. An escapee of the “Great Society”.

This lioness is not in need of Obamacare or liberal platitudes.  Look everyone! I made it all on my own.

Mother would be proud. At forty-one I am not on government assistance. Educated, clothed and housed rather nicely. Cats have their own bed. Stainless steel kitchen with double sink. Washer/dryer- not the stackable kind either.

But why are the memory police still chasing me down?

To the extent that I allow myself to be  happy,  I am also equally resigned and well stuck…  College, graduate school, good job, nice apartment…All gifts from God.  However, non of these things have led magically to the happiness that my mother promised me.  By giving me her blessing to pursue the government assistance free “American Dream”,  I was the one left carrying the burden.

I was the one strapped with the historical ambitions of two African American women who never realized their dreams.  One a divorced maid, mother of eight.  The other a welfare mother of a so called young gifted and black daughter would would grow up to scoff  at all of her liberal teachings.

The lioness den.  Imperfect in its protection,  little did the two women know that it is what saved me from being another black victim and made me a conservative.

Grandmother paid for my private schooling until her hands could no longer scrub suburban Chicago Jewish floors.  Mother spent hours teaching me huge vocabulary words like “artificial” and “articulate”.

You may laugh, but she only had a high school education.  For mother those were huge words. Between watching game shows, she would sit on the floor next to me:

“See Jane run…Go Jane go…See Jane eat the cake… Oh my do you know what tomorrow is?”

I shook my head.

“It will be your birthday”

Afrocity was approaching six years of age on August 2, 1975.

Birthdays to me at the time were a concept not rooted in anything that I could calculate.  I knew there was cake and balloons. I knew that people had to like you on that day. Did I know when the day actually was?

No.

Mother could have said absolutely nothing and August 2nd, 1975 would have been like any other day of cartoons and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese to me.

“Your birthday is August 2nd.  This will always be a special day for you to celebrate being born. “

“Like that big party and Snoopy cake we had at Grandma’s place?”  I asked while  recalling myself, a cake and a bunch of family members and food.

Mother nodded, ” Yes, that was your fourth birthday party. Now you will be six.”

“What happened to five?”  There was no cake in a long time I thought.  1…2…3…4…

Mother formed her most child friendly lie, ” God does not allow you to have a party every year…Only on the even numbers.

“What’s an even number?”

“2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20…”

I nodded, “Seven is next year…so no cake?”

“No,” she answered. ” No parties during odd years. God wants you to rest some years. People get tired of coming to someone’s birthday party every year, giving you gifts. Moms can’t handle all of those kids every year. “

The answer was accepted.  No one could make stupid logic sound more realistic than my mother. However unrealistic this answer was, this was a cake year and she owed me a party.   Party first.  Philosophize later. “So there is going to be a party for me tomorrow?”

“Yes, and cake and pineapple sherbert, balloons, pizza…”

“John’s  sausage pizza?”

“Yes sausage pizza and lemonade and-“

Sausage pizza. I liked John’s frozen sausage pizza but something was not right.  “So at eight I get another party?”

“Yes and ten and twelve”

Mother had either made a serious miscalculation or God lied to her. ” You are wrong because God let me have a birthday party when I was one, you  showed me the picture.”

Mamma lioness lied.  Scores of reasons could be given for the absence of parties  and she knew it. She was most likely depressed in 1974 or bereft of funding but would not admit it.  ” Your first birthday is different because it is your first one. “

Young Afrocity still ever so skeptical, “Did I have one at two or three?”

Mother sighed “No, we skipped two because you had a party at one and three was odd so we let you have a party at four and now six…You get to make a wish too”

Wishes??? ” Can I make three wishes for the birthdays I missed?”

Mother was tiring of me, “Yes, but make the ones you missed now and save the birthday one for tomorrow.”

“So I get three wishes just like in the story books?”

“Yes three wishes.”

For several moments, I confess that I wanted mostly selfish things. A new pet, some clothes, a ventriloquist dummy like Lester. But it occurred to me that mother and I together needed much more. ” I wish I had a father like most white kids.  I wish you had a job like most white people…and I wish you would smile more and not be so angry when you need more money when we run out of food because the check has not come…I do not like that.”

The moment was heavy, I looked down at the red linoleum floor, tracing the black designs with my finger. But there was food today because it was August 1st and the check comes on the first.  I knew that because she told me. My birthday was a lucky day.  Party tomorrow and now that the disestablished logic of odd and even birthday celebrations were firmly planted in my head. I again just wanted to be clear on the whole birthday cake/party allotment.

“Party tomorrow? Six is an even year?”

Mother was stumped. She was throatless.

I took the Dick and Jane reader from her hands. I opened it to a page where Dick, Sally and Jane are eating cupcakes at a picnic.  Maybe it was Jane’s birthday too. Spot steals one of the cupcakes.

“BAD SPOT! He messed up Jane’s party. “



Perhaps Jane had her party when she was seven. That is why God let Spot steal the cupcakes. I don’t want to get God mad at me.

And I did not.

I had a birthday party at 8,10,12, 14, 16, 18, 20, and so on.  Just like mother taught me.   Other sinners followed the conventional wisdom of having a party every year.  How un-green.  All of those invitations wasting paper.  Helium shortages.  Barbarians!

Let me add that the memory police do not assault me with the birthday party years.  I can hardly remember those.  The commonplace odd years were of great significance and the years that linger now.

Year seven: Mom coming in the bedroom and waking me up after I waited for her to come home all day.  She placed a Marshall Field’s dark green shopping bag on my chest filled with Fisher Price toys.  Yes it was 8:00 PM but she remembered me.

Year nine: A card filled with quarters and silver dollars and a movie downtown with cheeseburgers at McDonald’s  afterward.

Year eleven:  Naturally a sad summer in the homeless shelter but mother still took me to Walgreen’s soda shop for a root beer float.  This simple act of dining in public and paying for my meal without foodstamps or vouchers or soup kitchens made me feel human and normal. I needed that.  I needed to forget that we were homeless.  Mother gave me that for my birthday.

Year Forty-one:  I am alone. It is a odd year numerically and emotionally.  The lone lioness is home alone with the memory police, ice cream, Kool Aid, and sadness.

Thank you God for another year.




Thank you mother and granny for the memories and life.

Autographed Letter Signed,

AFROCITY

(The Leo Lion Queen)


 

Sunday Soliloquy: Just Wait Until Your Father Gets Home July 18, 2010

Incoming text message for Afrocity:

DAD: Come watch me run the 5K next week.  Soldier Field

AFROCITY:  (After a long pause, disbelief)  When?

DAD: Wednesday

AFROCITY:  I will try…

Wow.  My father invited me to watch him run. To support him.  The loving daughter standing at the finish line cheering dad on, waiting with open arms and a bottle of cold Evian.   Even clad in a “GO DAD GO”  tee-shirt perhaps.

Up until now Autographed Letter Signed has been terrifically informative about my relationship with my mother’s life and death.  I have never got into a deep discussion of my father’s life.  How could I?  I have only known the man since 2005 when I looked up his name on the internet.

Make no mistake, dad and I are a work in progress- nothing more to say really.  We speak on the phone and see each other in person maybe three times a year despite living in the same city.

I invite him over for dinner. He cancels at the last minute.

He invites me to a family wedding and I play paddy cake with my decision which is ultimately NO.   Too many paternal family members too fast.  One on one would be best for now.

In nearly all of the minutes that I do share with my father, I am reminded of all the time that he did not share with me.  The echo of curiosity, skepticism, and  ambivalence stalks every invitation.

Can I ever really forgive and forget? Will I let myself?

He wants me to watch him make it to the finish line at some race.  I am proud that at the old age of 63, he runs marathons. It makes me feel proud and like shit that my mother died at 68 because she was overweight and never exercised. She died of hypertension- the silent killer.

How dare he ask me to watch him be all senior and healthy when my mother dies because she was unhealthy?

What the hell do I look like cheering on this man who never changed my Pampers at a race which raises money for kids – ironically?

Kodak moment potential aside, what would my mother think of me?

Trader daughter bitch,” mother would say to me up from far above the sky’s clouds in heaven while watching the Montel William’s show in  her government subsidized housing.   “I am dead now and look at you hanging out waiting for the prodigal dad to return home just so you can knit some perfect black family life that you never had.”

Dead momma is right.

Let’s face it. Nothing you ever do Afrocity. Nothing, will erase the fact that you did not grow up African American and Cobsy Show perfect middle class.

That dream was assassinated the moment you were conceived. A causality of single black mother/absent black father life in the inner city.

According to his 2008 speech on absent black fathers, I think Barack Obama would agree that dad and I are a causality of black life. The following quote is about the only thing Obama has ever said that I do agree with:

We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception…Too many fathers are M.I.A, too many fathers are AWOL, missing from too many lives and too many homes…They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it.

-Barack Obama

Young Afrocity never had to hear the ominous words

“Wait until father gets home.”

There was no father. No huge size 12 workman’s boots sitting at the front door, drying from the rain along with baby’s boots and mother’s.   Never once did I have a masculine shoulder to rest on when I fell asleep at church.  I learned over the years that a man’s absence would dominate the pattern of my life. It was not a long hiatus because he had a fight with mom.  He was gone and I lived life without him along with the rest of his children but we were living the life of the Great Society- the welfare society.

And perhaps more pathetically, I tried to distract from the void by creating a special grief club with my dad’s other crazy quilted offspring.

My younger half-sister was welcomed into my home, along with her three year son fathered by a married man.  In an entirely selfish on my part move, I believed I could rehabilitate her into a college graduate.   I was raised by mother to think that education and nit pregnancy was a way out.  My half-sister learned none of these lessons from our father.  Apparently neither did my older half-sister who has six children and currently lives on welfare.

You may recall a past post about the latter sister. She had/has ovarian cancer and relies on Government health insurance.  The same insurance that allowed her to have 10 years worth of abnormal pap smear results and did nothing. The same government health insurance that offered her virtually zero options for her cancer besides a hysterectomy.  In an attempt to be a good sister, or at the very least, a good half sister, I enlisted the help of my own gynecologist.  “Please help my sister,”  I said.  “She has ovarian cancer and  public assistance insurance and awful doctors.  No one is giving her a straight story or treating her like a an equal.”

Did I mention that both sisters- I mean half-sisters -dumped me?

The younger one, just stopped calling me out of the blue.  There I was with a box full of toys and kid books I had bought for her son to come play with when they visited.   She was supposed to let me help her with her applications for college…then poof.  She was gone. My messages went unanswered. What did I do?  Was it the guacamole dip I made when we were watching movies one night and talking about dating bad men??? I can make it more spicy next time.  I promise. Please call back.

The older, I am more forgiving of.

She was battling cancer.  While we had spoken over the phone several times and I shared my gynecologist number with her, I had never actually met this woman in the flesh.  Sure there were specific things I knew about her from our father’s amazingly insightful commentary.

“She (my sister) is ghetto. She wears this big blond weave that is fried, dyed, and slicked to the side,” explained our father.  “She is street wise- not like you Afrocity…She acts very black, has a gold tooth…”

Okay,  I thought, so we won’t go shopping together or share beauty tips but I can at least meet my father’s other daughter.

I asked her over for dinner. She said she could only eat bland foods like boiled potatoes because of the chemo.

More than happy to accommodate her dietary restrictions, I offered to make  her a nice meal of Sheppard’s pie.  What’s more bland and filling than Irish food?    We agreed on a dinner date . Shopping for ground lamb and Yukon Gold potatoes made me dwell on the oddity of the situation.  I have never even cooked a meal for my mother’s son- my half brother. I have known him all of my life.  Now here I am looking at low sodium lamb broth for some woman I have never met that shares my paternal DNA.

This recipe of  instant sisterhood requires parsley, sage rosemary and time….

What would we talk about?

“Hi, so nice to finally meet you…I understand that our dad cheated on your mother with my mother and that is how we are so close in age… Can I get you a glass of water? I have tap or Pellegrino..Cancer popsicles? Rice cakes?”

Half sister to sister, we would tell fatherless ghost stories, share pictures of our mother’s boyfriends- our “uncles”,  and look at our brown faces to see if there is any resemblance.

And therein lied the problem of such a meeting of the fatherless minds.  The recognition that no amount of tea and half sister sympathy would ever change our narrative. Three half sisters don’t make a whole father.

She never came for dinner.

I never called her to see why she never called me.

She did call several months later. I never returned the calls.

Why? Because ultimately, it does not matter. DNA is so random when you grow up black and fatherless. Strands of nothing but sexual encounters with the same breeder.    What is the use of acting as if we are characters in some sort of urban Negro rendition of Homer’s Iliad?

It will never be easy or even possible to capture what is lost when the family erodes.

No old sounds of familiarity “Daddy will get you when he gets home!!!”

Only new sounds like the ding of an Iphone when a text message arrives:

DAD: Are you here?

AFROCITY: Yes. I am on my bike. I will meet you at the finish line.”

And suddenly there I was at the race, waiting for father to come home.

An old warrior in the war on absentee dads, putting down my heavy pounds of bitterness and protective weapons to

be present at the finish line in order to begin  something we never started right in the first place.

Dad and I at the finish line. ..Finally.

Autographed Letter Signed,

AFROCITY

 

Sunday Soliloquy: Afrocity- An Accidental Study in Sustainable Design July 11, 2010

Only by the most elaborate maneuvers of denial could I pretend that I am not getting older.  Whether it is the cellulite that is taking up residence in my thighs or the pain in my left hand from ever so worsening arthritis,  Afrocity is no spring chicken.

Last Saturday, I went for sushi with a friend.  Proud of the eel and uni delectables I consumed over white rice,   I eagerly opened my fortune cookie and read something ghastly:

YOU ARE NOT OLD BUT YOU ARE NO LONGER YOUNG EITHER.

Great. Thanks for the losing lotto numbers too.

Forty-one year’s old I will be in just under a month.  I feel as though I have lived at least another twenty.  In my avoidance of aging, I have purchased a used bicycle,  bought lots and lots of creams for my face, ass, and thighs and invested in mega Omega-3 fatty acid supplements. Middle age is knocking tap, tap, tap.  I look out of my peep hole…Oh nobody’s home go away.  What mother’s death in 2007 taught me was that I needed her alive to feel young.  Now that she is gone, I am left behind with her memories and orange-peel prone hips.  “Fat Girl Slim” is the $47 cream, I purchased from Sephora to help with cellulite.  Every night I rub the caffeine laced concoction into my skin after a vigorous dry brushing.  Night time prep has gone from 5 minutes as an 18 year old, to now nearly 45 minutes.  The days of splashing cold water on my face and washing with Phisoderm are over.  My ritual is quite eventful. First wash with Perricone MD, Nutritive Cleanser,  then tone, then my eye serum to combat dark circles, then my pre-moisturizing night time treatment, followed my retinol A moisturizing treatment, and of course my vitamin C/Ester eye cream.  Pretty pathetic huh?  To end the night perfectly, I drink mint tea and soy milk. This should be the last thing that goes into my stomach at night but I am a cheater and keep a bag of Kettle chips underneath the bed.   In light of the prison which is my beauty regimen, I am actually pretty low key in other areas of my life well most areas unless you count politics.

Whereas most normal women can walk into a store and see tote bags as only tote bags, I look at the ones with 100% GREEN and SEXY plastered all over and want to barf.   I see government intrusion and crazy far left moon bat political agendas. Can’t a girl,  I mean middle aged woman just find a simple tote bag and carrying it to the market without advertising an agenda or Japanese anime sex symbols?   I get it, we all must embrace internationalism and green technology.  I see it everywhere when I shop for my make-up and “war on Afrocity aging products”  .   Green make-up had quite a different meaning when I was a teenager. Then it was that awful tacky mood lipstick. Green in the tube but changed to an irritating pink on your lips and the lips of your friends. Every friend!!! They lied, no matter what mood you where in, that mood lipstick was the same shade of pink on everyone’s lips.    Now “green cosmetics” make resounding claims to keep you looking young and beautiful while being healthy for the environment but not your pocket book.   Look, I am not an incorrigible conservative that hates anything pro-environment.  I actually care about trees and rain forests.  I have seen the IMax movies at the museum.   However, “in-your face”  propaganda and legislation just does not sit well with me.    Rushing from store to store, “going green”  is like a painful stalking form of lifestyle.  You either succumb or just die.

Walking to the fridge for a bottle of water one night, my cat was whining for a wet food refill.  I grabbed the $1.70 a can premium grain free can of food made with spring water (filtered).  As I dumped its contents into his bowl, I looked around at my laundry supplies which reside in the utility room where the cats whine and dine.  Tide liquid detergent, 100% GREEN formula.  Biodegradable fabric sheets by Arm and Hammer.  Hmmmmm. Arm and Hammer…back in the day, I used baking soda just for brushing my teeth and deodorant when mom and I were low on cash.

Now the famous muscular arm and rusty hammer are on my kitty litter, sanitary napkins and dryer sheets.    Continuing to the fridge, there was the box of baking soda sitting on the top shelf next to my green tea ginger ale .  I grabbed a bottle of spring water.  Something looked different; the bottle seemed thinner almost flimsy.

Picture of me taken on the Forth of July, last weekend. Knee length hemlines are in my future. No more short shorts or mini-skirts.

Still, I was somewhat groggy and could not really identify what it was.  That is until I tried to twist off the cap.  My right hand has trouble with small caps on aspirin bottles due to my arthritis.  Now I could add bottled water to the list.

From Bezinga.com

Pro Mach Receives 2010 Green Award for Sustainable Packaging Machinery Solutions

June 16, 2010

CINCINNATI–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

Pro Mach was awarded the first ever 2010 Manny Green Award from Cincy Magazine this month for manufacturing initiatives and product innovations that helped customers improve package sustainability.

Three examples were highlighted during the award process. In the first example, Pro Mach’s Fowler division, which manufactures capping equipment, collaborated with several major bottled water companies and multiple material vendors in a solution to package water using lightweight, thinner, smaller containers and caps. Fowler set up test packaging lines and engineered the capping machinery solution that allowed them to greatly reduce packaging material and maintain line speeds. One of these companies estimates they are using 1/3 less plastic, a reduction of more than 95 million pounds at a cost savings of more than $60 million. Comparable savings are also being achieved by the other producers.

In the second example, Pro Mach’s Roberts PolyPro division was noted for producing 100% recyclable single and multi-pack handles for the beverage industry that average 5 to 35 percent less resin than alternative processes. In the third example, Pro Mach’s Orion division developed a customized solution to help a fresh produce customer significantly reduce food product loss and damage during transit.

“We’re honored to receive this recognition from Cincy Magazine,” said Jack Aguero, Pro Mach Vice-President of Marketing and Business Development. “All of these sustainable initiatives have taken a team effort from customers, material suppliers, and our staff. Without the commitment of everyone involved we wouldn’t have been successful.”

Finally I took off the water bottle cap and looked at it.  It was hardly a cap at all.  The bottle label read “Our Caps are smaller that means less plastic for a greener you”….  But now my arthritic right hand was hurting and the city of Chicago taxed me a dollar for the case of water because bottle water is supposedly not green at all.  Can I get a refund?

I closed the door to my stainless steel , energy efficient refrigerator and walked across my bamboo engineered floor to my bed covered in organic cotton sheets.  My green life was not planned.  I did not orchestrate the environmentally friendly cat litter or the strange shaped light bulb in the lamp next to my bed.   It all sort of just happened over night without my permission.  Just like the cellulite on my thighs and no matter how many creams I use, it is here to stay whether I like it or not.

Autographed Letter Signed,

AFROCITY

 

Sunday Soliloquy: The Liberal Spook That Sat By The Door June 6, 2010

There are moments in my life when I wonder if  will I ever sufficiently recover from being a former liberal.

Is it possible that I could have a sort of jackass Democratic version of Stockholm Syndrome?

Like an old childhood friend that I have outgrown, there liberalism is at times, calling me when I do not want to be bothered.   The summer guest that just pops in your life with a duffel bag full of old memories and outdated viewpoints.   He comes in uninvited,  puts his feet up on your coffee table – right on top of the new Laura Bush book your were reading.  The leftie poltergeist takes control of the remote and turns the channel away from Fox News.

“Got any arugula? ”  he asks. “Better be organic.”

You see my  former liberal mindset captor never really goes away- not completely.

There is a scene in the first Twilight movie, where the main human girl–Bella is playing baseball with her new vampire pals.  Everything is proceeding idyllically.  You got your thunderstorm, your Matrix like double plays.  But wait!!!! You didn’t think that life would be that easy did you?   The mood swings, another group of vampires interrupt the game.  Human gir Bellal must pretend to be a vampire but the intruder blood suckers sense that something is amiss. They can smell it all over her.  SHE IS NOT ONE OF THEM.

Uh-oh.  Was I too naive to hope that liberalism would go away quietly into the night.   Abusive boyfriends never give up.  They become stalkers and you have to get a restraining order.  You can’t get within 200 feet of  Lilith Fair.   It knows your habits forwards and backwards.  The liberal junkie itch plagues you at the most inopportune moments like when you are at a Memorial Day service in let’s say Kansas…

Me at Memorial Day Ceremony last Monday, May 31st, 2010

You are driving away from a great ultra patriotic day when you look up and see a pro-life billboard with an unsettling picture of an aborted fetus in a garbage can.  Conservative friend mentions that they helped pay for the ad.   You smile at them.  Hey free speech for all…right?   Besides there is nothing wrong with both groups getting their point of view across.  Then conservative friend says:

“Women just like killing babies and until we stop them America will never be right with God.”

Until the above statement was uttered, you feel a sense of belonging with the conservative.  Just  moments after, the invisible left-wing reservists appear and take over your personality and mouth.

“Women should have a choice, ” says Afrocity multiple liberal personality #12.   “Abortion is a very private and personal matter. Republicans want limited government concerning taxation, business ….So why would you want the government interfering with the decisions we make about our bodies? “

The conservative did not agree with me but nonetheless, the conversation did not end in a salad bar brawl like it would have had I disagreed with an Obamabot.  No one left with alfalfa sprouts in their comb over or dreadlocks.

Is there ever a total cure ?  Or is liberalism like herpes?  One day your life is left wing wart-less then the next thing you know just when you want to get down and busy for an evening of scintillating discourse  with your conservative companion…BAM!!!  You have a sudden liberal herpes flare up.

The liberal imaginary stalker –texting me while I am having a meal with my new conservative friends.  Like the previous situation I mentioned.  One the exact same day, conservative buddies and I were discussing Obama’s abysmal foreign policy record.  Everything was fine- not a cloud in the political chit chat sky. No text messages from my estranged left wing friend- the ghost of Afrocity’s past.

However when the tide of  verbal mutterings turned to the situation in Arizona and need for diversity in our country,  an uncomfortable moment of the familiar liberal whiner enters the room.

Not again!!!  There is the liberal friend sitting silently by watching me.  The friend nudges me, kicks me underneath the table.  I wince at the prospect of sounding like a wishy-washy RINO- a  John McCain in brown skin clothing.

“Did she just say that gays should not be married?”  asks my imaginary estranged friend.

I kicked the pest back in the shin.  Go away! Shoo donkey fly.  We should secure our borders. If you are not a bleeping U.S. citizen or here legally, you should be deported.   The fact is, I was having a wonderful day.  Surely the most patriotic in my life.  I loved honoring the soldiers who served my country.  I loved embracing American values.  Somehow I never quite got that pill in my liberal diet.  Anytime I sounded “pro-American” around Democrats, I got shitty looks and criticism.  Now I can wear flag pins and support drilling in the U.S. without incurring a bloody nose.

Me having a post Memorial Day lunch at the Veterens Club.

Go away jackass.  I am in a good relationship now with people who respect my views and don’t reek of patchouli.

You are not here. You are in Dubrovnik- the tomb of the unknown liberal.

“Afrocity, may I ask you an honest question without your being offended?”

My conservative friend was addressing me and only me.  Gee I wonder what they are worried about offending me for.  I am a conservative too, right?

” Why do blacks want to be called African American and not just American like the rest of us?”

The room became silent as every conservative and my liberal imaginary stalker awaited my answer.

And the rest, I will leave for another post.

What will Afrocity do?  Is this the end of her as a conservative?  Or will she rise to the occasion and beat down the left wing “Hulk” menace that lies within?   Is there a cure to save her just in time???  TO BE CONTINUED.

Autographed Letter Signed,

AFROCITY

 

Sunday Soliloquy: The Unforgiven May 9, 2010

Joan Crawford and adopted daughter, Christina. June 1944. Getty Images

On this day of all days, we as some woman’s child, cling to  an understandable pre-occupation with visual representations of women who embody the perfect mother. Smiles, candy, roses, an ornate $7 gift card that sings when the recipient opens the pink envelope.   Our mothers are all special today- whether they deserve to be or not.  Next to Christmas and Thanksgiving, I am willing to bet an FTD floral arrangement that Mother’s Day follows closely behind its autumn and winter competition when it comes to holidays in which we are inclined to turn a deaf memory towards a dysfunctional family member.

Recently, I was watching the movie The Lovely Bones. The mother in the film is portrayed by Rachel Weis. Without giving away too much of the plot, a young girl “Susie” is murdered by a serial killer (Stanley Tucci) which sends her family into an emotional black hole.  Each  family member deals with the tragedy in their own way.  The father played by Mark Walberg becomes obsessed with finding his daughter’s murderer. The mother has the opposite reaction and wants the family to move on with their lives.  Finally, the mother can no longer take the stress and abruptly moves  away…leaves…yes leaves her family- her precious children to deal with this loss all on their own.  In what sense does a “good mother” leave her own family?  Cursed was she, that awful character, for me throughout the entire film.  Good mothers don’t leave.

But I was wrong.  Why would I find it more acceptable for the father to have walked out on the family rather than the mother?  With its emphasis on the “good mother” what does Mother’s Day really communicate about the reality of motherhood?  Are we to forget the failings of the women in our lives who serve as  mammary gland in chief?

1953 photo of Actress Judy Garland with daughters Liza Minnelli and Lorna Luft

What about mother’s who experience postpartum depression? Are there any Mother’s Day cards that come with a sample of skin salve for chaffing breasts?  Any IOU cards for 3AM feedings that you pass on to your nanny?  Some mothers steal their son’s credit cards.  Does Hallmark have anything on the shelves for that? Other moms  only call when they need their daughter to send money.  What about the mothers who fail at society’s demands?  Sterling in American iconography are the June Cleavers and Carol Bradys.  Florence Henderson with six kids in a case study-esque house.  She  fawns over Marsha’s golden tresses while Alice cooks pork chops and applesauce. Dutifully waiting on the AstroTurf  lawn as husband Mike creates architectural masterpieces at work.   Those pictures of motherhood were remote for Afrocity.   What about when the realities of motherhood transform from black and white fantasy into technicolor pain?

Scene from the movie "Precious". Actress Monique protrays an abusive mother.

The first time my stepfather fondled me would be the last time.  The 1980’s was the beginning of the sexual and child abuse revolution.  ABC After School Specials relentlessly chipped away at the pressure to uphold images of the ideal family.  Secrets leaked from beyond the grave.  Mommie Dearest brought all of the skeletons out of Joan Crawford’s closet which hung by their wire hangers.  Soon stories of Judy Garland and others followed.  It is impossible to imagine that the women behind those beautiful visual representations  of motherhood were unfortunately amateur photographers when it came to child rearing.

For a moment when my stepfather rubbed his hand across by breasts which were really training bra nubs, I sat paralyzed.  He smiled his Kenyan smile of white teeth which contrasted with his dark blue black skin.  I was eleven years old at the time; old enough to know that his hands were not where they should be.  Pushing his hand away, I pretended not to care.  Whatever was playing on the television in front of us did not matter. I needed a focal point, something to forget that he was sitting next to me on the bed.  A container of Vick Vapor Rub was on the floor lying on its side.  The room smelled stagnant with cough syrup and funk from the chest cold I was getting over.  Where was my mother?  Isn’t she just in the next room being depressed or making his dinner?   Isn’t this the part where she is supposed to dash into the room, kick him in the balls and rescue me?

Nicole Kidman as a distraught mother in "The Others"

No Afrocity, you are in the wrong tele-drama.  I could not verbalize my protests to my stepfather who put his hands on my breasts again.  Somehow, I managed to find the courage to rise from the edge of the bed and leave the room.  For some time I stood in the railroad hallway of the apartment.  This was my fault. I was not wearing enough clothes and this is why this happened.  How inappropriate of me to wear only a tank top and some panties in front of a grown man.  Having dug through a closet of black trash bags, I found a thick sweater that was stored away for the season. It was May but I did not care.  I had to cover my breasts.   I am so sorry, so sorry. I am such a stupid girl.  What a dummy.   For the next several days, I stayed away from my stepfather and rarely spoke to my mother.  I should tell her, I thought. She always told me to tell her if a man was bothering me.  Did this only apply to strangers?    One morning as I prepared my pet rabbits’ meal of shredded carrots, I stupidly felt I could trust her.  So I told her what had happened in the bedroom.   She did not react with any emotion.  Why was she starring at me as if I was some child she did not know?  It was awkward.  She promised me that she would confront him about the matter.  This not what I wanted to hear because I wanted her to throw his clothes  and smelly cheap Pierre Cardin aftershave out on the streets of Oak Park, Illinois.

"Rabbit" by Wayne Thiebaud

But being a reasonable child, of course I knew that Rome was not built in a day and families probably were not torn apart in a day either.  He would be kicked out later, after their confrontation I thought.   Later that evening he came home and mother cooked dinner as usual.  During the meal she motioned for me to go into the kitchen with her head.  This is it, I thought.  Eagerly, I jumped off my stool and went into the kitchen. My rabbits’ large green wire cage was in the corner by the back door.  I looked at the gray and white  bunnies hopping around; one was  drinking water from the silver ball dispenser.

Did they know how I felt?  Why couldn’t my life be simple like theirs?  I would always feed them and make certain they were never hurt.  They would always have shelter and be warm.  My thoughts were interrupted by what should have been yelling and anger but was instead laughter. Loud mocking laughter.  I remained crouched by the rabbit cage.  What the hell was so funny?   They should not be having a good time.   Hearing their footsteps approach the kitchen,  I went to the refrigerator and grabbed a carrot.  Appearing to do something besides wait was my best defense in case my stepfather said I was lying.  I did not want to look him in the eyes even though I was telling the truth.   Now, there they both were standing in the kitchen doorway.

“Afrocity,” he said with a huge smile.  I will never forget his face or the deceitful smirk.  Mother was just standing there like some mannequin.  “I was only playing with you when I touched you.”

Silence was all I could give them.

“You know that I was only messin’ with you,” he went on. “You crazy girls nowadays think everyone is out to rape you. Crazy American tee-vee poots too much crazy thought in girls.  In Kenya, a girl would never think such things.”

He turned to my mother who was not looking at me.  This almost never happened.  Her being silent. A dummy with his words coming from her mouth “You are too sensitive,” she accused. “You have no breasts anyway- just little nubs.”

They both began to laugh.  After that moment, I had no subsequent reason to ever believe that her only duty in life was to protect me.  I hated her and in a very non-Afrocity moment, I threw the carrot in my hand at her.  They both ducked.

“Bitch!” she yelled.

“You see how American kidz are?  Ungrateful…In Kenya we would hang them upside down by their feet-“

I ran past them into the bedroom, closed the door behind me.  Why don’t these apartments ever have locks on doors like they do on TV when Jan Brady locks herself in the bedroom?  Soon they were in the bedroom.  Mother grabbed me and started shaking me as I screamed and kicked.  “I do not know what is your damn problem, ” she said throwing me on the floor. I don’t know if it is those Stouffer’s meals with MSG that make you hyperactive but you have a problem.”


Silence was all I could give her.  My chest was heaving from the fight. My  hair had freed itself from the Goody barrettes and now stood on my head.  Stepfather was in the doorway smiling.  He liked it when mother and I argued.  We were friends until he came along. That was when everything changed.

"Mother and Daughter at Penn Station, New York City, 1947 " By photographer Ruth Orkin

“Do you want to move back to Chicago?” she yelled. “You should be thankful that you are here in a nice suburb. Now we are around these white kids and you are acting ungrateful just like them. Cursing at their mothers.  I won’t have it.  Now you stay in here and think about your homework which you never want to do lately.”

With that, they left me in the room alone.  My tears dried, my knee was skinned from hitting the hardwood floor. It was getting dark outside, still I did not move from to turn on the lights. The rabbits were probably hungry. She would not feed them.  Soon I would have to swallow my humiliation and face the grown-ups.  Maybe in a few moments, I could move again but for the time being I  sat there in the dark.  Perhaps an hour passed by before mother opened the door.  She had some ice cream in a Parkay Margarine container.  We used them for bowls when they were empty.  Handing me the ice cream,  she said nothing and we did not look at each other.  What occurred was unspoken of.  Slowly I stood up and sat on the edge of the bed.  The same edge where my nubs where violated, tasting the sweet ice Neapolitan cream mixed with dried salty tears.  This was to some degree, her way of apologizing, this eloquent mother ,her daughter forsaken for a man’s love.  She went back out into the living room closing the door behind her on her little brown rabbit in a cage.

Still loved. Still mother. Still unforgiven. Still, silence is all I can give her

Autographed Letter Signed,

Afrocity

 

Sunday Soliloquy: The Nanny State Diaries May 2, 2010

A key argument advanced by my liberal friends is that Afrocity’s new found conservative voice is simply a phase.

Now that the “phase” has been going on for nearly two years, attempts to bring me back to the land of ass have been occurring more frequently.   This month alone I have been treated to at least four lunches where portraits of the “Chosen One” adorn the restaurant as I slowly sip my soup.  Conversations somehow digress from living room decor and skinny jeans to why Obama is making such progress as our president.   Depending on my mood and how much I value my friendship with the person, I either eat and smile silently with a few nods peppered here and there  OR  I softly offer my dissent.  Aside from the question of whether or not Obama has really improved the lives of Americans, in particular those who reside in Chicago there is no doubt that his supporters are begging to realize that he is NOT the greatest thing since Wonder Bread.

“Well hopefully, if Obama leaves office in 2017…”

(Snicker) Oooo, that was funny!

One disturbing confession was several friends of color admitting that they were Hillary Clinton fans until Obama challenged her during the Democratic Primary.

“I loved Hillary,”  one friend said. “In college I was in her fan club.  I voted for her as senator.”

Then comes the 10 months pregnant pause.  Friend picks at the Cobb Salad while never looking me in the eye.

“Then I heard Obama at a rally and just knew I had to vote for him,” she says with a huge toothy smile.

Curious and saddened,  I always have to press the matter and shoot back with “Why? What was it that made you turn your back–errr, um I mean change your mind and support Obama?”

“Well he was so inspiring and he just wanted to do everything to change our world.”

“And Hillary did not?”  I asked with a raised eyebrow.

Pause comes again. Friend eats more salad…”No,” crunching on lettuce while speaking. ” You know [Bill] Clinton  was da man!!  He was a superstar in my book but when Obama came it made me go WHOA.”

Well of course you went WHOA. You were stepping in Obama’s bullshit.  That is what I wanted to say and here is where I gets frustrated and cannot continue the conversation. Just tell the truth you know.  We are all black. Just say you felt conflicted because Obama was a black man.   My friend went into some story about John Lewis and how he actually cried because he could not choose between Hillary and Obama.  She  mentioned other prominent African Americans who were caught in the “Great Migration” from Clinton to Obama.  The blacks who chose to remain with Hillary were characterized as though we were some sort of maimed donkey who could not get up on all fours .  Something held us back.  Our allegiance was to a white family over this great black hope.  Driving Miss Hillary Daisy.

As she was speaking,  I looked outside the restaurant window.  There were some African American males standing on the street corner, pants falling down past their behinds.  Should be in school, I thought.  An image of Cynia Cole, a little 20 month old baby that was killed recently by a bullet meant for her father intruded into my mind.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Charges filed in shooting death of 20-month-old

April 24, 2010

A 21-year-old man has been charged with killing a 20-month-old girl sitting in a car Wednesday night with her father, who police said was the intended target.

Danzeal Finley, of the 700 block of East 92nd Street, was charged with murdering Cynia Cole, who was shot in the head about 11 p.m. Wednesday on the 600 block of East 92nd Place in the Burnside neighborhood. Cynia was sitting in the rear seat of the car with her father, Jerome Hendricks, and her two young sisters.

Photo from Chicago Tribune showing Cynia Cole, a 20 month old victim of relentless violence in Chicago.

Finley was ordered held without bond by judge Adam Bourgeois today. His next court date is Monday.

Finley turned himself in to police Thursday after Alberta Cole, the girl’s mother, said she recognized him and told police, who put out an alert for Finley. Finley was accompanied by Rev. James Meeks after Finley’s mother called the minister and state senator to make sure her son would be treated safely…

The night of the shooting, Hendricks, Cole and and their family — Cynia, known as Coco; her sisters Janiya, 4, and Amazing, 8 months, were on their way to the girls’ grandmother’s house after visiting Coco’s aunt when they stopped by a neighborhood house to buy some cigarettes, Hendricks said.

Cole waited on the porch for someone to open the door when she said a hooded gunman came running out of a gangway and  began firing at the car. She said she eased back onto the porch so the gunman wouldn’t know she was there, and when his hood fell recognized Finley from the neighborhood.

After the shooting, Hendricks took the girl out of her car seat and held her head in his arm as drove to his mother’s home around the corner. Once there, his mother, Cynthia Lyons, a nurse, applied pressure to the wound behind the girl’s ear until an ambulance arrived and took her to Comer Children’s Hospital, where she later died.

How was I to see the Obama “hopium” machine playing a role in the life of Cynia Cole?  Chicago is in the state of chaos. National Guards have been one possible solution as we are in fact a youth violence war zone.  Suddenly, the Obama outsider art paintings in the restaurant sickened me.  This man used these people but you know what?  They wanted to be used. All I ever heard about from my friends and family  was what “Obama will do for black people”.   “Now we will get what we deserve…our president is black like us. He knows what it is like to be down and black.”

Really? Living in Hawaii, attending private schools, law school at Harvard.  Hanging out in Indonesia. Sure, Obama really knows what it is like to be down and black because his experience so mirrors that of  those in inner-city Chicago.

If you say so bruthas and sistas.

This is the part where I attempt to elevate the discussion to a new entirely new level. One where our blackness does not play into our voting choices.”I supported Hillary Clinton in the primary,”  I admitted with a straight but thoughtful face. ” She was a candidate that reflected my values and that is how I voted.  It is not about what a candidate can do for me, not as a black person or a woman…The government should not have to do anything for us. We do for ourselves…That is why I am a conservative now.”

My friend continued to enjoy her salad.  I said my “peace”  (snark) but still felt somehow defeated.  Any effort expended here was a waste.  The historic moment was a good selling point for Barack Obama and it worked.  It cheated Hillary Clinton out of a nomination.  It cheated Sarah Palin out of becoming Vice President. Both  good women.  Both good people.  The historic moment did not give baby Cynia Cole a life and iconic moments of her own making.  She would never live to see a woman take oath of office.  She would never live to be a woman.

We were all bound and raped by the considerations of race, gender, and historic moments.  What some Democrats have already noted in respect to Obama’s broken promises, are played out in Chicago’s streets as an African American saga.  How does one get over being raped?  Again the dream deferred simply explodes.  It gets angry and apparently it kills.

Autographed Letter Signed,

AFROCITY