Archive for August, 2010

A Vacation in Twitpics

August 27, 2010

I am currently on vacation on Martha’s Vineyard.  At the start of my vacation, I promised a friend that I would Twitpic (i.e., post to Twitter) lots of obnoxious pictures of my beachfront view.  However, over the past week, I’ve found the vacation Twitpics to be a wonderful recording of the times we’ve shared thus far.

 Although we ran into a few spots of bad traffic and severe downpours, we made it to Cape Cod from New York City in 4.5 hours, 3 hours earlier than our Martha’s Vineyard ferry reservations.  We relaxed at a restaurant in Falmouth until our cellphone/Nintendo DS batteries almost ran out. 

So New England. on Twitpic

By then, it was time to board the ferry.  The kids have always loved the ferry ride to Martha’s Vineyard.  We haven’t been to MV in a few years, so they were especially excited.

Kids being silly on the ferry. on Twitpic

The kids were so excited, they even suspended their normal fighting for a sweet brother-sister bonding moment:

An image that will never happen again on this trip. on Twitpic

Weather reports warned of stormy weather for the next several days, which proved to be the case.  We were trapped inside our beachfront rental for the first three days of the trip.

Still not beach weather. But watching the choppy ocean from a... on Twitpic

The days indoors proved to be good for the adults, as it gave us all a chance to get to know each other better.  It may have been a bit too much togetherness for the kids, as arguments and conflicts escalated over just about everything.

Finally, the weather broke!

Today's view: warmer weather, calmer seas! on Twitpic

It was still not beach weather, so we took the kids to the YMCA in Vineyard Haven for a swim, followed by ice cream at Mad Martha’s.

"My life is so freaking good," she said to herself... on Twitpic

The weather continued to improve.
The boats are back out on the water. on Twitpic

We finally had a beach day!  My son was very excited to be out in the water.
Fun at the beach. on Twitpic

My daughter?  Eh, not so much.
Meanwhile, she won't leave her towel. on Twitpic

As for me, I was pretty happy to be out in the sun.
Another one. on Twitpic

We grownups got to enjoy some after-hours fun at Lola’s, where black folks on MV go to dance, drink and relax.  Lola’s DJs are a little too fond of slide/cha cha/shuffle-type group instructional dances for my tastes.  I had fun laughing at the dance floor drill seargeants leading the way.

We have two days left before our drive back to New York.  We’ll probably hit the lobster roll sale at Grace Church in Vineyard Haven, and I may drive up-island tomorrow.  I’ll update this post with more pictures if I get some good ones.  All in all, it’s been a great vacation!

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The Montana Problem

August 20, 2010

For weeks, gossip sites and blogs have reported the news that Laurence Fishburne’s daughter Montana has decided to seek her fortune in the world by becoming a porn star.

It seems ludicrous for the daughter of a distinguished actor to decide to become a porn star.  However, in the abstract, I believe a woman has the right to choose to — as opposed to being exploited into — become a porn actor.  At BasseyworldLive NYC, I made the shocking but not controversial statement that “19 is old enough to decide you wanna suck dick for a living.”

However, the matter of Montana Fishburne can’t be viewed in the abstract. Ms. Fishburne’s judgment, thought processes and executive functioning skills appear to be too compromised, to put it kindly,for her to have made a rational career choice.

First, her rationale for going into porn was side eye worthy: “I’ve watched how successful Kim Kardashian became and I think a lot of it was due to the release of her sex tape.”

No one disputes that Kim Kardashian’s sex tape with Ray J jump-started whatever it is you would call her career.  But likewise, no one believes there’s a chance in hell Montana Fishburne can parlay doing outright porn videos — as opposed to a “leaked” sex tape with a boyfriend — into a legitimate mainstream career of any sort.  Tilly the amorous killer whale has a better shot at being the next Kim Kardashian than Montana does.  Danielle Belton, aka The Black Snob, explains it better than I care to in her post about Montana Fishburne.

Montana’s latest nonsense comes again by way of TMZ, which reports that Fishburne is seeking to halt distribution of a porn video, “Phattys Rhymes and Dimes 14,” because it contains a scene with her and wannabe rapper/porn actor Brian Pumper.   Fishburne claims Pumper did not obtain a release to use the material in his video.

According to TMZ, Fishburne says Pumper was helping her “practice” for her big debut with Vivid Entertainment, but the footage wasn’t supposed to be sold.

Blink. blink.

Say what?

Since when do you need to rehearse for a porn video?  Even assuming there is a legitimate need to check angles and lighting before shooting a porn scene, isn’t it possible to do so without capturing a full performance on tape?  Montana gets the extreme side eye for falling for “you need to practice fucking on camera.”

This lawsuit epitomizes why the whole Montana Fishburne saga feels like a tragedy in the making.

Some have said she’s being rebellious. Others say she has daddy issues. In her tape with Pumper announcing her porn debut, she has been described as “looking out of it” and possibly being impaired.

Even if we assume Montana Fishburne is simply a 19 year old woman with a healthy sexual appetite, a desire to be a porn actress, and unfortunate acne scars on her behind, something seems off.  Something just isn’t right there.

And so, while I stand behind my statement about a 19-year-old woman having the right to choose a career in porn, I can’t embrace THIS particular 19 year old’s choices.  Montana Fishburne doesn’t need rah-rah “you go girl for embracing your sexuality!”  Instead, it appears she needs help.  

Whatever is going on in her relationship with her parents, and especially her father, I hope they are able to resolve their differences in private.  Montana Fishburne needs counseling: psychological counseling AND career counseling.

Otherwise, the next time we see her, it will be on Celebrity Rehab.

Los Lonely Lesbos

August 13, 2010

Women Chatting
As some of you may know, in addition to my day job and my blogging, I also co-host a Blog Talk Radio show with author Michele Grant and financial empowerment specialist Yvonne Bynoe.  The show focuses on empowering women to live their best lives by, among other things, taking charge of their emotional and financial health.

We don’t pretend to be everyone’s favorite cup of tea.  In the past, we’ve received negative commentary and constructive criticism, which is both welcome and expected. 

But a recent letter floored us all:

OneChele, Carolyn & Yvonne,

I listened to your radio show Wednesday night and I was really disappointed that you are encouraging people to leave their wives and husbands. AND you seemed to be laughing about it.

If the three of you want to push your lonely lesbo agenda, I don’t think you should market it as empowering women to be their best selves. Carolyn was a little too happy to tell stories about emasculating her ex-husband, Yvonne seemed angry and I guess Michele is way too stuck-up and old-fashioned for this century.

Although your finance and life lessons were okay, the good stuff was buried under too much agenda pushing. Anyway, I only listened on a lark. I won’t listen again.

Good luck,

Woman Not Impressed in Sedona

My first reaction — after I literally laughed out loud — was to tell Michelle and Yvonne that if I ever started an all-girl rock band, I would name it the Lonely Lesbo Agenda.  Los Lonely Lesbos also has a nice ring.

Really though, the conflation of “woman self-empowerment” with “lesbian” is disturbing.

During the program, we responded, rather vociferously, to a woman who wanted to know what was wrong with paying money to get and keep a man, because competition  out there is fierce.  We suggested she spend her money instead on a clue.  At no point did we encourage her to expand her dating circle to include women.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Apparently Not Impressed in Sedona has the Seventh Sense: “I see gay people everywhere I look.”  

But her homophobic paranoia is unfortunately not uncommon.  Women who advocate female self-empowerment, who focus on encouraging women to use their own strength to get what they want instead of sublimating their gifts to the will of another, are often accused of being lesbians.

It would not devalue our  message one bit if Michelle Grant, Yvonne and I actually were lesbians.  But none of the lesbians I know have ever embarked on any sort of recruitment effort:  “Girl, that married-to-a-man thing didn’t work?  What you need is a good woman!” 

Maybe it’s because my lesbian friends have fought so hard for acceptance and the right to live and love according to their own choices, they’d never dare to try to impose an agenda on someone else.

If The New Lesbian = accepting responsibility for the choices and decisions you make and taking control over having the life you want — I’ll be that kind of lesbian.  All day.

That is, as long as I get to keep having sex with men.

Follow us on Twitter! @carolynedgar @YvonneBynoe @OneChele

To hear our last Blog Talk Radio show, follow this link:  http://bit.ly/a0CTQj

Do You Know Your Sleep Number?

August 10, 2010

Couple relaxing in bed

My Twitter friend @purplepeace79 Twitter-ranted recently about the notion that men view a woman differently if she’s slept with 50 men versus 5 men, and that this causes women to lie about their number.

At a certain point in your life, keeping track of the number of people you’ve had sex with is stupid.  Which is one of many reasons why I no longer do it.

When I was younger, I used to maintain lists naming the men I’d slept with.  It was cute for a while.  Each time I wrote down a name, I’d pause and indulge in a few sweet thoughts about our fun times together.

But then things got complicated.

In the beginning, I wanted to count every new experience.  However, when I left for college, some of those new experiences were being shared with people who were not my boyfriend back home.  That became a problem.  The goal shifted from recording every new sexual or quasi-sexual encounter to keeping as many people off that list as possible. 

Thinking like a lawyer long before I became one, I began questioning which experiences “counted” for purposes of the list.  Did making out with that guy at that fraternity party count?  Did it count if we went back to his room and, someone was, um, serviced?  What if the service was reciprocal?

My answer to all of the above was No.  Except I was stupid enough to write about the encounters in my journal.  My boyfriend read my journal and confronted me about cheating. 

I denied what I’d written.

“What are you going to believe?  What I’m telling you now or some bullshit I wrote in a diary?  And if anyone’s betrayed anyone’s trust here, it’s you!  How dare you read my personal journals and invade my privacy like that!”

It worked.  He bought my story.  The downside?   I stopped keeping journals.

Eventually there were experiences I didn’t care to record, situations I wished not to remember — worse than just the failures and the embarrassments.

Did the guy who date raped me earn a spot on my list?  Did I have to count the guy who lied and told his frat he did when he didn’t?  What about that almost-rape when I was alone on vacation?  Did my own behavior in these situations make them count? 

The list became, as Jo Nubian calls it, my ho tape, that voice that told me I was wrong for having the sex I’d had with the people I’d had it with, and for daring to enjoy any of it.

It also dawned on me that if a boyfriend could pick up a personal journal and read it, he could also come across a random sheet of paper with fiftyeleven dudes’ names on it and guess what it was.

So I found and burned all of the lists.  In time, the distinctions between what did and did not “count” blurred in my mind.  I forgot what wasn’t memorable.  I lost count, not because there were actually fiftyeleven dudes’ names on the list, but because the experiences and what I learned from them came to matter more than numbers. 

When I first met my ex, he wanted to know how many men I’d had before him.  I told him he was ridiculous. “You knew I wasn’t a virgin when you met me.”

He did some fairly sloppy due diligence, and confronted me with stories he’d heard.  Everything had been so mangled in the retelling, I could say with a straight face that none of it was true.  I honestly (and naively) didn’t see what difference it made.  He boasted about his ho exploits, so I told him to get real about mine.

It didn’t quite work that way, of course.  He threw the things he’d heard up in my face, regardless of truth or accuracy.  But the most damaging story was the one I told him: the story about the one that got away.  The one-who-got-away story confirmed what he had long suspected — that I was with him, but I didn’t love him.  

I was faithful for the close to ten years we were together.  No close calls, no judgment calls.  But my ex never stopped looking around the corner for the boogeyman: the man I wanted, who was not the man I had.

I was faithful to my ex, and I stayed celibate for a number of years after my divorce. 

So as far as I’m concerned,  I re-virginalized.  The clicker has been reset. 

I’m still not keeping count, though.  My sleep number is my business.  Each and every one of those experiences – good, bad, tragic, indifferent, and everything in between — made me who I am.  I don’t know the actual count, but I am no longer ashamed of it.   It’s irrelevant.

Besides, if any man asks me “how many” at this point in my life, I’ll assume he wants to make sure his name never gets added to my count.

BasseyworldLive

August 10, 2010

I had the pleasure this past weekend of participating in BasseyworldLive — the greatest staged entertainment ever produced.

I’m almost serious about this.

I can’t recap BasseyworldLive in a way that would do it justice, so I won’t bother.  First, the lovely Bassey Ikpi performed some of her beautiful poetry, including poems about Phyllis Hyman, Lauryn Hill and Britney Spears.

The rest of the evening was a perfect mix of highbrow and lowbrow.  Authors Helena Andrews (“Bitch Is the New Black”) and Aliya S. King (“Platinum”) talked about their books.  Panelists (including yours truly) ranted about things that excite the Twitterverse, such as new YouTube sensation Antoine Dodson and Fishburne-daughter-turned-misguided-aspiring-porn-actress Montana.

If we could bottle the highbrow/lowbrow formula, we’d own Hollywood.

Truth is, educated folks enjoy getting ratchet.  That’s why Judd Apatow and Ben Stiller are so successful. It’s why Twitter can be so great, when folks aren’t taking themselves too seriously.

Blunt, coarse, smart humor wins every time.

So while I can’t describe BasseyworldLive, I can say I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of it.

Oh, and my red shoes kicked ass.

Boy Emotions and Girl Maintenance

August 3, 2010

Happier times, when the kids were much younger

As soon as you mention you have a girl child above the age of seven, people start giving you those wary, knowing looks. “Ooh, you have a tween,” they say.

What they really mean is, “Ooh, you’re about to deal with girl puberty.”

The shaming of female sexuality begins with the notion that pre-pubescent and pubescent girls are horrible creatures.  They are full of sass and hormones.  They cry at the drop of a hat.  They develop these terrible weapons called breasts and menstrual cycles.  The image of their sweet little girls metamorphosing into a raging, crying, bleeding monster in an A cup has caused many moms and dads to mourn their daughters’ maturity into womanhood.

I’ve been through girl puberty.  My daughter hit puberty very early, starting at age 8.  And no, it wasn’t fun.  Yes, she was sassy; yes, she cried at the drop of a hat; yes, she was difficult.

But she has always been all of those things.  I’d be lying if I said I saw a difference in her behavior that I could attribute to puberty.  The sassiness has intensified, but her basic personality has not changed.

Puberty simply provided a rationale for my daughter’s acting out.  I could look at a mom who was watching her sass me in H&M, mouth, “puberty,” and get that knowing, sympathetic nod.  Little did the mom know that she’s been sassing me since she was 4.

I was overprepared for girl puberty, but I am completely under-prepared for boy puberty.

No one — except mothers of boys who are going through or have gone through puberty — tells you that boy puberty is much, much worse than girl puberty.  That boys’ hormone-triggered emotional outbursts are scary because they are personality-changing.  No one tells you that pre-pubescent boys also will cry — or scream, or fly into a rage — at the drop of a hat.

No one tells you that watching your sweet, unflappable little boy become vicious and violent, is way worse than watching your daughter become a more mature version of the bitch she was when she was born.

My son is 9, and the beginning stages of puberty are upon him.  Deodorant is a must.  Everything upsets him.  I mentioned my late mom the other day, and he burst into tears.  “I wonder if Grandma can see me from Heaven and if she’s proud of me,” he sobbed.

“Oh, good grief,” said his sister.

In a split second, grief turned to rage. “YOU. CUT. IT. OUT!!!” he screamed at her.

“What’s his problem?” she asked me.

I rolled my eyes at her.  “Shush!”

I had to hug my son and assure him that Grandma is indeed proud of him and always will be.  I told my daughter to stop being an insensitive ass.  I went and got myself a glass of wine while they battled it out.

I’m too old for this shit.

Before pre-puberty, nothing ever bothered my son. His sister would needle and needle him, vainly trying to get a rise out of him and frustrating herself in the process.

No more.

Now, they’re both sensitive and emotional.  They both overreact to and fight about everything.  In the midst of their epic battles, I tune them out and fantasize about running off to a villa in Spain, where Fernando attends to my every need.

On the rare occasions when they get along, I get a glimpse of the relationship I hope they have when they’re older. At the root of it, he is still very sweet, and she’s a lionness.  She will cut you to protect what’s hers.  And he’s hers.

Actually, my daughter is the easier one sometimes, as long as I’m spending money on her and her new “needs.” Weekly manicures and pedicures.  A monthly yoga membership.  Hair appointments.  Eyebrow threading.  I not-so-jokingly asked her if she wanted a bikini wax.

“No, I don’t want a naked mole rat, thank you.”

Naked mole rat?  A waxed vagina looks like a naked mole rat?  Have you ever SEEN a naked mole rat? *shudders*

I give it another year before she’s begging me for bikini waxes.  In two, she’ll want vajazzling.

I hope my son’s pre- pre-puberty personality returns when his body adjusts to the flood of hormones.  Until then, hope I survive this.

Too Thirsty to Drink, Too Hungry to Eat

August 1, 2010

This post is for all the women who find themselves back in the dating game after a hiatus for any reason.  Whether you’re divorced or just ended a long-term relationship, voluntarily took yourself out for self-imposed celibacy, to find yourself, or to focus on school/work/career/grinding – this is for you.

No matter how long it’s been, whether five months, five years, or somewhere in between – at some point, the desire to be desired will return.  It may have been easy to rebuff those advances while you were healing or working, but eventually, you will come to a point where you want to be wanted again.

That’s when you are the most vulnerable, and need to be the most careful.

When you’re in high school and the college recruiting brochures start flooding your inbox, you rarely apply to the first college you get material from.  The first college knows its chances of landing top recruits are slim.  It knows the Harvards and Yales will be recruiting you as well.  So the first college gets its material out to you early, hoping your own expectations are low enough to be lured in by a glossy brochure.

If you have your sights set high, you pretty much ignore those first brochures.  You smile at the pictures of the grassy, tree-lined campus.  You read the personal letter from the college president and wonder who wrote and signed it.

But you keep checking your mailbox for materials from your top 5 and top 10 schools.

We are not always as selective with men, especially after a long drought.

The first guy who comes along after a period of abstinence is like that first school.  He makes his move early, hoping to beat the others he knows must be waiting in line.  He expects to be rejected, and hopes you’ll at least be nice about it.

But often, we are so thirsty for attention, so hungry for admiration, and so full of sexual desire, we jump on him.

We take that call from that ex we’d ignore if we were already sated.  We swoon over a text from a clown we’d normally side eye.  We overlook things we’d never overlook under normal circumstances.

We start acting desperate.

As blogger @OneChele said in a recent post on her Black ‘n Bougie blog, men get suspicious of the rabbit that jumps into the pot and waits to be cooked.  They expected to work harder.  They now wonder what’s wrong with you, because you were too easy to catch.  And, emboldened by their success with you, they move on to the next conquest.

Meanwhile, there you are, all dazed and confused, broken of heart and spirit over a man you wouldn’t even want if your usual standards were in place.

Another thing we often fail to do when we’re too hungry or thirsty, is check the danger signs.  When a man starts telling you what’s wrong with him, listen.  “I’m easily distracted,” he says.  That means he’s still chasing other women.  If you’re not cool with that, run, Forrest, run!

I recently had a chat with a guy on Match.  He seemed nice enough, but over the course of a 20-minute chat convo, he threw up enough roadblocks to stop traffic on the NJ Turnpike.  First, his height – he’s short, and I indicated a preference for taller guys in my profile.  Then his profession (bus driver), sports affiliations (Mets)…on and on.  I told him during the chat that I would keep an open mind, but afterwards, my gut told me no.  This man spent the better part of 20 minutes telling me why I shouldn’t date him.  OK, dude, you win.  I’m convinced.  No soup for you.

It’s hard to resist eating the first greasy burger that comes along when you’re starving.  If you can have a few bites, enough to satisfy that hunger without making you sick, go ahead and indulge.  Just don’t try to turn every greasy burger into a boyfriend.  If you know you’d try to turn that morsel into a meal – decline.  Everyone will be better off.