Thursday, October 18, 2007

music moves me

to laugh, and sing, and cry. i sat dining with my aunt by the bay in san pedro, and as we were conversing, i lost my train of thought. my ears were filled with music. it had been nothing but background noise, until this song. the chords made my insides churn and my heart want to break. there has to be a science to the construction of a song. there must be something in the movements, the arrangement, the sharps and flats and crescendoing moments that evoke such emotions. i was perfectly happy, until i heard this song. the harmonies composed using those minor chords made my chest ache. i wanted to curl into a ball in my mother's lap (all the way in new mexico) and cry.

the eerie strain "be-cauuuuuse the sky is makes me cryyyyyy becaaaaaause, the bluuuuuue" wafting over the restaurant's stereo system sent chills down my spine. i remembered this song. it was playing when i saw cirque du soliel in las vegas. love. at the mirage. it had the same effect on me then. i felt as though i could turn myself inside out with sadness, and would still be unable to escape the haunting melody. so instead i sat transfixed by the contorting dancers as i embraced the unexpected rawness in my heart.

i have never been able to sit through an entire symphony without wanting to cry. especially the requiems. as the music swells and the chorus comes in, the timpanys rolling, i am on the edge of my seat, involuntarily clutching the program and i can feel my heart as it beats faster. one of my favorite movie soundtracks is the last of the mohicans, and i don't even like yanni, but the theme song gives me goosebumps.

i began playing the clarinet when i was in the fourth grade, and the first time i had the pleasure of going to see real musicians play in a grand symphony hall, i was hooked. i have since had a great appreciation for well built theaters with good acoustics that let you feel the music, be engulfed by it. it has been much too long. i think i know what i am going to do this weekend. hello symphony, my dear old friend, i did not realize how much i missed you...

Thursday, October 4, 2007

bitter biker syndrome

i love riding my bike to work, the entire half mile commute. it takes me less than 5 minutes to get there if i catch the light just right. i go home everyday for lunch, and sometimes, catch a quick cat nap. i am helping the environment, saving on gas money, and getting a bit (albeit a very tiny bit) of exercise. so why am i bitter? i am bitter at the tax credits for people who buy hybrid vehicles. it just doesn't seem fair. yes, it is a delayed response, the credit was enacted 2 years ago. yes i know, cry me a river, but logic should dictate that anyone who does their due diligence to ease the burden on the environment should be eligible for some sort of tax break.

granted, there are some challenges in proving that you do indeed bike to work, but what of all the commuters who take public transportation and have a monthly pass of some sort? they are helping unclog the highways for all of those hybrid vehicles. i am going to lobby for a bikers tax credit! all of those hard peddling men and women deserve to be acknowledged in some way. after all, not only are they being "green," but also easing the burden on the health care system, working out is the best preventative medicine. people who work out should get a break for that too, or at least a reduction in their health insurance premiums, i should start a letter writing campaign to my local senator...

life is just not fair. woe is me. now i retire to wallow in my sorrow.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

the china recall: don't believe the hype

consider this: the US has a multi-billion dollar trade deficit with china. add to that the fact that china has had a ban on american beef since the mad cow "epidemic" and you have what is shaping up to be quite an interesting exercise in the US media and government propaganda machine.

for the past month i have listened to and read countless stories about the chinese recalls and the lack of safety standards there, etc. etc. etc. meanwhile, US companies continue to outsource jobs to countries where the cost of labor is cheaper. this could get very ugly. what better way to force china to lift it's ban on beef and bring jobs back to the US where it's "safe" than to begin a scare campaign against the "made in china" label. i mean hey, it worked with iraq! they didn't even have weapons, and just the implication that they might, that the "smoking gun might be a mushroom cloud" was enough to send this country into a fear induced tizzy that is now a trillion dollar failed war.

china makes 70 percent of the world's toys. of the hundreds of millions of dollars in sales, a nine million dollar recall is not even a drop in the bucket. think about that. there have been MUCH larger recalls from american made toys (i will need to research and cite here but i don't have time to do so right now). not to mention that the latest recall of the magnet based polly pocket etc. has nothing to do with the manufacturing and EVERYTHING to do with the engineering and design. where was it designed? the US. so we should blame china for building to spec? the last time I checked, the law didn't work that way.

i am so tired of people not thinking and just buying into any and everything just because it was on the news. i for one, am NOT buying into the propaganda machine. my beef is not with china, i'll leave that to the cattle industry.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

great buys

sometimes, there are perks and benefits to being a woman of color in arizona. typically, I go to COSTCO with a preset list so that I do not get sucked into bulk buying (i chuckle every time i think of the bernie mac episode) but sometimes you see an item that is just too sweet a deal to pass up. today, on my monthly pilgrimage to COSTCO, i saw such an item:

what made it such an incredible buy?? i will leave it to you to spot the pricing differential...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

it's been too long

since last i wrote a post. i try not to do this too often, but i am about to discriminate. if you are sensitive about weight, DO NOT READ THIS POST. i am about to go on a rant.

for some reason while cruising youtube last night, i came accross a video of american idol jordin sparks being heavily criticized about her weight on fox news by meme roth. in keeping with that theme, this morning on npr, i heard a story about retailers attempting to capitalize on the rapidly growing market for the obese dollar. 2/3 of the american adult population is considered to be clinically over weight...

now i don't think that meme roth was reasonable in attacking jordin (i think she's adorable and well within the confines of manageble weight), however, i am a strong advocate for healthy lifestyle choices and accountability. i do not like obesity. i do not mean pleasantly plump, i am talking "big medicine" heavy. the morbidly obese, excessively overweight, requiring 2 seats on a plane and a walker to get out of bed in the morning. this is an epedimic.

what i want to know is: at what point does a person wake up 400 pounds overweight? that doesn't just creep up on you overnight. it takes years. the site caters to those with weight problems so severe that they need special aids, such as the $80 toe nail clippers that extend so you don't have to , $300 heavy duty 500 lb capacity scale, and the list goes on.

i am not saying that overwieght people do not deserve to have a market that caters to them, but when i am eating healthy, working out, and paying ridiculous health insurance premiums for other people's bad habits, i have a right to say "put down that burger and take a walk around the block!" sadly by that time, they might need a crane to get up. yes i sound like an insensitive ass, and i will admit that this is one area where i have very little sympathy. i hate that we coddle people so much in this country. china just executed their ex-food and drug safety chief for taking bribes in exchange for approving unsafe medicine, how's that for accountability?? and no, i don't want to live in china, but we can't even send a liar to jail (well, aside from lil kim).

when will we stop blaming everyone else for our shortcomings and start owing our mistakes...and their consequences. there is no fat pill that will zap 300 pounds, gastric bypass is not a cure for bad eating habits, and liposuction will not prevent your fat thighs from getting fat again. lord help me if see another promise to lose 30 lbs in 30 days, did it take you 30 days to put it on? in the words of the great Al Bundy "It's not the dress that makes you look fat, it's the FAT that makes you look fat!" so maybe mo'nique was right, maybe skinny b*tches are evil, but being overweight is just not healthy, no matter how happy you are with being big and beautiful.

Monday, May 7, 2007

the little things

i am a people watcher. not in a creepy way that makes someone feel uncomfortable, moreso an observatory way that is not intrusive. i especially enjoy couples. the subtle intimacy of two people who share a romantic interest makes me smile.

today while i was eating lunch, i saw one such couple. i noticed them when they walked in. they had an aura of positive energy. they passed my table when they were being seated. i liked how the man placed his hand (ever so lightly) on the small of the woman's back to guide her toward the table, pulling her chair out as though it were second nature. their lunch was a series of these familiar exchanges and i found myself drawn to the comfort of their interaction. i think it was the implied history that intruiged me. knowing that they'd grown accustom to the rythm of one another's speech-- the space between words, inevitable pauses, the punctuation of a smile. He silently predicting that she would order the same thing, just like she always did every time they came to this restaurant, even though she always said she would try something new. She anticipating the exact moment when he would systematically clean each utensil with the extra napkin that she knew he would ask the waitress for. things they could only know because they knew each other.

these moments in life are my secret pleasures. the daddy who lovingly brushes a stray hair from his baby girl's cheek. two friends giggling as a look that only they can interperet passes between them. in this cold world of strangers, i search for glimpses of humanity. the couple in the restaurant did not speak english, but love needs no interpreter. with the constant barrage of negativity it is easy to forget how much good still exists, it's what keeps me grounded. no matter what storms rage externally, to quote india arie, "ain't nothin in the whole wide world like the peace that i have found, in the little things, and the joy they bring."

peace and love to you all -- gary bartz.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

information overload

isn't it crazy how you can become attached to inanimate objects as though they were living breathing things? this past weekend i finally got around to building my new computer...well, actually, i bought the parts and my friend from work built it for me, i just handed him stuff.

the new computer is so much faster, sleeker and quieter...and, empty. after he built it, i looked in the case and said "is that all?" what had happened to all of the extra crap? the cables, the sound card, the "guts" of the computer? consolidated on the motherboard. remember back in the day when people had to take a stack of punched cards to a room where the computer was (and it literally took up the entire room) and load them (in sequence) then wait for hours while it executed? well, neither do i, but that's how it used to be.

these days, you get more bang for your buck. more space, more memory, faster processor, and while it would seem that those things should buy you more time, they only serve to ciphon away what little that you do. mobile devices and the need for constant information stimulus keep us coming back for more. i think my attention span has been cut in half in the last year or so. i am the queen of multi-tasking. i cannot recall the last time i actually did ONE thing at a time. i think it actually makes me uncomfortable. i am usually talking on my lan line while texting on my cell, blogging on my computer, youtubing videos, and a host of other things. when will the insanity end??

it is an actual prerequisite that whenever i stay in a hotel, there must be internet access. i do not travel without my laptop. it is fair to say, i am addicted. my "quiet" time is when i am flying. this is when i read, journal...think. it isn't that i don't do those things when i am at home, it's just that it takes me much longer to get around to doing them. my scrapbooking projects lay haphazardly strewn about my living room floor, and the beep of my text message alert is a constant source of interruption while writing.

i think i will resolve to schedule weekly quiet time, no phone, no internet, just me and my thoughts, a good book, my journal...then, maybe i'll slow down long enough to catch up with myself.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

the resurrection

as this easter sunday comes to a close, i find myself deep in thought. as a child, i saw a re-enactment of the crucifiction that haunted me for years. i didn't understand what was going on, and that night, i had an awful dream that the Roman's were coming to crucify me. i have since developed an understanding of the meaning of easter. now, i think about rebirth. this easter, i have seen the resilliance of love. despite the baggage that we accumulate from one relationship to the next, people can sometimes overcome themselves in order to truly experience happiness. i am appreciative of the lesson, i am thankful for profound realizations, and i am hopeful that time really does heal all wounds.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

you know you're ghetto when...

this morning, i was driving to work, and i heard an interview on NPR about a new book out called ghetto nation:a journey into the land of bling and home of the shameless. it immediately rubbed me the wrong way. why? because it reminded me of a party invite i'd received:

Wine and Cheese Party!

I can't figure out voting buttons on this one, but I'd really like your opinion on whether or not this will be "Traditional" or "Non-Traditional" (a.k.a. "Ghetto"). "Traditional" will be dress-up (semi-casual?) and "Non-Traditional" will be dress-down ghetto style. Whichever has the most votes will be the one we do. (There's also a floating suggestion of "Ghetto Wine & Cheese", which entails boxed wine, Boone's Farm, Velveeta cheese, Kraft singles, if that's what you prefer.) I'll update all the "Accepts/Tentatives" next week once this has been figured out.

To which i replied:

Good afternoon all,

Let me preface this by saying that I am sure no harm was meant by this email, however, I feel the need to respond because I was somewhat offended by it. The use of the term "ghetto" is typically inferring "black" or more appropriately the ignorant stereotypes perpetrated by mainstream media that have come to be widely accepted as being representative of what it means to be "black," and as a conscious African American woman, I would prefer that these ideas, thoughts and notions are not allowed to be continually spread. Some may think that I am over reacting, however, when you read "dress-down ghetto style" what exactly is implied? What you have seen in music videos is not representative of who we are as a people and to caricature that stereotype is no better than the performers who wore black face in the day of the minstrel show. It is time that people start to be aware of their words and think about what may seem harmless and fun, and how that may be perceived by people of another culture/race, etc. Furthermore, to describe the type of food associated as "ghetto"..." Boone's Farm, Velveeta cheese, Kraft singles" all things associated as low class, cheap, and tacky, I was just disappointed.

I have to reiterate that I am sure that no one on this list had any bad intentions whatsoever, however, that is when it is most dangerous/hurtful, because it was completely unintentional. Thanks for listening, I mean no offense, I just felt it necessary to call it on the carpet.

a friend of mine summed up my feelings on the issue perfectly when he said:

Aside from the obviously polarizing juxtaposition of the term ghetto and
the stigma of sophitication associated with a damn wine tasting, they make said
class bias even more obvious when coupling the term ghetto with non-traditional
and name dropping obviously unfitting brands for a wine tasting.

During the interview, the author gave the following examples for "ghetto":

  • naming your child after your favorite brand name product "lexus, cartier, etc."

  • adding 'ed' to words that are already conjugated properly such as 'tasteded'

She proceeded to describe a portion of her research where she "went to malls and talked with teenagers about what it meant to be ghetto" and went on to state that ghetto is not race, or class specific, "martha stuart and paris hilton can be just as ghetto as lil kim or nelly, ghetto is a state of mind." she described it as "the glorification of the negative or underwhelming." she then went on to relate the tale of a young boy she had seen who just looked "different" from the other children in a brooklyn ghetto, and ignorant to the clothing trends, she couldn't quite place what it was, and it turned out that the boy was "poor and his parents were living within their means, you don't see that a lot." i could go on and on about this interview, but you should just listen to it yourself and be the judge. i feel like ms. daniels got it all wrong, but then again, maybe i should read the book.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

finally...a Black disney princess

About a month ago, I sent an email out to some friends of mine:

Thought this was really interesting, a friend sent it, and for me, I thought of the wildly popular Barbie movies that have been put out that my neice loves so much, but there are never any princesses of color. makes me that much more determined to make Black children feel beautiful by presenting them with positive reinforcement and images of themselves that say they are good and worthwhile, and matter.

and followed up to a friend of mine who knows some local media:

i have decided that i want to write a letter to mattel, but i want someone there who actually matters to read it. how to do to make a company recognize the importance of representing everyone? there has to be a way to get some sort of media attention...but how? where? do we know anyone in the news who can make a story about it and tie in to the brown vs. board and this new documentary? i mean mattel has HUGE distribution and those barbie videos are everywhere! they make a span of barbies in the color wheel, but none of those dolls ever get to be main characters in the movies...not even bit parts.

so imagine my shock and happiness when i saw this story on cnn:

wow. as a child, it was my dream to be an animator, i used to draw books of animated characters and wanted to send them to disney, and it always broke my heart that year after year and movie after movie, there were never any princesses who looked like me. i am happy today.

Friday, March 23, 2007

a waste of time?

i have been neglecting my blog, but not without good reason. i try to write only when i feel that i have something remotely interesting to share, although that is debatable...

i am very late on this one, this song has been out for quite some time, but about a month ago, i heard wouldn't get far. at first, i was taken aback by the lyrics. i thought "what an ignorant song to make, how much more will women take??" i watched a hip hop documentary that aired on PBS a couple of weeks (or was it months?) ago, and it broached the topic of mysogeny in hip hop. i remember thinking at the time that women should take more ownership of their image(s) and voice(s), which got me to thinking about "exploitation."

there is no black and white here, the whole thing is one giant gray area. the industry demands sex, it sells. as long as the demand exists, so will the supply. it wouldn't matter if one girl walked off of a video set refusing to appear scantily clad, there would be 100 more willing to take her place. how can men respect women if women don't respect themselves? but why should men disrespect women, regardless of how they represent themselves? why is it ever acceptable that any man's excuse for acting out of turn would be "you saw how she was dressed, she was asking for it." and then there is the age old double standard: a promiscuous woman is viewed differently than a promiscuous man. i think in the end, it boils down to who has the power.

the person in the position to wield control over the outcome of someone elses "success" has the potential to exploit. yet, anyone who compromises themselves to get what they want, and then makes excuses for the reasons, is delusional. i don't buy "i had no other choice." it's a needs versus wants, and we live in a society that values material things. a person needs food, shelter, and a means of income. what they don't need is caviar, a mansion on the hills, and a multi-million dollar salary. some people want fame, fortune, and excess, and they will do whatever it takes to get a piece of the action.

i suppose when all is said and done, the game wrote a song that is blunt and truthful. as much as the women are indicted for using their femeninity to make it, men are equally as responsible. after all, if sex wasn't currency with them, it wouldn't be used as a form of payment.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

what you won't do (for love)

there are very few things in this life worth driving one-thousand miles in depends so you don't have to stop for a bathroom break, but apparently, love is one of them. in hearing the story of lisa marie novak, i couldn't help but to wonder just what makes us cross that delicate line from in love to crazy.

i will be the first to admit that i have done some very embarrassing things "in the name of love," but i am going to go out on a limb and say that none of them could ever be considered de-ranged. there are countless movies made about people who have transitioned (from in love to crazy): sleeping with the enemy, the babysitter, and my all time favorite fatal attraction , to name only a few.

i have this theory about lies and expectations. we lie to ourselves about what we really want in order to lower our expectations and avoid being hurt. we think that if we tell our lie enough, that eventually, it will become the truth. we may even believe it, but usually, we are only fooling ourselves. that's the thing about denial, everyone else can see what's going on. i think that people snap because the lie is confronted with a truth so undeniable that all of the buried emotions surface, and they don't know how to handle it. not everyone is crazy enough to drive cross country to kidnap someone, but we all try to regain control in some way. we go on a diet, change our clothes, cut our hair, move, get a new job...anything that gives us the power over a situation to combat the area in our lives where we feel inept and helpless.

honesty is the best policy. i think that once we have accepted the situation, and the fact that we may have no control over it, we are less likely to have an adverse reaction...well, unless you were just crazy to begin with, and then, drugs. drugs, a white coat, and very nice people will show you to your room.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

obama for president?

as much as i love the man...not in 2008.

i have been on both sides of the fence, debating myself about the pros and cons of senator obama running in the upcoming presidential election, and i have come to the conclusion that it is too soon. while i think that he is an extremely charismatic and talented individual, i am hesitant to sign off on a person with so little experience in the national political arena. i would prefer to see him finish out his term in the senate, have a track record, and get some time on the hill before making a bid for the presidency.

do not think that i would not support him if he did make it through the democratic primaries. maybe it is my fear that obama's bright star could be extinguished should he make too hasty a decision and do too much too soon. i have refrained from reading (what i know has to be) the countless news stories, blogs, etc. regarding this issue because i want my response to be genuine and not tainted by what i have read elsewhere. what i am about to admit is going to make me vulnerable, but so be it...

i do not hold very many people in high regard, least of all politicians. barack obama gives me hope. i know that the man is not perfect, politics is a dirty game, but something about him makes me believe that all is not lost, that unity can prevail, and that maybe, just maybe this country can redeem itself from the downward spiral it has entered. perhaps it is naive of me to pin so many hopes to a single man, and this is probably why i am so guarded. it is like finding love the second time around, you proceed with extreme caution, and every step toward admitting that you feel and giving in to being vulnerable makes you open to pain. it is easier to be not care, to be safe. it is when you become involved that you start to have something to lose.

i used to be this glowing optomist, with a save the world mentality and i see everyday that i have become more jaded in all aspects of my life, and that is hard to accept and even harder to admit. i want to care and to love, and to be invested, but i don't want to have my hopes dashed and come crashing down with disappointment. this is why so many things in my life are further from the path i intended to take. if i do something that i don't care about, it doesn't hurt me if things don't come to fruition because i have very little emotional capital involved.

the person inside of me who dares to dream, wants nothing more than to see barack obama run, win and succeed, but the logical pragmatic person that has taken over would rather see a solid successful career as a senator *maybe* followed by a presidential bid *if* everything is in place. but who is to say that barack obama's time is not now? who is to say that this tide that is so strong in his direction could not turn in the next 4 years, and what if all of the elements that have built him up to this moment, his moment, never come again? maybe i should just sit back and see how this plays out...keep my cards in my hand and play it safe, but that little glimmer inside of me, the person i used to be is sitting in the back of my mind, holding her breath, and praying. you see, *she* has the hope.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

linda stasi is an idiot.

in her recent article in the new york post, linda stasi attacked oprah for spending $40 million to build a school for girls in south africa using the argument that there are too many children here in the U.S.A who needed that assistance:

"Yeah, I've about had it with you and anyone else who relates more to the country of their ancestors than with the USA where we were all were raised, fed and educated well enough to earn enough dough to run back "home" to lend these helping hands. "

first things first, oprah is a private citizen who can do with her money whatever she pleases. why isn't stasi attacking an administration who has cut funding to education, resisted pay increases to teachers, and consistently avoided taking action to curb the downward spiral of education as a whole? i find stasi's indignation sadly misplaced. the continent of africa, one of the wealthiest in natural resources, has long been plundered by the west with NO regard for the native inhabitants, why begrudge a school? it is the least that anyone in this country can do to help rebuild what our country tore asunder.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

bad advertising

a friend of mine had this photo in one of thier albums, and i thought...this has to be a joke, right? he's from california so my assumption is that the sign is depicting "caution! illegal immigrants."
for whatever reason, this brought to mind the old taco bell ad campaigns where the catchy "make a ruuuuun for the border!" jingle used to play at the close of each commercial. HOW did they get away with that???? i think that taco bell has single handedly had the most culturally insensitive advertising campaigns ever, and yet, i don't ever recall there being much backlash...i mean, remember the talking chihuahua with the accent? terrible.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

there is nothing to fear...

but fear itself. a friend of mine recently told me something that i didn't want to hear. and at the close of the conversation, the question posed was: "what are you so afraid of?"

at the time, i was aggravated, i felt like that was a question that didn't appropriately address what i was feeling, but in retrospect, it was a question that i needed to answer for myself. WHAT is it that i was so afraid of? change. i will admit that i am a creature of habit, and though i make small changes frequently, big changes are hard to come by, and are usually spurred by some external catalyst. so the question that i am asking myself in the new year is "what are you waiting for?"

it seems that i wait and wait for things in my life to happen, but why wait? as cliche as it may sound, tomorrow is not promised, and all too often, all that is really holding us is fear. so what's the worst that could happen, i mean, if i don't die, i'm still here to keep on living (obviously) so why not LIVE! that is my profound schpiel for 2007. i am not afraid anymore. bring on the change, i suppose the worst it can do is kill me ;-)