Shot Down

Yesterday during my morning commute, Russ Parr’s voice came through the radio, announcing that the Senate had failed to pass a bipartisan bill that would require background checks for would-be gun owners. The purpose of the bill is basically to prevent convicted felons and mentally ill persons from getting their hands on firearms. Of course, lobbying groups such as the NRA spun the bill to look like some contra-Constitutional law and hypothesized that such a law would lead to a national registry of gun owners. I am not at all surprised by the NRA-led propaganda.

I am, however, surprised at how cowardly and selfishly our Senate voted on the bill. No, I was saddened and enraged. I burst into tears. I started seeing all the perfect little faces of the first-graders who loss their lives in Newtown, CT just before Christmas. I recalled the dread I felt as a child after the shootings at Columbine High. I remembered mourning my college neighbors at Virginia Tech during the tail-end of my sophomore year of undergrad. I quietly spoke to Hadiya Pendleton — the 15-year-old girl who was killed back home in Chicago days after performing in the Inaugural parade — through prayer.

Now forgive me if I didn’t add correctly, that’s 71 victims. Actually, that’s 75 victims. I can’t forget the perpetrators of these various incidents who took their own lives after their brief “reigns of terror.” Let’s be clear — their acts were reprehensible. But be clear about another thing — anyone who would let loose on a bunch of innocent people clearly has mental problems GALORE. Maybe it’s the special education teacher in me, but I can’t dismiss anyone who has mental illness — especially when said illness goes undiagnosed, untreated, and/or unnoticed. And the fact that three of the four killers associated with these acts were children themselves? Even sadder.

I’m appalled that the issues these young men had were noted by many but addressed by none. I’m pissed off that anyone who’s clearly missing a few sandwiches from their picnic basket can get their hands on guns. A couple of days ago, our leaders had a chance to curb things like that from happening. Rather, they decided to bend to the will of the gun-enthusiasts who fund their campaigns (and probably line their pockets on the side, too.) The fact that any dollar amount or political victory can trump innocent lives makes me sick to my stomach. How could they do this?

As I write this, I think of all the people I know who’ve been killed by guns. Without thinking hard, four come to mind — three family friends and one high school classmate. I’m tearfully thinking of one of my closest cousins, just a few months older than I am, who will probably be behind bars until he’s middle-aged because of a non-fatal shooting he was involved in. How does a 16-year-old get a gun again?

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords summed up how I feel quite nicely yesterday. So, I won’t say much more. I will add, though, that when Ms. Giffords runs into the 46 dissenting assholes (I mean, Senators) who know all about what she’s been through — she should smack the shit out of them.

Advertisements

When Lightning Hits The Plane: Testing Out “No Fear”

The strength of spirit and character required to stand up against any force — worldly or supernatural — is no easy task.

I’m sure if you were to take the most “fearless” leaders we’ve ever known, and dig into their psyches, you’d be able to find a fear or two.

Sure, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, Joan of Arc and Ida B. Wells appeared fearless. At times, they may have even said, “I’m not afraid.” But I’m left wondering what led these extraordinary people to “no fear.”

MLK

Was it a burning desire to create lasting change in the world? Or, like Fannie Lou Hamer, was it just the result of “being sick and tired of being sick and tired?”

FannieLouHamer
When people say “no fear,” are they saying it to pump themselves up or to inspire others? Maybe both. Maybe that’s how they really feel, even if only for a moment.

Imagine your personal hero — beating the odds with nothing but sheer will, pummeling through adversity and opposition in every form. There’s no backing down, there’s no letting up. Victory has burned a permanent impression on the heart and soul. Nothing can put his or her purpose asunder.

MalcolmX

Now, imagine that same hero — leaping onto a chair in a single bound as his or her peripheral vision catches a mouse running across the floor.

mouse_scared

I’m not scared to be held in contempt in the court of public opinion and I really don’t concern myself with my own death, but if a centipede walks on my wall, a cockroach crosses my path, or a bee buzzes by my ear –> Usain Bolt.

Usain_Bolt

Some things you just don’t play with! Does this mean I have little faith in God? No, it means I’m a human being with moments of uncertainty. Sometimes, I feel unprepared, inadequate and unworthy. In those moments of self-doubt, fear may creep in.

I’m not proud of this, especially since I know fear is a bigger illusion that the greatest magician could ever conjure up.

But that’s my practical side speaking. That’s me at my best. That’s me when every single thing in life doesn’t seem to be going wrong. There are times, though, when I have to go beyond this human form to channel that resolute “no fear.”

You see, when I scream “no fear,” I’m proclaiming to the universe that I’ll do whatever is required. No fear doesn’t mean be foolish. I don’t need to go around blowing up beehives to prove I’m not afraid, but if a bee were to chase one of my toddling cousins, homie would be swatted with a vengeance — no questions asked.

Funny how we overcome our “fears” as necessary. That right there is the higher power empowering us to do what is required despite perceived constraints.

Is that not where our greatest heroes drew their strength from?

Gandhi

 

 

 

Survey Says…(Part II): Power

A couple of weeks ago, I reflected on a survey I’d taken with the girls in my advisory. At first, the survey was taking me down Obvious Avenue but ultimately routed me to “Oh Really?” Road. Talk about things that make you say “hmmm.”

I would swear up and down to anyone that security is a top priority for me — I need a job with benefits and money in my savings account just in case something goes awry. Yet, the survey said I am more of a “take it as it comes” person.

In contradiction, I also scored low on ‘adventure.’ And here I was thinking I was a wild child. Goes to show — just because you like ziplining, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re adventurous. Is this my wake-up call to take more risks? Look for excitement at every turn? Welcome the unusual? 

Don’t give me that look. I’m not going to rob any banks or turn into some kind of freak (probably) but I’m reminded to constantly welcome new and unique things into my life. It’s either that or start rockin’ bloomers under my mini-skirts.

On the other hand, I’m glad I’m no longer hung up on stability. With that, though, came the revelation that family isn’t my highest priority. This is the biggest upset of them all. I’m outraged! I love family! I’m all about the family!

Then again, the survey questions associated with family were a little biased. Just because I said I don’t think you always have to choose staying at home over going out with friends, I’m not all about family? Just because I said one shouldn’t avoid high-powered jobs to keep a marriage strong, I’m not all about family? Just because I said I might testify in court against a loved one, I’m not all about family?!?

Was this survey written in the 1950’s? Is this an episode of “The First 48?” Look, I’m a woman of the millennium (we can have it ALL) and if you do something egregious, I’m NOT going down for you. Love you, though 🙂

Moving on from that nonsense, I discovered power is important. I don’t see that in me. I think of myself as being pretty laid back and content with personal success. I suppose a part of success is having power. Cool.

Whatever you envision for yourself is fine. We’re all individuals with diverse desires and drives. Survey or not, figure you out. What do you value and what does that mean for your life? Let whatever you believe in move you towards your own version of fulfillment. Whether it’s beauty, brains or a bountiful income, be you. You have the power.

Survey Says… (Part I)

On Wednesday, the girls in my advisory filled out a survey to figure out what they value in life. A good idea, we thought, because it may be a challenge to articulate those sorts of things in the tenth grade. As they whipped out their pencils, I thought, “At 25, I’m not the best at articulating what I value either.” So, I decided to join in on the fun.

The survey was a whopping 104 statements on a Likert scale (very true, sometimes true, not sure, not true). Afterwards, you assign a different point value to your level of agreement with each statement. Once I tallied my points, I began to reflect.

Some of the results didn’t surprise me. According to the survey, I really value helping others, independence & freedom, and knowledge & truth. Ahhh, yes. This explains why I’m a special education teacher who prides herself on being self-sufficient.

The survey says I value friendship & companionship, as well as creativity. OK, little survey, you got me. Literature, music, theatre, fashion — I’m there. Mix with good company? All the better.

That’s where the obvious ended.

I’ll admit, I was a little embarrassed by how proud I felt when I found out I didn’t value recognition, money, or beauty and aesthetics as much as I thought I did. Way to be humble, Mercia. On the other hand, I’d like to think I highly value personal integrity and moral courage. No fear, right? However, the survey said otherwise. Oh well, you can’t win them all. No worries, though. I won’t pickpocket you or drown any kittens. I love kittens.

Pleasantries aside, the results got a little more intense from there. Stay tuned.

Coveting What “Jane” Has

As much as I enjoy hearing about others doing well, I don’t particularly care for the effect it has on other people. Let me explain through fictitious example:

Let’s say one of my dearest friends references another associate, saying, “Jane just got a promotion and a big award. She also loss 20 pounds in a month and will be a guest correspondent on “E!” this weekend — interviewing Beyonce and Jay-Z about Blue Ivy!”

My friend is smiling, eyes twinkling. You may mirror his or her enthusiasm. Good for you. Here’s my face: –_______–

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m in awe of Jane, too, but I’m also feeling a little inferior. Why can’t these things be happening to me so that my friend can be all giddy about me? You see, it’s not about what Jane is doing. It’s about the reaction her success produces.

As an only child, sometimes I just want to be left alone and allowed to go into a deep, dark pit of solitude. And other times, I want to be the center of attention that everyone is gushing over. I go back and forth between the two at least ten times a day. I guess that means I’m sociopathic and narcissistic at the same damn time.

Or maybe I’m just a flawed human being.

Either way, while I’m wishing all of Jane’s good fortune and glory on myself, I’m not considering Jane’s journey.

Who knows what struggles, obstacles, fights, sleepless nights, pain and general hardship Jane had to endure to lose that weight, earn that promotion and receive that award.

And knowing Hollyweird, only God knows what Jane had to do to get that guest spot on “E!” (just saying).

That being said, it’s not right for me to mentally pilfer Jane’s jewels. These are the things God has for her and whatever he has for me, is for me.

Instead of coveting what the Janes of your life have going on, remember that God has already designed your gem-encrusted treasure chest — and it’s customized. This chest is filled with treats and goodies. He’s just waiting for you to go on a treasure hunt and claim your destiny.

No Fear.

After a lifetime of finding my way through a multitude of awkward and unfortunate situations, I dubbed myself courageous and the master of perseverance. How wrong was I?

I’m pretty good at taking care of business but somewhere, somehow I began to settle for the ordinary instead of seeking and reaching for the next level in everything I do. You’re probably thinking, “Oh, you got lazy?.” Maybe a little but what I really “got” was afraid. Afraid of what other people would think, afraid I would burn out, afraid people I care about would feel outdone or left out. And most of all, I was afraid of failing.

Once the world became more about the goals I set for myself and not goals others assigned to me, I wasn’t so sure where I fit it. I mean, I know what I want. I envision. I brainstorm and plan. But I’ve been scared to see my goals through because…what if people think my goals are ridiculous? What if I run into a roadblock I’m not familiar with? What if I’m not strong enough, creative enough or good enough to reach the finish line? Frequently pondering these questions left me frustrated and all but paralyzed by fear.

Then, my grandma’s voice would enter my head. “Nothing beats a failure but a try,” she always says. “I know that,” I answer back to myself.

But knowing and doing are two totally different things. Doing is an action word and to do, you have to make a move. Easier said that done when you don’t know exactly where you’re going or exactly how you’re going to get there. That’s where faith comes in. Faith trumps fear — every time. Have faith in yourself, in your inner power, and most importantly in God.

Fear is an illusion. Once you realize that, you can walk right through it. It’s not easy. If it was, it wouldn’t be called fear. Yet and still, I challenge me, you, all of us to go for what we really want —  full-force, with fervor, and faithfully. No fear.

We.Can.Do.It

Still Just A Dream…But A Good One

I was feeling like my black-card should be revoked because I live in the DMV and hadn’t been to the MLK Memorial. Well, on a whim, that changed Sunday. Just south of the Washington Monument, Dr. King appears distinguished and dignified emerging from “the stone of hope,” with his most memorable quotes surrounding him. He gazes out towards Thomas Jefferson’s memorial. Yeah, he’s our “founding father” who was alllllll the way down with the swirl. I digress.

Thank you, Dr. King. Your legacy is one that no FBI phone tap or comment from a former First Lady can tarnish in my mind. I’m sure you’d agree that no one is perfect and I’m also sure you would agree that we’ve taken a few steps backwards not only as a race but as a race of human beings under one almighty God. Against my better judgment, I manage to hold out an inkling of hope that one day, all of us black, gay, white, poor, straight, wealthy human beings can truly be free.

Image

Hookah At The Bar, Please!

So, I’ve done Hookah a few times before. Each time, I found myself in a comfortable, dimly lit environment with soft voices and even softer music gliding through the air like a light summer breeze. That being said, Sunday night came as a shock. There I was, doing Hookah while standing at a crowded bar with a drink in one hand, my mouthpiece in another and reggae blasting in the background. Now, that I’ve experienced Hookah this way, I can truly say IT’S THE ONLY WAY TO GO! There’s nothing like the mix of tipsiness and a light-headed high to take a party to the next level. I hope Eden makes hookah a staple of their Sunday night party and I hope other venues that host rooftop parties catch on, too.  🙂

KLH – Mission Accomplished

So, last weekend was a whirlwind adventure. One of my dearest friends, Khabria, turned 25 and we had a blast! We went to Ultrabar on Thursday night and while Khabria’s boyfriend, Lamar, gave her the memo to take off work the next day — I was left out of that correspondence. So, off to work I went.            

Image

Friday evening, I rushed home from work to put on my riding boots and headed to Cadillac Ranch. It’s a nice, spacious restaurant/bar at the National Harbor that features a mechanical bull. Lamar sure wasted his $3 on my ride. I was THEE most pathetic bull-rider of the night. Everyone expected me to ride it like I was in the rodeo, but unlike Shakira — my hips do lie. For one thing, it took me four times to even mount the darn thing. After that? I lasted for a whopping 13 seconds.

Image

You and I will meet again, my friend. I WILL be back.

On Saturday, I woke up excited for the grand production. I packed my bag with everything I needed for the night, had twenty zebra-print balloons filled with helium and headed to Khabria and Lamar’s place in Bowie. Here’s the birthday girl, surrounded by my decor of choice:

Image

After the caterer brought the food in and Lamar showed up with a cake worthy of ooh’s and aah’s, I knew we were going to get Khabria good. Needless to say, her best friends did a good job of keeping her in the dark all day while we set up, because when she came in the door it was obvious that she didn’t have a clue.Image

I’m glad Khabria got to chat and chew with her closest friends and family members. We all had a great time, enjoyed good food and drink, and watched Alvarez tap Sugar Shane’s tush. I was pretty distraught when Mayweather beat Cotto but after a few minutes, I snapped out of it. Hey, don’t hate the player, right?

On Sunday, we went to Half Note in Bowie. You wanna talk about a brunch to write home about?  Made-to-order omelets, Belgian waffles, crabs, jumbo shrimp and everything in between all in the same room. And, yes, the food is delicious.

Image

Image

Once we were able to walk, the gang took a spontaneous trip down to the Mall and visited a few memorials, with MLK being the highlight. That night? We shone upon Eden’s rooftop party.

Yet again, I missed the “request off from work” memo. On Monday, I yawned my way through the day. Khabria was nowhere to be found. Naturally, I perked up for my final formal evaluation of the year. My kids were well-behaved, engaged in the lesson and really showed what they know. My execution was solid and my questioning was rigorous. Ah, yes, the sweet smell of success.

Image

The Male Ego, Part III –The “Grass is Greener” Guy

Here’s a situation that definitely isn’t exclusive for one sex or the other. It happens to men and women every day that begins with the rising of the sun. Your ex- gets a new boo-thang…and your insides twirl with an emotion that can best be described as a wildebeest being ran down by a ravenous hyena in the African grasslands.

Much like the amount of time it takes the hyena to catch the wildebeest, the rebound “relationship” between your ex and their next usually only lasts only a short time. Nevertheless, the aftermath of the catch goes on and on.

You, the wildebeest, tried desperately to escape any feelings whatsoever towards the person who by now, you wish never existed. Your emotions, the hyena, chases you down relentlessly. You sweat with fear, eyes bulging, tongue wagging, wishing this carnivorous beast would go away.

Alas, you can run no more. You were able to escape the subliminal messages you saw on Twitter and even an ominous picture or two on Facebook with minimal harm but you CANNOT ignore your mutual friends when they look to you and say “You know you done f*cked up right?”

If your life be so miserable, your ex will walk into the same venue you’re at — looking as good as a jar of ice water in the Mississippi heat.

And it doesn’t matter if you are with your own arm candy, your entire crew, your cousins or all the above. If he or she has entered with their ‘next,’ your insides will sink, your mouth will dry up and your heart will pound as your body heats up from the inside-out. You will have to grip the nearest piece of furniture for support and hum quietly to avoid racing over to the pair and ripping them limb from limb. On the outside, though, you seem as cool as a cucumber. Only someone perceptive enough to see the twitch in your left eye will know anything is amiss.

Sometimes this unspoken, and often unintentional, game is played back and forth. And truly enough, this happens to everyone. However, being the more egotistical of the species, men feel it more.

The man who once was ready to dismiss you in such a suave and swagged out manner, is now hitting your phone up ladies. He wants to know where you are, who you’re with and what y’all doing.

The man who so nonchalantly breezed over every care, concern and complaint you had during the relationship, now wants details about what you have going on from the moment your alarm clock goes off in the morning until the time you turn your TV off at night.

He, who so valiantly and bravely proclaimed that he loved you enough to let you go and wanted the best for you in all your future endeavors, is now calling you everything but a child of God through text message.

No, he’s not evil. He’s furious. He’s livid because of all the graphic details he’s made up in his head about what could be going on between you and so-so or even worse, you and such-and-such. B*tch, you know he hates such-and-such.

Weeks or months later, the angry barrage has discontinued. Now, there is loving adoration. Everything your ‘next’ sees in you, and lets you know on a regular basis, your ex realizes was there all along.

Now here’s something to note, ladies. He genuinely loves you and wants you back but don’t EVER think that’s all it is. This is about EGO. How DARE you be giving time and God knows what else to another man?!? That all belongs to him. Broke up or not, you’re his!

Most men could give a sh*t-less if a woman is at home — sad, lonely, thinking about him…damn near suicidal, but let her give another man some vital attention. *cue ambulance sirens, helicopter noises and horror movie screams*

So from here, the choice is yours, ladies. You can either entertain him and (possibly) give your love another chance or you can move on — with or without the next.

Let’s be honest. Most of us take him back. That was the point (or at least half the point) of the ‘next,’ right?

Some of us, though, can’t get past our own frustration and resentment as we think, “Oh, so now you want me? Now you care? Ain’t that some sh*t?” In this case, it’s better that as women we gracefully bow out.

In either case, let this be a lesson to you, gentlemen (and ladies). Reign in your ego while you’re in the relationship so that you won’t have to worry about battling it after the relationship is done.