My Responsibilities Created Insecurities

In 2003, I was hell bent on owning a home. I was 27 and just tired of moving so much. I had made up my mind I was on a search of what I needed to do to become a homeowner. I still don’t think that I made the most informed decision. Everyday something would come up that was a challenge. April 14, 2003 I got the keys. By January 2005 I was laid off with no savings and to be quite honest I feel like I have been adrift at sea ever since.

I fell into that work to pay bills cycle that the 99% have as a physical mantra. You know that thing that wakes you up to go to work at a job that frustrates you to have a little bit of luxury that you are too tired to enjoy.

Looking back all I wanted was stability. I mean I was making it. I had my first one bedroom apartment nestled off of Rhode Island Ave on First Street. It was spacious and cute. The building probably was not fully up to code because there was a wicked slope that existed at the entrance. Then there began the problems. Leaks, rats from the construction nextdoor and an unresponsive landlord.  I gave up. I wanted something that I didn’t have to rely on the next man/woman for.

But at this very moment I realize reliance is a part of living. While there are many things in my 3 bedroom house that can be done on my own this is a lot to bear for a single woman. Dishes, dusting, laundry, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, closet… I live in every room. EVERY ROOM. How? There is just one of me.

I have had everything from a dispute with the water company that turned my water off for something that was their fault to issues with landscapers who just should not even be in business. (Just cause you have a lawnmower don’t mean you should be in the grass cutting business.) My first day in my new house my savings was depleted because of a capped pipe by the previous owners. It caused a back up. The plumber had to call one of his smallest men to climb into my crawlspace to uncap it. Then drill a whole in my laundry room wall to create another access for snaking the pipe if ever necessary.  Savings gone.

My responsibility to my house created insecurities because I was constantly second guessing my wants and sacrificing them for what my house needed. The mortgage needed to be paid. Nope, can’t visit Bahia with you guys. Pipe burst during winter. Have fun in London tell everyone I said Hi and hug them for me. I was/am tethered to my house. Please don’t misconstrue… I love my house. But having read Rich Dad, Poor Dad I realize the race that I have been in could have looked a lot different. I read it some time ago but never really quite understood how to get out of it.

The word stability pops back in my head. To be honest the house didn’t give it to me like I thought it would. Granted I no longer move every year. But I counter that with dripping faucets, feral cats, and neighbor issues.

Here are my thoughts…
If you purchase make sure there is some type of positive income to get from your purchase. A unit, retail space at the bottom… something. That was my initial goal… but as the search continue… it was daunting. Hindsight…

Condo over house. I would have done the condo if I knew what the problems were in an a traditional house.

Always buy detatched. I grew up in a row home. The thing about it was we knew our neighbors. Living in a semi detached house or a row home… you share what your neighbor has which could be everything from roaches to opossum and raccoons. Yes I have had a menagerie of animals in my home.

Lastly, space is overrated for the single. It just means more nooks and crankies to clean.

Property if done right is steady income. If not it can be a major liability.

Top 7 Reasons I Like Black-ish

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I have stayed out of the fray of conversations about the new tv sitcom Black-ish until I was able to actually see it. Well I have seen it and I like it. First of all the “ish”… is my favorite part. Allow me to analyze/hypothesize, to help you realize how clever the title is.

With the bastardizing and the abbreviating of the English language this play on what could mean “kinda” versus the new spelling of sugar honey iced tea, is just clever. Think about it. Signifying is a major aspect of the culture of the African American community. As is coded language also. It is recognized in the community to personify one thing however, someone not so well versed the the historical context of this or the understanding of such cultural nuisances would categorize it at face value. For example, made popular in the 90’s the word “dope”. If someone says “Those greens were dope.” It has nothing to do with drugs. It is a coded language not on purpose but by default.

So let me delve into the reasons why I like this show.

1. It is an actual sitcom with black people. What a relief to have a sitcom on television that has a plot, characters that you can relate to, and everyone has their clothes on. There are no ratchet reality stars “bringing down the race.” Someone wrote this and thought about it. It is not sensationalized nor does it have the drama or cat-yness of “reality” shows.

2. There are no punches pulled. This show is not politically correct. Dre played by Anthony Anderson, works to maintain culture with his kids despite being more affluent than his upbringing. The notion that a family with values is being portrayed on the screen warms the cockles of my heart. To this I say finally. Not since the days of Cosby and A Different world has this been a fixture on a major network.

3. It is driven by pride and not fad. The show does not have to tear down other races to be pro-black. In fact the cultural diversity on the show enhances the statement of pride.

4. It is Chris Rock funny-but-a-damn-shame type humor. While Chris Rock has gotten flack for his comments on SNL his brand of humor has always been able to allow laughing at the flaws of society. The absurd. He has proven that with his more recent foray in the media. Black-ish is so inherently simple you must laught. That is how I see Black-ish. You either shake your head and laugh or say “damn that is true”.

5. For our Caucasian brothers and sisters: It is a great way to get a translator for your black friend’s inside jokes. Now this does not mean that you can be a part of the joke, say the joke, or will ever completely understand the joke. However, your frame of reference will be broader that it once was.

6. Gauge your level of bourgeois vs. the common everyday black person.
Now this may shake it up a bit. I am sure you are saying “I am not bourgeois.” But think about it if you have gone outside of the country… ever eaten goat cheese with lavender and honey… or talked about traveling to the vineyards…. eh maybe a bit of bourgeois lives in you. But before you attack this post… I do realize that African Americans did/do these things all of the time. We are not a monolithic culture. But Twana an ’em ain’t getting down like this.

7. Which brings me to the fact that this is another facet of life most African Americans do not see. Ever wonder what keeping up with the Joneses looks like when the Joneses can’t even touch you? That is Black-ish. Part of why I love it is the fact that the show struggles to figure out what level of cultural inclusion is the right balance for their family. How would you approach the topic of rites of passage with your children in a neighborhood that is more Americana than Americana but is safe for your kids to not worry about harm.

It reminds me of the headline in the news recently about the brother shielding his kids by teaching them to speak and wear certain things in order to avoid harm from the police or disdain from their white counterparts. It is a complete set up and disservice for his kids not to understand the way this society works nor to understand who they are as people in this world. Black-ish is working on that balance of making sure that their family exhibits pride and confidence in cultural heritage and what it means to be responsible people in a society that is not always accepting or responsible or fair or honest.
It is not perfect by any means. It challenges and provokes conversation. I mean hell weren’t folks talking about it… eventhough they had never even watched it? Oh and by the way… yeah to critique/criticize you do have to examine, otherwise… your just talking… ish.

Almost there…

 

Last night was the first night in a week that I did not sleep in my oversized chair. I have been working , procrastinating,  working and procrastinating intensely for the last week… probably more. Last night marked the end of week 8 of this quarter in school. I attend Savannah College of Art and Design for my Masters in Arts Administration. It always get tight as the quarter closes out and this was a doozy. As the quarter comes to a close I am freeing up time to blog and produce. I am actually building up to vlogging. Despite, my face being plastered in newspapers or all over my Facebook page and Twitter I still have a behind-the-scenes attitude. I also have a “ok-let’s-do-it attitude as well. So imma do it. Soon. Ok back to… working and procrastinating.  I am almost done. Two more quarters after this and I am Audi 5000.
Peace.

Can’t We all Work Together?

I took a mental break over the weekend that extended to Monday.  Why? You ask. Because I think people are trying to drive me nuts. In 2012, I embarked on a journey with my neighbors to create a creative placmaking project called DeanwoodxDesign.  Five months of activities every weekend in a neighborhood with at the time one art gallery, two sit-down restaurants and more green space than a little bit. I spent every weekend in my community meeting new neighbors and those who have been here for years. It had plenty of challenges!  Plenty! But I think considering those challenges we did a great service to the community and highlighted an area that is still in need of the Office of Planning but we are getting there.

Fast forward… so somehow that has morphed into community activist. I attend meetings on everything from zoning to business, not to mention the ANC meetings. Really if I do not take a break I would be at a meeting every night about something. But the focus is off. I know there need to be some basic infrastructure changes before certain things take place but I am an artist and want to bring art as a form of expression and release to an unserved community.

I bought my house in 2003 in NE. Before that I was living in NW. I could walk to U Street, was close to Howard, a bus ride to both Rhode Island Ave shopping center, an Union Station in a matter of minutes. I took for granted the luxuries that existed in my life in NW. So my earlier days in living in NE were spent on the NW side of town enjoying the amenities that were missing in my neighborhood. I always thought about how much time I spend on the NW side and how great it would be to live AND work on the same side of town. I wanted to be more involved in my neighborhood, get to know my neighbors, learn more of the history of the area. Well I can say I am certainly involved now. What keeps whirling around in my head is “be careful what you ask for.”

But really it is not a negative thing. I enjoy certain aspects of it. What I don’t enjoy are the stories of greed and injustices. I am tired of malice and ego. The predatory actions of a few make it hard to make moves in any direction. Not having the capital also hurts. Predators that use the community to fulfill grant responsibilities or political aspirations should fully expect karma to be a major part of their life.

Growing up I learned a lot about my family. I admit at the time I was like ‘ugh this is boring.’ But it sunk in. Learning about “from whence I came” helped define my values in life. Family and education are major pillars in my foundation. I am not nor have I ever been great at names and dates in history. But having knowledge of the people who made history and their story is another strong pillar. People that have the aptitude to memorize years and such are awesome in my book. But that is not what impresses me. The lesson and the knowledge of a historic event feeds my foundation and adds another reason to fight for acknowledgement of the history maker and continue their legacy.

My current neighborhood was once bustling with entrepreneurs who were making a difference in their community. Now there are only three remaining businesses and a few that have sprung up recently. The community was once a resource for African Americans because folks in this area were not welcome downtown. We had to create an enclave of businesses to survive and really beyond that, thrive as a community. Yes I have a mere 10 years here in Deanwood and 20 in the District. I am still a Jersey girl. In middle grounds when it come to DC. I will always be an outsider. Sadly, the real outsiders that are looking for personal gain are more influencial than I am.

My only “agenda”… restoration of what the foreparents of this community envisioned for this side of the river. A community full of vitality, self determination and entrepreneurship.

Funny, as always once we create that hole in the matrix something always comes in to thwart our progress.

We are so scattered and pocketed that there are days that I question why am I going to this meeting, why am I talking to this person? I need folks to realize that a bundle of sticks is harder to break then one lone stick. I mentioned ego before. It is a dangerous thing to have in the wrong hands. Ego makes some expect accolades or adoration. Nah mayne, go ‘head with that. Define community. If you define it there is no room for ego.

I am constantly skimming the grass beneath my feet for snakes.

Is My Face Red?

Have you ever just felt yourself becoming heated? Like if you had a thermometer in your mouth it would be one of those cartoon bubbles that would be fire engine red and burst at the end. It was much like that. I was standing there talking and slowly I just felt my face getting redder. I was aware of my heart and I swear my adrenaline was on the move! There are somethings that get me vexed, like trying guilt me into anything or making me feel bad about a choice or decision I have made. Another would be when I express to you that I am unable to do or participate in something. You know when I have the moment of “No” after already doing one thousand things and wholeheartedly participating in the past. Throwing something in my face like “oh now I have to do it” is not a good move. Especially, when I never agreed to do it in the first place. Let me just tell you that is the surest way to get jooked in the neck on accident.  Why on accident… because I am a lover not a fighter. But I will express to you how you are NOT going to brush me off or try reverse psychology or guilt me or manipulate me in to changing my mind, that will be the last time you EVER have to speak or look in my direction.
Sorry… my nostrils just flared.

Those who know me know I can be overly generous.  I list it as both a strength and a weakness.  I learned some years ago that people will take advantage of you for their benefit. At this age I ain’t gonna be bothered with any folks of that mindset. It is disheartening that there are people like that in the world. The “what-can-i-get” folks prayerfully do not outnumber the “what-can-i-give” folks. Because in giving you most definitely receive.

I slept on it and I am much less red from the elevated blood pressure that I had. I also identified another wolf and sheep’s clothing. The distance is set. No worries.