Friday, November 27, 2015

An Advent first

For some people, the idea of fasting is that of un castigo, that you only do so out of obligation or guilt. But others have held that fasting helps prepare the mind and body for more focus and stillness.  Coupled with meditation or any other form of contemplative practice, it can serve as a retreat or recharge.  With Lent months away, I have long pondered the possibility of begin an Advent fast.  As happened last year, the folks at Dynamic Catholic are launching a daily routine of spiritual exercises in honor of Advent.  So, in addition to taking part in that four-week series, I will be fasting from my smartphone/social media habit for Advent.

I have discussed my problematic phone use in the past ( used to be entertainment is now a compulsion.  Like emotional eating, it kills time but ultimately provides no real positive results.  Both Rambo and M have expressed their frustration with this fourth family member.  If my phone is in hand, chances are I’m not engaged in what is happening around me.  

Now I can leave my phone on my charger at home. I can leave it locked up in the car. I can turn off the data and only use wi-fi. These are temporary fixes.  I enjoy learning more about my friends’ personal experiences and political views. I love reading interesting articles shared by like-minded people. I find communicating with many of my friends via Facebook and Instagram easier. But I need a break.
From Antoine Geiger's "Sur-Fake" 
The next few weeks at work will bring challenges I have never confronted. I will need to be strong, patient, and thoughtful. More than ever, my family, my passions, and my faith will empower me during this experience. In the quiet of my retreat, I will contemplate all good things.  

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Another fashion mag fail

Elle Magazine (I’m not going to call you dear); I’m shaking my head at you. In what you say is your well-meaning attempt to battle People Magazine’s biased taste in men, you have compiled a list of gorgeous men of color.  But, as with Allure’s lame attempt at celebrating natural Black hairstyles with their article, “You (yes you) can have an Afro,” your writing leaves a lot to be desired.  Your headline alone, “30 of the Sexiest Men Alive Who Aren’t White” was cringe worthy and insulting in and of itself.

I was so taken aback by your headline I reposted it on Facebook. My post opened with “What in fresh hell kind of headline is this?” My friends had reactions similar to mine.

The headline gets the side-eye for real!


 Because heaven forbid we have a list of the 30 Sexiest Men without another requirement. That would take away white men's spots!
Unlike · Reply · 1 · 23 hrs

 I think they're trying to make a point.
Like · Reply · 23 hrs

 Its cultural men of color can't be white. Rubbish!!!
Unlike · Reply · 1 · 23 hrs

 They still would have gotten the side-eye, but why not just label the headlong, "30 of the Sexiest Men of Color." Simple as that!
Unlike · Reply · 1 · 23 hrs

Like · Reply · 23 hrs

 I think they're pointing out that the world's sexiest man has mostly been white.
Like · Reply · 1 · 22 hrs
I don't know the intent here, but yeah, there's better ways to make the point that sexy comes in all sorts of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Why is race even called out?
Unlike · Reply · 1 · 22 hrs

 The only problem I have is that they didn't put me on that list.
Unlike · Reply · 3 · 20 hrs

Now I love me some beautiful men. Harry Shum Jr. and John Cho have both been called my husband over the years. 

Mario Lopez has been fine since 1989. 
I can’t wait to see Michael B. Jordan in Creed.

 Idris Elba is my James Bond. 

Jesse Williams is not only a handsome man but a deep thinker with tweets worth reading and retweeting. 

Boris Kodjoe: I’m speechless.

 Elle, the problem isn’t the gentlemen chosen. It’s the implication that they are an alternative, an also-ran. Your poor choice of words, presented as the hook for the audience, rendered them the second choice. Why not simply refer to them as men?  

I suppose you will argue that your title was your way of countering People’s lily-white choices over the years. But sexy is sexy.  Mentioning race was unnecessary.  Y’all need tougher editors and more thoughtful writers.  If you want to tackle the challenge of media bias, you will need to step up your game. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Easy as pie

“A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.” - Tenneva Jordan

I have given up pie recently.  I don’t mean the holiday variety; I’m quite sure I will indulge in a slice or two.  In the last few months, I have passed on activities and events that I would not have missed in recent years. It’s not the blues or penance. It simply is a choice, one made for family.

The most striking example was opting out of a reading and book signing by my idol, Sandra Cisneros. I bought my ticket and her new book in advance.  I began planning what I might wear, what I might say.  Would I be brave and ask for a photo?  Would I make it on time on a Tuesday after work?  Tuesday happens to be our busiest weekday. M has cheer practice and competitive dance team practice.  I had made arrangements for her transportation with my folks; Rambo would handle homework and bedtime.  The Monday before the event, I was chatting with the attendance clerk at work. We got to talking about kids. While her children are in their twenties, we could definitely relate to one another on the frustrations of being working mothers. Then she made a comment about bathtime, how she had read that it and other everyday routines were the best times to be family.  I thought about that conversation many times. On the drive home from work the following day, I called my mom and said I would make it to get M from practice and that I would be driving her to dance. I was home with M for bathtime. I don’t remember what I discussed with M but I know I smiled the rest of the night. Mija has that effect on me. 

I have chosen family outings and gatherings over samba class on Sundays for the last 12 weeks. I have made only one Sunday tea dance in the City since it debuted three months ago. This weekend I would have been on retreat but my godson played in his first soccer tournament and we are honoring my Tio’s death anniversary at Mass today. I have always taken pride in how much I do for myself.  Now I am doing for my family fully and willingly. It is a change I embrace. After all, I am a mujer ever evolving.  

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Rambo's Thanksgiving

Approximately five years ago, I told Rambo about the free meals a chain restaurant was offering veterans. He thought it was a nice gesture and he began to do Internet research. He was impressed by the number of restaurants offering similar deals and began to discuss with his military buddies. By the following year, Rambo had organized a guy’s day out and a gluttony fest of epic proportions. The guys enjoyed several meals together well into the night.  The tradition has continued for four years. Rambo calls it his Thanksgiving.

Of the two of us, I am definitely much more social. Through my involvement with SambaFunk and my general passion for arts/dance events, I keep quite busy with gatherings and festivals.  Rambo limits his social outings to the occasional MMA fight/boxing match viewing party with his military buddies. As the years have passed, he has become more comfortable socializing with civilians.  He won’t head out for happy hour or guys’ night.  He prefers to stay home or sometimes take part in extended family events.  But his Thanksgiving is something he anticipates with the same enthusiasm I show in preparing for my annual Oscar party. 

Now you might think it’s wrong for these guys to take advantage of these companies’ generosity.  I applaud these companies. Rambo and his friends have grappled with mental illnesses, financial woes, housing problems, physical ailments, employment challenges, and family drama in the decades since coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Many have beaten the odds and battled their demons to now enjoy retirement or second (or third or fourth ) careers and relatively good health.  They continue to mourn the brothers who don’t make it; I have lost count of the number of buddies Rambo has lost to suicide.  No dollar amount from TGIFridays or Hooters or Olive Garden can truly compensate for what these men and women endured.

Eat hearty, gentlemen! 
2013 festivities