home, sweet home

These days, flying anywhere is a BFD. It’s expensive as crap, airports are a nightmare, and more often than not, your flight will be delayed [if not canceled altogether]. Our flights to and from Rome did not disappoint in any one of those aspects. Indeed, eurofly [I refuse to link to them and recommend that you choose a different airline for your trip] kindly enhanced the experience with seemingly inept pilots and incredibly rude flight attendants. That’s right, it was full-service hellacious – only slightly better on the trip there than on the trip back here. I believe the rude flight attendants were the shining star of awfulness. I hesitate to assign racist labels to people for fear of being called “too sensitive”, but it stood out very glaringly to me (and my of-color travelmates) when I was skipped/overlooked for more than one beverage service trip. And no, I wasn’t asleep, my cup was empty, and I was actually even seeking eye contact with the folks. At one point I even lifted my empty cup.

I did finally get some water. But you know the deal with first impressions.

But as awful as eurofly is – that’s how awesome Rome was.

Standing in the middle of Circus Maximus – though original structures from 2600 yrs ago are no longer there – was awesome. In the actual awe-some meaning of the word.

And what can you really say about the Colosseum?

The Colosseum

Seeing the monuments and places I learned about in elementary school and Latin classes was everything I thought it would be. Our hotel was in a good location, and was fairly nice – certainly accommodating. I don’t think I’ve ever traveled with people who spoke with the front desk so often. For such varied reasons. [Everything from directions and night life suggestions to the shutting off of an accidentally triggered bathroom alarm (don’t ask), borrowing/receiving a plastic knife, and extending our checkout time by an hour.] We were actually really close to the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain, not to mention Pucci, Gucci, Cartier, La Perla, and Louis Vuitton. The location was really nice, considering how non-rich we are.

All-in-all, I had a great time. I saw my first opera ~ La Traviata. I actually climbed the 320 extra steps to the top of the cupola at St. Peter’s. (claustrophobic steps, according to the Rough Guide – and they are SO right) Walked in/around/through the Forum, baths, various monuments & museums…and completely and utterly exhausted myself by the time it was time to come home.

Being away so long was excellent, and though I’m tired [which could just be from lack of sleep here], I’m glad for it all. What a great time!

Oh, and none of us were robbed. Or pickpocketed. In fact, at one point, I had a euro bill in my back pocket, and it started popping out, an a lady spoke to me in frustrated and loud Italian to get me to get the money. We were never swarmed by sneaky children and no one threw a baby at us. Good times.

highs & lows

My mind has been racing for days.

Work has been stressful – not just from dealing with my boss and never knowing how the moods were gonna be, but cuz I’ve been working on this project for months and I can’t seem to get a reliable method developed to test this new supplier’s sample.  (There’s got to be something in the sample matrix that is interfering with the Fe analysis by AA, because standards and current supplier samples all run fine.  But that’s all chemistry talk, and I really don’t want to talk about it on my downtime…)  So, there’s been all of that, and the fact that I forgot about one thing that I needed to get trained on before my review in June [can you believe it’s almost June?].  Thankfully, I got the training this week, and when I get back, I should be able to do a little bit more with that, if need be.

Ahhh…did you note that I said “when I get back”?  That’s right, my long overdue vacation begins this weekend.  I’m so excited to be going to NYC again, and from there to Italy for a week.  I’m finally going to see Wicked.  I know it’s been playing for years, now, but hey – I don’t have the NYC hookup I once did.  I’ve been pretty lax in my Rome research though, and I still have some reading to do in my guidebook.  Gotta say though, the Rough Guides are the best.  (I got some other kind of guide when we went to London and it was horrible.  Rough Guides are written to be read and used.  The maps are more useful, and the books are generally more tailored to what I want to know about the places that I’m going.  The one I got for Paris was awesome!)

Anyway, back to Rome.  I’m taking some pennies to throw into the Trevi fountain – cuz I wanna go back, but there’s no way I’m throwing a freakin’ euro in there.  I don’t even wanna think about the exchange rate.

Not that I’m some kind of miser or anything – considering how I’ve used this trip as an excuse to go shopping for the last three weeks.  But hey, money’s for the spending, right?

So, I can’t wait.

I’ve been thinking about a lot of other stuff that I may write about later, but right now I’m on full vacation mode.

some people can’t say ‘boo’

You know, there are words that some people just can’t say.  Maybe this gets into one of those ‘authenticity’ discussions, but really, I feel like there are some things that certain folks can’t get away with.

As long as I can remember, my mother has not been able to say the word ‘cool’.  At least not with it coming out sounding cool.  It actually sounds forced and awful.  That’s just my mom.  She sound perfectly fine saying “neat”.  Not ‘cool’.

According to my sister, I sounds forced and awful when a Southern accent creeps into my speech.  This is strange, considering I’ve actually lived in the South longer than her.  But since she was born here and I wasn’t, I’ll take her word for it.

And David Archuleta sounds forced and awful when he sang ‘With You’ by Chris Brown.  Extremely, terribly, unredeemably forced and awful.

This night of Idol, more than any other this season, reinforces the cold, hard truth.  This is the season of Idol where mediocrity took control.  The three contestants left this evening: David A, Syesha, and David C – they all did…just ok.

Actually, I think David C did the worst (having the worst song choices), and that’s unfortunate.  I feel as though the three of them are fairly evenly matched, and the songs chosen for them should have also been evenly matched.  But then, perhaps, David C should’ve risen to the challenge to arrange his pieces more creatively and tailored them more for his own voice and style [in which case he would’ve been held to a higher standard than the other two contestants – also not being fair.]

Ack.

So I’m voting for Syesha, cuz I like her the best, and I actually think she’s a better all around performer.  (crossing my fingers)

Wright then

A few weeks ago I was in a discussion about Rev. Wright’s comments.  The “God damn America” (GDA) ones – not the most recent ones from his round robin of media appearances.  This was in the framework of whether religious leaders should be politically involved, and whether they should be held accountable to the more general public for what they say in the pulpit.

Talk of Pfleger’s response/rebuttal to a Fox News person drew the conversation in the direction of how more people should stand up to talk about what the real essence of the GDA phrase was.  The fact that America has imposed incredible cruelty on her own citizens, as well as citizens of the world is no great mystery.  The concept of ‘manifest destiny’ is not strange to any school child.  And upon reaching adulthood, it would behoove us all to think more critically about the slant with which we learned our own history.

The reality of ‘chickens coming home to roost’ was eventually met with a begrudging understanding.  It’s not something we like to admit about ourselves – being the best country in the world, and all – but it is truth.

So what more beef can we bring up about Wright, then?  Ahh…his comment about the US government being involved in disseminating HIV in the black community.

One person was adamant that because this conspiracy theory is factually wrong, it was the most (if not only) egregious section of the speech.  Spouting a conspiracy theory, in effect, negates whatever other parts of the sermon might have been salvaged.

I brought up the fact that many people are more inclined to believe this theory [this is certainly not the first time I’ve heard it, or one of the variants], because of the history that America has with its brown populace.  In the not-so-distant past, the Tuskegee Experiment claimed the lives of unsuspecting black men.  And now, I’m reading about more instances that haven’t gotten quite the same coverage.

And yet, more people will use this as an excuse to disbelieve in the patriotism of brown people in America, than to ask how the debt that is owed might be paid.

Is anyone still wondering why Marvin wanted to holler and throw up his hands?

race & relationships

I went to spend this past wknd with my mother to celebrate her bday and Mother’s Day, since they’re so close together, and I don’t get to go over that way too often.

In the course of talking, we ended up talking about whether there really is a disconnect between black feminists and white feminists.  I told her about the recent flare-ups in the blogosphere, and some of the things that I’ve only begun to think about, in light of all the discussion.  Considering that there are differences in the stereotypes applied to black women and white women, certainly combating those stereotypes would take different tactics.

From that, we moved into talking about basic assumptions that we make about people.  [I’m not sure how that happened, but there was some sort of segue.]  That’s when she told me about something that happened at her job, when we lived in Hawaii (the 80s).

There was a woman who came in to her office to temp as a secretary for a while.  They chatted over some days, and eventually the woman saw pictures of me and my sister on my mother’s desk.

She asked, “Who are those young ladies?” (or something like that)

Mom replied that they [we] were her daughters.

The woman looked at her, and then said, “Oh, you adopted?”

Mom said, “No…they’re my biological children.”

Then the woman looked at mom with a seemingly new understanding, and before she could stop herself, said, “So, you’re one of those.”

Puzzled, a bit apprehensive, but curious, Mom asked.  “One of those what?”

“Oh, uh, you know.”

“No.  I don’t know.  What?”

You know.  Those people.”

No. I don’tWhat people?  Go ahead and say it.”

“Sluts.”

*********************************************************************
I think Mom had told me about this once before, but at the time I didn’t really think about it.  Now, four days later, I’m still digesting.

The issues that come up with interracial relationships are myriad, and you could probably keep coming up with things all day.  Latoya P’s intro to a conversation about interracial relationships got me thinking about how things have changed since my parents got together.  What things are like now vs. what they were like 30 yrs ago.  And what things are/were like for interracial multiracial kids.

Anecdotes from multiracial kids and their parents could go on and on with incidents.  Cuz they have been happening for years, and they still are.  People still parrot the things they’ve heard.  Like:

The kids won’t know who they are.  They’ll be confused.  Or ridiculed.
The relationship can’t last, there’ll be too much adversity – the world isn’t ready to accept you.
Couldn’t you find anyone of your own race?/Oh you only like them now?

I don’t feel like going on.  But I could.  For some reason, there’s this drive for people to request a background history to legitimize the relationship.  As though there’s something unnatural about people with slightly different *physical* features getting together.  When, in reality, it’s been happening for thousands of years.  Yup.  (specifically for Bob Jones U.) it was happening in the Bible, too.

So, I’ll be keeping my eye on the discussion over at Racialicious, just cuz I think it might get know it will be interesting.  It already is.

when my words fail

When you tell me you can’t depend on your family.

When others keep saying we’ll end up married.

When I got my job.  When you got yours.

When you lost your job.  When I lost mine.

When we drifted so far apart I didn’t know what would happen to us.

When we had that one night of connection after so long.

When you’re the only person to understand me.

When you’ve completely closed me off because you’re hurting too much.

When I can’t begin to know your loss.

May my silence with you be enough.

rock & roll scar(e)s a new generation

Hmm. I don’t know what to say.

Hungry Like A Wolf. Proud Mary. I Shot the Sheriff. Stand By Me.

Wow. The first one wasn’t quite so presumptuous, but the rest? Do they really think they’re that good?

Jason doesn’t deserve comment.

David A. has decided to try to look deep while he’s singing. This translates to corn. He did ok.

David C. and Syesha were middle-of-the-road and I hope they’re still there next week.

Baba O’Riley. A Change Is Gonna Come. Mr. Tambourine Man. Love Me Tender.

Straight up karaoke of Bob Marley, forgetting the words of Bob Dylan. Hmm, think Jason’s going home? I hope so, but I get the feeling that the tweenyboppers might save him. I’m scared.

David C. and Syesha did ok. But they need to stay. Syesha’s dress was amazing, btw.

David A reclaimed the crown tonight, with ‘Love Me Tender’. Finally, a good song choice and performance from him.

Folks, please vote for Syesha. If you don’t, the tweenyboppers will keep Jason Castro on this show.

dirty Lo, dirty

For all the speculation about just how real The Hills is, I think they get the editing just about dead on.  It’s amazing to me that these girls have truly become stars [in the new definition of stardom].  Heidi, Audrina, Lauren and Whitney are on the cover of my newly received Rolling Stone.

I think the status of politics right now has a lot of people primed for full-on avoidance of all things ‘serious’.  I know I’m in that boat.  I quit on the whole election business sometime not too long after “super”-Tuesday.  [so super we still don’t know who it’s gonna be]  I’m so tired of all the crap.  I mean, I feel like I don’t really like either one of the candidates anymore, and I was really excited about this election cycle back in January.

So now I’m all up in ‘Speidi’s business.  [Spencer and Heidi, for the uninitiated]  I’m not sure why I hate (you know, the tv-hate.  not like, serious hate.  cuz I don’t actually care that much) Spencer so much – but he’s an excellent villain for the show.  He’s annoying, and embarrassing.  And while LC despises him because of the supposed illicit tape, I despise him because of how he is with Heidi.  Once again, the magic of MTV editing.

Speidi was on Tyra last week, the day after that whole prostitution episode.  I tried to watch, but I think one Tyra show is my limit.  I did see that Spencer is absolutely adamant that the tape exists.  Interesting that supposedly [if it exists] Speidi’s never seen it.

Of course, according to Rolling Stone, Lauren hasn’t seen Heidi’s awful music video.

So the feud is like, so serial.

And really, when Heidi’s not with Spencer, I could be on her side as much as LC’s.  Lauren gets on my nerves sometimes.  it’s something to completely get my mind off all the crap.

And now I’m invested enough to feel bad for Audrina – even if she is back with Justin-Bobby.  Cuz Lo has totally edged her out to be the new roommate/sidekick/friend.  Perhaps this will be some new drama for next season.

Looks like I’ll be watching either way.

don’t drink the haterade (an ode to MC)

pre-diva, pre corporate-machineMariah seems to be one of those celebs that folks love to hate.

I don’t doubt that at least a twinge of it is straight up jealous-hate: she’s got what others want.

Some is genre-related: she’s stuck to the pop charts since day one, and some folks are stubbornly against anything that the “mainstream” likes.

Some folks hate on the drama: we all remember the “meltdown”/exhaustion fiasco.

But I’m not sure why people get SO venomous about MC. Unless it’s the same thing that makes her fans some of the most dedicated in the world.

I can’t properly explain how devoted her fans are, but if you are one – you know. I’m a fan, albeit one that can see her flaws, and I still take it personally when people talk out of their necks about her. My sister is much closer to superfan status (though she too still has her feet on the ground and is not rallying for MC sainthood).

There are a lot of misconceptions about Mariah, and then there’s diva stuff that she’s actually done, and I think some folks get it twisted. One thing folks love to lay at her door is the claim that she’s been ambiguous about her racial background, or that she’s sometimey when claiming black heritage.

I remember when ‘Vision of Love‘ came out. It was my favorite song, and I knew I loved whoever sang it. I remember the first time I saw her on tv and I thought – she’s white??? And I remember reading an article not too long after that where she described her background: a white (Irish) mother and a black (Afro-Venezuelan) father.

‘Just like me’, I thought. Only, my dad’s African-American, my parents were together at the time, and she could totally pass and I never could. But I sing. She sings. It was official. She was my role-model.

Then she had that fairy-tale wedding…to an old dude. I wasn’t into that, but her music was still awesome, and so I rolled with it.

With Butterfly (still my fave album), she made her break with Mottola. Hip-hop wangled its way further into her music, and I could see what was happening.

That’s when the great chasm started. (Here’s where I go into full conspiracy-theory mode. Half tongue-in-cheek, half things-that-make-you-go-hmm. Take it or leave it, I just blog.)

Casual listeners weren’t really aware of Carey’s background. We all know she is light-skinned(ed). [you know you know somebody who says that] But some folks just thought she was white. They heard her ballads, and her fun songs and loved her. And then some guy named ODB was featured on MC’s hit – ‘Fantasy‘.

Me ‘n’ Mariah – go back like babies n pacifiers – old dirt dog no liar – keep your fantasy hot like fire…

Who was that black man? None other than a founding member of the Wu Tang Clan. A rapper? Oh NO! White people were very uncomfortable with this. This was during a time when rap was ONLY played on black radio stations. In my town, TLC was played on the top40 station, when ‘Waterfalls’ (1994) became a hit. But Left-Eye’s rap was edited out. In fact, it wasn’t until somewhere around 2000 that they would play the complete song. 6 years later. So you know they weren’t gonna play a rap by a man called “Ol’ Dirty Bastard” in 1995.

That was just one song, tho. Until Butterfly. The questions flew. Just what was ‘Honey’ a euphemism for? Why two remixes with all those rappers? Why was she leaving that old white dude?

By Rainbow, she was wearing a lot less clothing and hanging out with a lot more rappers. Her adult-contemporary/easy-listening/hip-hop-averse fans were severing ties. And still she gained popularity, and fans.

Fans knew who she was and where she was coming from, from day one. Those who got on board a little later figured out what she was talking about in songs like ‘Outside’ and ‘Looking In’. Not to mention, folks continually acting like they don’t know, so she keeps on telling them.

Sandra Bernhard decided to call out MC for only being black when it was ‘convenient’. (Perhaps I should try polling some folks to find out just when being black is convenient.) But it turned out she was one of those people who didn’t have their facts straight. Oh. And she was racist. (scroll down to comment #9 to see what she actually said)

Theories abound about how TM was tailoring Mariah’s look and sound to make her the great white hope of the music industry. Even album covers minimized the slight brown-ness she can get with a tan. (Exceptions: Mariah Carey and MTV Unplugged). And none of us can deny that the initial mass-market appeal helped push her success to the heights that she’s achieved. (That and the songs ‘Hero’ and ‘One Sweet Day’ – which I no longer listen to.)

So. I know I’m not changing anybody’s mind about MC. And I know she’s divalicious when it comes to her ‘good side’, and her humidifier. I know she does weird stuff like calling fans ‘lambs’ and making a ‘Hello Kitty’ room.

But I don’t know if she’s really married to Nick Cannon. I hope not. I don’t want her to be (no hate for NC, just not into the decision). But it seems that she’s canceled her appearance on The View next week, so I’m not sure.

What I know is that I’ve got E=MC(squared) and I am all ready for ‘Migrate‘ to drop.