Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

Some people

May 27, 2010

It’s hard being ‘some people’. I’m not referring to anyone in particular. Rather I’m referring to the ‘some people’ we all talk about; the some people who  always seem to have stuff going on in their lives; things are always happening to them, or to people they know. They go through a lot. They deal with situations that we say (as we sit around in the comfort of our own uneventful lives) ‘no one should have to deal with’. When we say this, more often than not, we mean, ‘thank God, that’s never happened to me’.  At the backs of our minds, we think, ‘they must have done something wrong to have to deal with this’. Hardly do we ever consider that Providence is no respecter  of persons. If it happened to them, it could easily happen to you. Well, last week , ‘it’ happened to my family.

We found ourselves in a situation, that did not creep up on us, but rather it just jumped out at us  from behind a wall as we strolled along in the comfortableness of being us; same effect, just different method of delivery. One moment we were happily dreaming dreams and planning plans, and the next moment we were in a completely alien situation. By the end of the week, we had become ‘some people’. We were in the ever so popular ‘situation’, one that we never imagined we would ever be in. But here we were; some people.

Being some people gives one a whole new perspective though. You go from being the “called upon” to the ones calling and relying on others. You move from that place where you (sometimes with a ‘can’t you call someone else’ sigh) find yourself lending a helping hand wherever you can, to a place where you are reaching for that helping hand. Being some people is a humbling experience. If you ever start feeling a little bit full of yourself and start thinking that you don’t need anybody else, try being some people for a minute.

I know this all sounds like being some people is the worse thing that can happen to you, but it’s not all bad. I will admit that, oftentimes the thing that catapults you into ‘somepeopleville’, is not exactly the most thrilling experience and certainly not something you would want to repeat, nevertheless, it opens up a whole new world.

In this new world, despite how we got there, we made some very interesting discoveries. Our ‘arrival’ inadvertently allowed us to ‘test’ some of our relationships. Test is probably not the right word, because it suggests some level of uncertainty to begin with, which is definitely not the case.  The reality of relationships though, is that you never really know what kind of relationship you have with someone until something not so good happens; until the rubber hits the road; until walks must be walked instead of talk being talked.

There are lots of stories about the moral erosion of our society. I want to believe though that there are exponentially more examples of people helping people. We are, however so preoccupied with sensationalism today, that we prefer to dwell on the not so nice aspects of human behavior. Being some people though allowed us to experience the much more noble aspects of humanity.

This post, therefore, is a thank you of sorts, to those who have helped when we needed it most. To the much-loved “aunty” who stepped in and took care of the munchkin, so that we could be fully focused on  the situation at hand. To special friends, who just said yes even before questions were asked. People who dropped everything and came running; who just asked, ‘what do you need?’ To those who shifted plans and worked through the night so that they could be there for us. To the co-worker who offered to drive miles if we needed her to. To the friend back home who made international calls just to encourage us and to make sue that we were ok. To the anonymous ones who did not need specifics to petition on our behalf in prayer. Thanks is often difficult to say, moreso because although it is the ‘right thing to do’  often it falls way short of conveying the depth of our gratitude. How does one articulate what it feels like, when you truly do not have to worry because you know someone’s ‘got your back’.

Yeah, it’s hard being some people. You don’t want to be a bother to anyone, or interrupt their lives, but one thing I’ve learnt about some people is that their situations, more often than not, cannot be helped. They don’t choose to have stuff happen to them. I told a friend that we were probably being tested; her response,” just sounds like life to me”. Maybe it IS just life. After all, we are not the first ones this thing has happened to, and I’m sure we won’t be the last. There are many things happening to many people every second of every day. The way these are resolved depends to a great extent on the quality of the network. If it is a network of the proverbial fair weather friends, then things may not turn out so well. If the network is “genuine” then the outcome is likely to be brighter, and even if it isn’t, you at least know that you’re not alone.  Truth is, everybody needs somebody, so in some sense ………we are all some people.

Advertisements

Birthers, colonels & harvard law students

May 13, 2010

When I started this blog, my intention was never to spend my time writing about race issues. I figured that while race is still an issue, I should be able to avoid spending too much energy on it. The reality is that, unless you can read minds, you never really know what drives any particular behavior. There are always arguments that cast some doubt over the situation and leave you thinking that maybe, just maybe, this really isn’t about race after all. So I figured I’d just stay away from the whole race thing, and leave that kinda stuff to those people looking for work as civil rights activists. I just want it to go on record that I tried. Its just that some people make it really difficult.

Enter stage left, army doctor, Lt. Col. Terry Lakin, who is refusing to go on his second tour of duty because he has it in his head that the President was not born in the United States. This is not new. Ever since it became apparent that then Senator Obama could “win this thing” the nutcases started coming out of the woodwork (where apparently lots of nutcases reside). One such group of nutcases is the “birther” movement who hold the belief (or at least that’s what they say they believe) that President Obama was not born in the U.S. and so is not legally entitled to hold the office of President of the United States. This would be a huge deal if such claims were not debunked at every turn. His Hawaiian birth certificate was presented and verified, and media investigators along with Hawaiian officials have gone on record defending the validity of the document. The birthers, however, refuse to accept this and insist that the President provide additional proof. Maybe what they’re really trying to say is that Hawaii isn’t really part of the United States.

They have succeeded in infiltrating the ranks of the nation’s military and are apparently intent on undermining the very security of the country they claim to love. They have enlisted the good Lt. Col. Lakin, who, thus far has succeeded only in sullying his own reputation (sounds better than ‘looking like an idiot’ which he does really well by the way). I’m guessing that he thinks he looks all principled and stuff, but to me, when he shows up on national television, with his birther financed lawyer,words like petulant and racist, come more easily to mind. Racist is not an adjective I use lightly,and I sincerely hope that is not his motivation, but I am unable to see any other force behind this movement and behind people like, soon to be ‘Mr.’ Lakin.

He claims (or rather he mouths claims made by the birthers) that there is “mounting and significant evidence” against the validity of the President’s birth certificate. If he were really genuine in his intentions, then he would come forward with this ‘evidence’ and not leave us all in suspense. As for his lawyer, he brings to mind (to my mind anyway) that character in O Brother, Where Art Thou, who takes part in ‘venerated obzoivances’. Not the best choice Colonel.

As if this wasn’t enough, enter Ms. Stephanie Grace, Harvard Law Student, who catapults herself into the national limelight…..via email. In an email she, in her infinite wisdom, and with “grace” overflowing, declares, ‘ I absolutely do not rule out the possibility that African-Americans are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent’. I’m thinking I should not feel personally insulted, because obviously Ms. Grace, from within the bowels (yeah, bowels because you know what comes out of bowels) of her lily-white intelligence is fully aware that African-American is a cultural construct, and is not a synonym for Black. As such I have to assume that this genetic defect is peculiar to Black people who are born in the United States.

Let us suppose for a moment that she did mean all Black people. Since ‘racists don’t discriminate’ I believe this is much closer to the truth. Ms. Grace feels that the accident of nature that made her white, also made her more intelligent than Black people. I say Black people, because her email singles us out. It does not give any insight into how she feels about people of other races, so for now, we can’t quite call her a white supremacist…….not quite.

Ms. Grace later apologized and is apparently ‘heartbroken and devastated’ because she did not mean to cause any harm. Are you kidding me? At this point, if I am to follow her own logic, I have no choice but to believe that she herself must be African-American, because only someone ‘less intelligent’ could possibly believe that they could get caught saying something that stupidly insensitive and not expect any fallout. Perhaps she feels a change in the wind and thinks it has suddenly become ok to resurrect ghosts of a racist past. Well at least we know where she stands, which is more than we can say for the others out there.

The scary part here is that Ms. Grace is on her way to becoming a lawyer. Now I have no idea what kind of law she is intending to practice, but I am convinced that, no matter what, it spells trouble for any Black people who come within her sphere of influence, be they colleagues or clients. Black colleagues will know that she is merely tolerating them as one suffers fools, and Black clients cannot expect any fairness or objectivity in her dealings with them. Ms. Grace has unwittingly put a face on the systemic racism that exists today. Heaven help us if she becomes a judge.

Mr. Lakin is portraying himself as principled. I must assume then that based on principle, he has either refused his army salary for the past year and change, or is at least making arrangements to return any funds and benefits received over the past year and a half while the President has been in office. I mean, it’s the principle of the thing…….right? As for Ms. Grace, she is tryig her best to affect the role of the disconnected scientific observer, with all her calls for scientific data and such. Again, based on her own logic, it seems to me that her scientific objectivity is being called into question, since nowhere does she call for ‘scientfic data’ to prove that white people are ‘more intelligent’.  Come on Gracie, if you’re going to be objective about a thing, you need to do it right.

How dare she!!!

May 9, 2010

So Sandra Bullock, the popular White actress had the AUDACITY to adopt a Black baby. This has apparently raised the ire of some racial purists within the Black community, who, by the way, are not stepping in to adopt ANY of the children in the system, be they Black, White, or Green. Somehow though, they feel it is their duty to create a furor over this adoption. Apparently the timing is “suspicious”, and it is some sort of PR stunt because her husband cheated on her, not to mention the fact that this will cause the demise of African American culture as we know it…….uuuummmm….what????

This move on her part has started (or rejuvenated) a conversation on race and race relations that seems to have no end in the foreseeable future. You have people who make the argument that, (read slowly here, because you really have to follow this one) at one time White parents were not allowed to adopt Black children, and that such adoptions were eventually authorized, not for reasons of altruism, but because there were just too many Black kids in the system who were not being adopted. Okay, so maybe it’s not an actual argument, but rather one of those things people say to show that they read some historical literature………once. To use this as some kind of ammunition against interracial adoption boggles the mind. I’m guessing that these people also believe that slavery should never have been ended for purely economic reasons. Yeah, they should have kept my ancestors in bondage until they decided to end it for the ‘right’ reasons. It’s the principle of the thing dammit!!!

Then you have the whole ‘learn about his culture’ argument. Seems like unless ‘baby Louie’ grows up in a Black home, he will exist in some black hole (no pun intended) characterized by complete ignorance of his roots, and what it means to be Black. I don’t know Sandra Bullock personally and I have no idea whether this will be the case or not. I do, however, find it hard to believe that in the era of a Black American president, high profile Black business leaders, award winning Black actors, not to mention everyday Black heros, that this child will somehow grow up thinking that he’s White. This is not like that old Steve Martin movie where he is adopted into a Black family and only finds out he’s White when he becomes an adult. It is simply inconceivable that in the times we live in, that people can be so unaware of the diversity that surrounds them.

The unfortunate thing here is that, more often than not, when people make the whole “know your roots” argument, they are referring to the less flattering aspects of those roots. They are not talking about the great accomplishments of Black people throughout history. They are not talking about the many stories of success in Black communities today, rather they want their kids to submerge themselves in stories of slavery, jim crow, and Rodney King. They prefer that these children turn into Black men and women who are unable to interact with the broader community, and who act like people of different races are from a different planet and that they should all be feared and mistrusted.

The way I see it, I have more than enough stuff going on in my own life to have the time to be concerned about people who are still making interracial relationships an issue. I grew up surrounded by ‘mixed’ people so for me it was just the way things were. In my own case, it would take an army of genealogists to decipher my DNA. I see those stories of people who were able to trace their roots back to one one single place. My own genealogical makeup, however, leaves a much bigger footprint than that.

I’m thinking it’s about time that those with racial hangups ‘get with the program’. Harmonious racial relations is right up there alongside global warming and clean energy when it comes to the survival of the planet and the species. People need to get over themselves.

I am in no way minimizing what Black people went through (and still are going through). I am not, however willing to sit back and just let my history be my future. I have a daughter, and there is no way that I am going to teach her that there is anything she cannot do, just because she’s Black. Everyday I make sure that she knows that the world is her oyster. Everyday I let her know she is beautiful. Everyday I let her know that she is strong. Everyday I let her know that she is wise. I will not allow her to think that she is somehow less than anybody else just because of the color of her skin. So to the racial purists I say, ‘hold on, it’s gonna get bumpy’, and to Sandra Bullock I say, happy mother’s day.

The collectors

April 25, 2010

Years ago when the Pokemon madness hit planet earth, there was a minor uproar about the values that were being taught through the plot in the children’s show. Some people were very concerned that the show, cards and other paraphernalia were advocating materialism in young children (as if children needed any more encouragement). I’m thinking that collecting as many Pokemon cards as you can, was much safer, and had a lot less psychological impact than the type of collecting that goes on today. I’m talking about the global culture of …..people collecting.

Within the last decade, people collecting has become one of the fastest growing phenomena on the planet. We are hard pressed to find people who do not have collections of their own. In fact, we have reached a stage where, if you do not have your own collection, you are seen as out of touch, out of the loop, old fashioned, and any other description that could communicate your absolute lack of relevance. “You don’t have one!!!!!”….people ask with a look of complete incredulity, as as if to suggest that just because you don’t engage in the popular practice, you are somehow not suited to exist in civilized society. Seriously, they act like you’re missing a leg or something.

Unlike other types of collecting, where one collects rare or even limited edition items, people collecting, however, is like the retail industry. It’s a volume business. If you have less than a hundred people in your collection, you would be well advised to not talk too much about it. The “real” aficionados will laugh you to scorn. One hundred is the point at which you can begin to position yourself on the peripherals of conversations, where you will have the “privilege” of hearing “real” collectors, where you can learn how to go about developing an honest to goodness people collection. You’re not in the five or seven hundred brackets, but with a little work you’ll get there. Collections boasting thousands are not unheard of, but if you struggled to hit your first “century” you should probably set more moderate goals. Not to say it’s impossible, but you should always leave room to excel……….under promise, over deliver, works wonders for your self esteem.

Coin collectors, for example would spend hours learning about their rare pieces. They can tell you the history of each coin they own, where it was first minted, how many were minted, how old it is, how many are in existence still. People collectors, on the other hand, don’t have time for that sentimental claptrap, many of them have no clue of who the majority of people in their collections are. After all, people collections are purely for display purposes, and only two criteria count; how many and who they are, with who they are coming in a distant second (unless you specialize in a collection of “who’s who”, but that’s “a whole nother story”). Some people have people in their collections because they think it somehow adds to their own status. They don’t know these people from Adam as the saying goes. But it sure makes their collections bigger……….size DOES matter after all.

A particularly unique trait about people collecting though, is the willingness on the part of the collected to be just that; part of a collection. Nowhere else, but in the realm of the people collectors do people derive such pleasure from being a number. While busily growing their own massive collections, they are just as enthusiastic about being collected themselves. Apparently it has to do with wanting to be validated, and the best measure (to their minds) of one’s worth is how badly people want you to be a part of their collection. It has become so that we no longer want to build actual relationships with people, rather, we derive satisfaction from simply being associated with them. In most cases, we are even satisfied with being thought to be associated with some people; no real interaction necessary, being on the same planet is more than enough. They make fantastic conversation pieces; “wow, you know HER!!!!!!!…..Yeah, we’re like this, I was at a concert one time and my neighbor told me that a friend told her that she was at a house on the other street. Ummm….ok.

You must admit though that, to many, people collecting is a win win situation. You get the benefits of association (whatever those are) without the hassle of having to put any actual work into maintaining a relationship. Relationships can be pretty draining sometimes, with those “issues ridden” people expecting you to be there for them all the time, wanting to call you, talk to you, find out how you’re doing…….yeah it could be a real hassle. Better to have these superficial type deals where you can simply not concern yourself with the goings on in the lives of the people in your collection. Its like this huge open relationship where each party only takes whatever benefits them and leaves what doesn’t on the table. Makes life kinda messy for those people interested in “real” relationships if only the stressful stuff is left.

For the uninitiated, people collecting can be a huge let down, if they’re looking for sincere connections with others. They get into it thinking that they have an opportunity to build, or in some cases rebuild, relationships with old friends. They get all excited when some long lost friend agrees to be a part of their collection, even better when that long lost friend invites them to be part of theirs. The excitement is pretty short lived though, when they find that friend to be pretty uncommunicative. Talking to them is like talking to a “wall”.

I used to watch Star Trek when I was younger and I was always fascinated by “the Borg”, this alien race whose goal was pure assimilation. They were not interested in your individuality, your personal goals and ambitions were not their concern, they just wanted you to be a part of “the collective”, they took whatever you brought with you and assimilated it until it could no longer be identified as yours. You still, for the most part, looked like you, but that was about it. Your every action and word, was geared toward expanding the collective. They just wanted to get bigger. (I know this is a simplification, just in case some random “Trekkie” reads this and tries to taser me or something).

But hey, who am I to judge? People collecting works for a whole heap of people. They get profound fulfillment from not knowing too much about their “friends”. Forget getting to know people and other such rubbish, those massive collections sure come in handy when you decide to start a farm in Farmville, or a restaurant in Cafe World, or if you decide to wreak havoc on the Big Apple in Mafia Wars.

As for me, I’m starting to extricate myself from the Borg. My collection has gotten way out of hand. I am getting way too old for cyber pillow fights and “fertilizing other people’s plants” (something just doesn’t sound quite right there). This new collecting culture CAN work for me but it needs some tweaking. It starts with reducing my expectations (along with my friends list). I’m not looking for 500 “BFFs”, but would it kill you to say “oy” every now and then? It takes a lot less time than posting “something” on my wall.

Mars, Venus and everywhere in between

April 14, 2010

I AM NOT SEXIST!!!!! I just wanted to get that out there before I jump into this piece. I don’t anticipate that it will do any good, but I just wanted to have documented proof that I declared that fact. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way…..here goes nothing.

I am putting out a call, to anyone who can assist be in enhancing my understanding of women. I want to be able to have an anxiety free interaction with women where I understand what they’re saying, what they’re not saying (ESPECIALLY what they’re not saying), and,oh yeah, understand what they’re saying (did I already say that?)

I guess my point will best me made if I gave a couple of examples.

I want to understand what some women are saying, especially at those times when they’re saying something that they think you desperately HAVE to know. The problem here is that, for some women, the “interestingness” of the information has an inverse relationship to the volume with which they share that information. Take for example, this lady I worked with at one time. One day, I stop by her cube and we were having a very nice conversation about our families, plans for the weekend and other such small talk (what can I say, I’m a friendly guy). Things were going along “swimmingly” as they say, when I began to realize that I wasn’t hearing her very well anymore. The woman started whispering, actually not really whispering, but that is the softest voice I know how to describe, and she was way below that. In addition to which, I noticed she began shaking her head in this jerky fashion and giving me these “you know what I mean” kinda looks. She was even laughing at times. I was on the verge of calling 911 when I realized that she was NOT having some sort of breakdown, but rather she was actually talking to me. I tried to follow along. When that didn’t work out, I defaulted to some well timed hmmms, aaahhhhs, and looks of complete incredulity. This approach worked to at least make her think I had a clue as to what on God’s green earth she was talking about. I was “saved” by a couple of other women who walked up and joined the “conversation”. It was a sight to behold, a silent, head-shaking, giggling affair which I could never be a part of. It was a pity though, from the looks of things I think I missed out on some funny stuff. Oh well…..

The next thing women do is that they speak in these codes that only they can decipher. My wife for example, is pretty adept at this (as a side note, if I am not heard from after publishing this, well it’s been a nice ride). Anyway, some years after we were married, we make plans to do this thing. We were both looking forward to the thing, we talked about the thing…we were just plain excited. As it turned out, something came up and we could no longer do what we planned. It wasn’t anybody’s fault, it was just one of those things that happen. Of course I had to break the news to her. She promptly expressed her displeasure, indicating that she did not appreciate this new development, actually what she said was “I doh like dem kinda ting nah”……..hmmmmm. Now I like to think that I’m a reasonable sort, and I think that , being a reasonable sort, I reasonably interpreted that response to mean “I strongly suggest that you fix this”.I love my wife very much, so I was determined to make sure that the thing we were both looking forward to was not dead in the water. I was able to “fix the thing”. I came home all excited that the thing was back on. After all, weren’t we both very anxious about the thing? Weren’t we both disappointed when we found out the thing could not take place? Did she not express her OBVIOUS displeasure that the thing was no longer on? Well that’s what I thought too. After I broke my fantastic news, I got a decidedly cool reception. A few minutes later she came outside to the living room where I was and said…………….”I doh like dem kinda ting”……..aaaarrrrrggghhhh.

So you see my predicament….damned if I do and damned if I don’t. Its a desperate situation. I need help. I have a theory though. I think women are born with a small embedded program which allows them to devise new, devious ways to confuse men. This is evident from very young. My 4 year old daughter, for example, is a huge fan of Dora the Explorer. She picks up a few Spanish words, which she uses on us. One of her favorite things to do is try to block us from getting by and insisting we must say the magic word (abre – open) to get by. So my wife goes up, says “abre” and gets by. I come along, say “abre” and I get a resounding “No, that is not the magic word daddy”. Now you tell me that this is not some sort of conspiracy.

As soon as I’m done here I’m going to browse the iTunes store. If there is a device that an help me, it has to be my iPhone. I refuse to give up…….there has to be an app for that.

Sense & Sensibilities

March 16, 2010

Caribbean people have a reputation for being friendly and very personable, especially to foreigners. We are very welcoming and would generally go all out to make strangers comfortable. There are, however, a few things that rub us the wrong way. We get “vex too bad”.

One is when people ignore the diversity that is the diaspora resident in the Caribbean Islands…”oh I just love your accent, I went to school with a girl from St. Lucia, and she sounded EXACTLY LIKE YOU”, says the foreigner to the Barbadian. Ummmmm………..no she didn’t.Or when they exhibit their own ignorance by asking silly questions…..”So how do you all get around? Do you have cars?”…..naah, we typically swing on vines. Much cheaper that way, and you don’t have to worry about finding parking under the trees.Or the ever so popular “Do you speak english where you come from?”……well to be quite frank, after talking with you for the past half hour, I’m beginning to wonder the same thing.

But one of the things that really really irk us is when they “discover” things that we’ve known about in the Caribbean since, “rock of ages was a pebble” and turn around and wonder if we would be able “appreciate” these “new advances”. Friend of mine in Canada, for example met this lady who was doing some research for an import and export business…organic teas she said. Knowing my friend was from “the islands” (wherever that is), she was wondering if there were any pockets of people there who would appreciate organic tea……….can someone say bush tea!!! To add insult to injury she goes on to say that the more affluent the individuals the more attuned they are to general health and well being. So not only are we ignorant as to the “newly discovered” benefits of bush tea, we are too poor to even know that we don’t know. Never mind that, for the most part, in the early days (when bush tea was invented), it was the selfsame less affluent ones who used the stuff because they could not afford to pay to be killed by all the fancy medicine.

Its not her fault though. Her attitude is representative of the inward looking nature of many people who have become so used to their current environment, that they forget it wasn’t always that way. They forget that the thing which is now so much a part of their present is also part of someone else’s past. They forget that they are reaping the benefits of the experiences of others.

It takes all kinds to make this world the place that it is though and sometimes it is best to not let incidents like this get under your skin. Just say what my father said when he encountered a particularly silly state of affairs…………STEEUUUPPPPSSS!!!


%d bloggers like this: