Wednesday, November 29, 2006

consumption sure is sweet

so it's been a few days since black friday (you know, that frenzied consumer's dream the day after thanksgiving). i, as usual, came up. let me quickly list the things i purchased for myself:

19" lcd flat screen television ($179)

kodak 6.1 megapixel digital camera ($98)

jensen ipod compatible alarm clock ($28)

hewlett-packard scanner, copier, printer ($48)

the office (us version), season 1 ($9.99)

memorex cd/dvd player ($24)

virgin mobile two-way, web browsing cell phones ($9.99)

40 pack AA batteries ($2)

8 pc stainless steel mixing bowls ($9.99)

black & decker family sized griddle ($19)

512 MB memory cards ($7)

queen sized air mattress ($17)

hand mixer ($3.50)

I think that's about it. There may be random, forgotten purchases, but you get the idea. I also purchased a few things for my mom, brother and dad, but those are their things, so forget about those.

I love shopping. I am an avid, and addicted, consumer. Most of my family memories exist against the backdrop of malls or cars on the way to malls. Every single weekend, my dad would pick my brothers and me up and we'd go to a mall--Evergreen, Ridge, Lincoln, Orland Square--it didn't matter; we spent many precious bonding moments in dens of pure consumerism. Since I can remember, we have always woken at ungodly hours the days after thanksgiving and christmas to rush big box stores for product. The rallying cry was always the same--"Buy first, ask questions later." We'd always leave the Best Buys, Circuit Citys and Walmarts with many more televisions (yes, plural), printers, computers, game systems and various other electronics than we actually needed. Only when we had returned home and unloaded the stuff from the vehicles (yes, vehicles) would we ponder the need for these things. After a few years, we'd developed a fleet of shoppers throughout the family: My dad, my mom, my brothers and I would travel in one car; my cousin Wilma would travel alone in her own car; Nate, another cousin, would also be ready in a vehicle of his own. Together, we'd create strategies for hitting the most important stores and getting the most amount of product:

"Wilma, you get as many 32" televisions as you can. Nate, you're our laptop man. Grab as many as you can. We'll handle the playstations."

So, you incessant shopping, my arriving home with shopping bags three to four days out of the week, really isn't my fault. I was made this way. I was raised on the satisfying high of the purchase. I cannot stop. Shopping is my drug, my confidant, my friend. I must continue to purchase or I'll withdraw into a coma of dissatisfaction. My things, my beautiful things, must continue to be amassed. They belong here, in my closet, on my floor, under my bed, out on the porch. It's the only way, you see. Now, if you'll please excuse me, I have to go. I have to find a place for my third television.

(on a more serious note, rest in peace mrs. shirley washington. you fed me pork n beans when my mother wasn't home and was always so nice about complimenting me on my dodgy, oily skin. you always reminded me of tina turner for some reason. i can't believe you're gone.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


so, i've come up with an unfortunate (and unfair) analogy for my freshmen classes. it follows the course of a basic and predictable dinner one has at eighth grade or senior luncheons held in moderately priced hotels (like the Hyatt or Ramada). you know those meals; they usually give you options that appear to be accommodating, but are really quite limited in their options--vegetarian? poultry? pescado? yeah, don't you believe for one minute that anything outside the standard limp stir fry, chicken in questionable cream sauce or bland white fish in copious amounts of oil and unidentifiable seasonings are available-those are the options, no filet mignon here. so, back to my analogy. first period, as my avid readers know, is my least favorite class. i liken them to that "salad" one receives to kick off the bullshit meal--a few pieces of lettuce (usually iceberg), a cherry tomato and a sliver of some other random vegetable. this "salad" is not at all satisfying; as a matter of fact, salad status for this half-assed disaster on a plate is really quite questionable. why, catering people, do you even bother serving it? no one eats this and no one wants to. bring more bread. just as this "salad" is a dispensable, rather unpleasant harbinger of the so-so dinner to come, so is first period's rather questionable behavior. i know that they're freshmen and can only be expected of so much maturity, but are they conscious, thinking beings at all? are the random shrieking noises, impromptu songs, and completely off-the-mark assignments really real? stop it already, first period. i'd rather have bread.

my fourth period freshmen class i liken to that passable meat dish served as the main course (or veggie stir fry for you assholes who just refuse to eat meat. sorry natalie if you're reading). it's pretty basic and it is food, so you'll eat it since you had absolutely no time to grab anything remotely edible in your hurry to make it to this crappy event on time. however, midway through this rather disappointing (and flavorless) dish, you feel a strong urge to hurl. this "cream sauce" is giving you the business, and you should really stop and have more bread to try to combat the deleterious effect of this poorly prepared calamity; but, you did pay fifty bucks (or whatever amount) to attend this function and there is no way you're wasting your hard-earned cash, so you keep eating, hating yourself as you do. yes, fourth period, you appear to be slightly sane in the beginning, and then you wild out into this crazed group of evil people. what's up with that?

then comes fifth period. after three periods (two freshmen, one junior) of being battered and bruised by the casualties of being a modern educator, you just want to go home and lose yourself in some mindless entertainment...and maybe a taste tip from the Honey 1 BBQ up the street, but you have just one more class to teach. i liken this, my last class, to dessert. after a rather mediocre meal, you accept dessert half out of resignation, half out of expectation. so, you choose between that disgusting ooze of raspberry cheesecake, the alarmingly unimaginative dish of ice cream (ice milk, who are they kidding?), and boring, but comforting chocolate cake. you, of course, choose the chocolate cake and it's fantastic! i mean, your taste buds may just be compensating for the caterer's lack of culinary expertise in other areas, but this cake slice is pretty moist, chocolately and flavorful. it makes you happy. finally, you've gotten something out of this god awfully long hell of an outing. thanks, fifth period, for being so smart and funny, and for "getting it."

eighth grade luncheons and other such events are actually pretty heartwarming in retrospect. hell, i totally hated mine, but i'm glad i went. though i've accused my poor students of being bland chicken dishes and limp salads, i'm really fond of them. how couldn't i be? they're kids and shit. plus, they really aren't that bad and i was waaaaay worse.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Don't Eat Swine!!!!

So it's 7:28 in the morning and I haven't slept (no reason, just haven't), and I feel somehow compelled to write about Gerald Levert's death. So...this is me writing about it. I mean, I have nothing important or radically different to say. I mean, it is fucked up cuz dude was only 40 and he seemed like good people. (Since I had no friends, I watched a lot of BET back in the day [before it became ass central] and Gerald used to stay on the Video Soul couch talking to Donnie Simpson; he always seemed like a cool dude, no pretensions or big head or anything.) It's sad. I know women over forty (and prematurely old chicks like me) everywhere are devastated. He was even working on losing weight, eating healthier and working out. He was a fantastic performer; you could always count on Gerald to show up to an event decked out in a sparkly and/or metallic outfit and to include in his performance: 1) the emphatic jumping motion to highlight a particular soulful run, 2) the two-minute r&b troubadour riff, including such phrases as BAY-BEH!, OOOOHHHH!, MMMM HMMM! and other such fantastic notes and 3) at least one roll on the stage (for good measure, of course). Dude was raw.

I guess I'm a little annoyed since my other dude Luther (who I'm listening to right now) died from some slipshod eating type dealie (stroke-Luther loved him some fried chicken, truth) too, and this shit is kinda avoidable. I mean Luther had just hit 50 (sorta, he was 54) and Gerald was 40. In this day and age, where Willie Nelson can creak ever onward towards absolute moth-eaten senescence, I'm sure heart attacks and strokes can be avoided. Some of us don't do doctor visits, but we should. More of us eat crap (I'm talking hamhocky, deep-fried in butter crap) and figure we'll be just fine. Nope, we'll die of dumb shit like hypertension and heart disease just when life gets good. Go to the doctor people; don't take the shitty drugs they give you, but at least go for check ups and shit. And don't have hamhocks for every meal. Try alternating the hamhock dinner with something a bit less risky, like fish (not fried) or something; maybe a nice fruit salad. Get your blood pressure checked. See someone if you have chest pains (I did, but of course, I went home after sitting in the ER for seven hours, but I tried). If you don't have insurance, go to those free health fairs and neighborhood events when they come up. Do something to cling to your health and happiness other than constantly shoving your mouth in a trough of fats and sugars. (Where's my soapbox? Oh, there it is.) Black women are about 70 percent more likely than white women to be diagnosed with heart disease and twice as likely to have heart attacks. Forty percent of us (meaning black folks) have some form of heart disease. We all know know people who have had debilitating or fatal strokes. In general, the whole "eat first, ask questions later" approach isn't working.

Now I can't say too much about those of you with fucked up eating habits, for I will be having a fried egg and bologna sandwich (with extra mayo) the moment I publish this entry AND I had Hot Doug's for dinner (a bacon sausage with avocado cream, lettuce, and tomatoes among other things), but I did have a granola bar for breakfast. Also, I, being the child of a hypochondriac, will go to the doctor in a heartbeat. Two Christmases ago, I just knew I was dying of cancer and visited my doctor for confirmation, luckily it was just a cyst. I've also had pap smears galore and a recent EKG. And I try my best to purchase the low sodium items when I grocery shop. And I opt for homemade meals more often than not to at least avoid some of the crazy fast food crappiness that abounds (though, I will be having a MCRib at some point before the promotion ends, but I won't be having 40 of them). See! Too much information, but I'm modelling behavior here. The point is, at least try to be healthy. Heart attacks at 40 is not a good look.

Some information/links for better health

Black men in Chicago with shitty to nonexistent health insurance

Project Brotherhood
Woodlawn Health Center
6337 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637

Upcoming Health-Oriented Programs/Chicago

Women, Tend to Your Hearts

Also, in honor of the man who prompted this entry, let us all sing "Baby, I'm Ready" or "Casanova" in husky, soulful tones. All Hail Gerald Levert, Thane of Steppers' Sets!

Sunday, November 05, 2006


see, this is why i didn't want a blog. for those who know me from my "fruity pork" days, you know that i'm a bit lax when it comes to the posting. i tend to be really excited upfront (see the first few consecutive days of posting), then, very quickly, i fall off and start to wonder why i made the commitment in the first place. i only have so many emotions, anyway. by the time i get to my tenth post, every possible emotion i can experience will have been reflected here, so i'll have to start jumping through hoops. hell, look at this post; i've got nothing. i'm wearing my "big robe," eating almond cookies and preparing to devour a frozen uno's pizza all by myself--this is surely not stimulating or interesting.

in other soporific news, i'm old. i've officially reached the turning-into-your-parents phase. i've always liked the blues; now, i'm listening to the sunday evening blues show on 106.3 and downloading the latest shirley brown singles. i also make mixtapes of various blues jams and do the snap, head down, "this mah cut" thing when i hear certain songs in public--way to go me. my favorite pastimes include watching reruns of any show on usa (the network), grocery shopping, and deciding which cake recipe to try next (which, in honor of thanksgiving, will be the pumpkin praline layer cake with cream cheese frosting-hay now!). i don't go out much, and when i do, i get tipsy and get "dorothy voice" while doing variations of the two-step on the dance floor. i drive a minivan. i like gizzards and gravy--a lot. i can tell you z.z. hill's real name and place of birth. despite all this--the slightly disturbing love of new house shoes, the boxes of johnson's foot soap in my closet, the bacon grease container next to the stove--i wouldn't want to be any different. why bother? at least i don't have herpes like many of my peers AND i don't have to worry about getting old; i'm already there.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

work y'all

hella papers to grade, y'all. hella papers.

tomorrow grades go in for the ten week period. the freshmen are up in arms because most of them (we'll say 95%) got d's or below on their thesis papers. now i'm stuck reading 90 revisions before tomorrow so that my students can have decent grades to show their parents on friday. i have kids freakin out over b's, high b's. nevermind that the grading scale we use is ridiculous (95-100 A, 94-88 B...), these kids need to chill.

gotta go, hella papers.