Sunday, October 4, 2015

40 and Fab: Celebrate Your Birthday Even If You Don't Feel Like It

I’m turning 40 this month (s/o to all my Libras!), and I am choosing to celebrate this milestone because life is short and the length of it is not guaranteed. A couple of weeks ago I had a very different mindset. I was stressing out about my job, finding a new apartment, money and pictures. Pictures? You see, I’ve struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember and consequently, I’m extremely self-conscious about pictures. I’m not a big selfie person and definitely not a full-body shot person (sorry to all the ashy larrys who make these requests on, but it ain’t happening any time soon). When you go to Vegas with your girlfriends to celebrate your birthday (or anything else), you’re supposed to wear sexy clothes and take lots of pics, right? But I’m already heavy and pictures just make me look even bigger. How am I supposed to enjoy Vegas when I’m freaked about taking pictures with my friends? Obviously my panic about pics just snowballed into anxiety about everything else going wrong in my life and tears soon followed.

I called my mama who reminded me that a birthday is a celebration of life. In nothing else, I should celebrate that I’m still here, healthy and in my right mind. During our talk I was reminded of where I’ve been and how far I’ve come. Around this time five years, I was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. While doctors will tell you that Hodgkin’s is a very curable cancer, it doesn’t work out that way for everyone. Most of the time I didn’t think I was going to die, but I definitely had my moments (if I told you the Blake Griffin story, you know how scared I was during certain points in my journey). 

After I completed treatment, I was dealt additional blows that I didn’t handle very well. However, like my pastor said recently, I’ve been broken but I’m still blessed. God pulled me through too much to let pics and other worries stand in the way of me feeling good about another year to do great things. We’ve got one life on this earth to live and every year we get should be celebrated for the victory it is.

Wanna get me something for my birthday? Make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

And, if you got anything left over, buy ya girl a drink the next time you see me :) 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Lyon Lessons: Empire and the Consequences of Hate (and Predictions for Season 2)

Yes, it's been days since the insane Empire finale, and yet my brain is ignoring my attempts to move on. When this happens the only way to cope is to blog it out.

So, this isn't a recap of what happened (if you don't know by now, kudos to your ability to keep your head in the sand) or a deep-dive analysis of what Empire means for diversity on television or whether the show is  relying on or shattering stereotypes. 

These are my thoughts on lessons learned or reinforced through art. In the case of the Empire finale, and really the whole inaugural season, the overarching theme seems to be you can only hurt people for so long before whatever love, affection or respect they had morphs into the ugly cancerous organism known as hate. In other words, folks go from 0 to 100 real quick when pushed one too many times.

The finale left me feeling some kind of way. Not because there was A LOT going or that the show may not come back until January (time to catch up on  black-ish!), but because the brothers, specifically Hakeem and Andre, are setting up themselves for a war with Jamal. Just a couple of episodes ago, the brothers came together for Andre during his breakdown. Now, they're probably going to break any brotherly bonds they have left. Why? Because they, along with Cookie and Anika, hate Lucious with a capital H.
Loathing Lucious is totally understandable. Let's recap:

Anika: Loved Lucious, despite being cheated on multiple times before Cookie even showed up; Accepted his marriage proposal only to walk in on Lucious taking a bite of Cookie's cookies; Still believed they had a future together before finding out Lucious lied about going back to the cookie jar.

Cookie: Lawd, do we need to even discuss this? "17 years, bitch!" Yep, that pretty much sums it up. Oh, and all the harm Lucious has done to her children, firing her from the company because she dared to explore a relationship with Malcom, killing her cousin, Bunkie , know, that ish. 

Hakeem: He seems to be operating from two wells of hate: He hates his father for sending away the woman he loved and hates Camilla for what he thinks she did (she didn't actually take the money). He also resents being controlled like he's a puppet instead of a young adult, as spoiled and bratty as he may be. Annnnddddd...Lucious promised him the "kingdom" that ultimately went to Jamal.

Andre: Poor Andre. While Jamal got the worst of it physically (being beaten and thrown in the trash can for being gay), Andre got the worst of it mentally and emotionally. On one hand you've got mental illness and a father that refuses to acknowledge it. Don't forget that after Andre's second psychotic break, Lucious doesn't even bother to visit him at the clinic, even at Cookie's insistence. Being a loving father is clearly not a Lucious Lyon strength.  

Then, despite the fact that Andre is smart and developed business acumen in the absence of musical talents, it still isn't good enough for Lucious who sees making music as life's only purpose (uh, OK). Because Andre is not musically inclined, he's ignored by his family and put in a chief financial officer box that he desperately wants to escape. Add to this the fact that Lucious tells him he was never in contention to run the company because he brought a white woman into the family. Andre knows this is BS, and is so devastated that the company he poured his heart and soul into will never be his that he attempts suicide. And then, when Andre tries to forge his own path and get close to God, Lucious sabotages his efforts by offering his spiritual mentor, Michelle, a record contract. Y'all, Andre has been through it!!

Yeah, Lucious tried to apologize when he found out he wasn't dying with jets, money for foundations and whatnot, but those were material gifts that only addressed current  transgressions and not the pain that had been building in the brothers from years of Lucious' selfishness and mistreatment. Once Jamal got the Empire Hakeem and Andre's pain took it's final turn into hate, and the rest is Empire history. 

Hakeem said it best after the epic Cookie/Anika catfight: "We're all here because we hate the same man." That's powerful. Andre, Hakeem and Cookie each stated their desire for Lucious to die at various times in the finale. That's heavy, heartbreaking and horrific. But..Andre, Hakeem, Cookie and Anika are all operating out of a profound sense of hurt and loss. They've been pushed too far, and now the cancer has spread 

Even though these are fictional TV characters, seeing these dynamics play out on screen resonated with me because I've been pushed to the brink of hate with some of my family members and people I trusted. Fortunately I didn't stay there, but I understand how a person can get to that place and take up residence. 

As a Christian, I know hating someone is not godly. I also know that hurt people, hurt people. I've done it and have had it done to me. But, I'm constantly trying not to be the person that causes hurt in the lives of others, especially family and friends. I fall short, but I'm trying. I'm also trying to be more forgiving and more decisive in separating myself from people and situations that aren't good for me. I ain't trying to be like the Lyons. 

OK, now that I've gotten all deep about a TV show, let's have fun and make some predictions for Empire Season 2:

  • Without Vernon, Lucious will get out of jail. Duh!!
  • Once free, Lucifer, I mean Lucious, will be so hell bent on revenge that he'll actually try to kill at least one of his sons. After all Lucious did say during his hallucination, "I kill anyone who crosses me."
  • Lucious' real name is Dwight Walker, and it will mean something for eveyone involved. 
  • The hostile take over will blow up in everyone's face, and the family will lose the company.
  • Jamal's hookup with Ryan in Lucious' office will have negative consequences for him and the company.
  • Tension between Jamal and Andre will grow and may lead to another physical confrontation. 
  • Rhonda's real reason for telling Andre not to call the police will be revealed, and it won't be pretty. 
  • Somebody else will die in the season 2 finale.

What are your predictions?

Lemme know in the comments and stay random,


Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Selma Snub: Why Dismissing DuVernay is a Deal Breaker

Indulge me for a sec....

Today has been...interesting to say the least. On one hand it's a day to remember and reflect on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, who was born on this day in 1929. For sorors of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, it's a day to celebrate our 107 years of sisterhood and service. On the other hand, the amazing film, Selma, directed by Soror Ava DuVernay about the King-led Selma marches was snubbed by Oscars thanks to a well-orchestrated smear campaign created by people mad at the fact that LBJ wasn't positioned as the hero of the film. Yes, Selma got Best Picture and Best Original Song nods, but DuVernay and David Oyelowo weren't recognized for their extraordinary work. If you've seen Selma, you know why this is a PROBLEM. 

Basically, DuVernay and Oyelowo were punished for not making a white savior movie. Ava said she wasn't interested in this well-worn path, and apparently being apologetic about it is a no-no.  Let that sink in for a minute. God forbid that Black people actually save and empower themselves on screen...and in real life. Jan. 15, an interesting day indeed. 

Say no to the white savior-loving Oscars and stay random,