Monday, February 19, 2007

A well-needed break

My dad and his friends like to make fun of me at times. Because that's how we show love -- picking on each other. But they're serious when they say that I assimilate much better than they do. And I do. (By the way, why am I the one who has to assimilate? Oh yeah. I forgot. I'm not a member of the dominant society.) There's just one thing. The assimilation crap gets tiring and so one needs to take a break. Because there's only so long that you can hide yourself without feeling like you're about to have a breakdown. Because there are times that you start questioning your place in the world. Because you know that you don't completely fit into the dominant society and when you try to go back to your own people, you discover that you don't quite fit in there anymore. (This doesn't hurt as much as it did when I was in high school, but every now and then, I still feel the pain. This is what I meant when I wanted to show my students how to succeed without losing themselves. Because if you lose yourself, what else is left?) And because there's only so many times that one can hear the same things over and over.

My favorite gems? "I have friends who are fill in whatever description." That's nice but here's a thought. You wouldn't need to say it if it was obvious. "How dare you say I don't understand because... You don't know everything about me." Here's a hint. Whenever I've told someone that they just don't understand, it's because every statement they have made previous to this has indicated that they don't have a clue. Oh and my all-time favorite -- "I'm not trying to be offensive but ..." Biotch. You knew the shit was offensive before it even crossed your lips so why the hell did you even say it? And probably what gets me going the most with the melanin-challenged is that for them discussions on our society come off as sounding like some new thing they have just discovered. (I know this is usually not the case.) Why does it feel this way? Because these are things that are discussed amongst my family and friends on a regular basis. When I was growing up, these were daily discussions. Now that I'm an adult, these are discussions that for the most part only arise anytime I am around family. These are things I think about every single day. I don't have the luxury of putting them aside only to pull them out when I feel like it. And I won't even get into how it's all compounded by the fact that I'm a woman.

So that was my plan for the weekend. A break from the melanin-challenged. I could go into the conversations that I've had with my mom over the last few days but then folks would really get all worked up. But then again, maybe it wouldn't because my mom thinks that I'm the one who's all militant and stuff. My parents still believe in Martin's dream. Some days I have doubts. She blames it on my career change to teaching and says that I was never this way before. But I was. I like to point out to her that she should not be surprised. Who was my first babysitter? An uncle who was down with the Panthers -- who, by the way, did a lot of positive things for the community. Like free breakfast. Did you know that the free breakfast program that is now in place in schools is modeled on the program the Panthers started? Yeah, the government doesn't like to point that out. Bastards.

Y'all still with me? Didn't get your panties in a wad and all? Cool. The cats were recommending lots of sleep. This would have been fine but my wallet was empty (Damn those Friday treats. Actually damn that new car battery. No, damn them both. Oh, and I forgot to take pix of the Friday treats as well.) and my dad needed me to do some work. He suggested putting it off until another day since I'm off work this week. But my wallet was empty.

So I drove up to Sack of Tomatoes Saturday afternoon. I did some work and got some money. (And let's just say that it's enough to keep me partying quite well for my week off. Because I'm royal and all. Daddy's princess. Yeah, I'm a BAP. Just waiting for the rest of the world to catch on. Although those I have met in bars never doubt my royal standing.) Oh, and I got some wine also. Because there's always a case or two stashed in the warehouse of my dad's office. I just wish that it had been the Pinot Noir but Mac has a hard time keeping that stuff around. Then again, it's not like I had to pay for it so who am I to gripe?

Then it was over to my dad's house. Because there was BBQ waiting there from his friend's restaurant. Ribs, links, greens, and macaroni & cheese. I passed on the sweet potato pie. Have I mentioned how much I love my dad's friends? If Sack of Tomatoes was urban, I'd probably move there in a heartbeat. Because I could so rule the place given my dad's connections. Because his friends? They love me. Well, at least the male ones do. That's not problematic, is it? But I like staying in the Bay where I can try to do things on my own. Because I got most of my jobs on my own. Except for the job I had at the non-profit and my first teaching job. Those were the result of recommendations of family friends. But then again, those were just recommendations. I still impressed them in the interviews. The hardest part is getting in the door for the first interview. That's what my family has learned about me. I interview exceedingly well. Kind of like the fact that I am an anomaly -- a person of color who does very well on standardized tests. (Didn't I tell you that I can assimilate well when I decide that it is beneficial to me?) Thankfully I have a totally Anglo sounding name. And I learned years ago to remove race specific stuff from my resume. You should see the the shock on interviewers' faces when I walk in the door. Not as bad as what Jade gets. Because her husband is Italian. And her paternal grandfather is Filipino. Even when she used her maiden name, they were surprised to see her.

My dad gave me a copy of a local Black magazine because he had been interviewed in the magazine. I have quite a collection of these things because whenever they want to interview Black business owners in Sack of Tomatoes, my dad always seems to end up on the list. I was reminded once more why my stepmother is married to him. She didn't think that anyone else's interviews were as good as my father's. My mother and I have never been able to worship him in quite the same way. We figure it's just as well that he found her.

And then we watched the NBA Slam Dunk. Because even though my dad has satellite with all the premium channels, the TV only seems to actually receive sports and news programs. This is the real reason why I don't spend much time there. After about the first half hour or so, my eyes start to glaze over. You would think that they would have noticed this but no. My stepmother stated, "I bet 90% of the TVs are tuned to the All Star game. Don't you think?" Ummmm. No. And yes, I did actually say this. As of this past week, they have been married for 21 years. She should be used to me by now. Finally, I fled because I had a little over an hour on the road and wine that was begging to be opened.

My original plan for Sunday was to go to the semi-finals of the Bay Area Black Comedy Competition. Jade was down for it but then she decided to invite this other friend of hers -- this kind of pretentious woman who I think has a stick or something lodged up her ass. This woman did not want to go. So we made changes in our plans. And then she decided that she didn't want to go out after all. Which was fine by me. At least Jade doesn't cringe when I start cursing like a sailor.

Really. I do. Once I was hanging in the Castro and these guys told me, "Honey, you seemed all nice and sweet at first but then this stuff started coming out of your mouth..." But that was because I had had a few cocktails and we were playing Spades. And I do a lot of trash talking when I play Spades. And that nice and sweet thing? Just a disguise. Kind of like how Diana Prince is Wonder Woman's disguise. Actually y'all have never seen me at my most evil. Many in my family live in fear of what could come out of my mouth. Because remember how I said I am pretty perceptive about people? Well, I also usually know just what to say to cause the most injury. Fortunately for most folks, that little bit of nice in me stops me from saying these things most of the time. That's what was fun about hanging out with Grasshopper. I could lean over and whisper the thoughts to her. And then we'd laugh. Now you know the truth. I am a mean girl. And who gives a flying fuck if you like me.

But back to Sunday. By Sunday morning, it was just going to be Jade and me. And I knew what that would mean. Jade rarely goes out in the evening if it is not a group. By Sunday evening, she called to say that she thought she was coming down with something. I thought about heading out alone but every place I could think of nearby would be filled with the melanin-challenged. And I hadn't quite gotten over my foul mood yet. So Natasha and I curled up in bed and watched some TV.

And tomorrow it's back to Sack of Tomatoes so that I can finish my work. And it looks like I may actually have to get up in the morning. Because I forgot that I have a doctor's appointment in the afternoon. Yep. During my various appointments with the doctor over the last couple of weeks, they finally realized that I have not had a mammogram. And let me tell you that I am totally thrilled by that idea. Not. But that's OK because later in the week I hope to hit Cowgirl Creamery because I need more jam and I've been told that I can find what I want in the Tomales Bay spot.

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