Challenge: 12 Things That Make Me Different

***WARNING***
The following blog post contains subject matter that readers may find far less interesting than, let’s say, picking through belly button lint or watching paint dry. Reader discretion is, therefore, probably not necessary.

I was inspired to take up this challenge by one of my favorite bloggers imayormaynotkillmyself because it seemed like fun. And, who knows? Maybe on my continuing journey of self-discovery, I’ll learn something even more boring about myself in the process…but I don’t think that’s possible.

The rules are:

  1. Mention if you were nominated by someone or decided to take up the challenge on your own
  2. Write your own list of twelve things that make you different and proud (and odd maybe?!!)
  3. On your post, put a link to the original post here. This is where the challenge starts from TOKENS OF EXPRESSION
  4. Use the hashtag #12ThingsThatMakeMeDifferent
  5. Be sure to write these five rules on your post. Including the note.

Note: Nominations are completely optional. If you want to nominate anyone specifically, feel free to tag them and inform them. The purpose is to spread the message. I really, really do encourage nominations, that’s surely a better way to promote and let people know. If you choose to nominate, please tag at least three. But keeping in mind the discomfort many bloggers have about the same, there’s no pressure.

12 THINGS THAT MAKE ME DIFFERENT (PROUD OR ODD):

1. You can say that I’m a practicing misanthrope. Meaning, I’ve developed a deep distrust of humankind in recent years and I can’t tell you why because I don’t trust you.
2. Learning how to make light and fluffy pancakes and biscuits from scratch are my gifts to my family.
3. There’s really no evidence that the American Civil War has ended.
4. Humor is my weapon, a survival skill I use to keep away the daily threat of being swallowed up whole by depression. So, yeah, I guess you could say that I do take humor seriously.
5. I happen to be a very secretive person but I’ll never admit it.
6. I rabbit-hole a lot on YouTube just watching videos of Asian female rappers with their corn-rowed attitudes and half-assed twerking bodies, even though I can’t understand a damn word they say. But just seeing how the influence of Hip-Hop and Rap has grown since its origins in America amazes me.
7. It’s not that I want to be angry with America, its history, its present…but as a Black man, I’ve run out of options.
8. I know that Black Girl Magic is real. It’s a Dolly Parton song bossed up by Whitney Houston’s vocal skill like the kind of Nubian appeal White girls always tryin’ to steal but goes sideways like an off-brand drug deal for pushin’ “Beau braids” while steppin’ on that authentic nappy feel cuz McDonald’s should never try to sell soul food Happy Meals!
9. I dress like a retired breakdancer.
10. I try not to act my age because I don’t think I’m old enough.
11. Running in place, actually, makes me feel like I’m getting somewhere.
12. I’m a worst-case-scenario kind of guy who sees the world through the lens of a half-empty glass.

Well, my work here is done. Thanks for reading…umm and don’t worry the numbness will wear off shortly. Hey, you were warned!

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Breaking News: Taylor Swift Loses Her Damn Mind!

Maybe I’m overreacting…yeah, that’s it!
I mean, it has to be a prank! Right? This can’t be real! This can’t be happening!

Even with all her musical success, there’s no way in hell that Taylor Swift would even come close to carrying enough receipts to qualify her to cover Earth, Wind, and Fire’s R&B funk classic September. It’s a hundred years too soon, Becky! She shoulda just stayed in her lane as the anti-Miley Cyrus with ongoing boy troubles and other privileged White girl issues of having too much wealth and fame with little to no talent.

But don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate TS. I hate her decision to cover an EWF up-tempo masterpiece that used to pack dance floors in the late 70’s with a parade of polyester bell bottoms and hot pants in the Soul Train line dance. It’s the kind of song your parents might say they danced to when they first met…if they happen to be Black. (Because wypipo really don’t dance to music. They just kind of move to it in an orderly fashion…or not.)

And I know there are legions of Taylor-can-do-no-wrong-Swifties out there who can’t understand the Twitter backlash. That TS has taken a timelessly popular dance song–a song that can still seduce old school fam at a backyard barbecue, or family reunion to cut a rug and do the Bump–by a legendary soul group and transformed it into an acoustical type of suicide note. And you can listen to all 17 seconds of the vocal assault here.

And I know what you’re saying, that if TS was Black that there would be no backlash. That when the late Whitney Houston remade, recreated, reinvented, repurposed, totally owned, took us to church, baptized us, made us into born-again-believers with her deeply soulful rendition of Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You that she was endlessly praised for doing so. Umm…that’s because Swift’s vocal “range”–ranging from nonexistent to something unheard of–cannot and should not be compared to legendary singers who actually have one.

Now apparently, EWF member Philip Bailey has given TS his blessing and I don’t have a problem with that. Because it’s a win-win for him so I’m not going to revoke his pass to Wakanda. Swift’s attempted whitewashing of September will have no effect on the original chart-topper and may even expand the group’s fan base for those who (God forbid) have not heard of the great Earth, Wind, and Fire. In the meantime, I’ll be looking forward to Rachel Dolezal’s acapella version of Jungle Boogie by Kool and the Gang done in blackface.

Shooting the Executioner

The shutter blinks its black and white eye
and instantly causes the world to shudder
at the birth of a stillborn casualty
that ignites a passive generation of revolutionary voices
to speak freely in protest with red, white, and blue tongues
about the Pulitzer Prize-winning, 35-millimeter fatality
thwarting the future business of a war amputee
who immigrates to the US, sells pizza in a Washington suburb
until he is forced to retire
with the ironic words: “We know who you are, fucker!”
that would vandalize the remainder of his life
while taking the truth to his grave where even today
it still lies.

Largely unnoticed through the years
is the burning Saigon sun shining angrily
on the chrome of an American made Smith & Wesson
in the General’s right hand
as the famed photographer once lamented,
“That picture really messed up his life”.

©Benjamin Woolridge

 

 

Sunshine Blogger Award Nomination

When I learned that I had been nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award the very first thing I did was put my sunglasses on. (A single cough is heard followed by silence) Hello, hello (taps microphone)…is this thing on? I know you’re out there! I can see you leaving!

Anyway, many thanks to imayormaynotkillmyself whose unapologetically candid blog displays the necessary bravery it takes to share her personal struggles in a world that continues to stigmatize, punish, and deny people who suffer from mental illness the opportunities to feel and be treated as normal. A big online (((HUG))) from me to you and know that you are not alone.

Now, on to the questions!

 

  • What’s you’re favourite song and write a lyric from it that makes you love it so much. I listen to all sorts of music and there are lyrics in the song Old Man River that is timeless and accurately sums up the Black experience in America: 
    Ah gits weary
    An’ sick of tryin’
    Ah’m tired of livin’
    An’ skeered of dyin’,
    But ol‘ man river,
    He jes’keeps rolling’ along.
  • If you could change your name to anything what would it be? Hughman Bing for obvious reasons.
  • Would you rather fly ,be invisible or be invinsible? Yes.
  • Finish this sentence ” I would never ever try to ……pick up women at a funeral…again.
  • If you only had 24 hours on this earth who would you spend it with? Somebody other than myself.
  • Which 3 words would you use to describe yourself? Handsome, smart, and delusional…in that order.
  • which 3 words would you think others would use to describe you? A threat, dangerous, and expendable…if the “others” in question are the police.
  • Truth or dare? Okay.
  • Tell the truth now have you ever cheated on a test? Yes, I cheated on a driving test once by cutting corners. (Silence) I know, I know that was bad.
  • I dare you to write a quirk that you have. I talk to myself a lot.
  • If you could let others know one thing about you what would that be? I don’t watch BET.

My Sunshine Blogger Award Nominations are:

Sonali
Tobenna
Piinkdiva
Yessica
nspiercreation3818
Dolce Speaks
Reclaiming My Time
Camila
Aini
Kasalea
Blog posts from the edge

My questions for you:
1. What are your thoughts on Donald Trump?
2. What should I do about Rihanna stalking me?
3. Do you think leg warmers will ever make a comeback?
4. Why do you think people should read your blog?
5. What are your thoughts on feminism?
6. What is your guilty pleasure?
7. What causes you to be outraged?
8. Have you ever been part of a protest?
9. When do you feel the most afraid?
10. When do you feel safe?
11. Do you ever see yourself as beautiful?

Sunshine Blogger Rules:

  1. Thank blogger(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog. (check)
  2. Answer all 11 questions the blogger asked you. (check)
  3. Nominate 11 new blogs to recieve the award and write them 11 new questions. (check)
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog. (check)
  5. Mic Drop! (check…WAKANDA FOREVER…PEACE!)

 

Naomi Alderman’s ‘The Power’: A Fear Of Women In Charge

Naomi Alderman’s The Power is a dystopic livewire snaking wildly in the air with sparks flying every which way daring anyone to grab it. It’s also a loose cannon of speculative fiction that takes no prisoners by shifting the power dynamic out of the dominant and often sexist and abusive hands of the patriarchy and allows readers to imagine a world where women are in charge.

Literally.

Apparently, a dormant power–a skein of the high voltage variety–awakened solely in teenage girls around the world and under further research and observation, this potentially fatal, newfound energy is also present in all newborn females and can be awakened in older women, as well.

Muhahahahaha…that’s right fellas! Girl power to the nth degree! They’re like human tasers with settings ranging from a playful, low wattage love tap to a lose-the-use-of-your-bowels-somebody-wipe-down-this-electric-chair execution!

But I’m not sure I want to necessarily call this post a book review. I mean, The Power is, no doubt, a great read and I’m sure there’s nothing I can write about it that hasn’t been written already. It’s just that I noticed something disturbing after I read it.

You see, the type of misogynistic, sexist men who proudly brandish their male privilege and unchecked masculinity like a weapon against women not only exists in Alderman’s fictional world but, unfortunately, exist in ours. However, bossed-up female protagonists like Roxy Monke–an English mobsters daughter with insane shocking abilities who can easily exact instant justice on the he-man-woman-hating neanderthals in the story, sadly, are not real.

So once I finished the book my thoughts paced back and forth between Alderman’s not quite a feminist utopia and the real world. And I tried to imagine what life would be like if #metoo victims would’ve been able to make the Harvey Weinsteins’ of the world ride the lightning with just a touch of the hand in dark moments when the words “stop” and “no” lose meaning. But we know the real world doesn’t offer the possibility for fully charged retribution. Which, in a sense, makes The Power seem more like a tease–a seductive piece of wishful thinking that attempts to level the battlefield between the sexes but also serves as a painful reminder to women that that kind of much-needed power can only exist in fiction.

Then again, you could say that The Power rightfully holds a mirror up to the world of men reflecting their responsibility for the many inequities, violence, and atrocities that females worldwide and throughout human history have and continue to experience on a daily basis. It’s obvious that the author had an endless supply of source material at her disposal for crafting a believable narrative, setting, and plot.

We are all too familiar with a world where female genital mutilation (FGM), gendercides (mostly girls), sex trafficking, and honor killings are still practiced. That becoming victims of rape and other forms of sexual misconduct is a real possibility for girls and women during their lifetime. It’s also the most tragic part of Alderman’s novel that’s not fiction; that’s not made up but remains alive and well–daily inhumane horrors that feminists, activists, and advocates for women’s rights fight furiously, kicking and screaming against only to end up dead. (Rest in peace Marielle Franco.)

Even here on Word Press, I came across a really hateful blog post the other day that claims that women have no value outside of sex. The blog itself should be named ‘I Hate Women’ and maybe the blogger that created it would stop pretending to be an authority on all things masculine, believing manhood is somehow superior to womanhood. Instead, he comes across as just another pseudo-intellectual hiding behind a keyboard, spewing his frat brother philosophy, and whining about how his male privilege is being destroyed. He also provides a safe space for his fellow knuckle-dragging bros to feel free to hate women, high-five, and blow each other with their comments in the comment section:

Screenshot (60)

Screenshot (120)

 

Screenshot (121)

Yet, the so-called men posting these comments shouldn’t be dismissed as some harmless fringe group of cat-calling losers you’d expect to find on the street. They are more representative of the global phallic worshipping culture at large that dehumanizes, objectifies, and degrades women with impunity. And in America, these types of men get elected to the Oval Office.

Because what Naomi Alderman’s The Power does exceptionally well is it exposes the fear a lot of men have of women taking over the world or at least being in control of their own lives, lives that have been for the most part used and abused for centuries then left to rot in the shadows of their celebrated male counterparts. (And I haven’t even mentioned the plight of Black women which would require an infinite amount of blog space.) And the men who just can’t seem to see past their own penises should be afraid because more and more women are being put in charge, elevated to positions of power without the help of a high-powered skein.

 

 

March 18, 1995: An Unexpected Anniversary

The J-town (Juarez, Mexico) I knew back then was my rite of passage as an El Paso teen, a seemingly lawless Mexican playground sort of like an endless Spring Break for the underage to get drunk and party at the various bars and nightclubs crowding the main strip once you crossed The Paso del Norte Bridge (also known as The Santa Fe Street Bridge).

But it was always best to clique-up before you went…especially for females who liked to drink and drown or they could very well end up getting their knees dirty or worse. There was always a feeling of anything goes that made it somehow that much more appealing. But that was only if you came prepared with enough bribe money for la policía to help them look the other way. Plus, you could get really, really hammered on the cheap.

And in 1995, I considered myself somewhat of a J-town veteran after almost ten years of earning my stripes having survived many a night of mainlining rum and cokes, slamming Tequila shots then chasing them with buckets of Coronas, Dos Equis, and Tecate while also chasing mini-skirts–tightly wrapped rump shakers bouncing rhythmically to the latest rap song on the dancefloor. I had also gotten into fights, thrown out of Juarez itself on several occasions, and watched helplessly one time as my money was taken out of my wallet (la mordida) right in front of me by a Juarez cop to keep my homeboy from going to a Mexican jail where we heard there was no roof and no love for Los Americanos.

Actually, at that time, I felt like I had already aged-out of the party scene in J-town. Still, the drinks were a lot cheaper over there. So on March 17, which was a Friday, I had just gotten off of work as a general laborer for a construction company but more importantly, I had just gotten paid.

My neighbor across the street–the same homeboy I kept from going to jail in J-town years earlier–worked at the same construction company I did but at a different site. I guess you could say we were trying to be productive after wasting a lot of time doing nothing with our lives. And after working all week, we decided to unwind in J-town on that Friday night. I rode shotgun as we headed out on the I-10 from northeast El Paso and headed across the bridge to Juarez with money burning a hole in our pockets.

All I can piece together of that night is that at some point my homeboy and I parted ways. I ran into another homeboy named “J-Rock”–a young’un from around-the-way in northeast El Paso. He ended up beefin’ with some dude and eventually, punches were thrown. I ditched a girl I was chatting up and tried to break up the fight or at least I thought I was. I was already drunk by then and everything had become a blur. I mean, I’m pretty sure we all got kicked out of that club and I’m also pretty sure that dude and I were talking shit to each other. And I didn’t even think about trying to find my homeboy who I had ridden to J-town with.

By the time we arrived on the American side of the bridge on Santa Fe Street, I guess I finally realized just how mobbed up that dude was because I think I was trying to tell him that we could handle whatever beef we had between us one on one. He wasn’t trying to hear that though because the next thing I saw was the muzzle flash from the business end of a handgun as a sudden POP! erupted in my ears.

And just like that, I was on my back looking up into an early morning sky that had somehow become tinted with red. I felt something warm oozing from a place in the center of my forehead into my eyes and I started to sober up quick. Too quick. I was rapidly losing blood and going into shock, petrified. I could hear sirens getting closer but my only thought in those fleeting moments was that I was going to die.

Now, I know what you’re saying because trust me, I’ve literally heard it all. I’ve heard it from the doctor who treated me, telling me that I should’ve been dead (and in a way I was). That being able to survive a gunshot wound to the head at point-blank range was nothing short of a miracle. I’ve heard it from family and friends who told me I should thank God I’m alive and I did and still do even when doing so makes me feel like I don’t deserve to be. That there were many others who were far more deserving of a miracle. And the homeboys who teased me that my hard head is what really saved me. That it must’ve been a very small handgun that I was shot in the head with, though, needless to say, none of them wanted to test that theory on themselves.

And the moral of the story is…well…I don’t know. J-Rock was killed later on that same year and his younger brother was killed soon after that. I thought about how ironic it was to be shot in El Paso though Juarez was always considered to be the more dangerous of the sister cities. Depression became my trusted friend but our friendship quickly became toxic as I consumed larger amounts of booze when I could get it. But in all honesty, the booze was consuming me until I finally crawled out of the gutter of my mind and decided to live instead of apologizing for being alive. So every March 18th I’ll count my many blessings and say to myself at some point, “Happy Anniversary!”