common-the limits of men (again)

“deep as a skinny girl’s cunt”

“fuckin’ on the sink, bought my mama a mink”

“butt nekkid in the kitchen flippin’ pancakes/plus she tricking from the dough that her man makes”

“ladies get their hair done, and men, we notice/you get high grade indian weaves, at the lowest/prices, chivalry is no longer lifeless”

wow. it was so hard to just pick one lyric from this problematic ode.

(sigh).

it was probably fitting that this album prompted a man whom i experienced in a particularly stunted moment to reach out to me because a good common album reminded him of me.

my conflict over rachid was immortalized in writing during my freelance stint in montreal, and one particularly scathing album review (for which one now, i have no idea), and this latest album (that i’m late to, i know), falls right into formation.

it must be said, too, that this man’s breadth of work and the variety of styles/positions that he has held has now, in my opinion, put his body of work in line with madonna‘s. what i perceive as common not knowing who the hell he is from moment to moment could really be common being all of the things, all of the time.

i have listed a few of the lyrics that have always just rubbed me the wrong way, but it’s undeniable that he has always held my attention enough to keep listening. so, there are so many lyrics and songs that i’ve loved, and water for chocolate will always be one of my favourite albums.

i couldn’t get a proper version of da struggle, but key and peele completely captured his likeness, and i think, even more aptly, with his name, captured the problematic “border” between “conscious” and “jiggy” rap. this is a line that common has always straddled, and that is why his bullshit gender politic is always so disappointing, because he’s otherwise, so very good.

the fact that this song features bj the chicago kid only annoys me more because it reminds me that the only song that i hate on his otherwise brilliant album is “it’s a woman’s world”. is there something dillusional going on in chicago’s feminism?!

i must also say that noID is flawless. the beat part of the rap equation is very, very strong, on this project and the one before that. he’s a bigger man than most for picking up the pieces after being left for ye, and staying in the shadows of producing may be the most feminist aspect of this album.

it is also something of note that pops is gone, and it’s officially the end of an era of albums punctuated by a daddy outro. i was sad to learn this in the song, and acknowledge that it must be hard to lose a parent who obviously had so much of an impact on his life and work.

which brings me to the song with nas that came out at the same time as “otis”, and the contrast between that other ny/chicago rap duo was mostly about how those other doods were just rapping about their money and these two were “conscious”. the bigger contrast for me was that these two were examples of men who clearly had their fathers, and jay-z and kanye famously did not. so perhaps that has no bearing whatsoever on your relationships with women, or it has everything to do with your relationships with women. but, jay-z could only commit to beyonce after his dad died, so perhaps common can actually evolve now that his is gone?

“i said i got my SAG card, baby i’m an actor”

“think they be mackin’ but they actin’…”

well, he is starring as a rapper having a mid-life crisis so…perhaps he knows all about this?

(sigh).

my next lover must read

books. regularly. independently and habitually. because they love reading. period.

not because of me. because you haven’t gotten around to it yet, but you’re tired of just sitting there like a dummy when you take the subway with me because i’m winning by reading.

not because you think you’ve reached your limit of reading-you’ve read books before, you even own books, have a shelf full of them! you’ve done it before, you know what it’s about. you read magazines, you’re good.

DEFINITELY NOT because you think you’re somehow qualified to write a book BUT YOU DON’T READ.

DEFINITELY NOT because you’ve designed course outlines and you’re good with the books you’ve chosen and there are no current books or any that have come out in the last 80 years that would also work in the syllabus and could possibly be more inspiring to your students because they speak more directly to their experience. you believe that they should meet you, you shant meet them. (this is what teachers who don’t read sound like)

you don’t have time to read.

but you have watched all the tv shows/movies/porn that has been produced in the past ten years

but you are fluent in emoji (though you can’t spell)

but you send 10,000 text messages a day (to me alone, who knows how many others to how many others?!) and they’re all full of emojis and misspelled words

my feelings on “common interests” with a romantic partner have shifted over the years. there was a time when i pondered whether or not interest/love/knowledge of hip hop was a must. lately, i’ve wondered whether or not interest/love/knowledge of basketball is a must.

i have come to the conclusion that neither of these things are a must, as i have homies and friends who can fulfill this for me. and when it comes to lovers, my conversation needs to be shifted to shared values.

because reading is about coping with life, making the most of it of what we’ve got, and learning to adapt.

because reading is about imagining your ways out and in.

because reading is about creativity because it is creativity-with every single page.

because reading is about being the solution instead of sustaining the problem.

because reading is agency, activism, escape and (the) rest.

because reading is education, freedom, choice, and listening.

and these are all my values, and because you can’t truly love me if you don’t love to read. books. regularly. independently and habitually. because you love reading. period.

IWD 2017

“we won’t be equal until men are equal”

as my facebook wall invariably fills with multi-culti cartoon women lifting each other through the same sanctioned comment square, i listen to the bust magazine recommended inflection point podcast as curated by lauren schiller (interviews with women who are challenging status quo).

i think about my youngest women’s studies professor when i got my degree in 2003, and how radical she was to suggest that women’s studies will need to evolve into gender studies in order to survive and stay relevant. i don’t know that that’s happened, and as folks drag sophie trudeau for suggesting that we should celebrate men who are feminists, or the next generation of boys coming up as promising potential feminists (because we raise them to be or just by virtue of seeing more women life-ing in different ways than generations past), i still wonder if it (we) will.

i didn’t make any sweeping declarations this year. i celebrated bright and early with sharon, my yoga teacher, who decided to change her life and offer an 8am class that fits so much better into my cicadian rhythms, and then discussed how menstruating makes us better with susanda, the acupuncturist that we all have a crush on. i had a private celebration with the women who help me heal and release, and i don’t think it’s an accident that they’ve become more prominent in my life within this year.

and then of course, anne-marie slaughter‘s quote (above).

here’s a great article that she wrote.

she is completely correct-until childcare and child-rearing is normalized for men, women will have to “choose”. we can’t really discuss “women’s work” without discussing “work” in general, and then it all rolls out into birth control and access, poverty and single mothers, prison and the school system and (the lack of) food politics-if you can’t make a diagram that connects all of these points directly, you qualify as needing a lesson in intersectionality. but don’t ask a woman of colour to explain it to you, there are a lot of resources on the internet. TONS.

i met someone who is so mad because she was wrong, she “didn’t think he would be that bad when he got into office”, that there would’ve been someone to rein him in.

w       o        w.

again, wealthy white women who voted (or would’ve voted if they were americans) one way, and then turn up at a march on washington a few months later-you fail. and unless you are interested in doing your due diligence in learning where you fit in on the accountability/benefit spectrum of the bridge of our backs, i am not interested in sapphosizing with you. it’s 2017-your microagressions are so fucking old.

all of us are smarter than one of us.

but we still have to learn to check ourselves and be checked ourselves, because womens-we are still wrecking ourselves, and it’s no kind of good for our healths.

meeting sook-yin lee*

“don’t get mad”

but, she never remembers me. and i’m not mad, per se, i’m just bewildered. but it just goes to show, we don’t all have the same priorities, and the things that stick out for us are different than the things that stick out for others.

here are the significant “first-time” meetings of sook-yin lee from my perspective:

-i was probably 8 years old when i saw her on tv, on this magical new station called muchmusic, and not only was i captivated by her asian-canadian face and presence, she was sitting on the edge of a desk talking about eating chicken feet (my favourite dish that i ate with my grandma) and then she took her foot in her hands and mimed eating that. i was incepted with the drive to fill this space in popular culture that was being carved by this woman

-15 years into this quest, when i printfiltrated my way into being the music editor at ricepaper, i pitched a story/interview about the above experience to uncomfortable faces because they had already done a story and had a large beef with her over it-oops. not only did i miss that, i missed that whole part of research into the magazine i was contributing to (which in itself is a large part of the asian-canadian narrative). a rookie mistake that is quickly rendering itself obsolete now that people seem to be caring less about legacy and more about texting than text.

-when i finally moved to toronto ten years after that, i was at the reference library when noticed a woman cloaked in a heavy aztec poncho in the dead of summer, made eye contact with her, and before i could talk to her about the garment that was somehow working (my unspoken understanding is that we are west coast sartorial sisters)-she gave me a handbill of her movie year of the carnivore (she was flyering like spike lee!) and i told her the chicken feet story and told her that i intended to stalk her and be part of her then radio show, DNTO. her response was “not if i stalk you first”. i was smitten.

-i saw YOTC on opening weekend, maybe even twice, even though i was broker than broke that first year, and was blown away by how complete and completely amazing it was. i immediately went back to the library and took out shortbus, because i hadn’t seen that, and squealed when i saw that i had the same vibrator that she was using on the bathroom floor. (i still miss that vibrator and still haven’t been able to find it).

-last year on mother’s day, after a week of getting myself ready to see the apology, i was in the building with so many amazing women, and talked to her extensively afterwards, and she asked me if i also worked in the industry.

-last week, with the cbc director that uttered the opening quote, she introduced herself (again) and though she was comfortable enough to let me stroke her rabbit fur head lining (and i was comfortable enough to do it), she asked me if i was working in the building.

over the last seven years, we have crossed paths many times, and have shared nods and smiles, which i thought were of recognition, but maybe were just of friendliness or mutual style appreciation. or perhaps they were of recognition, not of me personally, but of the fact that we have people and realities in common, and that’s ok.

i sense that people might have a similar kind of experience/expectation of me as a result of the work i do that leads to long-term shallow deep interactions with folks. i am very great-full for the opportunities to be extremely present with people, from whichever side they come. i am sorry for the woman that insists that she knows me (and my “twin sister” who told her i was “going on a trip to china”)-i didn’t see you at yoga because i take my glasses off and i’m there for yoga.

i’m very glad that i keep arising to meet my s/heroes, and that new ones that i haven’t met yet are making more art and music and doing the good work every single day. the matriarchy is possible.

*in reading this over after it went live, it seems that i’m a bit obsessed with syl. i am not. i just have a very efficient card catalogue of a brain, and though i focused in on this person and our interactions to write this blog post, i do not constantly have this running on a loop. i am obsessed with everything, and can basically pull this up for anything that has made an impact on my life. example categories: favourite black thought lyrics, scottie pippen statistics (including clyde drexler‘s height because, you know, the 1990-91 blazers vs. the bulls, obviously), the motorcycles that i’ve been on in every city that i’ve lived in, dogs of the junction, apples i have tasted (oh, juliet, i still remember you), so many details about so many things.

revisionist history

so yesterday i decided to binge-listen revisionist history. luckily, there are only ten episodes and the duration of each episode is around thirty minutes. (the last time i binge-listened to a podcast was when i was unemployed when i first moved to toronto, and i was a bit squirrely after about 95 hours of radiolab-straight).

the first point to hit me was in the discussion of orthodox generosity, in which gladwell defines generosity as “the ability to be open”, which is not one that i can locate now, nor have ever heard before. i suppose it is the other side of giving, which is traditionally how i have understood generosity-with time, knowledge, love, support and money. i suppose doing all those things because you are open to change in people, circumstances, and the world, or the simple acceptance of the fact that you can be open to the possibility that peoples’ circumstances are not like your own and that’s ok is the other side. being open to receive the change that you are helping to affect?

the other point that i thought a lot about was how folks let one in the door and that becomes the allowance to shut the door firmly on the rest because they’ve done their duty, they’re patting themselves on the back for being progressive. it was almost with an assured tone that he closed that episode-“it makes me think of hillary clinton, and how she won’t have it easy.”

(yes, i listened to them backwards).

the discussion of how white people felt freer to be more racist and horrible to black people than ever because they’d done their (lifetime) civic duty and voted for barack obama, and that makes sense that the rise of institutionalized racism (and its public evidence/backlash) would happen during his tenure, and it also gives some context to “some of my best friends are…” justifications.

that discussion of countries who were one and done with female leaders was very, very fascinating, and just goes to show how much traction we can get out of the black men vs. all women argument, but in the end, we’re all just figureheads in the face of a broken system of patriarchal institutions. remember, canada-ours was appointed, not elected and not for a full term. btw-elizabeth may-as long as you’re riding that tricycle, i am voting for you and your party.

i posted a picture of someone’s sign at the march that read “so i’ll see all you nice white ladies at the next #BLM march, right?” and a white woman (who had the means and opportunity to go to washington) commented that she didn’t see much “divisiveness” there, which i perceive as a pushback because it was a callout for white women to do their due diligence when it’s not “their” march, so i responded about keeping that spirit in mind when homecourt advantage shifts, and we’ll see.

now, i’m not co-signing with this tactic, but i’m not not:

maybe if you hear it from “one of your own”, it will resonate more.

my final curiosity from the wonder-full series is if the theory works in reverse. now that trump has been elected, will white people feel more empathy than they ever have? will they give money to strangers and shit, start standing alongside women and minorities in their workplaces, on the bus, at the bank, on the road, in the pool, in higher education, at the laundromat-even when nobody’s watching to give them an award?

we will see indeed.

super man in the roti shop

“i think you’re used to getting your way”

i love a lot of things about working from home, not the least of which being going to grab a goat dinner because i got a surprise arrival last night that explains my friday night twitter rage against russell westbrook (not that that’s not justified everyday) and why i was ravenous yesterday. sometimes, you just need some red meat protein.

it was a long line, one that i suppose is customary at lunchtime, and i had lots of time to reflect on the day that i’ve already had, and how to maximize the part that remains.

i also got to witness the most important customer service life situation that i have in years.

there was a particularly ruddy man sitting in front of the door, demanding that folks get him napkins while he ate with his mouth open, jabbing at his phone with his disgusting roti fingers (how much you wanna bet that this is one of those non-hand-washing mofos that i caught shit-handed at the airport?). nearing the end of his meal, he started to complain about people who were holding the door ajar because the lineup snaked outside of the restaurant.

then, my hero spoke up. a gentle giant, calm and strong, this man said the following to mister red:

“yes, there’s a lineup. yes-it goes out the door”

“you’re a customer and you’re entitled to your opinion, but we’re customers too, so we can stand in line inside”

“if you don’t like it, i suggest you choose another seat.”

“i don’t think you’re used to people talking back to you. i think you’re used to having your way.”

“you’re being a prick”.

“see what happens? don’t be a prick then.”

he held his own, looked him in the eyes, kept speaking the truth, and never meeting red at his blustery level, or escalating. my favourite was the hard stare directly at him as he made a production of swearing and swirling his jacket arms as he left.

winner winner, roti dinner.

this was so inspiring and simple, not just at work, but in life.

i love him.

this is the calibre of man that can stay in my matriarchy.

the other one-y’all can have him.

(maybe chrisette michele needs him for something for her inauguration set)

bag check

-bean sprouts
-fish sauce
-coconut milk soaked rice crackers
-organic mushrooms
-2017 day planner (that i amended from I AM VERY BUSY. to I AM VERY BUSY flossin’)
-jasmine rice
-okra
-four lightbulbs
-schmidt’s lavendar-sage cream deodorant (sample size because they didn’t have routine)
-earmuffs
-druide organic cleansing lotion
-soma gingerbread spiced toffee
john feinstein’s next man up (hardcover)
-terminator 2 (vhs-picked up on the side of the road on the esplanade to regift)
-keys (on raptor’s chain and newly minted with 10 swims at the st. lawrence community centre)
-wallet
-king charles spaniel pouch containing all of my beauty essentials (toothbrush, floss, pad, lipstick, lip balm, kiehl’s hand balm in nordstrom sample tin, coffee candy, tissue, toothpaste and photo of my dad at 18, flossin’)

i am off and making canh chua tonight. i was just charmed that i was carrying okra and lightbulbs, but that’s just how i live.

(pack light).