Category Archives: La Familia

Today’s Word is… NOSTALGIA

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So way back in the day, I was out with my mother I think we went grocery shopping and I wanted to get back home in time to watch Full House.  She assured me we would be back in time.  Of course when we got home, it was literally the end of the episode and it was the episode of DJ’s prom that closed with Whitney’s “I Will Always Love You”.  I was livid and because I was like 5 I cried about it until my mother played the song for me which had nothing to do with nothing but I appreciated the gesture instead of giving me something to cry for #NoPeterson. There was no on demand, no DVR I literally wouldn’t see that episode for like 2 years in syndication.  It wasn’t good. DJ was the worst character on the show.   But in the moment I felt like I just missed a television spectacle.  Thats pretty much how I view nostalgia now, people who just miss the idea of something but not really.  People my age are pretty much overwhelmed by nostalgia, so much to the point we use modern technology to complain about how “great” the 90s was (because apparently you ask anyone about 10 years ago they immediately think 1994).  Don’t get me wrong I loved the 90s, it was probably the blackest decade (we ever gonna get), from Michael Jordan ruling the world, Clinton on Arsenio, FOX on Thursday nights, your favorite black movie, your favorite black movie soundtrack, to hip hop’s peak.  However , I do think we get so glossy eyed over the past we forget that plenty was left to be desired.  Then there’s the people who have just pitched their tent in the 90s and refuse to come out.  The ultra, nostalgia folk. (they didn’t get this Frank Ocean reference because he wasn’t out in 1998)

The Nostalgiamaniacs are easy to spot, but do not engage unless you want to talk about how Aaliyah would be bigger than Beyonce if she was alive.  They watch the same 90 Martin episodes and are in denial that the show wasn’t good by season 3.  They spend all their time on Buzz feed and Tumblr taking quizzes about which Saved By The Bell character they are and reading the 25 lessons you got from Boy Meets World.  They loathe most new artists and are in complete denial that bad music existed before 1999.  Ayyyyy macarena. They have any least conceded that 90s fashion was abhorrent, which is prefaced by the fact that its being worn by hipsters and teenagers now. 

I think part of it comes from us wanting to feel like what we experienced was unparalleled.  We balk at the notion that any player could be in Jordan’s league, won’t admit that slow 90s R&B wasn’t as great, or that Tupac was overrated a lot of 90s sitcoms did not age well (I’m looking at you Urkel).  We don’t miss these things as much as we think we do we miss where we were when they happened.  Again, I do miss the era of positive black faces being mainstream without having to say hey look I’m black and positive and I may or may not have considered bringing back the old school answering machine message (because I mean if you leave me a voicemail in 2014 you ought to be trolled).  I loved Nickelodeon when I was a kid, I’m in my 20s now, I’m not watching Rugrats.  Full House? Maybe.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… HARASSMENT

“Will you marry me?”

She giggles, actually it was more of a cackle like I wasn’t right there.  She smiles, I stare in her inviting brown eyes, it was only a few seconds but it felt as though time stopped….

“No”

Well, now that’s awkward.

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“Why not”

Well for starters, she didn’t know me.  Like, at all.  This was my formal introduction, a spontaneous proposal.  She was more charmed than turned off, and after a brief chat we exchanged numbers and I happily walked back over to my friends I just hit a buzzer beater.   It was almost like a sport for us, the hunt.  My old house was across the street from a park as well as equidistant to two subway stations so on a good day there was always new girls to approach.   I’d like to think I never harassed anyone, if for no other reason my sisters walked those same streets.  I remember when my mother got my oldest sister mace to carry around or how my other would walk around with a powered off CD player just so she could appear busy. My little sister well, she had me. 

I remember having to answer the phone so some dude would stop calling, listening to stories about a creep attempting to follow my sister home.  Then I’d go outside and be the dude offering to walk with some girl.  A double standard? Probably.  So one day I was escorting proposal girl home and she spoke about how she hated walking around my neighborhood because of the dudes hooting and hollering.  It was like Bruce Wayne hearing a Batman story….oh.   She talked about how she took alternate routes, kept in headphones, just avoided walking altogether.  In essence, she sounded like my sister.  I asked so what separates me from the pack. 

“You just make me feel comfortable”

(cue ringing bell and confetti falling). I get it.  I was 15.

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A decade later, “street harassment” has since became a mainstream topic causing a divide between feminists and well, nurt higgas.  Arguments from each side have gone to extremes from women starting a hashtag just because a guy looked at her to men sounding like damn near neanderthals with their entitlements.  The middle are trapped between whats actually harassment and whats an approach.  Men point out how attractive men get passes, women point out how men will take an accept compliment and take a mile.  Basically, we’re all talking in circles to the point plenty men don’t know what street harassment is or whats their responsibility to fight it.  Myself, well, I’m just going to stick with the lesson I learned growing up. 

Make her feel comfortable. 

Whether that’s not being too forward, respecting her space, approaching in a way that won’t get me on XoJane somewhere. As for what can a man do to help curb street harassment…well again, I consult teenage me

After my epiphany of sorts, I was even more mindful of how I and my boys were perceived.  But when you’re 16, ain’t nobody trying to hear you preach.  Hell, I can’t even comment or tweet now without being called a panderer. I mean, I can shut them down if it was my sisters but for a random girl, now I’m Captain Save Em.  It didn’t take much to change things, whether it was me just telling my boy to actually go and talk to her or doing so myself and them subtly deciding to work smarter not harder.  I didn’t need to be a hero, but if ya mans ya mans you can tell him chill and that be that. Fast forward to now, I’m probably not walking up going #youoksis ready to fight a group of dudes like Spider-Man, but sometimes all it takes is just smiling at her as she rolls her eyes at those doing it wrong, not affiliating yourself with those said people, and just treating any woman with respect.  At least that’s what I think, but this is the internet so I’m probably still not doing enough. 

Sidenote: Me and proposal girl never worked out.  She wouldn’t even become my first real girlfriend.  I wonder what she’s up to now.  I’d look her up but I can’t remember her last name. I’m getting old.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… FRUGAL

“Now how you going to talk about the way I spend my money
Everybody say it with me now: it’s my money” – Kanye Omari West

My pops is the most frugal man I know.  It’s a thin line between frugal and cheap and he’s a damn tightrope expert.  I never knew how much he made or how’d he pull off Christmas for all his kids but the man got it done.  When he said “he was broke” we always sideeyed him and whatever new outfit or jewelry he was flaunting. Now don’t get me wrong we weren’t the Huxtables but off my Pops efforts, we stayed comfortable.  As an adult, I live the same way, I’m not strug life and I’m not balling, I’m comfortable.  I’ve come to master the ball on a budge; I don’t need Madden in August, I’ll cop it at Christmas time, I’m not really a big Jordan guy, I have dozens of casual kicks, when I shop online there’s almost always another tab open to look up coupon codes.  When I do splurge it’s on holidays and relatively well planned, I mean, I kinda do that for a living after all.  Looking over my budget, just about every unexpected expense comes from family and dating.  Family is a given priority but when it comes to dating, you can’t exactly plan for it.  It’s spontaneous, you can walk outside and meet someone who is going to cost you at least $120 next weekend.  You get a new lady in your life you don’t go that extra week without that haircut, you was going to do laundry next week but you need something to wear Wednesday night, that gas in the tank for work was used going across town to get some ass.  You never really know.  

So the other day on Twitter, someone from Sigma Zeta Bodypillow Inc went on a rant about using Groupons on dates.  Jigga what?  You do know that 3 weeks ago I had no intentions of my paycheck going to feed you right?  Your homegirl did your hair for free, you bought your outfit on clearance but somehow your perceived value is based on how much I am willing to spend.  Cool.  Like I said, there’s a thin line between frugal and cheap. I have three golden rules when it comes to using Groupon or the like on dates.

 

1. No Surprises: It is about presentation. Now, busting out a clipped out coupon that’s expired and you don’t even have enough to pay is one thing; using a Groupon have the reservation booked and the deal honored and added to the check and she has no idea is another. (Also ladies, if you ain’t paying stop touching the damn check, the cost of your meal is “paid for” that’s all you need to know, and don’t worry how much I tipped the waitress).  If that’s that possible, then the next go to move is to just keep it 100 about the 50% you about to save on the evening.  “I got this groupon for X it’s about to expire, do you wanna….” There’s no surprises and if she’s gonna be one of those people who brings up the fact that you wouldn’t ask her out if not for the coupon, she probably read 10 dating books and follows @AskCheyB on Twitter. Run. Fast. 

2. Events > Meals: Somewhat of a theory of mine that no one notices how much activities cost as much as meals.  Restaurants, you sit, order, eat and they literally tell you how much this experience cost monetarily.  Doing activities, no one puts as much stock in.  I’ve gone to free events and I’ve used deals and the experience was all the same.

3. First Impressions Matter: The first date is probably not the best time to be using coupons.  I’ll avoid when I can but sometimes a deal is just too good to pass up so she will deal, Deal? (Triple entendre don’t eem ask me how).  

 

 

 

 

It can all be so simple. But when it comes to dating, a lot of stock is put into perceived value, how much effort is he about to put in. Will he call and ask you out or just text? Is he going to pay or go Dutch? Knock on your door or text “I’m here”. Understandably you don’t know the person so actions speak louder than words. However I never looked at how much I spend as some sort of reference to how important someone is or isn’t. I’m a traditionalist, I’m paying even if I don’t like you, whether the bill is $80 or $14 the fact I spent time with you is the true indication. This notion is if you cant break bread don’t date but what if he knew he wanted to get to know you before he knew what his check was looking like. Money values goods and services not feelings. My father sometimes spent more on me than my siblings or vice versa there wasn’t any favoritism. He did what he could every time and we never thought how much it cost but the fact that he did, well that was priceless.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… WRONG

Been a long time….y’all know the rest.

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Of most of the women I dated, I typically got along with the family members I met. I’m sweet, I’m articulate, I’m awesome all that good stuff. The lone exception was “She” who I just didn’t get along with her sisters at all, and I had my reasons for feeling that way. She would always forgive them, as she should’ve, that’s family. I didn’t have to, they were immature, lazy, manipulative people. Regardless, I loved her, she loved me, and I took care of business. If they couldn’t respect that their whole perspective was wack. Their perspective was wack. Anyway, when the relationship ended, there was probably some validation on their part. Not that anything they thought about me was actually, true, but you know misery loves company. I felt bad about it, she had chose me over them, moved out, and now she was returning home with tail between her legs (although she was 23 and had nothing to be ashamed of, they were 30+ sleeping on twin beds but that ties into the whole manipulation aspect) anyway, as far as appearances went, she was dead wrong about me.

Fast forward to now, in somewhat of an ironic twist. My little sister has all but distanced herself from her family…for her boyfriend. Now tale of the tape, I was at least a college student, working 2 jobs with my own apartment, this dude is just a bum. Won’t delve too much into family business, but the point is she can do much better and no one is really shy about telling her that. Given my recent history, I’ve stayed neutral because pushing her away would only push her closer to him. She’s adopted a “us against the world” mentality which again, would be acceptable if perhaps my sisters were miserable and lonely, didn’t have much going for them and then I can see where the lack of credibility would factor. In this case, my sister just can’t bring herself to admit that maybe she whiffed on this one, that she’s going to eventually stomach the humble pie that comes from another failed relationship, that even with her best efforts, she was simply wrong.

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As I’ve said before, you’re born into your family, your friends sprout from your environment, who you choose to love…that’s on you. Breakups will humble your ass whether you’re the dumper or dumpee. We enter relationships hoping it’s the last one and with each ex, another failure. I have quite a few of them then you count boos, dates, women I just fell for…..I really, really suck at this. There’s women I held on to too long for that reason, I couldn’t be wrong again, challenge the play, recount, appeal. I can assume the same could be said about me. Relationships are the penultimate investment of time, energy, emotions…official or not, you’re giving investing in this person and waiting for a pay out. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes you just give up and walk away and hope that you didn’t give up too much. It’s still prolonging the inevitable, I know couples who went through ups and downs and came out closer, I know men and women still broken from picking the wrong one.

Taking it back to my sister, Hurricane Fuckboy has severed her relationships with 2 sisters, a handful of friends, cpst a job, 2 places to stay, a cousin, probably thousands of dollars and just sucking every bit of respect from anyone close to her. She’s invested so much in this man, she can walk away and try to repair the damage or just keep going all in and hope that this is really the man God picked for her. (Spoiler alert: he isn’t.) She looks at him as the only constant in her life when in reality he’s the variable in everything that has gone wrong. With “She”, we cost ourselves time and had to suffer the embarrassment that comes with every failed relationship. We got up, brushed ourselves off and kept looking, and I don’t know about her but I’m struggling like Ciara doing Mariah covers. I can only hope my sister eventually sees the light and when she does it’s not when even bridge has been burned or he really shows his colors. but I’m pretty sure that’s when I’d really have to step in and deliver fade But in the meantime, it’s them against the world…or something.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… MOM

Guess I gotta make this blog cry…

It has now been four years since my mother passed, as I’ve told you before. With each day, week, month and year, I mourn but I try and push through as she would want. I struggle to keep her ultimate legacy, her family, intact to mixed results. Of course it is the last quarter of the year it’s the hardest, she passed in September, her birthday in October, and then of course the holidays and gaping void that exists at those most intimate family moments. I can’t help but think back to that last afternoon, four years ago, with hindsight as that would be the last conversation, I or anyone would have with her. In the back of my mind I felt it would be, but I didn’t want to believe it. I take solace in the fact that her last words were that she loved me, but again, what would I have took that opportunity to say to her knowing I would never have that chance again? What would I say now?

I would thank her. For everything. She was my source of confidence, my number one fan, my inspiration. She helped make me into the man I am today. I was only 21 when she left, what happens now as I near my late 20s and things start to get real. My wife will never get her seal of approval, my children will never know their nana, I’ll never be able to get her a house. That’s the crazy thing about life, it just keeps going on. I’m eternally grateful for the 21 years I had her, but it’s still a troubling thought to think about the next 21 without her. She lost her mother young and even as she left town, married and had 5 children there were moments where she just felt empty that her mother wasn’t there to see her life’s work. I think about everything that’s happened in the past 4 years, I finally listened to her and got into a long term relationship, I finished school with little to no help, now I would’ve been able to take care of her if needed.

I still think back to that last conversation. What if she knew it would be the last one? What would she say to me differently, what would she want me to pass on to my siblings, what did she always want me to know? She was only 47 when she left, her baby had just turned 20, she was able to hold each of her two grandchildren, but there was so much life ahead. Would she had found love again, she never saw any of us get married, she never got to celebrate 50. Would defeating cancer gave her a new lease on life, would she had battled the demons within? Would she ever mended the bridges that burned? I’ll never know. She’ll never know. I can only hope she left feeling fulfilled, and that she’s truly looking down with pride.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… SHADE

Whenever colorism is discusssed, it’s usually in reference to women: the glorification of “redbones” in rap, how Beyonce seems to keep turning white for certain photo shoots, Oprah’s “Dark Girls” documentary.  However, colorism is just as prevalent in black men.  It took me a while to come into my own, in my 25 years I can’t say for sure if I fully am. My father, brother, and two closest friends were all lighter skinned men, all ladykillers, while I just sat on the outside looking in wondering if something was wrong with me. I looked at lighter skinned women who seemed to be lauded and applauded as the standard of beauty and wondered if I was good enough for them. My feeling of self worth went well beyond my play with the ladies, teachers being taken aback by my intellect, police interactions, just day to day interactions with people, there was always some sort of stigma attached to my dark skin. Sometimes people not even realizing what they’re doing, others being very aware of some unspoken privilege they were granted in society.

I remember one day we was getting ready to go somewhere, he’s looking in the mirror, “You know? Mo girl finds me ugly”. He was good for those type of quotes, his whole persona seemed to be modeled after the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. My mother passed by as he said it, “Why?”. “Why what?” “Why no girl finds you ugly”, he almost answered but even he knew better than to take that bait. My mother, a deep ebony colored women from whom I take after, smiled at me and shot him another look before passing on. In her eyes said everything I need to hear at that moment, she adored both her kings and contrary to his arrogance, we were equals. I tried to internalize that message as years passed when just the opposite was stressed daily.

Fast forward a couple years, there was this girl I would see around the way, she wasn’t like the more…let’s say “unfiltered” women who lived here, she was different. We would develop a friendship and as time passed the friendship grow increasingly more flirtatious.  I was way too shy/oblivious to pull the trigger I was just happy to have a girl pay me any mind.  Anyway, one day she would somewhat shock me, my best friend tried to get at her.  She was flustered describing the scene, she never knew she was his type, “you know how lightskinned dudes be” said. Then of course, came the Leonidas kick to the friendzone: “i mean I still like you, but if I can have him…”.  Part of me wanted to point out the irony that she was 50 shades of brown herself, but I was just thinking about this vicious rejection I was getting at the moment. She saw him and saw an upgrade from me, hell an upgrade from herself. Sadder when I think about it now.

The years that followed, I would counter the insults, pretend I perfectly understood how I would “fit a description of a suspect”, and stopped getting annoyed by being told who I looked like. In popular culture, there’s movements of empowerment and the celebration black beauty. They say dark brothers are “in style” now, but trends fade. What’s most disheartening about colorism is the divide within the divide. While my friend would sometimes claim his Italian roots, it didn’t stop authorities from asking him the same questions as me, if my brother were to fall for darker skinned woman and his child looked more like her than him, would he still make that same boast? I might make a tongue in cheek remark about a lightskinned man, but who knows his plight. As if being black in America isn’t already something to overcome.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… POPS

So I’m randomly chatting to this woman, cute smile, sense of humor, whathaveyou. We’re give brief bios when she mentions she has kids and waited for the look of defeat in my eyes.  I proceeded to make normal conversation, much to her surprise.  She thinks maybe I misheard her, so she attacks from a new angle explaining how hard it is to date as a parent and went on saying things you really don’t say to a guy you just met.  Going back to the parenting/dating conundrum, she said she struggles to meet guys who can get past her children, I countered she seems to place them in the way.  I went on to say that there’s two sides to a mother, the parent and the woman, and sometimes she and suitors never focus on the woman.  And like that shields was down, but that’s a different post entirely. 

Anywho, I was reading another blog on what makes a good father. Now I have no lil Stans running around so I couldn’t relate on that level, so I thought what makes my father a good father.  I couldn’t help but think about that conversation with the woman before and my theory on the two sides of a parent.  If you’ve read long enough you’d know my relationship with my father is unique, he was always  provider, care taker and disciplinarian but as a man, I hardly knew ye.  I know I can call him for anything, I know he proudly served his country and worked to give me everything I covet. But his favorite color? I don’t know…blue?  Actually I think it is blue.  Whatever.

What I did learn about him, came from my mother and loose lipped relatives.  My father was the king of compartmentalization.  He never let us see his struggles as a man.  He quit drinking and smoking shortly after I was born. He’ll play 5 basketball games in a row and never let me know he’s sore (though I would be dude plays defense like a Bad Boy Piston). He’s not rich but you could never say he was broke. It goes without saying he wasn’t perfect, but he’d be damned to let me or any of my siblings know his flaws.  He was Superman.  

These days he’s hung up his cape, and it’s still awkward to see him as Clark Kent.  Instead of telling what’s what, he just gives his perspective and leaves it to our own interpretation.  Talks went from “wear a condom” to “are you sure you’re in love with this woman”.  I never heard him complain about work, I never heard him gush over my brother’s mother the way he does his new fiancee.  Perhaps, it simply takes a man to know a man. 

It makes sense now, but it hadn’t always.  My sisters were spoiled, my older brothers were equals, my little brothers were babies, I was just….me.  I saw our relationship for what it wasn’t rather than what it was.  As gifted as I was I was still a child, and a child was kept in a child’s place.  Could he had did some things differently? Of course. Could I had made life easier? Indeed. With that understanding and the lessons learned, we’re able to move forward in the next phase of the father/son dynamic. So this Father’s Day especially I take time to reflect on the father I have and the father I hope to be one day, Superman with a bit more tact, the great parent and just as great man.

Happy Father’s Day.

-Stan-

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