Category Archives: Simply Stan

Today’s Word is… TRAVEL

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It was a little while back, I had just got my annual review, there was some stuff about how I need to network and communicate more and yeah yeah, where that bag at?  I had a pretty good idea of what I was going to do with this bonus, I was going to take a trip.  Take my entry level Spanish to Barcelona, maybe go to London and find my future ex wife, go post up in Santorini like Rick Ross (apparently everybody went to Greece this year because there’s so many pictures on social media now), Tokyo always seemed like a cool place to visit, or I can go back to the Motherland…well, I ain’t get THAT much.  (Seriously though, a $1000 flight to Accra is white supremacy).   At this moment, I’m determined to do this and I’m going to go solo, no time like the present and I don’t want to be held back by anyone else.  I look up vacation packages ($250 single surcharge is also white supremacy, because reasons).  I look up flights and tried not to be turned off by the flight times, I’m sure I can find half a xan somewhere.  Then trying to find a hotel and plan an itinerary…I need a vacation from planning a vacation already.  I just started a new project I can’t just leave for a week, and so I delay it a few months…and a few more…that turns into well, let’s see next year but then the reality hit me that, I just don’t really want to.

*Gasp*

When you’re young, single, childless and have a few extra pennies you’re supposed to travel, broaden your horizons, take in some culture, it’s what makes you a more well rounded individual and makes that “loves to travel” line in your Tinder bio not bullshit.  It’s not that I’m opposed to it completely, I just don’t care that much.  As someone who is very interested in art and history, there’s so much in the world I would love to see. Perhaps I just need a travel agent or about a 30% pay increase because I’m just not disciplined enough to save.  I don’t get up and work every day just to eventually have enough money to walk around Europe for a week.   Shrug life.  However, when you say that out loud it’s like when someone expresses a desire not to get married or have kids; you’re expected to aspire to travel even if you never do.  So even if you end up flying over 2 days, staying in a hostel and only get 27 likes on your picture so now you have to repost 3 more times with the “take me baaaaack” caption because how the hell did your banana bread get more likes than fucking Patong beach, it’s worth it because now you have an anecdote.  It’s become a status symbol; “I don’t spend money on material goods, I pay for experiences” meanwhile you barely left the resort.  Travel is a hobby, either you’re into it or you’re not but some people just need to feel superior.  People stress traveling in your 20s ironically implying that it’s something irresponsible and should be done before you start adulting adulting in your 30s even though you would be more stable and more comfortable then.  I’d much rather travel in the next few years, than have scratched and clawed my way years ago just to say I’ve been.

I have friends who love to travel, they come back and their stories and photos at best make me think about seeing for myself.  It’s hard not to log on social media see your peers “living their best life” all over and feel like you’re slacking.   But I live my best life in my apartment catching up on TV and buying shit I don’t need on Amazon Prime.  I can afford to travel, just not quite on my terms yet so what’s the rush?  (Well who knows with Toupee Fiasco…I might just hurry up and get to Cuba while I still can) Right now, international travel that just feels more trouble than it’s worth.   I’ve probably taken about a dozen smaller, domestic trips in the last year or so because ‘Merica still has plenty of offer. (Well, maybe like 3 more cities than I’m done).  That isn’t to dissuade others, if you have the travel bug by all means scratch it and go as far as your budget allows and make sure you’re doing it for yourself and not the ‘Gram.  We don’t care. I promise.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… COMMUNITY

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I remember way back in the day, me and my friends were walking home from school and the police roll up on us. They had said something about thefts in the area and needed our information. We were in like 4th grade none of us had IDs. So one of boys immediately lies about his name the officer picked up on it and then demanded we empty our book bags for something with our names on it. An older black woman pulls over and asks what’s going on, the officers explain they are investigating something and she’s like, well I don’t know what’s going on but I was just headed to get them from the bus stop and she tells us to grab our stuff and come on. We’ve seen her around but didn’t know this woman but in the moment we knew exactly what to do,

“Yes, Auntie”.

We grabbed our bags and got our asses in that car. She spoke with the officers a little longer and she drove us around the corner to my house. It’s what my mother would’ve done, what any of my friends mothers’ would’ve done. We all we got.

There’s plenty of things I don’t miss a out living in the “hood”, the aforementioned police harassment being one, but I do miss that particular sense of community that came with it.   The neighbors, the corner store that would let you pay them back on Friday, block parties, basketball tournaments, simply being able to go outside and all my friends were there.  For the reputation Boston had as a racist city, I lived in a bubble.  I didn’t see the 900% income difference in neighboring towns outside of Halloween.  As an adult, I read more about Mandela, Massachusetts; a proposal in the late 70s that would’ve had my neighborhood of Dorchester, as well as the predominantly black nearby areas of Roxbury and Mattapan simply secede from Boston altogether and form it’s own municipality.  The city never came into fruition but existed unofficially, as black people in Boston largely lived in our own bubble until one day, white people realized they were commuting 30+ minutes everyday and we lived 10 minutes from downtown with 2 subway lines.  Fast forward to now, I live 30 minutes away from my childhood home which would cost at least $650,000 if I was ever feeling so nostalgic.  Jesus be a GoFundMe.

I think about all this as I see more and more news stories of ________ while black and having the police called on them.  It’s what happens when there’s no community; Susan and Spencer just moved a few weeks ago and doesn’t get how and why people are just on the stoop all day kicking it, or why it’s 9pm and they’re still barbecuing, or they see me walking home in a hoodie and feel uneasy.  They don’t even attempt to ingratiate themselves into the community they’ve moved into, they try to force into it’s own likeness.   So Fernandez Grocery is turning into a Trader Joes (Full Disclosure, I love Trader Joe’s but that’s not the point).  That Jamaican spot that only has oxtail from 11-2:30 on Wednesdays but you love them anyway…now it’s a coffee shop.  Didn’t that used to be a dollar store? Well now it’s a froyo spot.  And those black people that were on the stoop, well they just keep getting harassed and arrested until they just stop coming around.  Now that 3 bedroom that had a family of 4, now is being rented to 3 rad professionals, that totally like the work hard, play hard.  One guy cycles a lot and another is in a band.  No worries, he doesn’t practice at home.  They come, Thanos snap, turn us to dust and brew cold brew with it.

Then there’s me, middle class? Eh, let’s just go with “mid” class black man who can’t afford to buy, can’t afford to rent but can make just enough to get the hell out of there.  There’s no soil to sow roots, Boston is becoming more and more the city you just spend your mid to late 20s then go.  Racial AND income inequality is a mighty strong cocktail, and so you have a major metropolitan city where the median net worth for a black family is $8.00.  Eight.  Yes, one digit.  Leave or struggle, such a far cry from the city my parents moved to and started a life in in the 80s.  I long for the Dorchester that once was, and the Mandela that could’ve been.  Where I’m not the only black person on my block, where the corner store at least has a cat.  Or maybe we should just all move to a city in Montana and don’t tell *them* about it.  What the weather hitting like over there anyway?

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… FORGIVE

 

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Adulting trash, B. Ain’t nobody ask to be grown with bills, in the working class no less. The working class?!? You know how damn brilliant I am?!?  I need to see a manager, someone get a sorting hat, reset the game.  I have to get up go to a job where I’m well aware that I’m underpaid just so I can pay other people for survival essentials like food, shelter, and Netflix.  It’s something you can’t possibly understand until you get *there*, especially not as a child. To work all day, come all the way home and the chicken isn’t thawed. To spend your hard earned money on clothes they gonna tear up playing. To pay for them to explore passions and interests and having to be just as supportive when they  end up quitting. Failing a marriage and feeling like they resent you for it. (okay, maybe I don’t want kids, not without like a 100% pay increase, or a wife that makes way more than me.  I’m walking in the spirit of a Stedman.)

So on my birthday last month, I took a vacation. My father called me to wish me a Happy Birthday and we chopped it up for a bit.  He reminisced about where he was when he was my age; Married, working 2 jobs and they just had me even after wanting to stop at 3. (he did have 3 more kids after, and I mean…yikes.). Now that the youngest is grown and he’s nearing retirement he’s finally at a place where he can live his best life and even better he’s happy to see that I am.  After that talk, I decided to go visit.  He usually flies up to see his grandkids but we rarely bother to go see him, especially me. Our dynamic has always been a little strained.  Still a little strained, really.  Not much unlike him and my grandfather.  Even while you “get it” as an adult, you still become indifferent.  Forgiving parents isn’t easy, but sometimes necessary.  They affect our entire lives even subconsciously, the adults we become.  Me and my father are a lot alike; intuitive, reticent, stubborn.   It’s perhaps why we butt heads so much as adults.  We both recognize there’s…something wrong here, while also feeling like it’s the others’ to fix.  He’s not getting any younger, I’m not the one who broke it and so, stalemate.

As I approach the steep hill that is my 30s, part of me worries I’ll be him.  From our eerily similar decor choices, to my approach in relationships.  He’s a lot more expressive and open in his later years but that wasn’t the man I grew up knowing.  His love was assumed, shown through a roof over my head and Jordans every first day of school.  I was too young to really remember my parents in love, but with my step mother it always felt like, service.  They were together for 10 years because they were together for 10 years, in hindsight it mirrored my longest relationship.  We been together this long, why not see this through.  More recently, I had someone I’m with ask me that if a complete stranger was watching us right now, would they think we were in love?  I couldn’t answer.   I did love her, but clearly I sucked at showing it.  It wasn’t being expressed, it was assumed. Damn, I am him.  He lived through the civil rights movement, the military and having a whole ass family in the Reaganomics era, I can’t possibly be this way already.  I won’t allow myself to be.

Maybe, it starts with forgiving in the first place.  That’s a journey in itself that I’m still working on.  Without going too deep, there’s a lot about my childhood that I’m still processing but as an adult I at least find myself at a place where I see and empathize with him as a man; imperfect but steadily trying to grow as he prepares to embark on the next phase of his life as just as I’m trying to do with mine.    I usually try to end posts with a pretty little bow but there isn’t one, at least not yet.  All I can do in the interim, is work on improving our relationship and myself to become a more open, vulnerable man that believes in accent colors.  Oh, and no babies til like, 33?  35?  40?  Yeah, maybe 40.

-Stan-

 

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Today’s Word is… INDISTINGUISHABLE

I have a confession to make that may forever change how you look at me or SFW again. I can already sense the judgment, I can audibly hear the “yo, who’s mans is this?”. But it’s time I live my truth; I like turkey bacon. I might even prefer it to real bacon. I know it’s not really bacon, to even name it bacon is appropriation, but give me the choice, I’m possibly going turkey bacon. Bacon ain’t got no meat, especially at restaurants they gonna give you salty bacon shaped crackers. That being said, if someone ordered bacon and got turkey bacon, someone might be attacked and no one will say they were wrong for it. If you ordered bacon you want bacon. If you ordered turkey bacon you want… kinda bacon. It’s one of those cases where unlike New Amsterdam and Ciroc, most white actresses and all these new R&B singers who look like Denise Huxtable and do bad Amy Whinehouse impersonations, some things are truly indistinguishable.

Two things I also thought was indistinguishable, enter two people recently out of relationships but just enough time has passed where they’re supposed to start acting like they want to date again. Both of them probably a little too woke, both incredibly smart and fluent in sarcasm. They have great chemistry and make each other laugh. Both of them kinda hate dating, it’s trash. They like each other so they date, except one person is dating for companionship and the other is dating to be with someone. On the surface it would seem like it’s the same… but it isn’t. Bacon. Turkey bacon.

Dating to date vs dating for purpose; I’ve been on every side of these. Dating aimlessly to purposely, dater to datee. Of all, just dating to date is the simplest. Dating because there ain’t shit else to do, dating because I like you but I kinda suck at relationship stuff so let’s keep it right here in the safe zone, dating because a fly outfit is a terrible thing to waste. Dating is social, dating is networking, it’s troubleshooting. How do you know what you want if you don’t try some shit. other people and feelings involved so being open and honest about intentions or lack thereof is key. Then there’s the fact that people who date to date aren’t completely opposed to something more… Maybe something happens, maybe it doesn’t but ultimately they are in it more for themselves than anything.

Then there’s dating for purpose, where you have or think you have a good idea what you want and now it’s time to just find them. A trap I had fell into jumping from relationship to relationship because that was what I thought I was supposed to do. I look back at my college years and my early 20s and wonder about the people and friendships I’d still have in my life if I didn’t force the issue. “They just wasn’t ready”, I would tell the next one, looking at her with the same level of naiveté and ignorance. The reality was I didn’t even know if that was what I even wanted yet I was just following a recipe without any idea of what I was making.

Two date to date people can get along great, just enjoying each other’s company and most importantly managing expectations. Two date for purpose people will gladly pair off and get out of the wretched dating game. One of each? Well, its bacon and turkey bacon. You have one side ready to cuff up and delete their Tinder while the other just wanting them to enjoy what this is. Maybe one side concedes what they want for a moment, or two, or three but eventually they’ll come back to that fork in the road and someone will have to choose between what and who they want and it doesn’t end well. C’est la vie.

Whether you’re dating casually or really trying to be chose, it’s far easier to just find someone else who is also bout that life rather than trying to tell yourself that turkey bacon is just like the real thing and vice versa. You want what you want…as long as you own it. Like turkey bacon.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… CHOICE

I remember the first time I saw Marvel’s Black Panther 3 whole months ago, my reaction to Killmonger’s last line. I was shocked that they went THERE with it, because at the end of the day this whole movie was still bankrolled by Mickey Mouse. Then there was the second time, it was a punch I knew was coming, and I scoffed. It was one of those things that sounds good until you think about it, like “Too Close” by Next. (That song actually went #1…Gen X is trash). Spoiler alert but not really because how did you not see a movie that outsold the Titanic, when Killmonger is dying, T’Challa makes one last appeal to him offering to save his life and he refuses saying to bury him in the ocean with his ancestors who jumped off the ship because they knew death was better than bondage. First of all, you just killed someone like 15 minutes ago. Second, what kinda stupid ass hotep logic is that?

Fast forward to now, Kanye West, former favorite rapper took that that stupid ass hotep logic, chopped it up like a soul sample and had the unmitigated gall to say, 400 years of slavery sounds like a choice. *record scratch*. As most of the internet collectively let out a “nigga what”, there was another subset that shared his sentiment. The subset that loved that Killmonger line, the subset that is tired of all these slave movies (there’s been 30 in the last 100 years), the pan African subset…the people who don’t want to be associated with slavery; because they are ashamed of slavery.

You know who should be ashamed of slavery? The white people, this fucking country, this world. The idea of a slave mentality or a victim mentality is bullshit. Slaves weren’t too mentally weak to fight back, many did, many died trying, some succeeded. Others placed their faith and God, persevered and because of them we are still here. And for their sacrifice, some drug addicted rapper and hoteps spit in their face because their fragile masculinity won’t allow them to have ever been oppressed. They would’ve been Nat Turner or Harriet Tubman, they say it like children in the playground playing Avengers and everyone wants to be Thor and Cap. These same “Nats and Harriets” probably won’t even defend themselves at work. The idea that 200 years from now, someone’s ignorant descendant is going to say how they would’ve just shot the cops back, staged a prison break, overthrew the government and whatever other hotep fan fiction comes to mind. Because that’s how it works. It’s just a choice.

This message is easier to sell to black men, we’re strong, we’re tough, ain’t no white man with a whip gonna keep ME down. But if you woke up on an island, unable to read or understand the language, no idea of which way is North, South, East and West, what would you do? Kanye and the like want to believe that slaves were just brainwashed, that racism is a dated concept, that they just have to pull their pants up, or achieve a level of wealth, any and every life hack there is to escape the reality of being a black life in America. But telling yourself it didn’t happen doesn’t change anything. Boycotting slave imagery doesn’t change anything. To simply ignore 400 years of documented history fit your fairy tale imagery of black masculinity is delusional, for Kanye to get his slack jawed ass on live television and say it was a choice, that goes beyond a fake deep quip in a movie, it’s blatant propaganda. Fuck him.

@Profblmkelley captured it perfectly, “Not only did my ancestors and Kanye’s ancestors survive, they managed to make a way to make a new culture, remake family and faith. And in the process, make a culture so formidable that it continues to change the world.” My ancestors were strong, my ancestors endured, my ancestors survived. They aren’t anyone to feel shame about or hide and it upsets me to see so many feel otherwise.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… SEALIONING

The Road Runner is the most unbothered character in the history of cartoons. No matter how panini pressed Wile E Coyote is to get him for reasons no one understands, the Road Runner never gets revenge, never even asks what’s his deal, he just watches the plan backfire, laughs to himself and keeps it moving. The Road Runner is a mood, as the kids say. You’d think after all this time, energy, and resources the coyote would cut his losses and find something else to do, maybe find a slower bird or an Arby’s, but no he keeps trying and the Road Runner will remain unbothered. The lesson, be more like Road Runner, the Coyote never wins.

It’s never been more prevalent than in the past week, where it’s… been a week. Kanye West is a MAGAt, R Kelly got dropped by his publicist, Bill Cosby finally going to jail, and Nas is an abuser. As usual, everyone has their opinions, and “cancels” ready to go, as do their respective loyalists. It’s the best and worst thing about the internet, everyone has an opinion but doesn’t want to hear yours unless you agree. I mean, I’m no different… I don’t want to hear a Trump supporters side of the story, if you think the earth is flat and don’t at least play for the Celtics don’t speak to me ever. I’m right, you’re wrong, go away. But then there’s the people who bait you into a debate by asking for elucidation, proof, evidence and you, armed with receipts oblige thinking surely any rational person can see this and understand how and why they are wrong… But they don’t. They hit you back with a “Where’s the source to your source?”, change the subject entirely with a “What about black on black crime?” or they casually dismiss with a “It’s not that deep, I was just asking a question”. Now you’re enraged, you want to jump through the screen and choke them… You’ve been Wile E Coyoted.

Sealioning, as it’s more commonly referred to is just that. It’s intentional naiveté, they could easily Google these things but the point is to burden you with the questions. White people KNOW why they can’t say nigga, the purpose of asking is to annoy and aggravate. Argh argh argh why did Cosby’s victims take so long to come forward, they clap they hands and wait for you to toss them a fish. (or is that a seal? Black lives matter, fact don’t). People take the bait and hours later, nothing has changed, they’ve been played and now they need donations for self care after such tiring emotional labor.

Just the other day, I tweeted that while Kanye has been bitching, Rihanna is quietly doing everything he claims he’s being held back from and a swarm of sealions washed ashore demanding to know what I meant by that, and how much money has Rihanna made in the last 3 years… Nigga, fuck you. I’ll take time out to have a discussion with friends and family, maybe even a white coworker on a Friday, if I’m in a good mood.. But not a jackass on the internet who is just gonna disregard and move the goalposts. Sealions play on your need to be right. Its a trap I’ve fallen into before, but these days I’m all out of fucks to give and I don’t even care if you’re loud, wrong and dumb. I’m probably just gonna make fun of you with a quip and keep it moving. Google is free*.

-Stan-

*Well I’m sure we pay for it with our data #StayWoke

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Today’s Word is… STARBUCKS

When I had heard the story about the men arrested in Starbucks, I had 3 thoughts; First, white people are entirely too comfortable calling the police. We should just treat the police like the mob that they are. You don’t call Frankie the Butcher to move a sofa. You call for a noise complaint next thing you know someone is getting shot 15 times because they thought a remote was a gun. Two, everyone who has ever had a retail or service job knows that the solution is always to provide great service. If the manager was so concerned with these nigg…loiterers in her store she should’ve went and asked them if they needed anything. This isn’t a liquor store or a bank, it’s a fucking Starbucks; thugs don’t sip macchiatos, there was nothing to fear in this situation. The men most likely would’ve explained that they was waiting on a third party and also read the temperature of the room and ordered something which brings me ultimately to my third point, black men are very much aware of your discomfort around them.

One of my favorite T.I. songs is a track off his second album (and the first we cared about) called Doin My Job. It was something I hadn’t really heard before, a pragmatic view on dope dealing. No grand tales about “Papi” or the money, the cars or the jewels. It was, look I don’t wanna be here any more than you want me here but I got bills. A sentiment that anyone can understand. I mean sure drug dealing is still very illegal but hey there’s a demand, he’s a supply. He won’t bother you, don’t bother him. He’s just doing my job. It’s the overall sentiment of being a black man living in America, we don’t wanna be here as much as you don’t want us here but we here and got shit to do. Leave us be.

Even for dudes who willingly went to Starbucks I refuse to believe that their black spidey sense wouldn’t had kicked in if approached. There are plenty of times where I subconsciously try to make myself less intimidating. I smile in the elevator, I slow my pace if I’m walking behind you, might cross a street, take off my hood…I get that I’m a stranger. I get that discomfort. There are plenty of places where I feel uncomfortable around a bunch of white people especially as a lifelong Bostonian, like Fenway Park after a crushing loss. Or after a thrilling win. Southie. Anywhere Martin Scorsese or Ben Affleck made a movie. About 85% of pubs. The 2am train. Championship parades. And apparently, Starbucks.

You know who is most aware of the only black person in the room? The black person. Most likely trying to survive the situation making as little waves as possible and don’t need you and especially not the police to intervene. (For what it’s worth, I would’ve gotten something, I don’t have a dream I can loiter in a bland coffeeshop without purchase, go to a library.)

[Editor’s Note 4/19/18 2:00pm: I had thought they were at least posted up for a bit, but no she called the cops within 2 whole ass minutes. Is this 1964? Was there a whites only sign that they missed? 120 seconds and you lose your mind? Fucking white people man.]

I assure you white people, black people really aren’t worried about your ass, we just doing our job.

-Stan-

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