This So-Called Post-Post-Racial Life

January 1, 2010

Me and My (Blog) Ego

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — pprscribe @ 4:16 pm

Happy 2010 to all! I have been thinking about what, if any, changes I want to make to this blog during the new year. Should I change my profile picture and/or the blog design? Abandon the black-and-white-only photo posting policy? Should I “come out” as myself here on the blog? I don’t feel any huge need to change my picture. I kind of like the garden of Eden look of that black stone statue amongst the tropical foliage that I now use. I also like the blog design, though I do need to update my blogroll. I may or may not start posting color photographs. Mainly I need to get back into taking photographs, period.

As for “outing” myself, most regular commenters already know me from other environments, whether “real” life, the old blog, or other on-line forums. So I don’t feel a real need to blog here under my real name. At least not at this point.

But this last issue has been on my mind lately. As much as I resisted it, I have begun to Twitter. So far, the experience is still new to me. And still a little odd. I am continually shocked about what, on Twitter, people will reveal about themselves. I have heard of families airing all their dirty laundry via Tweets for each other and all the Twitterverse to see. Some people I follow have begun using a program where they will entertain the most intimate questions about themselves, promising to answer any and all queries honestly.

All of this, I do not quite get, nor do I expect (with my personality) I ever will. This has made me think of the following post from my old blog. “Egocasting” has gone warp speed since I wrote these words. There are now so many potential on-line selves to coordinate, so many potential worlds and audiences to collide. I think Twitter might be the end of the technological personalization line for me. If folks want to know anything more than what I already share they’ll just have to get to know me face to face.

(Also related: this BlogHer post from Nordette Adams.)

**********************************

I have been rather busy lately…a little friend called a dissertation. But I also enjoy keeping this blog. As I have said before, this is an extension of the journaling—personal and academic—that I have always done. My compromise has been to largely post brief entries of things I have read elsewhere, with perhaps a little commentary from me. Lists also seem to be a quick, enjoyable way to keep a blog going—and, a main initial feature of [this blog] was my making lists of things that I seemed to not be able to get to.

In this vein, a while back I thought I might post a list of the summer reading I wanted to do. But while I was compiling in my head what I would post here to the blog, I found myself excising a few of books from the list.

What was that about?

Well, these books were “light reading”—what some would even call “trash.” As this blog is, in large part, about my PhD journey, posting such non-intellectual fare would have been like admitting to the world that I planned to spend the summer on the couch watching “Three’s Company” re-runs on one of the nostalgia TV channels.

Blogger as Product

“I am so hip even my errors are correct.”
~Nikki Giovanni, “Ego Tripping”*

My being loathe to make such an admission was the first I had realized that I was intentionally and strategically using this forum as a way to reveal some things about myself—and, more interesting—to cloak others.

I have heard this kind of on-line self-presentation called egocasting. And it appears that blogging could be part of the realm of technologies of personalization. Just as I can use my iPod to listen to my own personalized 24-hour radio station full of only those songs I like, just as I can use my television and remote and DVR to view only those programs I like, I can use my blog to “broadcast” only those aspects of my graduate school experience that I like.

Even if I reveal my frustrations and errors, I can wait to craft a post until I have successfully overcome and corrected them. Even if I reveal my shortcomings, I can spin them in such a way that procrastination appears to be reflection, lack of divergent thinking becomes focus, pathological perseveration becomes dedication.

I can be a product of my own production.

Same Broadcast, Different Station

You ain’t ridin/
You ain’t bumpin like I’m bumpin/
You ain’t sayin nuthin homie/
You ain’t fresh az I’m iz…
~Bow Wow, “Fresh Azimiz”

It just so happens that while I was having this summer reading/egocasting epiphany, I was also updating my CV (or, resume, for you non-academics). In a stroke of convergent thinking (or, in a sure sign of being mired in a mental rut) it occurred to me that a CV is a much older and much more widespread type of “egocasting.” In my CV I broadcast the professional self that I hope will be pleasing to my “audience”—prospective employers. I do not (purposefully) reveal my negative qualities, perhaps hoping to give the impression that I am in possession of none.

Not only do I try hard to broadcast myself in the best possible light (evident, for example, by spending inordinate amounts of time deciding between “developed” and “designed”) but I implicitly try to convey that I am better—muchmuchmuch better—than any other egocast my audience may be tuning into on their prospective employee dial.

Again, I am a product. Plus I am a better/fresher/tastier/faster product than the others.

“Become the Boast…”

Well, anyone who has ever sent themselves off to faceless others in the form of a multi-page listing of awards, accomplishments, and action words knows that such an endeavor can be pretty rough on the ego. You’re supposed to be confidently tooting your own horn, but just as often you feel as if you may be sounding discordant notes. The act of egocasting via plain old CV-writing can be undermining to one’s ego.

In true spin-making form, though, I have decided to look upon both my blog writing and my more formal professional presentations of myself not as occasions for doubt and worry, but as opportunities for goal attainment. My CV is a catalog of my proudest moments for others; But for me it can be a “how-to” manual for even more proud moments to come.

And no, I can no longer claim that this blog is “just an on-line journal”—It is also a digital representation of a (somewhat/some times) carefully crafted on-line self. But it does not have to turn into a forum for private self-guessing and self-authentication—It, like my CV, can be part of the road map to my personal mission.

In that spirit, I just may post that summer reading list. And think what you may if it is not packed with great classics or deep literary prize winners. I will likely list a few of those in the hopes that my seeing those titles here will serve as motivation to actually read (not just purchase) them. I like to think of it as having a healthy balance between work and play, seriousness and fun. (Though I could also think of it as my being shallow and frivolous.)

Whichever way you slice it: Both my CV and my blog are me—or at least a part of me that I decide is ready for public consumption. Whatever perfection contained herein is true even when it doesn’t tell the complete story. And of course, any lack of perfection is part of the story, too. But at least a part of the rest of the story is my intention to reach higher…

I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal.
I cannot be comprehended except by my permission.
I mean…I…can fly
like a bird in the sky…

~Nikki Giovanni, “Ego Tripping”*

*(Recorded spoken word available on iTunes and here on Amazon)

December 15, 2009

What Comes After “Post-Racial”? (re-post)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — pprscribe @ 11:05 am

made_at_wwwtxt2piccom

On the 14th of January of this year, I posted my first entry to this blog. Prior to that post I had thought long and hard about what I would name it. Seems everyone has a blog, and so many good names are taken by bloggers who have come before me. I had decided on a theme and a focus for the content, and had early on developed a loose rationale for this space—one that I purposefully left rather open-ended to allow for further development:

…Some claim that we have been a post-racial society for some longer period of time and, in fact, continue to exist in such an epoch. Still others claim that “post-racialism” is purely the stuff of mythology…or wishful thinking…or willful ignorance…or cunning malice. Or some combination of the above.

Myself, I’ll grant we may have had a post-racial moment. But I am calling it over.

So now we are in a state of post-post-racialism. What will that mean? What adventures await us in this new era of racial relations and racial perceptions?

I knew I should restrict my choices to a name that would reflect that theme. We are not (if we were ever) “beyond race.” But we may be beyond that moment where (some) of us (not me, though) thought we might be beyond race or at least headed in that direction. So the “post-post-racial” part of the blog title was easy once I figured out a loose definition of what that means. But what goes with post-post-racialism?

I decided early on that I did not want the blog name to have anything to do with me personally. I decided my pseudonym would be PPR_Scribe, but I did not want the blog title to be that pseudonym. I am Black and I am a woman and I am a mother…but I did not necessarily want the blog name to declare these or any other of my identities. I sought to shift the focus away from me and towards the content.

And anyway—other bloggers have personality to spare, so it is fitting that their blog names reflect who they are personally. In contrast, I consider myself rather dry to some extent and in some social situations. Rather quiet. I was often the kid sitting on the side observing and writing in my head for later. Even when I am involved I can be somewhat out-of, as if interacting with others just outside of myself. In high school I got into photography and this, too, fit with my observe-but-don’t-be-noticed personality. So anyway, that is why the blog is not named after me—and, indeed, why the blog is “this” post-post-racial life instead of “my.”

I also decided that I would give my new space a kind of stripped-down, minimalist feel. Embedded videos are everywhere on the ‘Net, and on my previous blog I greatly enjoyed posting them. But I decided against posting them here. Thus, for example, when I participate in Old School Fridays I post links to audio instead of embedding video.

I also decided that I would only post black and white images here. First of all, I am drawn to black and white photography. I think the lack of color forces one to look at content, contrast, texture, line, light, and shadow—all things that I find most interesting about visual images. Additionally, there are so many shades of white, gray, and black that I do not feel any “lack” of color at all in these images.

I chose a WordPress theme for the blog that reflects this minimalism. No fancy banner images. No color. And the name of the theme was perfect: The Journalist. Yes! That’s who PPR_Scribe is: a journalist, just reporting from the racial front.

What about the “so-called” in the title? Well, I am not entirely convinced we live in a post-anything society. In fact, I find it pretty presumptuous to give a name to a time in which one is currently living. Surely that is a job for those at a much later date, looking back. So, this life—for now—is just post-post-racial in air quotes: so-called, but not yet proven.

There. The obligatory blogging self-assessing, self-disclosing, navel-gazing post is now over. My blog title has been chosen and whatever regrets I have after seeing everyone else’s cool blog titles have long since been stifled. Seven words, three hyphens. A work still very much in progress, but the blogger is definitely enjoying the journey.

Thanks to everyone who drops in to see how it’s going. Please accept this as an invitation to de-lurk and say hello.

And if you don’t mind sharing with me how you came upon your own blog title, I’d love to hear it.

December 8, 2009

NaSeWriWee, Day 6

Filed under: Riddle, Poem, Tale, or Joke — Tags: , , — pprscribe @ 11:32 am

This is it—the next to last day of my National Sentence Writing Week! And here is my output: One random sentence from some random novel that I will likely never write.

Indeed (and much to her surprise), the only things she required were an old desk lamp, a pair of needle-nose pliers and all the yellow M&Ms from a 56-ounce bag.

December 6, 2009

NaSeWriWee, Day 4

Filed under: Riddle, Poem, Tale, or Joke — Tags: , , — pprscribe @ 12:13 pm

Indeed (and much to her surprise), the only things she required were ___, ___, and all the yellow M&Ms from a _____ bag.

This draft was ready yesterday but went through a couple of incarnations. I have to do some research regarding the size bags M&Ms come in. I want a big bag—preferably the biggest bag Mars makes. And for some reason, I think the color must be yellow. I fooled around with the first two necessary items. A few I liked because of the content, but the rhythm was all wrong. So I still have some work to do.

Still, I am continuing to make progress!

December 4, 2009

NaSeWriWee, Day 3

Filed under: Riddle, Poem, Tale, or Joke — Tags: , , — pprscribe @ 8:38 am

Already, a rewrite is in order. On a whim, I googled my sentence so far and got a hit:In fact, and much to her surprise, they were seeking her out as an expert talking head on a new crime series.” [Source] Different punctuation, but still—not very original. And since I am only aiming for one sentence, the least I can do is make it original.

So, draft two so far:

Indeed (and much to her surprise), what she required

I’m not really feeling “indeed.” Musically, “in fact” was so much better, using three notes on the scale to say instead of just two. But I’m going to work with this for today and see where the sentence takes me tomorrow.

December 3, 2009

NaSeWriWee, Day 2

Filed under: Riddle, Poem, Tale, or Joke — Tags: , , — pprscribe @ 12:54 pm

In fact (and much to her surprise)

I’m making progress!

December 2, 2009

In fact: National Sentence Writing Week (NaSeWriWee)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — pprscribe @ 3:02 pm

Yeah, I know you haven’t heard of it. I just made it up. I’m so proud of folks (like Nordette!) who have successfully completed NaNoWriMo. Every year since I heard about it I say This year I will join in on all the writing fun. Every year I’m at December 1 or 2 saying, Oh darn well maybe next year.

I think what I’ll have to do is start small. Realllllly small. Like maybe one sentence. And one week.

I’m going to get started on the perfect sentence from somewhere in the novel that I will likely never write. So here is my progress so far:

In fact

Yup. That’s it. Two words so far. Two letters, space, four more letters. No punctuation (yet). I’m leaning towards a comma next, but may go buck wild with a left parentheses or dash or maybe an ellipsis. You’ll just have to tune in next time to see.

By the way, I have “tweeted” my effort.

I mentioned here before that I Don’t Do Twitter. But after falling for listening to the advice of several people who are expert users, I decided to join in. But I am about ready to quit. I cannot seem to get the hang of it. I feel as though I am a latecomer to a large party, mingling around the room and catching one sentence only of 23 or 24 different conversations—none which I seem to be a central participant in.

We’ll see.

In the meantime I’d love if others participated in the first ever NaSeWriWee. I think I might actually be successful at this, and think you could be, too!

November 23, 2009

Hello Kitty and Smurfs: Because Sometimes You Need a Break from the Insanity

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — pprscribe @ 12:10 am

Things have been pretty quiet here at Post-Post-Racial Life. Working on a college campus again means I am once again yoked to the academic calendar and all the work that means for this time of year. I have also been traveling for work. I have also been less than my usual 80%, health-wise; Nothing serious, just a chronic condition flaring up worse than normal. I have also been on a pleasure-reading binge—brought about, I think, by my brilliant though simple move of bringing a comfy chair from the living room and a floor lamp from the office into my bedroom.

But mainly I have been quieter than usual because I have become exhausted by about 99% of the news and analysis in Blogland.

This is no fault of bloggers. Bloggers have been observing and analyzing and discussing the day’s events with skill, sensitivity, and often, humor. But the news they have to report on is just so incredibly heartstucking. From abuse and murder of little kids to continuing racism and veiled (and not-so-veiled) violence against the President. It is all just so…much. As I have said before, sometimes a body needs a break from all this. Sometimes self-care must trump the desire to post—or to even read and comment on other posts.

Research has shown that people who watch a lot of television news have unrealistic perceptions about the prevalence of crime, who commits crime, and where crime is likely to occur. I think the same might be true for bloggers. It may be that heavy diets of blognews and bloganalysis might be warping our views about the amount of nonsense that exists in the “real world.”

Or it may be that we haven’t even scratch the surface.

But whatever the case may be, sometimes we should hit the “re-set” button on our perceptions. Just for our own sanity and piece of mind.

"brainy smurf was a tagger." deepwarren, http://www.flickr.com/photos/fuzzhead/11287941/

Recently a blog friend commented on a post and said her blog had been fluffy and weak as of late. I reiterated my thought that maybe she just needed a break, and opined that “fluffy” does not equal “weak.” I joked that real fluffy blogging would involve posting about Hello Kitty and the Smurfs.

But really—what is so bad about a little “fluff” every now and then? That is one of the things about the Old School Friday meme that I love so much. Even when the weekly theme is pretty serious, being able to express it through music makes blogging soul-enhancing instead of soul-sapping. But I have even missed posting OSF entries lately—two Fridays in a row!

I tell you: That will not happen again, if I can help it!

So what is the point of this post? I am not retiring. I’m not even “resting” per se. But the topics of my posts for the next…how many ever days I need…will be less weighty than is often the case here.

I have photos to share. I’ll catch the blog up on some music offerings. I even will get to Part 2 of my latest “At the Front” tale. And I have a couple other tales that might finally see the light of blog. I do not plan on actual posts on The Smurfs or Hello Kitty or The Care Bears. But I’m warning you: I may come close.

October 20, 2009

Saturday at the Front (Part 1)

Filed under: Riddle, Poem, Tale, or Joke — Tags: — pprscribe @ 12:02 am

Violating the posted rules of the conference room, Saturday had brought liquor.

And a stack of red ribbed plastic cups, a bag of ice, nonalcoholic mixers, bar tools, and plastic containers of olives and sliced lemons and limes. Wednesday looked at the collection and scowled.

“I assume coffee will not be necessary,” Wednesday asked.

“Not unless you want an Irish Coffee.”

Monday walked in, balancing a pile of papers. One sheet fluttered off the top and escaped through the open door. A split second later came Tuesday, clutching the apprehended sheet in one raised hand.

“Thanks”: Monday to Tuesday. Then, noticing the makeshift bar, to Saturday: “I do not suppose it would be worth my time to remind you of the explicit rules regarding alcoholic beverages.”

“You suppose correctly…or, is it, you do not suppose incorrectly? Really, Monday, your language could use a colonic.”

Friday and Thursday entered next. Sunday, last.

As Saturday had already taken residence at the head of the table, the others filled in as per order: Sunday to the chair immediately right of the head, then Monday and on through Friday. Monday closed the door and glanced clockwards: “It is early still, but because everyone is here, why don’t we begin? It is Saturday’s turn at the front and it seems we are to be treated to happy hour in addition to a joke.”

Saturday just smiled, unscrewing the top off of a bottle of gin. “What can I get started for everyone?”

Protests…requests for nonalcoholic drinks…claims of I’m not thirsty…were all dismissed by Saturday, who commenced to mixing whatever came to mind for each of them. Soon a filled red plastic cup sat in front of each; eventually, in all cases, one sip followed another, all protests forgotten.

Said Monday, “Before you get started, do we have any old business?”

A few moments of silence were broken by Wednesday. “Will you please let us know who is to get coffee next time? Will we skip whoever’s turn it was supposed to be this week, or will we proceed where we left off last?”

Monday consulted notes, while around the table came the sounds of sips and sighs. “That would be me, if we do not skip. Oh. But that is the day I have that meeting to go to and—”

Tuesday, quickly: “I’ll be happy to take your turn. Then I’ll do next time as well. It’s fine.”

“Alright. Thank you, Tuesday. So, moving on—”

“I would just like to ask, then, Monday, what your plans were for today. Since it was to be your turn and you apparently had not made plans to get the coffees.”

“Yes, Wednesday, I was running late today. But I had still planned to make the run. Perhaps we should set aside this topic until a later date and move on to new business. Anyone? No? Then, Saturday, the front is yours.”

“Fan-tas-tic! First I’d like to make a toast.” Holding up a cup and waiting for the others to do the same. One by reluctant one, they did. “A toast to Tuesday, who always knows just the right thing to say, and when to say it. Usually, of course, right after Monday. To Tuesday!” Saturday sipped. The others repeated, less enthusiastically, “to Tuesday,” before sipping.

Tuesday said, “Thank you, Saturday, for that unexpected, if somewhat backhanded, compliment.”

“Yes, Saturday, as the…’compliment’ engaged me by implication, I ‘thank’ you as well.”

“No need to—” here Saturday demonstrated exaggerated air quotation marks— “thank me, friends. That was quite sincere. And now, for another. A toast to Wednesday, for keeping our toes to flame on such important matters as coffee and tea! To Wednesday!”

“Alright, we can all see where this is headed. I think you should stop with the toasts and just—”

But Thursday interrupted, red ribbed cup held high, “To WEDNESDAY! Who I follow with GREAT honor!” Thursday’s loud, prolonged gulps were barely heard over the reluctant, non-unison mumbles of “To Wednesday” from around the table. Sips, less brief than previously, filled the space between this exclamation and Saturday’s continuation.

“And to all the rest! My peers and friends! Without whom I would be nothing! Here-here!”

“Here- here,” in unison, this time, if not all as enthusiastically as Saturday’s cheer.

After this round of sips, Saturday began refilling all of the cups—with little logic, it seemed. No questions this time about what everyone was drinking; indeed, no one received the same drink as the first time. But this time, no protests.

“Soooo, my selection today involves this joke I heard. But this isn’t about the joke per se. Instead, I would like to…to deconstruct a joke and the joke-telling and joke-creating process. And I would like this to be participatory.”

“Sounds like it might be fun,” said Friday, reaching for a lemon wedge.

“So long as you are open to the criticism such participation may entail,” said Wednesday.

“Oh, perfectly open. In fact, that would help me a lot. See, it occurs to me that my jokes have not been as funny lately as I would like them to be. At first I thought, well I just need more jokes—better jokes—jokes no one has heard before. But now I’m thinking it might not be quantity or even quality, but delivery. I’ve been obsessed with this. I think about it all the time. I can barely sleep and my eating’s been off, too. I even considered medication…like, maybe I’m clinically depressed or something.”

Saturday paused, and everyone’s eyes focused front, computing this unexpected show of reflection and self-doubt. Then Thursday spit out a spray of  rum- and spit-laced fluid halfway across the table in an unsuccessful attempt to stifle a laugh. Saturday kept the straight face for a moment, but then joined Thursday’s guffaws.

“OK,” said Saturday. “I haven’t exactly been depressed. But it has been bugging me.”

“Saturday,” Wednesday said, sliding an empty cup across the table to Saturday for refilling, “have you considered that the context for humor has changed? Frequently your jokes are, well, questionable, at best, when it comes to…race and gender.”

“And sex. And profanity,” interjected Sunday.

“Or stupidity and childishness,” said Monday.

“Actually, what I was getting at, is that there was a time when you could depend on  marginalized groups not being able to speak out against some jokes. Not to mention,” continued Wednesday, “that the contexts in which jokes are told are much more likely to be diverse now. Which means it is harder and harder to tell some jokes without them offending someone listening.”

“I hear what you are saying, Wednesday—I hear what all of you are saying. But I can usually deal with aspects of a joke that might make it…problematic for some audiences. Here, I’ll give you an example. Let’s say I want to tell a joke that involves two little old African American ladies arguing in church.” To Monday, who was taking notes in between sips: “Now, this isn’t my actual joke, I’m just giving an example.”

Then, back to group: “This is an old joke; you’ve probably heard it. But it’s a good example. OK. So there’s two Black old ladies arguing in church. Now, I would only tell this joke in front of people who’d already get that these are specifically two Black church sisters. I’d make my voice do like,” and here Saturday’s voice transformed—more nasal,  “dis like I hab a mouf full of faws teef or sometin an ima ole lady—see, that’s how the audience would already know.”

“Yes.” Friday’s voice was as laced with sarcasm as with vodka: “and we all know how much Black audiences love to hear themselves sound like that.”

“Ah. But this is a joke originally told by a Black person. Context. Like Wednesday was saying. This would have been a Black joke told by a Black joke-teller to a Black  audience. So—where was I?” Sipping: “Oh. So this joke’s about these two old church women arguing and—sorry, Sunday—in the original version, there’s a dirty word repeated. You could use lotsa words, some dirtier than others. Like, if you wanted to tone down the dirtiness, you might use ‘dick’—again, sorry, everybody. I’ll just say ‘the d-word.’ OK. But to amp it up you could say co— I mean, the c-word, for…you know…that part of the male anatomy.”

“Will you be actually telling the joke, Saturday,” asked Thursday, pushing an empty cup down for a refill.

"two old ladies in Vienna." loungerie, http://www.flickr.com/photos/loungerie/2103105240/

"two old ladies in Vienna." loungerie, http://www.flickr.com/photos/loungerie/2103105240/

“Yes. Sorry. But just as an example, right?” Saturday did not miss a beat, pouring, mixing and talking simultaneously.  “I explained that the original joke is contextual and involves profanity. And part of the humor comes from the image of these two little old ladies, in church, talking in this funny voice, saying this word—either the d-word or the c-word. But I could change all that, easily, to remove the racial aspects, the profanity, the religious stuff. And the joke would be just as funny. So here’s the joke in it’s new form:

I ran across my neighbors, old Mrs. Johnson and old Mrs. Jones, the other day while I was walking Rex. They were arguing on Mrs. Johnson’s front porch.”

“—Now, see, this is something else I did with the joke,” said Saturday in self-interruption. “I put myself in it. That’s personalization. Makes it even funnier. And I could even make it funnier by giving the dog a name the listeners all know. Say…my dog, Wednesday—”

“—Except, that might not be funny to Wednesday,” said Wednesday in self-reference.

“Ah, but a joke doesn’t have to be funny to everyone listening, as long as it is funny to most. Joke-tellers often make an audience member the joke’s butt, for more laughs from everyone else.”

AND…” Monday, making an exaggerated tapping motion with fingertip to wristwatch face.

“Oh, sorry. So:

I ran across old Mrs. Johnson and old Mrs. Jones the other day while I was walking Rex, arguing on Mrs. Johnson’s front porch. ‘I says, ‘What’s going on?’ Mrs. Johnson said, ‘What’s going on is that she said that my late husband, rest his soul, had warts on his wee-wee.’

Notice how now I am just talking in a high-pitched, frail, universal old lady voice? And notice how calling it a wee-wee is still funny?

‘I did not say your late husband had warts on his wee-wee,’ said Mrs. Jones. ‘I clearly heard you say my late husband, rest his soul, had warts on his wee-wee.’ ‘Bertha, I did not say your husband had warts on his wee wee!’ Well, by now Rex is straining on the leash, and I’m thinking I could be here all day.

So I says, ‘Look, you two have been best friends for so long. Why can’t you just let this go?’ ‘But I can’t let it go! Sheee said that my late husband, rest his soul, had warts on his wee-wee!’

‘For the last time, Bertha, I did not say your late husband had warts on his wee-wee. I said it always looked like he had warts on his wee-wee!’ “

Saturday paused, and a split second later the laughter began—first a small trickle, swelling to a sustained outpouring.

“For the record,” said Wednesday, laughs subsiding, “there remain problematic aspects even after you have removed the d-word and the racial elements. Age-ism, for one. The joke depends on a myth of elderly women not being sexual beings. Not to mention the implication of infidelity.”

“But,” said Tuesday, “even you, yourself laughed. That would seem to suggest that a significant portion of the populace accepts these tropes as humorous. Which, of course, is not to say that they are less problematic.  I guess I am just trying to say…” Trailing off. Less sure. “Well, anyway, I think that this is a good example of how a joke could be adapted.”

Said Sunday, “I like the use of wee-wee,”  followed by chuckles and more beverage spray.

“Yesss,” said Monday, “When all else fails, resort to toddler-influenced potty language. So. Saturday. Example noted. But are you going to get to your point? We only have the conference room for—”

“One hour fifteen minutes. I know.” Saturday poured seven new drinks in fresh cups and passed them out. Most had not finished with the drink in front of them. Moments of indecision round the table were resolved by strategies of quickly downing existing drinks, adding old contents to new cups, or setting aside old cups in favor of the replacements.

“As I was saying. I don’t think good joke-telling’s a matter of context or times. All that can be overcome. It’s the delivery. And I think it just took a good joke-teller—someone even better than myself—to make this clear to me. And here’s where I’m gonna tell this joke I heard, but I have to give you the background first—” Here Monday again turned watch-checking into high drama— “But it will only take another few moments.”

Sipping.

“It happened the other day when I caught a cab to go uptown. I’d just climbed in when this woman piles in beside me and asks if she can share the ride with me to J Street.”

“Wait just a minute,” protested Tuesday. “This is a joke, right? You’re going to say that her right breast was exposed and she left her baby on the bus.”

“Nooo, that was from last time. And it was her left breast. This isn’t a joke. It was a a real woman and she wanted to be dropped off at J Street uptown. Fully clothed. Oh. And she was wearing clown make up.”

“Clown make up?” Monday’s note-taking paused, pen in mid-air.

“Yes. Clown make-up.”

.

.

.

***End, Part One***

***This crew appeared in a previous two-part post, Friday at the Front Part 1 and Part 2***

October 8, 2009

Riddle, Poem, Tale, or Joke—Take 2

Filed under: Riddle, Poem, Tale, or Joke — Tags: , , — pprscribe @ 1:14 pm

My first category here at this blog I named “Riddle, Poem, Tale, or Joke” and it included brief pieces that were short-short stories or other creative writing. (The story of how the category came about is here.) My thinking was that I would just do freewriting, or very very very rough drafts, and polish them later. And that was fine. For a while. Until more people besides my initial 3 visitors started to read the blog. Then I became self conscious about these fledgling works of fiction and stopped posting them here.

But every so often an idea occurs to me and I feel a hankering to write it out—and make a commitment to it by posting it here.

Well, I have two such drafts sitting in my drafts folder right now. I’ll post them soon. But first I just wanted to reflect a little about what I have already written, because when I first posted those other pieces I provided no context or explanation.

A two-part piece I posted called “Friday at the Front” still gets several hits a week even though it has been some time since I first posted it (Part 1, Part 2). I am not sure what folks are getting out of the two posts. (No one has ever posted a comment about them.) The piece is a take-off on a short story by Neil Gaiman called “October in the Chair” (in Poe’s Children: The New Horror, edited by Peter Straub, 2008, Doubleday). I think of my story as making some statement about topics related to the theme of this blog (e.g., racism, race relations, gender). But exactly what that statement is is something that I did not think a lot about before or during the writing of the posts. I could make some ad hoc claims now about what that statement is. Or I could just hope that I achieved something in fooling around with Gaiman’s stroytelling style and that people will have a moment of pleasure reading it.

Except.

Except that one of those posts I was talking about in my drafts is a follow-up—now it is Saturday’s turn at the head of the conference table. Where the first time I just freely wrote and worried about message later, now I am stepping more cautiously. I would love to be more intentional about message, but I do not want the message to take over to the extent that the story is crap. That’s not a thought process that builds much creative confidence. But I will be going for it. It’ll be posted sometime soon and then I’ll just see.

The second draft story-post features a suburban, middle class, professional Black woman. You may think that this suburban, middle class, professional Black woman is me. You would not be correct. I definitely know this fictional woman. Quite well. I have written about her before—In “Water Under Bridges” and “Inside-Out,” for example. And she may have had some initial experience that is very similar to one I have had in my real life. These blog posts may, like in some movie disclaimers, have been “inspired by true events.” But just so you know, they are not 100% fiction-free, not 100% about-me. Which is why I classify them in my category just for these types of posts. Anyway, the draft I have follows this fictional woman as she consolidates aspects of her life…with unintended consequences.

Should be fun. In fact, both of these have been fun to think about and begin writing so I hope they are just as fun to read and (hopefully) talk about.

Tune back in soon at this same Bat-time, same Bat-channel…

May 21, 2009

Reflecting on Race and No. 1 Ladies’

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — pprscribe @ 12:35 pm

I did not fully realize it until I excitedly checked my DVR for this past Sunday’s episode, but The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency is finished for the season! I plan to search around the web for any information on whether the program will be coming back for a new season—I certainly hope so. To keep me occupied in the meantime, I am planning a series of posts inspired by the series reflecting a little on race, cultural authenticity, and depictions by Whites of people of color. Racialicious has a good post up about this very issue.

Some random thing I may cover:

  • The first book I read that (to my knowledge) was by a Black author was Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which I read while in high school. It would be an understatement to say that this book changed my life and reading habits forever. But I am often annoyed that it took so long for me to read a book by a Black author. I am trying to ensure that my own children do not suffer the same fate.
  • An experience I have had as a parent is rediscovering children’s books I loved as a child, only to discover how incredibly racist the books are. Also, I have found some books that I loved that I know now were about White characters, but that as a child I had somehow “read myself into” them, recreating lead character in my own image. To me, for example, Pippi Longstocking was a little Black girl (though her non-Black image was clearly illustrated on the cover and throughout the pages).
  • I struggle with the idea that there is an “authentic” Black experience, or authentic anything experience. I am not sure what that means, or who is to judge, or what happens to those experiences that fall outside of the realm of defined (by someone) authenticity. Yet I have very definitely read and seen depictions of Black folks that rang absolutely untrue to me. (And not all of these depictions were by White folks.)
  • Along those lines, it used to annoy me in the 80s when some folks (Black, White, and other) complained of the Cosby Show that it did not depict a “real Black family.” In many ways, the Cosbys were much like my own family growing up. We were all Black. But somehow were we not “really” Black? Of course that is a ridiculous notion. But I am intrigued by what I think that statement and claim of inauthenticity really means.

Those are some of my thoughts right now. I welcome any other thoughts you may have. In the meantime, I do not know what I will do without both “Heroes” and “The No. 1 Ladies’.” So if you have any suggestions for summer TV viewing, I’d appreciate that as well.

May 7, 2009

3,000: De-lurk

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — pprscribe @ 12:06 pm

At some point over the last 12 hours or so, somebody made the 3,000th visit to this blog. I do not know who it was. (Hopefully it was not one of my many spammer friends.) But I do thank you, whoever you are.

Also, I thank everyone who has ever dropped by this young blog.

I’ve been blogging long enough (my previous blog dated back to…2005?) to not utter the old line “I blog for myself.” I love the act of writing and posting and the whole creativity of it all. But I would just keep a private journal if all I wanted to do was write for myself. Seeing my little numbers on the stat counter go up at the end of each day is what keeps me typing. So—thank you to you all.

If you are so inclined, please take this as an invitation to de-lurk to just say “hi.”

Also, as I have just updated my blogroll, please feel free to recommend other blogs (including your own) that I’ve missed that you think I might enjoy.

Cheers!

Older Posts »

The Silver is the New Black Theme. Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.