About Me

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Washington, DC, United States
I don't write here nearly as much as I should, but when I do, I'll try to make it count for something.

Monday, February 7, 2011

"The thing that makes Woody special, is he'll never give up on you... ever. He'll be there for you, no matter what."

I love Toy Story 3. It's weird, I like it more every single time I see it, and it always seems to mean more with each viewing. It's so nice to see a story like that, a story I grew up with, come full circle in such a poignant way. So fantastically done - and it remained honest and true to the characters, had a big heart, but didn't try to drown you in sentimentality. I wish Pixar made all animated films, I really do. (And this is not to say that I think this movie deserves to be nominated for best pictures at the Oscars, but I still love it nonetheless.)

As a result to re-watching the movie over the weekend, I also decided to rewatch one of my favorite movies from my childhood: The Land Before Time. I used to watch that movie endlessly. I would talk along with the characters' lines. I'd sit in my Sunday dress and just watch it on repeat on Sunday afternoons. I'd talk about it at the dinner table all the time, retelling the adventure of Little Foot and his friends to find the Great Valley. When I was 7, my mom gave me a plush Little Foot Doll for my birthday and I still have it to this day. When Andy hesitated in giving Woody away at the end of Toy Story 3, and when he was describing him, I tell ya - that always chokes me up, because that's how I felt about Little Foot. He was with me through so much, and I loved him, honestly, and I know it's stupid to love inanimate things or to care so much about toys as an adult - but even though I don't play with Little Foot anymore, there's something comforting about him. He makes me feel safe and loved.

Funny the associations we keep over the years, and the memories. I remember seeing The Land Before Time in theaters as if it happened yesterday - and that's what I really miss the most about being a kid. Being that excited and having the capacity to feel so much joy over something so little. But I guess sometimes I feel like that - like, around Christmas or on the first days of Fall. Whenever I listen to an album by The Bangles. Whenever my mom calls just to tell me she loves me. There's so much negativity everywhere, that sometimes it's important to tap into that pool of childish joy that's normally buried too deep within ourselves to touch. And sometimes, we can't quite reach it, but boy, when we can... what feels better than that?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Rhyme & Ramblings: Music and thoughts inspired by Black History Month (and more)

First off, I would like to apologize: I implied that my next blog post was going to be about my restaurant week shenanigans but to be honest I only had one truly amazing meal out of the three restaurants I experienced, and even that was – while very good – not so memorable, that I can speak to it now, weeks later. So this post will not be about restaurant week after all. But, as a side note, the weekend of Restaurant Week, I went to Firefly in Dupont Circle (with my bestie) and had what was perhaps the best brunch I’ve had in a long while. And $1 mimosas! And the best turkey sausage ever made by man! And the most amazing French press coffee I’ve ever had! So yeah, I’m going back there….

….But not for a while. Following the footsteps of my friend Lindsay, who is an inspiration in many ways, I have decided to stop spending money and going out. It’s hard because I love experiencing new restaurants/bars/etc… but the thing is, I want to travel this year – out of the country – and I’m now abundantly aware that this will not happen if I don’t get serious about conserving my finances. So I need to find more “free” things to do in DC. Allllllll suggestions are welcome! The one thing I won’t give up: taking myself to the movies on Sunday mornings. It makes me so happy, and it’s not part of my regular routine, and I go more like every other Sunday, so that’s only like $20 a month. I think I can spare that, right?

Anyway, onto more interesting topics: African American History Month!

So every year, I make a playlist in celebration of musical contributions from the black community. I know I don’t talk about race often, because while race is real and it’s still as hot a topic as it ever was, I see myself as more than just a black woman. I don’t like to define myself by one thing – I am a lot of things, some great, some not so great. And honestly, I feel like race is used so much as an excuse – like, well, I’m black and live in an under privileged neighborhood, so I don’t stand a chance in this world or the people that still can’t look beyond a person’s cover to see what a beautiful story is written inside. And like I said, race is real – RACISM is real. And of course, as a black woman living in this country, I’ve definitely experienced it. But why should I let that hurt me or stop me or bring me down? I know that I am talented and beautiful and smart. I know that I am going to be a force to be reckoned with. I know that I matter, and I will make a difference. I’m not worried about the ignorance of people who can’t remember what era we’re currently living in. I won’t let those people have control over my life.

But back to the music! I created a playlist in iTunes and it’s a list of about 300+ songs and don’t really feel like posting it, but here are a few of the key songs that I think are ESSENTIAL to any Black History Month list (and no, not ALL these songs are about fighting oppression, and in fact most of them are about the simple joys and pitfalls of human emotion, and the mere celebration of music as an art form – or it’s just some sweet, kickass raps):

· “Little Wing” – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

· “What’s Happening Brother” – Marvin Gaye

· “It’s Only A Paper Moon” – Nat King Cole

· “Beat It” – Michael Jackson

· “Heave Wave” – Martha Reeves & the Vandellas

· “In the Basement, Part One – Etta James

· “Rhymes & Ammo/Thirsty” – The Roots

· “Redemption Song” – Bob Marley

· “Get Down” – Curtis Mayfield

· “Love Child” – Diana Ross & the Supremes

· “Thriller” – Michael Jackson (yes, I love MJ, so sue me)

· “My Baby Just Cares For Me” – Nina Simone

· “Hip Hop Saved My Life” – Lupe Fiasco

· “Thieves in the Night” – Black Star

· “Buffalo Soldier” – Bob Marley

· “Strange Fruit” – Nina Simone

· “You Can’t Hurry Love” – The Supremes

· “Fallin’” – Alicia Keys

· “Nasty” – Janet Jackson (which I am currently rocking out to)

· “Black or White” – yes, you guessed it, more MJ

· “Flyin’ High (In the Friendly Sky)” – Marvin Gaye

· “Purple Haze” – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

· “I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)” – Aretha Franklin

· “You Ain’t Fly” – The Roots

· “You Don’t Know Me” – Ray Charles

· “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher” – Jackie Wilson

· “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” – The Temptations

· “Scream” – Michael & Janet (this song is so kickass)

· “Surprise” – Gnarls Barkley

· “Try A Little Tenderness” – Otis Redding

· “Midnight Train to Georgia” – Gladys Knight & the Pips

· “RE: DEFinition” – Black Star

· “Having A Party” – Same Cooke

· “Brown Skin Lady” – Black Star

· “What’s Going On” – Marvin Gaye (how can I not add this, right?)

· “I Love You, Porgy” – Nina Simone

· “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell

· “Who’s Gonna Save My Soul?” – Gnarls Barkley

· “Use Me” – Bill Withers

· “Empire State of Mind” – Jay-Z & Alicia Keys

· “Ghetto Musick” – Big Boi

· “Smile” – Nat King Cole

· “Stand By Me” – Ben E. King

· “Wild Is the Wind” – Nina Simone (a personal favorite)

· “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” – Eve (out of left field? Whatever, I love this song, reminds me of high school but in a good way)

· “Shop Around” – Smokey Robinson & the Miracles

· “Cold War” – Janelle Monae

· “Hot in Herre” – Nelly

· “Quiet Dog” – Mos Def

· “I’ve Got A Woman” – Ray Charles

· “Lean On Me” – Bill Withers

· “Living In the City” – Stevie Wonder

· “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” – The Miracles

· “Love & Happiness” – Al Green

· “Superfly” – Curtis Mayfield

· “When Will I See You Again?” – The Three Degrees

· “Save the Last Dance” – Ben E. King <3

· “Giving Him Something He Can Feel” – En Vogue

· “Mama Said Knock You Out” – LL Cool J

· “It’s A Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World” – James Brown

· “Feeling Good” – Nina Simone

· “One Love/People Get Ready” – Bob Marley

· “I’ve Got Dreams To Remember” – Otis Redding

· “Runaway” – Janet Jackson

· “Purple Rain” – Prince

· “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” – Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong

· “Creep” – TLC

· “Die Trying” – Cee-Lo

· “Rhythm Nation” – Janet Jackson

· “These Arms of Mine” – Otis Redding

· “Wonderful World” – Sam Cooke

· “Love Is My Religion” – Ziggy Marley

· “Mean Old ‘Frisco Blues” – Muddy Waters

· “The Wah Watusi” – The Orlons

· “You’ve Got To Earn It” – The Temptations

· “How High The Moon” – Ella Fitzgerald

· “The Swinger’s Jump” – Duke Ellington

· “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” – Otis Redding

· “Night In Tunisia” – Dizzy Gillespie

· “Check Yo Self” – Ice Cube

· “Rollin’ Stone” – Muddy Waters

· “Red Hot” – Jurassic 5

· “Come Rain or Shine” – Ray Charles

· “Baby-Baby-Baby” – TLC

· “Mathematics” – Mos Def

· “Change Gonna Come” – Otis Redding

· “100 Days, 100 Nights” – Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings

· “How Long Has This Been Going On” – Dorothy Dandridge

And no, that’s not all but that’s all I’ll list here – I wouldn’t even say these are the only essential tracks, but these have all either been big songs in the black community or they’re songs that have special significance to me. So there you have it. I love every single one of these songs from “Baby-Baby-Baby” to “Strange Fruit” and judge me if you will, but I adore this list and feel that others might too.

Also, I didn’t intend to list as many songs as I did, I get carried away – as I always tend to do when music in involved. Mea culpa.

So this month I will listen to my tunes, and I will take the time to think what more I could be doing to further help out the black community (throughout the year, not just during the one month that forces us to think about it), and I will keep building up my life to where I’d like it to be. I am so grateful that so many people have fought and even given their lives so that I could have the opportunities that I hope I don’t take for granted today. I wouldn’t be able to have the job I have and shine the way that I do if it weren’t for all of those heroes during the Civil Rights movement and beyond – and wherever they are, thank you so much for fighting the good fight. And a special shout out to Langston Hughes, MLK Jr, and Nina Simone – outside of my family, no one else in the black community has influenced my life more than you have. If Heaven exists, there’s no way you’re not there.

It’s good to be proud of your roots and reflect on that, and very important as well.

And here’s wishing you all a fantastic month and a beautiful day!