Coffee in my Left, Political Analysis to Paralysis in my Right.

Coffee in my left hand…Political Analysis to Emotional Paralysis in my Right
Hey Y’all. I’m about a week behind in saying hey to you. I hope you didn’t forget me: I know you did, and I’m side eyeing you this very moment. Buy me some coffee and all is forgiven. The reason I’ve been gone is that I haven’t been able to write. In my mind, this is a humor blog; life, love, coffee, and all things through laughter. But my mind has been heavy lately. Everything I started to say, I just couldn’t get it out; nothing flowed. And that is sooo not like me.

My friend Toni (one of the reasons that ATL forever rocks!) told me on FB “Vonn, you’re going to give yourself a heart attack”, referencing yet another article I’d posted on 45. He’s 45, and that’s all I can call him within the boundaries of remaining ‘decent and in order’. Toni was right. In my quest to stay woke (every time I say that now, I hear Childish Gambino’s voice singing ‘Redbone’; thanks Donald.), I’ve been reading every article, watching news programming nonstop, staying on top of all my political pundits on Twitter, and of course, sharing it all on FB. For the past five months, it’s almost been consuming, but these past two weeks have been exhausting. I know more about dead Russians than folks in Russia do, the key congressional leaders positions on the wire taps (spelled correctly of course), the latest budget outrages and what every guest on Meet the Press had to say on Twitter, after their taping of Meet the Press; which I watch as well. Conversations with my kids often morph into “did you hear that? That may affect your Pell grant next year”, or “see, this is why ancestors died so we can vote and stay vigilant and…” when they just want to listen to music on the way to school in the morning. But I can’t seem to help myself.
I’ve felt myself cursing more (which I gave up, mostly, in 2011), staying up later, and being generally easier to upset in the past five months or so. I’m afraid that if I miss any information, it’ll somehow be worse than knowing every hateful, deceitful, and perilous detail of this administration and our nation’s fate. But what ingesting all of this has done, is alter my disposition. A constant diet of nuclear footballs in tiny satanic hands has truly vexed my spirit. Did you just recite that line from Barbershop about not meaning to vex you Mr. Wallace? No? No worries, it’ll hit you later. The phrase ‘analysis to paralysis’ was coined by some wise person to describe that feeling when you’ve reviewed something so long, you just aren’t productive any longer. My emotional paralysis has stalled me in a negative, everybody take cover sort of place.

And so when Toni wrote that, I took her seriously. Sometimes people can see from afar what you just can’t name or label when you’re too close to it. So, for the rest of the month, (maybe into April) I’m not posting any armageddon articles and no prognostic posts about the state this nation, and therefore our world, is in. I will do my best to turn the channel from political programming (except for Meet the Press; MTP is always and forever each moment with you, TV bae). Scripture says to think on those things that are good, and lovely and of good report. And even though it feels hard to see those lovely things with all that is politically going on in our world today, I have to be more diligent in trying. Tonight I’ll start with some good candles and a lovely Merlot. I’ll give you a good report next time; promise. Toni; sticks and bourbon on the deck next time I’m in ATL, my friend.

Why I love Chance the Rapper like an Adopted Nephew

If you are anywhere on social media, you’ve by now heard about Chance the Rapper (from Chicago, hey Chicago!) and his most generous gift of $1,000,000 to the Chicago Public School system foundation to help preserve arts and music education.  I follow him on Twitter and watched the press conference live. 

Why does a single Mom of 2 follow Chance?  I’m glad you asked.

About 2 years ago, my son E. who’s always listening to some form of rap/hip hop, got put on to Chance.  That’s right in line with the life a teenager: eat everything in my kitchen, and listen to hip hop. But after the release of Chance’s Coloring Booking mixtape in 2016, E. started coming to me asking could he play this song or that one for me.  Now I’ve requested to hear what he’s listening to, and I’ve been grateful for the old school hip hop I already knew and could sing along to, but he had never been excited for me to hear “his” music. Until Chance.  Chance was hip hop he could blare with his Mom. It was music he could be proud of. It was music he knew, even if I didn’t like all the language, that the message was one I could get with; and he was right. It was music a good kid could relate to. Chance rapped with a message and integrity, and it was something my son wanted to share with me.  And that is when Chance got me; initially.

Flash forward to August of 2016, and I agreed to take my son and his friend to the Chance Coloring Book Tour at White Sox Stadium (yes, I know that’s not the official name, but I’m a south sider and you’re lucky I didn’t call it Comiskey). It was the longest concert of my life, even longer than that time I saw Parliament at the Cubby Bear December 1993; them old dudes have endurance!  I saw everyone from Kanye, Tyler the Creator, 2Chainz and Weezy, Common (sigh) and…Chance.  And he was more phenomenal in person than on his mixtape.  He put effort into telling his story, showing himself and exuding gratitude. His music had grit, street, hood and faith and I was there (screaming and singing) for it.  That was when Chance became “Nephew Chance”.  Shout out to my real nephew, who I think is a true soldier in his own right. 

So when this 24 year old young man, with no record deal and probably not yet baller money, uses his Grammy opportunity to speak with the governor of his state, I wasn’t surprised because he’s always talked about Chicago, and the kids and opportunity.  When he pledged $1,000,000 to a broken school system, entrenched in mismanaged funds and the most heinous political environment ever, in order to help Chicago’s most valuable resource, I beamed with pride.  At first. Then the adopted Auntie in me was a little angry that a young citizen, successful though he may be, felt he had to dig into his personal money and help where it seemed no one whose actual job it is (#doyourjob) was helping.  Chance has called upon other famous Chicagoans to “return my calls”, and pitch in some too.  Again, pride for my adopted nephew, and anger at the system that requires all of this altruism and philanthropy.  Chicago is the 3rd largest school district in the country, not some ballet troupe in need of a new practice space. My property taxes, your lottery tickets and millions in federal funding are supposed to cover the cost of public education, not Lil Chano from 79th.  But he’s trying, and Auntie is proud. And my 15 yr old son is proud: and to me, that’s everything.

Follow Chance @chancetherapper on Twitter, or visit his foundation, SocialWorks at socialworkschi.org

Follow me at that Starbucks on 35th , or @coffeeinmyleft

Communication

Coffee in my Left hand…Communication in my Right

One of my readers (wow, that sounds so good, like free Ethiopian roast coffee with cream) suggested I write about communication, since it goes hand in hand with Love.

If you are over 30, chances are you have sat in on, listened to, or read about the communication between men and women. If you are over 40, I can promise you that you have; at either a college rec room, or a bookstore community room, or some nightclub disguised as a forum for building up relationships instead of their profit margin. That last part may be a Chicago thing, but trust, it’s a thing. If you are under 30, well just let Auntie Vonn teach you something about the challenges you’re going to have up the road, once you stop DM’ing each other. You’re welcome. Today’s views surround the question “why is communication so difficult with our partners and how do we make it better?” I use the word partner intentionally, because no matter your sexual preference, communication in a romantic relationship can be harder than that problem on the blackboard in Hidden Figures!

Now if you think you haven’t engaged in discourse about communication, perhaps it was wrapped in “men vs women; why our relationships are failing”, or “women who nag and the men who tune them out”, or “what’s wrong with relationships in the ____” insert 80’s, 90’s, millennium, etc. here. Regardless the title, many problems with relationships  boil down to COMMUNICATION.

If the problem is money, it’s really the secrets we keep about money and how we speak and make the other feel about money. I can only hide those Louboutin shoes for so long before the credit card bill hits. Fellas, dropping $200 every weekend buying rounds is an $800 “what you mean you’re low on money, you STAY in the club all the time” conversation waiting to happen every month.

If it’s sex (ok, if you’re reading this and you’re my daughter, stop. Mommy doesn’t know anything about sex and neither do you.), either someone wants it a different way, more often, less often, or at all. Often times the “your hair is always on the sink!” argument is really a conversation that needs to be held about the bedroom.

Nagging, the silent treatment, passive aggressive or aggressive aggressive; these are all forms of mis-communication. So, what do we do to make things better?

First and foremost; trust the relationship. Often we don’t say what we feel out of fear of hurting the other person, or appearing vulnerable or just plain ole getting broken up with…lol. If you’re in it (for real, not like the one I have with Idris; hey Driis!), trust that you agreed to be in it because there’s genuine feelings there. Don’t be afraid to say, “I’m concerned about the amount of money you spend. Let’s talk about it once we get the lights turned back on”, or “last night, you slept through all my new tantric, ‘A’ game, guaranteed to make ’em holler moves; what gives?” Seriously, we avoid small situations that turn into huge episodes of Snapped because we didn’t trust our love or our mate enough to bring it up early on.

Next, watch your tone. I know I drape a lot of things in humor, that when I’m angry can come off as snark, sarcasm and cutting. Jesus is working on me; don’t send me any “Amen” emails. BUT since I know this, I try to edit my speech in my head before it comes flying outta my Chris Rock-ish mouth. You too know what your tone violations can be: loud, speaking through clenched teeth, sassy, condescending, etc. If I didn’t name yours, you’ve already named it and just didn’t see it. Treat your relationship like it’s something that matters to you, speak like you want to be spoken to. Lots of those panel discussions boil down to feeling dissed and dismissed. If your sentence starts with “Imma keep it 100” or “Don’t take this the wrong way”, or their equally destructive cousins, just stop and start over. You have a right to be heard, but your vitriol is not guaranteed you by the constitution. Matter of fact, we’d all better check that consti…never mind, I’ll save that for another time.

Last: try not to sweat the small stuff. If everything in your day has to go your way, you are in a relationship with a very difficult person: you. Disconnected electricity and coma sex are big things that need to be worked out ASAP. Toothpaste caps and popping gum are probably things you thought were ‘charming’ in the beginning and have lost your eternal right to complain about. When new issues come up, ask yourself “If I were being filmed right now, what would the kinder version of myself say or do?” then say or do only that. Ask yourself “self, does that hideous tie or her talking during the movies really matter in the long run?” Pause. Okay, that talking in the movie thing drives me insane; you will not go to a movie with me twice if that’s your thing. But, that aside, you get where I’m going.

Crappy stuff happens in life, and it spills over into our relationships daily. Growing apart happens, falling in and out and back in love happens. Disagreements happen in every relationship. The quicker you learn to communicate with each other, decent and in order, the quicker you’ll learn how to be with each other peacefully. And when necessary, argue then come back together peacefully. Driis and I can’t stand to see you all fighting like that…

Vonn