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Descending Into The Arms of Sorrow

Music is such a powerful thing.  I firmly believe that it is the closest thing we have to a time machine in our world.  If you don’t know what I mean, listen to a song that holds some special meaning, and it can immediately take you back to a certain place and time.  If you close your eyes, I bet you that you can see things so clearly…music can take us back…make us feel young again…remind us of better, and worse, times.

Music is powerful because it is a casting of emotions, bundled together.  And I’ve said it many times before, but there is a distinct feeling, pleasurable to some degree I suppose, when a song hits on exactly the way you feel at a certain point in time.

Perhaps it’s because it reminds you that you’re not alone…that someone else, at some point, felt exactly what you feel now.  In this big crazy world, I suppose there is solace to be found when you know, quantifiably know that you’re not alone.  Sometimes, that’s huge. Continue reading

Hope, Reflection & Resolution

Initially, I had the intention of writing a post in which I reflected on 2014. As I thought more about it, I found I had no desire to dwell on the past.

“I feel like 2014 got the best of me” I expressed to a friend as we sat talking.

However, over the course of the conversation, she helped me to realize that at this point, from a personal well-being standpoint, I am much better off than I was a year ago.

Financially, I’m definitely not in the same position I was in a year prior. However, my mental and emotional stability are a word away, a world better, than they were in that same time period. And to me, ultimately, that’s what truly matters.

I’m healthier than I was, because I actually have time to train. I also love training, and I have time and energy to engage in something I love. Who could ask for more than that?

So, I look forward to 2015. I’m excited, and hopeful. I think it’s going to be a great year. I’m going to at least, in my own small way make it awesome, and I’m going t dance a lot. It’s all about dancing.

dancing

So normally this would be the point at which I talk resolutions. Normally, I would have a well thought out list of New Years resolutions. However, this year, I only really have two, if I would call them resolutions at all:

Be me. I like who I am. I’m a bit unrefined and rough around the edges, but I’m a firm believer that you can’t please everyone, so f**k the naysayers. So I’m just continue being me.

I have a slowcooker recipe book and I want to make every recipe in the book, so that is my resolution, to make that happen, one yummy bite at a time.

So that’s it. 2015 is upon us. What are you doing to make 2015 an awesome year? Also, allow me to leave you with a song that I listened to during the holiday season. It’s a song for the hopeful.

My love life in pictures…

Some time ago, I saw a pic, and it kind of depressed me, because it reminded me of some of the thoughts I have from time to time concerning dating…

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…sometimes, if you’re not careful, you can start to get down with the disappointments of dating, and you can easily slip into a “what’s wrong with me?” mentality…that even happens to me sometime, and I think I’m freaking awesome.  I actually think there’s something wrong with any woman who doesn’t see how fabulous I am, but to each their own…and then I saw a pic that simply reaffirmed the things that I already know…

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…and now all is right with the world…and yes, I’m still awesome!

Now? Later!

This prompt is from the Daily Post

We all procrastinate. Website, magazine, knitting project, TV show, something else — what’s your favorite procrastination destination?

Well, that’s kind of hard, because I have two favorite procrastination destinations, so I’ll tell a bit about both. 

The first one is an Argo Tea.  It sits right next to the Goodman Theater. There’s not a time I don’t go there in which I say to myself that I’m actually going to go to that theater someday.  I like this particular Argo Tea because it’s tucked away from the craziness of downtown.  It’s rarely crowded, unlike most of the other Argo locations downtown.  I always sit in the back, which further separates me from the hustle and bustle of the area.  I could literally sit there for hours reading, or writing, or playing online…although I rarely stay that long.  I love this place because it offers a breather from whatever I may be into, or whatever thoughts my mind may be hanging on.  For me, procrastination is often about peace….finding peace of mind. I love this place because that is what it provides.

My other favorite place of procrastination is quite possibly the polar opposite in its physical state, but it also offers a different sort of peace and comfort.  That place is Millennium Park, particularly the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. The Pritzker Pavilion, is a sight to be seen, particularly at night.  They offer tons of free entertainment there.  Usually, when I go there, I could be doing something else. But, once again, it brings me peace of mind, especially the classical concerts.  Imagine sitting in a bowl with the city towering over you, and beautiful music surrounding you.  It is something to experience.

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Guns, Guns, Guns

So, this 4th of July weekend here in Chicago, 82 people were shot. At least 14 of those were fatal. The lion’s share of those shootings were on Sunday, June 6th.

Let that sink in for a minute

82 people shot in 3 days, including minors.

That’s a lot of people.  Even in a city as large as Chicago, that’s a lot of people.

That’s such a significantly large amount of people, that both the mayor and the police superintendent had to address the situation. While I can’t find the police press conference on Youtube, the message was very clear from Supt. McCarthy:

“It all comes down to these guns: there’s too many guns coming in and too little punishment gong out.”

Gun Laws Blamed For Chicago’s Weekend Shooting Surge

It also can’t be lost  that a significant number of these shootings occurred in poor and disadvantaged neighborhoods, and that was actually brought up by a reporter. It was at least pleasant that the Superintendent acknowledged that these neighborhoods don’t have adequate employment, schools, programs, ad nauseum…

…however, this doesn’t change the sad fact that children are running around in the killing fields, killing and being killed.

So, what is the answer? How can this problem be fixed?

Unfortunately, I firmly feel that a lot of people in Chicago don’t care, because it doesn’t affect them. As long as the violence is isolated to the southside, who cares. This problem is a direct by-product of the deep racial and economic fissures in the city. And good sociology teaches us that the violence won’t stay there forever.

So, are stiffer penalties the solution?  I’d love to hear you all’s views on this.

 

 

Just In Case

Keep me around, waiting behind glass
In case you need, I’ll be your piece of ass
Pretend to want me, string me along
Break glass if needed, you can make me crawl

’cause you make me feel like a dog
You can’t see my emotion
Is this for real?
I’m a man sinking deep

I was strung out for such a long, long time
Now I own myself, yes I am mine
No longer will I be your just in case
No longer your shit do I need to taste

’cause you make me feel like a dog
You can’t see my emotion
Is this for real?
I’m a man sinking deep in the ocean

I don’t wanna be your just in case boy
I don’t wanna be your just in case
Oh no ~ as performed by Static-X

In a life once lived, that was my M.O.  The “Just in Case” is very similar to “being on the hook”, which I talked about who knows how long ago.  However, I recently heard the above quoted song by Static-X, and it really got me thinking.  Well, aside from hearing the song, I had an experience.  People whom I confide in, particularly about dating and such, will often comment that “You’re too nice.”

I always try to be a nice guy, and treat others as I would like to be treated, but I suppose that sometimes, in dating, you kind of need to cut the cord, and perhaps disappoint people from time to time.

Case in point: A few weeks back, a female friend asked me if I would accompany her to a wedding.  Now, this is a female friend that I attempted to date in the past, and would date in a hot second now.  Sure, I’ve been the shoulder to whine on, and the voice of reason for the debatable characters which are beneath her…and while I’m good enough for those things, and in the past may have been good enough for a sexual encounter, I’m not good enough for a relationship.

…and as we talked about the wedding, it hit me:

“I’m her just in case”

He’ll be around, just in case the guy I really want to go with isn’t available, just in case my ex won’t play nice with me, just in case I need someone to lament to.

With experience comes altered perspective, and I can freely admit to the shitty person that I once was.  And while I can’t change the past, I can try hard not to repeat the failures of my past in the future…and part of those failures is being someone’s “just in case”…just like being on someone’s hook.

I successfully pulled myself off the hook I was on, and I’ve been very adamant about not being anyone’s sexual just in case.  If I engage in sexual activity with someone, it’s on my terms, or at least mutually agreed upon terms…not lies, or misgivings. So now, I have to be sure not to be someone’s emotional “just in case.”

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Martin & Zimmerman

One of my favorite Jiu jitsu professors will often say in class,

“I know this isn’t on the syllabus, but I feel I would be remiss if I failed to mention this…”

That’s how I feel about this topic. As a Social Scientist, I feel the need to at least mention my thoughts on this pivotal case. Not that my opinion matters at all, but it is mine.

So, unless you’ve been under a rock, or in a foreign country, you are undoubtedly familiar with the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case. If not, Google it. It’s quite interesting from a law perspective, as well as a social one.

So, it seemed that a lot of people were shocked by the verdict. I, however, was not. While every fabric of my being tells me that in a court of reason, Zimmerman was undoubtedly guilty.

For the sake of discussion, let us for the moment forget the situation of race as it pertains to this situation.

An adult male viewed, and then began following a teenage male. The adult male, also armed, confronted the teenage boy. A physical altercation then ensued, resulting in the teenager being shot and dying.

And the person who instigated the situation, even after being told to cease and desist said activity by a 911 operator, is innocent?

Oh yes….Stand your ground. The stand your ground law was what allowed Zimmerman to be declared not guilty.

A stand-your-ground law is a type of self-defense law that gives individuals the right to use reasonable force to defend themselves without any requirement to evade or retreat from a dangerous situation. It is law in certain jurisdictions within the United States. The basis may lie in either statutory law and or common law precedents. One key distinction is whether the concept only applies to defending a home or vehicle, or whether it applies to all lawfully occupied locations. Under these legal concepts, a person is justified in using deadly force in certain situations and the “stand your ground” law would be a defense or immunity to criminal charges and civil suit. The difference between immunity and a defense is that an immunity bars suit, charges, detention and arrest. A defense, such as an affirmative defense, permits a plaintiff or the state to seek civil damages or a criminal conviction but may offer mitigating circumstances that justify the accused’s conduct
More than half of the states in the United States have adopted the Castle doctrine, that a person has no duty to retreat when their home is attacked. Some states go a step further, removing the duty of retreat from other locations. “Stand Your Ground”, “Line in the Sand” or “No Duty to Retreat” laws thus state that a person has no duty or other requirement to abandon a place in which he has a right to be, or to give up ground to an assailant. Under such laws, there is no duty to retreat from anywhere the defender may legally be.[1] Other restrictions may still exist; such as when in public, a person must be carrying firearms in a legal manner, whether concealed or openly.

While in my mind, Zimmerman was the assailant, the jury didn’t see it that way, and he thus had “no duty to retreat” when the teenager allegedly attacked him.

And yet I think.. How would I react if a guy was following me, and then confronted me about where I was going and what I was doing.

My initial thought, I assume, is that I would fear for my safety. If the guy isn’t wearing a badge, he’s obviously got some problems..and at that point, I truly believe that I would make a reasonable verbal effort to make him leave me alone, and if ignored, would make a concerted effort to knock his dick in the dirt.

And if he then shot me dead… He’s in the right?

Wow.

And so, let’s throw race back in the mix.

So many people can attempt to live a pipe dream, but the fact of the matter is that race relations in America are still not what I would call good. It’s still a very volatile topic.

Racism is still alive and well in 2013 America, and the fact that so many people want to believe it isn’t an issue is what makes it such a treacherous time for race relations.

How does the saying go, “The greatest trick the Devil ever did was convincing people that he doesn’t exist,” or something like that.

But let’s think about it from a historical perspective:

The Atlantic Slave Trade ran for approximately 400 years

We are only 148 or so years removed from the American Civil War, as well as the abolition of slavery.

The last anti-miscegenation law( ban on interracial marriage) was struck down 48 years ago.

56 years removed from school racial integration.

57 years removed from Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus…and Emmett Till was murdered for reportedly whistling at a white woman only a few months earlier

50 years since the racially motivated church bombing that killed 4 little girls.

Ad Nauseum…

60 years ago, blacks in America were oppressed, terrorized, and subjugated at every twist and turn.

I think we simply haven’t had enough time to move ourselves away from those cultural norms, particularly in the south, where that animosity and hatred ran so deep, on both sides of the fence…and Florida is still the south…and chest deep in racism.

A dear friend of mine who lives in Cocoa, Florida recently had a woman tell her that her interracial daughters made her sick.

Post-racial America?

I wasn’t surprised over what happened in Florida, because the more things change, the more they stay the same.

I was dismayed, and slightly horrified…but not surprised. Hopefully, this case will have some positive results, in causing good discussion and debate, and further understanding about America…as it truly is, and about how we someday hope it will be.

“Anyone ever call you “The Family Jules?”

So you may recall me mentioning Jules in a previously post.  She was the slightly quiet, reserved young lady that I went out to coffee with, but whose company I really enjoyed.  Well, last week we did a date #2.

I was planning to go and view an outdoor movie downtown.  It was actually a video of Muddy Waters and The Rolling Stones performing together at a blues club here in Chicago in 1981.  Actually, Muddy Waters was performing, and the Rolling Stones, to whom he was a huge influence, came in.  Before you know it, the Rolling Stones was up on stage as the back up band, and Keith Richards was accompanying Muddy on vocals.  Amazing right??

So, I invited Jules, and she accepted.  I thought it would be a good chance to talk and chat, but have something going on around us in case of moments of awkward silence, which kind of hit us a bit on our first date.  Well, I’m not sure how awkward they were…Jules strikes me as the kind of person who is totally ok with moments of silence between people…but then again, she could be thinking “Why doesn’t he say something”.  Hard to tell.

So, we met up outside of the Chicago Cultural Center.  We planned to grab some dinner and take it over to the movie with us.  In the course of conversating, we agreed to grab Chipotle, and then bounce over to Mariano’s for snacks and wine.

Well, the movie was fabulous. The interaction between Jules and I was great as well.  She’s definitely hard to read…mousy in a way, but she’s very sweet.  I enjoy hearing her views on things,and her stories.  She spent a few years in Africa teaching for the Peace Corps. She, much like myself, has an adventurous spirit.  I really like that.  That’s a necessity for me in anyone I plan on dating.

After the movie, I walked her back to her train, and we chatted and laughed.  Once we got to the station, I said “Well, I had a great time, and I’d really like to see you again.”  She agreed, and we hugged.  I was totally going to leave it at that.  I didn’t want to push anything, but as we separated, she definitely moved into position for a kiss…and we kissed.  So, second date, 1st kiss, and it was very pleasant.

And so, we’re having a 3rd date tonight.  Since I planned the last date, this one is up to her, and she was still thinking it over as of last night.  We’ll see what happens.

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