Dear Hip-Hop: we’re breaking up. And it’s definitely Drake’s fault.

16/11/2015 § 1 Comment

No Drake, you can't have my number.
image via.

**Disclaimer: I’m about to liberally exercise the f-word and talk about sex, which is somewhat out of character for me on here.  If that’s not your thing, I would encourage you to skip to my next post.  No hard feelings.**

Dear Hip-Hop,

What’s good?  I admit it’s been a bit since we’ve spent quality time together, and I’m sorry about that.  There’s just so much music out there and TBH, I’ve been feeling like maybe we’ve drifted apart recently.  And that maybe (PROBABLY) this time its for good.

How did we get to this point?  This new song by Drake, honestly.  You know, “Hotline Bling?”

Yeah, I’m not sure why his phone blings instead of rings either, but that’s not my main concern here.  Neither are the old man dance moves.  First, I want to ask for a bit of clarification as to what Drake is actually upset about in the song.

You used to call me on my cell phone
Late night when you need my love
Call me on my cell phone
Late night when you need my love
And I know when that hotline bling
That can only mean one thing
I know when that hotline bling
That can only mean one thing

Ever since I left the city,
You got a reputation for yourself now
Everybody knows and I feel left out
Girl you got me down, you got me stressed out
‘Cause ever since I left the city,
you started wearing less and goin’ out more
Glasses of champagne out on the dance floor
Hangin’ with some girls I’ve never seen before

Ok, there’s a lot here I want to unpack, but first, is Drake essentially upset because a girl he used to only talk to in the middle of the night — only talk to in order to coordinate sex, mind you, (only mean “one thing”) — is now out on the prowl herself?  Okay.  Okay, great.  So, it’s totally okay for him to only talk to her for sex (in a purely transactional matter), but it’s not okay for her to go out and get in the mix on her own.  And its especially not okay for her to hang out with girls he’s unfamiliar with.  Have I got that straight?

These days, all I do is
Wonder if you bendin’ over backwards for someone else
Wonder if you’re rollin’ up a backwoods for someone else
Doing things I taught you, gettin’ nasty for someone else
You don’t need no one else
You don’t need nobody else, no
Why you never alone
Why you always touching road
Used to always stay at home, be a good girl
You was in a zone, yeah
You should just be yourself
Right now, you’re someone else

And this person she’s “become” – it’s not really herself, because if she was being herself, she would sit at home and wait for Drake to return to town and then be available only to him, right?  Wait, sorry — only available to him in the middle of the night. Because that’s what good girls do?

Ok, glad that’s clear.  My next question is, where does a barney like Drake, who looks like the guy who would offer to do your Algebra 2 homework JUST to get your phone number, exactly get off?  I’m supposed to believe he has so much swag he’s owed this girl’s sexual freedom?  Or even receive a vote on how she should live her life?  GTFOH.  For real.

Hip-hop, this is why we are breaking up.  You used to be exciting.  You used to be soulful.  You used to be angry.  Now, you’re just….Drake-ified.  And the sexist tropes you continue to trot out make it really hard to even casually listen to you.

It’s because your words have power, even if the mouthpieces are whack as hell.  Hip-hop, think of all the people listening to you on the subway, in the car, at home.  Think of a generation of men repeating over and over to themselves that a girl isn’t a good girl unless she stays home and waits to service me sexually, on my terms.  Think of a generation of women, singing along, quasi-endorsing that this is an okay way for men to think about their sexuality.  Because when you say things, either out loud or in your mind, they affect you — your thoughts, your mood, your state of well being.  It’s not a blatant indoctrination, but it just keeps creeping in and I really think it’s affecting the way that we relate to each other, as human beings.

Now, I hear your protestations, hip-hop.  Drake isn’t all that bad!  He was on Degrassi Jr High!  He had a cute Bar Mitzvah video!  And his song isn’t that sexist!  Maybe he also realizes he is really REALLY lame and maybe there was more to the relationship than we are hearing in the song!

Okay, well, as a bookend, let’s take the other hip-hop/r&b artist in the top 5 this week on the Billboard Hot 100: The Weeknd, and his song The Hills.

I only call you when it’s half past five
The only time that I’ll be by your side
I only love it when you touch me, not feel me
When I’m fucked up, that’s the real me
When I’m fucked up, that’s the real me, yeah
I only fuck you when it’s half past five
The only time I’d ever call you mine
I only love it when you touch me, not feel me
When I’m fucked up, that’s the real me
When I’m fucked up, that’s the real me, babe

I’mma let you know and keep it simple
Tryna keep it up don’t seem so simple
I just fucked two bitches ‘fore I saw you
And you gon’ have to do it at my tempo
Always tryna send me off to rehab
Drugs started feelin’ like it’s decaf
I’m just tryna live life for the moment
And all these motherfuckers want a relapse

Full confession: yes hip-hop, I love the music the Weeknd makes — THE MUSIC.  It’s dramatic and interesting and it makes me feel like I either want to punch someone in the face or rip all their clothes off.  I fully appreciate the novel quality of his art.  It really does makes me feel something.

But these lyrics?  I can’t.  I’ve seen concert footage of Abel (The Weeknd’s government name) leading hundreds of people screaming about how they will only be calling at 5:30am, and it makes me sad.  It makes me sad to think about people walking around humming the hook — which is catchy as hell, I admit — and what that might be doing to the way they feel about their relationships.  And I’m a reasonably confident, self-assured adult — can you imagine what these words are doing to younger, more malleable minds?  Are you surprised there are sexting rings in high schools?  You shouldn’t be.  You’re only supposed to touch me, not feel me.

But wait, I hear you complaining hip-hop: isn’t this what the modern age of relationships is?  Isn’t it actually so evolved of us to liberate sex from commitment and empower everyone to do whatever we want and hook up with people at all hours of the night?  Sorry, I’m really skeptical.  While it’s a modern notion to treat sex and relationships more casually, I’d argue it’s probably less evolved.  A lot of people are unhappy, unsure and lonely — even if they are having A LOT of sex.  We haven’t figured out how to feel about these arrangements — much less how to feel GOOD about them, and so we get songs from Drake about being upset some girl isn’t willing to exclusively give him…casual sex? What?

Hip-hop, I am tired of you using sex as a commodity.  A commodity that men own and women spitefully keep from them.  A commodity that men are owed and should receive whenever they decide they want it, however they want it.  A commodity that when spent by women is magically transformed into something slutty.  How are we supposed to teach our little girls to feel good about sex — when sex is the safest and most accessible it’s ever been in human history — when Future is writing bars like “I just fucked your bitch in some Gucci flip flops”? (Side note: Which is a 10-word masterpiece of materialistic, emasculating, slut-shaming misogyny, when you think about it.) (Side note to the side note: Future, do you need a hug?)  The point is, if we keep treating sex like it’s nothing, how equipped are we to handle it when it is something?

You’ve let me down, hip-hop.  You’ve grown fat and lazy and you make me feel rotten.  Where are your songs about actually connecting with someone?  About love?  About respect?  About ANYTHING remotely happy?  Why, hip-hop, have you allowed yourself to become so one-dimensional?  And where the hell did Common go?  And while the circumstances I just described aren’t entirely your fault, hip-hop, this is a boundary I can easily draw for myself.

So, it is with regret (?) that I inform you that we are breaking up, hip-hop.  It’s not me, it’s you.

Well, it’s you and Drake.

My New York-aversary

04/08/2013 § 1 Comment

I <3 NYCPhoto via Instagram.

I was about halfway through the day before I realized that today marks the sixth anniversary since I landed in New York.  Six years.  It sort of crept up on me.  More than five years, but less than ten, the time seems to have accelerated in speed since year two (or so) and while I wasn’t looking I suppose I’ve become one of those seasoned “New York people” I marveled at when I first moved here.  People who understood the subways.  People who were surprised by nothing.  People who knew all sorts of interesting people and places in the city.  People who tossed off the numbers of years they’d lived in the city with nonchalance.

Yet, I’m not sure if I’m a New Yorker.  I still feel solidly connected to California and my roots out west, even though I’ve definitely settled into a rhythm within this busy, crazy, hectic city over time.  Establishing your relationship with this city demands time; it’s too much to take in and too much to experience, to rush the process.  Through it all, I’ve changed boyfriends, roommates, friends, colleagues, and jobs — but the city remains.  I’ve lived in places like Tribeca and Crown Heights and the Upper East Side and Murray Hill and Soho and the Financial District.  There are still entire neighborhoods I’ve yet to see or experience, while there are some I know like the back of my hand.  I’ve danced at nightclubs that no longer exist.  I know exactly where my preferred door on my preferred subway car will stop at both ends of my commute.  It’s almost like you come to an agreement with New York: you eke out a tiny portion of the city, you plant some roots, and if you work hard — and have a bit of luck — you flourish.

I’ve seen plenty of people come and go.  Some who predated me and decamped, declaring they’d “had enough” of it all — which to a newbie can sound almost impossible to fathom. Others arrive so full of hope and just can’t seem to make it work.  Still others are taken away by school or jobs or marriages.  While perhaps not as transient as Washington, DC, New York definitely maintains a sense of constant churn just below the surface.  People frequently reference how long they’ve lived here or worked there.  Transplants are constantly trying to figure out if they’re short-timers or in it for the long haul, while those born and bred in the city wear it as a badge.

I’ve always trusted in the assumption that when the time comes for me to leave, I will know it, innately.  But right now, this crazy life still feels right.  I still feel that thrill when I see the Chrysler Building at dusk.  I’m still excited for that first glimpse of the skyline whenever I return from being out of town.  The city still feels open, ripe for opportunity and adventure.  While I don’t know what chapter of this story this might be, I know we haven’t quite reached the end…

Happy Anniversary, New York.  I still love you.

Hold Fast. Let Go.

14/11/2012 § 10 Comments

As I mentioned last week, I still have yet to return home due to damages my apartment building suffered during Hurricane Sandy.  I have been removed from my normal routine and neighborhood, but I recognize that compared to some, I have lost very little.  I am very sorry to have been an absentee parent these past few days, and I wanted to let you know that your emails checking in on me have been a particularly bright spot for me in this stretch of time.  Thank you! xo

That said, I have found these past few weeks difficult.  Personally, when I feel like I have a sense of control over things, I feel the most secure.  Having to leave my home has forced me to cede a certain amount of that control, and that has been disconcerting.  But I believe that this also speaks to a larger concept that I have struggled with throughout my life: the concept of letting go – the process of detaching myself from an outcome, a routine, a person, or a relationship that I have invested my time, my money or my heart (or even all three) into.

In the early post-Sandy days, I realized that I was hanging on to a lot of frustration at being displaced and also at not being able to do anything about it.  It bled over into other areas of my life, causing me to feel sullen and wanting to retreat – all because I felt like I had lost my sense of control over my living conditions.  That’s it!  I hadn’t really lost anything at all!  Well, maybe aside from a few trips to my local — yet overpriced — bodega.  And maybe my perspective.

So, this past week I have tried my best to keep in mind that this change is only temporary, to trust that I will be home soon, to embrace a new neighborhood and to be very thankful that I have the help of some truly lovely friends.  It isn’t every day that I get the opportunity to step outside my usual box and since I haven’t lived on the Upper East Side since 2008, I’ve spent a lot of time simply walking around the neighborhood.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed visiting a few of my old favorite places like the Ralph Lauren mansion, Sant Ambroeus and The Frick, discovering new (to me, at least) gems like the Lexington Bar and Books and Creel & Gow, and I actually forced myself to get out and run in Central Park over the beautiful fall weekend we had.  Changing my perspective was hard work, but I’ve been feeling much, much better.

Taking a step back to look at the bigger picture, there is something very, very easy – and very dangerous – in the refusal to let go of negativity.  It’s what a good friend described to me as being “comfortably sad.”  You get comfortable with being sad or frustrated, because you aren’t quite sure what it would feel like to try to let that go and move forward.  If you’re at all like me, that can seem a bit like jumping out of a plane without being completely sure that you’ve got your parachute – and your two backup parachutes, too.  But the thing is, if we hold on to anger or sadness or regret or pain, we prevent ourselves from moving forward.  We prevent growth.

This can obviously apply to personal relationships as well, and I know I’ve definitely been guilty of this myself.  Holding on to a relationship that isn’t really working or miring yourself in the pain of a relationship that has ended, can sometimes seem like the easier path – better the devil you know.  True, it is a way to avoid dealing with any new feelings or facing the fear of the unknown, but you’re also completely foreclosing your opportunity to be truly happy.  It isn’t easy, don’t get me wrong.  It is a painful process, but it’s nothing compared to the pain of a life spent unfulfilled.  I want you to know that you are worth that risk.  I want you to try to let go.

The first step, is knowing when to say when.  I oddly found inspiration in an old nautical term, illustrated in the picture above, from a 1940 issue of Life Magazine (which you can view here).  The traditional sailor tattoo “hold fast” written across the knuckles, is a good luck charm – one of many such symbolic tattoos worn by seamen throughout the years – to ensure the bearer’s steady grip as he worked onboard.  A “fast” refers to a line (or rope) that has been secured.  However, “hold fast” – or rather, it’s Dutch origins hou’vast or houd vast – also gave rise to the nautical term “avast,” meaning to cease, or to stop.  One term, two very different meanings.

What I chose to take away from this nautical history moment, is that the same hands that can hold fast to something – or someone – are just as capable of letting go.  And while there definitely are things in life that are worth fighting for, not everything is.  What I hope you’ll realize, is that there is just as much strength in the surrender.

Hold fast.  Let go.

Words || Richard Avedon

13/08/2012 § 2 Comments

Too good to not share.
Let’s promise to not wait for our Mondays anymore.

“I believe in maniacs. I believe in type As. I believe that you’ve got to love your work so much that it is all you want to do. I believe you must betray your mistress for your work, you betray your wife for your work; I believe that she must betray you for her work. I believe that work is the one thing in the world that never betrays you, that lasts. If I were going to be a politician, if I were going to be a scientist, I would do it every day. I wouldn’t wait for Monday. I don’t believe in weekends.

If you’re headed for a life that’s only involved with making money and that you hope for satisfaction somewhere else, you’re headed for a lot of trouble. And whatever replaces vodka when you’re 45 is what you’re going to be doing.”

Richard Avedon (1923 – 2004)
Photographed by Alfred Eisenstaedt in New York, 1963.
Image via the Life Archives.

For Serious, Matilda.

22/02/2012 § 8 Comments

Taken by Nina Leen, 1947.

There is no real reason I selected this picture, other than for its awesomeness.  I like to call it: “This hat and I are about to kick your ass in bridge.  For serious, Matilda.”

Today, I am getting serious about Lent, though.  I’m not especially religious, nor am I a Catholic (I’m actually a lapsed Episcopalian), but every Lenten season, I like to challenge myself to give up something.  For those unaware, Lent runs from Ash Wednesday (today) through Easter Sunday; 40 days in total.  For Christians it is a period of penitence, of giving up certain luxuries and of fasting.

Am I turning into a Sunday School blog? Hardly.

But I do think the concept of penitence is applicable universally, no matter what altar you choose to worship at.  A 40 day period is a great amount of time to reflect upon yourself, your personal habits and things you might want to change.  To abstain from some of your bad habits for 40 days will take some willpower.  I once managed to convince a very unhappy Mister to give up booze with me, rough going indeed, but we survived.  They say it takes only 30 days to cement a new habit, so why not seize upon the season to make some purposeful changes?

What I will attempt to give up for the next 40 days:

  • The snooze button.  You will be profoundly missed!
  • Those delightful bacon, egg and cheese bagel sandwiches I’m very fond of
  • …and dairy in general, for that matter.
  • Passive negativity

What about you?

Sidenote: Would you believe this is my **600th** post?  In the spirit of gratitude, I wanted to send a big thank you to all of my followers, old and new.  I hope you understand how much I really appreciate your reading and comments and emails and sharing of this silly little blog.

You guys are the absolute tops.
xoxo. M.

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Great Loves: Clementine and Winston

12/02/2012 § 1 Comment

In the month of February,
my mind always turns to great love stories…

Engagement photo of Winston Churchill and Clementine Hozier, 1908.

[12 August 1908]

Blenheim Palace

My dearest,

How are you? I send you my best love to salute you: & I am getting up at once in order if you like to walk to the rose garden after breakfast & pick a bunch before you start. You will have to leave here about 10:30 & I will come with you to Oxford.

Shall I not give you a letter for your Mother?

Always

W.

{Winston’s letter to Clementine the morning after she accepted his proposal.  He inquires if he should write a letter of engagement to present to her mother.}

(The morning after my engagement August 1908)

Blenheim Palace

My dearest

I am very well – Yes please give me a letter to take to Mother– I should love to go to the rose garden.

Yours always
Clementine

During their 56 year marriage, Clementine and Winston wrote frequently to each other when they were apart — and even when they were home together — usually calling each other by pet names and including drawings.
He was her “pug,” she was his “cat”

15 September 1909 Kronprinz Hotel

Wurzburg

My darling, We have been out all day watching these great manoeuvres. . . .

I have a very nice horse from the Emperor’s stable, & am able to ride about wherever I chose with a suitable retinue. As I am supposed to be an ‘Excellency’ I get a vy good place. Freddie on the other hand is ill-used. These people are so amazingly routinière that anything the least out of the ordinary – anything they have not considered officially & for months–upsets them dreadfully….I saw the Emperor today & had a few mintues’ talk with him. He is vy sallow–but otherwise looks quite well. . . . .

We have had a banquet tonight at the Bavarian palace. A crowd of princes & princelets & the foreign officers of various countries. It began at 6 p.m. & was extremely dull. . . .

This army is a terrible engine. It marches sometimes 35 miles in a day. It is in number as the sands of the sea–& with all the modern conveniences. There is a complete divorce between the two sides of German life–the Imperialists & Socialist. Nothing unites them. They are two different nations. With us there are so many shades. Here it is all black & white (the Prussian colours). I think another 50 years will see a wiser & gentler world. But we shall not be spectators of it. Only the P.K. will glitter in a happier scene. How easily men could make things much better than they are–if only all tried together! Much as was attracts me & fascinates my mind with its tremendous situation–I feel more deeply every year–& can measure the feeling here in the midst of arms–what vile & wicked folly & barbarism it all is.

Sweet cat–I kiss your vision as it rises before my mind. Your dear heart throbs often in my own. God bless you darling keep you safe & sound.

Kiss the P.K. for me all over

With fondest love

W.

[drawing]

This is the galloping pug–for European travel.

{P.K. meant “puppy kitten” — their first child}

Your loving Puss Cat.

This is the cat…not so good as your dog, but her eyes are flashing so that she is obliged to turn her back.

Clem

Images via Life Archives, Library of Congress.  Letters via Daily Mail, Library of Congress.

More great love stories:

Kate and Spencer
Joanne and Paul
Elizabeth and Richard
Marilyn and Joe
Bacall and Bogart

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