The Truth About Motivation

A couple of days ago, I was having a conversation about the lack of a viable creative community in San Diego, or at least one I could find. I lamented on how I’d been lacking with my writing and other creative pursuits, and that I wanted to get back to doing “cooler” things, and creating more. This turned into a 30 minute discussion, and in the end, I hadn’t really come up with a resolution on how to make it all happen. I mean, it’s great to have the ideas, but it’s even better to have some sort of actionable plan of follow through. Fast forward to later that afternoon, when I was perusing some posts in one of my San Diego Facebook groups, and a cool event popped up. It was an AirBnB experience, and was taking place in the Barrio Logan section of the city, one I hadn’t yet spent much time in. I spent a little time checking out the location, and, ever the impulsive one, I signed us up to participate in Saturday afternoon’s experience, excited that the Universe had obviously listened to my ask.

Saturday morning rolled around, and we ventured out, not sure what to expect, but hopeful that a great experience would ensue. When you roll into Barrio Logan, the first thing you see is the famous Chicano Park, which was designated a national landmark just this year by President Obama. It’s a beautiful outdoor display of the local Chicano culture and arts, similar to the vibe you get from Miami’s Wynwood Walls. Keep on moving through the streets, and you can feel the buzz of how alive the entire neighborhood is. Locals moved through in their lowriders and classic cars, and the sounds of West Coast hip-hop and Mexican music battle it out for the top spot as the street’s soundtrack.

 

We finally get to our destination, and we’re greeted by The Real J, our neighborhood tour guide for the day. J is a spoken word artist/hip-hop lyricist, but most importantly, he’s a native of Barrio Logan. He gave us a history lesson on the community, and talked about the gentrification that has been trying to infiltrate the neighborhood. So far, the community has been able to block such efforts, but it’s hard when dollars speak louder than preservation. The shining light in all of this? The creative community is doing what they can to hold on to the authenticity and richness of what they have. We walked down the street, and discovered artisans of all creative crafts, including music, art, and jewelry making. I’d never felt more at home in my new home than I had at that moment, and I knew I’d found what I’d been looking for.

Vintage Car.jpeg

Photo by multiracialmisfit

I’ll stop the story for a moment, because a lesson about motivation and paying attention to what is right in front of you is warranted. How often do we whine about what we want, and never plan on how to get it? Better yet, how often do we pray about something, but somehow miss out on the very thing that we prayed about? When the want doesn’t take on the form of what we think it should, we completely miss out on the need that was provided right in front of our faces. Just think about it for a moment. You asked for a new car, and instead, you got more hours at work (and possibly complained about being overworked when it happened). You didn’t get the car, but you were provided the means to the want. In my situation, I wasn’t necessarily provided with a plan on how to reach my goal on being involved in a creative community out here, but I was given the gateway to that want. And THAT’S the crux of motivation. Motivation isn’t the actual attainment of your goal, but it’s what you do with the tools that are provided for you to reach that goal. On this day, make a list of three wants. Speak them, believe them, and then, pay attention to what’s in front of you that will help you reach them.

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What the Cuff…

I really hate the term “cuffing season”, just as much as I hate what it stands for. To me, it just illustrates how shallow and self-centered our generation can be, how pathetic we can appear, and how anti-social we actually are in this “social”-media heavy society we live in. We spend seven to nine months out of the year (depending on your geographic location) just partyin’ and bullsh*ttin’ to our little hearts’ content. We go through phases with supposedly potential partners, flirting via text, then super heavy texting and perhaps intense phone conversations, to exchanging a few selfies that become increasingly more risqué. We work up to doing the deed (if it wasn’t done in the first place…y’all know how us millennials are), we forget why we even started talking in the first place, and then one of the parties in the situationship falls off the face of the earth.

Handcuff

We go through the cycle throughout the “off-season”, using people left and right to entertain us, until we notice that the season has begun and everyone’s already snatching up all of the good draft picks. We start to panic and scramble back to resurrect one of those stale situations we were in during the off-season. And sadly, because at that point, there are only 2nd and 3rd picks left, we get desperate and cuff. We tolerate all of the crap that annoyed us before, we cuddle, we go out, but we both know that it’s all probably temporary. We have these awesome little surface relationships with no titles, just so we don’t have to feel lonely. And then, once spring hits, we discard each other like our winter wardrobes, and start the dance all over again. And the best part? We never had to invest our real selves into any of it!

Third Round

I have this great fear that my generation will potentially be comprised of a bunch of lonely old geezers. Everyone places so much emphasis on being independent and not needing anyone (*cough cough* bullsh*t!), that we fail to appreciate two beautiful characteristics of being human – caring about another person and authentic, real-life partnership! We are so hooked on instant gratification and false representations of perfection. We believe everything we see on social media, and the airbrushing makes us want it all (right now!), instead of putting any real effort into anything that may prove to be fruitful with a little care.

Alone

I know this isn’t all of us; some of us really hope to be a part of genuine, amazing relationships. We DO want love; we want to be understood, we want that awesome feeling of security and happiness of being loved in a positive, reciprocal relationship. However, if we keep celebrating foolish generational customs like “cuffing season”, I’m not so sure the real relationships will ever stand a chance of becoming a reality.

 

“Love Jones…I’ve Got a Love Jones…”

Yup, it’s another post about dating. Kind of. I guess it’s more so about relationships, situationships, buddies, whatever. And apparently, I have a very steep learning curve.

Hearts

Many of you probably remember the late 90s movie, Love Jones (one of my favs!). In the movie, Nina and Darius meet each other at a nightclub (which, hello, can we get one of those out here?!?!), hook up, and then try to figure out whether or not they’re just attracted to each other only on a sexual level, or perhaps, there could be something more. The entire movie’s premise is on the modern-day idea of courtship, which is essentially, non-existent. The two seem to go in an out of the notion that having sex is just “having sex”, and no big deal, with no feelings involved (which is not true, don’t care what y’all say. Someone’s going to catch feelings…it’s called being human). As “old” as that film is, it is definitely impeccably relevant to today’s culture, and what most people expect when they aim to get to know someone.

Love Jones

My idea had always been that dating wasn’t really that difficult (coming from someone who was in a relationship for half of their life, and didn’t have much experience in the dating world). I figured, you meet someone, you have dinner, drinks, get to know each other, and decide if it was something that was worth getting deeper into. In essence, you were taking the time to figure out whether or not you just had a “love jones” for that person, or an actual “love thing”. It seems as if nowadays, it’s more of the former. I’m noticing that most people are too shallow to get past the jonesing part, too impatient, too stuck on instant gratification. They don’t want titles, they call it “being friends with benefits”, having a “buddy”, “hanging out”. Everything but what it actually is…dating. Maybe it’s because the getting to know you part has been condensed, and rarely are people willing to add any water to it to make it a real meal (see what I did there?). People are all about what’s in it for them, and typically don’t look for value in people’s personality.

Instant-Gratification-300x158

For me, this seems awfully cynical and selfish. Being a starfish in a sea full of guppies is pretty tough. It makes you wonder if holding strong to your ideals are even worth it, in a game that is so heavily weighted on the other side. And the longer you stay in it, the more difficult it becomes to not give in to that other side, to not just go with the flow. Having a love jones is awesome, and great, and exciting, but as quickly as it sparks, it can fizzle even quicker. Personally, I’d rather capture the jones and cultivate it into something that provides long-term fulfillment, not short-term gratification.

Starfish

You’re Really Not Missing Anything

The other day, while aimlessly checking my FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter, and [insert social media app of the moment here], I had an epiphany. Or something like one. More like a kick in the shins. I didn’t really care what anyone was doing or posting (not in a negative way, because I do care about my friends or family), but I was drawn to the need to feel connected to something, anything. It seems that I, like many young people in my generation, suffer from extreme bouts of the fear of “missing out” and “being alone with yourself”. Obviously, I can’t speak for everyone, but it seems like this has become a huge issue for me. I’m slowing become a boring person, one who gets bored easily, and needs to find some sort of stimulation by living vicariously through the mundane but seemingly more exciting lives of my social media friends. I’m forgetting how to think critically and deeply, how to entertain myself, how to feel okay with being by myself.

Social-Media-Addiction-Shots

Most of us aren’t so young that we can’t remember the times of actual interaction with real live human beings, with no distractions like smartphones to glance down at every five seconds in the middle of a conversation. Remember trying to remember the name of a movie or a place, etc, and you had to like, actual talk each other through it and THINK, instead of Googling it?? And while you were trying to remember that thing, you thought of other things, that possibly made you think of something else, and took the conversation off into a tangent about THAT new thing?? That so rarely happens in my life now, I’m sad to report. I’m trying to think of the last time I had a real-life intellectually stimulating conversation with someone, and I’m blanking out (maybe two weeks ago?). And those times that I do attempt it, because I’m feeling quite thoughtful and pensive that day, people look at me like I take life too seriously. But isn’t the purpose of life to ponder and well, search for the purpose of it?

Prehistoric Googling

I can also recall not being able to wait until I had a few hours to myself, so I could do whatever I wanted, kid and husband free. I would write some poetry or music (or a blog post), or maybe do a little reading, or make something else worthwhile, like being present in the moment. Now, I get a couple of hours, and I’m staring at a phone or iPad screen, scrolling through and “liking” stuff that I actually really don’t like, or playing the evil that is Ruzzle or CandyCrush (I’m soooo ashamed to admit this). I’ve considered deactivating my social media accounts, but I always come up with excuses like, “I live so far away from my friends and family now, this is how they can keep up with us!” (because there are no such things as phones, anymore, right?), or, “I need it for business purposes!” (I really don’t). And so the insanity ensues.

Tyrone Biggums

I honestly don’t have a solution to this issue, but I know it’s one that is starting to have a large impact on my relationships and my creativity. When I can sit on the phone with someone I haven’t spoken to in a while, and I can’t have a conversation that’s longer then ten minutes, that’s a problem to me. And when it takes me a month and a half to write a new blog post because I can’t focus, that’s also a problem. If you’re not experiencing this issue, I commend you. And if you are, I think we may need to start a support group. If you suddenly see me disappear from your friend feed in the near future, know that I haven’t unfriended you or blocked you out of my life. I’m just needing to be focused and blocked in to MY life.

Thanksgiving

For the first time in years, I’m actually excited about the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s been at least a decade since my family has gotten together; aunts, uncles, cousins, grandma. For many people, that can seem like a hassle, but for me, it’s a blessing. The idea makes me nostalgic, reminding me of a much simpler time, when family was more close-knit. As a kid, we would get new outfits, head over to my aunt’s or my grandma’s, gorging in a way we didn’t get to do the majority of the year, getting in trouble for stealing the meringue off of the top of the banana pudding (you know who you are).

Soul Food

In recent years, Thanksgiving has been sort of anti-climatic, whether spending it with the in-laws (who I love), friends, or just my immediate family. At one point, the idea of Thanksgiving even disgusted me, because of what it represented (you know, the beginning of the end of the demise of my native ancestors?? Yeah.). I had a hard time getting myself excited to celebrate a day that marks the genocide of other cultures…but, I digress. And then of course, there was just the subdued apathy that settles in after a while of not really going anywhere or doing anything. When my aunt let me know that she’d be hosting this year (and I’d be making the banana pudding), I was ecstatic. It has been so long since we were all in the same place for something that didn’t involve death or hospitalization, and I miss that.

Food!

We so often take the beauty of family, with its faults and sometimes irreparable fractures, for granted. We assume that the option to reconnect with someone you haven’t seen in years will always be there, but that’s not always the case. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate the wonderful, unique people I’m blessed to call my relatives. We’re all different, we all live differently, but in the end, we all love each other. Even if Thanksgiving isn’t the most P.C. day of the year, I’m going to take it for what it is and use it to my advantage. It’ll give me the opportunity to catch up on the milestones and changes I’ve missed out on. And it’s a chance, if only for the day, for my family to feel a little like I imagined it to be in my youth. And in my selfish way, that’s enough for me.

Happy Thanksgiving!

“When I Spit Them Lyrics…”

Today’s post was going to be serious. I swear. I read something earlier in the week that got me all pissed off, and I couldn’t wait to vent. I started the post, and planned on finishing it this weekend. But my weekend was so relaxing, and I couldn’t bear to get myself all worked up. Instead, I’m going to talk about something just as important, if not MORE important (kidding) than my original post.

I was having a discussion with someone, and Jay-Z’s “Renegade” came on. We started discussing how Eminem killed his verses, and that began an intense discourse about the best rap features of the last ten years. I came up with this top five list, and it’s my list, so you can agree, or not agree, I don’t care. These are the top five rap features according to ME, in descending order.

5. Andre 3000 on UGK’s “International Player’s Anthem” 2007

Andre 3000

3000

3000 is a hot rapper. We know this. He can pretty much be guaranteed to shine on any feature he’s put on. He’s the king of the double entendre, and he didn’t disappoint in this song either. Whether it was “cc’ing” or “see, seeing” all the girls, or “giving up the pussy cat that’s in his lap”, he delivered his verse smooth, and made sure it was the most memorable on the song. Actually, I’m ashamed to say, I’ve switched the song off after his verse. I know, UGK blasphemy. But it is what it is.

4. Ludacris on Young Buck’s “Stomp” 2004

Ludacris

Luda wants you to stay off…you know.

Everybody’s favorite underrated rapper. Luda will never get as much respect as he should have, in my opinion. He’s lyrically one of the best around, yet slepted (a made up word) on so often. But not on this song. I will never forget the first time I heard it. Or rather, the version that included Ludacris. I had a mix tape of the version T.I. was on, and it was ah-ight, had a nice little beat, nothing extra special though. But hearing that song with Luda’s verse at the end, in my 1994 Montero (you couldn’t tell me nothin’ in that car) made me actually scream. For you youngins that don’t know, Luda and T.I. had a little beef going on back then, so it was amazing that they were even featured on a song together. Oh, they were featured together alright. When Ludacris’ verse came on, ending the song, by dissing the hell out of T.I., on the SAME DAMN SONG, all you could do was scream. He ended the verse with, “So please stay off the T.I.P. of my…”, well, you can guess the rest.

3. Nicki Minaj on Kanye West’s “Monster” 2010

Nicki Minaj

“Monster” Nicki Minaj

I’m not a Nicki Minaj fan. I’m not with all the gimmicky clothes and wigs, the stupid metaphors, blah blah blah. However, I will give credit where it’s due. Her verse on this song made the entire song. You forget who’s even on the damn song, besides Jay-Z, which is a given on most Kanye West singles. The veterans on this song should be embarrassed by their lack of preparation. My thing is, you heard her spit her verse; why didn’t y’all get back in the booth and tighten your bars up? We’re supposed to believe all of you are monsters on this song? Really? Like the monsters from Monsters, Inc.? The only one who put a little a fear in my heart was the one screaming how she was gonna “eat your brain”. There was enough inflection and emotion in that verse to make me double check the locks on my doors at night.

2. Eminem on Jay-Z’s “Renegade” 2001

Eminem

Eminem is a Renegade

Ok, I cheated a little bit. I said the last ten years, and this one came out eleven years ago. But whatever, Idon’tcareIdon’tcareIdon’tcare. Eminem falls at the bottom of my list of dope MCs. I know I’m in the minority in this one, but I just can’t rock with him. I can count on one hand how many of his songs I actually like. But this song right here? Jay-Z who? When I was listening to this song today, rapping along, I recited every last one of Eminem’s lines. And I could only remember a handful of Jay-Z’s. Don’t get me wrong; Jay is one of my favorite rappers, and is definitely in my top three, but he couldn’t prove it to me on this song. Em murdered the hell out of this song, bottom line. I appreciate him so much more on other people’s ish (see 50 Cent’s “Patiently Waiting“).

1. Jay-Z on Kanye West’s “Never Let Me Down” 2004

Jay-Z

Jigga Man

So, to support my claim that Jay-Z is one of my favorite rappers, he’s my number one favorite feature. It was actually pretty close with he and Em, but I play favorites. This song, no lie, gave me chills when I first heard it (and sometimes still does). This was the height of Roc-A-Fella, and this song was so much an illustration of how powerful they were in the rap game. The entire song is a great song. I listen to it now, and hit repeat a couple of times. Jay-Z rapped about 65% of this song, and it was a flawless 65%. It was so much more than a song. I grew up listening to Jay, from his Reasonable Doubt days to now, being the most successful rapper from the PJs. Hearing how well his words flowed together just let you know that this wasn’t the height of his career. He was going to be even greater. His last couple of bars sums it all up: “Hov’s a living legend, and I’ll tell you why/everybody wanna be Hov, and Hov still alive”. You ain’t never lied Jay.

The In-Betweens

In a previous post, I touted how proud I am of the people my city produces, and that definitely still holds true. However, the other day, a friend and I had a discussion about what our city lacks, which, unfortunately, seems to be a place where people like she and I fit in. Where do we go to have fun, to network, to just meet cool people? Where are all of the cultural events, the musicians, the artists, the motivated, ambitious young people? It seems too often that Friday night comes, and people are doing the same thing: either falling into the same old places that we’re accustomed to, or leaving the area to go to a real city that promises a good time.

In my area, there are two main outlets that provide our weekend entertainment: there is the college strip downtown, where every under age teenager goes to mingle with what they presume to be adults, and the dingy clubs where every one else goes to mean mug and hug the wall. These throw you into one of two categories: aging college student who can’t let go of the frat party, or the aging, well, old person who can’t let go of their thigh-high hoochie boots. If you want to be “classy”, your only other choices are over-priced lounges that play top-40 and house music as you watch people do lines of coke, or the local folk in the “Center” who think dressing up means a North Face jacket and Ugg boots. But what about the rest of us, you know, the in-betweens?

Uggs and Northface

Uggs and a North Face...chic couture

Now, let me digress for a moment. When you’re from my city and the surrounding towns, unless you actually leave the city for college or the like, there is really no desire or drive to seek out something new. You have no problem getting dressed and resorting to one of the standbys discussed above, because frankly, that’s all you know. I admit, I kind of fell into that same trap. I mean, I love my little New England state: we have breweries and decent bars where we can listen to cover bands whose members are 40+, rocking out to fairly decent renditions of “Living on the Edge”. If I want to hear my beloved hip-hop music, I could go to the seedy club downtown, where I was almost always guaranteed extra entertainment by the oft-occuring street fight after the club scene let out (which usually was brought on by a bump or accidental shove on the dance-floor). It wasn’t until these past few months, where I spent time in “real” cities hanging out, like Philly, D.C., and NYC, that I realized what I was really missing.

Lines of coke

I went to an art show in Philly where one of my boys was showcasing some of his work, and when I walked in, my first thought was, wow, I’m at home. I’m around MY people. I stayed in the city overnight, and probably had one of the best nights, and then days, I’ve ever had. The next day gave me time to walk around the city, admiring and taking pictures of the wonderful architecture with my magical iPhone. It was this day that sparked a wave of creativity in me, something that wasn’t as prominent as it would have been had I been back home.The same thing happened when I went back and forth to NYC a little later. As soon as I hit the city, I’m instantly transformed. It’s so true that you feel like a completely different person in the city…like any and everything is possible. My whole mind-set transformed; the cities had turned me out. And then…I went back home.

South 9th Philly

South 9th Street, Philly

Being back home was such a let down. I had not just a party bug in me, but a do-something-fun bug in me. I wanted to find experiences like the art show in Philly in the cool lounge, the clubs in NYC that allowed me to stay up until 10am the next morning without tiring, the feeling of being alive. And I found none. What I did start to find though, were people just like me. People who came to my city from all over the country, to work at the insurance companies or be engineers at our big aerospace company. They always say that the city is ok enough, but never a place they would ever settle down. We’ve had to create our own fun, have our own parties, and as a result, continuously see the same people. And if we want a change, we have to leave to experience a good time. It’s easy for someone not from around here to see all of its faults, but it’s even worse when I harbor the overwhelming urge to just say “screw it” and take my bougie self elsewhere.

As an in-between, I desire a place to dress up, be classy, mingle in a variety of creative crowds. I want my problem to be that I can’t decide whether or not to catch this poetry reading, or this open mic, or this hot party at a classy lounge. There are parts of me that wish the wool hadn’t been removed from my eyes, because now I know what I’m missing. And now that I’ve realized that I’m an in-between, I’m not sure I can ever go back to enjoying the mediocrity that is so prominent in my current surroundings. I’ll either fall victim to the lure of leaving the place I call home, or accept my fate and re-learn how to live in this city as an in-between.

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Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, @Shonnie_D!

When inspired…create.

So, I’ve been addicted to Twitter for the past few days, trying to find some inspiration, some reason to create. I came across a great blog post today, by one Mr. @MIKE_2pt0. He referenced the absurdity of our infatuation with popular music, most notably hip-hop and its extravagant tales of fame, fortune, and fantasy. He called for a remix of these tales of grandeur…a series of Broke Bop lyrics, if you will. So, in impulsive fashion, I present to you not only my inaugural post, but my first shot at the “answer” to Mr. @MIKE_2pt0 ‘s call to action. I give you, “Aston Martin Music”…the Broke Mix.

Chorus:
I’m bobbin to the music, in my brand-new whip (all right)
Breezin down the freeway, just me and my baby (in my mind)
Just me and my thoughts, no collector calls
Listening to someone else’s music (music)

Hook
Couldn’t come back for you 
I ain’t have no ride, and no bus fare for two
You said you ain’t mind, I would’ve just stayed behind
You say that ain’t right, i hate when you whine (I’m better off frontin’)

When I’m alone in my room, sometimes I stare at the walls
Ps3 controller on the floor but who can I call
My baby moms, the one that live by the store
Put this gaming shit aside and bring her that money I owe 
A lot of quiet time, need to buy some new clothes
Marshalls sale items, put away this shit with the holes
Following fundamentals I’m following in the rental
Sweating bullets cuz this shit is due back at the venue
Can’t even afford the money to push this out of state
No seats in my bucket, a ninja gotta use crates
There’s no car seat for my baby, cuz there’s really no space
In my two-seater, guess we gonna walk today

Chorus:
I’m bobbin to the music, in my brand-new whip (all right)
Breezin down the freeway, just me and my baby (in my mind)
Just me and my thoughts, no collector calls
Listening to someone else’s music (music)

Hook
Couldn’t come back for you 
I ain’t have no ride, and no bus fare for two
You said you ain’t mind, I would’ve just stayed behind
You say that ain’t right, I hate when you whine (I’m better off frontin’)

Walked up on the block with a popeye’s chicken box
No more KFC, just chicken, biscuits on my watch
Livin sad where it’s all about the price tag
Always frontin, wear it, then I take it back
In my studio apartment is where she wanna be 
Least that’s what she told me, when I drove her here in my Caprice
Every time we bone I tell her I’m out here grindin, B
And everytime she listen, anxious for that better me
But damn, now she ain’t callin
Or my phone cut off again cuz I ain’t ballin
That Old E keep comin
4 quarter waters, pennies, 100  

Chorus:
I’m bobbin to the music, in my brand-new whip (all right)
Breezin down the freeway, just me and my baby (in my mind)
Just me and my thoughts, no collector calls
Listening to someone else’s music (music)

Hook
Couldn’t come back for you 
I ain’t have no ride, and no bus fare for two
You said you ain’t mind, I would’ve just stayed behind
You say that ain’t right, I hate when you whine (I’m better off frontin’)

I know the long version has some Drake ad-lib crap…but I think I’m good. I think he’s emo enough for all of us.

(As free promo, you can watch the “Aston Martin Music” video here.)

Multi-Racial Misfit

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