SEX, THE STILL TABOO SUBJECT

Dr. Oz sent all the kiddies out the room. Why? He’s gearing up to talk about sex, porn in particular. I cast sporadic glances toward the TV, but hear nothing that would’ve scarred a child for life. What is it with Americans and sex? Sex is a dirty word that can only be whispered about. If you are unmarried and female and having it, you are considered loose. There are those of us who tell maturing children their hands will fall off if they touch themselves in a particular area. When children reach an acceptable age, they’re told about birds and bees instead of sex.

Some of us aren’t even given the birds and bees scenario. Mama just told me to keep my dress down and my legs closed. She told me that many times perhaps to make up for the real conversation we never had. If not for giggling cousins telling me about ‘doing it’ in the ripped up back seat of an old broken down car, and ‘accidently’ stumbling across a couple of my older brothers’ magazines, my youth would’ve been spent wandering in a wilderness of sexual ignorance.

Judging from Dr. Oz and many others, things haven’t changed much when it comes to sex and nudity. Draping the Spirit of Justice statue during Attorney General Ashcroft’s tenure still makes me shake my head. Seeing the AG photographed one time too many in front of the statue with gasp, an exposed breast was more than the public could bear. Prior to Ashcroft drapes were rented. With 911 maybe Ashcroft made more speeches than usual in front of her, prompting the decision to buy the drapes outright to conceal the statute’s naughty part. This would imply Americans have a problem with not only sex, but nudity too.

Depiction of graphic violence from my periscope is more acceptable than nudity. A female ghost’s nipples were blurred on network television as in the case of the movie ‘Thirteen Ghosts’, but a guy getting split in half was no problem. And Janet Jackson – who must’ve thought she was in some European country – half-second wardrobe malfunction set off such a nipplegate of outrage during Superbowl XXXVlll, CBS was slapped with an indecency fine and JJ ended up issuing a publicly aired apology.

While swiftly doling out punishment to those perceived to be leading America farther down the road of moral decline, box office movies, television shows and video games grew ever more violent. Apparently, promoting a culture of violence is fine, until there’s an attempt to legislate gun control and suddenly blood-drenched movies and video games glorifying guns become a convenient scapegoat to thwart gun control.

Then there’s E. L. James ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. I haven’t read it but have heard enough to make me wonder if the sexual content is what’s driving the book’s success. Finally, people can talk about IT. If a young, naïve girl introduced to BDSM by a handsome rich guy makes for profound conversation about tabooish sex, more power to the book. Unless something drastic happens there will be a FSOG movie.

An article about what the rating should be, doubted the movie would enjoy box office success. The assumption being, the average movie-goer would be too embarrassed to watch such eroticism sitting next to a stranger. Maybe the author was seeing him or herself hunkered down in a dark theater next to some unknown. Me, I envision maybe a group of girlfriends together, chowing down on popcorn and not worrying about strangers.

Newsflash, if those children banned from listening to adults talk about porn have access to computers or other electronic devices, chances are they’re way ahead of you in that arena. Imagine your child being taught about sex from rated XXX free porn clips. During this internet age, it’s more important than ever to talk to children about sex. Let them know the human body is not shameful and sex between consenting adults happen. If you send them out of the room, they will enter another and experience only the loveless sordid side of a natural and beautiful segment of human nature.

Sometime I Have These Dreams

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Dreamscape – By Zeke

Sometime I have these dreams where I’m trying like crazy to get someplace. The setting is usually in or around a university. Either I can’t get to my classes or my dorm room or can’t find my car or leave my bag behind. I climb stairs that abruptly ends. I walk corridors long as roads, and enter doors that lead everywhere except where I need to be. Sometime I end up in restrooms with filthy overflowing commodes. I watch others enter and leave. I search for a clean stall but behind every door is a sight not for the meek of heart.

In one I’m desperately trying to get to my classes because my grades are on thin ice, but there’s nothing I can do. I see myself walking, feet striking the concrete, passing buildings, passing other students, passing classrooms filled with students, entering offices, stairwells that empty into yet more corridors, but none leads me to where I should be.

What does it mean? To find a clue, I look up the definition of dream? A series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep, is what one Google search turned up. According to that definition I suppose I could sum it all up and say my life is an overflowing sewer going nowhere. My frustration and the panicky feeling of running out of time are quite evident in these stories that vexes my dreams to near nightmare.

As if the classroom, dorm and restroom scenarios aren’t bad enough, there are times I can’t find my car. In these dreams, the parking lot is a huge island that includes parking decks and outside parking spaces neatly segmented, cluttered with vehicles. Again, I’m going to where I believe my car to be, but it’s not and thus begins the never-ending search. I swear in these dreams I walk my legs off without breaking a sweat.

In my last car search dream I meet a female. She’s short with black curly hair beneath a Carolina blue ball cap and she’s wearing this jersey that hangs midway on her chunky thighs. It’s chilly out. She’s wearing a dark denim jacket with that jersey dangling like a skirt. I’m standing in front of this huge old church that shadows the entire block. I’m heading up the steps hoping to find someone who can point me to a shortcut.  I’ve strayed so far from that humongous parking lot it’s not even funny.

I’m eyeing the building and out of the corner of my ever-vigilant eye notices she’s watching me like some bird of prey.  I thought I would be spared after she’d stated her case to a lady who’d shook her head and continued on to the daycare attached to the church. Before I can go in the opposite direction, she swoops. “Mam, mam,” she calls out.  She’s in my face, not making eye contact but not hanging her head either. “I’m pregnant can you help me out?” My eyes glide downward but the getup gives nothing away. Still I dig a hand full of coins out of my slouch bag and give them to her. She’s in luck because in some of these dreams I leave my bag behind and have to go in search for it.

“Thank you mam,” she says, taking off like she expected me to ask for my money back. “Make sure you feed that baby,” I call and for the first time she looks at me does a little thing with her neck, almost like a turtle cringing toward its shell, as if to say you are lost. Who the hell are you to tell me anything? Done with me she enters a trail in a heavily treed park just a walk across the church’s asphalt and soon it swallows her whole.

The wooden medieval door won’t budge. A fire breathing dragon could’ve been behind there for all I knew. That’s how quick I high-tailed it from there. A cobblestone walkway leads up to more doors. Before I’d gotten halfway a man walks out to me.  He says if I’m looking for the group that they’d gone for the day. I thanked him and stood in the shadow of that great church looking up. A cold wetness spatters on my forehead. A storm is brewing.  I still myself against the elements and wonder which way to go. Then I wake up and relief floods out the frustration and growing panic because thank God it was just a dream.

Moin Moin Memories of Nigeria

Greetings and thanks to all who took time to drop by my little blog last year, all 8,000+ of you, lol. I started the blog in March or April or something like that which averaged about 1,000 views a month give or take. Trusty WordPress gurus crunched the numbers and came out with this:600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,700 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 15 years to get that many views. Again, thanks everybody. Now that I’ve stuck a foot in to test the water, I’m going to dive on in.

MOIN MOIN MEMORIES OF NIGERIA

When I was a college student many moons ago, I dated a guy from Nigeria, actually we lived together for a couple of years, but that’s another story. I was raised in small towns in Eastern NC. If you ever traveled 64 East back in the day, chances are you passed through one of those ‘if you blink you’ll miss it’ places of my youth. Other than work and more work, there wasn’t a whole lot for a sharecropper’s daughter to do. Of course I watched the two or three channels the tv picked up. But when I picked up my first lit book somewhere between the age of 4 and 5, I was in love. I traveled to exotic places and saw so many things through the eyes of the characters in the stories I read.

By the time I started college, this small town girl felt like a sophisticated world traveler. So naturally when I met my Nigerian prince that accent had me at ‘hello’. We met in a laundromat of all places. Right then and there I told him the good parts of my life story. I told him about my grand pop so naturally that meant we had to move in together.

Watching him with his friends, listening to them speak in their native tongue or ‘broken’ or whatever it was when they didn’t know each other’s language, was a real treat initially. Overtime it got annoying. I found it rather rude especially when they did it in my presence. It wasn’t like they didn’t speak English. The most interesting thing though was when they ate that big ol’ ball of dough. At least that’s what I called the fufu they communally dipped into a usually slimy stew or soup made with okra, tomato sauce, dried fish, chicken, and all else.

Sometime during get-togethers they invited me to partake of the cuisine, but no way could I bring myself to eat what was essentially bisquick and water turned into dough. Not to mention I didn’t find several people dipping into the same sauce appealing if you know what I mean. To their credit, I never saw anyone double-dip the fufu, but no one wiped between fingertips either. To meet them halfway, I sometime took a serving of soup or stew in a small bowl, which very often was quite delicious.

The two years we co-habitated he did most of the cooking. My idea of a meal was grabbing a burger, making a sandwich, or occasionally eating the Colonel’s fried chicken, biscuits and cole slaw. Although I tried to make his African cuisine it never came out right. But there was this one dish I promised myself I would make someday. I’d tried it at another one of their many gatherings. It was made with black-eyed peas without the eyes. They called it moi-moi or moin-moin.

Recently, a local television station featured the dish one weekend and put the recipe on their site. I missed all but the tail end of the show but went in search of the recipe. It looked darker than what I remembered. Nor did I recall a boiled egg being in there. But memory can and do get foggy over the span of years so who knows.

With a hard copy of the recipe safely within the confines of my cluttered handbag, I took to the big box store. The small bag of black-eyed peas had been soaking for nearly six hours or so when it occurred to me the eyes and hull had to come off the things. The recipe said they would rub off. The two I picked up out of what looked like zillions of soaking beans didn’t rub off too easily. Now I’m remembering why it’s taken all these years for me to attempt the recipe.

A Nigerian, a beautiful nutmeg-hued sister, told me that night how she’d rubbed the eyes out and pureed those peas to the consistency of squash baby food. I remember staring at two large turkey size tinfoil pans of moi-moi. That was a lot of black-eyed peas. Why it would’ve been the equivalent of cleaning ten buckets of chitterlings. It must’ve taken her hours and who had hours to devote to one dish, no matter how delicious it was.

So here I am all these years later faced with the daunting task of getting the eyes off all the peas now soaking in my best bowl in the kitchen sink. Maybe by morning the eyes and hull will rub right off. Maybe I’d voyage into cyberverse and encounter some life form who will tell me a quick way to rid those many legumes of their many eyes. If you would like to suffer along with me have at it. See below:

Moi-Moi From African Continental Cuisine

Serves 3

 1 c dried black eyed peas

 1-2 roasted red peppers, skins removed

 1 red onion

 1-2 pieces chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (canned – optional)

 1 tsp. canola or other oil of your choice

 1 tsp. chili powder

 1 tsp. turmeric

 Canola oil or Pam to grease the pan

 Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

 3 soft boiled eggs, peeled (optional)

 Soak the beans overnight. Rinse and rub between your hands to remove skins.

Grind the beans to a smooth paste with very little water. Grind onions and peppers and add to beans. Add oil and seasonings and mix well.

Slowly add warm water and stir until the mixture coats the back of a spoon.

Oil a loaf pan or spray it with Pam. If using eggs, cut a slice off the bottom so they’ll rest flat, and place in the bottom of pan. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Gently pour the bean batter over.

Cover the pan with oiled foil. Place in a bain marie (set into a roasting pan slightly larger than the loaf pan and add water to come halfway up the sides of the loaf pan). Bake for approx. 40-60 min at 350F, or until set and pulling slightly away from the edge of the pan.

Remove from the oven and bain marie. Allow to cool for 10-15 min. Gently run a knife around the edges of the pudding. Unmold onto a platter and garnish with vegetables of your choice. I used green beans and more roasted red pepper.

Moi-moi can be made with seafood and/or meat as well or just plain veggie. Moi-moi can also be cooked in the traditional banana leaf instead of the foil pan if available. A bit more difficult but more tasty and worth the effort.

A Beautiful Cat’s Tale

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Tigger (l) and the late Zoey (r)

I am a cat lover and every now again run across a jewel of a tale about cats. Recently I stumbled across a story in The Huffington Post that reaffirmed what I’ve felt all along. Cats are mystical beings bequeathed by the universe and once you’re aligned with the right cat or cats truly magical things are brought to bear. This I know firsthand because as I lay dying last year my cats were with me.

There I was on my bed and they jumped up to join me. After rubbing them a bit, Tigger, the big tabby sniffed at me and ran off. Zoey, my fat fluffy grrrl who loved me to her last breath, ran off too. It was the salve I’d stupidly put on my shoulder blade, thinking it would rid me of the monstrous abscess. The golf ball size thing had released toxins into my blood stream that was killing me. It had been killing me for several days.

Still I talked to Tigger and Zoey in my best Doc Holiday voice from the movie Tombstone. “Get on then you mangy cats,” I heard myself say. “Nothing but fair weather friends the both of ya,” I muttered and giggled or at least I think so. Had I not known better, I would’ve sworn the rum cake I’d consumed earlier had made me tipsy.

Of course all of it was a dream. My room door was shut that morning. The cats as they normally do were probably meowing and scratching to get in. My son, who’d found me clinging to life, had knocked on that closed door. I woke up from a four-day coma and was in the hospital two weeks. If I’d not carried on with the cats in my dream, I’m convinced I would not be here today.

So when I ran across the story about Toldo, the cat, it sent delicious chills down my spine. After I wiped away the tears, I commented on the article and this is what I said:

“I foolishly thought I’d rescued my cats until I later found out they were the ones who’d rescued me. Cats have very addictive personalities and don’t go into anything lightly. Toldo will continue to honor the grave of his acolyte until he can no longer do so or until he decides to quit on his own. Cats are beautiful mystical beings and should be treated accordingly.”

Anyone who loves cats and has had a near death experience may find the story especially endearing. It touched my heart and in case you’ve not read it, I’ve included it here for your entertainment pleasure.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/04/loyal-italian-cat-todo-br_n_2406479.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

Dare To Fly A Little Closer to The Sun

I not only find Seth Godin’s “fly closer to the sun” an apt metaphor, I find it very inspirational. Sometime in order to stand out you need to fly a little closer to the sun.

-OR-

As some would say, do you .

And Here We’d Been Taught Icarus Had Done A Bad Thing

In Greek Mythology we were taught to view Icarus as this tragic character who grew too cocky and ultimately that cockiness caused him his life. But maybe like the Hellenic Air Force Academy, named after Icarus, he should rather be seen as the mythical pioneer in Greece’s attempt to conquer the skies.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hellenic_Air_Force_Academy,

 

No Timeout For Gun Deaths

There will be no timeout. We must be about the business of killing one another with guns. It can be rather messy but somebody’s gotta do it.

A week after Adam Lanza killed himself and twenty-seven others, including his mother, shooting deaths in these United States of America never took a timeout. While we paused, heart shattered to mourn the loss of six brave educators and twenty innocent children at Sandy Hook Elementary, shooting deaths never took a timeout. As we tried to piece together the puzzle that is Adam Lanza in a desperate attempt to understand what drove him to such a horrible act, shooting deaths never took a timeout. Each of the times President Obama addressed the nation, assuring us something would be done, shooting deaths never took a timeout. When my hands masked my face to staunch the flow of tears mingled with the images of bullets riddling little bodies with bloody holes, shooting deaths never took a timeout.

Even as I write these few words a gun is probably being used to snuff out life easy as pinching out a candle. As yet another year ends and the nation counts down to a new one, shooting deaths will abound. There is no timeout when it comes to killing one another with guns. The article below tells a tragic tale of lives lost due to someone picking up a gun and pulling the trigger.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/21/us-shooting-deaths-sandy-hook_n_2348466.html

Will The Mass Killing of Children Finally End The Silence?

Welcome to another day another mass shooting here in America. Not to sound like a broken record, but for lack of other words, my heart too is broken. That someone would storm Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct, of all places and pump bullets into the bodies of 26 human beings is beyond belief. That 20 were innocent children, six and seven year old babies, makes it that much more heartbreaking.

Barely has one cycle of mass killing ended when another starts. President Obama is again extending condolences to families who’ve lost loved ones in this continuing saga of mass murder. While we shake our heads and grouse about senseless violence in other parts of the world, I wonder when we Americans will admit our own tiny speck of the universe is also broken. Or will we remain the busy body neighbor, spreading everybody else’s business around while her own family is falling apart.

Aurora survivor, Stephen Barton, shot in the neck and face aired his disappointment over President Obama’s continued silence on the issue of gun control. Both he and NY City’s Mayor Bloomberg had hoped presidential candidates Mitt Romney and President Obama would make gun control a key talking point during the election. It never happened. Barton now wonders if this latest shooting, the malicious mowing down of children too young to even know what was happening, will finally give voice to a topic men with too much at stake dare speak of too loudly or at all.

America is broken and it’s time to admit it much like the alcoholic who must first acknowledge he’s an alcoholic before the healing begins. Before gun owners get indignant, first realize no one is trying to take away your 2nd Amendment right. Although it’s highly doubtful the Founding Fathers had weapons such as those used to commit mass killings in mind when they wrote the Bill of Rights. Or, suspect so many of us would fall head over heel in love with these high-powered instruments of death. We cling to them as though they were lovers and are quick to anger if someone hints at taking even one away.

Know this, when our own weapons are used to murder us, it’s time for a healing. When weapons we own kill or hurt those we profess to love, it’s time for a healing. When guns are often easier to get than birth control, it’s time for a healing. In order to begin healing, we must first talk about the elephant in the room. Too many guns are ending up in the hands of citizens who are hell bent on killing as many fellow citizens as possible.

Since we are such a reactionary people, we must strike while the deaths of 20 innocent children fuel us. Yes, today the President’s heart is broken and he’s vowing to do some things. Today, we must merge our voices with his and say enough already. The conversation must continue tomorrow and tomorrow until the politicians get that we are seriously tired of being broken. That we’re tired of mending other people’s fences while our own remains rotted and broken long overdue a repair.

There you have it, another day another mass killing. This time hopefully the sound of silence will be shattered. I pray this time our discontent and drive to safeguard ourselves against more senseless gun violence silence the crickets.

Twenty babies being mowed down in one day in one place has got to be the catalyst to bring about a change in this country’s broken gun laws. To again do nothing mean there will be more and more of these senseless killing sprees. Just imagine an America where one day 100 or more of our citizens are shot down in one place, by a single gunman or several and we lift our collective heads say, “how sad,” then return to doing whatever it was we were doing. Welcome to our new normal if we continue to speak not.