Wise & Young

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Saturday 9:30 pm

Location: Kramer’s Books

I never understood why bougie queens always wanted to prove how smart they were by wanting to go to a coffee house, art house, bookstore, or some shit like that. Somehow being surrounded by books gives the illusion of being well read. This is quickly shattered when the question “what was the last book you read” is uttered. Like a deer in headlights said queen freezes because they haven’t read a book voluntarily since the grade school. Worse are those who pick up every self-help, keys to unlocking your greatness, and you are your own worst enemy self-help crap that is available. Somehow they think someone out their in the world has found the secret, the secret to unlocking what has been dormant in us since we lost our innocence, hope and the ability to dream, but are willing to share how we too can be like them in less than 200 pages, and for a meager 29.95, plus tax.

So here I am, aimlessly walking down isle upon isle of books that once been arranged in some discernible fashion, now haphazardly placed wherever by those, like me wanting to waste time, until a greater distraction comes around. Somehow I wander over and find a book chronicling what someone now considers the quarter life crisis. Since it borders on self-help I’m apprehensive but at the same time, interested to see what the authors have decided to say about life to make people feel better about their lives. Is life hard, looking at my mother who continuously struggles to make ends meet and my brother who has struggled to live and thrive since birth, it seems life is hard no matter what age or stage you are in your life. Are they going to talk about finding yourself, but how can you find yourself if you’re constantly changing, reacting to the various situations that occur, you are only an amalgamation of the reactions that you have had in all of the situations of your life, as your life changes so do you. Finding yourself is a futile exercise that promises only one thing, to leave the seeker frustrated, angry, and ultimately questioning who they are. Instead of these over used, under analyzed colloquiums, the book if you can call it that, instead offers up anecdotes and excuses for actions. Being under-utilized at work, it’s not your fault- your supervisor refuses to see the true ability in you. Constant fights with your parents; it’s their fault for not respecting you. Your new found sexual freedom, now have people calling you a whore, you have a healthy libido and are just sowing your wild oats.

Smirking I repeated, sowing your wild oats. Admittedly I have and continue to sow oats, wild oats, mundane oats, cautious oats, adventurous oats, and on occasion have had to reap what I sowed. One thing about being gay in DC, whores abound. Only a select few have the forthrightness, and are honest with them to know that they are whores. While the majority act as if they are the singular vestal virgin in a harem, looking down upon everyone else as they fornicate. But when the lights are dim, and the unspoken promise that this will never be mentioned outside of this one encounter, the virgin charade is dropped replaced with a sexual appetite that no one man could satisfy. So instead of just one on one encounters, or trying to line a few, they know where to go. Where anonymity, discretion, are pledged sex is done with reckless abandonment, Rock Creek Park near P ST NW, Union Station lower level bathroom, Malcolm X Park, any gym, and the mother of all loads, Glorious Health and Amusement also known as the follies. More than a few I have been to, every time I went to one it was under the same bullshit lie, I was there to watch to be a voyeur but more times that I cared to imagine I became part of the spectacle, a freak show among freaks.

The Follies was the place, for between 15-20 dollars you could do, and see anything. The rare times it was empty or hardly anyone there you could feel the generations of men who had walked the same path, crouched down upon a wooden orifice, to receive or to send over the only thing they could. Walls etched with names, numbers, and drawings looked like cave drawings of a lost people begging for the world to remember who they are and not to turn out like them. Empty shells that had once be regarded for their beauty but now what once gave them great joy caused illness, alienation, and death. The movie theater that consisted of a large screen that played black, interracial, and more recently ethnic porn gleamed against the warm tones of the cherry wood, mahogany, and Minwax stained church pews arranged in bent angles. When full of men, the church pews would be covered with flesh, hands moving against each other, in the eerily silence, eyes straight ahead but never looking at anyone never real intimacy just touching, tasting, and smelling what the others had inviting them to do the same. At times there was dark room that was open, on special occasions which was realistically any big conventions of gays congregating in DC, fraternal conferences, rallies, prides, or political fundraisers. That dark dank room scared the living shit out of me, upon walking in you felt half a dozen hands doing the work that their master’s eyes could not due to the depth of the darkness there. Hands would test your muscularity, crotch size, thickness of your ass and thighs, and patience. As would the oppressive heat, since this blackened room was the darkest place in the club it had the most people hiding from the light, themselves, and ready to do anything and anyone. It did not matter how much you swatted, scratched, or protested, in the darkness the hands were embolden by a mixture of tester one, immunity in the form of anonymity, and the need for sexual gratification. Some hands would stop for a few seconds after protesting only to come back with a stronger grip to assert their presence upon your person.

While others would try to hit you if you hit their hand off of your body. But as soon as someone else new came along the hands would shift onto the latest person to indoctrinate them in this molestation. Only the light of flickering cell phones could be momentary guide as not to disrupt the ambiance this darkened cave encouraged. At times, the lights would flicker and you would see body spread eagle hands holding their own ankles surrounded by men taking turns in him. Some would be holding him down while others would be ramming their partially erect dicks into his worn anus. Sometimes he would moan or yell but they were quickly gone as not draw too many men onto the prize that someone or a few had captured and wanted to keep a secret. So the bottom knew that if too many had come over then the fucking would stop, and he would no longer be prized by the half dozen men who were taking turns pouring themselves into him, so he kept his mouth shut as part of the deal. Which wasn’t hard to do, his anus had long become numb to the forceful, slow, antagonizing pushes of men into him. The body heat would be unbearable for me, and the stench of bile, semen, and body odor had become too much, so I left the inferno for the sedate by comparison, rest of the follies. I needed to see the person who I was engaging with, or else I could not enjoy myself. I may not need to always look at them, but that first glance was crucial, it was the only way I knew that this was a real person, or a semblance of someone real. Otherwise, it was just a body, a body with flaws and perfections which would now be used as tool of pleasure to the best of its ability. When I saw that person there was a life there, there was person still there, something within them had breathed and yearned for the same things that I did at that moment, to be touched.

When the follies was packed it was packed, some nights there was a line outside the building to gain entrance, and in that line you could see it all. The old men who would lurk in the darkness hoping to be feed unknowingly by someone who rebuff their advances in any other circumstance, and how that old man had now taken the place of the old queens of his youth coming full circle in a way, the younger fairies who traveled in packs, arms crossed, eyebrows plucked and arched to the heavens eager to find that ever illusive “thug” that would treat them, fuck them, and abuse them like the bitch they portrayed themselves to be, the married men with their hats pulled down low and wedding bands in the glove compartment., the muscle men, the pretty boys, the men who seemingly had everything would be in the line too, ready to let go of their inhibitions and leave their actions there in the darkness. The assortment of men from various walks of life was an interesting site to see, all united for one night for one purpose sex.

When you gain admittance to the follies when it was packed, it took on a sexual circus in which we all played a major or minor part. There were the men who filled the air with the scent of poppers from the various inhalants that were used to create a sense of euphoria. Some men would walk miles in the follies looking for something they would never find, love. Then there were those who had stopped lying to themselves a long time ago, and embraced the role of sexual objectification with open arms, ass, mouth, and hard dick. You could tell who they were when they would enter the building they walked with an authority and determination as if they were running late for any important meeting. After finding their reserved gloryhole, corner, or other safe space, they proceed to strip and commence with whomever was around and willing. Often times if you looked up you would see a pile of clothes hanging from the chicken wire netting which covered all the booths, serving its purpose as makeshift clothes holder.

I never went that far, but none of the men who did were around my age, they were in varying shapes of health some thin and sick, others fat both which you could rationalize that they were doing this because they had no choice. But they were in the minority many of whom had become bold enough to strip and fully accept their man-made destiny were in shape, and attractive. Many seemed to be in their late 30’s early 40’s but it seemed that every other Black Queen in DC fit that description. A few times I had talked to them to find out how they had gotten to their current state, partly trying not to judge, for judging them would be a sense judging me, for I was there too and only a few actions, and a two decades removed from taking their place. Some had said they had given up on love or finding love, others had lovers and wives at home who knew what they were doing, while others rationalized their actions on an insatiable lust for sex. Some had even tattooed their desire on themselves, MANHOLE had come in with two of his white masters who would point to people and MANHOLE would take them in any orifice they wanted. I called him MANHOLE because he was barely dressed, a black leather jockstrap with the 8 inch capitalized MANHOLE on the small of his back, above his ass. The masters got off watching the power they had to make their nigger whore do whomever they wanted to no matter how he looked, smelled, or even if MANHOLE wanted. MANHOLE got off, by acknowledging the power that he had by manipulating these men into believing they had any real control and that it would all end whenever MANHOLE wanted. What united them all was a steel coldness in their eyes, the light of passion and joy, had been extinguished long ago. Maybe they had blown out that flame in order to keep someone else from stealing that light, or it had flickered and burned itself out for there was no more paraffin to keep it burning. I hated that look in their eyes for it seemed like I was looking into a mirror of myself in the future. Was I destined to become like them, fucking instead of love for everyone to see, giving up on someone loving me and in turn giving up on me loving me.

No, that’s why I’m on this date, I told me myself. The only way to find someone is to put you out there, get some skin in on the game. So I’m here and it’s now 9:40 pm. Drew said he’d be here by 9:30, I’ll give him 5 more minutes then I’m going back home.

All of a sudden I hear someone hastily walking up directly behind me, I turn around to hear. “I’m sorry I’m late, traffic was horrible, and I had to find parking too. Wow, you’re pictures don’t do you justice” I try to crack a smile and think of something nice to say, all I can think of is you are abundantly obese, where the fuck is the man in the pictures what did you do with him you fat bastard, did you digest him, this fat bitch is a liar and he’s late.
Instead I just do my best white people grin without showing teeth and say “Thank you, glad you made it”

Drew described himself as tall, dark brown, and with a football players build. He was right he was dark, and his football players build was that of an ex high school football just flabby. So as he talks about himself, and asks me what do I want to drink, and continuously talks about himself. I can’t help but think “Who does this fat fuck think I am? Does he realize that he’s not what he told he was?” Its not that he’s fat or rather not in shape, I’ve dated on the big side a few times, but it’s the fact that he lied, and so boldly I mean what the fuck will he do if I call his fat ass out and be like excuse me um, where is the nigga in the three photos, and you said your waist was 34, when was that?. If he’s lying about this then what else is he lying about-being single, hiv status, his name, what the hell else?

So as Drew, if that’s his real name excuses himself to go to the bathroom, I motion to the waiter that the fat fuck in the bathroom will be dining alone to night. I get my hoodie, zipper it up, and leave Kramer’s Books, straight home to Hyattsville via the Dupont Circle Metro station. All the time thinking, what till I tell Bookie about this one.

Labels: , ,

Friday, December 21, 2007

The first short story

Okay I keep my word, I need feedback....have a happy holiday season.
Its 10 now, we not are going to grab something to eat, I know Darryl’s going to g the Bachelor’s Mill. Had it been anyone else I would have just turned around and went back to Baltimore. Lately I’ve become a hermit of sorts, staying in &, keeping to myself. Not the outgoing person I used to because being in the gay scene is too taxing so I just stopped. No more religious devotion to the gym, abs, were the reward for a zealous commitment to perfection, now are covered by a chocolate jello layer. Jaw line once chiseled now, soft creating an illusion of a happy visage . I knew when Darryl called with an invitation to dinner with his new beau that dinner was never going to happen. But I bought this pretense because with his move to Atlanta, it’s rare we get to see each other. As well as to meet his beau Carl, from the information I was told, I cautioned Darryl against his involvement with Carl. A man who is in his mid forties, finically secure, and who had a lover of 15 years that he is allegedly “divorcing”. I guess Carl decided that going to a sex party would help hasten the process, & that’s where he met Darryl. The more I learned about this Carl, or rather his actions the more I became suspicious. Men, gay or straight, don’t just buy phones, take dates on trips around US, buy jewelry yet never have you over to their house or visit the city they reside in during the same time frame. Anytime I raised a point of concern to Darryl he would say,
“Len, you just don’t understand bruh”, right I didn’t understand how a rationally thinking person who was quick to dole out advice could not see that he had unwittingly confused trinkets, meant to pacify and null the senses, for love and intimacy. But I can’t judge, for more times than not I’ve confused, traded, give, and got sex in place of love.

This is why I don’t fuck with NW DC! Looking for parking has taken me from Hotel Rouge on 16th st NW to 24th and P st NW. All of a sudden the phone rings and its Darryl, I know he’s going to ask where the hell am I.
“Hey how you doing?”
“I’m still looking for fucking parking I’m all the way down 24th and P”
“Oh Lord, bamas I tell ya, come back to the hotel I got a spot for you”
While driving it hits me, this is the first time I’m going out in a year. I don’t even know the spots anymore or how to find out. Part of the reason was because I told myself when then Mayor Williams and the new DC residents decided that DC needed a wholesome All-American baseball, and a stadium to play in, eyed SW DC. The Black gay night life up to that point was pretty predictable, and regimented, attributable to the bureaucratic nature of the queens who like things to be routine, and easy. If they had more than one option they would be paralyzed by the idea that if they decided on the wrong venue that night that they would not be noticed. .
Back then, the night life started on Thursday the Bachelors Mill, near the Navy Yard, also known as the retirement home, had card playing, house music with a touch of Hip-Hop. Here you could find queens in their fifties with Fubu and Enyce outfits complete with one pant leg rolled up, trying to emulate “trade” circa 1994. Friday was reserved for the Edge a one story warehouse building that had more people preening, and posturing than actually dancing or enjoying themselves. Saturday, was the Delta Elite, also known as the death trap, oppressively hot, insanely crowded; and one of the few spots where those under 21 were allowed admittance. Here you could find the young queens mostly college age, recently or in the process of coming out, booty popping to every song and the older hawks who preyed on them trying to get one alone and take them home. This was the first gay club I ever went to, where it was astonishing to see the sheer number of queens in one spot, it seemed then that the whole Black gay population came out for my coronation or ascendency to queendom. Sunday, was for the fireplace, like the Delta was an extremely crowded spot, or at least on Sundays, but only one the second floor. The Fireplace had this unwritten rule, like much of DC gay life, Black and White queens don’t hold court together. Like a segregated church out of the south, Whites stayed at the bottom, and us coloreds mingled, congregated, and fellowshipped upstairs. Chocolate Tuesdays at the Wet was the stop to go to, or so they said. The few times I went it never was impressive The dancers, none were particularly attractive, but they all had big dicks. In this lifestyle, in this city, a lot is overlooked if you have an eye catching, or pleasure providing appendage, and the dancers knew this, and used the thirsty bottoms to their advantage. The dancers and tippers had come to an agreement, dancers let those tipping grope, play, and occasionally lick their manhood in direct proportion to the size of the tip; while the tippers did not ask the strippers to dance, act amused, or give them the slightest illusion that there was anything more than a business transactions, exacting money from a human ATM, quick, calculated, and thoughtless.

But I knew that Darryl, will go to the the Mill. I would too even though I really wanted to go home, but Darryl is one of my closest friends. Plus, I’m somewhat curious to see this Carl character. Upon parking and walking out towards the hotel I see Darryl outside, we hug and he asks me the envitable question.
“Yo, are you hungry?” Thinking no, but I’m tired like shit, so I shake my head no.
“Oh my boy and I were thinking about going to the Mill, you down” It was almost a rhetorical question there was no way I was turning back to Baltimore after a meet and greet.
“Yea I’m down”
“Aight, bet let me introduce you to my boy Carl”
“Hey, nice to meet you” I said extending my hand out to be shook
“Same here” Carl said, shaking my hand firmly. Carl was light brown, in-shape, who looked indescribable otherwise, for any description of him was to describe half of the queens of his generation, educated, well-off, someone who understood the need to take care of yourself and preserve your appearance without going under the knife or the MAC counter. On our ride to the retirement village, I made small talk with Darryl, making sure to include Carl as well, the type of safe conversation that no one really remembers, but still amiable.
When we arrived at the Bachelors Mill, Carl paid our entry fee and since there wasn’t a line, it was only 11, the bar was relatively empty. On the first floor there were two dance floors both accompanied by bars. The larger of the dance floors was guarded by a woman who sat hunched over, grabbing men by the wrists and offered to help them put on their wristbands. She never smiled, as if smiling would magnify her thick mustache that rivaled many of the patrons, including mine.
This dance floor played only house music, the type of house music that followed disco and what so many of the children became intimately aware of growing up. These songs became the battle cries of their youth that now echo and fill their senses with memories of lovers lost, friends, and the end of an era when they were the up-and-coming ones. Naturally Carl decided to display his age and relegate himself there, while Darryl and I made our way to the smaller hip-hop dance floor.
Since it was so early barely anyone was on this side. This smaller side was ruled by the younger queens under 30 like me, the ones that would someday listen to these same songs and be able to recall a memory of a man, moment, or an emotion long forgotten and buried under years of routine living and aging. But for now this small space was where we marked our territory, wrote and re-wrote the roles of engagement, codified how best to attract the men we think we want. The DJ decided to play a watered down set filled with one hit wonders, long forgotten artists, and remixes that should never have been made. While Darryl stayed downstairs nursing his drink like a suckling newborn on a tit.
I wondered if the owner, who some say is a black queen others say a snow queen and a few say a black butch, redecorated the space. Opening up the door, I see that whomever they are left the space alone. Like last time I was here there were card games going on, and bustling pool tables all circulated around an island bar. Walking through the crowd it was hard to shake the feeling that I was walking among survivors. The war started with a bliezting attack called gay cancer or gay pneumonia at the time, leaving many friends, foes, former lovers devoured in its wake riddled with Karpi Scaroma, and with an unrelenting intensity that never played fair-even to this day. Some survived but bore the sunken in cheeks, bloated bellies, and former Adonis forms morphed into bastardized versions of their former selves. But in their eyes they are proud, proud to be able to enjoy tonight fellowship with commodores and regale each other about the good times before the Great War.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------There were other survivors here; there were those had survived a solitary war. Where the enemy had used positions of power and authority and promised to love them, only to hurt them maliciously, vigorously used their pre-pubescent bodies for acts unspeakable only whispered about, afterwards sealing their lips shut with shame. So it was not until years later when the warriors wondered why they had turned to define themselves by the tests of how much pleasure they could incite in others that they realized what the enemy had done and the ramifications. But in places like this, the warriors of this silent war knew the look of each other, for we all bore the same look a silent pain screaming from behind our eyes. Some uses this place and places like it looking for solace, some for love but many simply want a reprieve from their shell shock.

But staying upstairs too long is not in the cards tonight, because the smell of an toilet wafted through the air. As the fumes of funk bum rushed my nose I make a hurried retreat back into the Hip-Hop dance floor. With the crowd now a nice size the DJ decided to play music more palatable and I make my approval known by the signature side to side step that those of my generation make, a slight nodding of the head and equally stylized bounce from left to right expelling enough energy to be in sync with the music, not enough to break a sweat. Tonight was not a night to sweat but a night to commune. As the songs change, and the beat quickens it seems to reach and grab every queen in the vicinity, wave upon wave of royalty stormed the small room each with a face that portrayed a confusement as to why they had been drawn there but few left. I left, a nice crowd is one thing but too many bodies stifle movement and defeat my ability to have fun of any variety.

Making my way to the large dance room it too has become filled, not packed but an ever thickening crowd. Over by the bar I see Carl who seemed to be in his element, chatting with what looked to be some friends. Out of nowhere appears Darryl by Carl’s side, and Carl’s demeanor seems to lighten, Carl’s embrace, holding Darryl by his waist bodies turned toward each other. This was both strategic, and endearing. In the life, there are certain moves you make to assert power, dominance, submission, and hierarchy some subtle others blatant. Each was marking their mate by this display of affection rarely seen in an environment like this, but this was for all of those queens watching, and they were watching, that they were taken. On the dance floor the queens looking for a one night stand were using blatant displays of flesh to find the man that would soothe their carnal urges for at least tonight. One queen, who looked good for his age 55, wore the tightest jeans displaying his semi-hard dick print, accented by his cock ring. His ass was on display as well, perfectly round, high, and seeming tight from decades of Pilates and yoga. His devotion paid off, the queens took notice, some with envy others with lust, most with a mixture of both. As the night wore on, my nomadic tendencies waned and I found a seat to people watch. The packs of queens came and went there were a few whose faces I had known before tonight, the New Yorkers without a penny to their name but managed to craft their way to LA, Atlanta, and Puerto Rico every pride season. The gym bunnies of Bally are who lied to themselves that there are on the DL. Faces upon face that I have seen before as extras in clubs and bars, on nights like tonight. Each one of us has found our way here tonight, some via habit, others by chance. But we are all here, hundreds packed into this two story bar from different walks of life here, what drove us here. What keeps us here, so many have a longing in their eyes that betrays the illusion that their voices portray. Is this a place of refuge from the harsh world that awaits us every time we leave this safe place, or does the Mill and the its kind serve up love and damnation in a 1:8 ratio? Have queens, like me come to swallow the harshness because of we hold so preciously onto iota of love that we will do anything for it?


Mid-thought I get the signal from Darryl that they are ready to go. Darryl now not drunk but in his niceness state is very chatty, its something about liquor that turns even the most stoic of personalities into chatterboxes. As we drive back to the hotel, I have to admit it’s nice to see Darryl happy with someone who takes him for him, and who he equally admires. It’s not my place to understand what money has to do in their relationship, it may be the impetuses or a type of foreplay. One thing I have learned is that we all have to create our own laws, our own rules and be fluid enough to change when its advantageous to do so. For some they too quickly compromise everything including the very core of who they are for the sake of love, but then they quickly resent the person they have become and the man how they changed for. Others refuse to change or compromise telling themselves that someone must be able to take all of them but refuse to take all of someone else. The balancing act of love, gay, straight, or otherwise is hard, its not too often that people get it right, but we can try to get close.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I know you all got tired of seeing that damn Pauvre Chic posting….............................................so did I

Ok so what’s been up with me personally still the same ole same ole nothing has really changed.

Professionally, I’ve changed employers still doing the same job but get this making damn near 16k more. My ex-employer did some shady shit with my last pay check and now I’m sueing them in small claims court right ( only me). The people @ my new job are older than me, very distant, very northern va-esque. I’m studying for the GMAT exam I want to take in 2009. Simultaneously I’m studying for the Foreign Service Officer exam and preparing to take that in December of 2008.

I’ve started writing short stories. You will see them soon. I.E. tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What is Pouvre Chic?

What is Pauvre Chic:

Literally it translates into poor style, or poor ethos. But its so much more than that, pauvre chic is a design and decorating ethos that is geared to those who have more time than money, but don’t want to sacrifice comfort, taste, or quality due to lack of funds. It’s a way of being creative in how you find the pieces, how to make quality investments that rival those who spend much more money to get something similar.

The basic tenants of pauvre chic are find quality, do it yourself, passing it on, and patience

Find quality

In this day and age so much of what is created is made only for the here and now,not made to last, those items that are made to last often cost so much that its out of the realistic grasp of most people. So where does that leave you? You can get antiques, at times you can really find some great pieces such as accents, or even large pieces at good prices. Unfortunately the market for antiques, items 100 years or older, is so fully exploited that the casual buyer with little to no money, can not realistically get something nice often enough. But there are other ways to find quality furniture, accents, home furnishings, and more. One of the ways means I use is freecycle. Freecycle is a listserv that connects people who are looking for merchandise with those who are giving merchandise away for various reasons. Moving out hastily, re-decorating, change of life, or just getting stuff out of storage are all reasons that people give things away for free. Another source is Craigslist, on Craigslist they have a free web posting similar to freecycle, as well as items people are selling. For me I try to spend no more than 100 dollars on any furniture, and as little as possible for other decorative touches. Each person has to set their own limit, and those changes due to items, preference, how much work there needs to be done, and the urgency of the need. Yard sales, Thrift stores, Storage auctions, Consignment shops, friends, and family are all viable options of retrieving items that you would want.

How do you determine quality, well quality differs for each person. I look at how well the piece was made, the time period, and how old is a piece. For instance, if you are looking for a dresser and you find two that are free one is made out of mahogany dovetailed, all the drawers work, but is really scratched up, and the other one is a gently used Ikea particle board dresser that is no older than 2 years old depending on what you are need and are trying to achieve both are quality. The Ikea piece would work very well if you don’t want to put little to no time and energy in refinishing, whereas the mahogany piece may work better if you plan to keep it and utilize it. So quality is very subjective, and only you can make that determination.

Do It Yourself

After finding the item or items you are looking for now here comes your chance to be creative again. Look at what the piece is, and then imagine what you want it to be, and how it will fit into your own aesthic you are trying to create for room, home, patio, etc. Depending on your level of expertise you can do a little or a lot to change the items you received to the item you want. I consider myself a novice, I have some handyman skills, but not enough to call myself experienced, just yet. What I have done so far is use paints and stains to change the character of a room. I primed, and painted my bedroom by myself, the whole project cost no more than 150 dollars, including the paint supplies that I will continuously use, and the primer and paint cost about 70 dollars total. But if I would have hired someone to do that, I would have paid more just in the labor costs. Plus I learned a valuable skill, how to paint which helped me when stripped, sanded, and stained an Ethan Allen dresser, two night stands, and a queen size bed frame all to achieve a Bombay Mahogany color. This tied all pieces which I got for free, into a uniform set.

With the advent of various internet sites, you can merely type in what you want to do and directions on how to do it will come from various sources. I tend to go to DIYnetwork and HGTV.com they have videos which help show you how to do something, likewise youtube also has this advantage. Depending on the project, the manufacturer of products that help with that project also provide useful tips as well.

The more you do the more you can enhance your skill set and try different things.

Passing it on

The most egalitarian thing about pouvre chic is passing it on. You receive things for little to no cost, its only right that you do the same. We live in a society where we are thought that the accumulation of things means that you are better off. Anyone can tell you that this is not the case. Plus no matter how little you have very few of us don’t have something that we can give away that someone else may find useful, essential, or just plain want. The only way for you to have received what you wanted someone else had to part with what they had.


Nothing in life worth having comes easy. So trying to get quality pieces it will take time for them to become available under the conditions that you want, either free or within your low price range. Also the amount of work that needs to be done to rejuvenate them may take awhile as well. Then at times the project may not turn out exactly the way you want, or it may just bomb entirely. Be patient with yourself, and with the circumstances, in the end you will have one of a kind pieces that speak to who you are a person, what you feel is important, you would have gained new skills, and your wallet will thank you. So remember its a learning process, have patience with yourself.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, October 12, 2007

Back to my Roots

For so many African-American’s the idea that you could trace your family history back akin to semi-fictional tale of Roots. But with the aide of modern technology it’s a reality that I am currently experiencing. My “journey” to find out who I am or where I come from started off rather innocuously with home décor. I know home décor, but I was looking for items that both fit into my pauvre chic but still spoke to me as an African-American.

Of course I was looking for paintings, drawings, and other artwork but I wanted something different. Something that was a real conversation starter, then it hit me. FREEDOM PAPERS, I wanted a copy of papers that set free, manumit, a persons and/or their progeny from slavery. But of course being the me that I am, I thought “wouldn’t it be great to be able to get a copy that had a surname that was I had in my pedigree, and possibly could be related to me. With the quick type of Google, I found it. I was literally stunned, I kept saying to myself, “No, no, no, it can’t be THIS easy”, but there it was, the surname of my mother’s maiden name starring back at me, with a list of fourteen slaves that were to be manumit from bondage at various ages. The records happened to be a school with Quaker ties. Before I realized it, I was on the phone with the person who was in charge of records.

What shocked him, was that no less than five minutes previously he was talking to the a colleague of his about those very records. In his mind he thought I must have talked to his colleague, and was stunned when he realized that no, I was complete stranger. Fate is funny I guess. In an hour, in my inbox, there were the pdf versions of the manumitted slaves names of fourteen persons: Robert, Eleanor, Mary, Lucy, Henry, William, John, Mark, Agnes, Polly, Joan, Richard, and Betsey. Of course after I got this and told my Mom. Understandably she was excited and happy charged with the idea that somehow maybe just maybe one of these persons was an ancestor of ours.

From there she told me a story that I remembered hearing that one of her ancestors on her father’s side as far back as we know was never a slave. The story went that he was on a ship bound to be a slave, but the captain of the ship could not pull into dock because slavery had been illegal, so instead of risking his life, the Captain burned the ship, and those on board, had to swim ashore, once reaching the shore. My ancestor got help from Quakers. I had heard this story before but I never really took it to heart, maybe it was the fact that I wanted to know if we were still related to one or more of the fourteen.

The Labor Day weekend that so many of the kids were out in Atlanta celebrating pride, I celebrated a different type of pride. After I told my new found interest of genealogy she turned over this pile of paper that she had been keeping just for this day. Information on various deceased relatives, contact information for those who she had been in contact with, and as much family research she did without having to pay (where do you think I got the pauvre chic genes from). That same day, after driving four ours to my hometown to spend that time with my mom, no more than an hour home, we decided on a spur of the moment trip to Accomac County, VA, to look for a town that had her ancestor’s surname.

Arriving in Accomac you could feel the history, the highway nothing more than a long seemingly forever stretch of asphalt, acres and acres of crops, a stillness in the acre, and often you could see abandoned farm buildings some larger than others where the vines had taken over. It was a Saturday and the whole county was still and quiet, eerily so. We finally arrive to the town that had our name, and only thing there was a street. A long street that was probably the only remnant of the place my great-grandfather grew up. While driving around we saw Black people, but we didn’t speak, my mother and I aren’t the type of people to just go up and talk to anyone.

But what that trip did was really spur me onto finding out as much information as possible about my family, the only way I knew how, by using the internet. Specifically ancestry.com. At first I was hesitant, I had used online communities, and subscriptions before, and all they ended up being was a hassle when you wanted to cancel. But I figured what the hell its 30 dollars a month and if I didn’t find anything then I would have just cancel. I started with knowing about only being able to go back three generations, after just a month I have been able to track my family back to 1835, and one person back to a specific owner, and plantation. It will only be a matter of time at least with that person that I can then trace who his mother and maybe father was due to the fact that most likely his parents were on the same plantation.

The only two issues that I have had so far is finding evidence to corroborate the story about the slave would be, and finding the last names of some of the ladies before they were married. Some of this information others in my family have, and they are just so damn trifling that I don’t know if they will ever give me the information that I need. But thanks to Ancestry.com I will be able to find it out eventually.

Since this has occurred knowing where my people came from Virginia and South Carolina, and learning more and more about them, has made me feel as if the United States is really mine. In fact, once I get my money right, I plan to buy an acre of land near or at the place in Virginia where my ancestor swam ashore.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Me, Myself, and I

I’m not pressed.

After a few years of searching, too many dates, and even more well let’s say discretions, I’m done with looking for a relationship. In fact I don’t care anymore if I’m in one or not. In my early twenties I used to see gay and straight people coupled, break up, and repeat this never ending cycle. It seemed that everyone had been in a relationship; even the biggest whores I knew tried it, all except for yours truly. I started to think well is something wrong with me, why haven’t I been in a relationship yet. Was I too shy, thought of purely as a jump off, inhabit the permanent wrong place at the wrong time, looking too hard for love and not letting love find me. All these thoughts and many more culminated in strengthening my determination to be in a relationship, if nothing else than to experience the trials and tribulations necessary for human progression, or so I thought.

I started to change myself, and help “cure” certain things about me that I thought were hindering me from being in a relationship. I went out and bought books that taught you how to speak to anyone about anything, how to open up lines of communications, and how to attract people to you by the use of your personality. Then I went to functions, gay functions to meet use the skills I learned to see how well I had done in the application of such tactics. Book clubs, volunteering for DC’s White Party, gay volleyball games, house parties, birthday parties, networking events, church functions, and just out and about. After every such event I would replay the events in my mind while driving, or taking the metro, giving myself a mental grade, which usually was in direct correlation with the amount of conversations I started or participated in. I usually scored low.

Then I started to set my sights first a little lower, then a lot lower. In the beginning I wanted someone who was emotionally, mentally, and physically together, or in the process of working towards it. Someone who out, preferably a man of color, and someone who I was attracted to, and who was attracted to me, was my “type”. Soon after my only litmus test was attracted to me, which was very dangerous. I met a coke head African, a Cancer survivor who had kicked out his lover of 15 years 3 DAYS before I even knew him, a Marine with Iraqi War syndrome, and guys at Bally’s who suffered from one mental ailment to another.

Concurrently I began to think well maybe I have a reputation of being easy, (in retrospect me having a reputation in DC would be hard to fathom considering how the kids act) or I’m sowing my wild oats with people who would be interested in me but I am “too easy”. On some level I rationalized that I had said I wanted to be with one person, but my actions spoke differently. So I became celibate, for 8 months, never having sex and I felt that I was sexually “pure”, and that maybe this was just what I needed to do, open up my heart not pull down my pants. During this time, I went out with guys, we had dates, we had fun, but just as if I had sex with them, they fell by the way side sooner than I expected. So my celibacy ended, not with the person who I was engaging into a LTR with, but rather at a sex party. I called up two of my friends, and I cried.

To some degree I even think that my wanting to be in a relationship was a driving factor in me wanting to move. At the time, I felt as though I had exhausted the amount of datable men and that Baltimore, and with grand illusions of me traveling to Philly and NYC, had much better prospects. I will say this, the men in Baltimore, and the men in Philly tend to be nicer, down to earth, and generally easier to get along with. But, well beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and for the most part this beholder don’t see it. I mean, jagged teeth, finger waves, knock off Fubu, it’s a bit too much for me. So yes I moved, but to a city where I know no one, and actually have no real motivation to go out and meet new people, explore my surroundings, at all.

So where does this leave me? Here, right here, typing on a laptop on my way to work realizing that I’m happiest being alone. I’m rarely lonely, and when I am, its not really for a bed warmer but the company of my family and friends. I’m happy being alone, I like who I am, and I have more fun dancing around my house, enjoying the music blarred up, cooking up a storm like its Thanksgiving dinner, and more just because, well I can. If someone comes along, sure why the hell not, but if Mr. Right never does, I never will worry. I’m no longer pressed.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Analog Boy in a Digital World

Dayum am I that out of place???

So Friday I get a call from one of my friends, we chit chat, and she tells me about this party she went to for this guy she knew at her alma mater. Come to find out he’s a rising Black Gay “leader” whose involved with politics, and whatnot. So she was telling me about how she felt being one of the few or only perceived to be straight people there and her feeling awkward and the social dynamics thereof. Noticing how difficult it was to “break in” and mingle due to the fact that everyone knew each other, she even commented on how more difficult it was and she attributed this to them being gay. On average it does seem harder to just have a regular conversation without there being a perceived underlying self serving motive. Then she noticed how they dressed, and her friend has changed so much as how it’s gotten to his head, and those around him were sycophants. But the most surprising thing was that she related this all back to me.

“I never realized how different you were from a lot of Gays until I started going to places with a lot of gay people, and I can see you as being perceived like different, like Erykah Badu different.” Now, I know I’m not all that eccentric, granted I would like to be at times, but I took what she meant as being more of a “free spirit” and independent. This is true, and would explain how and why I fit in at times, why I get bored with people and always trying something new to challenge myself. This is not to say that other people do not do this as well but at times my goals, interests, and the fact that I’m more than willing to do things solo make me quirky in the eyes of others.

Is that how I’m perceived, if so I’m very cool with that being that independent spirit. I like that