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What’s BEEF?

What can be learned from other people’s beefs.

If you’re a Hip Hop Head as I am, then you are probably familiar with rap beef. However, in case you’re not familiar, a rap beef is when two or more rappers engage in a dispute via music. Sometimes, the “beef” is contained inside of the music and eventually resolved with each party reaching an understanding, and moving forward with their careers. Other times, Hip Hop beefs or “rap battles” can result in injury or even death.

Examples of beefs that were resolved peacefully would be: Jay-Z vs Nas; Canibus vs LL Cool J; Common vs Ice Cube. These were all very publicized beefs that went on for years, but all parties were able to come to an agreement.

The best example of a Hip Hop beef that went terribly bad would be the infamous bicoastal rap war of the mid 1990’s that claimed the lives of two Hip Hop icons, Tupac “2Pac” Shakur, and Christopher “Notorious BIG” Wallace, 1996/1997, respectively.

Notorious BIG & Tupac

These disputes happen for a plethora of reasons (ego, jealousy, loyalty, women, men, money), but for the most part, they almost always stem from misunderstandings. When a person feels offended, it’s completely human to become defensive (especially when pride is being challenged) I would imagine that this is very stressful for some artists. However, I also believe that some artists enjoy the spirit of competition that’s included in these beefs — especially when the beef isn’t blatantly disrespectful or potentially violent.

While the artist is probably doing his or her best to provide the most clever lyrics for their diss tracks and answer songs, us onlookers enjoy the competition as though we are watching a boxing match. We choose sides, we support the artist we love. We give our take on the situation. We even engage in local beef, conversationally (usually. But it can get heated). When there is beef in Hip Hop, the whole culture and community is effected.

For me, the worst part of the beef is when it’s over. Yeah, I know… that sounds horrible, but I have a reason for feeling this way.

When there is beef between two artists, some of the best songs are born from it. I actually think that rappers work harder on diss tracks and answer songs than they do their other non-beef related tracks. Diss tracks are usually loaded with quotables that are repeated forever. The more clever the artists, the better his/her “disses” will be. And we, the Hip Hop community absolutely love those those songs! We relish the lyrics (and sometimes the beef). But hearing them live will only happen as long as the beef is kept alive. Of course, we all want the beef to end before it becomes violent (as it could and has). But while it’s going on, we’re all in!

Although these songs exist in various formats and can be played at anytime, the beef usually subsides. We, the audience, are left with the music and the memories. But when you go to your favorite rap artists concert, he/she will most likely not be performing those truly dope verses if the beef has ended. That sucks, but it doesn’t. However, I’d be lying if I said that I wouldn’t want to hear Nas do “Ether”, (his diss to Jay-Z); or Ice Cube do “No Vaseline” (his diss to NWA), in concert. The chances of that ever happening are slim and/or none. (Thank God for media!).

I once heard KRS-One (Boogie Down Productions) say that he will never perform “The Bridge Is Over” (a diss track directed to The Juice Crew) in it’s entirety, because he’s says some very disrespectful things (especially about Roxanne Shante), and he’s just not in that place anymore. He respects their families. This was profound in my opinion. Before he continued to explain why, I was only concerned with the idea of NEVER hearing him perform it live in concert. I had never considered the elapsed time, growth and maturity, concern for each other that occurs between human beings, even after a major beef. It’s possible to mend and have a change of attitude. I commend KRS for that. (But not MC Shan, who has elected to continue the beef.)

“Yo so wack, Let me say this for my black kids/Technically I didn’t take you out Shan—the crack did”

There has also been beefs that lasted for so long, that no one (maybe not even the artists involved) can even remember why we’re beefing (yes, I mean “we”. Hip Hop heads take the culture very seriously).

Does Life Imitate Art? Or, Does Art Imitate Life?

I have to ask that question because this is also how many of us (I’ve also been guilty of this) handle personal “beefs” in our own lives. Granted, our beefs are far less publicized, (at most, social media and our personal social media circles is as public as it will get.) but we feel them with the same vigor that the artists feel. These beefs often stem from the same things that celebrity beef comes from; ego, jealousy, money, money, etc. Usually, it stems from misunderstandings. Regardless of the scale on which you measure the weight of your personal beef, it’s impact makes a difference in your life and possibly the lives of others, even if only for a short while.

With the exception of a few, these disagreements are almost always resolved. And I will not judge those whose beefs are still active to this day. There could very well be good reasons for continuing the discord. Or at least continuing the distance. Consider that with personal beef, once it’s over — it’s usually over. Rappers have to possibly hear diss tracks about them, in passing, forever. Lol! I’m sure that after the beef is over, they can just laugh it off (even if there’s still a tiny sting there).

We are really not much different from the artists that we love. We all live, love, and grow together in humanity. Even when things go terribly wrong, we can always regain our composure, look at the situation rationally, and make better decisions. Or, we can look back at the situation and say, “this is stupid. Let’s squash it”.

KRS was able to settle his beef with Mr. Magic, of The Juice Crew before he passed away. But what if he wasn’t able to? Life is short and it’s getting shorter. As a vegetarian, I’ve got no use for beef. You don’t have to be vegetarian to agree to that. So as we move forward toward 2022, let’s decide what really matters. And, if it don’t apply — LET IT FLY!

…besides, once you settle the beef, you can’t perform it anymore anyway. 🤷🏾‍♀️

“Beef is not what Jay said to Nas;
Beef is when the working folks can’t find jobs.”

~Mos Def

* a really good read about the biggest Hip Hop beef; Pac and Biggie, is “Labyrinth” by Randall Sullivan. It’s very thorough and gives plenty of details. Click here to check it out!

Love And Quandaries: The Beginning of A Beautiful Story

I told everyone who had a set of ears at work how the beautiful stranger came back to see me. And not only that, but I now knew his name, Rich… So I began telling my coworkers:

“The guy with the ponytail came back! And dig it, he came to see me! And I know his name now, it’s Rich. Now we can stop calling him ‘the guy with the ponytail’ and ‘the Indian’”.
Coworker: did you give him your phone number?
Me: didn’t have to. He came to give me HIS number! And he was so smooth with it. You shoulda saw it. He was on some Billy Dee shit!
Coworker: are you gonna call him?
Me: what kind of question is that? Of course! Tonight!

As I walked away, I thought “Oh shit! I put his number in my jacket pocket! Everything falls out of that pocket. Oh my God, if it’s fallen out, he’ll think I’m not interested and I might never see him again. And it was a tiny piece of paper!” I hurried and reached into my pocket, half afraid that it had already fallen out. When I felt a small piece of paper in my pocket, I gave a sigh of relief and prayed out loud, “thank you, God!”. Then immediately, I put his number in the upper pocket of my jean jacket and buttoned it shut. There was no way I was going to miss this opportunity.

I figured that no matter what, he’s definitely at least worth trying to get to know. If it works out, awesome. If it doesn’t, then meeting him and the way he approached me would have given me renewed faith in people. But I was sure that I’d be impressed by him. He had that kind of vibe.

So as I floated on the very air I was breathing, I continued my shift and replayed the event of him introducing himself to me for the rest of the day. I don’t think I had ever smiled so much at work. I kept seeing his face; I could even smell him. I was stunned. I had never felt that way before. I wasn’t cool (as I am usually). I was giddy- like a girl in high school.

The First Communication…

I couldn’t wait to get home and settled so I could call him. However, I ended up hanging out with the friend I was staying with at the time and it was too noisy to try to make a phone call. So I sent him a text.

In that text session, as expected, we began getting to know each other. I told him how I was really hoping that he’s come back to the store, and that I hoped that he would approach me, because I wouldn’t have had the nerve to approach him. He said that he “hoped that I was hoping”. And that, the first day he saw me, he wanted to come back and meet me. But in contemplating that, he had fallen asleep. I expressed gratitude for him coming back, and he said:

Me 2. I had to. I felt struck by lightning. I talked myself out of coming back, thinking I’m being foolish. But then I’d be a fool not to come back… so either way…”

I felt butterflies in my stomach as I read that text. I knew I had met someone very special. Even though he was quite eloquent in his speaking, it didn’t sound rehearsed, or like he said these things to every woman he meets. I felt special, and this was only our first conversational volley.

He told me that he’d been practicing Kokoro Dokoro, which means “where is your heart. Checking into one’s heart and then playing from the heart”. And that that is what lead him back to me. As I read that text, I imagined that my face resembled that emoji with the smiling face and heart eyes. I never felt so special.

Had counting my blessings finally paid off? Had the other superpower kicked in, “knowing it when I seen it”. I knew he was special the first time I saw him. Even before he’d spoken to me. It was that eye contact. I felt him. And now in conversing, I knew that my super powers were on point, and that I was now reaping the benefits of patience, gratitude, and treating people with honor and respect (at least, those who deserved it. But that’s also where patience comes into play).

The Next Day. After Work.

It was a new day and once again, I was at work. Because of this new special person in my life, it was rare to find me without a big smile on my face. Knowing him, seeing him – albeit only a couple of times – was having a very positive effect on me. He carried a very peaceful and enveloping presence. I spent the day looking forward to talking to him more.

Later that night, after getting off from work, I couldn’t wait to talk to him, so we continued to text. I asked him more about Kokoro Dokoro. He answered:

Nihongo language, Kokoro has several meaning, having to do with the Heart. There’s the little heart, our individual personal. Then, the heart for our family, then for our friends – then for our clan, tribe, country, the world and then Earth and then Universal Heart.”

Dokoro means location/where. Where is your heart is a question in a statement form to check in where one’s heart is in relation to all our relations. A path of healing through forgiveness, redemption, empowerment, joy, enlightenment through play, arts music culture

All of that was so foreign, and so beautiful to me. I had never heard of Kokoro Dokoro, but I was about to find out. Somehow I just knew this; and I was very excited about it.

Wait A Minute, Sir… Are You Saying That You’re Perfect?

I guessed that he was probably in his late 30’s to early 40’s. I definitely thought he was younger than me. So to be sure, I asked… and boy was I surprised!

Rich: I turned 50 in January. It sounds old, even to me. When I was in my 20’s and 30’s, 50 sounded like so far away. Now that I’m here, my next 50 are even greater.

He then asked me my age:

Me: I’m 45 until September. Congrats on reaching 50, I’m looking forward to doing that! I thought you were younger. I was actually thinking that you were in your late 30’s to early 40’s You look really great!

He thought I was much younger, and I’m used to that being the response once my age was identified. I told him about my kids and my grandson, who all live in Tennessee.

In this thread of text, I found out that he’s 50, no kids, never been married, and a Shaman! I heard jackpot bells! And to add to all of that, just like me, he was born in Michigan (Grand Rapids). However, he’s been in California for most of his life.

I thought, but did not text:
“Cha- Ching! Jackpot for me!!! OMG, he’s perfect!”

From the text conversation I could tell that he was highly intelligent, conscious, and spiritual – all things that I not only admire, but need in my life- always.

The next day he texted me while I was at work, and suggested that we go get coffee or a smoothie or something. Since I was at work, I couldn’t. So I asked him to come to the store and get coffee, “…so I can see you”. He responded with a grinning emoji and agreed, and said that he was coming from Long Beach. I told that was fine, and that I’d be there until 2:30.

So uhhh, yeah! I was excited! I would get to see him and talk to him person to person.

The last text that I got from him was at 10:43am, so as of 11:30, I began watching the clock. Probably every 15 minutes my head would swivel to the right hoping to see that hat, that ponytail, and those beautiful labradorite eyes!

He showed up at around noonish. I saw him walk in. I can imagine that my entire face lit up! Even with half of it being hidden by a mask. When he came into the cafe, I walked from around the counter and gave him a hug. I don’t think he was expecting that, and honestly, I’m surprised that I had the nerve. It’s not that I’m a nervous person, but he made me nervous. He made me care about things that I ordinarily wouldn’t. How he saw me was, and still is, important.

We talked as much as we could between customers, and I noticed quite a bit of nervous awkwardness. So I joked, “I guess we’re getting the awkward part out of the way”. We laughed. There was also another obstacle/ hindrance/ annoyance, my coworker, Jeff. Jeff and I love each other to life, but we have a very “Fred and Esther” relationship. Our main purpose for coming to work isn’t the money, it’s to antagonize each other.

Jeff kept interfering. I’m sure I had asked him had he ever seen Rich before, back when I hadn’t met him – but maybe I didn’t. At any rate, he was being his normal lovingly obnoxious self. And as always, he ended his tirade with an insult for people from Michigan, and accused me of being from Auburn Hills. “I’m from Saginaw!” I yelled back to him as he walked away.

I apologized to Rich and explained to him that this is just how Jeff and I play around (while secretly hoping that Jeff would run into something sharp. Just kidding…maybe). And I also secretly hoped that he didn’t think we “liked” each other, mostly because “ewwww” that would be like “liking” a relative.

AHHHH! There It Is…. The Catch.

Rich and I continued to talk, as much as we could between customers. I asked him if he lives in West LA, and did he just move there. I had been working out there for a while and pretty much knew the area, and had never seen him. He told me that he lives up north…about 11 hours away. And that he had been to Arizona to visit his parents and was in LA to see some other relatives, and was heading for Vegas next. My thoughts on this:

DAMN! I knew there was a catch! 11 hours away… Why did he even come back to see me and give me his number. Surely I can’t up and travel 11 hours up north all “willy nilly”. Damn…

I responded, “wow. That’s far…. Are you going back up north when you leave Vegas? How long are you staying in Vegas? When are you leaving?”. I was trying to at least spend some time with him since I might never see him again. This made me sad. He told me that he’d only be in Vegas for a few days and was coming back to LA for a few days.

Me: cool! Then hopefully we can get together and do something before you leave. I wish you didn’t live so far away, but maybe I can fly out sometime. How often are you in LA?

Rich: not much. But you can go back up north with me.
Me: (locking eyes with him again) that might not be a bad idea… But I’m interviewing for a new job that pays pretty well. I can’t leave.
Rich: you can get a job up north.
(And he looked so serious!!!)

Customers kept interfering, so I asked him if he would meet me outside in a few minutes when I go on break. He agreed and I watched him walk out.

As I tended to customers, I kept asking myself: “did this man just offer to take me up north to live with him? And, did I just say that might not be a bad idea? And was I serious? YES! Do I think he’s serious? YES! Oh my God, what’s happening?”

I was snapped out of my trance by the sound of the walkie talkie. My manager was paging me to tell me that my break would be late.

FUDGE! You’re kidding. You HAVE to be kidding.

I accepted that. What else could I do? And, because I was at the register, I couldn’t even text him that I’d be late. DAMN!

About 15 minutes later, I got my 15 minute break. I flew up the stairs to get out of my Whole Foods apron, and then flew back down the stairs, slalomed my way through customers, and ran out the front door. At first, I looked on the sidewalk to my right, where lots of people like to stand. He wasn’t there. I looked around, I texted him- no answer. I guessed that he got tired of waiting and left. And I didn’t blame him. Maybe he’s driving and can’t answer the text. Either way, I missed out. I acquiesced, tucked in my tail and went back upstairs.

A couple minutes later, I got a succession of texts from him. Somehow, I didn’t get his texts. He told me he was outside. So I repeated the same process as before, and ran outside. I got another text, “ I’m in the far corner of the front parking lot “. By now, I had 2 minutes left. I would have stayed longer and broke my break, but I had done that too many times. I hugged him again, and he introduced me to his dog, Kokoro (Koko). We talked briefly, but it was still kind of awkward.

Rich: I feel electricity when you’re around.
Me: really? (I’m sure I was blushing 😊 )

We planned to get together on the upcoming Saturday, when he’s back from Vegas. We’d discuss the details later. I hugged Koko and then hugged him again and headed back to work. I kept thinking, damn… he can’t leave…

I walked back up the stairs, slowly put my Whole Foods apron back on, walked down the stairs, let management know that I was back, and then proceeded to the cafe. Floating on air, but missing him, and disappointed that our visit was cut short. When I got back to my register, my phone vibrated. There was a text from Rich. I’m not supposed to pull my phone out at work. However, if one of my kids call, I voluntarily make an exception. I had seen Rich three times, and already he was getting familial privileges! I read his text:

I want to run my fingers thru your hair”
“Standing nx to you feels like soft electricity

I had to make a deal with my knees to hang in there for a few more hours, because they were weak! I clutched my stomach.

Silent prayer:

Dear God,

Why did you send me this man who lives so far away, and I might never see him again. I need to know him. I feel like he needs to be in my life. I feel like I’m supposed to be there.

Oh my. This is quite the conundrum.

To be continued…

Gratitude: The Beginning of A Beautiful Story

How it all started…

When things were yet again falling apart, I didn’t get upset the last time. I figured that there must’ve been a reason for it. So I sat tight, accepted that that was the current situation- but only the current situation. I held myself accountable for the parts that was my fault. I didn’t rely on my strength entirely. Instead, I looked around at what was in tact. I had friends, I was employed, I worked with people who gave a damn about me, and I gave a damn about them. My customers loved me and looked forward to seeing me. I was still in the place that I’ve always wanted to live in. Although I wasn’t comfortable, I was provided with a safety net that prevented me from homelessness- and I’m forever grateful for that.

I didn’t pout. I didn’t complain. No “woe is me/ why me” attitude. I didn’t try, in vain, to build myself into a super being of strength. However, I used the two superpowers that I had at the time: the power to count my blessings and the power of realization. So everyday I displayed that even in peril, I am grateful for what I have. By doing this, strangers gave me love in a plethora of ways. I felt great that I could brighten other people’s day as they had for me. I gave love to LA, and LA gave it back. I kept that vibe going by using that superpower: the power of counting my blessings.

It’s my belief that by doing that, my 2nd superpower was activated: the power of realization. Knowing it when I’d see it- but more importantly, feeling it before I saw it. And that’s when life changed… a lot….


One thing I can say about Whole Foods is that when management notices a persons strong points, they’ll utilize that to the fullest. Since I’m a super Virgo, accuracy, efficiency, and speed is my game. With this being the case, I was pretty much put in charge of the cafe. I was good at getting folks in and out, having a good time with my customers, and then getting them the hell out! Lol!!!

Working in that area, I quickly became acquainted with my coworkers who worked in nearby departments. We’re sort of a clique. So, when that area is slow, we all congregate and chat. On this particular Saturday, it was rather slow. I was chatting with my coworker, Sam, with my back turned to the rest of the store. I could tell by the look on Sam’s face that someone had walked in, but I didn’t look. I figured that he’d tell me if he saw that they needed help, so we kept chatting. Minutes later, he said “he’s ready to check out”, so I turned around to go back to the register.

When I got to the register, there was this tall guy with very, very long hair, standing there in a hat. He was buying sushi. I felt something…odd. I can’t really explain it in words, but when I looked at him, the whole world stopped. There was this very strong eye contact- but I didn’t see his eyes, I looked through them and saw what I now believe was his true self. The real him.

I can’t remember what we said to each other, but I’m sure there was some sort of banter. I rang him up, handed him his change (all while still entranced with the eye contact). And eventually, he walked out. As he walked out, we maintained the eye contact, and my eyes and head swiveled as he walked out. I watched him leave until I no longer saw him. I had NEVER done anything like that. In fact, I make fun of people who do things like that! But there I was, doing it.

After he had faded from my sight, I felt empty and sad. As if whatever energy I had that day, he had taken it with him.

Working in the cafe, I pretty much know my customers, they’re mostly regulars. Those that I don’t know, someone else from that or a nearby department knows. Since I had never seen this guy before, I was worried that I might not see him again. My coworker, Bebe walked by me as she pushed a cart of pastries to put on display.

Me: Bebe! Have you ever seen that guy before? The one who just walked out.
Bebe: the one with the eyes?
Me: all of our customers have eyes, Bebe. I mean…. don’t most of our customers have eyes?
Bebe: No! I mean he had pretty eyes.
Me: (thinking of all the eye contact that was just made seconds ago) I didn’t notice his eyes, but he was wearing a hat and had a long braid, like to his butt.
Bebe: yeah. He’s the one with the pretty eyes! I saw him, but I’ve never seen him here before.

Bebe kept moving, and I went back to work as usual. I felt shaken. Something in the universe was definitely different- even if only on those moments. I hoped he would come back. Seeing him couldn’t just be happenstance, especially since he seemed to be as awed and as floored as I was. He felt something too! Had to have! Clearly there had to be a reason, because things like that don’t happen to me.

I collected myself as best I could, and I finished my day.

…and then he came back.

The next day was Sunday, and I was off that day. However, the beautiful stranger stayed on my mind- even at my FAVORITEST place, Venice Beach. I had gone to the beach with a friend on that Sunday. And although I didn’t say a word about it I was kinda consumed with wonder and excitement.

Who was that guy?
Will I see him again?
I sure hope so….

The following day, Monday, found me at work and in my regular spot. I worked a mid shift that day so I got there at around noon. It was kinda busy so I didn’t get to talk much to Bebe. By the time things had temporarily settled, Bebe was bidding me “goodbye” for the day, and Sam was now there. I went over to the juice bar to kick it with Sam, and I asked him had he seen the guy with the long braid before. He said he knew who I was talking about, but no, he had never seen him before. He asked why I asked. My response: “becuzzzzzzzzz…… blushing”. We laughed.

Later, I’m not sure how much later (and I guess that really doesn’t matter to the story anyway), the store wasn’t busy, just steady. I looked to my right, and lo and behold, who did I see? He smiled and waved at me, I smiled and waved at him. We were both wearing masks, but I knew he was smiling. I said to myself as he walked past, “he came back to see me!”. Then, I looked over at Sam and said, “he came back to see me!!!”.

I had a line at that point, but I still watched him at the sushi bar. And now and then, I’d see Sam laughing and making fun of me. All while these things are going on, I’m silently praying:

Dear God,
Please let him come on to me. Let him ask for my phone number! PLEASE!!!! I’m too scared to shoot my shot at him. He’s gotta make the first move. Thank you in advance!

I saw him get in line. I became a bit giddy and nervous. As he got closer, I prayed harder:


Then finally it was his turn in line. He smiled and spoke. I smiled back and spoke. Then I thought, “DAMN! He does have beautiful eyes! How the hell did I miss that?”. And the energy that he brought on the first day was definitely still there. I was awed!

I rang his buy. He said:

I didn’t really want the sushi.
Me: then why did you buy it?
He: I wanted to see you.
Me: well, you should have just come to see me.
He: I wanna give you my phone number
Me: (hands him pen and paper…and thanks God!) I wanna take your phone number.
He: (pulls out small piece of paper) I already wrote it down.

SMOOOOOTH! Like Billy Dee Williams, Lady Sings The Blues smooth!

I took the paper from him and asked his name. “Rich” he said.”Rich, I’m Brandi (pointing to name tag).

Rich: I hope to hear from you soon.
Me: you’ll hear from me tonight.

He smiled a big smile (as his mask fell a little). And I smiled back and watched him leave again. After he was gone from sight, I felt giddy, nervous, anxious, excited. I felt myself grinning- HARD!!! As I began to ring the items of the woman who stood in line after him. I looked at her and said, “did you see that? Did you hear that?”

To be continued…

“I now believe in love at first sight. Especially after it’s happened to me.”

~ Shefali Zariwala

Maybe We’re Crazy…

Image result for Gnarls barkley Crazy

My Tribute To Gnarles Barkley’s “Crazy” (as it pertains to my journey).

I remember the first time I went to Venice Beach after moving to Los Angeles. At that point, I didn’t know anyone in town, and I was more or less a loner. But this was Los Angeles, pre Covid-19. Anything that I could possibly imagine to do could be done in “The City of Angels“.

Whenever I’d visit Los Angeles, prior to moving here, Venice Beach was always my favorite place . So on this particular day, I decided to go to the beach by myself and spend the day there.

My Lyft dropped me off on Rose Street in Venice. The first thing I saw was the Pacific Ocean. In my opinion, the Pacific Ocean is the most soothing body of water on the planet. Even with all of the beautiful craziness that is found on the boardwalk, Venice Beach is the most beautiful place in the world, to me.

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Nathan Pino

Before visiting the water, I walked along the boardwalk looking for nothing in particular. I saw people on roller skates, bicycles — even one guy on a unicycle! People in costumes (or maybe not costumes), musicians (like Nathan Pino — the Venice Piano Man), artists, poets — it was like a 24-7 carnival. There were people who lived in tents who made their living by selling their artwork, sculptures, jewelry, oils — many things. And each had at least a short line of people who were interested in their work — whether they’d buy anything or not — people were interested. I saw restaurants, boutiques, and marijuana dispensaries. But mostly, I saw smiling faces. Everyone there was happy. They seemed to have that one measure of happiness that most of us either take for granted, or simply don’t count as happiness. It was very pure. I appreciate that about Venice Beach to this day.

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Venice Beach is an entire vibe of its own. I call it the “Hippie Haven”. The people of the beach don’t care about fashion or style. It’s the most “come as you are” place in the world (sans Amsterdam… perhaps…). There is no judgement.

During this visit, I spent hours window shopping while walking up and down the boardwalk and talking with some of the vendors. Now and then, I’d look to my right to see the ocean. The sky, the water and the sun would meet and create the most beautiful shade of blue that I had ever seen. EUPHORIC! I didn’t need anyone to be there with me. In fact, a guest would have only served to be a distraction. I had arrived! I had found my bohemian paradise. To me, these were the “beautiful people”.

I took a seat on a bench and “people watched” for a while. Before long, my mind had wandered to some of the negative feedback that I had gotten about my seemingly impromptu move across the country all by myself. Maybe the term “negative feedback” is a bit extreme for some of the things that were said both to, and about me. I believe, or perhaps would like to believe that some things were said by people who were genuinely concerned for my well being in a place where I’d essentially be all alone. After all, Los Angeles is a big city whose reputation proceeds it. It can be a very dangerous place, and I am a person from a very small town. This was a very big step to take alone. As far those whose concern was authentic and came from a place of love, I am grateful. However, there were also those whose words did not come from a place of love, but rather, a place of condescension. Those people either doubted me completely, or halfway wanted me to fail. This would only fuel my ambition and motivate me to make this move work by any means necessary.

While sitting on that bench on the boardwalk, I decided that the way I felt right then/ right there would always be all the motivation that I would ever need. And anytime that I would doubt my ability to make life in Los Angeles work, I would remember that day, that moment, and that feeling.

Image result for venice beach It's sugar
It’s Sugar, Venice Beach

Eventually, I got up from the bench and continued to walk the boardwalk. I’d soon approach this big loud store on Ocean Front Walk called “It’s Sugar“. “It’s Sugar” is a candy store. I don’t eat candy so I hadn’t planned on going into the store. But from looking through the window, it’s doubtful that there’s any candy in the world that “It’s Sugar” does not carry. Even though I don’t eat candy, I thought it was a pretty cool store.

The best thing (to me) about this store is that there’s always loud music blasting from it. I can’t remember what was playing as I approached the store and gazed through the window. But I remember that I as started to walk past the store, “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley began to play — and I stood there frozen. I had heard this song hundreds of times, and I’ve always loved it. However, I think that was the first time I had ever really LISTENED to the song. I didn’t move a muscle until the song ended. I spent the rest of my beach visit replaying the song in my head, partially in a daze.

Image result for venice beach muscle beach

Finally, I had made it past Muscle Beach (of course, I had to walk past Muscle Beach) and found a place by the water. I sat in the damp sand, close enough to get my feet wet. I pulled my phone out, opened Apple Music, put my earbuds in, and played Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”. I read the lyrics as I listened to the song, and I felt myself smiling. As the song played, my smile grew. CONFIRMATION! CeeLo Green was talking to me. He was telling me about myself, as well as those who were against me. He was arming me with my truth, and giving a testimony of my own bravery. He sang a high five, a fist bump, and a “right on” to me. CeeLo had explained me to myself better than anyone else ever had — therapists, family, friends, or even myself. He described some of the people in my life as though he had known them.

This was indeed a moment of clarity for me. Etymologizing this song empowered me.

My Interpretation of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”, As It Pertains To My Move To Los Angeles

Verse 1:

I remember when
I remember, I remember when I lost my mind
There was something so pleasant about that place
Even your emotions have an echo in so much space
And when you’re out there without care
Yeah, I was out of touch
But it wasn’t because I didn’t know enough
I just knew too much

Does that make me crazy
Does that make me crazy
Does that make me crazy

One day in June of 2019, I purchased a oneway plane ticket from Nashville, Tennessee (BNA) to Los Angeles, California (LAX). I had been planning on making this move at some point in 2019 for several months. However, I had not set an affirmative date. I didn’t have much money — definitely not enough to move to one of the most expensive cities in the country. But I did have enough to purchase a plane ticket. I didn’t insure the ticket, and by not doing that, I ensured that I was really going to do this. This was my insurance that I would follow my dream of living on the West Coast.

I had been living in middle Tennessee for almost ten years, and I never liked living there. Even though I had most of the things that is necessary to provide a comfortable life for my family and myself. I had a nice apartment, a relatively good job with options for upward mobility, a decent vehicle — it was certainly a comfortable life as far things appearing to be the way they’re supposed to be. Anyone who’d look at my situation would have assumed that things were “alright”, and they were. But for me personally, it wasn’t enough. I was unhappy. It was never that I couldn’t force myself to fit into the conformity of The South, and make that life work for me. It was that I knew better. Even when I’d try to convince myself otherwise, something inside of me kept telling me that I’d never be happy in Tennessee. So I left… with pretty much nothing. Thus far, I don’t regret it.

Q: Does leaving everything that I worked to acquire, as well as the people that I love the most, and starting over in a place where it would be extremely difficult to reacquire that which I had left behind, simply because I believed that I would be happier make me crazy?

A: Possibly…

Image result for venice beach roller skaters

Verse 2:

And I hope that you are having the time of your life
But think twice, that’s my only advice
Come on now, who do you, who do you, who do you
Who do you think you are
Ha ha ha, bless your soul
You really think you’re in control

I think you’re crazy
I think you’re crazy
I think you’re crazy
Just like me

Many people couldn’t fathom how I could make a knee jerk decision and throw caution to the wind, and move across the country without a real plan. They couldn’t understand why I didn’t at least try to transfer my job. When I’ d say that I didn’t want to go to California with Tennessee dirt on my shoes, those people couldn’t understand that it really meant that I wanted a completely fresh start. This move was a hard reset for me. It was imperative that I did not bring anything to Los Angeles that made me unhappy in Tennessee. I knew it would be difficult, but I felt that it would be worth any of the obstacles that could present themselves.

Plenty of people expected me to fall on my face and come running back to Tennessee. Most likely, those are the same people who suggested that I wait until I had more [money] to work with, or at least able to secure better accommodations. I’m not saying that those are bad suggestions. In fact, it made sense to me then as well as now. However, I knew that if I had waited, I would never have made the trek.

While I definitely understand and respect the idea of being “safe”, having life’s essentials, and working to support that measure of comfort, it’s very easy to become complacent in that role. And before you know it, wanting more, or following a dream — even a perhaps foolish dream, takes a backseat to reality; eventually becoming a dream deferred. I didn’t want that for myself. I knew better. I felt that my personal happiness was worth taking a chance on failure.

Inside of the shell of “doing what we have to do” to support the life that we have (not necessarily want), we are not in control of our lives — we’re actually BEING controlled. Albeit, I’ve chosen the path with the most obstacles, I’ve been holding the reins for the entire ride.

Maybe it really is crazy to make a giant leap without really knowing what I’d land in. But so is settling and never giving that which your heart truly desires a chance. If that’s you, then you’re crazy… just like me.

Verse 3:

My heroes had the heart to lose their lives out on the limb
And all I remember is thinking I want to be like them
Ever since I was little
Ever since I was little it looked like fun
And it’s no coincidence I’ve come
And I can die when I’m done

I’ve always looked up to people who walk against traffic. I’ve been called “weirdo”, “strange”, “off”, “nerd”, and the like for as long as I can remember. I’m not offended by it because it takes an amazing amount of bravery to be any of those things. It takes virtually no bravery to fit in with society.. So, people like: Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Assata Shakur, Prince, James Brown, Erykah Badu, Betty Davis, & Amy Winehouse have always been my heroes. They accomplished their goals by creating molds rather than putting energy into fitting into molds. They’d rather fail — or even die — than conform to that which they did/do not believe in. Even at the risk of being criticized, ostracized, ignored, or assassinated.

As I discussed in “Feeling Good About You“, I went through a phase where I thought I needed to fit in. That phase was nearly detrimental. Having heroes who were trendsetters (so to speak) rather than followers of trends have had a tremendous impact on me.

The idea of risking everything to achieve this goal was damn near erotic to me — and it still is. When I’m taking a run and I see the “Hollywood Sign“, or when I run through a row of palm trees, when I go to the beach to digress, or see an amazing sunset, I feel great! I feel liberated. The risk was worth the reward.

Image result for hollywood sign

I didn’t come to Los Angeles with dreams of stardom. I came to LA as a 44 year old grandmother with the heart of a high school senior. I had no idea of what would be next for me here. I only knew that I wanted to be like my heroes. I knew that I wanted to be someone else’s hero. I wanted to be that person of reference when the next person decides to become “crazy” enough to follow their heart and do that one thing that they thought was a pipe dream.

Everyone has a childhood dream, and most people never realize said dream. I remember sitting at Mama Doll and Granddaddy’s (my paternal grandparents) kitchen table, eating oatmeal and watching “The Price Is Right” . During the station break, the announcer , Rod Roddy, would extend an invitation for viewers to come to Los Angeles and see the show, or become a contestant. Whenever he’d state the address, I’d say to myself, “I’m gonna live there one day” (side note: I live about two miles from where the show was shot, at Fairfax and Beverly! I jog past CBS studio often). It took me somewhere within the realm of 40 years, but I live here. And I’ve never been happier!

It’s not a coincidence, it’s a manifestation. Regardless of what happens thus and forward — even if I’ve “lost my life out on a limb”, I took a chance. I accomplished a goal, and no one can ever take that away. Most importantly, I’m pleased with myself. I’m having a ball! And if I were to die during this journey, I’d find solace in knowing that I was “crazy” enough to accomplish what most are too afraid, or close minded to even try. My life would be a testimony — not a dream deferred, or a cautionary tale. I could certainly rest in peace.

In Conclusion…

Your dream might differ from mine. Maybe it’s more strenuous, maybe it’s less strenuous. Whatever it is, don’t give up on it!

Before I purchased that oneway ticket to Los Angeles, I had a conversation with an elderly woman. I’ll never forget the last thing that she said to me:

“You don’t want to be on your deathbed thinking about all of the things that you wanted to do but didn’t. Because by then, it’s too late”.

That sentence prompted me to take action.

But maybe I’m crazy
Maybe you’re crazy
Maybe we’re crazy

A dream deferred is a dream denied.”
~Langston Hughes

Kanye West vs. Chrisette Michele

What’s up everyone! Yes, I’ve been away for a while, as I am still getting acclimated to my new surroundings.  Things are going swell and I am adjusting well.  I plan to get back to blogging regularly very soon.

I was recently sent this article, the author is a really good friend of mine. His name is Buddy Mathis, and he has a blog called “Brilliance Proper” (click the hyperlink) and he has several brilliant articles.  I was very impressed with this article in particular because of its expressed view of the dichotomy of the way we view male/female celebrities, as well as how we generally give a pass to male celebrities (even in the most atrocious offenses), and are much less tolerant with female celebrities.  It’s interesting.  I even found myself guilty of this very crime.

Check this article out and then go look at his site.  You can thank me later.

Kanye West vs. Chrisette Michele

Back when physical media was still prevalent, I used to read album credits and liner notes for every single album I purchased multiple times over, staring at just about any albums credits I liked for hours while the music played. I could tell you the real names of damn near every rapper and singer, the names of their publishing companies, where songs were recorded and, of course, who produced every song I listened to. This is where I was introduced to Kanye West back in the late 90”s. Being a fan of Mase I purchased the Harlem World group album and the first actual song after the intro was a dope song called “You Made Me” featuring Carl Thomas and Nas produced by some guy named Kanye West (which I thought for a while was pronounced “Kane.”) From there I got the Jermaine Dupri album Life in 1472and the first song on there as well as “Turn It Out” featuring Nas. At that point I was looking for him as somebody who had quality material in 1998 and I wasn’t disappointed when I bought The Madd Rapper’s album “Tell ‘Em Why You Mad” in ‘99 and the song “Stir Crazy” featuring Eminem came blaring through my speakers as well spots on albums from Foxy Brown and Lil’ Kim. I even bought the Infamous Syndicate album and first heard him produce and rap on “What You Do To Me.”

From there I caught a lot of his underground material on mixtapes in the early 2000s and download eras. Some of my favorite songs from him were never properly placed on albums like “Eyes Closed” and “Is That Your Car.” One of my favorite beats is a song called “Philly Niggas” which he produced for Freeway and Beanie Sigel that was strictly for mixtapes. Jeanius Level Musik 1 and 2 are some of my favorite mixtapes in general and I made sure to purchase the first 3 Kanye West albums on the Tuesday they dropped as well as My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. It’s fair to say I was a die-hard Kanye fan for a good decade or so and knew his material inside and out and don’t even get me started on his production for other artists that blew my mind on a regular basis. We could be here a while.

And yet, I couldn’t get down with 808’s and Heartbreak, which, to me, was his first big misstep musically. I still cannot listen to that album as I was never a fan of auto-tune by any artist and didn’t really like any T-Pain songs either. I personally edited the song “Swagger Like Us” to remove the verses from Kanye and Lil’ Wayne for that very reason and if anyone plays it in front of me they wonder why I know Jay and T.I.’s verses word for word and stare blankly while the other two play. I’ve literally only heard them once before I removed them. MBDTF brought me back into the fold, especially with the G.O.O.D. Friday rollout which I’ve compiled into its own compilation. After that came Watch The Throne which is still a fantastic listen and from there is where my fandom for Kanye took a turn.

I reluctantly purchased Yeezus and listened to it in my car on the way to work the same way I did College Dropout on my first listen. For the second time I heard Kanye overstep his musical boundaries and regretted listening to one of his projects. And while I was never the type to take his words as gospel or thought he was infallible, that album gave me pause on everything that was going on with his mindset and being more critical of his decisions. You could tell that people were refusing to tell him ‘no’ and even the ones who might be able to reach him were failing. It’s no secret that Kanye has publicly discussed his issues with mental health (this is important for later) but just because you deal with a very serious issue doesn’t mean you should be able to run around untethered and beyond reproach.

Enter: Chrisette Michele.

Chrisette Michele Payne is a talented, Black, soul singer who caught our attention in 2007 with her song “If I Have My Way” and her debut album on Def Jam, I Am. Production and writing included Babyface, Will.I.Am, Salaam Remi and John Legend on top of co-writing every single song herself. The same year she collaborated with Nas on his song “Can’t Forget About You” and the year before sang the hook for the Jay-Z song “Lost One.” Her second album Epiphany dropped in 2009 and in its first week hit number 1 on the Billboard 200 with production and writing from Darkchild and Ne-Yo. And I don’t mean to bring up so many of these people to discredit her own talent. On the contrary, I believe that so many heavy hitters worked with her due to the fact that she is so immensely talented. All of the aforementioned names don’t just show up out of nowhere, they work with quality. I don’t think Babyface has ever shown up on a debut album of someone we don’t consider a legend now.

While never hitting the superstardom heights of Kanye West, Chrisette had a very respectable career. No one would ever doubt her talent for writing or her voice and every album included a standout that we would consider a standard. “If I Have My Way,”Be OK,” “Epiphany (I’m Leaving),” “Blame It On Me,” and “A Couple of Forevers” have been endlessly quoted and played but never really played out. Each song and many more are a testament to what she’s brought to not only soul music but Black culture. Even without the sales, the Grammy-winning singer was always known to deliver quality in her work. Something that has always been consistent to this day. Well…at least until we collectively stopped talking about her due to the Trump inauguration ceremony.

When Trump was elected, nobody in their right mind (and for good reason) wanted any part of performing at his inauguration. The country was divided and the fact that he was elected with 3 million less votes broke a lot of people’s faith in the electoral college and voting in general. Countless artists were invited to perform and just about all of them turned the offer down. Chrisette Michele, however, not only accepted the invitation but also justified her reasoning in the face of adversity leading up to the actual performance. But she wasn’t going in as a Trump supporter, she was going in as a “bridge,” she stated, between the two sides of the aisle. She hadn’t voted for him but she was willing to sing a song wearing African adorned pieces and…she wasn’t alone.

Here’s where this story starts to get messy. While people have criticized Chrisette for performing, most don’t even realize that, a) it wasn’t a solo performance and, b) she didn’t even perform her own song. She performed a song called “Intentional” with gospel singer Travis Greene and his choir. Yet when this faux pas is brought up it’s made to seem as though she went on solo with no purpose in mind. Was it misguided? Absolutely. But she wasn’t alone to blame for this. In the aftermath, Chrisette’s career was just about over, and her fan base, while not always massive, just about abandoned her entirely. Concerts she’s held in over 2 years since have had dismal attendance and her 2018 album Out Of Control was pretty much ignored by everyone.

And Travis Greene? The same year of the performance he released an album that shot to number 1 on the gospel charts, won 7 of the 9 Stellar awards he was nominated for and 1 of 3 Billboard awards he was nominated for. He has a new project due out soon and when write-upsdie-hard are done promoting his new music, Trump never comes up. Contrast that with Chrisette who, whenever anything is released, Trump is always referenced. Her last album, released in 2018, explored themes about things that she had learned in the time since the performance including a moving track called “Black Lives Matter” where she directly addresses detractors of the movement. Instead of this becoming a new anthem, people don’t even know it exists and won’t give her the chance, even though she’s acknowledged the mistake that was made and is trying to create more career-defining music. Even the critics agree that the quality of her work hasn’t slipped a bit, only her exposure has.

So with all of this said, why are people still giving Kanye West a pass? Kanye was mostly silent through the election and its aftermath but when he popped up, he never truly stopped, praising Trump at almost every turn, stating that he loves his “dragon energy” and meeting Trump face-to-face (something Chrisette never did.) He’s met with Trump at least twice publicly and his wife worked with Trump to release Alice Johnson from prison. Kanye regularly wears and references his Make America Great Again hat in song and, honestly, isn’t making great music anymore. The rollout to The Life of Pablo was a mess, to say the least and the music was hit-or-miss on an overly long album. The weekly release of 7 song albums from himself, Pusha T, Teyanna Taylor, Nas, and Kids See Ghosts produced a spotty-at-best list of tracks that only proved that he was running on E trying to force out material instead of sitting with it. Meanwhile, his rhetoric got worse regarding Trump and spilled the infamous “slavery was a choice” line while also being confronted by Van Lathan at the TMZ offices. He’s been espousing his non-researched and dangerous views with reckless abandon and in the face of all of this Trump support he’s……still getting mainstream interviews, press and high anticipation for the album that just dropped with everyone talking about his new direction. Huh?

I keep hearing this argument about his mental issues causing these outbursts and that he’s still reeling from his mothers’ death years ago. I’m sorry to say, I think that this argument is complete bullshit. I’ve told friends in the past that this isn’t some version of him that never existed or manifested because of his mother. Remember, I’ve been a Kanye fan since before people knew you could be a fan of the guy from the Infamous Syndicate album. I’ve watched his rise in painstaking detail and while it’s disappointing to see this turn, it’s not a complete surprise. In 2004 on College Dropout, the song “Get ‘Em High” includes the line, “Why you think me and Dame [Dash] cool?/We ASS-holes.” Kanye has never been humble and has always been attracted to people with that same “dragon energy.” Kanye’s love of Trump isn’t his mental health getting the best of him, it’s Kanye getting the best of Kanye. And people have mothers that die that affect them greatly and it’s a pain I don’t think ever goes away, especially since I know that he feels partially responsible under the circumstances. But it’s been about 12 years since that happened and I don’t think that it has anything to do with his views now regarding slavery and Trump. I think the world likes to give him a pass because…he’s a man.

Cancel culture hasn’t worked on any man but it definitely worked on a Black woman named Chrisette Michele.

Cancel culture (which I don’t fully feel is an actual movement, despite people getting mad about it) is, in theory, supposed to hold people accountable for their actions and misdeeds. It’s supposed to say, “Hey, we can’t give you money or press again until you fix what’s wrong with you.” Yet this never seems to be the case. Travis Greene, as we can see, is thriving after his Trump performance. Kanye West is getting nothing but press, interviews, and streams for his new album. Steve Harvey, who met with Trump after the election, has TV and radio shows currently in rotation. Louis C.K. is about to start touring again and has appeared at quite a few appearances. R. Kelly still (somehow) has supporters that think he’s been framed. People still think Bill Cosby was either set up or didn’t warrant getting locked up at his advanced age. No one really wants to cancel their male figures. Hell, even Harvey Weinstein was recently invited out to an event and when the women complained, they were kicked out for speaking up about an alleged serial rapist being in their presence while several men took up for him because…Good Will Hunting?

I’m not going to be listening to the new Kanye West album or probably any album of his going forward. He’s done marvelous things for modern culture and influenced at least 2 different generations with his music, fashion, and outspoken opinions. For better or worse, Kanye has left an indelible mark on our world. But past goodwill doesn’t merit ongoing admiration and I don’t think he’ll ever learn to do better. I will, however, have the Chrisette Michele discography on rotation to get familiar with her work again including that new album. Maybe I’ll be one of the few to give her another chance and that’s fine, but I feel that if the monsters are able to avoid cancellation the least we could do is renew Chrisette for another season.


Buddy Mathis can be found on Facebook as well as on his blog website Brilliance Proper

To check out his work, is to treat yourself to something really nice! 


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Discovering Your Happy Place

The Definition of Freedom Is An Individual Understanding

Image result for venice beach

One of my favorite places in Los Angeles is Venice Beach.  That area is pretty much an amalgamation of every culture and subculture that you can imagine.  I call it the “Hippie Haven” because the people who live and work on Venice Beach are so free.  They carry themselves as though the don’t have a worry in the world. Maybe they don’t.Image result for venice beach boardwalk nathan pino

As I stroll the boardwalk, I see a multitude of of vendors selling their wares.  T-shirts, art, hand made jewelry, food, blankets, massages, and all kinds of oddities.  There is not much that you can’t find on Venice Beach.  I can’t forget to mention the skateboarders, Muscle Beach, and the musicians.  You have to stop, if only for a few seconds, and listen to Nathan Pino, who has been playing piano on the beach for years.  It’s a very colorful place and the vibe is awesome.  However, the best part of Venice Beach is the Pacific Ocean! It’s the most calming scene that I have ever experienced.  It provides the backdrop for this colorful Hippie Haven

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When walking amongst the people on the boardwalk, you’d probably think that some of them are in costume, but they’re not.  They’re very comfortable with who they are; that kind of freedom is enviable. Most of the beach people that I spoke to had amazing stories about who they are, what they do, and how they got there.  Some of them are homeless and actually live on the beach.  Some threw caution to the wind, went for it and moved to Los Angeles on a whim, like I did.  Many of them live in cars and vans.  Regardless of their stories, the all seem very happy and without restraint.  Every time I go there I am amazed by the lifestyles of the beach people.

While sitting in the sand on the beach, I found balance and my vibe was restored. I was overwhelmed with peace.  As I mentioned in Finding Your Inner Strength, upon landing at LAX a couple of weeks ago, I was uptight, agitated, I had a false sense of reality, and I was pretty mean, impatient, and bitchy.  But when I sat in the sand by the water, I saw myself and the image that I was projecting — it wasn’t me.  I was familiar with that person because I had worked really hard to make her go away.  Because I had stepped away from the things that kept me grounded, perhaps ignorantly believing that I could take a break from it and maintain my cool, that person who I worked so hard to make go away came back.  I saw all of that in the water.

I began to breathe slower and more deeply.  I could feel the calmness that I had allowed to escape me, come back.  I could smell the ocean.  I could feel it spray me.  I felt the wind sweep my face and hair.  I closed my eyes and continued to breathe deeply.  I inhaled life, and exhaled the negativity that I allowed back into my life by once again allowing other people to impede on my peace, and neglecting my rituals and regimens.  I could see the way I had been acting, and I was ashamed of it.  I also knew that I only have the power to make amends — not the power to change anyones mind.  I hold myself accountable for any pain, anguish, or bad energy that I’ve exuded onto anyone.

After a while of meditating by the water, I got up and started my trek back to the boardwalk.  The experience that I had by the water had brought tears to my eyes.  Add tears to my astigmatism, my vision was pretty blurred.  I could see colors and movement, but I couldn’t distinguish images.

Image result for venice beach boardwalk

The closer I got to the boardwalk, the better I could see (I could’ve remedied the vision situation by simply putting my glasses on.  I can only assume that The Source of all things needed me to step into that light and realize what was in front of me). As images became more clear, I was most fixated on the beach people, especially the vendors who were selling their own creations.  I thought about how much money they  might be making on the boardwalk; probably not much.  I bet there are days when they don’t sell a single thing, but when I look at them, they seem very happy.  They’re having the time of their lives while smiling, conversing, and fellowshipping with each other and people who are visiting the beach.  I could really dig it.  They’re not slaves to money,  the establishment, or some conformed way of life.  They have a level of wealth that most humans will never attain, one that money can’t buy.  They have so much happiness inside of them that it touches everyone who steps into their presence.  That’s living.  That’s REALLY living

.Image result for venice beach ocean

I strongly suggest that you find a beach, or some other body of water that you can go to and re-energize, or reinvigorate. You don’t have to go there everyday, just when you need to recharge.  There’s something about the water that makes everything alright.  It’s like a big hug from the Universe. The type of hug that leaves you with a feeling of empowerment.  Before I moved to Los Angeles, I would often watch the Venice Beach cam online, because, it gave me a feeling of serenity.  That feeling is multiplied by a zillion when I’m actually by the water.  If water is not your thing, that’s okay, but I urge you to find a happy place, a reprieve from those things that will leave your mind and soul congested.  The small amount of time that I spent at by the ocean was able to calm me down enough to see my flaws, what was missing, and what is beautiful about life — which is life!

If you don’t seek balance, you’ll remain unbalanced, and you will not receive harmony from the Universe.  You’ll only get what you project.  I’m living proof of that! #GOODORBAD

Love to the beach people.  I love their lives.  I wish you all the level of freedom, harmony, and happiness that you require and desire.

“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.”

~Joseph Campbell

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Finding Your Inner Strength

It Takes Strength To Be Strong

See the source image

I’ve been away from Afrologik for the last couple of weeks, and I apologize for that.  As I’ve written in former articles, I was in the process of moving to Los Angeles.  The weeks leading up to that transition kept me very busy (as I’m sure you all can imagine).  As of September 18, 2019, I am now a resident of Los Angeles, California! YAYYYY ME! Right? I don’t know…

False Expectations

In true Brandi form, I go into things with unrealistic expectations.  I expected that I’d hit the ground running in one of the biggest cities in the country. (I didn’t even know that I expected that until I noticed that I expected it.) That kind of mindset is a recipe for disaster, as I would find out.

I know better than to have expectations, but rather, take care of myself, always do my best, and remain true to myself.  As long as I do those things, I’ll never have to expect anything from anyone.  With that knowledge in tow, I still expected to land in California  — Los Angeles at that, and absorb sunshine, live in perfection, always have something to do, and people will gravitate to me (as they always have) instantly.  Why? Because I’m Brandi Badd Ass and that’s how I roll (snap!).  Yeah, so uhhh… Los Angeles was like, “Brandi who?”.

I’m a big girl.  I can climb the ladder one rung at a time, no problem, I got this.  I must have “this” because people keep telling me that I got “this“.  That many people cannot be wrong at the same time.  I had resources.  I had help… at least a little.  But I’m Brandi Badd Ass, and I don’t ask people for help.  Anyway, whenever I ask for help, I get frustration instead.  I asked for help once since being here and it went totally south.  “Okay, I get it.  I’m out here by myself, so I will just figure things out on my own.  Who needs humans? It’s not a big deal.  I can do this, I’ve done this before.  After all, I got “this“.

Getting Around/ Getting FrustratedImage result for los angeles traffic

I rented a vehicle and started spending time in different parts of town, while looking for work — mostly in the West Hollywood area because I like it over there and it would be a cool respite from where I’m living.  I’m not exactly in love with where I am currently living, but I am grateful for four walls and a ceiling.  Sometimes I’d ignore GPS so I would learn more about how to navigate in various areas.

Not having a job, not really having a car, not caring much for my current living arrangement, and I really, REALLY miss my kids, only made me more frustrated.  Since I had no way releasing said frustration, I’d isolate myself.  And eventually, I’d lash out at people that I care about and those who cares about me.  A very bad old habit that I thought I had kicked.  This was really bad because I never intend to hurt or anger anyone.  That hair trigger temper of mine has always been a personality flaw the source of a lot of heartache and pain for me.  Also, I’m in no position to lose resources.  “Okay, with all of that being a fact, I have to keep moving.  This move was a goal and a dream of mine, I have to see it through.  If I’ve lost a resource, I’ll have to get out here and find some new resources”. 

What Do You See When You See Me?

I spend a lot of time at a health food store and restaurant called “Simply Wholesome“.  That’s where the afro’s, dreadlocks, and conscious people hang out — that’s my kind of crowd! I met a few people there.  One is a guy who reminded me of a Black “Shaggy” from Scooby Doo.  EXTREMELY ANNOYING! (I think he might be a stoner).  He would also be the first person in LA that I had to check.  All of this happened during the less than half an hour I spent in his presence.  Another guy that I met there was cool, but he looked too much like someone that I had a bad experience with.  I couldn’t get past that. The next guy was super cool and I enjoyed talking to him, so I gave him my phone number.  That man called 7 times in less than an hour.  Needless to say that I blocked him.

When I go to Simply Wholesome, it’s not necessarily to meet guys, but to make friends with people that I share common interests with.  However, instead of people meeting me, they meet my hair — and that’s all they ever want to talk about (as if I never get tired of talking about my hair, or that I don’t have anything else to talk about.  Surely these people don’t think that they are the first people to ever speak on my hair, or that they have something unique to say about it.  But I digress). “Love the hair“, “Nice hair“, “Your hair is gorgeous“, “Rock that fro, girl“.  I say “Thank you” and “I only use coconut oil” about 20 times an hour.  I’ve actually considered having a t-shirt made that says “Thank you” on the front, and “I only use coconut oil” on the back.

Disheartened by that repeated reception, I started hanging out at the beach. (But I still hang out at Simply Wholesome often.  I like the vibe). I love the beach, and I love beach people.  They’re so relaxed, so cool, and so…enthralled with my hair.  DAMN! What is everyones fascination with hair? It’s HAIR! Why are people so easily impressed?

I began to feel as though I would be invisible were it not for my hair, and that doesn’t feel good.  Can you imagine being jealous of your own hair? I hope not.  Take it from me, it’s not a good feeling.  I started entertaining the idea of cutting it.  I don’t mean just to make it shorter, I mean shaving it all off and donating it to “Locks Of Love“.  This would force people to have deal with ME!  But there was one thing about that: I LOVE MY HAIR! I don’t mind that other people love it, but I just wish they would recognize and/or get to know the person underneath it.

One morning while laying in bed and trying to figure out my life, I sent a text message to one of my very best friends of about 30 years.  In this text, I basically bum rushed him with everything that I had been through in the past… 4 days.  I love, love, love, my friend, Chris, because he’s blatantly real.  And also, he doesn’t give a damn about hurting my feelings.  In response to my whining, Chris had this to say:

“You built the hair and made it you, now you’re sad about that.  You lost weight, now you’re sad about that.  You left Tennessee because you didn’t like it there, now you’re complaining.  I’ve got no sympathy for a woman who does what she wants, the way she wants all the time, yet complains about it.  Just be you and do what’s important”.

What could I say to that? Even though I know that every syllable of what he said is true, I still managed to return his message with some gibberish (that probably made no sense), mostly due to injured pride.  I did, however, take his words very seriously.  I even took a screenshot of that text, in case I need a reminder moving forward (even though I’m sure he’d be happy to check me again. LOL! Out of love.  Always out of love).

Putting Things Into Perspective

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So, I’ve been here for 11 days.  Around the 6th day, I thought about going back to Tennessee, but I stayed.  I’m still tripping over my own feet, making bad decisions, becoming unnecessarily emotional, and speaking ahead of thinking — but I’m still trying.  My living situation drains me of energy, and I often feel like NO ONE UNDERSTANDS! And then, I got a text message from a friend informing me that one of my favorite Facebook friends had passed away suddenly.  She had a serious health condition and she was aware that she didn’t have much time left on this planet.  She never shared this with anyone.  She had passed away days before her body was discovered in her apartment.  She was only 52 years old. I’ve been sick since receiving that text.  Even though we never physically met, we talked often and I considered her a true friend.  She was always supportive of anything that I was doing — especially moving to California.  She was supposed to come and visit me.

Losing my friend, and knowing the way she passed away, really put things in perspective.  The little things that I was complaining about were all futile.  Every bit of those things are completely fixable.  If I don’t particularly care for my living situation, save up and move or find another arrangement that I can afford.  If I miss my kids, get my shit together so they can come out and visit, or maybe even decide to stay.  If I can’t find a job, keep looking.  I’m bound to find something sooner than later if I’m persistent.  If people notice my hair first, find a way to make that work for me.  So, I haven’t met any new people, go out and introduce myself.  Mingle.  I do it on Facebook all the time.  I can certainly do it in real life.  Regardless of how things have gone historically, people will not always come to me, sometimes I’ll have to go to them.  And most of all:  STOP BURNING BRIDGES! Shut up sometimes. If my friend was strong enough to battle her illness in silence, knowing that the end was near, then I have nothing to complain about — ever.

Here’s Where I Fudged Up…

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I know and understand how things went south for me.  In preparing to move, I got caught up in making the necessary preparations for myself and my kids that I abandoned the things that kept me grounded.  I wasn’t meditating or chanting positive affirmations.  I had dropped all of the good habits that were working for me, replaced them with my old bad habits such as: being quick tempered and bratty, complaining, feeling as though no one understands, isolating myself, being judgmental, mean, and negative.  Because of all of this, I landed in Los Angeles a scared and nervous wreck.

When you find that thing which provides you with peace, never stray from it.  It’s like not taking all of an antibiotic.  If you don’t take it all, the infection will come back.  Negativity is an infection, and the antibiotic for it is not made from chemicals and unnatural substances — you don’t even have to pay for it.  Just believe that it’s already yours, and then act like you have it in your hand right now.  Pray to The Source of all things, and know that nothing happens by accident.  Everything happens for a reason, even if we never learn the reason.  Meditate to receive peace and to hear the answers that The Source has for you. Believe that what is best for you is in front of you.  Trust your power.  Stick to your regimen and never let anything or anyone interrupt that time.  Even if you cannot do it at the same time of day everyday, still make the time. As with the case of me, it’s very easy to slide back into despair and negativity, so it’s important to find what keeps you in good spirits and protect your energy. #LESSONLEARNED

PS:  Should any of you comment on this article, please do not say, “I’m sorry you’re having a hard time in LA” or anything to that effect.  I’m not having a hard time at all.  I’m just taking my lumps, as is part of any major transition.  Things will balance out because I believe they will, and I know they will.  They already have.

Peace and love to my Purple Sister 0(+>


“Go out into the world with your passion and love for what you do, and just never give up.”

~Dianne Reeves

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The Power of Influence: What Kind of Impact Do You Have On Others?

What Is Your Life’s Theme?

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I’ve always been a lover of music, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve always chosen special songs as my personal theme songs.  When I was younger, the songs would always express vanity (half jokingly, half seriously). For a example, in the past I had chosen songs like: “Heartbreaker” (Zapp), “Cutie Pie” (One Way), “Sexy MF” (Prince), or “Beautiful” (Snoop), to name a few. (See? I was really in love with myself! LOL!)  When those songs would come on, I’d actually sing them (usually in the mirror) in tribute to myself, often changing the words to give a more accurate depiction of how I really felt about myself — or, how I thought others felt about me (or the way I felt they should feel about me…LOL!).

When I grew out of that phase, I chose more serious theme songs that had more depth and was able to articulate a different, and perhaps more important aspect of my being.  As I matured, other layers of my personality started to surface.  During this time, my theme songs changes to things like: “Searching” (Roy Ayers), “Me” (Erykah Badu), and “Wildflower” (New Birth).  There are even a few instrumentals that I feel captures my spirit, namely, “Valdez In The Country” (Cold Blood).

Plenty of people that I know have shared with me that they also have elected certain songs as their personal theme songs.  Some of my friends even have alter egos.  ( I also have an alter ego, but thats for some other time.) It’s not uncommon for music, or any other art form to pronounce certain aspects or our personalities, resulting in us feeling empowered, understood, or even cause us to check ourselves.

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Most of, well… all of my favorites musicians can do more than sing.  I prefer artists who write their own material because the vibe, as well as the lyrics comes from their hearts, souls, and experiences.  Their articulation of concepts and experiences are so poignant that people like me adopt their stories as personal themes for our own lives.  It’s not only what is said, but how the lyrics, or the groove, is delivered that hits the sweet spot in our souls and make us think, “Thats me!“.

Artists have the power to let their talent and creativity to speak for them, strike emotions, and encourage change and/or self realization.  Since life is art in real time, we have the same power.  In ourselves lies the  power to change things, to inspire each other, and promote self awareness.  And, everyday we are presented with opportunities to do any or all of those things.

As we journey through this life, we are creating our themes. Whether we’re living our dream lives, or dreaming of a better life, our themes will change genres yet remain eerily consistent.

Somewhere on this planet, at any given time, the song that you chose as your theme is playing — and someone, somewhere is listening to it.  In comparison, there is always someone watching you.  The things that we do, regardless of how meaningless and insignificant they may seem to us, are influencing others.  Someone looks up to you.  Someone is envious of you.  You are the template for someone who  disparately wants to change their life.  You are a light for that that person.  That’s a lot of power to have, and it can easily be misused.

You have to decide what type of influence you want to have on those who may be watching you.  How will you use your voice, talents, and knowledge? What is your poignant message? How will you use your words? How will you pronounce your experiences to people who can learn from you? What is consistent about your theme? Only you can answer that.

Live your life like the songs that you found yourself in, and you will be those songs for someone else.

*BTW, currently, my theme song is “Computer Blue” by Prince.


“We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why.” 
~Stephen King

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Identifying Behaviors: 5 Silent Behaviors

Being Aware of What They Don’t Say

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Oftentimes, human beings have much to say without saying anything at all.  Our behaviors says a lot about our character and intentions.  As the saying goes, “actions speak louder than words“.  (As I’ve said in other blogs, I can’t stand cliches and platitudes.) If you seriously pay attention to what’s being said, or how your actions towards others are not being reciprocated, you could learn a lot about how certain people in your life really feel about you, as well as what you are doing (or not doing) to encourage said behaviors.

Silent Behaviors

1 – The Non-Decision Maker



A character flaw of mine is that I can be indecisive.  Usually, this happens when I’m in a new and unfamiliar situation.  When I’m nervous, I really don’t want to be the one who caused any confusion or discomfort.  I never realized that my indecisiveness might actually cause discomfort and confusion.  My answer to everything would be, “Whatever you wanna do is cool with me“, or something similar.  I just don’t want to cause any trouble.  That kind of behavior is unfair to the other party (or parties), and I am certain that it’s very annoying.  My indecisiveness puts pressure on the host to choose things that they think I’d be interested in or enjoy.  That’s not fair to them.  It also give the impression that I don’t know what I want and that I’m afraid to speak up.  Those impressions can really turn a person off.

If I were to make suggestions, or perhaps state some of the things that I’m in to, I’d at least give my host some ideas of what we could do.  We could even choose somethings together.  However, being indecisive and going along to get along (damn.  Another cliche…) might not make for a good time, but instead, a very tense time.

*Once I become comfortable in a situation, I have no problem speaking up and out — LOUD! LOL!

2 – The Non-Planner

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The Non-Planner is pretty much the same as the Non-Decision Maker, but perhaps a little bit worse.  The Non-Planner never makes plans or present ideas to their company — not even after they’ve become comfortable in the situation.  Even if they never contest the plans that their company makes, the fact that they never make the effort to create events or ideas reads as though they are not as interested as they are leading their acquaintance(s) to believe.

It’s important to take initiative sometimes.  By doing so, you’ll show your company that you enjoy them, and that you have a genuine interest in them.  It also gives them an opportunity to learn more about you.  How a person spends their time speaks a lot about them.  You could learn that you have more things in common.  Or, you might learn that you really have nothing in common.

The Non-Planner can eventually become the Non-Caller, and finally not pay any attention to you at all.  If you find yourself being the only person to make plans and take initiative, it might be time to rearrange, or find a new situation.

3 – The Non-Participant

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This person is usually your date, or a friend that you’d bring to a group activity,  such as a party, reunion, holiday gathering, or the like.  And at this event, the Non-Participant finds a corner to occupy, and spend the entire time there — separated from the festivities.

If this is how this person is naturally, it’s doubtful that you would have invited them (if you knew that they were that way and you still invited them, it’s your fault!)  This person has at least the self awareness to know whether or not they enjoy group activities, are uncomfortable around people that they don’t know, or just don’t want to go.  And, if that’s their stance, they shouldn’t accept the invitation.

The behavior of the Non-Participant makes the environment that they’re in tense and awkward.  It’s embarrassing for the person who invited them.  By not participating, they’re making a statement that they don’t like the company that they’re in, they’re not enjoying themselves, and they’re not willing to try — not even to appease their date, or whomever they are a guest of.

4 – The Non-Compassionate

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The Non-Compassionate is the person who runs to you with all of their troubles, and lays them on your head, or in your lap. However, when it’s your turn to need a shoulder — regardless of how rare those occurrences are — they either have nothing to say, or they’ll divert the conversation back to themselves.  This is partially our own fault.  When we accept the role of “counselor“, we thwart any chances of receiving counsel.  (People who always have a problem can’t help you anyway, because they always have a problem.)

The Non-Compassionate gives the impression that they don’t care about you, and that whatever is going on with them, takes precedence over anything that is going on in your life.

It has been my experience that the only way to leave that role is to leave that relationship — or change the dynamic. You have to leave them to allow them to work out their own problems sans your input or your listening ear.

5 – The Non-Committed

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Unlike the Non-Decision Maker and the Non-Planner, the Non-Committed does make plans, choices, and even makes offers.  But, they almost always renege on you.  At first, they’ll always have an excuse, and then they’ll offer a way to make it up to you…and then, they’ll renege on that.  No one has so much going on in their lives that requires excuses.  If their reneging and excuses outweigh their efforts — they don’t want to be with you — they’re just too cowardly to tell you.  I don’t believe that kind of behavior should go unchecked.  I don’t think that the right thing to do is to let the relationship dissipate.  In  my opinion, that person should be told that you understand that they don’t want to be with you, or do whatever they offered.  Tell them that you won’t die because they are incapable of keeping their word.  But most importantly, let them know that you absolutely do not appreciate or respect their cowardice.

Repeatedly standing someone up is blatant disrespect.  Love yourself enough to not allow it.

Loving You!

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Silent behaviors can be damning and disheartening, still, it’s important to be aware of them. Know, understand, and believe in your value as a God or a Goddess.  Know that you are worthy, and deserve better that any type of disrespect.  You at least deserve the same energy that you emit.  Accepting these behaviors will, over time, affect the way you feel about yourself.  Eventually, you’ll not only accept disrespect, but you’ll expect it.  We  (humankind) need you to feel great about yourself so you can help us make the world a better place!

“There is more to hear in what is not said.” 
Joyce Rachelle



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The Relationship Between Love And Hate

I Love You/ I Hate You

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I thought I understood the concepts of love and hate.  I thought they were polar opposites, but I was wrong.  Not only are love and hate NOT polar opposites, but they’re bed buddies.

The other day, I thought about my friend and how through right or wrong, thick or thin, left or right, up or down, he was there.  When I make great decisions, he praises me.  When I have great ideas, he encourages me.  When I say something stupid, he questions me. And, when I’m making horrible choices, he will check the hell out of me — by any means necessary.

What’s most cool about my friend is that he’s cool.  I mean, he can hang out with me, and listen to me without prejudice, even if he disagrees.  He’s all about my growth, as I am all about his. We understand that a differential point of view could lead to reassessments of ourselves, and that’s important.  He allows me to be me, because he knows that I will anyway.  He also knows that in one way or another, he’ll probably be there to help me pick up the pieces should things go awry, but he’ll also cuss me out during the whole process.  We never fall apart because of those things — that’s just how our relationship is.

My friend finds what is deep inside of me, and he encourages me to pursue it, and be great.  When I doubt myself, he tells me how great I am.  He suggests that I uncover, or rediscover untapped or forgotten talents.  He believes in me, even when I don’t.

He gives me the game, step by step, and he drills it into my head, because he’s my teacher.  He knows how much I know, because he taught me.  When I go against what he knows that I know, all kindness and tact are out the window, and he reads me the riot act — not because he’s jackass, but because he knows that I know better.

However, my friend is not always available. Sometimes he doesn’t text or call back, like he doesn’t have time for me.  Apparently, he has a life of his own.  But, while he’s having his life, Im all alone.  I have no one to talk to. No one to tell me to keep going, or that I’m pretty, great, funny, or smart.  I have no one to encourage me, or reprimand me for acting against who I am, as well as what I know.  He’s not paying attention to me!  What did I do? What is he doing that I can’t know about? I’ve been knowing him all of my life, or maybe just a few years, or maybe both.  I can’t tell you where he goes, what he’s doing, what he’s hiding (if anything), or if he’s really avoiding  me, because I don’t know.

What’s wrong with me?

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Why can’t I have what I want, EVER?  Why does my friend go away when he knows that I need him.  Why am I expendable to him?  He’s not expendable to me.  I’d fight heaven and hell and risk eternal damnation if he was so much as stung my a mosquito.  I ain’t shit to him.  He’ll just forget that I exist for a while, at a glance, and then come back as  if everything is cool.  That’s not love.  I don’t know what that is called.

I’m not exactly clear of what hate feels like, but I’d imagine that it feels like this.  He hates me, so I hate him.  I hate him for showing up at all, when I didn’t ask for him.  I hate him for taking me only so far and then bailing on me.  I hate him for expecting me to understand the game without him being there to guide me, or for encouraging me, and then not being there.  I hate him for having a pat of his life that I am not a part of.  I hate him for not loving me the way that I love him.  I hate him because he wouldn’t move when I wanted him to move.  I’m mad because he had other obligations.  My hatred of him is mostly because I’m mirroring his hatred of me.  He hates me, so I hate him.

He hates me because I’m needy,  but he made me needy.  I didn’t ask him to even be there — but he was —  that was his idea.  He hates me for always being there, but not always being where he wanted me to be.  He hates me because he should be spending time with better people.  His girl hates me because she thinks something is going on between us.  So, he hates me because  I’m in the way.  He hates me because he can’t chew gum and walk at the same time — in other words, he can’t tell me when he’s involved with a woman, even though I’m his friend, so he distances himself from me.  Essentially, he hates me because he’s chump.

We FU#K%N Hate Each Other! But We Don’t…

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Hate and love are very closely related, but many of us never realize it.  We equate the same hate that we have for inanimate objects, with the hate that we claim to have for each other.  A person could hate a certain color, a certain food, TV shows and movies, or songs, without emotion, because they’re inanimate objects — they don’t have feelings, we have to attach feelings.

“I hate red because it was my ex’s favorite color”.  “I hate broccoli because I was forced to eat it as a kid”.  “I hate that song because it was playing when I totaled my car”.

Those are all things that don’t have feelings on their own, but due to circumstances, we’ve attached our own feelings and emotions to them.

That kind of hatred can’t be compared to that between human beings, except for in excruciating circumstances, for example:  it’s not far fetched to have hatred for someone who has harmed you or a loved one. Nonetheless, the word “hate” is often miss used.

In the example of my friend and I, my hatred of him was based on what I believed was hatred from him towards me.  I’m wondering things — and that could mean that I’m willing to make changes — and maybe those changes will make him stop these intermittent hiatuses.  In fact, everything that I was mad at him for, or hated him for, was because I wanted him to be there for me, all of the time!

What we humans call hatred of each other, is just impatience, and maybe jealousy, and selfishness. Human beings can be very fickle when we don’t get our way.  Our go to phrase is usually, “I hate, this, that or them”.  Usually we don’t use the word correctly, and maybe thats not a bad thing.  The word “hate” is spewed from person to person, only under the most intense emotions.  We actually become a bit aroused when we feel hate.  It’s said out of haste, and many times, people regret using the word at all.

Except for in very rare situations, hate and love are two sides of the same coin.  We can’t feel that strongly about someone unless they are close enough to us to evoke certain emotions.  We’d have to first love.  And to mirror the hate of someone else, we’d have to care.  Their love and acceptance, in one way or another, matters to us.  When that pill becomes hard to swallow, we try to chase it down with hate — false hate.

I don’t hate my friend, and he does’t hate me.  We love each other, but we don’t love everything about each other.  Sometimes we need space.  And, yes, we have own lives and outside of our friendship. We don’t love each other in the same way, and at the same time, but we love each other all of the time.

Love and hate are not much  different.  In fact, one cannot exist without the other.  So, why not just say, “I love you” instead of, “I hate you”.  After all, that’s the truth.


“It’s so sad but I hate you like a day without sunshine.  It’s so bad but I hate you ’cause you’re all that’s ever on my mind”



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