Hip Hop Hooray!

A conversation with one of my oldest friends, whom I love very very much, in the car last week.

Him: “So Chris Rock was being interviewed and was asked to rank his top five rappers.  Do you know who he chose as #1?  Jay Z!  Can you believe that??”

Me: “Sure.  I could see that.”

“What??  Jay Z??”  Incredulity. Shock. Disbelief.

“He’s amazing.  At the top of his game. He’s changed the face of hip hop.”

More incredulity, shock and disbelief. “Are you kidding? Jay Z?”

At this point, I realize he is completely talking out of his ass.  “Who would you put in the top 5?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Not Jay Z. But surely someone from the 80s or something. Like an original.”

I’m setting him up now. “Ok, so name one.  Like whom?” No answer.  “I can see if you’d want some of the originals to be in there, like Big Daddy Kane, Kurtis Blow, DMC…I could even see someone like Slick Rick being a contender.”

I look over and he’s looking at me as if I’ve started speaking Mandarin.  “La Di  Da di, we like to party, we don’t cause trouble and we don’t bother nobody…”

Finally, a spark of faint recognition, “I thought that was Snoop Doggy Dog.”

Sigh. As the exasperated kids are saying these days, I can’t even.  I have ceased being able to even with his dumb ass.

I look up Chris Rock’s top five.  Jay Z, Nas, Scarface, Rakim, Biggie and  LL Cool J.  I have zero problems with this list.  “Wait!  Old school hip hop is all over his top five. Rakim! And Scarface is on this list. He’s old school. From the Geto Boys.  You know, with Bushwick Bill.  The little person with the eye patch? My mind is playing tricks on me?”

Silence.

I continue, “I’m not sure I’d put Nas on the list, but that’s just me.  I don’t really know his whole catalog, only that song with Lauryn Hill.”

He clearly has no idea who Nas or Rakim are.  I start laughing and start to let him off the hook.

“You’re not a fan of hip hop, so I have no idea why you’d be so outraged over Jay Z being on the top of Chris Rock’s list.”

———

Then we parked and got out of the car, which leaves me now with no lovely summary to this post, other than the conclusion that my brain retains a LOT of useless information. I have always contended that were I able to use this information storage for good, useful information, rather than pop culture and 80s/90s song lyrics, I could be president.

You’re welcome to sigh.

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2015…Let’s DO this.

A blog post every 15 months?  Now that’s a content schedule I think I can keep! Whatever.  Obviously, I didn’t exactly commit to blogging — this engine of personal expression, if you will — as well as I expected.  But hey! It’s a new year and there are resolutions and the proof is in the pudding. I want to write. I like to write. Ergo. I shall write.

Now, onto the post.

I have a friend who used to answer these questions on her blog each January. I wrote my responses every year, and I think even posted them once? Who can remember.  This year she posted a selection of quotes, her own personal words to live by.  Here’s one that spoke to me, too.

“Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It’s just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.”

― Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar


What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?
Got laid off.

Technically not true since I was laid off just weeks shy of 2014, but I spent most of my laid off period of panic, insecurity and worry in 2014. I got through it just fine, I’ll have you know.

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
No resolutions last year, other than find gainful employment, which I did. I’ve got a list of 10 for this year, and I’d be happy to share most of them.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
My cousin Chris and his love Teresa had two huge fat twins. They weren’t huge and fat then, but they are now and I want to chomp their thighs. And sweet Evie came into the world to live in the LRJB Farmhouse.

Did anyone close to you die?
No. A coworker died a few weeks ago, and even though I didn’t know her well, her absence makes our workplace different. She was lovely.

What countries did you visit?
None. NONE. What a shame.

What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
This one’s easy — A tall, strapping gentleman. Online dating is like whoa. I’ve got unwritten blog posts 10 deep about how horrible online dating is. But I’ll just keep doing it, or doing something, because I am ready to have someone.

I want someone else run out to get Drano when I need it, clean up dishes after I deglaze something, and also provide me with unconditional love and affection. I’m not asking for much. Right?

What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Getting my second tattoo. An arrow on my right wrist that matches the one Paula got that same day. Story to come.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting a J-O-B. When you say “getting a job”, it must be accompanied by the “ooh OOH” sound Amy Pohler makes in the scene in Baby Mama when she’s in the birthing class and she’s asked if she wants delivery drugs. That particular noise is all that is me getting a job in 2014.

What was your biggest failure?
Letting myself get out of shape.  Oooh, and staying stateside. Why the hell didn’t I travel somewhere? Why did I sit cross-armed and jealous when my friends did? No one’s fault but my own.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yep. I took a hip hop dance class and reenacted a delightful scene out of a Kwame video: jumped up, landed crazy, and ripped a tendon. Can’t wait to tell you that story.

What was the best thing you bought?
I’m going to pretend this question is, “What was the best thing you got?” And in that case, it’s my new mattress.

Whose behavior merited celebration?
The Ferguson Library.

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Besides terrorists? There were a few people in my life who bummed me out, but nothing major, and certainly not worth making note here.

Where did most of your money go?
The usual – food, shelter, etc. Stuff I need not covered by medical insurance. (Blarg.)

What did you get really excited about?
Getting that second tattoo.

What song will always remind you of 2014?
Anything by Sam Smith. “Stay with Me” was errything this year.

Compared to this time last year, are you:
– happier or sadder? Happier!
– thinner or fatter? Fatter!
– richer or poorer? Samesies!

What do you wish you’d done more of?
Traveled!

What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worry. Goddamnit. At the beginning of 2014, I had no job and a tiny bank account, and an even tinier check from unemployment. I’m a gal who likes her life as a city girl with discretionary income. I tightened up the finances immediately, and also got a job before my money ran out, but Oh My Lands! the worry that came along with that. Everything turned out just fine.

How did you spend Christmas?
With my parents in Arkansas, missing my brother, sis-in-law and the two most amazing kids on the planet.

Did you fall in love in 2014?
Not with a man. I did, however, continue a quest for self love. I know that’s terribly cheesy, but if you’ve lived your adult life either at best mildly tolerating yourself, or at worst hating everything about yourself, then discovering a nugget of self love is a game changer.

What was your favorite TV program?
I continue to have at least 35 reruns of Law & Order SVU on my DVR. Olivia Benson is my spirit animal. Other shows I love include: New Girl, Brooklyn 99, Mindy, Parks & Rec…..

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Hate is a tricky word, but even if I change it to dislike, I think the answer is still no. I met a lot of awesome people in 2014.

What was the best book you read?
Gone Girl. Gillian Flynn is a great writer, and can weave a plot and develop very real characters at the same time. My goal for 2015 is to read at least 24 books.

What was your greatest musical discovery?
That little Meghan Trainor seems to be very promising! She can write a catchy tune.

What did you want and get?
I wanted a new job and I got it!

What did you want and not get?
Romantic love, partnership, lots of sexy time.

What was your favorite film of this year?
The Fault in Our Stars. I had read the book. I knew the plot. It’s not a spoiler to say that it’s a sad story. But once I started crying, I couldn’t stop. At the end of the movie, as we walked out of the theater laughing, I turned to Paula as I was wiping wetness off my face and said, “I can’t make this stop.”

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
39!!!! Celebrated with my girls.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Romantic love, partnership, lots of sexy time.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
BELK FTW!

What kept you sane?
My girls. Self-care. Otis.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Barack & Michelle. Beyonce & Jay Z.

What political issue stirred you the most?
There seemed to be a lot of “failure to indict” moments happening in 2015. I’m deeply concerned about the fissure of the unrealistic facade of a post-Obama race-free America that a lot of people seemed to believe in (but was not true, IMHO).

Who did you miss?
I’m learning to give up the ghost.

Who was the best new person you met?
Willie, the office’s police officer. He welcomes me by name every morning. It’s a nice thing, to be greeted with such cheer.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
Life is about making changes as you go. Don’t postpone a single moment of happiness because you think you’re not ready yet. You have to mend the sail while you’re at sea. (Truth is, I have to learn this lesson every year.)

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
At this point in my life,
I’d like to live as if only love mattered
As if redemption was in sight
As if the search to live honestly
Is all that anyone needs
No matter if you find it