Monday, February 28, 2011

On the Last Day of BHM, My True Love Gave to Me….

The chance to finally be FREE!!!

Hello internet friends!!!

I write to you now with a feeling of levity and freedom that can only come from working for one’s rights. After being bombarded with black mama drama Friday and Saturday, I had to end the pain. Her e-mails were legen—wait for it—dary*, and although this may incite drama, I can’t help but mine the molten earth of mom-induced guilt to reveal the comedy gold that is the following piece of advice she offered in an email.:
It's about an image, a brand. If you're doing voice over about baby stuff they don't want your name and vagina being associated with that.

I swear, Mama Bear is hilarious.

“Sojourner, how could you just put your mom on blast after the drama of which you speak?” you may be wondering.

Well, gentle readers, not only did Mama Bear say I could blog about her (tender quote: … you can talk about me all that you want. That was the funniest. LOVE MOM ), but just minutes ago I created a new email account for this site, changed my username, AND instructed robots not to crawl to the site—resulting in a full-name search that comes up with NOTHING INCRIMINATING!!! (Well, until Google caches out)

Guys, do you know what this means???

It means I can blog with confidence, knowing that anything I say can’t and won’t be used against me in a court of law!
Well, unless some potential employer decides to start googling “Blacktress”—in which case, they got what’s comin’ to them.

What I do on my own time under my alias is, to quote the great rappers Salt ‘n’ Pepa, none of their business!

If I want to write a blog / about some dirty dog—it’s none of your business!
If I wanna spend my work day / talkin' 'bout what's cray cray -- it's none of your business!
A boss shouldn't even get into / who I'm givin' skins to -- it's none of your business!

With the monkey off my back, I can now fill you in on the other anxiety-inducer of the last few days: Jewboo’s birthday!!

I planned a surprise party for him that was unlike anything I’d ever undertaken. I reached out to 3 friends of his from out of town and arranged for them to come in to the city. The plan was this:

6pm – Arrive at Jewboo’s house.
6:30pm – long-time childhood best friend arrives. Jewboo is shocked and moved. They proceed to bro-out until it’s time to go to dinner.
7:30 – We go to dinner with friend, roommate, and another improviser—a nice Thai place in the neighborhood.
7:45 – We arrive at restaurant and find TWO OF JEWBOO’S GRAD SCHOOL FRIENDS!!!
7:46 – Jewboo weeps with joy. They proceed to catch up and hold each other close. I become best friends with the black lesbian with the locks from the ATL.
9:00pm – Other friend leaves dinner to “stop by a coworker’s party”—which is really going to the bowling alley to put our names down for a lane.
10pm – we arrive at bowling alley, where other friends are waiting!! SURPRISES!
Jewboo can no longer contain it. In front of everyone in the bar, he announces his plans to marry me. Just then, a writer from Comedy Central offers him a job—writing for the TV show they’re going to offer me. “Any woman who can plan a party like this is someone I want to get behind!” the hipster-y producer says, holding his monocle (ironically, of course).

Everyone rejoices and we stumble home at 2am, drunk on love and accomplishment.

Okay, I might have planned a little too much. But it really went well. He had no idea anyone was coming (although his emotional repression prevented the weeping I’d hoped for), and even though bowling was a bust (a 4-hour wait for a lane—wtf?!), we went to a random divey bar and dominated the jukebox. His out-of-town friends stayed til the end, and when his parents visited the next day, I received many accolades. I think my favorites were:
“You have the best girlfriend ever.”
“You put up with our son; the least we can do is give you a ride to the subway.”
[Bless these chosen people for getting me out of Greenpoint in 15 minutes flat.]

Considering this was the first time I ever had a boyfriend with a birthday**, I think I did pretty damn good.

Blacktress out!

*(h/t Barney Stinson/NPH—aka, Heterosexuality’s Greatest Loss)
**they’ve all been genetically engineered.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Blacktress in Crisis

Good morning, gentle readers.
I come to you today with a heavy heart.

This morning I received an e-mail from my mom, in response to my blog. Apparently, she “googles me from time to time,” and found a couple of things that weren’t meant for her eyes. You know, like The Best Time I Hooked Up With Someone Because I Cut My Foot.

Awkward Town, Population: ME.

Ok, y’all, here’s my newest initiative:
You know how there are parental controls for televisions and computers that allow parents to block sites and channels so that their children aren’t sullied by adult content? I propose MAMA DRAMA CONTROLS, that prevent parents from looking up their children on the internet. Seriously. She wouldn’t even know how to use the damn thing if it wasn’t for me. There has to be a way to stop her from accessing Google, YouTube, and Altavista.

Being the Claire Huxtable that she is, she proceeded to call me and lecture me on the legal ramifications of my “raunchy” and “work-hating” content. I can be fired for saying negative things about my job, and I could be denied acting gigs if my name is associated with talks of hooking up and what not. We all know that I’ve already felt the repercussions firsthand, as a work-related post had to be taken down recently.

So I come to you, my “followers”. It seems that I, your leader, has gotten us lost. But I am not too proud to ask for directions—and I ain’t too proud to beg. Although I don’t use my real name on the blog, I can’t shake Google’s wandering eye. It seems I have only the following options:
  1. Find some way to move this site to another domain (by “find some way,” I mean, “figure out how to move all the content”) and set up a different account that is managed by an alias (I think I’ll call her Glorious Jones).
  2. Maintain the blog as it stands, but delete any “raunchy” or “working-hating” posts, and from this point forward only put up links to funny videos and articles, with no mention of my personal life, feelings, or observations.
  3. Take down the blog. Remove the BLACKTRESS from the public record permanently.
  4. And, what I’ve currently done: changed the settings so that the blog doesn’t come up in search engines, and removed the “rating” that I used to have. The drawback to the former change is that fewer people will stumble upon me and my readership will dwindle. I guess I can still hyperlink to the blog from other websites to direct traffic, but I’d have to make sure that all other sites honored my request to use my alias—and there’s no guarantee.

I can’t believe this is happening—what a sad way to end BHM. If any of you are tech savvy or know a guy who knows a guy, please leave a comment and let me know. To stay with the metaphor: I will stop at every gas station and roadside dive in Awkward Town, asking for directions until I get back on the Highway of Dignity and Future Employment Opportunities (just off of Route 4).

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Signs Your Life Is A Mess

I normally don't do pithy, tumblr-esque posts, but I just received the following text message from my exterminator:

Besides i know if i was hungry and thirsty u would feed me i consider u guys my xtended family

The problems with this are manifold:

1. My exterminator has my personal cell phone number
2. I have HIS personal cell phone number
3. I have enough insect issues that I NEED his personal number
4. He has come so often that he feels as though WE ARE FAMILY.
5. He thinks he can count on me to provide basic sustenance in a time of need. I don't have the heart to tell him he's misinformed.

#inappropriate relationships

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

May Day, May Day--Folks Gone Cray Cray!!!

Hello Readers,

I come to you now, with my second post in as many hours, with a late-breaking news item brought to my attention by Litsa.

The following billboard is located in the Soho area of NYC, just blocks from the downtown Planned Parenthood offices:

Um, what?! How dare they use this gorgeous, young, gifted, and black child to create sensationalism that is demeaning to black people of all backgrounds--and during Black History Month, no less!!!

You know a blacktress is down with PPNYC (you can check out some stand-up I did for a benefit for them on Youtube)--they help the uninsured keep their down-theres so fresh and so clean, clean, and I'm not hatin' on anyone who makes it happen.

The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb?! Um, clearly "Life Always" doesn't get out much. Let me bring them some truth.

The Most Dangerous Places for an African American in 2011
  • A rally held by one of the 100+ Ku Klux Klan chapters (also known as "klaverns") in the United States.
  • The US Penitentiary System
  • Massachusetts and South of the Mason-Dixon line.
  • A Justin Bieber concert (Well, this is dangerous for anyone, really. Those teens go into a crazed mental state y'all. Come at you foaming at the mouth, all fists and elbows, like a whirling dervish.)
  • A home in which a fire arm is kept.
  • A deserted alley at 3am. (Again, not racially specific)
  • The backwoods of Australia, on Australia Day--or after a cricket match. (trust me)
  • A middle or high school anywhere in this country (but yes, it does get better!)
  • The offices of "Life Always"--largely because an internet search comes up with nothing. It would seem that these cowardly masterminds exist in a realm beyond space and time--or, at the very least, a realm where no one wants to be held accountable. A dangerous place, indeed!!!
Update: You'll notice that I just changed the title of this post, removing "White." I did so after seeing a news segment on NewYork1 that featured a black priest speaking on behalf of Life Always. Whether he was just a front man or an actual leader of the organization, it proves that there is a wolf in the hen house, and I must not besmirch a Caucasian with my rash assumptions. After all, what kind of TRUTH would I be telling if I did?!

Reading Rainbow

I went to stay at my mom’s place last night, because her Latin lover was out of town (they’re married, so it’s not as sordid as I make it sound, but he'll always be a Latin lover to me). It reminded me of coming home from college: I was directed to make myself comfortable but I didn’t have any of my stuff around, I used my mom’s car to purchase bulk items, and I even brought over some laundry (I swear, it was at her insistence!).

The only difference is that now, as I get closer to 30 (gross), I can really see my mother as a person—and boy, is this lady a piece of work. I mean, we all know she loves Luda, but there's more to Mama Truth than I give her credit for. She epitomizes the phrase Strong Black Woman, raising me solo and even sending me to Africa to live with my grandma so she could study and take the bar exam (and passed, obvs). Mama Truth grew up youngest of 7, in a house run by three simple rules:
  1. We’re not going to the hospital unless you’re holding a body part (yours or someone else's) in your hand.
  2. If your mother can’t be honest with you, who will be? (i.e. Yes, you do look fat in those jeans.)
  3. Laugh and the whole world laughs with you. Cry and I’ll give you something to cry about.
Needless to say, she’s not the most emotive.

As I got ready to go to bed last night, I went down to the family room to grab a book. A survey of my mother’s bookshelf provided me with more insight than I’d gotten in the 27 years that I’ve been her child (not including the time en utero). Here’s a sampling of the books that were so important to her that she had them shipped from Manhattan to New Jersey (almost a hundred didn’t make the cut):

Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, by Steve Harvey
How to Clean Practically Anything
Why We Suck, by Dennis Leary
Black Pain, by Terrie Williams
The entire Cornel West collection
When to Speak Up and When to Shut Up
Dreams of my Father, by Barack Obama
The complete works of Toni Morrison
Rock This, by Chris Rock (This was a birthday present from me in 1998--tenderness!)
The Elements of Grammar
Low-Fat Soul (this book is a contradiction. If it doesn't cause type-2 diabetes, it's not soul!)
The Darwin Awards
Who Moved My Cheese?, by Spencer Johnson, M.D.*
(I didn’t even bother picking this one up. The spine was all I needed to see)
Eat, Pray, Love
The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes
Skinny Bitch
Idiot's Guide to Landscaping

Mama Truth is a real mixed bag, y'all. This would explain why our best times together involve eating and watching "The Colbert Report."

*For those of you who are dying to know (all of you, I'm sure):

The simple story of Who Moved My Cheese? reveals profound truths about change that give people and organizations a quick and easy way to succeed in changing times.

Who Moved My Cheese? is an enlightening story of four characters who live in a "Maze" and look for "Cheese" to nourish them and make them happy. Two are mice named Sniff and Scurry, and two are mouse-size people named Hem and Haw.

"Cheese" is a metaphor for what you want to have in life - whether it is a good job, a loving relationship, money, a possession, health, or spiritual peace of mind. And "The Maze" is where you look for what you want - the organization you work in, or the family or community you live in.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Rider Die Chick

Hey gang,

So, ever since I got hazed and rejected by that hedge fund, I’ve been resigned to the fact that I may not be able to get off this plantation anytime soon. I’ve also resigned myself to the fact that my blog will be searchable as long as I sign in using my e-mail account, and even if I did make a change, Google’s like a war widow—IT NEVER FORGETS. In order to prevent future drama (save it for Obama!), I’ve decided I will only post things that I would say in real life—or about people who I know can’t read or don’t have computers.

Guys, I want to care about my job, I really do, but I only live once— and I must give myself over to the blacktress deep within. So when one of our editors tapped me to be in an upcoming “how-to video” on drawing, I said yes—mostly because I liked being referred to as “the talent”, and it’ll mean I’m away from my desk for a whole hour!

Of course, the video’s going to be dull as dishwater, and it’ll mostly be voice-over, but the editor wrote a “script” that basically reads like a book report on drawing. I got the first draft and was directed to “add your flair”—which I took to mean "cut as much of the crap as possible"--and I did. She was hounding me for my edits (um, not my job!) so I sent back the first three pages along with my rider. I mean, if you want to use a blacktress for the screen, you'll have to meet her needs (I heard Bob Ross required 12 afro picks on standby at all times). Please see my requirements below, and make a note in case you'd like to collaborate on any future projects:

Rider for Sojourner “You Can’t Handle The” Truth (who will herein be referred to as “Blacktress”) - 2/15/2011

by Blacktress – dictated, but not read


- 2 bottles of Fiji water kept at room temperature

- 4 bananas, 1 of which must be sliced into rounds

- Justin Timberlake playing in the background

- Justin Bieber playing in the foreground

- Online editor (who will be referred to as “Massa”) must respect Blacktress’s dominance and knowledge of the creative process.

At least 4 takes of every medium close up (to be filmed on from Blacktress’ left side)

Blacktress has very specific needs, and body temperature is of the utmost concern. It is mandatory that the internal temperature of the performance space reach no higher than 68 degrees, to prevent sweating and facial shine.

Please meet at least 3 of the following:

- Massa wears a dunce cap

- Video guy wears a newsie cap

- Video shoot must be scheduled to take place over 4 hours but only take 1.5, so that Blacktress may run some errands.

- 5 golden rings.

- 1 ring of power, 1 ring to rule them all.

Perfectly reasonable, yes?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Food For Thought

I know that many of you don’t know me IRL, so any talks of physical appearance will probably fall flat. Basically, I have gained about 14 pounds in the last year, largely because I stopped drinking to feel pretty and instead eat to feel social. I’ve been trying to nip it in the bud ever since Thanksgiving, but to no avail. My therapist has advised I keep a food diary, so that I can see what and why I’m eating like a crazy person.
I already know it’s because I’m on FATkins, not Atkins: Last weekend I ate French toast for both brunch and dinner; I’m a hot mess. But I decided to go with the doctor’s orders just to straighten myself out a bit. Here’s an excerpt for all you lovely readers who might know what it’s like to eat your feelings.

February 15, 2011

Dear Food Diary,

How are you doing? I can’t believe it’s been, like, 4 days since I’ve written in you. I’m sorry about all those nasty things I said about you—you know, that you were useless, annoying, and judgmental. I also feel kinda bad about staining your pages with my tears.

Anyway, here’s what I’ve eaten recently.
So, last night Jewboo came over for Valentine’s Day, and I made dinner.

We had:
chicken (thinly sliced breasts) in a mushroom and balsamic sauce

with a side of pesto pasta (angel hair)

a mixed green salad

and cheesy garlic bread.
For dessert we had heart-shaped brownies (I know, I know, Diary--I’m such a sap!!) with ice cream.

Oh, and did I mention that for V-Day Jewboo got me a pint of red velvet cheesecake ice cream? Yeah, um, that happened. Look, Diary, it’s not my fault! It was really thoughtful of him and I had to at least
try it! I mean, what kind of gf would I be if I was like, “I can’t eat this. I’m on a diet”?

This is why you’re single, diary.

So, I was all set to be good today, but the RED DRAGON is upon me, and my uterus is aching. You know when the dragon comes he must be placated with sugar. And I would have been fine, but then my coworker brought in cookies. So today’s food has been:

1 biscotti

2 cups of tea

FOUR frosted cookies

I haven’t had anything else.
I swear I’ll get a salad for lunch. Or maybe I’ll just have some more Advil. I don’t know. I’ll talk to you tomorrow, mmmkay?

Monday, February 14, 2011

From Blacktress, With Love!

Hey Gang,

Sorry for my lack of bloggery of late—it’s been a busy black history month. In the last 7 days I’ve written 4 articles, put together a 96-page magazine, gone on my first commercial audition, hosted a Black History Month-themed sketch show, shared my tales of OKCupid dating with the hippest of hipsters, told an embarrassing story in Williamsburg, and finally performed with some black people. I decided it was time to blog when my boss came up to me on Friday and said I looked like Black Barbie (remember, massa’s a former drag queen). I believe his exact words were:

“Look at you in this sparkly sweater, it’s so Black Barbie. With the bangs and the pony. You are just cute today.”

I was ready to break it down and then got bombarded with actual work and am only now just resuming this post!!! I hope that you’ll forgive me on this day of lovers.

Oh, and I also got an e-mail from a stand-up booker asking, “Can you do a clean set with some Christian material for a March 19th gig?”

Um, what? Is he looking for something Tyler Perry-esque? I have nothing of the sort. But for reals—I don’t know even think I have a clean set. The last time I had to do something clean was at an office party in Australia, and I left known as the woman who said “Vagina” in the workplace.

I’ve been at work less than an hour and am already looking for ways to procrastinate. Perhaps it’s because the one toilet that the 10 of us share is clogged, and our “doorman” is plunging it as we speak. I feel like I’m in a late-80s sitcom.

It’s Valentine’s Day, and I’m actually not all that excited—weird, right? Jewboo has an improv show tonight, and we’re going to make dinner afterwards, which will be cute and domestic. I think that after years of being single, I have drained the power out of this godforsaken “holiday”. It no longer takes me over and makes me feel bad about myself. I mean, after all:

I choose to focus instead on the African-American struggle and perseverance all month long, and make February 15 my new day of celebration, as I rejoice in the discounting of all heart-shaped chocolate items.

For those of you with lovers, here are some fun V-Day Suggestions from Women’s Magazines:

CosmoGirl on gifts:
You Should Get Him A Teddy Bear!

Your guy is sweet and cuddly, just like the little fuzzy creature you should suprise him with! No need to get your down-to-earth dude something over the top- stick with a present that can join in on the cuddling and that will remind him of you whenever you're apart.

Glamour on dates:
DO Plan a Date That’s Outside the Box
Remember when Dylan took Brenda to donate blood in the original 90210? Now that was a heartfelt idea.


Marie Claire on finding love in unexpected places:
Feature article: I Fell in Love With a Terrorist
[Who hasn’t been there, girls??]

For those without:

Read the list above and remember that this whole thing is a sham!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

It Was a Dark and Stormy Black History Month.....

What up Blossoms and Joeys? I’m poking my head out of a pile of work to remind y’all to celebrate the young, gifted, and black.
Except for me.

"Why so self-loathing, Sojo?" Well, I found out yesterday that I didn’t get the job I applied for. Even though I was sorta on the fence about working for a company that would haze a prospective employee with crazy-ass MacGuyver questions, the rejection stings—especially since it means I’m no closer to getting off of this plantation. This is not what BHM is about!!

I did have my meeting with the agent on Tuesday, though, and it’s amazing how simple it was. I basically went in, read some copy (and sounded a bit too “serious” for Zyrtec eye drops—what is with me and allergy-med commercials?), and she said she’d start sending me out! I wasn’t amazing or anything, but she’s gonna give me a shot and see how I go. In business lingo, I’m “freelancing” with her, which she described as, “we’re dating. We’re getting to know each other, and if we like each other we’ll get engaged and get married.”
If only all of my relationships were so simple.

She did suggest I get new headshots, which made my wallet start to cry, but at least I’ll know what I’m aiming for. She’s really funny and motherly, and was very impressed by my put-togetherness (I have a feeling being employed in the real, non-actor world will really give me a leg up when it comes to the details). Crossing my fingers (for luck) AND my legs (for black Jesus)!

Although my day job is still rough,* at least I have some blackting opportunities coming up.

For those in the NYC area, here’s the info:
TONIGHT (2/3), 8:30pm – The Grisly Pear (107 MacDougal Street)
Wednesday, 2/9, 9pm – Under St. Marks Theater – hosting a sketch show! (8th ave btw. 1st Ave and Ave A)
Friday, 2/11, 8:30pm – ABC No Rio, Lower East Side – It’s an OK Cupid-themed comedy show, where hilarious NYC performers share there online dating horror stories.
Saturday, 2/12, 8pm – The Cove, in Williamsburg – NY Confidential storytelling show, with the unimitable Eugene Ashton! It’s very 1920s, speakeasy-style--but without the racial tensions.

* my boss actually compared himself to Hugh Heffner yesterday
Massa: I was reading The First 10 Years of Playboy and, you know, he was a revolutionary. And he never backed down. He did what he wanted to do, even when people told him he was wrong, and look at him now!
Me: So that means you don’t want me to respond to this subscriber’s e-mail?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

B(l)ack by Popular Demand

Happy BHM, y'all!!!

Yes, today is the first of what will be 28 days of celebrating the young, gifted, and the black! Last night I was all in a tizzy because of today's agent meeting. I then realized that there was no better day for a blacktress to meet with potential representation than the first day of Black History Month.

Perhaps fate created last week’s storm just so that my meeting could take place on a day when no member of Caucasia could say no to a negress. Either way, I’m rocking a form-fitting bright top and slimming denim, and just used my anti-puff eye roller to help handle my baggy-eyed scandal (I got more bags than a Whole Foods right now, y’all. I look wearier than a woman of Brewster Place).

As I got dressed this morning, the snow and icy rain (aka “wintry mix”) had me stressed. We all know rain is the black woman’s kryptonite, and today is no time for a hairdon't. As I wrapped my hair up and hid it under my hat, I thought about how silly the whole process is. Coming off of last week’s viewing of “Good Hair,” where I saw the disintegrating effects of a chemical relaxer on an aluminum can I realized just how enslaved (and possibly brain-cancer-ridden) I still am--by norms of beauty, my own laziness, and my own tenderheaded-ness.

But of course, I’m not alone in this. Black women have been struggling with handling a hair scandal since the dawn of time (when neander-negros were heating up smooth rocks and using them as a flat iron--you didn’t see that NatGeo special?).
So today I just want to kick-off BHM with brilliant black mind who worked to make looking fine just a bit easier--without chemicals.

Name: Marjorie Joyner

Quick Facts: Marjorie, the granddaughter of a slave and a slave-owner (yes, y’all!), was born in 1896, and in 1912 she moved to Chicago to attend cosmetology school. Upon graduation she worked under Madame C. J. “Thanks for the Relaxer” Walker.

A page from her biography reads:

A dilemma existed for Black women in the 1920's.
[You mean Jim Crow laws? The inability to vote until damn-near the end of the decade? The need to provide for their families with little options besides serving members of Caucasia?]

In order to straighten tightly-curled hair, they could so so only by using a stove-heated curling iron. This was very time-consuming and frustrating as only one iron could be used at a time.
[Ah, yes, the real dilemma.]

Joyner… imagined that if a number of curling irons could be arranged above a women's head, they could work at the same time to straighten her hair all at once. “It all came to me in the kitchen when I was making a pot roast one day, looking at these long, thin rods that held the pot roast together and heated it up from the inside. I figured you could use them like hair rollers, then heat them up to cook a permanent curl into the hair.”

WHAT?! Y’all, for reals! Although black hair care doesn’t seem like a major innovation, let’s look at the genius: Marjorie was just in the kitchen making a roast for her man, and was like, “wait a second…” That’s some straight-up MacGuyver-type ingenuity. When I’m cooking in the kitchen, all I’m thinking about is whether I really have to pre-heat the oven. In 1926, Marjorie turned dinnertime into into breadwinner-time!

Joyner developed her concept by connecting 16 rods to a single electric cord inside of a standard drying hood. A woman would wear the hood for the prescribed period of time and her hair would be straightened or curled. After two years Joyner completed her invention and patented it in 1928, calling it the "Permanent Waving Machine."

Look at Marjorie with that man! She was 98 when this pic was taken, and it looks like she's telling him about himself. She is my (s)hero.

So, as you make tonight's pot roast or soy chicken nuggets, look inside that oven. Think of Marjorie--and think of the possibilities.