She wants to lead the glamorous life!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I Be Lady

If you call woman African woman, no go 'gree, she go say I be lady o.-Fela Kuti "Lady"

My father played Fela around the house when I was growing up and as an adult, I really enjoy and love the music.  The song "Lady" is one of my favorites.  As with all Fela songs, the groove is infectious and steady.  Although Fela was a revolutionary and social commentator in many ways, the lyrics always come second to the music for me.  The steady Afro beat is tribal and urban, new and old all at the same time.  However, when I first heard this song, I liked how he described the woman as brash and crass and unapologetic about being a 'lady' despite her actions showing otherwise.

This brings me to last night.  Long story short, I met a guy yesterday at the ATM on Michigan Ave.  He was tall, dark and handsome.  Not to mention polite and charismatic.  He initially asked me what part of Africa I was from.  I told him Chicago was my home town; he was Nigerian.  He invited me to a house warming party for his friend, taking place that same night.  I agreed to go.  My friend Nicole would be going with me as backup in case something went down.  After speaking to him and confirming I would go, he text me the address and Nicole and I got ready at our separate houses.  I was hell bent on wearing this sweater dress, but could not get it to work.  I settled on black riding pants, my favorite 'go to' top (knit cap sleeve shirt, that is a complete sheer button up in the back) and my red booties.  When I picked Nicole up, I saw she opted for some cute jeans and a nice delicate top with embezzled ballet flats.

We get to the building and in the elevator some girls call out to hold it.  Here we go...  The first girl to catch it just stood and blocked the door without any apologies.  The maintenance man who happened to be helping some new tenants and was on the elevator as well had to encourage them to speed up so we would not all be waiting.  When this group got on, I new immediately that they were going to the same place.  Nicole text me in the elevator (showing me the message on her screen) that she felt absolutely underdressed.  I didn't, those bad weaves alone (that ALL of them had) knocked their outfits down at least  5 notches.

We get off the elevator and start walking.  One of them behind us says, hold on.  And the only guy in the group goes, 'are we waiting?'.  I could feel them drilling a hole in the back of my head.  So of course, despite my sore ankle, I sashayed passed and proceeded to the party with Nicole.  We get in and the host introduced himself and his roommate.  He offered to take our jackets, but I wanted to scope the place out a bit first and Nicole was not having it at all, so she requested to keep hers.  There was food, drinks and a relatively lively group.  Everyone was dressed to impress.  The men seemed nice enough, but the women, oh the women.  The party was African dominated.  I normally would have enjoyed the atmosphere, but in a too tight, box apartment (I'm sure he's paying waaay too much) where nearly every woman and I mean EVERY woman has her eyes on you, it was too much.  I felt like a lioness who just stepped off of a safari tour.  I don't think the lone white sista had this much awkward staring.  Was it my braid-out funky afro?

Furthermore, I had apparently forgotten how my new friend looked, because after eyeballing a couple of random men and pointing out at least 4 that I thought were him.  I soon discovered from the host, that he had not arrived yet.  It was now 11pm.  Past my bedtime and way over my bullshit limit, I was getting impatient.  My new friend was not answering his text messages and Nicole was feeling extremely uncomfortable.  To boot, every woman, including the little 5 year old that kept bouncing around, with the exception of 2 people had weaves!  All of them bad.  All of them!  They obviously took the party very seriously, I mean women were wearing what I call booty dresses and sequined numbers, including a sequined booty dress and a sequined bustier!   Side bar:  are sequins in this season?  I haven't heard word of it.  But I digress.  Party dresses with sky-high stilettos were all around, but not a single blender or Target gift card in sight.  Not the traditional house warming we were expecting.

I asked Nicole if she was ready to go, I had another 30 minutes in me to wait, but would not subject her to it if she did not want to be there.  It was now about 11:20pm.  We had been there for an agonizing 25 minutes or so.  Nicole looked up to me (she is shorter than I, and has on flats remember and I have on booties) and said something to the effect of, 'we don't have to, but I would like to'.  Enough said, let's roll!  We went to the closet where I had hung up my jacket and beat it!  The host, on our way out said, 'you're leaving?'  Now I am still a lady, so I kept it very positive:  'yeah (insert apologetic 'yeah' face), we had a good time.  Thank you.  You have a very nice place.'  As we walked out, we heard the apartment lock click and looked at each other like, 'what the fuck was that?  As we got on the elevator this brotha was getting off, he too was at the party.  He asks, 'ya'll leaving?  Where are you headed to next?'  I responded, 'anywhere, but here.'  He says, 'whoa, whoa, what happened?  I'm riding down with ya'll.'  We could not quite describe it, Nicole and I just kept looking at each other, trying to find the words.  I finally said, 'they kept looking at us like, "oh, my God, her hair is so nappy"'.  With a look of disgust and confusion, he replied, 'oh, that's weak, that's weak' referring to the girls.  We thought he would be kind enough to walk us to our car, but instead he kissed his 2 fingers into a peace sign (yes, you read that right) and bid us a good night.  I guess he had to hurry up and get back to those 'weak' sistas.

Nicole needed a drink; she had refused to partake at the party.  My new friend had finally responded to my text.  He was on his way.  I was to ask for DJ Fine Boy in his absence.  I text back that we decided to call it a night.  But my Cricket phone, did not send the text, so I had to resend (hopefully he didn't get 5 duplicated messages, my phone has been known to do that).  Nicole and I headed over to our favorite spot, the South Loop Bar Louie's.  She had her normal Pink Lady cocktail, while I drank water.  We split buffalo wings and a basket of fries until we were just plain ole worn out and tired of being out and witnessing the ghetto mess that was at Bar Louie's.  We lamented on how bizarre that whole party was.  Why did all of them have bad weaves?  Was what I kept asking.  Nicole thought the night should go down in our social history book as one to remember.

On the ride home, we mercilessly mocked the whole situation in terrible African accents.  We imagined they were all talking about us like dogs.  This made us giggle and laugh the whole ride.  Yeah, he'll never call me again...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Oh How I Love Essence!

I grew up with Essence magazine in the house.  My mom held a subscription for years and even when I was too young to understand it's purpose or uninterested to read the articles, I loved looking at the pictures.  The women in Essence were beautiful.  Most importantly, they looked like me and the people I knew.  When I became a pre-teen YSB (do ya'll remember that one??) and later a teenager, Vibe magazine were what spoke to me.  During junior and senior year in high school, I preferred Cosmo.  As a young adult in my early 20s it was all about Honey magazine.  But now, at 31, my favorite magazines are Marie Claire and Essence.

Those are the only magazines I read religiously.  I take their suggestions, tips and advice to heart.  I love the articles and I like the fashion.  Both publications speak to me at this exact age.  So you can only imagine my giddiness when this past Saturday, while attending a natural hair meet-up (Treasure Our Tresses) a brotha with a camera walked up to me and asked if he could take my picture.  He informed me the photo would be featured in's photo gallery.  I nearly lost it.  First, let me say, my hair was fabu!  So much love to my stylist Trina at NV Hair Studio.  Second, everyone's hair was fabu.  The natural sistas came out looking good.  So the fact, out of the crowd of beautiful women, I was part of a chosen few really gassed me up.  So I gladly took a few pictures (I am one of the most un-photogenic people you will meet).

I figured the picture would be featured in their Street Style gallery, so I started checking on Monday.  Finally today, there it was:  Hair Street Style: Windy City Naturals.  I clicked and clicked and clicked until I landed on photo #10.  There I was; I was so geeked at work!  I even showed my boss!  What a dream!  Here is a website that I visit everyday like clockwork; and I am now part of it's archives.  Words cannot begin to describe.  I love Essence and I love my hair.  Who would have ever thought the two would be connected somehow.

Check me out!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Heavy Lifting

One of my favorite past times is talking to men about women.  What they like and find attractive about us.  Their thoughts about relationships, etc.  I find men's opinions so funny and at the same time intriguing.  Their outlook is so different at times than most women's.  One of the things I find the most fascinating is how they view the woman's body.

A friend of mine keeps close watch on my weight.  Whenever I talk about dropping a few pounds, he shares his contempt.  If he notices me eating lighter and healthier, he shakes his head in annoyance and lectures me on the importance of, not just keeping my weight, but gaining more.  According to this friend, I not only look fine, I am actually getting too skinny and should gain about 10 good pounds.  In his opinion, women should be soft and not hard.  I explain, I only want to tighten my belly fat and pull these thighs in just a quarter of an inch each.  He, frustrated, tells me that what I am doing is not going to help me lose just those parts, but all of my 'good parts' too.  So if he catches me eating chips or junk, he nods in absolute approval.  Today, he bought me warm chocolate chip cookies from Subway, just the way I like them.

Yesterday he, in an animated tone, predicted if I gain, instead of lose the 10lbs I am trying to drop, I will be married in 6 months time.  The way he sees it, 'skinny girls get no love.'  My friend suggests I gain the weight to catch a man and then lose it once married.  Because in his words, 'all women change when they get married anyway.'  I asked another friend his thoughts and he said, 'you have been looking kind of frail lately.'  Umm, I am a good 162lbs, standing 5'7.5".  That is not frail.  Did I mention he is hilarious?  Debating him is so fun, because he is so steadfast about his opinions on everything.

My argument was I have no desire to be skinny, I just want to tone up a couple of things while I can, like this stomach.  He stated, men love bellies.  That a woman is supposed to be soft and not hard.   My friend lamented that this is the midwest and it gets cold.  Men want something to hold on too.  Another guy friend I asked stated that Black women look better with meat on their bones.  The upside is, I was born into a great culture that embraces me being a grown woman.  The downside, who if not your man, will tell you to put the Sprinkles cupcake down??  He wants something cuddly to lay on and cuddle up to, okay, I agree.  I am not necessarily a fan of women with the bodies like men.  You know the type where your instinct is to check for an adam's apple, but you're scared if you stare to hard, you'll get your ass whupped.  Yeah, those 'girls'.  But what really irked me, is how unhealthy we as Black women become and are, in an effort to stay/be 'thick as hell.'

I have often said, there is a thin line between being thick and just being fat.  Too many of these 'thick' girls I see are a burrito away from exiting and entering the house through a garage door.  Sad to say, a lot of times that mentality comes from men.  I remember years ago, my sister's then husband said, in reference to her adopting a healthier lifestyle and losing weight, 'just don't lose that ass.'  Well newsflash, you show me a girl with a big ass, hips and thighs, and at least 70% have bellies, arm and back fat to go with it.  There is rarely an in between.

Their attitude about this issue is only one of the many reasons why I love brothas.  I remember the reactions I received at my heaviest weight.  I lived in Tampa with my cousin; together we created a decadent lifestyle for ourselves.  We would eat Cheesecake Factory cheesecake for dinner (yep, just the cheesecake, no food), drink martinis and wine and spend our weekends laying out on the beach for hours on end.  With no exercise included, my body shot up to the 10lbs my friends speaks of so fondly.  Let me tell you, I was a biggin.  I did not realize it until I saw pictures of myself, or tried to fit my size 12 hips into an unforgiving size 6; I was totally in denial!  I remember crying in dressing rooms, buying extra clothes (the ones I had did not fit), getting winded climbing a simple flight of stairs and most of all my sweaty thighs rubbing together walking in that hot Florida sun!  The brothas in Tampa were not feeling me; shoot, I wasn't feeling me!  When I returned home after 6 months, I will never forget being in Hyde Park, walking north on Blackstone, a northbound, one-way street.  Out of no where, some dude in a car coming from behind, shouted, 'ay-ay short-ay!'  I should have been insulted that he had totally objectified me in public, I mean, he could only see my butt.  He had no clue what my face looked like.  Regardless, the smile that crept across my face was priceless.  I was home!!  It did not stop there, out at clubs with my girls, brothas didn't seem to mind my new juiciness.  One even affectionately whispered how nice my 'big legs' looked.  I dated this guy, soon after my return; we fell off for a couple of months.  We reconnected after I had slimmed down about 20lbs, to my surprise, he was a bit disappointed, stating he thought I looked too fragile.

The fact that, according to, African American women are 35% more likely to die of heart disease, is even more reason to be mindful of our inner bodies (you can be svelte and still be unhealthy) as well as our outer bodies.  Oh men, if we listened solely to them, we would be jacked up.  So as I lift my fork-full of salad while writing this, I chuckle to myself.  It is good to know I can gain weight and still have a relatively large population of brothas who would accept me for who I am and how I look.  But in the meantime, I have my own goals for my personal physique.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Call Me Bourgeois

...or booshie, as I have been referred to by some friends.  But there are some things I cannot get with, for instance chain restaurants.  Or rather, heavily chained restaurants.  In an effort to set up a potential date, a young man asked me if I liked Chilis.  He was referring to the Mexican inspired restaurant chain that you have seen in many-a-mini-malls.  I had to think long and hard how to reply truthfully and not come across as a snob.  I opted for a text that stated, 'not particularly a big fan of Chilis, but I'm open'.  Since he likes tacos, I suggested a place in the Bridgeport neighborhood.  He was game and we continued from there.

Now you can call me 'booshie', but I am against chain restaurants on first dates.  I mean there are exceptions to the rule, Rosebud, Shaw's Crab House, McCormick or Schmick's to name a few.  But your run of the mill Chilis, T.G.I. Friday's, Red Lobster, Cheesecake Factory or even Houston's- can't do it, on principle alone.  I think those locations should be reserved for friends, family and already established couples.  'Hey honey, let's just grab a bite at Grand Luxe.'  Don't get me wrong, I love to drizzle extra Italian dressing on my Olive Garden salad, but don't take me there if you're trying to impress me.  Those restaurants are so mundane.  Considering the city in which I live, Chicago, there is no excuse for brothas not to research new and different food establishments.  I will not hold it against this man, because I don't think he meant anything by it.  That just might be his 'spot'.  But at the same time, I don't want to set us both up for failure by pretending I am cool with something that I am definitely not.

If that makes me stuck up, oh well.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Yeah, I'm a Flake!

It occurred to me today.  I am a flake.  It has taken me awhile to figure it out, but yeah, it's true.  I typically only do what I want to do, with the exception of things I have to do, like work.  What really irritates people is how much I embrace this part of me.

It all started a few years ago when I was hanging out with this crew of girls.  We were close, or at least I thought.  I was friends with one and by osmosis, became friends with her friends.  They were fun to go out and kick it with, but I never really felt like I fit in completely.  Yet, I still considered them to be my girls.

One day, my original friend, her best friend and I were hanging out.  I asked the best friend to give me a ride somewhere, where I cannot even remember.  Regardless, her response was a flat out 'no'.  She came up with some lame ass, but honest excuse about how it was out of her way and she did not feel like it.  At the time it really hurt my feelings.  Mainly because, thinking these were my 'girls', I had previously done things for her I did not feel like doing in the spirit of good friendship.  My question that day, while fuming to myself was, why?

She had every right to say no to my request.  She did not owe me anything.  Even if she did, it was her prerogative to be an absolute asshole.  I learned an important lesson that day:  do not waste your time making frivolous deposits into your imaginary reciprocity bank.  In other words, do good if you want to, do not get caught up in feeling obligated.  In the long run, you may never reap those 'benefits' back.  Your thoughtfulness may never be returned.  Do not hold it against people if they are not as considerate as you.  Furthermore, do what you want when you want.  Do not get caught up feeling pressure to be this or that.  It will only irk the shit out of you when the favor is not returned.

If someone asks me to do something, and I do not want to do it, I try my very best to be tactful, yet honest.  Let me be clear, sometimes, I opt to stay in and watch a movie or my DVR recordings.  Or maybe a book and a good soak in the bath seem more appealing.  I may choose to hang with someone else.  Whatever the case, that day that young lady said no to me, as if I had never gone out of my way for her, helped me realize, life is too short to try to please everyone.  Do not waste your time doing anything and your heart is not in it.

I have been known to withdraw from friends and family alike for simple disinterest.  My feelings may have not changed, just my attitude about the situation.  I am of course more aware of friends' actions in real life situations, not just within social gatherings.  I do, do things for people when I do not feel like it, but I make sure that it's what I really want to do and not because I expect it back someday.  I do not wear myself ragged trying to be everywhere for everybody.  So yes, I can be a flake sometimes.  You may even go as far as to say an asshole.

I'm so gifted at findin' what I don't like the most
So I think it's time for us to have a toast.- Kanye West, 'Runaway'