She wants to lead the glamorous life!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pulling it Together

I had a long night last night.  Longer than I have had in a few weeks.  It did not end well.  And it left me feeling battered mentally and emotionally this morning.  I look a mess.  I mean, my eyes are puffy and red and my hair did not want to cooperate this morning.  I feel like shit.  On my favorite day of the week no less.  I woke up with so much on my my mind that I began to minister to myself.  It is a love/hate type of thing.  I get all up in my own business and try to face the truth.  That can be good for breakthroughs, bad for my tear ducts.  I made it to work safely.  While at my desk, I look up to the T.V. monitor that hangs on the wall in front of me.  And what comes on?  A Smile Train commercial.  Oh, you're not familiar?  Google it.  Here I am feeling like crap, ready to go home and crawl under the covers, or better yet, under the bed and a Smile Train commercial comes on.  Hands down, nothing will make you feel more like a superficial, narcissistic asshole than the Smile Train commercial. 

I hear you God.  I get it.  Count my blessings.  Stop sweating the small stuff.  I only give you what you can handle.  Focus on the good and not the bad.  I will pull myself together today.  I will try to smile.  I will hope and pray that the family portraits that I am taking this evening with my parents don't look like shit.  The geniuses behind that commercial have succeeded in making me feel uncomfortable.  It is in this discomfort that I shall grow.  Here's to planting seeds and forming strong roots.  I hear you God.  I hear you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Swinging Doors

"You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy."-Author Unknown

A friend posted this on her Facebook page this morning and I thought it was very poignant.  Yesterday, I had a phone conversation that solidified the end of a friendship.  Later on in the evening, over hamburgers, another friendship's sturdy foundation was being framed.  I appreciate God's direction and His timing. 

Years ago, when I was about 18 or 19, I overheard a woman mention how years prior she asked God to remove people from her life who meant her harm, were not adding anything good to her life and who were not overall positive people.  She said that after doing this, people started "dropping off like flies".  I thought this was ingenious and followed suit.  I made my request clear to God and tried to verbatum, recite mantra-like, what the woman said.  The funny thing about how God works is He does not always make an announcement that He is going to do something, He just does it.  Almost immediately, both men and women started literally disappearing from my life.  I would have a date with a guy and he would never show, never call.  After stalking him and his family for several months (I was young; this was pre- widespread cellphone usage, so I was calling the house phone) I finally got the message, he was no longer interested.  Years later, after we reconnected, I discovered, he was an all-around semi-loser:  a failed marriage by the age of 30, 3 kids, 2 baby mamas, shitty apartment (not like mine is all that), panties on the floor, etc.  I had dodged a major bullet! 

There was another boy that I was crazy about, I wanted him so bad!  The hopeless romantic in me thought we would be perfect together.  But he would just disappear from time to time.  What seemed at first to be his flaky-ness, I soon discovered was a greater plan.  An exit plan that is.  It took forever for me to make the connection, but it was one of the best things that could have happened.  He, who is great on paper, was an absolute disaster in more ways than one.  Bullet whizzes by ear.

It has not always been guys that have performed disappearing acts.  I have had a series of girlfriends whose friendship did not prove to be as loyal as mine.  There might be that highly audible silence or the sharp sting of a "defriend" on a social media site.  When confronted (and usually that ends up being my role) they wince at my me-ness, i.e. the essence of me being me.  Their faces twist and turn and they, whether on the phone or in person, exhibit absolute discomfort. 

Yesterday's phone call was no different.  After the conversation, I felt a mix of annoyance, irritation and clarity.  I have to giggle sometimes because I totally forget my request to God.  He, as always, has kept His promise.  I, on the other hand, have a short term memory and tend to be heartbroken and confused.  I asked Him to remove those individuals without a positive influence in my life, but I did not specify how He should go about doing it.  While I am staring at a tree trunk, His sight is 10 miles deep into the forrest.  For that I am grateful.

I will admit, I have a bad habit of clinging on.  I want desparately for relationships to work.  I am nostalgic about how things were, or at least how I perceive them to have been.  I spend a lot of time thinking far into the future, about how things might turn out.  I try my best to be a good sport.  And I tend to miss my "exit stage left" cues.  So the fact that God takes time out of His inevitably busy schedule and looks after me is humbling.  It, for so many years now, has been my only defence against a potentially bad situation.  But not for Him, who knows whom I would be married to, or hanging out with. 

But again, that conversation left me clear.  Oh, yes, I was to some regard dumbfounded, but a lot of what was said by this friend, I literally (in speculating with other girlfriends and my mom) had already predicted to be the "issue".  When we disconnected, I felt sorry for her.  But glad for me.  Later, a newer friend and I had dinner and I realized that my friendship glass was not really half empty at all.  In fact, I just needed a smaller cup.  It leaves less room for mis- understandings and interpretations.  Our conversation was genuine and honest.  In between tears, we laughed- hard.  Without me going into details, I mentioned how I would from now on, "just shut the fuck up" because obviously my personality and opinion is a problem (this is what was brought to my attention by my telephone friend).  My dinner friend waved off this and said, "you don't even worry about that".

If ever there is any misconception, please let me clarify:  my blog is about ME.  It is not my commentary on the world, rather commentary on MY life.  The good.  The bad.  The ugly.  I do not use this as a forum to challenge anyone's thought.  You can look at it as an exposed journal.  These are my thoughts and feelings.  If you read something and it makes you say, "I don't want to be friends with MJ."  You missed the point.  As a friend, you could have made this a teaching moment not a time to judge me or my personality missteps. 

What the reactions I get from my blog prove to me?  That I must be writing well.  Well enough that I have ruffled feathers.  My descriptions of individuals are steady and honest enough to evoke irritation.  You can read my blog and know who it is I am talking about.  That, my friends, is good writing.  Which makes me happy!!  I have crossed a threshhold.  Not only with my writing and the blog, but also with my friendships.  On this Thanksgiving eve, I am thankful for a creative outlet.  I am also thankful for friends, in my life, and those God and circumstances pushed out.  I fondly look at life as a series of swinging doors.  When one door closes (my friend coming clean about how she really feels about me) another one opens (me having a free-flowing conversation with a newer friend).  May God continue to let the door swing. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wildly Composed

Shoshoni believed the Coyote as an indication of an ending. The sighting of the Coyote was said to bring natural shifts in balance, causing an end (which, of course, simply makes way for new beginnings, and so on). Essentially, the Coyote is like a "way-maker" of new direction as it went about its symbolic role of representing the cycle of life/death in nature.

Yesterday morning, while on the #6 bus heading downtown, I saw a coyote standing on the Columbus/Museum Campus bus stop.  A real, live coyote looking at us as the bus drove past.  In typical MJ fashion, I automatically attributed it to me.  I figured God had a sign for me and me alone.  Yep, that's how I think.  Anyway, all day, I was trying to figure out how that sighting could tie into my current life.  Was the coyote symbolic of me:  wild, free, threatening?...

It took the whole day, and even until this morning before I settled on what I should take from this- if anything at all.  Last night, I had a really good time.  The kind of good time that is not spilling over with drunken dance parties and gut-busting cackles, but rather an outright affirming evening where you understand that contrary to even some of your own beliefs, you are not crazy.  I felt comfortable and even tickled last night.  I am going through a transition, or rather others are moving me towards a transition that they themselves are orchestrating.  My lesson:  just pick up your instrument, shut up and play your part. 

There is no need to go into detail about the individual situations that brought me to this enlightened place.  I mean in the long run, it's my handling and processing of tests that make up my true testimony.  What is important to remember is, there is no need to have an ignominious outburst or outcome to prove my point.  In a grad school counseling course, we were taught that no response, is a response.  Like the coyote, in both instances, I stood quietly and watched the bus go by. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

To Antoine

As I type this blog at 3:44pm on a Friday afternoon, all I can think about is how much I want a cocktail- a really good cocktail.  A really good dirty martini, just the way I like it:  extra dirty, large olives, with ice cold vodka.  I want it served up by a friendly, knowledgeable barkeep who knows the importance of letting a girl drink in silence.  I want this drink served up, no later than 5:30pm today.  My intention is to feel that giggly warmth within before 7pm.  So that by 8 o'clock tonight, I already feel as though my weekend has started on the right foot.  But what made me type this post, had less to do with my desire for that drink, and more about my need for the company I wanted to share that drink with.  Antoine.  Sometimes, on a Friday like today, when my workplace is quiet and time is moving extremely slow, I get a strong desire to have afterwork cocktails with Antoine- my best friend.  The realization of how impossible this is, makes me (as I did today) come close to tears.  I feel so sad.  To have a friend, your best friend, so far away is depressing.  There are just some events that are best with a "bestie".  I love cocktails with anyone, don't get me wrong, but there is something celestial about afterwork cocktails with a good friend.  As much as I would like to throw out a message on Facebook or via text to see who would be game, I know it's no use.  I will only be disappointed at the "subpar" replacement.  Today, I want my best friend.  He will be home for Thanksgiving, but it's never enough.  There are days when you just need your friend.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Simply Simpatico

I had a refreshing conversation the other day.  It was with a girlfriend that I have known for 14 years.  As on far too many occasions, I woke up with my mind racing.  I was second guessing myself about an issue and needed a bit of advice.  I called my uncle. I called my best friend Antoine.  Neither one answered.  It was 6:30AM.  But I figured since they are both on the East Coast, they might be up and at 'em.  No such luck.  So I called my girl.  She was fixing  her lunch and getting herself and the baby ready to leave for the morning.  God bless working moms!  We chatted off and on until 8AM (hanging up when necessary) as she dropped the baby off at school, pumped gas and drove herself to work.

I gave her the scenario which had me concerned and she gave me an honest answer.  More importantly, she gave me an answer that best suited me.  I have learned the importance of having people who are like you around.  Now, obviously, if you have serious issues, you may want to upgrade your friend list.  But if that is not the case, it is good to have someone who can see things from your angle.  Yes, you want people to tell you the truth, but if it comes served with you and your behavior in mind, it tends to resonate more.  My girl is very similar to me.  She and I have had a long lasting relationship because we have similar values and ideas about life and love.  We have the same taste in clothes (the majority of my hand-me-down wardrobe comes from her), we are about the same size (though not now, she is pregnant with her second child) and enjoy the same foods, outings and entertainment.  In a nutshell, if anybody can see things from my perspective, it is her. 

Having someone around to give you the sobering 'devil's advocate' truth is nice and all, but it is good to have someone who actually gets you.  I have a friend who is quite the opposite.  She gives good advice, but there are times when I think her approach is stinging and sharp.  I almost have to explain myself, to explain my point of view.  But with a friend whom I share a more congenial relationship with, they already know.  So the advice is more tailored toward me.  I do not need anyone to hold punches, but after ending the phone conversation, it felt comforting to know that I was not only understood, but validated.  It was divine order that I spoke to her and no one else.  In advising me, and because she knows me so well, she presented a detailed portrait of how she saw the situation and the role I played within it.  Demonstrating how my decision was a direct result of the type of person I am; she confirmed that there was no need to worry about the issue that hung over my head, because in the end, I was right. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My Body's Betrayal

I don't feel stressed.  I don't think I'm stressed.  But every time certain topics come to mind.  Or certain individuals approach me about certain topics.  Or just the thought of being in a situation where certain individuals would approach me about said certain topics come to mind, my eye twitches.  At first I thought this was just a random twitch of the eye that has occurred in the past for no apparent reason.  But it won't stop.  I finally admitted to myself that it may be more than a sporadic reflex of the body when someone asked me a question, or rather made a suggestion that annoyed me.  When the conversation concluded, tears started forming in my eyes and it was confirmed:  I might have a problem. 

I researched this eye twitching online and apparently the remedy is to relax or get more sleep.  Dr. Oz disputes the stress theory and says it's the body's way of producing more tears for dry eyes. But because of the timing of the twitching- thoughts of unpleasantness, thoughts of potential unpleasantness, thoughts of how to avoid unpleasantness- I feel there is a direct connection.  My body is signaling to me that something is wrong. 

Besides the twitching, I have been dreaming every night.  Dreams are not bad necessarily, but dreaming does mean you are closer to the surface of conciousness, therefore, not in a deep enough sleep to completely rest.  This leaves me tired in the mornings when I awake.  My uncle, the therapist, prescribes relaxing.  But how does one relax when there are so many negative thoughts penetrating my mind?  I am good at relaxing, don't get me wrong.  I put the "re" in relaxing!  But the more mellow I am, the easier it is for certain thoughts to creep into a seemingly empty brain.  I will still give it a try.  My mom's remedy is to eat healthier foods that will boost my energy and psyche.  So as I munch on this apple and look at the empty bowl that once held the raw salad (no dressing) I just devoured this morning, I am hoping for a miracle.

This twitching has to stop.  It is not only annoying, but it serves as a reminder that all is not well.  And that's not good.  As much as I want to put things together on the outside, like everything is okay, it apparently is not.  It took my body's 'betrayal' to tell me this.  Okay body, I'm listening now.  You have my full attention.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Censor-y Deprivation

I do not like to be censored!  But, I also do not like offending and isolating others.  I have been advised by my best friend and beau that everything that comes to mind, does not need to be divulged.  All those constant thoughts that run through my mind at all times of the day and night, need not be expressed in my writing.  If I take this into account and my already self-imposed stern rule of not using real names without permission, not telling stories that involve the personal business of others and tying any stories about others into my own personal growth and revelations to avoid being a gossip blog.  I rarely discuss celebrities.  I do not touch upon politics.  I skirt around race issues.  And with the exception of my monthlong daily blogging challenge I took earlier this year, I make a point of writing when I feel I really have something to say. 

A recent post was the catalyst of the advice given.  Although everything in the post was how I truly felt and I did not exaggerate the situation to make the story more enticing, I was told it was unnecessary.  That if by chance the parties involved were to decide out of the blue, 'hey, I want to read MJ's blog today...for the first my life' and read it, they would instantly recognize themselves.  Did I feel a pang in my side as I made the decision to write and publish it?  Yes.  Did I purposely only share the link on my Facebook fan page, not my home, where I am friends with that individual?  Yes.  And yet I wanted, and did, post it anyway.  The Gift, never said anything, so I thought I was in the clear.  My bestie, who casually, but usually never reads my posts (I tell him everything anyway, so he already knows the stories) gave me the 'shame on you' humph.  He told me I was "stirring the pot" unnecessarily.  So in a phone conversation with the Gift during a lunch break, he confirmed that he did indeed read it and that it embarrassed him.  He said he did not want to tell me what to do, instead he instructed, "do what you want to do."  Which I am wise enough to know is guy-speak for, "take that shit down."  So I did.  And told him that I did.  To which he thanked me. 

That is the only post I have ever removed after publishing.  The rebel in me proclaims, 'you can't tell me what to do!'  But my mature self, who has no desire to embarrass my guy, overrides this thought.  Is it worth it?  I want my blog to be free and open.  I started writing it as a journal.  The bestie says there are some topics that need to just be written down privately in an actual journal and not broadcast on the worldwide web.  Or he suggested that I just tell him, if I need to get something off my chest.  I have always taken pride in my writing and the platform I have built with my blog.  But the thought of having to be so particular about what I say and how I say it, left me feeling conflicted.  This is such a good outlet, but it's not worth any damage my words can cause.  As I sit here, hoping my best friend Antoine hurries up and calls so I can tell him the latest nagging thought that has popped into my mind, I do feel restless.  But I also know it is what's best.  I think what had me worrying was that I already limit my posts due to my previously mentioned guidelines, and now I have even less to write!  At least now, I can return the focus to me and stay away from magnifying, for the world, or in my case that's the 20-50 average readers, what I consider to be other people's "issues".

"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you." -Maya Angelou

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What Is Your Happiest Moment?

Last night I attended a seminar about goal setting.  The certified life coach, Rosie Guagliardo*, was charming and funny and had a lot of insight on attaining goals.  I have previously attended time management and goal-oriented classes and workshops, but this coach's approach was by far the best.  Instead of having us spend time making lists about what we wanted, Rosie, who studied marketing and psychology, giving her a unique ability to get to the root of our desires and roadblocks, had the group focus on happiness.  To be specific, how one can become happier. 

The first step was to identify what "happiness" means.  From there, we discussed what could stop someone from setting and reaching their goals.  Then Rosie asked us to pinpoint a time in our lives, present or past, when we felt the most happy.  For me, this was easy.  I have always regarded my 25th summer to be one of the happiest times in my life.  I remember feeling totally free.  I described how single I was and how good it felt to date back then.  It was also this summer when I moved out of my parents house for good.  I, for the first time, got to experience "boat life", understood the enjoyment of riding on the back of a Harley, dined in fine restaurants on a regular and kept my social calendar extremely busy, 7 days a week.  I did not tire then, as easily as I do now.  I recalled how mature I felt, as I remember thinking, "I can now rent a car".  I felt young, and I started morphing into the woman I am today.  I was utterly nervous about turning 25, yet, it became my most cherished year.  It was a magical summer.

I also added how being in New York makes me feel alive and vibrant.  When I am there I feel in synch with my true self.  I am giddy like a child and feel like life is good.  New York makes me happy.  I try to visit at least once a year.

While I was giving my description, Rosie took notes and explained that when you are able to hone in on your happiest moments, you can then start to figure out what makes you happy.  From my descriptions, she came up with words like:  free/freedom, youthful, vibrancy, fun, variety, nature and independence. This sums me up in a nutshell.  The key is applying my most inner desires to my life.  What I liked most about this class, is it was not your typical, list 5 goals you'd like to figure out how to make that happen.  Goals can be too overwhelming to manage like your average grocery checklist.  Could it be as simple as Rosie says?  Could finding more happy help you reach your real goals?  Rosie brought to our attention that it is human nature to create goals of what we should want.  Not what we really want.  When you create your 1, 5 and 10 year plan, are you listing what you really want in life or what you feel you should be doing in 1, 5 and 10 years?  Are you subconsciously working from a script written by society or someone other than yourself?  Do you really want to be a V.P. of a major company?  Or is it just that the thought of being okay with being an admin for another 20 years makes you feel weak and listless?  Is marriage really on your "to do" list, or is being alone scare you more than being with a mismatched partner?

What a refreshing course!  There is nothing like leaving a seminar/class and feeling you not only learned something, but you gained a new understanding.  What are your goals?

Click to learn more about Inner Brilliance Coaching.

*Rosie Guagliardo, founder and coach for Inner Brilliance Coaching, received her Life Coaching certification from the International Coaching Federation and Coaches Training Institute.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Are You Declawed?

Catty:  Deliberately hurtful in one's remarks; spiteful.
I have been referred to as catty twice in the past 3 weeks.  I do not like this assertion and find it unfounded.  I disagree with the synonymous nature of cattiness to womanhood.  As a woman, I feel I have the right to an opinion about a person or thing without it having an automatic negative connotation.  I do not like everything.  Nor am I a fan of everybody.  My being female does not dictate that everything I say, especially about other females, is nasty or negative.  If I call a woman out for her behavior no matter how mild or obnoxious it is, does not signal me having an issue with women.  I am in the company of women all the time and I am mature enough to make the distinction between someone I like and someone I can do without.
The person who proclaimed me to be catty, was none other than the Gift himself.  He dismissed my request to not be in the future company, if at all possible, of two separate women as me being catty.  And attributed it to some “woman/girl stuff” that he did not understand.  I will give him that.  There are things and/or violations that women can pick up on, that men are absolutely clueless to.  But in each case, one I previously mentioned in my post about *double dating, I feel I was right in my opinion of the situation.  When I brought it to the attention of other individuals, both men and women,  to get their thoughts, it was clear that I was not being catty, but had valid points.
What is the distinction between being catty and opinionated?  Where can we draw the line separating hurtful and spiteful comments, and the truth?  Do I have to always be the bigger person, inhaling and holding my tongue against ridiculousness?  When can I call a spade a spade?  Do I always have to smile and be the mirror image of a first lady, keeping all natural emotions under the surface?  Why is maturity parallel to shutting up and pretending?  Could it not be said that my maturation is further pushed forward when I have the guts to say what it is I feel?  On the flip, maybe I need to hold my cards tighter.  I, as mentioned in the double dating post, was quite assertive about my feelings towards an individual.  Because of the “witness” present, I do run the risk of having my proclamation repeated.  It could very well get back to the wrong person.  Then I would look like I have the problem, when in fact, she has the problem.  The next day, sobered up and a bit embarrassed by my alcohol soaked behavior, I spoke to my uncle about what happened.  What he said to me stuck and I return to it in my head when I have any doubts about my “cattiness”.  “You have come too far to go back.  If she wants to get on aboard, she will have to catch up.  But you can’t go backwards.”  Thank you and thank you!  In my two “catty” incidences, that is how I really felt deep down:  that I have surpassed that moment and that type of attitude.  I will no longer sit silent and burn within as bullsh*t occurs.  I have indeed passed those milestones.  I cannot meet a woman on several occasions and act like we have never met.  I am over that.  I used to be that way, nasty and mean spirited- unable to let things go or soften my mood to embrace a person on a new day.  I was in college then.  If you ask some of my schoolmates from that time, there is a relatively large population who still consider me a bitch.  So I understand that behavior; the insecurity that fuels it.  But again, that was several mile markers in the past.  I don’t want to stoop to anyone’s stunted level, playing along idly just to avoid the title of catty.  If it is catty for me to openly affirm that certain individuals don’t make the ‘cut’, then let me meow.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Bare Essentials

Last week, my girlfriend and co-worker’s teenaged daughter Kim* visited our office.  She had an early day at school and stopped by, as always, to visit me at my desk to say ‘hi’.  On that particular day, she was flanked by two of her schoolmates.  As I am close to her mom, I had heard the stories of this threesome of friends who do everything together.  However, I had never met the girls.  They are all high school seniors, preparing for college- at least Kim is.  Here is what bothered me the most.  Contrary to Kim’s very naturally beautiful look (she wears no makeup, has her own natural and full head of hair, although she loves painting her nails, she does not wear false tips or overlays and she keeps a very casual chill look about herself- no heels or tight skirts and dresses), her friends were a little glam.  One had a full weave.  The color chosen was black, which is such a hard color for most to pull off, especially when you’re young and have her complexion.  The fact that it was long (past her shoulders) just highlighted how bad it was.  I could tell from my amateur eye, that it was human hair- I’ll give her that, but it was a low-grade selection.  The other friend had false eyelashes.  Anyone who has ever worn lashes knows that even with “individuals” (which she wore) there is a very short, acceptably cute lifespan.  Do not get me wrong, my intent is not to bash these girls.  I cringe at some of the outfits and makeup choices I have made in my youth and in some cases, not so distant past.  So I understand a young girls desire to be ultra-feminine and mature beyond her years.  We all have witnessed little 3-year-olds pressed to get any kind of lip gloss, even if it’s just Carmex.  My problem is with the moms.  I know as a woman with no kids, my 2 cents may not be looked at as much.  But as a woman, especially a woman of color, furthermore a Black woman, I shudder to think of how these girls truly feel about themselves- their true selves. 
For the record, my mom was not spending crazy amounts of money on hair or anything else for that matter.  If I got individual braids, it was more about convenience and upkeep, than style.  But whether I chose to adorn my hair with afro-centric fabric covered headbands to jazz up my mom’s homemade cornrows throughout junior high (yes, that’s right).  Or, I fell in love with and worked intricate earrings, I made the best of what I thought was a bad situation.  I felt pretty in my own way.  Did I want a relaxer?  Oh yes!  But my mom had seen my hair fall out previously from the chemicals and did not want to further damage my follicles.  As a woman now with “big hair”, I am so grateful.  Instead of helping your daughter learn how to manage her hair, whether it’s relaxed or natural, you have added a couple of packs of nonsense to it!  This is why there are grown women walking around who are crippled when it comes to their hair.  They never got to know or understand it.  If they have an interview, date, big event, etc., they shell out money at the salon or slap a wig or hat on to create a diversion.  The last time I went to the salon was in May.  I miss my stylist like crazy, but if funds or time do not permit, I am still okay.  The reason I, like so many other sistas, feel so liberated with natural hair is because the message it sends not only to the world, but to yourself is that, I am good enough.  I am pretty enough.   With the lashes, I love lashes.  I think there is no quicker way to spruce up your face than a little eyeliner and lash action.  However, this look can still be achieved with good ole mascara and drugstore eyeliner.  As someone who suffered from (and still does monthly) acne, I know how hard it can be to feel totally comfortable with one’s self.  Instead of buying me the whole caboodle of make-up, like some of the girls in my class, my mother let me get a pigmented Clinique Cream Stick.  That was my makeup.  And I thought I was doing it!  What message are you sending your girls if you do not stress the beauty they possess without and within? 
Yes, hair and makeup take us to another level; but a good, workable canvas is essential.  Recently, while vacationing in Mexico, I noticed that after the first couple of days, a clean face with sunscreen became my beauty regimen.  Although I brought some product to do my hair at night in order to keep it “stretched”, coming in from partying at 4:30am, made that a task that would not be accomplished.  So my hair, affected by the humidity, stayed soft and fluffy, and short.  At an intimate gathering hosted by the same previously mentioned girlfriend, a friend of hers, who happened to be a professional photographer, brought his “big boy” camera.  I asked if he would take my picture.  My instinct was to stand up and pose.  But he instructed me to, “no, sit back down, that was a good shot.”  I did, and the pictures are beautiful.  There is one close-up and the other showing the full body.  Taken at night, he captured my glowing skin (my home body scrubs are indeed working) and yes, me being critical of myself, I noticed the slight dark circles under my eyes.  But if I am fair and honest with myself, there is not that much to critique.  The picture is all me- sans makeup.  I may have worn a little of eyeliner and/or mascara, but beyond that, the picture is me at my purest form.  We should teach our girls to appreciate themselves, as they are.  Then they will know how best to accentuate their assets and love themselves without any additives.

*Name has been changed.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

+1 (Plus One)

It is my understanding and legend has it, after The Gift first met me, he told everyone who would listen that he intended for me to be his "Plus One" to Mi Casa Holiday this year.  Mi Casa is a house music weekend event, where people from all over the world converge on Playa del Carmen, Mexico to celebrate and enjoy house music.  It was at this event last year that he met my girlfriend Ang, whose house we later met at.  On our first date, he reiterated his plans to me directly.  Stating that he knew it was crazy and I probably did not believe him, but "watch, you're going to be my plus one (+1)".

I gave the same sheepish, embarrassed grin/smile I have learned to adopt after being let down previously on so many occasions from previous boyfriends.  I have to be honest, I was humored by his convincing tone, but I wasn't holding my breath.  I mean, I cannot count the amount of places I was supposed to go to or the things I was going to do, that never came to fruition.  But as I type this post in a Playa del Carmen hotel, a meager 8 months after meeting my beau, I cannot tell you how much more I appreciate him.  When I told him thank you, he asked why I was thanking him.  What he does not know or at least cannot understand is how much it means that he invited me and kept his word.  I love the fact that he put his mind to something and made it happen.  It may seem simple, but I cannot stand liars and I get so annoyed when someone makes a point of making plans that you both know will never come to be.

I am going to enjoy my vacation, not just because I'm chilling in Mexico, but because of who I'm chilling in Mexico with.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Eating Sadness

I have been doing the 'Daniel Fast' for 2 weeks now.  This diet, which requires fasting from such foods as meat, seafood, all animal bi-products (including eggs and dairy, but with the exception of minimal honey), sugars/sweeteners (the hardest one yet), leavened bread, caffeine and alcohol, is a total of 21 days.  I have a little over 7 days left.  I did this diet 2-3 years ago, but felt more prepared than I am now.  The fast is based on Daniel in the the Bible (Click for verses).  So my first go 'round was with the church.  Although I have tried to increase my prayer and meditation during this time, my prayer life has admittedly suffered.  Maybe because my intentions are more about getting into my bikini in Mexico, than sacrificing for the Lord.

The fast has worked in increasing the pounds I had already started shedding.  But I have noticed some things this time around.  Number one, when I first started I acquired a low-humming headache, which did not subside for several days.  I chalked this up to me no longer indulging in my coffee 'needs'.  Then came the dreams.  I typically have bizarre dreams while refreshing my eggs (take that however you need to, I couldn't think of a more tactful way of describing it- my apologies); but I am still dreaming a week later.  Sometimes my dreams increase when I have things on my mind and I am anxious or excited, scared or nervous and especially when I am depressed.

This leads me to my next point, I have been very 'bluesy' lately.  I argued with my mother.  The Gift has gotten on my nerves with his perceived 'neglect'.  And I find myself ready for bed throughout my workday.  I cannot stay up past 9:30pm without lots of stimulation.  I am an early bird, but sometimes there does not seem to be any reason for my nodding off at 8pm.  I have cried myself to sleep these past few nights and I wake in the wee hours of the morning, say about 1 or 2am feeling emotionally empty.  I feel needy and childish.  Is there some link to me dieting and my emotional state? I had to research this and find out.  Apparently, I need to increase my serotonin intake.  I can get this through whole wheat and rolled oats.  According to an article I read on, I may be leaving myself a 'pleasure void'.  I am sure this could be eradicated with more exercise, but who has energy for that when you can cry yourself into a good 2 hour, midday nap?

Yes, that may be the answer.  I am neglecting myself of the food pleasures that I enjoy so much.  I watched a woman walk down Jackson Blvd downtown so seductively eating a Rolo McFlurry- whore!  Do not even consume yourself with how I knew it was Rolo McFlurry and not a Twix McFlurry.  Just know that she gave me a look, that let me know the look I was giving her was pretty perverted.  Only it wasn't her I was checking for.  No, I wanted that McFlurry.  In my bed, while I watched 'Breaking Bad'.  Have I asked my friends to eat their artichoke and spinach cheese dip slow, not wasting a drop?  Yes.  Did I instruct the Gift to drink his Leinenkugel Lemon Berry Shandy with more love and tenderness?  Yes.  My mouth watering as I watched the gulps go down his throat.  Oh yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have a problem.  I have one more week and it feels like Christmas.  I won't overindulge, I mean, there's no sense in totally crashing.  But I do have a few things on my list:  fish- of any kind, cheese- the sharper the better and butter- what I would do for butter right about now.  I dream of meatball subs and rib tips.  I would like to taste a good lamb chop.  The countdown continues.

Confessions of a sad dieter.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Summer Madness

Stevie Wonder once sang about a love lost in summer.  In his emotional, "I Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer", he speaks to someone who has left him cold and alone during a time that was meant for love and warmth.  This song always makes me cry.  Only Stevie can leave you drained of emotion with his voice that rings of real heartache and pain.  I thought of this song today as I quietly mourn the loss of the summer season itself.  I am a Chicagoan.  I have lived here most of my life.  I understand that after summer, comes autumn and after autumn, comes winter.  Although I like a season change to keep things fresh, I get so down during the winter months.  When the temperature cools, so do my lighthearted, 'I can conquer the world' feelings.  I feel less inclined to get out and be active.  I tend to get the blues more frequently and I feel stifled by the fashion options. 

I love the summer and this weekend marked the unofficial close of the 2012 season.  I am bummed, truly.  My overwhelming thought this weekend?  What exactly did I do this summer?  When I stop and survey the season, I have to admit that I had a pretty good time, but I, as always, feel as though I could have done more.  Why can't the summer season be just a little bit longer, say, a month or two?  Oh, yeah, I remember.  It is because I live in a unforgiving cold climate region that does not allow for outdoor activities past the month of August. 

The summer has it's downsides, like how the crime rate skyrockets in the warmer weather.  Even the thugs are too cold to act a fool in winter.  I do look forward to that part of winter.  But I still like to take my chances and enjoy the sweltering heat, the hot sun and the music that tends to be everywhere (or maybe just in my head).  I want a longer summer!  Yes, I know I attended 2 Cubs games, traveled to Las Vegas and L.A., attended countless parties, sipped cocktails in a many juke joints, hung out after hours with nothing more than shorts and a tank top, lost track of time as daylight lingered well passed 7pm all while letting my toes breathe- but I want more!!

What do I think is leaving with summer?  That footloose and fancy free feeling when the sunlight kisses me awake despite myself.  The invincible, head-lifted walk that comes with summer.  The random fun that seems to spring up more often during the months of June, July and August.  Yes, I am sad and I have the blues.  As usual, I guess I will have to create my own summer.  Or just endure until next year.

In the words of Stevie, ...

No, I never dreamed you'd leave in summer
But now I find my love has gone away
Why didn't you stay?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Friends or Fans?

Do you have friends or fans in your life?  I have a friend, *Pat, who can be a bit entertaining on Facebook.  Pat has mastered being coy enough to get curious responses and brash and honest enough to keep the comments and 'Likes' coming.  Pat is a friend.  I like Pat.  But Pat's 'Friend List' is filled with more gawking onlookers than actual friends.  I think Pat likes this.  Which made me wonder, how many of us have fans as opposed to friends?

Well, let's first make the distinction between fans and friends.  A fan will 'Like' all comments and posts, making sure to respond how much they almost choked from laughing out loud at your circumstance.  A friend makes a point of reaching out after the fact or outside of the public post to ensure that everything is all good.  Fans leave encouraging words of how awesome you are; friends tell you that to your face.  Which leads me to my next example, fans only interact with you online; you share actual memories with friends.  Let me be clear, there are not only virtual fans, but real ones too.  Of the people who show up to any and every event you have, how many of them would you actually sit down and talk to?  How many would you say really know you?  Who amongst them would you invite for an intimate evening with friends and family?

In most cases, the fan list outweigh the friends list.  Now I must admit, this is something I have only observed from the outside.  I happen to have the winning personality which only keeps the most genuine and honest people close to me.  I have never been the type of person people feel they need to hang around for what I have or what I do.  You really have to want to deal with me, to deal with me.  Which, in my opinion, is a good thing.  My fanbase is non-existant.  I am okay with that and have wholeheartedly embraced it.

So again, I ask, do you have friends or fans?

*Name has been changed.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Pioneer Woman

Several months ago, I got rid of my cable.  I do this every year.  I get cable, the bill gets stupid, then I drop it altogether.  Comcast and I usually part ways with me cursing their gangster nature and them calling their peoples on me to collect my 'oustanding balance'.  A balance I take my sweet little time paying because I absolutely feel as if I have been financially sodomised.  My thought is, I watch a total of about 8 channels, 5 of which are local or the national network stations; so why do I have to pay so much?  I have gone without cable before, so it really does not bother me.  Especially with Netflix and Hulu, I do not even give it a thought. 

Well, in June, I rid myself of the internet as well.  My hotspot had started malfunctioning (probably because I kept it on all day- hey you never know when you'll need to look something up, the warm up time was annoying).  After several days of the runaround, I was asked to send the hotspot back to the Clear warehouse so they could investigate the problem.  During this process, I was told I could either:  A) have my service suspended for 6 weeks and wait until further notice. or B) Purchase a new hotspot and keep my service going until a determination was made.  If it was found that the problem did not warrant a replacement hotspot, because the issue was not their fault, I would just keep my new device.  If they were at fault, I would be reimbursed.  I hated both of these choices, but opted to have the service suspended.  I mean, I am at the Gift's house enough and his crib is fully stocked with cable, electronics and the internet.  After 'testing' the device, it was determined that I was outside of my waranty period; I would have to purchase another hotspot.  When the question was asked if I wanted to start my service up again, I declined.  I did not like the way they handled their business.

Compound that with the fact my old school antennae is ragedy and needs to be replaced (it's complete with tin foil tips); I have been without my usual entertainment.  I live in an old building in the hood, so there are no wireless connections for my phone to latch onto, making Facebook impossible.  Contrary to what most people think, I have not missed any of these things.  In fact, I don't even give it a thought until I tell someone and they respond with shock, saying they 'could never go without' such and such.  I tell them, 'you'd be surprised'.  And I think most people would.  When they ask how do I 'live'.  I tell them I do this crazy thing called reading.  Plus, I have music and I watch DVDs.  Furthermore, I don't sit in the house.  I am rarely there.  I typically go to bed no later than 9:30/9:45pm, so it's not like I'm up all night.  Actually, I sleep better and get more rest without the typical 'entertainment'.  How often do you find yourself up watching something stupid like a zombie?  Knowing the liklihood of that program being replayed is high.  I cannot tell you the amount of times the internet has sucked me in, keeping me up late.  Who responded to that post?  What shoes are on sale at Nordstrom's, Neiman's, wherever?  Where is the corporate headquarters of this company?  What is the latest on this blog?  I had to put myself on a strict bedtime, because I would look up and it would be about 10:30 or 11pm! 

Oh, and let me not forget to mention, I have no air conditioning in the summer!  I know, I know!!  By the time I decide to get it, the summer is over.  I am a true pioneer woman, channeling my ancestors.    My current ComEd bill is a whopping $14.07!!  I can dig it!  Life is good and I enjoy my quiet space.  I do not have nearly as much clutter in my head as before.  The only drawback is, there are some things that are better with T.V. on in the background- like polishing my nails.  Plus, I have to make sure I read current events, since I do not watch the news as of late.  All in all, it really isn't so bad. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Best

I am a worrier.  I worry about all sorts of things.  One thing in particular that often concerns me is who I might be beefin' with or who I have offended.  Maybe because it has been said that I have stepped on my share of toes.  Whether it is intentional or not, true or false, that is what has been told to me.  I was just thinking to myself, how many people in my life are not speaking to me.  The number seemed huge.  But upon further review, I realized that simply is not true.  First, when I count the family and friends in my life who don't return texts, ain't feeling me, are not speaking to me, the number is surely not small.  But, those people in my life who do, supercede it by far.  Then I had to step back and define my idea of being 'in my life.'  If we are not talking and have not spoken in months- hell years, no matter the familial connection.  You cannot be considered 'in my life.'  That fact alone allowed me to exhale.

You do your best.  With family, you send that birthday text your mother reminded you about, knowing it will not be replied to- ever.  You celebrate your birthday without receiving your text (I guess their mother/father did not remind them).  With friends, you call them consecutively, and try to subside any irritation when the call is not answered or returned.  You do your best.  You give the most concrete and clear advice when you know someone is going down a less than favorable path.  When they continue that journey, you SHUT THE FUCK UP!  All the while, you do your best.  You reach out when you can and pull back when it is necessary.  And pray always.  Not only for them, but mainly for you.  Knowing that this is not the last time your words will be misconstrued or misunderstood.  You just do your best.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Snappin' Off

This weekend, the Gift, straight checked this chick and I loved it!  I am not a fan of men being ungentleman-like to women, but in some cases, it is necessary.  There is this person who is an extension of his crew of friends.  Extension meaning, I would feel the most comfortable referring to her as a groupie of sorts.  She is phony and an all around clown.  But she is not important.  Although she sparked the conversation, she is not the least bit important.  What is important is, the Gift checked her for not acknowledging me.  Yes, I told on her.  Mainly because she had the audacity to tell him to 'bring your girl' to her birthday celebration.  When he told me that, I knew it was bull.  And sure enough the next two encounters I had with her, she completely ignored me.  So you were hoping I would not have enough perception to know that you do not care for me, but you want me to be in the company of all of your friends so you could diss me on your turf?...I'm straight on that.  But again, I digress, it's not about her.  The Gift, checked her.  In a bar.  So assertively and to the point, I heard parts of it over thumping house music.  "How you gon(na) come in here, speak to me and not speak to my lady?!  No, no, how you not gon(na) acknowledge my lady?"  Yeah, get her!!

I giggled inside and I still smile when I think about it.  Here is a "woman" who will come in and hug my man, ignore me completely, even though we were all in the same vicinity (you could at least wave to the group as a whole), then you sit in my man's vacant seat, which of course is right next to me, turn your back to me and commence to flick your hair repeatedly over your shoulder.  Oh yeah, she was trippin'!  But that's not how the story ends.  She came over and heavily tapped me on my shoulders.  When I turn around, she waves sheepishly and says, 'Hi'.  I say, my usual, "hey, how you doing?".  Then she set herself up for major failure.  She extends her arms childishly, to welcome a hug.  My response?  "No hugs, it was good seeing you.  But no hugs."  Her face displayed shock and disbelief.  I smiled and turned back to my conversation.

It is good to know I have someone in my corner who doesn't go for the okey-doke.  He knows women can be catty, but does not see that as a reason for someone to be rude, especially not to me.

Friday, June 29, 2012

To Be Young

It is officially summertime at the gig.  Which means intern season.  Every year we get a great batch of kids.  I mean the kind of kids that make you want to actually have some in the hopes that they will turn out to be as polite and mannerable as the young men or as smart and kind as the young ladies.  One other thing the 'kids' spark in me, is a regret that I really wasted my youth not being as proactive and career driven as I should have been.  I was foolish enough to think the world really was my oyster and I had so much time to kill.  Whether it be with less than worthy 'boyfriends' or dead-end jobs that did not do much for my skillset or resume.  I was focused on the wrong thing:  living life.  I wanted life to rush hard and fast at me, but did not think it would sweep me up in it's mist in order to mature and essentially age me.

I thought I was so smart and well put together, but in hindsight, I had no clue what the hell I was doing and where I was heading.  I knew I wanted to live.  I would cringe whenever people asked what I wanted to do.  I had no idea.  I wanted to get paid a respectable and livable wage and make the rest of it up as I went along.  My major concerns as a younger woman was having a man.  Having fun.  Kicking it.  What 32-year-old MJ knows in contrast to 18, 19, 20-year-old MJ is I could have been laying the groundwork for that then and doing those things now.  I guess the thought of 32 seemed so old.  Back then, my futuristic, and might I add idealistic and unrealistic eye, had me married with a few kids.  My husband would be a professional of some kind, making lots of money.  We would live downtown or on the North Side.  I would be chillin' with a boutique my husband would have bought for me or be a stay-at-home mom or even someone with a cool job that allowed me to dress professionally fly.  Yeah, that's how shallow my thought process was, I just wanted a 'cool job'.  I wish I was more focused.  I wish I put some thought into having a specific accredited skill.  I wish I knew that life did not have to stop at 30.  That there is a whole lot more life to live and enjoy.

I see these kids and I think, 'what if?'

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hot Pants

I have made it no secret that I have gained 5-10lbs more than I care to admit or carry on these hips.  This fact makes it hard to wear certain articles of my wardrobe because either the clothes do not fit or they are ill-fitting.  A skirt that used to be flirty and short, has a more sexy, bootilicious effect with the extra butt I'm carrying around.  A pair of cute, perfect-for-the-summer, pants will not zip- AT ALL!  I refuse to buy replacement clothes because I do not intend to be this weight beyond this summer.  Plus, as you know, my FA ain't having it anyway.

Last night I went out to hear some music and decided to be a bit daring.  I wore one of my favorite pair of shorts.  They are Calvin Klein and I love them.  These shorts used to be staples in heavy summer rotation, but I have gained the weight obviously and it has just been consistently hot enough to wear them without looking to thirsty.  I rarely, if ever wear these shorts without heels.  In my mind, they are made for heels.  So I put on a throwback pair I had honestly forgotten about, and a form fitting long sleeve and slightly see through top.  For the first time in a couple of months, I felt all out sexy.  I was kind of worried for the reaction.  Are they too short?  Walking to my car from my apartment building, heading over to the place, I heard, all the way from down the end of the block it seemed, "Hey, how you doing?".  Yeah, they're short as hell.  When I arrived at the venue, I felt a bit 'over dressed'.  So I sat down.  Plus, I could feel the eyes of men on my every move.  The women's stares were a bit more judgmental.  But as I carefully and secretly pulled them out my crack periodically (they were tight) I thought, I need to enjoy and appreciate my body for what it is now.  As opposed to longing for what I feel it should be later; constantly critiquing myself, my shape.  Or coming down hard on myself when I break my diet goals for the day to indulge in a cupcake given to me by my co-worker (which happens more than you can imagine).

Yes, those shorts were tight.  But if I were single, I could have pulled some action.  In reality, I am not that far from my weight loss finish line.  Being hard on myself is not going to help.  Will I be wearing those shorts everyday?  No.  But it was fun to pull them out for a hot occasion.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

May I Use Your Bathroom?

I enjoy the bathroom. When I am at the Gift's house, I try to cut down on my meditation time. But sometimes I can't help it. I take a shower, wash my face, then the fun starts. I can stare at my face for at least an hour. I pick at it, examine it, critique it. I know he wonders what exactly I'm doing. Once I'm done with that, I start assessing my body, then hair. It gets a little tedious, but I get wrapped up. Last night I had one of my bathroom moments and as always he doesn't say anything. He will even use the other bathroom as not to disturb me.

In my dream house I want a large vanity, full length mirror, music, t.v., heated toilet seat and floors. Not to mention, I'd like a claw footed tub, his and her sinks and one of those showers that sprays you all around. Until then, I'll create my own sanctuary.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I Apologize

Today I got in a bit of a tiff, which resulted in me receiving an apology.  I gracefully and meekly accepted the apology and quickly ended the conversation.  There was a time when I would have forced the apology and done a Deion Sanders-esque high-step in my head signaling victory.  Not anymore.  Now I fully understand the humility and maturity it takes to give a genuine apology.  It is not easy and it is not fun to admit you were wrong.  Or to take the high road and apologize, even if you were not wrong.  I welcome the apology, when it is in a sincere form.  But only give a half-hearted, "okay" or head nod, if it has been tossed out on several occasions.  If you continuously have to apologize, that means you are taking way too many liberties with my kindness.

I liked today's apology and especially the person who stood tall enough to come back to the scene of the crime and admit the mistake.  I have made a point to apologize more frequently, if for no other reason, to give that person the comforting feeling that there are no hard feelings.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The $150 Trip

My FA has been budgeting my money as you all know.  In a couple of weeks I will be in Vegas.  She writes a list of all the bills I have to pay for each check.  As I set up payments for my next pay period, I noticed I did not have much spending money for my trip.  In fact, it amounted to about $150!  I asked her what we could skip, so that I may have a fun trip without being tight.  She argued, in first person I might add, that she did not have anymore money.  What she put aside was all she had for me.  As if it was her money.  We scheduled a face-to-face on Thursday, because I am not a believer.  She, in between giggles, later told me I had Michael Jackson plans, on Tito Jackson money!  She even addressed me as Tito for the rest of the day.  The nerve!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Church House

I made it to the church house today.  I woke up at 7:01am and thought, "let me take my ass to church."  Yep, just like that.  I had some things on my mind that I could not shake, and I felt it best to take it to the One who can handle it best.  I took it to the Lord.  It felt good to lay my 'burdens down'.  I was late and extremely casual.  But I knew my attendance was more important than my appearance.  If I can go 3 weeks in a row, it will increase the chance of me forming the habit of going on a regular basis again.

During prayer time, I turned to my neighbor and lifted two names up as my concerns.  I included the individuals' names and was sincere in my thought and request.  The first was a no brainer, someone in my life has been suffering from an injury that has had him out of commission for the past couple of weeks.  The second was a woman who has recently come into my life.  I thought she was nice at first, then I learned of our connection.  We share a mutual friend.  She new who I was, but I, only a short time ago learned of her full identity.  With my new knowledge, I can go back down memory lane and know for sure, she has never been genuine or kind.  She is a shit starter and it pissed me off.  It has been on my mind and it makes me leery of any future interactions.

Instead of whining to others about her,  I decided to hand it over to the all knowing.  I felt no one would actually understand and I would have to reveal too much to get my point across.  Yesterday I watched an episode of 'Oprah's Next Chapter' that my mom had recorded.  Oprah interviewed 50 Cent, who said something to the effect of:  'you either pray or worry, it makes no sense to do both'.  I have always thought 50 was smart and I liked hearing what he had to say, but that rang so true.  It has been a new mantra for me.  I will not worry about this person any longer.  She will not rent space in my brain or thoughts.  Clarity feels good.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Hips Don't Lie

I had a good workout today in boot camp.  So much so, my hips are hurting.  I know I have had a major workout when I am sore when I leave class.  It is one thing to be sore the next day, but to be sore the same day, that's when I know I put in work.  My elbows hurt.  My legs are tight.  My abs were so sore right after class, I felt like I needed to throw up.  Being nauseous and sore is not a good feeling, but I feel like I am getting closer to my goal of dropping 15lbs.  When I finish working out, I am so hungry so I usually eat something and take a 2-5 hour nap.  Today, I had errands to run so I am a little crabby for only having the chance to sleep for a rough 30 minutes to an hour.  I will sleep like a baby tonight and my body will fit back very comfortably into a cute 2-piece soon.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Ain't Nothin' Goin' On But the Rent!

Today I received an e-mail from my landlord.  She rarely contacts me, as she is often very busy with school and work or traveling.  The subject was 'Hello'.  I opened it, wondering what news I would receive.  I figured it had something to do with my lease being renewed.  It did, but she also wanted to inform me that she would be raising the rent to cover the buildings assessments, which she had previously been covering in lieu of increasing the rent.  It will be an additional $50 each month starting the 1st of Sept.  She noted that she totally understood if I decided to move.  With the relatively short notice, I would not have much time to move, even if I wanted to leave.

I replied that I would be renewing my lease.  I like my apartment.  And more than I like my apartment, I hate moving!  So another year with the same mailing address.  I am blessed I have the option of staying if I choose.  Plus, my landlord is mad cool and I appreciate her for even covering the cost for a couple of years on my behalf, unbeknownst to me.  Take your blessings as they come.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Time Flies

The past three weeks have been flying by.  The space between Monday and Friday is getting shorter and shorter each week.  Usually I look forward to time flying, but lately it feels like I am missing something.  The summer seems to be passing me.  Maybe it is my budget that I have been relegated to by my FA.  Or the fact that since the Gift has come along, a lot of my days are spoken for and earmarked for couple time.  I no longer feel the need to socialize and get out more.  In fact, I find myself wanting to retreat from others and pass on events.

I have a list of things that are a must for the summer, now if I can just get my FA to loosen those pursestrings...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tatted Up

I think it's cute how the behind the ear tattoo has become so popular with women as of late.  I say this with a condescending smirk.  These are the same girls who look down on those with neck tats.  I guess they feel the more discreet location adds to the acceptability of it.   But the truth of the matter is, it's still a neck tattoo.  Why not just drop it an inch and be done with it?  Hood it out and claim it.

When I was growing up, my mother said she thought tattoos on women made them look like biker chicks.  Side bar:  She waited until she was past the age of 50 to get her first, which was the name of a lover, she no longer loves.  Then she got a second one to cover that up.  Kids these days.  I, not understanding her original sentiments waited until I got to college to get mine.  After the pain of it and the gradual realization that it did not turn out the way I envisioned it, I soon got over the appeal.  The good thing is, the location of mine is very easy to cover.  I have to admit, now I hate tattoos.   They no longer have an edge.  I can appreciate the art of a 'nice' one, but I have a hard time holding in my guttural groan when I hear of someone getting their first or God forbid a new one.  

So when I see the stars that travel up the back of the neck.  Or a special symbol only the person who got the tat can explain, even a name lightly written in cursive, I think, 'why not just get it on your neck?'  The thought is 'no one will see it if I let my hair down, or pull my collar up'.  But I am sure that was the thought of the first girl to get the 'tramp stamp' that we all are subject to seeing every time she gets up out of a chair with a too little top or some low-rise jeans.  The ink was originally for her and her special someone, now I have the pleasure of seeing it accompanied by tiger stripe-like stretch marks.

Can we all agree it is just better to claim and be honest that you like or (in some cases) are addicted to ink and stop spuriously claiming modesty?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

All She Wrote

I cancelled my gym membership, yeah, I know.  Anyway, I did this because according to my FA, I was not going enough to warrant the monthly fee.  It did not fit my budget.  When I enrolled, I signed up for auto-pay and when I called to cancel and followed up, per their request, with an e-mail to confirm, I thought they would discontinue attempting to charge my account.  I was wrong.  They not only continued to attempt to charge the account, they were billing me a $30 insufficient funds fee each time they were unable to collect the the balance owed.  I instructed them to discontinue charging this card.  According to them, although I cancelled my membership, the account itself was not closed...blah, blah, blah.

On Friday, to dispute this, I wrote one of my infamous letters.  It was long.  I had pulled e-mails and information from their website.  Plus, I collected the names of both the CEO and CFO.  I was so heated, I did not touch the letter again until today.  With a clear head and renewed set of eyes.  I was able to edit the 3 page manifesto-like disgruntled letter, to a 2 page directive.  I included about 13 pages of highlighted backup e-mails.  I feel proud of this letter and hope it is received in good standing.  I do not mind paying the past due amount, but the fees are crazy ($60-90).  I give them my debit card number and once they have it, the billing department will just charge whenever and whatever they want?  Not on my watch.  I let them know when they could expect the balance.  Hopefully, they will reverse the charges.

After compiling that letter, I began writing a recommendation letter for a friend.  I had good things to say of course, but then I wondered, "is this too mushy?  Is it believable?"  I decided it was; I mean I was giving a character reference so I did not have to be that detailed about work skills.  I focused more on her personality.

In a nutshell, I have been writing all day, which is most likely why I do not feel like writing/typing this post now.  I am all typed out.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Pet Peeve

Pet Peeve# 215:  If there are multiple stalls in a public bathroom, please don't choose the one right next to me. Especially if you're planning on doing something other than taking a tinkle. Nothing says 'F you' like opting to bypass the handicap stall, to sit next to someone else. I mean, isn't that what the handicap stall is for, besides the other more obvious reason of course.  Someone did this to me today, and sadly, it wasn't the first time.  Can we all make a conscious effort to give a girl some room? Is this too much to ask?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Define Yourself

I find it funny when people define themselves as a diva, princess, sexy or the like.  The likelihood of them actually fitting the description is slim to none.  A few years ago, there was a surge of shirts and jogging pants that boasted of everything from Porn Star to Hot.  I will never forget my cousin saying:  "if you have to wear it on your shirt, than it doesn't fit."  Truer words have never been spoken by her.  This came to my mind yesterday when a woman, on two occasions, referred to herself as a "Diva".  I beg to differ.  In fact, most "divas", don't even consider themselves divas.  They will try their best to convince you how 'down to earth' they are.  I can speak from personal experience.  My girlfriends have this notion that I am bourgeois and to use my girl, Lady L's words, "yeah, you're stuck up".  I really don't get it.  I feel like a down-to-earth girl, who happens to have very specific tastes.  Well, what I consider specific tastes, comes across as the finer things.  Yes, I enjoy attending the opera, having tea at the Drake, Broadway shows in New York, annual trips to Mexico, hosting potluck vision board parties, drinking Hungarian wine, monthly facials, specialty cheeses and cupcakes.  But who doesn't?  For this I have been told many times by friends, "you know how your are".  That is the difference between the diva and the self proclaimed "diva".  How you perceive yourself is usually not who or how you really are.  Drunk people rarely admit to being drunk.  I just thought it was funny.  She made a big deal about it.  I think it's important to define yourself, but when it comes to being fly and/or a "diva", let someone else compliment you or vouch for your behavior.  When you do your own advertising, it loses some weight of validity.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Anti-social Drinker

I am at a party right now and as usual, I am bored and I feel totally out of place. So I am currently sipping my 3rd rum punch in an effort to keep myself busy. The Gift is doing his thing and I am doing mine. Which amounts to trying to look friendly, sipping and being my normal socially awkward self. This is how I end up getting drunk at parties. The one person I was talking to, has found someone more interesting (but of course). This already feels like a long night. I want to be more social, but it's not natural for me.  I'm about to insert more water and food
No need to embarrass myself further. I'm so Daria.

Friday, June 15, 2012

One of Them Nights...

I had a good night tonight.  The air had cooled and the energy in the city was so positive and filled with love.  What I love about my city in the summertime is how everyone is genuinely happier in when the weather warms up.  I left my friends and headed home on the train, then bus, then car home headed southbound.  I felt like I was in New York.  In the NYC, it may be well after midnight and you lose track of time because people are out and about as if it's noontime.  That is the way I felt today.  It was about 10:30pm and I was out alone, a bit tipsy (maybe more than a bit) and I felt totally safe.  I felt absolutely surrounded.  That is what it means to be in an urban setting.  That is what it feels like to be part of something.  More than yourself.  I got home by myself and felt uncomfortable not once.  That is when life if good.  When you can move about and feel free, safe and good.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

New Friends

A girlfriend of mine recently told me that she has declined some of my 'events' and get-togethers, because she is 'too old to meet anyone new'.  In her words, every time she hears about me doing something, it involves new and different people.  People she does not know.  I told her if she came out more, not only would she know the people, but I would have 'old friends' there instead of all my newbies.  Along the same mindset, a friend said that I was too social, because I hang out with new people and co-workers.  I think this is funny.
There was a time when I only socialized with about 2 different people max- usually at different times.  I would not go anywhere alone and I always had to be accompanied by 1 or 2 of my 'stables'.  Overtime, I learned that I was not only wearing my friends out, but I also put too much pressure on those couple of individuals to be my mainstays- my everything.  If I had a wedding, it was that person or I wouldn't go.  A party?  You know who I was going to call.  If it was something I was interested in, I had to compromise or convince them of the good time they would have.  If I fell out with a friend, or wasn't feeling them, I felt lonely and had to go back to square one to find a 'replacement'.
But in time, I saw the error in this.  It made no sense and I was constantly stressed, making adjustments or bargaining to get my way.  I asked God, yes God, to bless me with new and more improved friends. When I say improved, I mean, I wanted them to be well rounded, have similar interests as me and add value to my life.  I also prayed for help being a better friend to my friends.  As always, He took care of things.  I started not only meeting new people, but I was more receptive to them and doing things outside the box.  My new friends seemed to share my interests and were open to new ideas.  I no longer have to plead for an individual to do what I want.  Instead, I find the friend who is most likely to appreciate the activity and enjoy the outing with them.  Plus, I get to mix things up socially while giving my friends a break from me.  I know, I can't imagine why anyone would want a break from me either.
Tomorrow I am meeting a new friend for after work cocktails.  It will be our first outing.  She works across the hall and is friendly.  So why not?  Cheers! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

5 Questions For Him

They're baaack!  I felt like we were long overdue for another installment of 5QFH.  For this go-round, I brought back two favorites, John and Jay and added a newbie to the mix.  His name will be 'Ron'.  He is 42, in a relationship, no kids and has never been married.  I decided my questions would be retrospective and summer influenced.  The answers tickled me.

The Questions...
1.  In your life, what have you found to be the benefits of being in a relationship as opposed to being
2.  What are some major differences between how you handle relationships at your current age and 10  
     years ago?
3.  What would you tell your 22-year-old self about relationships?  About life itself?
4.  It's summertime.  What's your favorite thing about women's apparel?  What do you like to see or
     look forward to this time of the year?
5.  What's your favorite old school place you recall picking up girls?

The Answers...


This question is pretty loaded in that I want to be careful not to make one “relationship status” any better, or more important, than the other. I will preface my answer by stating that there are ways for me to be effective and make personal progress in either state. Each stage has presented me with opportunities to grow as an individual (whether I utilize the opportunity is an entirely different story!).  The stage that I am at currently is an introspective one. I’m reading a book and the author describes that men have three “hoods” in which we can dwell; “malehood”, “boyhood”, and “manhood”. Having said that, one of the benefits in being in a relationship is that it offers me the chance to dwell in the hood of “manhood” as a husband. As a man, I like to accomplish things and find where I can truly be “great”. For me right now, being great as a husband is the adventure that I couldn’t embark on as a single person. This is an entirely different state of living. While I can be a great single person (which I wasn’t great at all) and still dwell in “manhood” as a single person, a relationship allows me to direct all the passion and affection I have to give toward one individual. I get to plant seeds in one place and look for a harvest of love, affection, and respect from one place. As a single person, I couldn’t focus because I was too busy searching for “the one”. I was distracted by the search and all of the games it can sometimes involve. Being in a relationship allows me to focus and be intent on the direction in which I spend my time, money, and attention. So, in the end, a personal benefit to being in a relationship is a concerted effort in one direction that can be a wonderful, and fulfilling, experience that is reciprocated by another.
How I handle relationships now is totally different. As a twenty-something it was much more superficial. I really had no clue what to expect from a relationship so I was putting in random things. Sometimes I was a gentleman; sometimes a freak; sometimes the playboy...essentially all over the place depending upon what I wanted emotionally and physically at the time. Now, I have a much more clear expectation of what I desire to get out of a relationship. I heard something that has crafted my thought process and actions when it comes to relationships: “Women are built to grow and return the seed that has been given to them (e.g. baby). For a man, if you don’t like what your woman is given back to you, check what seed you are planting”. I am much more careful what seed I am planting now. I don’t look at what she is doing/ not doing, I look at what I present to her and adjust my actions accordingly. It has worked seamlessly since utilizing this wisdom I received.
I would give my 22 year old silly self the same advice that I was offered. Also, I would tell myself to “be and do what you do not have or see.” Essentially, be proactive in reaching inside of yourself and be great. You didn’t have a great father, so what, be a great father. You don’t have a lot of mentors, so what, begin to mentor someone else. You don’t have the pedigree of (fill in blank), so what, work your butt off and be as great as you are destined to be...Oh yeah, leave that young hood chick alone, you know you are not going to marry her!
I love everything about summer apparel on women...except those blasted leggings! There are sometimes that I have to look away, not because I’m married and I’m not supposed to, but because of the ratchedness that is being presented! Please leave the leggings alone if you got curds and whey attached to the back of your legs and behind! I really enjoy a well put together woman that utilizes color and her natural beauty to stand out. I love Transformers, but some of these women are decepticons when it comes to the way they look. Fake lashes, hair, body parts, spanx, etc. They are a totally different person. It’s 90 degrees outside, I know you hot under that lace-front wig, boo!
I used to love meeting girls at the mall. You had your good outfit on, she had her “hair did” with her cute outfit on...I could even front like I had some money by walking around with a huge Footlocker bag (even though it was just socks). I actually was pretty bad at picking up girls so I don’t have a lot of stories to display my prowess. Actually, I was pretty good at hooking up during the summer camps my mom would send me to. Probably no different than the reality t.v. shows. If it’s 10 boys and 10 girls staying somewhere for a few weeks, SOMEBODY IS GOING TO HOOK UP!
I think the biggest benefit to being in a relationship, is the fact that you have a companion in your corner for the bad times as well as the good. Sometimes you may not have that extra support when you need it, as a single person.
I would say some of the major differences between handling relationships now vs. 10 years ago, would be, more patience, more appreciation, and definitely realizing the benefit of quality over quantity.
Be more attentive, patient, make thoughtful decisions, and try to look at the big picture.
Anything that shows and/or compliments, the booty, hips, thighs, and pair of beautiful legs!
Back in the day it was McDonald's on 95th and Halsted, Wendy's on 87th and Stony, and White Castle on 79th and South Chicago.
There aren't benefits to being in a relationship versus single.  A relationship really has no perks with the exemption of guaranteed sex partner and no pressure to satisfy in the sack.  Being single has all the perks, it has all the benefits of the most important resource...time.  Time to do what I want and when I want.
The major difference for me has been compassion and patience.  Ten years ago I would make a girl cry then get mad and further attack her because I genuinely didn't get the at my old age, I simply try to hold back my first choice of words and pull a what would a person with a softer side do or say?

This is easy I'd tell my 22 year old self to stay doing what you do least as far as relationships.  About life...dude it gets harder.  Follow your heart and passions not the checkbook.  Money will come if you are content....

Honestly.. I hate seeing the sandals and feet.  Women think its sexy so I guess that's why all I see is toes...I like women in jeans, T-shirts, and max's!  I look forward to sitting on them 24s on the avalanche.  Sorry I'm a simple man, apparel don't make my year...

I don't pick up chicks...chicks pick me up!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pink Slip

I had to let my housekeeper go today.  I had been putting it off for some time, because I could not figure how to actually tell her that her services were no longer needed.  My housekeeper has cleaned my apartment only twice (I live alone and it doesn't get that messy), but I sent her my keys thinking it would be a more long term arrangement.  I could not slink off like the chicken that I am and just ignore her.  I have to get my keys back.  My new housekeeper, FA and all around 'Girl Friday' is my mom.  She has already been by my house to clean and rearrange it for free.  Since she has been handling my books, I asked if she could fit herself into the budget.  Of course she said, "yes".

So today I sent 'B' a text to let her go.  I know it's insensitive, but her English is not very good and she prefers to communicate that way so her son and husband can help her translate and respond.  My message essentially was me telling her how greatly I appreciated her service and how I planned to send her referrals.  I let her know my mom would be cleaning for me from now on and she could send my keys in the mail and I would reimburse her the postage cost.  Her reply was laced with gratitude.  She asked if I would tell my friends about her as she needs more work.  She pretty much reiterated everything I said, which proved my professional language was not necessary and total inappropriate for this situation as she did not understand.  I could have kept it simple.

Our texts ended with us both repeatedly thanking one another; so I just ended it with her last 'thank you very much'.  It sucked having to let her go, just for the human side of it.  She is a small business owner basically and although I have not used her in a couple of months, my text sealed the deal that I did not need her anymore.  That's one less check to count on or add to her income equation.  Plus, I too have been told my services were no longer needed.  The feeling sucks and is so final.  And you have no say in the matter.  Overall, we both handled it well.  Luckily with my mom, there's no firing her.  She's here for good.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Second Opinion

The post I originally planned to post today involved a girlfriend of mine. I was going to (at least in my mind) cleverly disguise the details where (again, in my mind) no one would be the wiser. I had been trying to post this for awhile, but couldn't conjure up the proper wording. Or the much needed courage to write it. So I asked my best friend and unpaid life coach, Antoine, his thoughts. He said an affirmative "no". That under no circumstances should I post my thoughts. Fair enough. A lot, and I mean a lot of people need to thank Antoine. More people than I would like to admit have been saved a verbal lashing, or outright complete 'you mean nothing to me so I'll just ignore you' treatment.

I have, over the years lost quite a few friends do to my 'honesty', or me getting something off my chest. And for what reason? Antoine has taught me the importance of moving on and past people's faults. He has also taught me the importance of letting go of people without letting them know you're letting them go. Or How you can disapprove of something without having/letting it affect you personally. I wish everyone had an 'Antoine' in their corner.  Just a "sounding board", as he called it, to get things off your chest allowing you to move past your own ego, which would have you (me) believe that this is information that must be shared.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Comfort Food

Today I had a rough day.  The kind of day where you cannot stay fully awake, due to genuine exhaustion.  When I feel like this, I want a certain food.  I need something specific.  Sometimes only watermelon will fill me up.  Other times I need/want something warm and full, like mashed potatoes full of butter and cream.  Whatever it is, I need to feel the food hug my soul.  Something that will fulfill my immediate food needs.  Not leaving any room for error or extensive hunger.  Today, the only thing I wanted, was not my leftover steak tacos (which were good), instead, I wanted a pint of Ben and Jerry Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream.  I wanted to curl up in the whole pint.  Let it hug me all around, inside and out.  So I left the house on a mission to find some.  Although Walgreens had a BOGO sale, they did not have an wide variety, i.e. no Chocolate Fudge Brownie.  I thought about getting a Symphony chocolate bar, but I really didn't want that.  I drove a little further and sure enough, two blocks north, there was a Baskin Robbins!  One scoop of vanilla, one of pralines and cream with hot fudge on top.  No calorie counting today.  I just rushed home and curled up on the couch and ate that ice cream as if the doctor ordered it.  I am not one of those people who has to eat in shame and in private.  So I don't consider this to be a problem beyond the fact that I cannot and will not do it everyday.  That was around 4:30pm, now approaching 8:30pm, I am completely full and desire nothing else.  The only thing left to do, is head to bed.  Sometimes you just need a little comfort in your food.