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Archive for the month “May, 2013”

Don’t Say What You Won’t Do

R and B crooner Jon B. came out with a song back in the early 2000s called, “Don’t Say.”

“Don’t say, what you won’t do. You know you’ll be the first one, to go on through.”

Now this song is actually about a girl that’s doing a man wrong, but I do like the original line for today’s post, “don’t say what you won’t do.”

I’ve always said, I do not want to date men from NY, especially black men from Long Island or NYC. Said this for years. I particularly have a lot of venom for black men on Long Island who seem to be disgusted by black women and don’t deem us good enough for whatever reasons they have.

I’ve also said, I didn’t want to date cops or active military men, because I would be constantly fearful for their lives and going nuts that they’d make me a young widow and have me acting like ol girl from “Silver Linings Playbook.”

I’ve also sworn off Caribbean and African men.

My friends have threatened me not to date any more men long distance. Like they’ve threatened. Some have said, they would travel across the world and country to stop me from dating long distance.

And they all laughed their asses off when me and Officer Cutie had a wonderful date and I had that sound in my voice when I talk about guys I like. It gets all high and sing-songy. So annoying.

Oh Katherine Woodward Thomas of “Calling in the One.”

You got me trippin right now. Oh, Katherine. When you said in your book to open up and not place barriers on who it is you date, and how your husband ended up being of another race your mother told you not to date, I had a panic moment.

Officer Cutie is a Caribbean man, from NYC, and clearly from his name, a police officer on a really dangerous beat.

So here’s what had me all messed up today.

Officer Cutie is a quiet guy, but when he speaks, you really want to pay attention. Today was no different. I perked up when he told me he had a question.

But let’s back up. Yesterday, we did talk about him coming to visit in the next couple of weeks and we were trying to decide on what’s an appropriate length of a visit since this is so new. I said he should come for a day, but I wouldn’t be surprised if things go well it should just be a weekend. But we should just see how it goes.

Back to fairly recent o clock today.

He basically asked me if I’d ever be willing to move back to NY.

I told him I really liked the DC area and that I would need a really good reason and an equally awesome job for me to move back to the Empire State. However, as I’ve said to tons of friends and as my life experience has indicated, I could end up anywhere, so I won’t say never. But I don’t really see it.

I asked him why he wanted to know and if he was trying to figure out if it was worth it to continue talking to me.

This dude:

“I ask because I was wondering if I ever had a chance of making you my girl and if things keep going well, and they kept going well, would you come back to NY to try to make it work?”

I lost my breath for a moment. Felt temporarily claustrophobic, but then relaxed. For the next few moments I was fixated on the words “making you my girl” and I smiled.

Then I went back to panic.

Yall know my story. Me falling in love with a man, getting engaged, planning to move to Chicago and even getting the green light from work to set up a home office there. The engagement falling apart, and me being devastated and embarrassed and the two years of darkness.

I had to come clean with Officer Cutie.

That I was a serial long distance dater and that my last relationship was a whopper. It wasn’t just a relationship, I was about to get married, then I wasn’t anymore.

I told him my story and braced for the worst. Who would want to deal with that? At least I warned him. It’s his own funeral.

He simply said NY and Chicago were different, that I had family in NY and that he would never ask someone to marry him and back out. If he was asking, he was intending to do it.

NY was different. There are a million ways to get to NY from the DC area, inexpensive buses, the whole nine. A long distance relationship in the Big Apple would not be the same logistical nightmare.

So I told him I thought it was important for him to have all of the information so he could make an informed decision about dealing with me. Then I added that the relationship ended in 2011 and that after a lot of soul-searching, I’m not bitter and crazy. I joked that I dropped a lot on him.

He then disclosed that he’s also been single since 2011 and has dated a lot since then, however I was the first one he could actually see himself with. Even though we only had one date, he really liked my personality and he believes we have chemistry.

At that point you could have really knocked me down with a feather. “I can actually see myself with you” also rang in my head.

A man, is straight up saying, “I can actually see myself with you.” The man is also asking questions to see how feasible this situation could be, but didn’t seem stalkerish or pressed, but open to seeing how things progress. But he wanted to at least see where my head was at before proceeding.

I really can’t be mad at that.

I’m trying to find the part of me that is supposed to say this is all a bad idea.

But I’m struggling to.

And that folks, concerns me.

“Don’t say what you won’t do…” “Making you my girl…” “I can actually see myself with you…” “Never say never.”

Oh brother…

 

 

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Short Post: I Realized I Have A Relationship Elevator Pitch

When you are online dating, you find yourself repeating the same song and dance over and over. And if you are speaking with someone you are interested in, you give a little more, you give more details, more color.

As I meet new men almost everyday online who see my profile and want to say hello, I’m realizing something very interesting.

It’s almost like the “elevator pitch” business people have to give quickly and with impact to make a deal, or develop a new business opportunity with someone who can take them to the next level.

Saying over and over again what you are looking for and what you want and don’t want in a relationship and in a partner is actually quite powerful.

I was thinking to myself that, doing this is basically like an affirmation and the more I do it, I think the more that type of man will come and enter my life, and it will give those who aren’t on my program the chance to exit peacefully and quietly, no hurt feelings.

There is a wonderful liberation in plainly saying, this is what I want. This is what I don’t want.

You don’t have to be a jerk about it or have a super specific, super long list, because no one really wants to hear that. But if you lay down some serious must-haves and deal-breakers it helps. I’ve also found that it’s important to not just drone on about what you don’t want, but talk about the qualities you like and how those qualities make you feel.

Introducing Officer Cutie and Why I’m Still Single

I had a lovely weekend. Visited the ‘rents hung with the homies, had a great date and managed to do something touristy in my own back yard.

I spent Memorial Day on Long Island, and even ventured out East all the way to The End. Montauk Point. For some reason, I always imagined the lighthouse being bigger, but I thought it was still pretty dope. It was beautiful out there. Felt other worldly. The Atlantic Ocean spread out before me, vast, unending. It was very cold that day, to be the official weekend that kicks off summer, but it was fantastic. Me and my cousin played, “count the black people” we could see from East Hampton on to Montauk and back. Our tally was 28. Thank God for that family of five at the light house. LOL.

The Hampton Jitneys were rolling in full effect, (some only ten minutes apart) despite the funky weather. Monday was the only really nice day with sunshine we had all weekend. I’m sure the high rollers wanting to enjoy a Hamptons Memorial Day were disappointed.

After checking that out and getting myself a lighthouse magnet for my collection for the fridge, me and my favorite cousin made our way to the Lobster Roll A.K.A. Lunch, a very popular roadside eatery. The food was delish and so was the girl talk.

I couldn’t have been happier, until Monday, when I finally met up with a cutie NYPD officer, who I had met in the fall of last year online. I kept saying when I would come home, he and I should get together and it never materialized. I reached out to him around the time I got my plane ticket, because I refused to drive on such a busy holiday. Luckily, he was down to hang.

We had a great lunch and then we went to Dave and Buster’s and played games, shot pool, had a mean game of air hockey and even did bowling. I’ve been to Dave and Buster’s a few times, and I don’t think I’ve ever done so many activities in one visit. Normally me and friends pick one thing and keep it moving. But it seemed like we didn’t want our little date to end.

Officer Cutie was courteous and really sweet. I’m digging him. And of course I dig him and he digs me because I’m the long distance queen and I can’t seem to keep a man in the DC/MD/VA area to save my life, even though I’m really trying to actively date.

We got so comfortable at one point, I had to give him a kiss on the cheek for every gutter ball, and I had no problem with this. I told him I was a woman of my word and would pay what I owed. He managed to get a good eight kisses. And no, I didn’t suck on purpose!

He was cuter than his photo, which made me very happy. But here’s the other thing that sticks with me.

He’s quiet. He’s very calm. But I guess you can’t get rattled easily if you police one of the roughest neighborhoods in NYC. That’s what’s fascinating. He wasn’t aggressive, which I figured cops had to be. He was so, cool. Easy. He spoke softly. He seemed humble. He had things to say, but he didn’t dominate a conversation. He wasn’t imposing. I enjoyed his company but worried when we had pauses in conversation. Sometimes I worried I was too loud or goofy.

You all know how quick I am to knock men from New York and go on ad nauseum about how ridiculous they are and how they often want to be players and talking fast and trying to trick and stay 20 steps ahead. So Officer Cutie made me eat my words.

I felt like a lady and safe around him, he was just flirtatious enough without being disrespectful or pushy and he smelled soooo frigging good.

I think I’m still high off of the scent of his cologne. At the end of the date, we hugged, exchanged kisses on the cheek and I mentioned that he should visit Maryland. He told me he would need an invite and so I invited him. He smiled.

When I was at the airport, he sent me a text saying he really liked me and he hoped we’d see each other soon. I returned the sentiment. But something tells me this may get interesting. However, long distance? Again?

Not trying to really think about it. But I did like how I felt around him and I’m trusting that feeling and I don’t want to ignore that because he is in NY.

I’ve got some local online prospects that I’m trying to vet. We’ll see how they stack up. When I am actively dating, men tend to eliminate themselves and one guy always rises to the top. It actually helps me focus and narrow the field quicker and not waste time with fruitless encounters.

In a recent conversation I had with one guy, who I am interested in going out with soon, he asked that question that I get often. “You seem cool, attractive, why are you single?”

I’ve written about this loaded question before, but now I have a new perspective on it.

And this is what I said.

“I’m single right now, because I’m single. The right man for me just hasn’t revealed himself to me just yet. I’m confident it will happen because I’ve been through enough now to know how to properly identify him when he comes. So for now, I’m meeting people and talking and that’s cool. He’ll show up.”

I honestly feel that way now. There’s no way he’s not going to show up. My life is love. I have so much love for my friends and family, there is no way I’m destined to be alone, there’s no way that the God who loves me wants me to struggle and not have the emotional, physical, spiritual love that I want and need. No way. It may not be the timing I want, but I feel like I’ve been finally given all of the tools to help me identify him, regardless of looks, status or financial status. I’m going to know who he is when he shows up. (Thanks Katherine Woodward Thomas, author of “Calling in the One”).

That’s been my prayer. Lord, help me identify him, and help me quickly identify those who are NOT him and help me exit quickly.

I know exactly what I need to feel. I know what I’m supposed to feel when he speaks, and when he looks at me. I know what to listen for, I know what not to ignore. I’m confident he will answer any question I ask him comfortably and without hesitation, because he’ll know he’s been looking for me too and there’s no reason to hide or not be truthful. I’m thankful for that. I couldn’t say that a year ago or even two years ago.

Things are about to heat up yall.

I can feel it…

Gone Fishin’ Back Online Dating Again, Oh Boy

I’ll admit. I’ve been in a rut.

I’m slowly climbing out. So I went ahead and joined an online dating site, again.

I’m doing Plenty of Fish this time. It’s free. Whatever. I have noticed there are some good-looking guys and it seems like IT guys are ruling the roost, and most folks are talking a good game. But what’s so funny to me is that it seems like everyone wants the same thing, a chance, but we want a chance with people we want and that’s all we want.

Therin lies the rub of these sites, if you aren’t completely open-minded and willing to bend a little and just actually meet people, I think you will be highly disappointed and disgruntled. One guy I talked to last night said that on two occasions he went on dates with women who looked nothing like their photo.

I’ve decided that I’m going to at least hold conversations with the men who appear to be interested in me, and as one of my favorite books suggest, wait on what it is I feel, not what I see, to help guide my decision.

All of the men who I think are attractive, I have a feeling a lot of women think they are attractive and some of these dudes have an attitude. The other dating site I used last fall, it seemed like I had a flood of men trying to meet me on the first day.

I feel like things are moving kind of slow. But I also made the decision not to put any photos of me up with straight hair. I’m wondering if that’s been a deterrent and I don’t have any full body shots. I’m going out with one of my friends tonight, so I’ll get my friend to take some then.

I’ve come to the conclusion I need a cute guy who doesn’t realize he’s actually good-looking. I’m so serious. I’ve decided to look for one stand out feature in a guy who I might not be interested in at first glance and capitalize on that. If I notice he has great eyes, I’ma hold onto that. If he has a great smile, I’ma go with it. He might be large, or super skinny, but I’ve decided if I find one physical feature that I can dig, then I’m all about it.

I’m a fan of beards and goatees, so if I see a nice one, I’ll go with that too.

I’m going to be open. I am making room and providing a welcome atmosphere for my dude to show up.

I’m going to be able to identify him and it’s going to be awesome.

I did already get invited to a bbq this weekend. It made me feel a little uneasy because we only had a hi, how are you convo.

And I’m confused by the men who send just a hi in a message. I wrote some gems, you don’t have an opinion on anything I said, at all?

I know people did reading comprehension in school where they had to read a passage and then write about what they just read. I’m saying, can these dudes at least do that?

As usual, I’m going to keep you fine folks posted.

Why Does Somebody Have to Die or Almost Die to Get A Ring Around Here?

It’s no secret.

I’ve been in a grumptastic mood as of late.

I recently had a discussion with a friend who is going through what I’ve gone through a couple of times, and that’s seeing a dude you had a relationship with propose and pop the question/get married to someone else.

So aside from the usual, “girl, it wasn’t meant to be and it’s ok.” Or, “Now he’s someone else’s problem, legally,” I don’t have much else to offer.

I hate, hate, HATE to say it, but in a number of cases, the man has gone through some form of emotional duress, or was in serious risk of losing the woman forever, or got her pregnant and felt he should do the right thing, or he’s questioning his own mortality after the death of a very close loved one and boom, the woman who is standing the closest at that moment of “clarity” that’s who he chooses.

And even more specifically, if that young man loses a parent or a parent becomes gravely ill, and he’s been in a fairly serious relationship with a woman, he’s going to put a ring on it.

I call it marriage roulette, or marriage musical chairs.

Life has spun certain men to the point that once the music stops, they’ve made up in their mind, now it’s time and whoever is standing there, they will get the crown.

You could have done everything right. You could have been an excellent girlfriend. You may have thought your breakup was mutual. But when you hear through the grapevine he is getting married or he already did it, there is a pain that soars through your chest.

It comes out of nowhere, and some chick who you are certain isn’t as awesome as you “won the prize.”

First of all, she didn’t win anything. She was at the right place at the right time. They could very well love one another, but you have to really ask yourself some questions when a man has been with you for a certain period of time, and either some kind of family tragedy struck or whatever.

I do think things happen to wake us up, to make us realize life is precious and so are the people we choose to love. But I will give a man a side-eye, if something as life-changing as illness or death of a loved one prompts my man to ask me to marry him. I’d stay with him and support him, but I wouldn’t rush the process or move up the date.

But here is the problem with these kind of proposals. It puts the woman in a difficult position. She’s finally getting what she wanted, but it’s under really stressful circumstances. Even if you want to tell your man to slow down, you don’t want to hurt him or offend him further. So women say yes. Meanwhile, their “special” moment still has a cloud of emotional panic all over it.

Asking a woman to marry you under emotional duress, is in my opinion, just like asking a woman to marry you while drunk.

Sure, your sentiment may be totally honest and as honest and raw as can be, but it shows that you weren’t brave enough to do it under regular, sane, stable circumstances.

Offering proposals under those circumstances is like lighting relationship dynamite. It’s unfair to both parties, really. Who wants to start off a life-long major decision that way? It’s cruel.

I’ve heard it straight from men. They felt lost, and they needed comfort and they realized how short life was and so they clung to a woman that they may not have necessarily wanted to marry before, but she was there.

She was there.

Even Steve Harvey, modern relationship guru… has mentioned that for whatever reason, men need to feel like they are about to lose out before they make a step and take the relationship to the next level.

I hate the whole game of jump, no you jump first.

Shit, take my hand and jump together.

I’m 31. There is no man in sight right now.

Oh yeah. Things with Lancelot have cooled considerably. We have decided to be friends.

All of that aside, I’m not going to be chosen, simply because I was there. I’m not a star on a mall or amusement park map.

So my friend feels like crap.

I’ve been there.

I got the news that an ex was getting married and I went running in 98 degree weather around my block.

I get it.

I see men, in long-term relationships, even living with their women (women who have been vocal about wanting to get married) and for a number of reasons they still won’t pull the trigger. They use the future tense with these women all of the time, they really can’t see themselves without these women, but nope. Won’t do it.

Why does someone have to die or almost die to get a lot of men down the aisle?

Youthful Hubris And Remembering My Younger, Self-Centered Self

I had humbling moment last week.

That moment made me wonder if I was cut out to be a parent.

A few months ago, on this blog, I talked about being very excited to have a young mentee, interested in journalism. We hatched a plan to ask a local newspaper to give her a mini internship considering she’s just 14-year-old.

I told her we’d take it seriously, and that I’d write a proposal and recommendation. It may not work, but it was worth a shot. I asked her to research cover letters and write on of her own.

She wrote the letter and I believe she wrote it in a way that tried to make her sound more sophisticated than her age, but kind of shows that she is young and inexperienced. I edited her cover letter, fixed some grammatical stuff and gave her glowing praise in addition to telling her she should pump up more of her activities at school involving writing and to mention an article she liked that currently ran in the publication.

She did what I asked, but it looked like she purposely didn’t change some things I told her to change.

And that upset me.

I got on my high horse thinking about how I’m trying to help her out, and I’m using my time and energy to only get back a short, curt email (which is unusual for her). It was really upsetting.

So, I had to step back and take myself out of the equation.

After talking with a dear friend who works with young people her age everyday, it gave me some perspective.

I remembered the first time I’d been edited heavily for my first article with the college newspaper. When I saw what was actually printed, I was crestfallen. I wrote the most beautiful, wordy, esoteric account of a college volleyball game, you’d thought it was the missing excerpt from War and Peace. I get it now. It was wayy melodramatic. It wasn’t news. And it wasn’t one of the greatest sports moments in life. My editor had every right to chop me the hell up.

Fast forward to years later, when I was an intern under the tutelage of the amazing Simeon Booker. He was the journalist to cover the Emmett Till case for Ebony magazine. HUGE!!!

I had a 500-word article and he ripped it to shreds. Made me rewrite it a whopping EIGHT times. I was furious. And by the fifth version, I had no clue what the man could have possibly wanted. But I kept at it until he finally gave me an approving nod.

I sent off the latest revisions to my mentee this morning and I shared my story about the rewrites and it being a part of the process, and how I noticed she was short with me in her previous email. I showered her with more praise and then I went to Amazon.com and bought her first Associated Press Stylebook and had it shipped to her house as a surprise.

I want nothing in return. Honestly. I did think it would be dope to have a mini me, who admired me and wanted to be like me, but that’s not the point of mentoring someone. It’s letting their differences shine and helping them get to where ever it is they are trying to go. It’s not about me.

I do want this child to know that I support her and can appreciate her passion. So even if she wants to be mad about my edits, I’m an adult. I can take it. She’s got a long way to go, and there’s no reason for me to get bent out of shape about it or take it personally. I am an adult.

While I understand her pain, and she’s probably used to her teachers fawning over her and telling her that her work is brilliant, I’m sure she was pissed to see her awesome letter bleed red with corrections.

It was an important lesson for both of us to learn and even if we part ways and she thinks I’m awful, I hope she uses her Stylebook in good health and will become a raging success.

I never had a little sister. Maybe there was a reason. I don’t think I have the stomach for it. 😉

 

 

 

 

The Death of the Slow Dance

Shall we cut a rug? (stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net)

Shall we cut a rug? (stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net)

We text, we Skype.

People text on dates, during dinners. We ignore people sitting next to us and around us and we stare at little boxes, moving our thumbs and swiping fingers to send messages.

We are addicted to our phones and just playing around with them. Sometimes, when I visit my parents I have to just hide my phone from myself because my dad constantly reminds me of how pitiful I and the rest of society are when it comes to our social interactions and lack thereof.

So it doesn’t surprise me that as kids have phones and ipads to keep them busy they forget to acknowledge the grown people when they enter a room. (We got cussed out if we didn’t properly greet everybody and politely answer questions about how we were doing and how school was.) Now, folks tend to let their kids slide for being rude and say it’s the times. Whatevs.

No wonder this younger generation has difficulty paying attention, looking you in the eye and giving firm handshakes. Folks give weak ass handshakes these days, you notice that?

Why?

We aren’t touching each other. It’s a mixture of being politically correct, trying to avoid sexual harassment claims and the fact we don’t connect socially in the ways we used to. We can’t sit still with one another. Regular gaps in real life conversations, get filled quickly as we return texts to people who aren’t in the room. We don’t relax in the natural pause or enjoy each others company.

That being said, I was at a party with a lot of 40 and older people last weekend, and wouldn’t you know it? They played like two slow songs and I thought it was nuts.

I took the time to play with my phone, but noticed, that the couples a decade older took over the floor and grooved slowly. They seemed more comfortable and ready to dance when those songs were on.

People do not slow dance anymore.

People grind, people dry hump each other, but they don’t take each other by the hand, look at each other or rest heads on shoulders and get into the moment. Simulating sex on the dance floor is widely accepted, but the genteel gesture of a slow dance seems to go way over our heads. Whoa, this feels like something more. Back up…

As a society that can brag about one night stands and sex without feelings, I think we are terrified of an act as intimate and vulnerable as a 4-minute slow dance.

You have to acknowledge the other person’s presence. You can feel them breathe. You can look in their eyes. You are close, you are face to face, you have to slow down your movements, you must be deliberate, you must be relaxed.

And in this fast paced world, slowing down often appears to be a sign of weakness.

I’ll never forget my first dance. Sixth grade. Before I left the house, my dad warned me that I “better not slow dance with no boys.” He was real specific.

No slow dancing.

My mother and father fell in love in the early 70s and probably created me and my sister due to “red light” parties in sweat filled basements slow dancing. He knew what time it was.

And the sixth grade dance was in full swing. A slow dance came on. It was Boyz II Men “On Bended Knee.” A sweet boy named Robert who had a crush on me kept pestering me to dance. I told him we could dance to fast songs. He said no.

He knew he annoyed me, and came up with a compromise. He wouldn’t bug me anymore as long as I danced a “slooo dance.”

LOL.

That’s how he said it. “I promise I won’t bother you anymore, forever, but it has to be a slooo dance.” And then he had this cheesy ass grin.

He used to bug the hell out me. So I figured this deal couldn’t have been too bad. So I accepted. Then quoting a line from Nickelodeon’s “Salute Your Shorts,” I told him that my body was a map of the world, and if his hands went below the Equator, he was going to get creamed. Grinning like a Cheshire cat, he agreed to my terms.

Yall, “On Bended Knee” is a long ass song, but that boy was in Heaven. He had large Steve Urkel glasses and I remember his high top fade with a little part in it. God bless his heart.

He stuck to the rules and we danced.

I never forgot that moment. I quickly walked back to the wall where my friends congragated laughing at my misfortune as soon as Wanya sang that last note.

Fast forward through high school where I managed to have maybe a total of two other slow dances, but nothing groundbreaking.

My favorite one won’t come later until the ROTC Ball I attended with my boyfriend in college.

We danced to “So Amazing” by Luther Vandross. I’m sure I’ve heard that song before then, but that night it was like I really heard that song for the first time. He was in his dress uniform and I was wearing a formal dress. “So amazing to be loved, I’d follow you to the moon and the sky above.”

The last time I remember slow dancing, was actually in my ex-fiance’s apartment. We had the r and b music channel going on the t.v. and he disappeared for a while. When he returned, he was dressed up as this character we made up, “dirty old man.”

He had on an old Colorado Rockies baseball cap, high water pants, mix-matched socks, a plaid shirt with a pin stripe vest. He grabbed my hand and asked me, the “young tenderoni” to dance with him.

It was the most hysterical thing ever.

I dropped it like it was hot, and began to grind and wind.

Then a slow song came on.

He took my hand and pulled me close. And at first, he was silly, dipping me and twirling me. But then, his eyes met mine, remnants of my laughter still lingering and we danced. It was different. It was more serious, but not intense. More sweet and gentle.

And as silly and ridiculous as he looked, we danced. He whispered funny things in my ear, our bodies pressed against one another.

Hands down, that was one of my most favorite, intimate moments that we shared.

Slow dancing forces us to be human. Even though it can be sensual, it’s not overtly sexual. The mood builds if you let it. It’s the most lovely tease. It allows us to let down our guard and let people physically in our space in a different kind of way. It’s not vulgar. And I think that’s why folks today won’t do it. This is why our society fears closeness and intimacy and we suck so badly at it. This is why you may only hear one slow song ever in a party, and you’ll hear more of them at parties with a majority of people older than 40. That’s the last generation that really appreciates it.

One of my life goals is pretty simple, but not really.

One of the only times I feel super crappy about being single is for the eight minutes every year at my family reunion where the couples take the floor and slow dance to two songs. It’s usually Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” but to me, that’s my symbol of what I want my life to be someday.

At the family reunion with the love of my life, slow dancing while our kids make faces and saw eww, a moment for just us, bodies pressed against one another, swaying and whispering inside jokes in each other’s ears. Seeing eachother’s smiles spread wide across our faces, looking into eyes, looking right back, holding the gaze. There is the ecstasy of the honesty and realness and intimacy of a simple snapshot of a life moment 4 glorious minutes long, feeling like the only two people in the entire world, on a crowded dance floor.

For the sake of humanity and sanity and all that’s good and kind and gentle in us, let’s keep the slow dance alive.

 

In a New Relationship, Negotiate. In An Old Relationship, Renegotiate.

Me and a very good friend had a discussion last night about people who have been in really long relationships, where there may have been cheating involved and numerous make ups and break ups.

The unfortunate thing for the girl involved is that she fell in love with this guy in high school and knew nothing else.

She had not yet developed the skills to negotiate her romantic relationships. And it’s cost her. Dearly.

Yes, I said it.

Whether you think so or not, when you enter into a relationship with someone the tone of that relationship is set by what you demand, ask for or don’t ask for. Together, whether you spell it out or not, you have set up and agreed to the terms of your relationship.

I’ve been thinking about the demands I’ve given said and unsaid, and I’ve thought about terms I’ve accepted in the past.

The negotiation factor is so important, because as I pointed out to my friend, even if the couple I mentioned do get married, something very dangerous can happen.

Nothing is going to change and the same dysfunctional shit that dictated the relationship will still guide it.

Worst of all, the woman, will think because she’s his wife, NOW she can make demands that she wanted before and was afraid to ask for, feel she has every right to express it, and it’s his duty to do it. Period.

The man, he’ll be shocked because he thought by finally marrying her, he finally gave her what she wanted, so why is she still trippin? Why is she worse?

This is the metaphor I gave to my friend about the poor young lady being in this relationship for so long, and not really having the ability to get out there, get experience and learn the game.

Say you’ve been working at McDonald’s for twenty years. Say you started out at 15 making minimum wage.

Let’s say, you have been promoted several times and now you are a manager. And instead of making $4.00 an hour, you were told, hey managers make $10 an hour that’s what they make.

You accept those terms because you like being called a manager. You don’t go to salary.com. You have a suspicion that you may be underpaid, but no, you trust the company you’ve been working for. You’ve been loyal. You are there early and you stay late.

You trust they are giving you a fair shake because you’ve done everything right and you’ve been with them for so long.

Then you hear the loud new girl on fries got a raise and she makes $12 an hour. She comes in late. She’s rude to the customers. She never volunteers to stay late. She leaves early.

You mumble and grumble, how is this possible? She even hooks the homies up with free food.

Then you find out, when she took the job– a job that doesn’t even require the same amount of responsibility– she wasn’t going to take it, unless she got $12 an hour.

And they agreed.

You are salty because you realize you never asked for what you wanted, or made people think twice that maybe they’d have to live without you and your services one day. You never demanded anything, so in return, they gave you what they thought you should have. You played no role in it whatsoever.

And once people start deciding what they think you should have, without you setting boundaries, even when they give you less, in their mind they think it’s more than fair. What’s the difference to you anyway? You never established your value.

Now I’m not saying in relationships women need to throw around ultimatums, or threaten to leave. You can’t play that card willy nilly at work, and you can’t do it in relationships. But we tend to get mad when we see young women, playing by different rules looking like they are winning, looking like they got what they want.

“Good girls,” who don’t ask for anything at all, waiting for that man to finally “see” them, and see how loyal and loving and supportive they are, need to learn a thing or two in negotiation from the “Bad girls” that these men tend to cheat on them with.

I’ve been the girl, in college who tried very hard to get men who only wanted to have sex with me to see me for the smart, talented, pretty, funny young lady I felt I was.

I think they did think I was all of those things. It wasn’t personal, they just wanted sex. And because I wanted them to “see” me, I was available at 2 a.m. I’d answer my phone, I’d open the door, I’d open my legs. I’d drive out in the rain in the middle of the night to give them what they wanted.

How can they not see how great I am? Surely, they’d want to date me, exclusively.

And even if they slept with other women that I knew and took classes with, or lived down the hall from, I still thought, I had the magic lady parts and the heart to win him over.

I wondered about the people in the relationship that started the whole convo. They’d been together on an off for more than a decade. The man, no closer to marriage, because of his own struggles with settling down; the girl, hoping that after all of her years of service aching for the title of wife, not realizing, if she gets it, her benefits and raise may be way below average, because she didn’t negotiate from the start.

As for people already in relationships, you are going to change. You are going to grow.

You better sit down from time to time and review your situation.

You need to find out what that person needs and wants from you, and you need to express your needs and wants. You should praise them for the great things they do, and respectfully explain the not so nice things you don’t like, and let that person do the same.

And if things are changing, say so. If things are going in a weird direction you don’t like, say so.

There should be no fear in speaking your mind respectfully in your relationship. You want that person to be happy and they should want you to be happy. Everyone needs updated information to do their jobs properly.

If your man or woman is putting in that work, give em a raise. Give em a bonus. Go out of your way to show your gratitude.

If they are slacking on the job, you can’t keep quiet then fire them with no warning.

Give people chances to improve. Be clear on your expectations and don’t back down.

You don’t want to be that disgruntled “manager.”

 

 

Secret Travel Obsessions

I have obsessions that come and go.

My most recent was looking for the perfect mid height, chunky, strappy high heel, that would work well for my upcoming trip to New Orleans this summer.

I found them. I’m good.

But I have another. There’s a show on T.V. called “Sweet Retreats” where people go to a city they want to vacation in and have a choice of three kinds of vacation homes they want to rent. They visit the homes, weigh out the pros and cons of each and pick a winner.

I think renting homes and bed and breakfasts are probably the most awesome way to go when you are vacationing and you are as serious about relaxing as you are seeing stuff. Hotels to me, are convenient and places to lay your head and shower. But rentals and B&Bs feel way more homey, and you can even taste the memories later on. Staying in places like that, to me, really feels like you are a part of the experience and the community you are visiting. You can cook or order take out, but eat on plates. You can really relax, and if you are sharing with others, there’s more space and privacy.

When my cousin had a lovely rental in the heart of Catalina Island, I thought to myself, yes. This is how you do it. I stayed in a lovely hotel, but we spent a good amount of time hanging out, eating and drinking and cooking at the rental.

You can really make it a party, when you have your loved ones around in a paradise-like place, and usually, as “Sweet Retreats” reveals, when you split up the cost, spending $2,000 for a six-bedroom two- or three-bathroom house for a week among you and the homies, it’s a pretty good deal.

I wouldn’t advise getting into such an endeavor with shady friends or family members, but if you know your crew is good for the cash, and won’t annoy the hell out of you for a week, I think it’s worth doing.

I would honestly love to chill in a lovely rental home either near the beaches of anywhere from the Mid Atlantic on down to the south. Another friend recommended the Poconos. I’m down for that too.

I’m also having a growing interest in visiting new places in the United States that I would have never gone before. There are some spots in Colorado, Utah (Park City), Arizona (Sedona), New Mexico and Kentucky (the Makers Mark factory) that I’d love to see.

I’m dying to travel out of the country too. One of my good friends tends to have the attitude that it ain’t a real vacation if it ain’t on a beach outside of the U.S. That is cool, but for me, honestly if I can get some fresh air and sunshine in a beautiful place and there is a pool, I don’t have to be on a beach.

Not sure, but as I get older, I want the planning and execution of my vacations to be just as uncomplicated and drama-free as my actual vacation. I don’t have to have strict wall-to-wall plans for every moment of the day, I don’t care about night life as long as there’s a bar someplace or a movie theater. I guess as a working adult, the ability to relax is paramount.

Everywhere I visit, I always book a spa appointment. And I always yelp restaurants. I also look for local theater, historical sites and museums and where shops are. It’s only right.

So what do you tend to look for when you are planning your trips and vacations? Do you need lots of excitement? Beautiful scenery? Peace and quiet? Adventures that test yourself?

A Tale of Two Sisters

I have had a million things on my mind.

What else is new?

I had a strange feeling yesterday as my sister sent me a lovely photo of her, my brother in law and nephew after church.

They looked like the perfect little family.

It was like three in the afternoon, I didn’t go to church, I was still in my pjs and I was alone. I was feeling guilty that I hadn’t gone to church in weeks. But I really didn’t have the energy to sit through service as people went on about their mothers. I love my mother and I’m thankful for her, but it’s not a day that I really enjoy because of how complicated our relationship is.

I was a little bit jealous looking at the photo, but at the same time so happy that my sister managed to find her happiness and find her place and her lane.

My sister has been the kind of woman who settles down and always appears to be content. Sometimes I confused that for her playing it safe, and settling, meanwhile I was always the one to branch out, do something different or crazy and test my limits and my independence.

Sometimes, it made me feel superior.

I often wondered, why don’t you want MORE? What is out there that you dream of or feel like you lack? Why haven’t you just gone for it?

It confused me. I felt like we were made up of the same stuff, surely she had a desire for more. I looked up to her. She was a great student, a good athlete, very smart, very beautiful. I felt like she hid from her greatness. It was like her greatness was more than she could stand, a burden, a sin and she wanted nothing to do with it. It would draw too much attention, and it would be too much.

That bothered me, since I thought so much of her. I but I actually still do think highly of her. But she’s not me, and I’m not her.

She is still a little bit of a mystery because a decade separates us. She was off to college when I was eight, and she never came back home.

She never stepped up to meet it her greatness and look it in the face and accept it, I thought. Even when I tell her how beautiful she is and how she should wear her heels higher and her jeans a little tighter, she’d just shake her head. It wasn’t comfortable to her.

Why didn’t she she what I saw?

I’ve come to the conclusion, my sister is satisfied.

Sometimes, I am jealous of her ability to be satisfied, while I’m always in search of the next, the better. I can’t stand still, and more and more, I say what’s on my mind and what I won’t accept and then I don’t accept it.

We’re two sisters living in two different worlds.

She admires my independence. I admire her groundedness.

Things aren’t perfect. And she’s had her struggles. Her frustrations with work, my nephew has had some medical scares with seizures, but she’s had an amazing husband who has stood by her and seems to adore her still.

I had a long talk with my cousin Friday night, and I asked her if I was too independent, too selfish for a real relationship, marriage? Would I be able to subdue my often independent and creative and impatient nature and would my future man accept it?

It seemed like my sister was highly suited for traditional, stereotypical marriage. She didn’t have a rebellious streak in her at all. She did everything she was supposed to and without complaint or grumbling. She was a good kid. She rarely got in trouble or talked back to our parents ever. I had the smart mouth. I would question. I would act a fool in the store.

She would occasionally stand up for herself when necessary, but like myself, she calculates her moments and tends to be non-confrontational unless she has to be.

When I was engaged and preparing for marriage, I was trying to mimic what a good wife was supposed to be– full of self-sacrifice, totally supportive. I put everything into my relationship. However, my creative side was lacking. I was afraid if I didn’t faithfully put a certain amount into the savings account we created together that we agreed upon, I’d be letting down my man, I’d be cheating him and I wouldn’t want him to think I wasn’t pulling my weight. Our accounts and our participation in contributing to them allowed us to live as we pleased without worry. It was smart. I wanted to always be attractive to him, I wanted to be able to do the things he wanted sexually. I thought that was what good wives were supposed to do. The best wives seemed to be the ones who sacrificed the most.

So here I am.

I know myself better than I’ve ever had before. But I worry.

I’ve seen a lot of pain. I’ve seen a lot of selfless acts in my family. I’ve seen people fear and or deny their own pleasure and happiness and wants because they had to take care of someone else out of love and duty.

I don’t want a life like that. I want to feel like I’m being mutually loved, nurtured, protected and taken care of. Love should be freedom. The person you love should make you feel free. Yes, you have a duty to them, but you should feel most like yourself. You should feel free.

The stakes are getting higher and higher for me because I see how quickly life can change how life is filled with joyous moments, but also highly painful ones that require support networks free of judgement, and full of acceptance and love.

It’s strange how I don’t want my man to feel like he has to sacrifice everything for me, but I want to just know, like I know my own name he would if he had to, but because I love him just as much and I’m giving too, he doesn’t have to… Because that’s what you do for love.

You don’t trap people.

You accept them. Even when they change, because they are going to change and grow and you are going to change and grow too.

The goal is to change and grow in a way that benefits the unit.
I think people in relationships are allowed to change and grow.

But the vision for the relationship should always remain the constant. You have to agree to that from day one. Even when children come and when they’ve left the house, even when there is success, even when there is failure.

You both are looking at the same goal.

Sometimes I wonder if I already know this man. I wonder if I have to fall in love again and fail once, twice or even three times, before I’m supposed to be with him. If I’ll be mature enough or worthy enough to be allowed to have the one finally revealed to me.

I wonder If we’ve met before quickly and brushed past each other on a busy street, or we’ve sat and had easy conversations that lasted well into the night, laughs lingering in warm air. I wonder if he’s right around the corner, or living half way across the globe, doing all of the things he’s supposed to be doing so he can find his way to me at the exact, preordained time. I wonder if it will take ten years from now to find or rediscover him.

The timing isn’t up to me.

Who he is, isn’t even up to me.

It is up to me to recognize his voice when I hear him.

His touch when he touches me, his kiss.

To look in his eyes and see him and know.

That kind of love is out there.

I’m sharpening my skills to better identify it.

I’m getting closer.

I was told not to worry. That he’ll find me and love every bit of me. He’ll accept those dark things that occupy my mind that makes me quiet and moody sometimes, and he’ll love me through it. He’ll give me just enough space, but he’ll know exactly when to come in, not say a word kiss me on my head and hold me close.

Everyday, every action, we both are getting pulled closer.

I believe.

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