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Archive for the month “October, 2013”

Things That Scare Grown Ass People

I was inspired by awesome fellow blogger from Choices, Voices and Sole. She recently discussed the most scary thing to single women who are dating and I thought it was so funny.

The struggle is real when you can’t zip up the back of a dress and you are running late. Missing your birth control pills and realizing you missed not one but two days, oh yes. You have quite the moment. So I want to not just talk about single women, but me as a grown person, things that scare me.

In no particular order.

1. Traffic cameras

2. Women who wear jeggings as pants and won’t even wear a long shirt or sweater to cover their butt.

3. Kid germs. (I haven’t built up an immunity to them. Being single puts me at greater risk when working parents with sick children share bathrooms and office supplies. Getting sick from them is the absolute worst.)

4. Being out of Nutella

5. The ice cream machine is not working

6. Getting medical test results back, whether you are healthy or not.

7. Stepping on a scale.

8. Blind dates.

9. IRS tax audits

10. Speaking in public

11. Responsibility

12. Poorly lit parking lots

13. Missed or late menstrual cycles

14. Unemployment

15. Committment

16. STD’s

17. The words “We need to talk.”

18. Jury Duty

19. Being trapped in an elevator

20. Gas station restrooms

21. Hotel bed linens

22. Children allowed to make their own plates at buffets.

23. Being alone for the rest of your life

24. Online dating

25. People touching or biting food or taking a drink of something and offering it to you.

26. Bugs or rodents

27. Running out of gas or breaking down in a rough neighborhood.

28. Cell phone battery dying when you run out of gas or breakdown in a rough neighborhood.

29. Your final total in the checkout line at Target.

30. Sitting front row at a comedy show.

31. Your fat pants don’t fit any more.

32. Someone blew up the bathroom, and as you leave, another person greets you, and then smells the smell.

33. Chicken in a can.

34. DC tap water

35. Realizing you forgot to put on deodorant and you’ve already left the house.

36. Forgetting an important password.

37. Leaving your cell phone at home.

38. Traveling with a feeling that you forgot to turn off the stove, or you left your door unlocked.

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You Don’t Have to Be a Parent to Be a Parent Figure

I saw an amazing one-woman show last night.

It was called “The Night Watcher” you’d think a title like that on the night before Halloween, it would and should be scary.

It was not.

It was heartfelt and beautiful and I nearly dropped a tear twice because the actress Charlayne Woodard was absolutely friggin amazing. To be able to hold a room spellbound for two hours (with a 15-minute intermission) is a feat. And it looked emotionally and physically exhausting. She gave her all, she performed with her whole body, her face, her eyes, her arms, legs and hands she used every part of her body, sometimes making her self small and unsure like a 14-year old trying to explain getting pregnant, to making herself a large and brooding teenage boy, or small again, like a scared 11-year-old who wants to someday meet her birthmom. She kept morphing into these characters with ease, transitioning back as the ever-listening, constantly thinking and wanting to help, yet also flawed auntie Charlayne.

She exposed herself, she told the truth when she wanted to yoke a child up, or slap her parent friends with the hard, cold truth. She talked about the missed opportunities to have a child due to her just living her life and taking advantage of moments, to splurging on her dogs. It was honest and in the honesty and in the pain and her ability to connect to it, and to make each of us think of our aunties or uncles who took time with us, or even young relatives in our own lives who need an ear, and who need support.

Critics call her a “master storyteller” and I totally agree. Time flew by as she painted vingettes about being a parent figure to children she didn’t birth herself, but whom she loved like a mom.

This show resonated with me because for those of you who follow this blog, you all know that I’m scared of being a mom, and struggling with my lack of desire to have children.

I have friends who have become moms, are becoming moms and single friends who really know they want to be moms. I have one friend who seemingly has everything and she loves children. Has a bunch of god children and has said above everything else she knows she was put on this earth to be a mother. She wants that more than anything to have a child of her own.

On the other end of the spectrum, I have a friend who tends to be gun-shy about relationships, but has said even if she has to pick a sperm donor some day, she would totally be a single mom and sees herself being a pretty darn good one. I agree. She’s one of the most responsible people I know and the most loving, even though sometimes she doesn’t believe Mr. Right is going to show up anytime soon.

But I fall in a nebulous place. When I spend time with my friend’s son, I think he’s sweet and funny and full of wonder and he can also be exhausting to keep up with. When I spend time with my nephew, as he gets older, I’m blown away with how smart he is and how intuitive he is. I can’t believe he’s going to middle school next year. I was recently looking at a picture of me meeting him for the first time. I was a junior in college and I awkwardly held him, but it felt nice he was this little mushball of love looking like my sister and my brother-in-law and I hoped he and I would have a great relationship over his lifetime.

I didn’t live right up the street, but I hoped he’d always know that I loved him and would be proud of his accomplishments big and small and that I support him and want him to always be his very best. I hoped he’d know if he needed me and I could help him, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

What I liked most about Ms. Woodard’s performance was the fact that even though people thought she and her husband would make the most wonderful parents and kept telling her about opportunities to take in various children in their circle who needed good parents like them, she would respectfully decline, but offered herself as a mentor, a friend, an auntie. And she kept all of these kids secrets, served them up with tough love, and while scared out of her mind, she remained calm and cool and listened when the parents may have been too emotional or too detached to be objective. She was unapologetic for saying she and her husband lived simply and that she loved her career as an actress and she loved being able to go and come as she pleased. Even when her “kids” came to visit for a week, she expressed she was happy to see them go (with smiles on their faces) as much as she was happy spending time with them.

In the play she shared some painful stuff, and even her parent-friends hurling some hurtful words when she would see trouble and offer her help (i.e. until you become a parent, you can’t tell me how to raise my kid). You felt the sting, because you knew she was coming from a real place of love and urgency, because in most cases she was privy to the child’s problems before the parents were.

She made me think of the women in my life who served as aunties and third grandmothers. Women who in their own ways taught me how to navigate the world and to see the world as a big place that was ready for me to go conquer it. There were aunts, cousins, babysitters, church ladies, Sunday school teachers, and folks who all had a part in nudging me along. It doesn’t matter if you are raised by two parents or just one, or none. We truly are all in this together. And even as an adult, I’ve met people who have in a sense taken me in and encouraged me and made me feel safe and I recognize that and am super thankful for it.

If you live in D.C. the show is running for a little while at the Studio Theater. I suggest you check it out and take an auntie-type person and bring tissues. http://www.studiotheatre.org/calendar/view.aspx?id=4830

Holiday Spirit? Already???

It seems like people are already getting into the holiday spirit.

It’s October 29, by the way.

With all of the Halloween parties going on this past week and celebrities getting in trouble for being offensive, I guess it would make sense for folks to already be thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas, because I’m already tired of hearing about Halloween.

And. It’s. October 29.

But last night, after driving home from a lovely dinner with friends, I saw two houses in the same neighborhood with Christmas lights already a twinkling. “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” hasn’t even aired yet, and CHRISTMAS LIGHTS?

The funny thing is for the last week, Christmas gift ideas have already crossed my mind for people. When I was in the stores, I saw a few things and said, let me take a pic of this to remind me to go back and get this later. Yesterday, I saw another perfect gift for someone and just snatched it up right away. (For somethings, I have a fear I won’t see it again so I just get it)

I’m a huge fan of the movie “The Best Man” and I’m chomping at the bit for the sequel hitting theaters next month, and a friend has already been sending me music from the soundtrack which contains mostly holiday music.

So it seems like even though it’s October 29, I can’t seem to escape the holidays. They are already here and smacking me in the face.

I was talking on the phone with Renaissance last night, and shared my story about seeing the Christmas lights on houses as soon as last night and we were discussing the holidays. I shared with him my weird obsession with wrapping gifts and how I really, really enjoy it. And then we some how got on the topic of Kwanzaa. I was making jokes about it and I asked him if he celebrated it.

And he seriously said yes.

I was taken aback.

It’s sad to say, but as I told him, I don’t know of any real, life black people who seriously participate in and voluntarily celebrate Kwanzaa, like for real.

I said, a lot of time, people go to church or their local community center to do a half-assed observance, and still not really know what it means or feel a real connection to it, but I don’t know anyone for real who celebrates it and takes it seriously.

I told him, my father would actually threaten us with Kwanzaa. “If yall don’t act right, Christmas is cancelled. We will be celebrating Kwanzaa and yall don’t want me to make you a gift.”

Renaissance had a good laugh off of that. But he said that he really believed in the principles of Kwanzaa and thinks it’s a beautiful thing to celebrate and would probably be even better with a family. So, he has encouraged me to celebrate Kwanzaa with him this year and we will each make one gift for each other. So it really has me thinking, what would I make for this guy? It’s kind of fun, and I don’t think he’s trying to play me and get out of Christmas. (Don’t even do that, sir)

So even in participating this year (even though I feel black Americans should really observe Juneteenth) I thought about Christmas. As we get older, it’s not so much about the stuff. I really try not to be wasteful or get people crap. I try to think of their personalities what they like or things they’ve mentioned they needed or wanted earlier in the year or something reflective of a moment we’ve shared. Or if I just know this item would be perfect. But I do think having fun with your friends and family and challenging one another to do something different, like actually making a gift can make the holidays really special and unexpected and memorable.

One of my favorite holiday songs ever. Soul Holidays by Sounds of Blackness (they give a nod to Kwanzaa in this video too.)

Calling My Inner Aggressor (WARNING: This post is for mature folk, I’m talking about sex)

Just the other day, I looked at some of the blogs of my followers and I was a little nervous when I discovered one of my followers is 16. It kind of reminded me all kinds of people are out following blogs. So this post is for grown folks. If you still read along, young followers, please. Sex is a big deal. And it involves way more than your parts. It’s a tangled web of crazy when you aren’t mature enough to handle it. And I know people in their 30s who still aren’t mature enough to handle it and have gotten into a lot of drama from it. You’ve seen Maury. You not bout that life. Don’t desire to be bout that life. You should be safe and selective and just honestly focus on school and finding out what you are good at. And please don’t say you’re good at sex. Cus you’re not. No really, you’re not.

And on with today’s post.

I’ve often heard from men that they really like it when women initiate sex.

And it makes sense.

Men want to feel good about themselves and feel as if they are desired, just like women do. ANNND with all of these stories coming out about rape and the recent and increasingly popular analysis of rape culture, I think men feel like if a woman starts the party, there is no question at all that she is 100 percent consenting to what’s about to go down.

That has to be a relief. The clarity must be freeing and I believe allows both parties to have a much better experience.

Which goes back to the chicken and egg situation of women wanting to own their sexuality and be initiator without the stigma of being a freak or slut or ho. (Within the confines of a committed relationship, this shouldn’t even be an issue.)

Most men I know, who I’ve had this conversation with, including my own boyfriends, they’ve said that they don’t want to be the one always getting things started. And even if women had the fear that they’d get turned down, most guys I know say they aren’t going to turn it down unless something is really, really wrong, so women should go for it more often.

As a woman, I think taking on the role of the aggressor/initiator can be a whole lot of fun. You are running the show, you are dictating the fantasy as you see fit. You’ve made the decision to wear or not wear whatever you want, and take the man off guard.

I’ve thought of the times I exposed my gangsta, literally and I laugh about it.

I have been the girl who showed up to the house in a trench, heels and nothing else. Did I mention it was winter?

I once requested my ex-fiance go to the bank and ask for $100 in singles, because I was going to dance for him on his birthday. And he did. And I put on quite the show.

Sometimes it takes courage and feeling completely comfortable with someone to be the “aggressor” and I think that’s the main reason why women don’t do it.

Sometimes we don’t feel good about our bodies because of the women we see on t.v. We may know the favorite female celebrity of the guy we are dating and we know we look nothing like it.

But, some how, some way, we owe it to ourselves to as J. Cole says in the song “Crooked Smile” to not “see what you lackin, but see what you packin.”

You have to believe it, sell it and the man will follow suit. A good friend of mine and I always joke about her ample bosoms and my large behind and we agree it’s important to be proud of our assets and play them up to the fullest. You do have to love what you are looking at in the mirror. Some days I put on a pair of little shorts around my house and I know I’m awesome. And there’s nothing wrong with that, because the days I don’t feel awesome, I really don’t feel awesome.

Being an initiator is more mental than just seducing the man. It’s a mental and emotional exercise that I have to build up to. For me, it isn’t spontaneous. Aren’t you shocked by this? Outwardly, I seem super sexy and confident, right? 🙂

I actually put a lot of thought into it. I listen to sexy music all day long. I primp and pamper.

I start early and send dirty texts all day long.

I make sure I’m well-groomed, smelling good and with the softest skin imaginable.

I wear my hair in a way that makes me feel sexy.

And I won’t lie, I may pour myself a nice stiff drink. (ONE LADIES. YOU CAN’T BE SEXY AND SLOPPY, THEY DON’T GO TOGETHER).

Sometimes you have to put on your prettiest undergarments or even buy yourself a garment that feels good on your skin.

Go to a pole dancing/exotic dance class. They are fun and they allow you to see yourself in a new light and help you get more comfortable with your inner aggressor. And you get to see and meet women of all different shapes and sizes also feeling good about themselves and just trying. I honestly think all women should try it once. Because they are women only classes, it’s not about sex. It really is about self-esteem.

Think about the things that you like, then ask your partner for it. There are times you hope they do certain things and when they don’t you get upset. You are in the room too. Tell them what you want.

You have to feel your absolute best. And I think that’s something men need to understand too.

A friend of mine was saying he doesn’t want to feel like he’s always begging for sex, even though nine times out of ten he’s always down for it.

But even though men tend to be down for it a lot, I think emotionally women do have to be THERE too in order to enjoy it and not be in it just to satisfy the guy. A lot of women are phoning it in and not mentally or emotionally into it and it’s crazy, because we have the power. We dictate whether or not it goes down. Our bodies are precious.

And it’s crazy that as a young woman, I really kind of didn’t think about myself or how I felt or how I wanted to feel. I would often just think this guy really wants me and let me be good at sex and not even for me, but for him.

How backwards is that?

So where is the happy medium?

I think it’s easier when women are more selective about who they sleep with. I think it’s easier when a woman really cares about the man and knows the man really cares about her. It’s a heck of a lot easier when the woman is attracted to the guy. And it’s super easier when the woman knows the guy can satisfy her. If you’ve had bad experiences, and you are trying to hang in there with the person because he’s a nice guy, or he’s good-looking, it’s hard to get excited about him getting off every time and you getting nothing in return. And some men will pick up on that, and because you always agree, they will always take advantage, whether you enjoyed it or not. And you don’t want that kind of guy in your life. EVER. And you don’t deserve that kind of guy in your life. EVER.

If you had someone put it down with precision, you think about it at work, in the shower, when you wake up, when you go to sleep and that already builds the anticipation for the next time. You aren’t going to want to keep your hands off. Being the initiator will come naturally just off of that. So good luck, gals. Go get em.
In honor of TLC’s really awesome movie that premiered this week. And as queens of liberated, independent women who get what they want and “Ain’t too proud to beg”…

It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You’re Heard (Digging in the Drafts)

Note: I had written some blog posts sitting in my drafts that for some reason I wasn’t ready to share or haven’t flushed out yet. This actually wasn’t a bad post. Don’t know why I wasn’t feeling it enough to post when I wrote it. Oh well. Enjoy.

I recently had an interesting conversation with a guy I went on a pretty good date with over the weekend (Yes, folks, it’s Renaissance).

This was all via text.

We got into a conversation about things we wish we were better at or wanted to improve upon.

All of you know about my patience problem, my aversion to mathematics and my control issues.

So I shared, but tried to make them not sound too horrible, but also sound self-aware and open to improvement. I mean, I don’t want to send him off screaming. Geez.

He mentioned that he wanted to be a better listener.

Which threw me off.

A big part of his job requires that he listen to people and help them solve their problems. So how is it a man who listens to people everyday for a living says he wants to be a better listener?

His answer was a good one, an honest one and as a result, basically turned me on.

He went a few steps beyond just saying he wants to generally improve as a person, but he dropped these gems on me, and then I really got what he was saying.

It’s kind of like when black mothers ask you, “Do you hear me?”

Then grab you by the arm and say, “No, no,  do you HEAR me?” Meaning, I’m not saying this for my health. I’m trying to help you and you need to not only just listen, you need to process this for real, for real.

He mentioned that it takes another skill set altogether to “understand what listening looks like to the speaker.”

Whhhhattt boy?

You better say that.

“It all incorporates making sure the speaker feels listened to. That doesn’t come naturally. Or even making the speaker feel comfortable speaking with you. Each person is different so the cues you pick up may be different too.”

So it hit me. He’s right. People always want to feel like they’ve been heard. Even if you disagree or never had a similar experience so you can say you understand. There is an art to hearing people and a skill that has to be honed.

I’ve been told that when I’m passionate about something or mad, or I want to be heard, I tend to repeat myself and I can get loud (even when I’m not mad).

In the past, I blamed it on being the youngest and having to fight for and command attention from the older family members who were bigger than me and physically taking up more space.

But I do this because, I do in fact want to be heard. Sometimes, especially in relationships, you do have to wonder when you speak, what is your partner actually hearing?

Our life and experiences not only shape us, but it shapes the way we listen to and interpret information and while we may speak the same language, things can get lost in translation if one person grew up in a nurturing family, and the other did not. If you are male and I am female, if I had a certain level of education and you have more or less.

Keep in mind none of these things make us better or worse, but it certainly shifts perception and it does play a role in how we take in information depending on who that information is coming from.

I’ve been obsessed with the government shutdown situation and it’s a perfect example. Members of the House and Senate straight up don’t like the Affordable Health Care act, so it doesn’t matter if a budget needs to be passed or not to keep people working changes to the ACA were incorporated and that stopped everything in its tracks. Folks can’t agree.

Some people don’t like President Obama so anything he says or does, they won’t hear him. They won’t care about what he has to say. Some people can’t stand Republicans, so anything Republican, forget it. You won’t be able to break through.

So, that conversation led me to think, when I speak, am I being heard? And am I actively listening to others? Is the intended message getting the most accurate response to what my truth is and to what that other person’s truth is?
Xscape Understanding

The Thaw

During my weekend of darkness a few weeks ago, I decided to torture myself a bit and watch the first Sex and the City movie.

The reason why I say it’s torture is because I watched that film multiple times after the ending of my engagement because I really identified with Carrie’s pain of being jilted at the altar. Now, we didn’t make it that far, but plans were rolling along, I had picked my dress and was about to start the alterations, and I had the shoes, and my friends started planning parties for me. The movie was not only torturous because it reminded me of the funk I had to pull myself out of, but the happy ending was also difficult because I couldn’t see my own happy ending anywhere in sight.

She ended up with Mr. Big anyway. Big, like my ex is an extremely messed up person, and like Carrie, I’ve vacillated back and forth with the hope that one day he’d get it together and give me the love I deserve, with feelings of never again and a nagging mistrust.

I’ve started to notice that even though from this time last year, on, I had been really trying to give various men a chance, deep down I knew they weren’t it. I’d even say it. He ain’t it. But I still forged through, because I needed practice in reintroducing myself to giving and sharing and just being nice to a man again and meaning it.

I had to return to the crux of who I am. If I care about you, I really, really care about you. I can’t love you half way. It’s not in my nature.

There are moments when you do something and you realize a year or two years ago you weren’t in a place to do so. When my wedding plans fell apart, I couldn’t watch anything or read anything about weddings. The other day, I found myself liking wedding photos or videos of proposals again.

I didn’t feel some kind of way about it or feel sadness. I was happy for strangers again and I could just enjoy the photos and videos for being lovely again. I’m not the single girl who build a pinterest board for her dream wedding, but I can totally appreciate beautiful brides and gorgeous locales. I’m happy for other people again!

I feel like that’s a sign that the thaw is happening.

I’m looking forward to spending time with Renaissance. I enjoy cooking for him and him enjoying my food. I want to cook more and find recipes to feed him. I want to dress up and slay him. I want to snuggle. I want to feel like a girly, girl around this guy. Lord. I have not said that he is not it, and I won’t say he’s it either. But I haven’t said he’s not it.

That’s a big deal. He may have a chance. He may actually have a chance.

Am I guarded? Hell yes. Renaissance has called me out on it and I don’t mind. It’s honest and I’m doing what is comfortable for me right now. I like the fact that he doesn’t seem to mind and that he’s willing to coax me out of the cave and is trying to apply some heat to the ice.

The other men I’ve dated recently haven’t given me such a warm feeling. Sure, they wanted sex, but the feeling was not warm and personal.

It seems like the thaw is taking place and I won’t fight it.

Have you ever been heartbroken and woke up one day and noticed the things that used to make you sad don’t make you sad anymore? Were you surprised to discover that you didn’t hurt as much as you did before?

When Is the Start of a Relationship?

Hey, hey folks!

I was just talking with one of my most faithful readers after working out with her yesterday. And as I was giving her some of the most banging gumbo I ever made, ever, she looked at me with an oh so serious and chiding face and said, “Um, Ima need you to write a new post.”

I explained to her I had a hard time coming up with material as of late. My lack of inspiration was really bringing me down, because I love writing this blog. And usually when I post, it’s because I’m given a thought I just can’t shake and the words just flow naturally.

I usually write about my relationship mishaps, and recently things have been going well with Renaissance. Like scary, well. We saw each other twice this week and I didn’t break out into hives, and I was happy to see him. He made me dinner one night during the week and I made him that awesome gumbo Saturday night and then we went to the movies to see “Prisoners” (Please go see it. It’s an awesomely done suspense film, which had me going nuts the entire time. The entire cast was fantastical.) I found myself snuggling with him and repeatedly hitting his arm throughout the movie and reacting to the madness unfolding.

Things are going so well, I’m feeling superstitious about writing about him and us and how things are progressing. So while I figure out how to deal with that, I was thinking this morning on my drive into work about how relationships progress. How they start and grow and where they come from and then boom, you look back and realize you’ve been with someone for a year or two.

I started to let my mind wander about where relationships come from and how grown folks decide to make it official.

I joked with a friend the other day about whether or not grown people say to one another, “Ok, we are officially together now.”

It seemed like in a lot of cases, folks don’t make that declaration, or when the declaration has been solicited, it usually comes after a discussion from the woman who wants the man to put a title on their meandering relationship so she can feel secure and remove all doubt and ambiguity. Ok, we’re together now.

We are on the path to the future. Together. You said it, no going back now, sucker.

Or, for some women, the moment happens as soon as her man actually introduces her to someone else as his lady, his woman, his girlfriend, his girl, etc. And in that moment, she has to play it cool in front of these people, because this title is just as new to her as it is to them.

Some men tend to take the tack that if they have been spending time with you multiple times in the week, talking everyday, usually ending the night with a phone call, peppering each other’s day with text messages and starting to know each other’s schedules, it’s pretty much a done deal and nothing really needs to be said.

You both are already in it hard-core. He is doing things a boyfriend would do, if he didn’t see you in that way, he wouldn’t do it .

But women, Oh, women. We want it signed, sealed and delivered. We need that confirmation.

We want the verbal contract so that now you can’t back your monkey ass out of the deal, and if and when you slip up, you can say, no, no sir. You said and agreed we were in a relationship, therefore you are held to a higher standard, therefore you clearly agree to be a responsible participant in this relationship and the nonsense men get away with and women allow because they don’t have a title, yeah, you just can’t do that anymore. And you sir, need to verbally acknowledge that and be held to that.

It seems these days, that when the male publicly acknowledges the relationship, that it is in fact a relationship and he is officially all in.

Some people mark the moment when the other person says I love you as the official start date of the relationship.

Some people believe getting to meet the family is the point where things are really starting to get real.

I’m not sure where I fall in this. I know that when know I love someone, there are times I fight to hold the words in my mouth until I can’t anymore. And I blurt it out and take cover. Especially when I know if the other person may not be the one to say it first. I’m actually the one who doesn’t say it first.

But when I’m ready to say it, it’s almost like when a kid looses a tooth. There are times where that tooth is just hanging and hanging and either you let it fall out, or it’s going to come right out eating a peanut butter jelly sandwich, or even though you are scared as hell, an anxious family member, knowing that tooth is ready and aching to just come right out is going to help you tie a string, tie it to a door, tell you to look the other way and yank that sucker out.

There is a word that Renaissance keeps saying in regard to relationships and it is helping his case a lot in terms of winning me over. That word is responsibility.

He said as a man, in a relationship he has to realize he is responsible for someone else, and their feelings, besides himself and be honest with himself about whether or not he has the ability to do that. Renaissance believes ALL women want a relationship from age 14 on, whether they say it, deny it or whatever, they want and hope that their situations with whomever they are dating, will turn into a relationship. I’ve argued that that is not always the case. He still disagrees and says at the core, all women want and prefer having the relationship. He believes women want to be in relationships and won’t ever turn it down if the right situation presents itself. He said the trouble with men is “there are a lot of men who really love sex, but don’t really like women.” Meaning, men at certain points in their life don’t want to take the time to get to know a woman and really like her, they love the act of sex way more and women end up getting hurt.

Well damn sir. Interesting thought.

We talked about a lot of things this weekend. There was a moment I had a thought cross my mind and he sensed it. We were hugged up and relaxing at my house. I didn’t want to say it. And he looked at me with a serious look and said, “Tell me.”

And I grunted and groaned and heavily sighed.

And he said, “Be vulnerable.” First of all, that was brilliant. Those words shot through me. Here is this big, strong, giant of a man, holding me in his arms (physically creating a safe space) creating a safe space for me to speak my mind, encouraging me to enter.

Now that’s some new shit. And it’s scary. Who does that?

And I looked up at him, and after a long 40 seconds of me fighting myself and trying to decide to say nothing or tell the truth, I chose the latter and said. “I don’t want to be played with.”

“I know you don’t. And I won’t. I really like you.”

And softly, I said. “Ok.”

Tweet “Proceed”

Question (s) of the day: for people in relationships did you have a definitive starting point? Or did it just happen and you both basically knew you transitioned into relationshipdom? Do you have to speak it for it to be real and for everyone to be on the same page?

The Friend Test

I’ve made friends all kinds of ways.

In the earliest of times, it was as easy as saying: “Hello, want some Skittles?”

Sometimes it was due to an agreement that an injustice had taken place. “She didn’t share her skip it on the playground.” “Yeah, not cool.” “Wanna play at my house after school?” “Sure, just gotta ask my mom.”

Sometimes friendships were born out of group science projects, or after standing up for someone who was being picked on, or just asking a sad person if they were ok.

Some of my friendships were forced arranged situations, like college roommates or some grew out of natural rivalries to be the best at a campus newspaper.

Sometimes if you’ve smiled enough at someone you keep running into on the way to the bathroom at work, you decide to have lunch one day and the hour turns into two. OOPS!

I’ve even made some friends through writing this blog.

But what’s the DNA of friendships? How do we really build relationships with people? And how do these relationships sometimes fall apart and stay apart?

We are told all of the time when on the carousel of friends some folks are a reason, a season and a lifetime.

But I guess the friend-making, relationship-building process always comes down to the same thing.

Attendance. I have friends who live all over the place. I may not speak to them all the time, but my closest friends have spent significant amounts of lab hours with me, practicing friendship. These things consist of hanging out, talking on the phone, traveling, etc. The best way to get to know someone is through spending time.

Some of my fondest friend memories are often me and the friend sharing a meal, laughing or doing something absolutely stupid together. We weren’t anyplace fancy, it’s usually a lazy day talking about nothing and everything.

Listening. Good friends listen. And listen, and listen some more. And listen even if they are tired and don’t feel like it. Sometimes if you have a friend who isn’t a great communicator, you have to work even harder to listen to them when they do share or have something to say.

The voluntary gesture. Actions mean a lot to me. When new friends think of me and show up to something I invited them to, or brought me a favorite candy or offer to take me to the airport, it’s like daum. You really like me and want to be my friend. You went out of your way to do this or that when you really didn’t have to.

Trying new things. Trying new things with new friends can create bonds and memories and trying new things with old friends can breathe new life into the relationship. You may expose fears and or talents that you never knew the person or you had. When you try new things sometimes, you switch personality traits. If you are loud and bossy, you may become quiet and standoffish while your quiet friend may become the leader or the teacher in the moment to pull you through and cheer you on. I’ve seen this happen and it’s a very cool thing.

Reliability. “No, for real. I need a ride to the airport. And the flight is at six a.m. on a Saturday. Yes.” That friend may cuss you the whole way to the airport, but you are at your gate by 5:15, which means they picked you up around 4. Which means they woke up at 3:30 or earlier.

The reliable folks in your life show their gargantuan capacity to love you by doing things like that. These are the people you see through tears in the church as you walk through a funeral procession. They drove all night, but they are there.

There’s a song by Jill Scott called, “Calls” it’s divine. She sings so sweetly, “You always answer my calls when I call, you come.” Let’s face it. The true homies come when you call, and they feel a tingle when you are in need and come anyway if you don’t call. Those are the keepers and those are the ones you want to keep listening to, doing voluntary gestures for and showing up for (Hey, I’ve included the other bolded topics in this bolded topic! Reliability must be huge to me). There aren’t a lot of these people. They are the special ones you treasure.

In a world full of people who do more talking than ever, the reliable people who keep their word are rare.

Admiration. If you can’t name one or two things that you admire about your friends, you ain’t friends. I have some friends where we have straight up love fests about how much we like different things about each other. You don’t have to do that, but even internally, can you look at that friend and say, I really love x quality about them. Wow. No one does this the way so and so does and I’m proud of them as a human being. Andy and Ollie always take it too far on Bob’s Burgers (love that show) but you get the point.

Vulnerability. Can you trust this person? Can you say how you feel? Can this person trust you and tell you how they feel? I’ve mentioned in this blog before that vulnerability is awesome, but it’s something that has to be protected and shared with people who have proven themselves. I’ve also said in real life and in this blog that certain friends have to have certain security clearances when it comes to your thoughts, feelings and emotions and your past. And if you know the weaknesses of your friends, you can save yourself the heartache and disappointment of not going to the wrong one for support on certain issues. Some friends are stronger with business and financial advice. Others are nurturers. Some friends are good at giving the cold splash of reality, while others may take a more optimistic approach and they are good at encouraging you to take risks.

And lastly,

Consistency.  In my world, the people who are consistently themselves and are comfortable with themselves are the ones who end up being the absolute coolest with me. Their courage to be themselves inspires me to accept myself more. And when I praise my friends for their individuality and their gifts, I think it fuels them even more. I know it boosts me when they do that for me. They may grow, they may have bad days or an attitude, but the root of who they are and what they value (core things) and what they believe in DOES NOT CHANGE. These friends may change a job, a hairstyle or city in which they live, and maybe they’ve become vegan, but their general feelings on family, friends, work ethic and respect should be non-negotiable. Consistent attendance, consistent listening, and well, being reliable contributes to being consistent. I have some friends I speak to on the phone. Some via strictly text and some friends I see. Consistent doesn’t mean you have to do these things everyday, but you and your friends have a rhythm. You know when it’s been too long since you’ve spoken and you may drop an are you alive email or text and the person responds right away, or by the end of the day. Consistency to me means understanding the patterns in your relationships with people and sticking with that.

Be a damn, good friend. Damn it.

 

Permission to Demand

I’ve been tweeting some random thoughts coming to my head, which make fertile ground for today’s post.

I need yall to bear with me because I may jump around a lot today.

The first thought of my day is that I forgot that I was awesome. I’m not saying this in a narcissistic way. I’m saying it because when you forget that you are awesome. When you start not thinking so highly of yourself, you let a lot of foolishness creep into your life.

You start allowing and saying yes to things that your usually awesome self wouldn’t even consider, let alone have time for or allow it to cause distress.

You all have read the blog, (and if you are new, I’m glad you are here. But you have a lot of catching up to do if you want some context.) You have a front row seat to my relationship failures and my desire to live happily and with purpose and to just be alright with me.

I had to reread an email exchange between me and a good friend of mine. Because I needed clarity on a situation where I felt a man I just started to have interest in wasn’t really returning the interest whole heartedly. I felt like an afterthought.

I questioned letting him know that I wanted my time valued before agreeing to another date, for fear of him thinking I was angry and demanding.

I questioned whether or not it was my right to demand respect for my time by A) not planning dates and standing me up. B) not calling me late at night on a weeknight because I didn’t want to be the naggy, bitchy, angry black woman who no one seems to like. I didn’t want to be the girl making too many demands of someone too soon.

But when is too soon to tell a guy you don’t want to be called late at night because you have a job and want to go to sleep? When is it too soon to tell a guy that while you want to get to know him, you don’t tolerate being stood up or cancelled on at the last-minute or put in second place to a social group, sport, job, hobby, etc if you want to seriously consider a relationship?

I think as women we have to not lay out long, crazy lists, but when moments call for a brief, real teaching moment, you got to take the opportunity to assert yourself and lay out the rules.

Men, women, horses, cats and dogs will take advantage if you don’t lay out what’s acceptable and what’s not and actively show the person or animal you are for real. You are allowed to voice what works for you and what does not.

I ultimately made the decision to say how I felt and what I didn’t want if he wanted to really get to know me. And he basically said he understood and was looking forward to our date tonight with no interruptions or cancellations. (We’ll see)

Usually grown, confident folks get it when you break something down and do it in a way that’s not mean or nasty, but just honest.

I tend to have a fear of people’s reaction to me when I say what I don’t want or what I don’t like. I don’t want people not to like me, or to feel uncomfortable or to be upset. But if the thing that person does or says to me is something that I don’t like or makes me feel comfortable or upset, what makes them better than me not to at least let them know I don’t like it?

When did I start deciding that my opinion, my feelings should be considered last out of the both of us.

And so in some cases, people and life started treating me that way. And I kept taking it.

I’m starting to see the light a bit and the timing is fortuitous.

I’ve had to have folks I hold in high esteem write letters of recommendation for my grad school application.

Having folks talk about you through their eyes is an interesting thing because you can’t see what they see or things that were small and didn’t seem to matter in your opinion, did count for something to them. A talent or skill that you may feel has been lacking, they noticed your growth and your passion to at least try.

I took things a step further when I had a recent catch up conversation with an old ex of mine. Geez we haven’t been together in several years and we ended amicably and can call each other friend.

I told him about my difficulty dating, I told him about recently getting stood up, to which he emphatically replied, “Fuck that dude.”

Ahh. Then I told him about an article I read about letting your ex actually write your online dating profile. So we played a game. I asked him to describe me. What I like, what I don’t like, who I am, in his own words. (This is enough for another post)

And he did that. He gave me a glowing review, but he also reminded me of somethings I had forgotten. That I was awesome. That I was highly interesting and intelligent and that I had certain high expectations of everyone around me.

My heart sank when he wrote the words, “she takes care of herself.”

I knew that had changed. Yes, I recently went on a great vacation, but it took me about five years to take off six consecutive days and not visit family. Yes, I get a massage once a month. But what am I really doing to take care of me for real? Beating myself up for the past? Not feeling good about myself professionally, feeling lost, feeling like I’m not making an impact. Making excuses to not workout, gaining weight. Beating myself up for making excuses and gaining weight. Beating myself up for not being better with money. Beating myself up for letting other people beat me up. Beating myself up for things I couldn’t control anyway.

If an ex I dated about 8 years ago, who I hardly speak to can gush about how good a person I am, how beautiful, kind and sexy and smart, why wasn’t I doing that for myself?

Fantastic people can vouch for me. They can verify that I’m worthy, yet I’ve been giving myself the bad wrap for a really long time.

A dear friend of mine posted what is now my favorite profile of himself on Facebook this week. He said he liked the pic because it made him feel good, he was smiling right into the camera and he’s totally not the type to promote selfies. He basically said we have to love ourselves, feel good about ourselves and pump ourselves up.

So today, I’m saying I’m worthy.

I’m worthy and capable of having a great relationship where what I want and how I feel will be respected. I’m worthy to have the career I want and I have every right to embrace who I am as I am right now and whatever isn’t quite perfect, well I can change. I am allowed to ask for what I want. I’m allowed to demand respect. I’m allowed to feel what I feel. And I’m allowed to shut out negative voices and forces so I can get myself together.

You are too.

 

Good Friend, Bad Friend?

Clearly mental health had consumed my mind so much this week that by the weekend, I was worn out.

A number of things kind of came crashing down on me and led me to not do much all weekend long. I didn’t have the energy to even study, which made me feel worse for not being productive.

In my previous blog, I discussed Miriam Carey, the woman who crashed into the gates of the White House last week and led authorities on a car chase to the Capitol. I mentioned how close to home her story felt.

But there were other things at play this weekend. I already felt some kind of way because I had to ask my father for money to hold me over until pay day, and I hadn’t done that in a very, very long time.

Then for some reason, I made matters worse by asking my dad how much of his parent loan for my schooling did he have left to pay.

The number sank my heart and to think of how much he had already paid over the last ten years knocked the wind out of me. But he was so sweet and so encouraging. And his love continues to humble me. I got of the phone feeling terrible.

I called my sister and I was emotional. I was sad that my dad seems to have always had to sacrifice so much and has such a difficult life. I took it a step further and my sister and I had a conversation about my mom and what my life was like dealing with her issues, while my sister, much older than me, was living her own life very far away.

I told her I was jealous she didn’t have to endure or see or hear the things I did at the age I had to deal with. I told her some stories and she was shocked. She said she’s always felt guilty that she couldn’t be there and that she didn’t understand the progression and when and where and why things got so bad. It just seemed like she came home once and life had completely changed.

What I appreciated most from the conversation was my sister clearly understood I wasn’t blaming her or upset with her, but that it was important for me to tell her how I felt and I think it was a conversation that was filled with love and understanding.

A few other things continued to make me emotional.

I requested my transcripts for the grad school I’m applying to and asked for a personal copy.

I’m glad I did. Sometimes your version of history doesn’t line up with what’s in black and white.

I had serious struggles while I was in school. The semesters I did well, I did really well. The semesters I tanked, I REALLY tanked.

Fortunately, I eeked out just enough to make the overall gpa requirement for admission to the program I want to get into. It’s so funny, because nearly 10 years ago, I figured just get through this, graduate. I’m not going to grad school anyway. I’ll be a journalist.

Oh life.

Then the last thing to add fuel to the fire was being stood up. I was looking forward to my date with Renaissance on Saturday. And when he blew me off to haze pledgies 20 minutes away, being annoyed was an understatement.

We had good conversations. He seemed interested in learning about me and not just surface, silly things. He asked me great questions.

But what made things go off the rails, was when a good friend, who has a tendency to often say the wrong thing, said the wrong thing.

When I shared I was having a bad day and emotional week, judgements started flying. And her preoccupation with something else and telling me she didn’t have “time for this shit tonight and to pull it together” made me nuts.

She further told me I needed therapy and that I shouldn’t date until I “got myself together.”  That was insulting because I’ve been working on myself for nearly three years, not really dating anyone seriously at all. I’m a woman and I’m allowed to be disappointed if a guy I was interested in stood me up.

She further said that I should go to therapy before I spend thousands of dollars to go back to school because it’s clear I’m searching for something.

Because I didn’t feel like fighting or justifying my feelings or actions, I simply said, I’ve been wanting to go back to school. That is not an irrational decision. It’s because I’ve hit a wall at work and all of my dream jobs basically require that degree. I’ve thought about this.

She’s already thrown shade about me going back to school, saying it’s pointless if it lands me a job that won’t make me more money than I make now.

Gee. Thanks.

I do give props to the friends who have checked on me and just listened.

The friend who shades me dating and going back to school, decides after the event she was too preoccupied to deal with my shit for, she’d stop by the house and bring me food. Which was nice.

The tension in the air was thick. I did my best to be pleasant. She hugged me and jokingly shared bible passages of encouragement and on her way out said, “see, you need friends who can knock on your door!”

I waved goodbye, thanked her and went back to watching t.v.

Then an hour later, I got a bunch of text messages about how “we’ll get through this.” And how my parents would never forgive her if something happened to me.

I didn’t realize I had become suicidal.

I texted back. “I’m not suicidal.”

She returned with, “You better not be.” And then she went on about dragging me across a finish line.

At that point, I was unable yall.

I guess she felt guilty about her response to me the night before, but now she was laying it on too thick, and it was actually annoying me more. I felt that she did mean well. But it was frustrating.

She went from one extreme to another.

If anyone has advice on this, I’ll be glad to hear it.

I’ve complained about this person before and I’ve made excuses for them. All of my close friends know this and they are always prepared for our semi-annual falling outs. I decided that I’m not going to end the friendship, but always taking one for the team gets tiring.

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