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Archive for the month “October, 2014”

Work, School, Book Club Too?

On top of everything else going on in my life, working full-time, being a graduate school student, I’ve added a book club to the list.
It started off innocently enough. Some very smart, sweet, creative and conscious women from my former job had been meeting with each other to discuss books and art and culture and to just unwind and share goodies (hand-made and store bought) for some time.
A dear co-worker of mine mentioned that they were reading one of my new favorites “Americanah” and I was very curious about the perspective of this very diverse group of women. So I crashed the party.
After having a very wonderful time– they were excited to see me since I’d recently left that job– I was invited to return anytime and to read the next book.
So despite homework, assignments, class and work, I took on the next selection, which was massive “The Goldfinch” and although I stayed up all hours of the night to complete it in time for the next gathering, I enjoyed the book a great deal, and enjoyed talking about it with this group even more.
Our next meeting is coming around the first of the month and have I started the book yet?
Of course not. I plan to this week for sure.
Should I be taking on any other extra activities, common sense says no, but my intellectual and creative side says yes.
For some reason, it’s worth it to me not only to read these books, that I may not have otherwise selected for myself and voluntarily spend a Saturday morning being the youngest in a group of women of different backgrounds and cultures, married and single, mothers and childless.
It enriches my soul in a time where I’m racing to get things done. It allows me to slow down, and be nurtured by other women who’ve been there and done that and who get my yearning for education and beautiful things and humanity.
I enjoy how they show pride in all of the things I’m trying to accomplish and encourage me that I can in fact, pull it off.
They are like doting aunties who want me to find Prince Charming, but are relieved it’s not an obsession. They understand how important the expanding of my mind is to me and they share that vision in their own personal lives.
I appreciate their honesty and confusion about issues of race and sexuality and what it is to be a woman in the world. It’s refreshing to discuss these things in a civilized way with people who are outside of my usual circle.
What I appreciate the most is knowing how different we are, but seeing just how similar we are too. We are curious, we love sweets, we appreciate art and music and culture, we love books and we love talking about them.
The most wonderful thing about a great book is the tangential life discussions and real anecdotes that arise from a fictitious character’s struggle or triumph.
As a black woman, I’ve often stayed away from book clubs because many black women want to read books by only black authors. I can understand why. When you escape, you want to be in a world that looks like you and talks like you and thinks like you. For me, I only want that sometimes, and not every book by every black author is good. So what excites me about the book group I’m in is the value the non-black members place in reading books about black people as well as people of all races, genders or sexuality. Their acceptance of Americanah, made me more interested in their book choices that involved non-black characters because I was confident, they were simply picking really great books, period. When they suggested books by international authors, I knew I was in the right place.
Reading great books makes us smarter, makes us critical thinkers, exercises our imagination and gives us access to worlds that may be impenetrable in real life.
The book club is just as essential as my studies or my job because it feeds my soul. Staying up later to do some extra reading is only a small sacrifice to make for what I’ve gained in return as a human.

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Downsizing

Today was the final straw.

Every year, you all know I complain about my rent increasing and how I get really upset about it. Every. Year.

Well, my lease isn’t up until late April, however a recent email from the new management had me livid. Parking is a serious issue in my complex, but now they’ve made matters even worse by offering “premium parking” for an additional $35 per month that gives you an assigned space in front of your building.

One more way to squeeze more money out of us and force me to think of other living situations. Pay for a space? It’s not covered for the winter. Like are you really kidding? I’m over it.

And maybe I’ve jumped to conclusions, but now I really want out. It’s not just the parking space, but it’s the rising rent in a place where I haven’t seen any new and improved amenities and with ever-changing parking rules that really discourage my friends from wanting to visit or hang out all night for being towed.

So in my anger, I started looking for new apartments, all of which are ridiculous and it hurts my soul to pay more than what I’m paying to move. I can afford to pay a bit more, but I honestly don’t want to. It’s wrong.

A good friend of mine owns her townhouse and has had a steady stream of tenants over the years. We’ve made jokes about me moving in with her before and this time, I’m actually serious about it.

The other times I could have moved in with her, I was proud and I felt like it was a reflection of my independence and where I was in life to have my own place. I’ve realized that common sense trumps pride. I make enough to still live on my own and even pay more money for rent and not go hungry. But I simply don’t want to.

At this point, I don’t care anymore. I’m not dating, I don’t have a man who will come over, and my life is filled with school. I hardly cook, so I don’t use my kitchen very often, I actually need to go through everything in my house that I’ve accumulated and do a super cleanse, so this may be a very good idea.

My furniture and art and books would go into storage. I’d give away a lot of shoes and clothes.

The idea would be to live with the friend for six months to possibly a year. Besides, after school, I have no clue where my life will lead and I’m actually open to completely leaving the DC area if that’s what it takes. If I’m saving money on rent, I could travel more or just save period and not scramble for deposits when I am ready to move back into my own place.

The other positive that makes this decision work out better this time is with my new job the commute from her house wouldn’t be as bad as my old commute.

I’m open to it. I complain that I’m often lonely and having another person in the house does help with that.

At this point I’m almost ready to move immediately, thinking about the money I’d save and decluttering my life and forcing myself to make it work with one room.

It may be the most liberating thing I’ve done yet. It’s not a move backwards as I used to think having a roommate at this stage of my life was. It may be jumpstart to the new phase in my life I’ve needed.

Mixed Drinks, Mixed Emotions

In my usual fashion, I’ve put myself in quite the pickle.
I went out with the handsome bartender and we had a great time.
I felt comfortable, we were joking with one another and getting along as if we’d known each other for ages. We even shared things that were very personal and honest and real about our lives.
He actually shared quite a bit of information that would probably send a lot of people running for shelter.
Ironically, I was impressed with his openness. I think that’s the thing about being a journalist, trust of the reader, and especially trust of the person you interview is a delicate thing and you respect it and then you just absorb what people have to say. The journalist respected his candor. The woman looking for a good, stable man to be a part of her life was ready to hit the bricks.
He was complimentary but not in an annoying way, sometimes he was clumsy and it was sweet. He pulled a Darius Lovehall and knocked over my beer. Same exact way, it was funny.
I won’t share all of the red flags, but there were two that appear to be huge.

1. Very recently out of a broken engagement. I mean April, yall.
He was saying the things most people say to themselves after such a devastation. I quickly told him that he wasn’t out of the woods. It takes a very long time to heal. You may feel terrible one day and pretty ok the next. Allow yourself to feel what you feel, good, bad and ugly and ride the wave of it. Be honest with yourself.

2. Two babies mothers. I asked him about his relationship with his children and he said it wasn’t as good as he wanted it to be. Faithful readers of this blog know I’m not good with men with kids. And I gave him a full disclosure that I don’t really like to date men with kids.

3. I get the impression that he may not ever have had his own place, but was living with some woman or a female relative. And that makes me have some kind of pause. Male or female, everyone needs to know what it’s like to live independently and make certain choices and have certain responsibilities. (Okay, that’s three. So, yes. Flags.)

His story isn’t unusual though.  The harsh reality of the black dating pool once again dumped cold water on my still optimistic head. I noticed that for some reason, I attract men of struggle, with very sad family histories often involving abandonment, single mom’s or grandparents or aunties and uncles who step in intermittently.

Am I attracted? Most certainly. I had an opportunity to feel his chest and stomach and I was impressed, I was physically attracted.

But I think of the two babies mothers, and one live-in ex who proactively handled the paperwork to their home, conveniently leaving him out of the essential paperwork legally entitling him to the home. His naiveté was startling, considering he’s eleven years my senior. I played along that he simply trusted her… And he may have, which scared me further, that as a man building a life with someone, he didn’t think it necessary or push the issue to be involved of the very serious business of home ownership.

I thought about his kids, with whom he readily admits the relationship is not where he’d like it to be because of the moms (two sides to every story).

While he has big dreams, I’m not sure if he’s truly executing his plans, or not. And this early in the game, I’m in no place to judge.

I’ve convinced myself to just hang out with him and hope I don’t get pulled in.

The very simple, considerate things I’ve wanted from men who made way more money and had way more education, who had no desire or capacity to do what came so naturally to him– really paying attention to me,  listening,  engaging, thinking about larger life issues and discussing them openly,  having a sense of humor and joking and playing and making references to all sorts of music and movies and TV.

I feel like I’m in a tough spot, but at this point, is dissecting this man worth it? His red flags are real, but I like him as a person.

I just don’t think he’d make a good boyfriend…

Lifers, am I wrong? Am I being judgy? All I could think about was the babies mothers lined up on “Iyanla Fix My Life.” I’d like to think I’m smarter. But does lonliness and a sorry dating life lead women down this road?

I do think he is also earnest in just wanting to spend time with someone he enjoys and is attracted to but only after about a scant six months after a broken engagement, I personally know he needs time to heal. Dating shouldn’t be his objective. Sigh.

While on paper, and in a practical sense I should be able to exit without second thought.

But don’t I deserve to let someone make me feel how I want to feel? When you get a taste of that, being practical ain’t always the obvious choice. But right here and now, I can’t say that I don’t know better. I am in control of me.

This just couldn’t be easy, now could it?

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