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Archive for the month “May, 2016”

Destination Wedding Guest, This Really Ain’t Your Vacation

I recently went to an amazing destination wedding in Mexico. I was amped.

I felt like it was going to be a 2-for-1, where I’d get to see a beautiful couple I’d been rooting for a long time get hitched, and 2. I’d get a much-needed break from my hustle.

I was bummed from being on academic suspension, I had a huge project at work with looming deadlines, and my lengthy commute was starting to wear on me.

I welcomed four days of fun in the sun with open arms and a lot of relief. Per my usual vacations, I was expecting time to reflect, relax and unwind. I wanted to come back refreshed and inspired and with some kind of grand revelation that pushes me forward, as my trips tend to do.

Well, as a first-time attendee to a destination wedding, while there were moments to do your own thing, I realized trips that have schedules of any kind, may not contribute to the usual relaxation and pace of my other vacations.

Therefore, that probably contributed to me not having my usual moment of enlightenment, or feeling completely recharged. It also didn’t help that I was tending to some serious sunburn for the duration of the trip and well after.

As for the schedule, there was the bachelorette party, the rehearsal dinner, and of course, the wedding itself. I enjoyed every moment and appreciated the great lengths the bride and groom went through to plan such fun events. I really enjoyed myself, which was what was supposed to happen.But, I needed to put my expectation of complete vacation zen to the side, to be a present and active participant in the festivities.

While there was a good amount of time to lounge on the beach, enjoy the great food and book a spa treatment or two, I always felt like in the back of my head I had to be back to my room to have enough time to do something with my hair (Natural girl problems, but I think I did an awesome job for every occasion after being on the beach!), shower and get dressed to get to a designated spot at a designated time.

A group of folks from the wedding party were going on an all day excursion, and I passed to just relax on the beach and get in some spa time. I knew I’d be exhausted. And the start time for the trip was somewhere around 6 a.m. after hanging out into the wee hours the previous night. NOPE.

So, I say all of that to say this: if you’re going on a trip for a destination wedding, it isn’t safe to assume you’d get the amount of rest you’d normally get during a vacation you’ve planned for yourself, because of having to stick to a schedule someone else lovingly set. We tend to try to kill two birds with one stone (not just with destination weddings and vacations), but the real mission of the trip is to celebrate and shower love upon the couple who just happened to tie the knot in a beautiful locale.

If you keep these things in mind, you won’t find yourself wondering how you still wound up so tired upon your return. So my lesson was, don’t try to turn the destination wedding into your personal vacation and expect the same results. Be present for the happy couple and focus your energy on that.  Just book another trip! It’s a great excuse to just GO, again!!


Why Long-Term Relationship Weddings are So Sweet

I don’t take being invited to a wedding lightly. Especially ones that are small, intimate or even outside of the country.

Weddings, large or small, courthouse to cathedral are special.

It’s two people deciding to choose each other everyday, and while it seems like relationships are always under attack, its honestly refreshing to see people who truly love each other and have gone through the fire, unite.

Recently, my latest rash of friends who have been tying the knot and are about to tie the knot have something in common.

They were together at a minimum of 5 or 6 years and a maximum of 15, and each had an engagement that was probably less than a year before their wedding.

While many folks started the marriage talk once these couples passed the two or three-year mark (except the high school sweethearts clocking in at 15 years), these couples blocked out the noise and ran their own race at their own pace.

Hence, these weddings felt the most emotional, because as friends looking on over the years, you truly got a feel for their ups and downs, their patience with each other, the acceptance of flaws and the universal understanding that these folks weren’t going to leave each other. They were going to stick together, no matter what.

And while the length of their relationship and delay in “making it official” is often the source of jokes and even criticism, these couples played by their own rules. Isn’t that what marriage is? Learning what works for you and your partner and doing just that? Maybe these friends in very long-term relationships decided they wanted to master that.

And let’s face it. The more time you invest in someone, the more you don’t want to let them down or vice versa. It realistically takes time to work through that. Experts say, we come down off of the high of love at the 2 year mark. That’s when the decision to love someone really kicks in after your endorphins and hormones have slowed down and you’ve gotten used to the person. So for the folks who stick and stay, after the fuzzies have subsided, you’ve got something.

I’m not knocking any people who found love in 6 months and locked it down, and are making it work. But it seems like society gives folks taking it slow a much harder time. So this is why I do want to take the time to shout out people who took their time and got hitched at their own time table, even if within the couple, there was disagreement about the pace at which they were getting to the altar.

Or there’s fear. There’s money and feeling established, which seems to be harder and harder to do these days. The economy, student loan debt, high rent and mortgages are impeding the progress of our generation, it’s slowing our ability to get ahead and stabilize. It hinders our confidence in taking on another person.

We live in a society of instant gratification, and we often try to place that on relationships because, we like love, we like weddings and hey, if people like each other or get along in a year or two years, we believe it’s a miracle and folks should snap that person up right away.

But the prospect of marriage is a sobering experience, when you take away the fantasy of the big celebration and finding the love of your life. It’s one of the biggest choices a person can make, and most of us hope to only make it once.

It makes you take a hard look at yourself. It humbles you that someone has seen you for who you are and wants you anyway. They want to tell the world that you are theirs, they want to wake up with you everyday.

So cheers to my friends who took their sweet time. Their ceremonies were filled with so much love and it felt like a victory lap and a fresh beginning all at once. It’s a true celebration of an honest love that took so much time to nurture and build and is admittedly still a work in progress, with room to grow and improve.

Nurturing a Growing Hip Hop Head: Sharing a Love for Music With My Nephew

There are a few things that are straight up and down facts that won’t change.

I’m a journalist. I’m a woman. I’m a black woman.

And I’m a very proud auntie.

I love being an auntie. And even though my nephew lives hundreds of miles away, it’s a relationship I hold near and dear to me. He’s someone I loved before he showed up in the world and from the start I looked at him in amazement.

I knew he’d be someone very special to me.

Now he’s 12 and about to be 13 over the summer. I was always tickled by how smart he was as he was a small boy. And I worried about him turning into a dumb teenage boy.

A recent visit let me know that while he’ll probably make dumb teenage boy mistakes, he’ll be in good shape. He has a good head on his shoulders.

What I also realized as he gets older, is that we are a lot alike.

He’s a high achiever, he’s confident in his intelligence and tends to be the more serious conservative friend of the group who wants to keep himself and his friends out of trouble. Sometimes his jokes may go over his friends heads, and like me he enjoys a good pun.

He even said it. And I cracked up and responded, “There’s nothing like a good pun.”

At a recent event celebrating the achievements of 7th graders in his state who tested well taking the ACT, a college entrance exam, it wasn’t lost on him that he was one of about 6 black students. It also wasn’t lost on him how either super competitive or socially awkward his peers were at the event. He wasn’t really impressed, and loathed the constant discussion of who had the highest scores.

“No one is better than anyone else, Auntie,” he said casually. “We’re all equals. We all won the same award.”

He understood already, at a young age the importance of being the cool, well-adjusted nerd. It was something I had to learn at exactly his age and perfect through middle school and high school.

But as our conversation went on, I learned we had more in common than I thought.

My nephew is a budding hip-hop head. He dislikes most of the hip hop that’s popular– the indescernable stuff, and has an ear for the older music. And by older, 90s and early 2000s. Yeah, old, right? LOL.

Right now, he loves Kendrick Lamar and says “To Pimp a Butterfly” is currently his favorite album. He also likes J. Cole. My sister couldn’t contain herself, she asked him to tell me what his favorite song is.

Brace yourself, someone born in freaking 2003 says that the Humpty Dance by Digital Underground is favorite song. Yall, I had to google the year that song dropped. 1990.

I was 8 years old when that song came out.

Who is this kid? Has he been here before?

So our conversation goes on. It appears that my nephew enjoys blogs about hip hop and like any person who loves music gets put on and led to other music that people dissect. He’s a Nas fan, he enjoys Biggie and DMX.

DMX threw me for a loop because I figured kids today only knew him from being the Kat Williams of Hip-hop as of late, a perennial subject of a TMZ story.

But somehow my nephew unearthed some of his good stuff. I quote. “The first time I heard DMX, I just stopped everything.”

“Well, I’m curious. What do you like about him? His voice?”

“I don’t know auntie, it’s just… the aggression.”

I had to smile. My nephew appreciates a great pun, dislikes arrogant smart people, can point out the irony in a girl at his school named Harmony who’s always fighting, yet loves the aggression in DMX. I’m tickled just writing this. I can’t make it up.

So, being the hip hop lover I am. I ask him if he knows about Tribe Called Quest. And he says he’s heard of them, but doesn’t really know them like that.

He also explains to me that he loves Tupac basically because of Kendrick Lamar.

I had to smile because that’s the real beauty of true artists who love and understand music. I presume he likes NWA because of all of the success of Straight Outta Compton and was curious.

It’s wild to see him absorb the music like a sponge and be able to explain what it means. Because my nephew has been an Obama fan since forever, we both gushed over Obama’s favorite Kendrick song “How much a dollar cost.” We discussed the symbolism, and Kendrick’s take on humanity.

My sister sat at the table, and I could tell she was impressed and probably relieved my nephew had someone to talk about this stuff with equal enthusiasm.

At this point my sister was not actively participating in the conversation because we were going at a rapid clip, but I was very careful to explain the positive messages in the songs he was listening to, and he was too. I think he knew he had an ally in me in case his mother wanted to clamp down on what he was listening too. I had his back.

My mind was racing about all of the music I wanted to put him on to. All of the future discussions we could have about the music I loved so much and the music that was already shaping his tastes and thoughts.

There were several books that came to mind. I was already on Amazon getting him the illustrated Hip Hop yearbook that spans from the 1970s-2014. And then I also gifted him “The Rose That Grew From Concrete” a book of poems by none other than Tupac. I purchased that book in 1996 as a freshman in high school. Even though he is 12 going on 13, the poems, in my opinion were safe enough for him to read and the love poems Tupac wrote had very limited references to sex. So I don’t think my sister will kill me.

At his age I attempted to read Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” I know he can handle it.

I couldn’t stop thinking about how wonderful my nephew is and that as he grows older, I don’t have to worry about our relationship or him growing too cool even for his cool aunt. I will always be the cool aunt.


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