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Back In the Game: Returning to Familiar Territory

It was a perfect storm.

Being bored, the temperature getting colder, the restlessness, the loneliness, the need to just take a risk and just open myself up–

It all led me to joining an online dating site.

So I may be having a date tonight. May be meaning if it happens, cool, if it doesn’t which tends to happen too, I won’t get bent out of shape because earlier this week I didn’t expect to be going out on a Thursday night and I’m going to a political fundraiser tomorrow evening with some friends who plan to introduce me to a guy tomorrow.

Feast or famine. Yes, I know.

Talked to a guy last night on the phone, and in pure me fashion, my fascination with assholes led me to the precipice.

He’s almost everything I can’t stand and get a bit excited by all at once. You’d think I learned my lesson in 1999, 2003, 2010, 2011.

He’s from NY. The city.

God. That’s already wrong. I’ve mentioned in previous posts how I don’t like dating men from NY even though I am a New Yorker myself.

The grown woman in me is saying, why are you even bothering with things you said you don’t want. It’s counterproductive and just ridiculous. Stand up.

The bored, lonely chick taking up residence in my brain is like, you’ve been bored as shit and you’ve tried the men who were safe and supposed to make sense and they didn’t move you either. You peaced out on them. At least be entertained in the interim.

This guy’s a fast talker, he’s slick. He’s preoccupied with his looks for sure. I can’t tell if he’s a shyster or a salesman. Please refer to Jody’s mother, Juanita from the movie Baby Boy on the difference.

“Are you trying to be a salesman or a shyster? You buy from a shyster, you feel like you got took. You buy from a good salesman and you feel lucky.”

He went to my university and hated it.

Another red flag.

At first, I wasn’t going to hear any of it. To me, if you went to my school and hated it, you didn’t try hard enough, you were narrow-minded, or you thought you were better than everyone else or you just had a screw loose.

Talking about my university in a negative light is damn near like cussing my mother.

But I listened. The interesting thing is, his gripes were valid and things he said, I couldn’t disagree with. It’s just not for everyone, and he basically admitted that every situation is different and he had certain expectations and was really surprised and let down. I gave him the rundown on my experience and he took in what I said.

Ok. Fine.

Strangely, he made me laugh which always puts me in good graces. In some ways he reminded me of my close boys from home who I can talk openly with about all sorts of things and make off-color jokes and be comfortable.

Also strangely, I do believe he was sincere when he was talking about the scene here in D.C. and how he can’t stand it and the other places he’d rather hang out. That’s an issue that’s near and dear to me, but I still think this guy works a situation with politician-like acumen, and will push a situation to see how far he can go. Interestingly enough, if you tell him no, he tries to push, but when you are firm, he backs down but won’t pout and get all silly.

I was testing for that last thing specifically. I don’t mind people testing boundaries with me in terms of flirtation or what they can and cannot say. But once I’ve said what I am or am not comfortable with, that’s where I am with it and don’t put me down or belittle me because you didn’t get what you wanted. I honestly expected him to act that way, so I could weed him out.

He didn’t.

That spoke volumes and helped his cause a great deal.

I find it funny this guy keeps thinking I’m highly conservative. I can be, but I do know how to have fun, but I feel like it’s a layer you have to earn to get to.

Going on a date with him will be like splashing cold water on my face. A jolt, a little refreshing and necessary to wake up.

I’m either going to dig him, or I’m not. Or he will strengthen my resolve to leave the assholes I love so much alone for good, or renew me for another year of the ladies association of asshole appreciators , Maryland Chapter.

This dude loves taking pictures of himself. At his desk, in the bathroom, at the gym. He has no lack of self-esteem and I think he’s attractive, but not the typical attractive I go for. More horrible signs of what I don’t like.

The strange thing is he seems really interested, and I’m surprised because of how shallow I kind of assumed him to be.  I like the fact he’s trying to prove he’s not shallow. And as I said, there are some hints of things I really respect in the way he’s expressed some things during discussion.

He is blunt.

He is self-aware of his asshole tendencies and even self-described himself as a prick.

So you all are asking. Why? We read your blog. You are a lovely girl, you’ve dated jerks before, you know how this goes down. You already have a good list that gives you plenty of cause to shut this down.

I have a curiosity problem and an ego. My ego is actually bigger than I let on. For some reason I get a kick out of getting under the skin of these types of men, just to prove to them they aren’t a slick as they think they are. Kyle Barker, a guy a referred to in a previous post is the only guy that seems to be winning the war in this regard. Haven’t cracked him, but I stay on his mind. We’ll have to call it a draw for now.

Not even two weeks ago, I was growing bored with a nice guy. So I need to cure myself back to reality by spending time with a prick to help me refocus.

This is twisted logic. I agree.

The other point, which is really the main point of all of this is basically to warm my self up for the real war. It’s official, I’m dating again. This is going to be suckie, and it’s going to be fun. But it’s a war. This date is a small battle to prep me for the rest of the tour.

I’m doing this on purpose to remind myself, I can’t take this dating stuff seriously and that whatever happens, is going to happen and I can’t walk into this assuming every man I meet is going to be the one. I’m doing this for you all. Because, you best believe I’m going to have some great material. Hang on to your socks.

It’s about to get real.

Prelude to a Kiss

Heather Ernest/Flickr

Hey folks,

It’s been a minute. I’ve been on my staycation, catching up on some rest, actually getting to see the Wendy Williams Show and watching as many Baby Daddy DNA trash shows as possible.

I hate the Baby Daddy DNA shows, but I love them just as much, and then I contemplate a career in medical billing and coding or becoming a culinary artist, because those commercials running non stop surely make it look good.

The thing about staycations is, you can do things like see a matinee in the middle of the day, get waxed, plucked and pummaced, and do whatever you please and the next day you can do it all over.

I actually didn’t realize how much I rush, until I was in the grocery store on Monday. It was like, slow down, you’ve no place to go and when you get home, you still aren’t going to finish writing your novel or clean. So. Just. Chill.

Being on a staycation also makes you realize how much working is a big part of your life and how you can’t stay in the house all day and watch T.V. because you will lose your mind. My heart goes out to unemployed people who feel the way I do. It has to be a very difficult thing.  So I totally appreciate having a job. I appreciate having a job and vacation time even more, because I sincerely needed a break and a recharge.

Back to the thought of this post.

As I mentioned previously, there is an older man in the mix with intentions to gain my affection. By older, I mean a good 15 years, as I stated before in another post.

To make myself feel better, I think that Carrie and Big (of Sex and the City, duh) had an age gap, but maybe the gap I have is more Natasha and Big and in the end it didn’t work.

Ok, I’m going to stop thinking about it.

But it’s not so much the age. I really don’t think about it when I’m with him. We have great conversations and a lot of fun.

He’s courteous and kind and a hard worker and has streaks of mischief. He’s also handsome. He becomes more handsome to me the more I see him and the more I like someone, the more attractive they become. I think he looks a good six years younger than what he really is.

So with all of this said, I was doing everything in the book at the end of the night to not kiss him.

I’ve had good, bad and downright ugly goodnight kisses.

I don’t think he’d be a bad kisser, but I can tell he’s into me and if I kiss him and like it, down the bunny hole we go.

Will this mean I’m officially ready to move on? Am I ready to build something with someone again?

I complained about being lonely.

Here he is. Gift horse. All up in his grillpiece with a flashlight…

In a twist of irony, my ex-fiance texted me during dinner with good news that he landed his dream job.

Now if you read deeper into this, you could say, oh. He got his dream job. He’s finally getting himself together. I mean isn’t that why your engagement dissolved, because he said he was afraid that he couldn’t be a good husband and he didn’t have it all together yet?

But I’m way past reading deeper into that text and hoping for a happy reunion. For that, I am proud and thankful. Six months ago, that may not have been the case.

I told a friend, there must have been a tingling in his testicles just when I laughed at my date’s joke or started flirting. Little sirens went off in his balls. “She’s about to forget about you! She’s about to forget about you. Really!”

So back to me.

At the end of the night, I did everything in the book. The long hugs, the burying my face in his chest, the patented head turn away from his face, the cheek brush.

But I couldn’t kiss him.

I love this new getting to know you, innocent phase before emotions and hormones get out of hand. I know it can’t last forever, but we are only on the second date anyway. Is it wrong for me to drag it out?

If I kissed him, I knew I’d see stars and fireworks. We got along too well for him to have clam mouth. I could see a slight hint of disappointment in his eyes, but being the respectful, charming man he is, he quickly shrugged it off and told me what a wonderful time he had, and that I gave the best hugs.

Besides. I was drunk. I broke the early dating rule. I didn’t eat enough, stupid, stupid. But we didn’t want to leave the restaurant and stop talking, so we figured we should order, just one more and drink it slow. I barely got through four sips and I knew I was done. I told him I’m so sorry for wasting the drink. Being the sweetheart he is, he simply said, well you only had that one crab cake and it’s great that you know when to just stop.

Awwww. He should be a politician.

I don’t think it’s fair to kiss someone for the first time when you are drunk.

I distinctly remember my first kisses from the men I loved the most and usually they just couldn’t take waiting on me anymore and they snatched me up and I was done.

One of my most favorite first (early in the relationship) kisses came from one of my shortest beaus (5″8). I was walking out of a restaurant with a friend to our car and he trailed behind us and just as I was going to hop in the car, he looped his finger in my belt, pulled me into him and went for it. Our first, first kiss we were in a club. And actually it was ladies night, in the south. Long Island Iced teas were a dollar, and all of a sudden he grabbed me on the dance floor and planted one on me so wonderful, I couldn’t hear the pulsating music around me. It was like being submerged under water and then splashing to the surface when it was over, trying to catch my breath. To this day, he will say, “I thought you were either going to slap me, or get with it. Either way, I knew I just had to go for it.”

Damn I’m a liar. My best kisses involve me being inebriated. LOL. Too funny.

I’m thinking of my other favorite first kiss. This one involved my ex-fiance and we were watching the holy grail of love movies for educated black people, “Love Jones.” He offered to get up and pour us another drink, started making his way to the kitchen, stopping instantly. He made and about-face, marched over to me, grabbed my face and laid one on me. “Love Jones” turned into “Meet the Adults of Charlie Brown.” Whomp, whomp, whaaa, whaaa, whaaa.

When I hugged that man last night, I swear, my right leg shot up like I was welcoming him home from war in an iconic photograph. Old school. I even caught myself and put it down. But it shot right back up like a reflex exam.

So my friends.

Am I a nut job? Am I not really over my ex? Do I have a right to be scared of actually liking this man? I need some help.

Something tells me I need to apply my staycation philosophy of not rushing and taking the long way, to my love life.  What’s that? Do I have a love life? Gee whiz!

I Don’t Care If It’s A Deal, Keep The Extra Food/Sugar

Sugary devil, it’s all your fault.

I call it “movie food syndrome”. You know, where you order the large drink or tub of popcorn because well, there’s only a four cent difference between that and the small versions.

Movie food has trained us to say yes to the upgrade so we can feel like we are getting full value, and well, marketing folks in our restaurants peeped game and have followed suit.

As I’ve been trying to eat better more often and make better decisions (I’ve become a Mediterranean food junkie lately, but it’s paying off.), I’ve been having to politely say no, when these restaurant employees attempt to sell me on the upgrades for “just a few cents more” for extra food and drinks I just don’t need.

Have you seen the coupons in the mail for the fast food restaurants? You can get really excited off of the buy one sandwich get one free or buy one value meal get another for $1 coupons really quick. Then I realize, it’s just me and I won’t want to eat the second sandwich later, because we all know if you don’t consume your fast food within five minutes of ordering it, it tastes gross.

That is quite telling. If you can’t heat it up later and enjoy it, it’s not worth eating. I think that’s going to be my new rule. I can always heat up my Mediterranean leftovers, and it tastes just as good as when I got it.

Whenever I go to Dunkin Donuts, I like ordering an iced vanilla coffee or a sweet tea. But I always get the small.

Every time, the person taking my order will say, but you can get a large tea for the same price 99 cents. And I say, “No thanks, I want the small.” They look at me like I’m crazy for passing up such a deal of the century.

I already know the small sweet tea has more than enough sugar and when I need my fix, I need it. Unsweetened ain’t gonna do. The medium is huge, and large is just stupid. I stick to the small. I don’t care if I can get 4 times the amount for the same price. I like fitting into my short, shorts.

When I go to 711 to have my one glazed donut, the woman at the register always reminds me I can get a second donut for the price of one. I smile and I say, “No, no thanks. One is enough.” She smiles, and she should know me by now, because I’m probably the only person who sticks to getting just one, but she still reminds me I’m missing out on a free donut anyway.

Really, there’s nothing wrong with me people!!! Dang.

When I do breakdown and get fast food, I get grilled chicken sandwiches. Or burgers with no cheese and I don’t order fries (unless it’s the waffle fries at Chick-fil-a. I can’t resist.). I’ve even started to order water with my food, or just have a bottle of my own. I tried the diet lemonade at Chick-fil-a yesterday and I refuse to believe it’s diet, so I’m going to stay away until I get confirmation that I wasn’t slipped the sweet stuff.

So it seems I’m not completely crazy about downsizing in the food area.

In my home state of New York, in New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed a ban on large, sugary beverages larger than 16 fluid ounces. He’s opened up a can of worms, but I have a feeling other cities and states are going to take notice and follow suit.

I personally think it’s a good move. While some folks are up in arms, saying the government shouldn’t tell us what we can and can’t have. I happily say goodbye to the large, or impose a higher tax on those super-sized drinks if you want it that badly.

I’m sorry, but it’s a serious health issue and obesity, diabetes and heart disease are reeking havoc on people of all ages in this country, coupled with a horrible medical system where everyone runs to the emergency room. Folks who are against this, YOU ARE PAYING MORE OF YOUR TAX DOLLARS TO TREAT ALL OF THIS SICK PEOPLE (A staggering number of which are uninsured). It is all connected. Fast food restaurants are always in areas where poor people live. Not saying they don’t have a brain to make their own choices, but they are more inclined to feel like they need to get the maximum bang for their buck.

And if you are that pressed, or you feel your rights are being infringed upon because large isn’t an option anymore, just buy two medium drinks! No one is saying you can’t have it, but really think about it.

No one is going to want to buy two medium drinks because, oops, you look like a glutton. Large allows you to lull yourself into a sense of complacency and think nothing is wrong with it. Buying two drinks will remind you that you just might be out of control and we all for know folks with food problems, or any addiction, denial is the cornerstone.

I think the government has a right to make these kinds of regulations. They regulate our food (sometimes poorly) anyway, and if you don’t like it, you can always grow or make your own food. You have a right to do that. Just ask any farmer or person with a garden.

When I was a kid, going to a fast food restaurant was a treat. Not an every day, regular event. When I was a kid, people had birthday parties at McDonald’s like they now do at Chuckie Cheese.

We are so lazy, that seriously there will be lines and lines of cars waiting for the drive thru, when no one is inside (and the service can actually be faster). My dad has always hated drive thrus and now I totally get where he’s coming from.

To your deal, thanks, but no thanks. Team moderation all the way.

Go get em Bloomie!

Impromptu Poetry: You Sir Are Dangerous

You sir, are dangerous.

You are the pretty amber glow of a scalding hot stove top begging to be touched.

The desire to swim after eating.

A half-full box of Cracker Jacks, hurled over the fence despite warning signs advising not to feed the animals.

You are the urge to walk under ladders and step on every sidewalk crack on the way home, mother’s back be damned.

You are desert before dinner.

You are a violated curfew worth getting an epic ass whuppin for.

You sir, are dangerous.

Beating the Psychology of Doing Bad Things to Feel Good

I just read an article that doesn’t surprise me at all, but for some reason it hit me in a profound way today.

The article I read was basically about a study that concluded overweight girls are at a greater risk of engaging in risky sexual behavior– such as not using birth control, or not having their partners wear condoms, to even being forced to have sex when they didn’t want to.

Keep in mind the stats were even more unsettling because the survey of almost 4,000 girls ranged from around age 13-18.

Sex wasn’t on my mind as a young girl, until I hit 18, surrounded by beautiful young men in college (who were smarter and better looking than the guys from my small town) and a roommate with an active social life that kept her out of our room… I had a boyfriend. We kissed and we touched and fondled and groped in that room until, I couldn’t take kissing and touching and fondling and groping anymore.

He asked me if I was sure, I nodded and took a deep breath.

I took the plunge.

It’s been a battle of discipline, self-esteem, love, rationality, irrationality ever since. I do see the reason why people should wait until they get married, even though I didn’t. Once you dive down that rabbit hole, it opens up a lot of emotions and challenges and human complexities that even people with multiple partners who claim they are cool with casual sex choose to acknowledge or ignore. Regardless of the choice there’s a Pandora’s box of feelings, of reasons why you are choosing to engage in sex, with whom and why.

I can’t imagine what these young ladies are going through having to think about these things as early as 6th and 7th grade. It hurts my heart, really.

But as a 30-year-old woman, I look back at the times I thought sex would make me feel better, and to my shock and dismay, it didn’t.

The bad news for these young, overweight girls is, self-esteem and the complexities of sex and why they are having sex will continue in their 20s, 30s and beyond.

They will find they’ll still struggle if they lose the weight. They’ll struggle if they are a runway model in Milan. They’ll still struggle if they got a degree, or a master’s or a doctorate. They’ll still struggle if they manage to rise in the ranks of a major corporation. They’ll struggle when they meet the perfect guy and he’s bad at sex, or the guy they can’t stand and he’s awesome.

For me, there’s no greater time for emotionally risky sexual behavior than my infamous “ho” phases post breakups.

Speaking of risky sexual behavior, other studies have shown that drugs and alcohol use are usually the culprits behind people having unprotected sex and making bad decisions.

Looking back, I’d say 99 percent of the time that I had self-pity sex, or spiteful sex, or bored sex, I was drunk. And even then I was drunk because I was feeling crappy about myself or I was stressed, or my job was making me nuts. If I was sober and made the date,  I was getting drunk by the time my booty call showed up.

Getting drunk was to muffle the voice saying, you need to be doing this for love and not to escape. This is not real. This is a waste of your time and energy.

I’m older now and although there are times I’m ridiculously horny, I’ve decided I’m willing to wait for the real thing. I owe it to myself. I know what it feels like to be madly in love with someone and be in a committed situation. Truth be told, when I was engaged, during the act, I’d look at him and I’d look at that ring on my hand and my head and heart would synchronize swim in delight. I’ve had no higher sexual experience than that. I’ve always joked that I couldn’t wait until the day I had married, God-approved sex. I still feel that way. I believe it will be highly intense, especially knowing all of the things I know now about love and committing fully to someone and trusting them completely with everything.

Once you have that high, anything outside of that kind of sex sucks, even if it’s great sex with a casual person who you think is cool. You find yourself reconfiguring your emotions afterwards whether you have feelings for the casual person or not.

You find yourself feeling like you wasted your time even if you briefly blacked out in ecstasy moments before. No sooner than you’re putting on your robe, to see them out the door, the euphoria has already come and gone…literally.

It’s not enough for me anymore.

Real great sex lasts longer after that release. Great sex carries over into sleeping late in that person’s arms, and making breakfast together, drinking out of the same glass. It’s watching that person getting dressed and heading out to work. It’s singing along with the radio while you are cleaning the house and sniffing his shirts and it’s coming right back home to that person when the day is done, and knowing that person is going to be there the day after, and the day after and the day after that day.

I’m alone.

Sure there are guys I could call.

There are hot guys I could call. Hot guys with good jobs, who are smart.

I do not love these hot, smart, guys. They do not love me. There is mutual respect. There is honesty about what we are and what we’re not, but no love.

I can’t see myself with them, and I’m not sure if they can see themselves with me in a real relationship.

I’m appreciating the discipline it takes to take control of my mind and my body.

That makes me feel good about myself. (When I don’t feel good about myself and I feel I’m going to crack, it’s time to break out the list of things that make me feel sexy and do the non-sexual things, lol.)

Feeling good about myself, keeps me from making that phone call.

Or in some cases, maybe I did make the phone call. But the good feeling I have about staying true to myself and having the understanding about what it is I really want, gives me the strength to change my mind, call back and say, “I’m sorry, I can’t.”

Love this song and the lyrics by the delightful Elle Varner “Refill”:

Meet Estrogena, The Pink Incredible Hulkstress

On this blog, I celebrate the ups and downs of turning 30.

I tell myself and I tell you that this is an age of discovery and an age of the beginning of accepting yourself for who you are, for real.

I talk about trying not to make yourself crazy if you aren’t married yet. Or if you are married, it’s not a big deal if you haven’t cranked out kids yet, or if you haven’t cranked out a brother or sister for the kid you already have.

I keep this theme of you are enough, and it all is timing. It’s better to be where you are then where you think you are supposed to be and totally unhappy.

Well today, I don’t feel that way.

Today, I feel like I should be married to a great man who protects me and helps me pay my bills, like the huge, expensive car repairs I’m staring down the barrel of over the next several weeks, because well I don’t have nearly $2,000 just lying around.

I would have it if I didn’t pay an ever growing rent alone, or put gas in my car, or eat or survive.

I love my independence, but the shit is expensive.

While I say this, I know better. My married sister always tells me, that yes, financially your husband helps you out, but more often than not, your bills are bigger. You have two cars that break down, you have a much larger home, that requires more resources to operate. Your money is gone to handle business whether you are single or with someone, so there isn’t much of a difference, but having their support is what matters and makes you feel better.

I’m sure my married and divorced readers can attest to my sister’s wisdom.

It’s not just about the money.

Going through this time of separation from my local friends, it would be nice to have someone to hold me and say it’s ok, you’ve got me, or that they will come around, or whatever.

I cried myself to sleep last night, because I wanted to stop loving someone. It’s been a year, for crying out loud.

But why did he have to recently say he still loved me?

Why did those words keep ringing in my head?

Since he said those tragic, beautiful, hopeful, dreadful words, why did I shut myself off from men who were either just as good-looking as him, who definitely had more money and more assets and better careers?

Why do those exact words, coming from him, mean more to me than the combined incomes, good looks and success of all of those other men combined?

Because I guess I hate myself equally as much as I love him. I’d have to hate myself to go through such torture.

But what does him still loving me mean anyway? What would be different this time?

What set me off? Why am I so emotionally unstable today?

My car repairs, and being a stupid Pandora by doing what I said I wouldn’t do.

Go on Facebook to look at who wished him a happy birthday. (I already know. I should have de-friended him a long time ago. I couldn’t do it, and neither did he. If he did first, I would have been mad. So round and round we go.)

Not only did one bitch wish him a happy birthday, she went on about how glad she was to celebrate with him and how they would have to finish their conversation later. And ended with a damn smiley face.

Smiley face.

It mocked me.

It taunted me.

This chick probably still dots her i’s with hearts.

I need to stop. I use smiley faces too.

But see? See how ridiculous one can become because of stupid feelings?

Feelings  make normally very rational women, turn into her worst enemy…

A hormonal, estrogen rage-induced, emotional nut bag.

Think a pink incredible Hulk with a weave, skirt, painted fingernails and toenails, ripping an encyclopedia in half with just her kuckles.  I’ll name her, Estrogena. The Hulk is so scared of pissing her off, he’s not even on Facebook. He deleted his account when he still didn’t change his relationship status a day after they became official.

A year later, with all the progress, all the fasting and praying, and bad mistake making, and enlightenment and business-starting and promotions; all the feeling stronger in my faith, all the relearning to love me, all the going to Zumba, all went out the window in one moment.

None of these amazing things I accomplished by my own strength and intellect mattered.

Facebook. One wall post that could have meant absolutely nothing, or absolutely everything on top of  an enormous bill for car repairs, and having to acquiesce to another year of living in this apartment, paying more than I think it’s worth, having to put off said car repairs for two weeks, winging it, praying the wheels won’t literally fall off my car (as the repair man warned) between now and then.  Finally, contemplating having to give up one or both vacations I had been looking forward to in order to be fiscally responsible, pushed me to my breaking point.

I told a dear friend I’m at the point I may go back to trans fats, heavily drinking and mindless sex with worthless men.

Then, I said I’d write.

Then work out, then take a shower and pray and cry while I’m in it and let the water and my tears become one indistinguishable rush of liquid on my face.

So here I am, writing.

Today, being 30, independent, alone, momentarily emotionally unstable and being fully aware if it, ain’t shit.

Smiley face.

Revisiting the Summer Reading List

Welp. I’ve fallen in love with reading again.

As a child, a was a voracious reader. During my long summer vacations, I stayed at the library. I always took out the maximum amount of books (8) and usually returned them all within a week. One summer I declared I was going to read every single book in the Babysitter’s Club Series and I did. I even read the Super Specials, mysteries and a few of the Little Sister’s spinoffs (totally not as wonderful). I was devastated when Claudia’s grandmother died.

I won contests for reading 200 books in a summer. During the school year, I was the kid who stayed getting those coupons for a small kid’s pizza at Pizza Hut for meeting the reading goals for the program they had in partnership with my elementary school. (Yes, I was/am a nerd. I still have my rejection letter from the Where In the World Is Carmen Sandiego game show. I’m still pissed about it. I would have killed it! I wanted that loud ass jacket and a trip “anywhere in the continental U.S.” soooo bad. LOL!! I’m cracking up at myself right now. No Hawaii? No Alaska? That’s bootleg. To be a show about tracking a fictional villaness all around the world, PBS couldn’t spring for an international vacay for the kid and at least one parent/guardian? Damn!)

It seemed once I got thrust into the work world full time as an adult, I stopped reading for leisure completely. But I’m starting to get my groove back. I have an entire list of books I want to read/finish in the coming months. I forgot how much I loved reading. And as a writer, how inspiring it can be, and if you are reading great writers, you are going to become an even better writer. Most recently, I’ve read The Human Stain, Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock, Haiku for the Single Girl (friggin hysterical), and one of my all time favorites: The Warmth of Other Suns.

What I hope to tackle this summer:

The Art of War (currently reading)

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Let It Go by TD Jakes

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks By Rebecca Skloot

That new freaky book, Fifty Shades of Gray by E. L. James

Son of A Witch by Gregory Maguire (I loved reading Wicked)

The Legs are the Last to Go by Diahann Carroll

Audition by Barbara Walters

I’m Still Here: Confessions of A Sex Kitten by Eartha Kitt (I’m obsessed with her since a friend showed me a pic of her riding a bike presumably in her 20s, taken by Gordon Parks; which kind of looked like me!)

Lately, I’ve been most interested in non-fiction and autobiographies. I guess my background in journalism is a part of that, because honestly real life stories can be just as fascinating and even more complicated than things people make up.

If I read a fiction book, someone has to recommend it to me and it has to be awesome. The Human Stain falls into this category and after reading that, I don’t know how to find something to top it. I’m sure there’s more great work out there, I’m just too lazy. If you have suggestions, please share!

I’m also interested in rereading some of the classics I read in high school, and revisiting them as an adult. I read “Streetcar Named Desire” in high school and I went to see the play on Broadway last weekend.

It was absolutely amazing! Amazing! Amazing!

There were sly jokes and comments that I would have never caught as a teen, that I caught and adored. I had a new love for the material because I’ve spent time in New Orleans and it is my favorite city. I had a special sympathy for Blanche and Stella as a woman who went through my own personal pains. I especially felt for Blanche in a new way, because I saw a radiant woman I love dearly unravel in mental illness.

So I think I need to revisit The Great Gatsby and Vanity Fair and Jane Eyre again as an adult. I enjoyed those books back then, but I’m sure seeing it through adult eyes, will heighten the experience. Just like streetcar, I’m going to see something new this time around and it’s going to excite me and remind me of my evolution in my thinking and absorbing of material and my evolution as a person.

In honor of my recommittment to literacy, I bring you this hilarious parody. Bitches in Bookshops:

Top Tips for a Successful Shecky’s Girl’s Night Out



What happens when you tell hundreds of women to show up to a large venue, grab a large goodie bag filled with beauty products and samples, offer them free liquor all night and access to vendors selling jewelry, beauty products, clothes, bags and beauty services?

It’s a mixture of madness, ecstasy, poor financial decision making, peer pressure, and euphoric delight.

It’s that time of year once again ladies. Shecky’s Girl’s Night Out is upon the fine, well-dressed lady citizens of the D.C. Metro area. Tonight is the first night of two.

A dear friend will be joining me tonight as we enjoy the free swag and liquor and see what we can see.

I’m excited. I went about two or three years ago and while somethings were a little too pricey for me, there were still reasonable options and thanks to the famous goodie bag, whether you buy anything or not, you still won’t leave empty handed.

The concept is genius really. Go to major cities, get great sponsorship from companies who want to reach women, have them agree to give out free stuff and give small business owners a chance to sell their wares and give them exposure to women, who right after work want to hang out, get drunk and spend money on pretty things. The only thing missing that would make this event perfect is access to food and male strippers or at least half naked men serving the drinks.

I think the no food thing is a psychological trick to get us even more drunk to buy more stuff. It’s from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The funniest thing of all is, since with the exception of gay buddies, there are no men, but the women in attendance still dress to the nines. I guess it goes with the theme of being fashionable women and no one wants to disappoint. Today’s outfit is fantastic. Cobalt blue pants I recently scored at Target, an animal print blouse and since it is ridiculously warm for early March, a simple light, long black jacket and my awesome shoes that I made reference to purchasing in a previous post.

I don’t plan on going nuts, but I do have a few key things in mind in terms of not going nuts spending money.

I wouldn’t mind getting some really great smelling soap or candles.

I am on the hunt for a great, yet inexpensive statement necklace. The last time I went, it was my friend’s birthday and the vendor not only gave her a discount, but threw in a ring for free.

I love a great, creative tee shirt that I know I won’t see anywhere else.

Handbags are awesome, but they need to be damn near giving them away. The last time I went, I was able to get a great discount toward the end of the night. The vendors are tired and want to make a sale.

So here are my tips to have great and successful shopping experience at Sheckys.

Be polite and strike up conversation with the vendors. They want to sell to you and if you aren’t a jerk, they like to give you discounts. Some people look at stuff, throw it around, don’t speak, don’t ask questions or even say loudly how it’s too expensive or not cute enough to be that expensive. Each table is like visiting someone’s home. These folks have gone to great expense to sell these items, or make these creations. Show some respect, it goes a long way. 

Don’t buy the first things you see. Keep walking around, you don’t want to burn your budget and then get mad you can’t buy something you really wanted that you saw later on in the evening.

You can haggle.

Wear proper undergarments. They have some makeshift dressing rooms (and with all the drunk women someone may bust in on you), but you also want whatever you try on to have optimal fit.

Wear comfortable shoes. There’s lots of walking around and people standing and congregating. I’m wearing wedges, but I’ve also got those fold up shoes.

Eat a good, heavy lunch. You don’t want to get there and be grumpy, and you don’t want to drink on an empty stomach.

Perfect Little Pack Rat


I am an email pack rat.

I had nearly 7,000 work emails, and Outlook politely reminded me today I was running out of space.

These occasional reminders help me purge. (Force is a more accurate word.)

I saw things in my email box from as far back as 2010. Surely, I didn’t need most of that stuff.

Email is our office’s lifeline, so having such a huge number of emails isn’t unusual, but 7,000 emails, in my opinion was way out of hand. I didn’t really even notice it until I got my little warning.

I’m actually glad I got rid of a lot of stuff. It was a bit of a relief.

In the bowels of my email, there were even emails to my ex, and I even found my (canceled) bridal shower guest list. Ouch. I even had a hard time deleting those. God.

I  had also stumbled across an email exchange with a close friend detailing my wedding jitters and my fears of moving clear across the country in the name of love for a man who wasn’t completely acting right at the time.

My friend gave me some powerful words trying to remind me of who I was, am and to never lose that and how I never lost that with any other man I was in a relationship with and that was not the time to start.

Reading those emails now, was a great reminder of just how far I’ve come. I’m proud of myself.

Some of those emails reminded me of other painful things.

It reminded me of my obsession with having to keep and document certain things that I didn’t think were right on the job, or proof of professional wrongdoing in case I had to go to the last resort of filing a complaint with HR to handle an out of control co-worker who was single-handedly trying to make my professional life hell.

Those emails reminded me of how paranoid and powerless I felt and how I was literally dissecting every negative thing this person said to me or about me, and ready to assume whatever positive thing they said, there was some sort of evil angle. This person was controlling me. They were winning.

Then I saw the emails where my fortune was starting to change and with the help and encouragement of others, I was able to remove myself from a toxic work situation and even start doing new things outside of my original job title.

There it was, the ups and downs. My performance reviews and my vacation requests. I kept every thing for years… just in case.

Just in case.

I won’t front, even in this 5,000 email purge (still have about 1500), I still kept the most egregious stuff, and this person isn’t even in my department anymore. But I just can’t help it.

Just in case…

Holding on to things seem to be in my nature. I have a lot of crap in my house. In my car. My desk isn’t as bad as it used to be. One of my co-workers always had a snide remark about my desk. I told her it’s a carry over from my reporter days.

Every reporter I knew had a desk full of stuff. You couldn’t even see the desk at a certain point. Books and press releases, phone books, style books, dictionaries. Coffee cups, snacks. You were always on the go, hence the car had a lot of crap in it because you’d often have lunch and dinner there. You’d take phone calls there, do full-out interviews there, take notes, lie to your editor that you were on your way back to write. It was your real office. That’s where most of the real work took place.

So yes, old habits die hard.

As my friends found out on my 30th birthday weekend preparing my home for the party, I am a pack rat. I keep old magazines, and all kinds of paper. You will find convention laptop bags and family reunion tee shirts from the last 10 years in a closet someplace.

Every time I’ve had to move, that was the time I’d call on the help of impartial friends to get rid of things when I wasn’t looking. Just because I love Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans, it doesn’t mean I need to keep the bag my bengiets came in, but the memory makes me happy. It reminds me I was someplace special, even though I have pics. I’m really crazy.

I’ve been training myself to get rid of junk mail as soon as I get it now, so it won’t pile up and then I have to spend most of a Saturday shredding my name and address off and disposing of it all.

I may have some kind of emotional disorder, I may have inherited packratism from my mother who keeps everything, but her problem is she just doesn’t know where she put it all anymore.

Like a true person with a problem/addiction, I claim I know where it all is, when in fact, I stumble upon things I’d forgotten about in surprise.

I’m clever though.

I semi organize my crap by purchasing organizers, shifting the crap into neat little boxes, so the crap isn’t all over the floor. Go me! Organized chaos!

I don’t think I’m a hoarder, because at a certain point, I do get sick of some of the crap in my house and I pick an area and just toss with reckless abandon.

When I was in the brunt of my emotional pain last year, I went to see a psychiatrist. And how did she describe me?

She said on the outside, I looked like I had it together. Nice clothes, great shoes, good-looking. I had a great education and a seemingly great career path. I was self-aware and well-adjusted considering all of the things I had been through.

But I had all of these deep, painful things going on with me and somehow I managed to put them all in these lovely boxes, stacked them perfectly and kept stepping with my head held high. She said that if I kept on stacking the boxes in their neat rows, one day there were going to be too many for even I to handle and continue to organize neatly out of my way. In fact, she warned they were all going to fall down. On top of me.

She told me, I was going to have to eventually open each and every box and deal with what’s in each and every one in order to truly be happy.

I hope I’ve begun to do that over the last several months. I certainly do feel happier.

So yes, I was professionally assessed as the ultimate (emotional) pack rat, even in a metaphorical, Freudian kind of way. But I’m working on it.

One email, one magazine, one piece of junk mail at a time.

Ode to Ikea

Ikea was pulling me in before I ever realized they were doing it and doing it oh so well.

I was probably in middle school when they sent large catalogues to my house. There was something about this store with the short funny name.

Was it pronounced eye-kee-ya? Ick-e-a?

Page after page, I’d see beautiful, organized homes, with happy people relaxing and entertaining. My parent’s home was cozy enough, but man what would it be like to live in places like that?

Unfortunately, when I’d flip to the back cover of the book–my head filled with dreams of what my house would look like as an adult, so chic and modern (which makes perfect sense for the successful magazine editor I wanted to be)– my dreams were crushed. The closest store was in some random place in New Jersey. My parents weren’t even thinking about new furniture, let alone Swedish furniture that none of us could pronounce. The other U.S. locations in the 90s were no where near as plentiful back then as they are now.

It wouldn’t be until I went to college, I’d make the trek to the magical place with the unmistakable blue and yellow logo I dreamed about as a preteen.

The building was massive. As I walked through the showroom it was like the catalogue I flipped through as a young girl came to life. I sat in the chairs, hugged the patterned pillows, sprawled out on the mattresses. I looked up close at the photos on the wall, books on the shelves and clothes and shoes in the perfectly organized closets that made it all seem realistic, but not intrusive to the imaginary family living in those rooms.  Even as an “adult” and a story-teller by nature, I made up stories in my head about the people who lived in the rooms.

A lovely bookcase I built. From...Ikea!!

When I was learning about starting a business we talked about psychology and shopping. How a brand makes you feel, how they present themselves and offer their services.

Ikea is an amazing case study on this particularly here in the U.S.

We want stuff that looks good.

We love stuff that’s cheap and makes us feel like we got a deal.

They know we have a lot of shit we don’t need and won’t get rid of and being able to hide it effectively in our homes and in an organized manner not only appeals to us, it titillates us.

We are quite obsessed with home improvement and competing with others and feeling like we have lovely homes.

We get hungry when we shop.

One of the most genius things Ikea did was offer food. As a broke college student and a broke adult writer, I’ll be the first to say, there were times I went in there not even thinking about furniture, dishes or home accents.

I wanted the $.50 hot dogs and $.75 soft serve ice cream cones.

When they expanded the cafeteria (you can get a pretty darn good meal for $6 using real plates and utensils) it set something off in people. It was another victory for the brand (and for guys taking girls out on dates…”yeah girl lets pretend we are furnishing our future home..let me feed you another meatball girl! You deserve it, boo. Hell, let’s get some ice cream too!”)

Families could sit down for civilized meals while they shopped in a clean, well-organized environment. No cardboard boxes or paper cups.

A bookcase I converted into a TV/entertainment center! Ikea!!

I know I may sound like an obsessed Ikea stan right now, but think about it. Those Swedes get what we as Americans wish we could be and wish we had the time to be.

We are loud and messy and unorganized.

We eat terribly. We are addicted to the quick gratification that comes from a $.75 ice cream cone or a $39 bookcase that actually looks pretty nice.  We can gussy up our bathrooms with some new vases, we can finally frame those photos we’d been meaning to get to and display them on our walls, giving our living spaces a much-needed, yet simple and inexpensive transformation.

Most of us can’t afford interior designers, and after hours and hours of HGTV marathons, we feel empowered to give it a try ourselves.

Ikea gives us the go ahead.

Ikea makes us feel good. It makes us feel like although we did something seemingly small, like buying a rug or a new set of dishes, it’s a pleasant change significant to our everyday lives.

We go to this store in hopes that if we buy these nice hangers (NO MORE WIRE  HANGERS!), our closets will be more organized. If we buy the bookshelf, we’ll stop letting all those classics from college collect dust in the basement in a large plastic bin, and we’ll also show our friends we are smart and sophisticated when they stop by.

If we are more organized, we can be better people; our minds will be clear to finally do all of those things we swore we’d do. We can look like those happy people in the catalogues hosting parties sipping out of cute wine glasses, serving perfect finger foods on lovely cheap platters that our friends will gush over and ask us where we got this great stuff from. And proudly, as if we have given away a secret only known to ourselves, we’ll smile, and say, “Ikea, and you won’t believe what I paid.”

The reality is they will believe it, because they have the same “Karby” rug in their house too.

It’s all quite calculated. The flow of the showroom, walking from area to area, and then like being let loose in the gift shop at the end of a museum tour “the marketplace” of Ikea awaits you at the end. It’s climatic.

You reward yourself with a snack for $2.00, and you go home excited to add your new embellishments to your home. Good bye to that old, worn-out ratty bathroom rug!

Here’s to the dream. I’ve got to go. I have a “Bild” and a “Ribba” to hang in my bedroom!   

Gonna frame and hang this tonight!!!

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