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Diner en Blanc Baltimore, We Got In!!!

If you thought you heard a high-pitched squeal anywhere in downtown DC, a little after Noon today, that would be me.

Me and one of my dear friends will be going to Diner en Blanc in Baltimore in just a few short weeks. (Check out the Forbes article that breaks it all down.)

I’m thrilled, I’m amped and I’m excited. I’ve heard about Diner en Blanc which started more than 20 years ago by a Frenchman who basically invited a select group of friends to dress elegantly in all white and set up a picnic in a beautiful public space and enjoy each other’s company. Truth be told, I’ve been starved for an event that requires people to put in some thought and effort. I’ve lamented in this blog how our casual attitude towards our lives, our meals, our going out and our interactions have really just made us a blah society. I can rock with some of the formality and style of the French and Italian and folks in other countries. Joie de vivre. Enjoy life. Enjoy each bite of food and swallow of drink and wear nice clothes and engage and enjoy your company. Put care into the smaller details. Yup, sign me up, if only for one night.

Each year, invitees from the previous year invited other friends, and it grew. It grew so much that the event has been taking place in major cities all over the world. At this point, thousands of people show up to appointed places at appointed times and then are sent by foot, public transportation or chartered buses to the selected spot. The spots have ranged from the Louvre in Paris, to the Usain Bolt Track in Jamaica. DC revelers have even partied at the foot of the Lincoln Monument. The photos are a true sight to behold.

So, when it comes to the inaugural soiree in the Charm City, one naturally assumes, we’ll wind up in the Inner Harbor. But, that may seem like the super obvious choice. So, my guess would have to include outdoor spaces that would make for great photos near iconic buildings or with potential views of the harbor.

If we don’t end up directly in the harbor, my top guesses are City Hall and Orioles Park or any area where ArtScape or the Baltimore Book Festival have taken place where large groups of people are able to gather and streets can be shut down. The Maryland Zoo and Pimlico Race Track are my wild card choices. They aren’t immediately downtown, but there will be enough spaces for buses to load and unload a bunch of folks.

My guesses include:
1. The Maryland Zoo
2. Right in front of City Hall
3. Fells Point
4. American Visionary Art Museum
5. Walter’s Art Museum
6. Oriole’s Park/ M&T Bank Stadium
7. Pimlico Race Track

There’s a lot to do. I’m using all of my strength to avoid purchasing a new outfit and try to find a lovely white number inside of my closet. I’m already against it because I feel it’s more for a power meeting at work. My go-to site is ASOS (every ASOS dress I’ve worn, the compliments pour in) and NY and Company is having a great sale. Those dresses always tend to fit me well and are made of comfy fabrics and are insanely easy to dress up with accessories due to their simplicity and versatility.

As for the shoes, I personally hate white shoes. They make everyone’s feet look like Fred Flintstone. Totally unflattering. White shoes no matter the style, make me think of the usher board and their sensible nursing shoes walking up and down the aisles at church. I do plan to follow the rules. I think gold and silver shoes are allowed, but either way, I’ll figure this out. Moving on.

I was determined about getting to my computer on time to get into the registration period for new folks, better known as Phase 3. Phase one folks are people who have attended previous events and get automatic invites to the next. From what I understand, Phase 2 folks are guests of phase one people who have attended before and Phase 3 are the newbies like me, who have never gone and managed to sign up for the wait list.

I was really excited today about being able to get in, I haven’t been this crazy about logging on exactly at 12 noon since getting tickets to see Prince. I willed Ticketmaster into submission and even went solo to increase my chances. Seeing Prince was a serious thing for me and I’m so thankful I did that. The following year, he passed away. See, good choices?

But anyway, I was amped. When I asked my boyfriend if he’d be interested if I managed to get registered, he politely declined. I let it be. He probably would have been miserable and probably the thought of him pulling together an acceptable head-to-toe white outfit in two weeks was probably the last thing he wanted to do.

My boyfriend was not about us lugging a table, chairs and our own food to a secret location dressed in all white, so this was a mission for one of the local homies who is always down for an adventure. I was able to quickly rebound from his rejection.

This homegirl is the type of homegirl who makes everything fun. Like gut, busting, silly, loud-singing, fun. I could have a bowl of cereal with her, or get lost in some random city with this chick, and shenanigans will ensue. We ALWAYS have a great time whether we are sitting around the house making mini pizzas, watching the Muppets and putting on clay face masks, or checking out an art exhibit. Yup, as soon as I sent the text, “We’re In!!” we’ve been texting and thinking of ideas on how to decorate our table… yes, that’s a thing and there’s even a prize for the best decorated tables.

According to Pinterest, folks go all out. Yes, I’ve stalked Pinterest and read every article. This is probably why my boyfriend wisely passed on attending this with me. While I’ve seen some elaborate setups, we plan to keep it simple, if for no other reason than not wanting to lug around a lot of stuff.

Diner en Blanc vets recommend having a hand truck to lug your goods. I will be investing in that.

So, yes, my boyfriend’s observation is right. He’s the more sensible one of our pair. This is a lot of work. But I’m actually very excited to pull this together and so is my home girl.

Yes, there are articles that poke fun at how much people end up spending to have a picnic in a public park, and even people calling it elitist and super snobbish because of the air of secrecy and the element of exclusivity due to the original invite only premise. There was another honest article from Washington City Paper about how much it really costs to attend one of these things, from buying or renting tables and chairs and linens, buying your own food vs. buying directly from Diner en Blanc to ordering your wine or champagne, because you can’t bring your own. Sniff, sniff. The costs do add up. I did go ahead and buy one bottle of wine through the website after registering, because dang, after all of that, it’s not about to be dry. We will need to toast. That is non-negotiable.

Is it bourgeois? Most certainly. I don’t care. We live in perilous times. I’m desperately seeking Trump-free, non-partisan, fuck-my-student-loan, joy.

It’s a moment to share with thousands of people, on a hopefully lovely night weather wise. Sure, people will be doing it for the ‘gram hard core, it’s a social media wet dream. Serious, google the pics. But, I really am interested in doing something unique this summer and just having a really great time, even if there is a bit of effort that goes into all of this. I’ve been looking for moments to engage in joyful things, and looking at pics from all over the world, I know that this is it.

I want to see other people’s creativity with their tables, what they decided to bring to eat, and then enjoy the entertainment and dance the night away with a breathtaking Baltimore backdrop.

So let’s get it.

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Pop Culture Is No Longer for You After 30. Guess What? That’s Perfectly OK

We are self-centered. We are built that way. We know nothing else.
I’m not saying this in a bad or negative way. I’m saying it in the I-only-have-one-life-i-can-never-be-anyone-else kind of way.
Our perspective is the only one we can go on. Can we empathize and sympathize with others? Yes, and we should so we don’t become complete assholes and are able to have successful healthy relationships with the other people we share this planet and our lives with.
So we don’t see it. As kids, our parents usually center their lives around us, and then as teenagers, we know that this world is all about us, for us and eagerly waiting for us to grow up so we can solve all the problems and make this place better, because we have the energy and the heart and we aren’t jaded.
In college, we attempt to equip ourselves with the intellectual tools, to in fact, go out there and make the world a better place, make the workplace a better place and be able to afford the lives we want.
So during those kid through college times, there’s a lot of marketing geared towards us, and towards us nagging our parents to get us the things we swear we need, so we can run faster, be cooler, etc.
The marketplace seems to be for the young. The music, the pop culture, the clothes we see on the racks in the stores.
It’s not until you reach your 30s, you realize that your tastes are changing and that you are looking elsewhere to find the types of things you want to spend your money on. Or based on certain habits, those things are finding you.
Over the years, I find myself in the mall less and less. I’m either bored or outraged with the options.
I look around in the mall, and I see kids who seem so young, but they are in their 20s. Then, I see women my age or older attempting to wear the same clothes, and I feel embarrassed. I try not to look too hard, but I can’t help it.
Then a moment of fear comes over me. When I’m not at work, do I have some ill-fitting clothes? Should I give up on shorts as my 40-something sister has resolved to do?
I wouldn’t take it that far, but I am conscious that I don’t have the same body I did in my 20s, and I think that’s perfectly fine. I actually am pretty glad about it. While there are certainly things I can improve to make sure I’m not cutting off circulation, or I can triumphantly put on certain slacks or skirts without elastic waists, but generally, I’m cool.
Things are going to continue to change, so I need to care about my health and I need to do my part to ease the aging process on my body. Fine.
But, I do notice my distance (ok, complete lack of knowledge of) from current slang and lingo. I gravitate to certain radio stations and certain music, and I don’t know who some of the biggest stars are now, because I hate their music. Me and my friends commiserate over how wack the new hip hop is, and discuss with great affection the old days of the 80s, 90s and 2000s. We gasp that some of our favorite movies are older than 20 years old, or that some of our favorite musicians have been gone for that long too. Some newer artists that I’m giving a chance to, I notice in their lyrical content, or even the style of how they are singing, they are not of my generation. They are something else, they are speaking to someone else. They are speaking to their peers and not to me.
It’s ok that 20-somethings have SZA, because I had Lauyrn Hill, Mary J. Blige and they were speaking and still speak to me on certain levels.
A lot of women spend their 30s wanting to turn back the clock, and we can’t. Even if we did, what we think we’re looking for is no longer there and we won’t fit as we are.
So, we have to embrace the present. We have to champion the things we like, and the things we love with no apology.
Blast the music you love to blast. Play a CD or vinyl if you like. Rock those jeans in the larger size, they look just as good as long as they fit your body correctly. Eat that piece of cake. Take a walk later. Go for a swim. Dance for three songs straight while you’re blasting the music.
We spend our teens trying to eek out who we are based on who we were around, who raised us, who we wanted to be like and who we didn’t want to be like.
We spend our 20s really trying to validate all of those findings.
I don’t want to spend my 30s searching for youth in a time that does not belong to me. I want to spend my 40s free and my 50s in unapologetic truth, bliss and satisfaction with the life I’ve been leading.
So, maybe we’ve passed a time where everything appeared to be for us, be it t.v., fashion and music.
That’s ok.
Because being older means being wiser and it also means enjoying the satisfaction of truly doing you.

Lunch Time Walks: Good for the Heart and Soul

It’s no secret that taking a walk is good for you. Being situated in the heart of D.C. makes it even more enticing to take the long way back from grabbing a bite to eat. It also makes you feel better about the french fries you ordered.

Anyway, as of late, as my contract winds down over the next two weeks, I’ve been taking walks at lunchtime to help clear my head. I like people watching and making up stories in my head about where they are going, the kinds of jobs they have, if they are in love or if they feel a little lost like me, wondering what’s next.

I like to look at the kinds of outfits women are wearing, and I smile if I see a woman rocking huge naturally coily hair, with confidence. I notice tourists and families trying to navigate their way through the Nation’s Capital, visibly patriotic and in awe that they are steps away from the President’s house. I totally get it.

Folks walk down the street with a sense of purpose, but unlike New York, it doesn’t have the same wild, aggressive energy, where you hardly even have to walk; the crowd will just push you along the packed sidewalks.

Sometimes, I recognize a pace or even the look in the eyes of the professional bureaucrats I see on the streets, and it looks like they are looking for a few moments of peace and escape too.

And so, we walk. And so, you may see people heading back out for coffee or an iced tea around 2 or 3, just to take a break from it all. That has to be the reason why I can literally walk out of one Starbucks and see another in my line of vision only one foot out the door another block up.

There’s nothing wrong with taking a break to escape. To think about things that make you smile, or consider what your next move is. I’ve been appreciating these moments to take a walk and take in a city that’s been good to me for quite some time now.

Oddly enough, while I take my walks, I hear Carrie Bradshaw’s monologues in my head as she speaks of New York. I switch out her voice with mine, and I wax on about the District, the buildings and the people I see. I walk taller and let the breeze flow through my dress. I allow myself to imagine and slow up the pace. I’ll be back to work soon enough.

Afternoon Tea Is a Sweet Indulgence

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of tea.

I blame my mother. She’s always good for making the perfect cup and she’s passed down that preference to me.

I pride myself on the fact that I can make a great cup of tea for my guests, and I love watching their faces when they take that first sip.

I also love how having a cup of tea with someone opens the door to wonderful conversations in a relaxed environment. Time and time again, I’ve put on a pot of tea, or introduced someone to some of my fancier loose leaf teas and hours later, we’re still sitting there talking and having cup after cup.

To me, having a cup of tea is just like lighting a candle, burning incense ,or playing music. It sets a tone for relaxation and comfort. It’s something you can enjoy alone while you collect your thoughts, or do something creative, or get to work. It’s something you can share with others. My teas are not just an indulgence, it’s an act of self-care and it’s an opportunity I use to love on the people in my life.

Well, when a former co-worker of mine wanted to hang in downtown Annapolis this weekend to catch up, among the very nice places she recommended for us to have brunch, she also offered up Reynold’s Tavern, a very lovely tea house.

Since I had never had formal tea at a tea house and my collection of loose leaf teas is growing faster than I can drink it, I jumped at the chance.

I have to say, we really enjoyed ourselves and had a great conversation about the writing process and the emotional journey it takes to write, secure an editor and go into the publishing process. I haven’t gotten as far as her, (she is a brilliant historical fiction novelist) but I do know what it’s like to start a novel or a book and be parts obsessed with it and also feel completely insecure about the whole thing.

There was an extensive tea menu, we both had teas that were based on Jane Austen characters, and they were sooooo good.

There’s something extra special about drinking from a tea-cup and resting it gently on a saucer or taking the infuser out of the pot and just letting the tea rest.

In between all of these actions, there’s discussion and there’s nibbling from the three-tiered serving set.

The tea was delicious, so much so, we each purchased some to take home. I was in love with my crab and shrimp Quiche and light salad and really enjoyed the small desserts.

As I get older, I appreciate these kind of old school ways of gathering and socializing. This goes right up there with meeting with my book club and sharing ideas and feelings with other brainy people who are passionate about books, and what’s going on in the world.

In a time where it seems the ratchet is revered, it’s nice to dip away to another place in time and visit a place like Reynold’s Tavern in the heart of a historic city, and be ladies and gentlemen of leisure.

Job Hunting On a Deadline Is Emotionally Draining

Hey folks.

Not long ago, I found myself trying to coach and encourage my cousin visiting from the south about jumping in, getting a job and grinding like hell to achieve his goals.

I told him to be prepared for obstacles: some of which he had no control, and some of which may have been created by old choices or lack of planning and preparation.

As I enter my last month of employment in a few days, and still have bills to pay, so far, I’ve had one promising interview, and I’ve been putting in several applications all over the place.

I do believe that things are going to work out, and it’s never based on my sense of timing. And God hasn’t let me down before, even if things appeared to be down to the wire.

But my anxiety is ramping up. Especially after doing an electronic application for a job I know I was qualified for, but got a lightning quick rejection. Like immediate. LOL.

Me thinks my salary requirement got me bounced immediately. Which, probably is a good thing. There’s no point in even having a great interview if the salary they are offering is too low.

But see, everything is making me feel edgy and uncertain and in a kind of ho-hum mood.

I’ve been virtually silent at work, really just trying to get through the day and my tasks.

It’s nearly impossible for me to concentrate on the statistics class I’ve been “supposed” to be working so diligently on over the summer so I can return to my grad school program in good standing. Progress is at a standstill on that front. I get lumps in my throat thinking about it. It’s hard to move forward on a self-paced course. How sad is that?

So, per the usual, I’ve been not even looking for the silver lining, I’ve been looking for the golden lesson. The what is this preparing me for? What am I supposed to gain from feeling how I feel, and willing myself to put out just one more application?

Am I applying blindly out of fear? Or wisely out of purpose and true interest in the job?

Fear and uncertainty makes us scramble. It sounds a lot like our current presidential election.

We have a serious problem with discomfort. Fear makes us rationalize behaviors or ideas, that when we are otherwise calm and confident, we’d never consider.

It’s not limited to our votes, it extends to the partners we choose to stick with for fear of being alone, it extends to not expressing how we feel for fear of backlash or being unaccepted, it extends to every type of fear that holds us back.

So now, I have to speak myself out of the fear.

I am dwelling in the unknown. But I have family, I have friends, I have love, I have skills and talents. These are things that I know. I’ve lived in places I never thought I would and I’ve survived.

I had people tell me that I wasn’t good enough and I knew it was a lie, and I survived.

I thought the end of a relationship was the end of me ever being happy again, and six years later, I know it to be a lie.

The old church folks love to say “The Devil is a Lie.” And it’s very tempting to try to correct their grammar, and say isn’t it “The Devil is a liar?”

It’s both. Everything about the devil and all that comes with him is a lie. He works through very real things and very specific details in our lives to thwart us from our divine purpose he uses lies to get in our heads. He uses lies as agents of fear, because fear makes us move, it drives us to action.

I’m not a biblical scholar by any means, but now I get why there are so many scriptures that say things like “Fear not.” Or, “God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.”

Other verses mention love casting out fear. I gravitate to the idea of the power of a sound mind the most. The challenge is to maintain a sound mind when our natural impulse would be to fear. Our bodies react to all kinds of situations: we sweat, we want to run and hide, we get weak stomachs, we pass out, we fight.

But how do we calm ourselves in the face of fear? How do we accept what is and what will be?

Having fear is a natural human flaw that attempts to protect us from pain and threats.

However pushing beyond our fears draws us closer to our supernatural, interior selves.

Even self-help folks, and motivational speakers talk over and over again about conquering fear, about drowning out voices of self-doubt.

It’s very easy to be fearful in the world we live in, and some days, staying under the covers is the solution. But there comes a time when we must act. When we must do our part, do our best in the face of fear and trust our Creator will do the rest.

 

 

Sometimes You Just Can’t Live Up to Other’s Expectations, And It’s Perfectly Fine

I was living my life and enjoying a lovely day while hanging out with a friend. This is a similar friend who I’ve blogged about where we’ve had our ups and downs, and while this person may struggle with some issues, including mild narcissism which I came to this conclusion twice in the same day, I’ve decided to just accept this person as they are and do me.

So we’re hanging out, and all of a sudden she tells me she has to get something off her chest.

I knew where this was going. After spending a lot of emotional energy trying to help her get through some tough times last winter, which included cooking for her and staying at her home, we had an argument over something small.

It’s always something small, that sets me off. So I told her she has a short memory and comes at me for stupid things, yet she has other friends who she won’t hold accountable at all and that with the exception of one or two, I think they are all fake. And her crew goes round and round just being fake to each other and I can’t subscribe to that.

Well during this latest encounter, she wants to go back to that argument to chide me about not talking shit about her friends. I fight rolling my eyes.
Basically, this wasn’t really supposed to be a two-way conversation. And as she talked about me not being there for her, I realized I was in the presence of someone who needed more help and more attention than I’m qualified for.

I felt an overwhelming sense of peace, because I knew what I could give as a friend and what I couldn’t. All I heard was I need, I need and you didn’t and you weren’t there.

As usual, this person expected me to apologize and fall all over myself. I didn’t. I simply said, you need more support than I can give. I feel that you tend to deem your problems more severe than my own and while you may have gone through some very terrible things this year, I supported you as best I could, while navigating my own challenges. I did the very best I could. Do you have a mental health plan in place, because you need other people besides me.

I realized I was in a love languages situation. This person is most certainly a quality time person and thrives on being surrounded by family and friends all the time, while for me, I like physical touch.

At this point I knew I had to be somewhat special, because I do believe I have been doing my best, even though there are times where I get tired of people. I want to spend time alone to gather my thoughts and simply rest.

I’m used to loving a lot of people from a distance because geographically they aren’t close. I’m used to the people in my life having an understanding that I love them and will do what I can for them.

Can I improve? Yes. But I think there is a line, there are some people who expect way too much and can’t see how one person can’t handle and take on all of the other person’s problems. When I asked her what she needed from me specifically, she couldn’t say. She just felt like I wasn’t there.

Sometimes I’m awful at checking up on people. I get wrapped up in the things I’m doing, or I think of people, but I’m way too tired to have a conversation where I’m truly present. That’s why when I do finally have conversations with folks on the phone, it can go to two hours easily. I want to be present. But maybe people really only need 10 or 15 minutes of me when they need me. It’s something I wrangle with.

I don’t like feeling guilty about whether or not I’m giving enough of myself to people, because I feel like it’s in direct competition with giving myself the self-care I need. I hate to see people in pain. My mind immediately goes to thinking of ways to solve a friend’s problem or figuring out the right thing to say. But it’s exhausting.

I’m not sure what the right answer is. But there are times, emotionally where I feel like I need to put my oxygen mask on first, and friends like the one I’ve mentioned seem to feel like me doing that is disrespectful or neglectful to their needs.

I’ve decided in terms of that friendship, I have to be ok with where I am with certain friendships. I already decided a long time ago, that I accept this person and I can’t imagine them not in my life, but sometimes keeping a distance works best for me, but it doesn’t work so well for her. I told that person, that by now they should know me and that my intentions are always good, and I am always concerned, and always want the best for her, but I cannot keep vigil over them 24 hours a day and I can’t be expected to drop everything in my life, for every crisis this person may have everyday. It’s unfair to have that expectation. And this is where other support has to come in, and professional support.

I worry about the boundary lines of where her responsibility lies within herself, and where I’m supposed to come in with support. I feel no person should feel like they are alone, but there are times we all feel that way. We have to spread the responsibility of support around to those who love us. We cannot offload the lion’s share of our worries, pain and neuroses on just one person. But we do have to think of constructive ways to tackle our internal issues and do the work. We won’t grow if we get our fix of having someone just be there to distract us from what’s really eating us. And I think primarily, she likes the distraction and to feel like someone will drop everything for her to feel valued. And that’s a false sense of security, which leads her right back to where she started as soon as someone can’t keep that up. And I think that’s even true of romantic relationships. You can’t drain your human resources just as you would any other resource.

We have to figure out ways to improve our self-care techniques with outside support as a companion to a multi-pronged approach to our emotional well-being. And that may be really challenging, but I think it has to be done.

I love my friends, but I should be allowed to have the space to speak up and say I have limitations. I may disappoint you sometimes, as you may disappoint me. May we not have short memories for the times we offered our support in just the right way, may we have the strength to offer the best support possible when our friends need us most.

RSVP for one. Bad-Ass Scardy Cat will go to the Gala.

I said it and I refuse to take it back. 2016 is not only the self-proclaimed year of the unexpected, it’s also the year of the bad-ass scardy cat. AKA, me.
I spent a previous post talking about what that exactly means. It may also extend into my dating life or how I attack it, without letting it attack me.
One of my biggest problems is not knowing what I want, or thinking I don’t know what I want in a relationship.
The problem is I know.
The problem is I kind of don’t believe I can have it.
So while I’m doing the match.com thing, I’m going to jump out on a limb and take a risk.
Every year, Howard alumni are sent a lovely invitation to the annual Charter Day events held each March. There’s always a super swanky gala, that basically costs $350 per plate. And hell, the amazing Debbie Allen is this year’s chairwoman.
Me and my friends have joked, that we’d attend once we’ve “made it.”
This gala attracts many of Howard’s most prestigious alumni, and supporters. It’s a collection of folks you’d be proud to say you share a legacy with.
But in the same breath, its intimidating. IT’S FUCKING INTIMIDATING. I’ve been out of practice going to things like this post my journalism career, so going to this solo is daunting to say the least.
But I keep staring at the invite. It just keeps calling me.
I’m not a baller, shot-caller by any means, but I’m a self-sufficient person who is about to add some expensive-ass letters behind her name this year (from another well-respected Washington, D.C. University) and is in need of connecting to inspiring people again, if only for one night. At any event at Howard, I am reenergized. So, I know this will be worth it.
And yes, I’m going to Rent the Runway so I can shock and awe. I may even visit the brick and mortar Georgetown location to select my ensemble.
Hmm, I guess, I’ve basically said I’m going. I guess, I made the decision now. Ha!
I was going to use this blog post to kind of give myself all the reasons I should go, and I wanted to also discuss a byproduct that I wouldn’t mind happening.
…. Me snagging the man of my dreams. This is some fanciful, storybook, meet cute, starring Sanna Lathan type shit. And just when I thought I’ve been dragged to the most cynical cellars of my soul, I meet a brown unicorn who reminds me how much I like to do what I think I can’t even if I complain or doubt myself along the way. There’s a tiny ray of hope.

It’s freaking dangerous to go to this gala, thinking I’m going to drop my napkin and a chocolate dreamboat decked out in a tux is going to pick it up and we’ll lock eyes and the rest will be black history and we’ll be planning our nuptuals at historic Rankin Chapel on campus, but IT’S MY FANTASY. DEEP DOWN, in the places I want to deny that exist, THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I WANT. Excuse me now for the rant. I do feel better saying it. More on this later…

I recently participated in an online relationship boot camp of sorts, and this month’s video was about “dating down.” I was practically in tears by the end, because it called out a number of things I’ve already addressed in this blog.
They basically strummed my pain by outlining the following: my need for control, my need to feel emotionally and intellectually superior and how dating down is actually taking the easy road, just to have someone in your life.
After killing me ever so softly (Roberta Flack went to Howard, btw) it made me think.

I had to get back to the basics.
Deep in my heart, I wanted a good, stable, sane Howard man, or a man who went to an HBCU (Historically Black College or University). This man would be able to totally understand why I love my alma mater so much and celebrate this love with me. I wouldn’t have to give him cliffs notes on my experience. Or what led to my decision, or why I felt everything Ta-Nahesi Coates describes in his epic colorful description of Howard in all it’s ebony-coated excellence in “Between the World and Me.” Even if he went to a rival school, it would be fun to take photos rocking alumni sweatshirts and talking crap to each other on gameday. Even if he disagreed with me about politics and pop culture, he’d understand my perspective.

Howard, much like my father, shaped for me an ideal of the kind of man I wanted and believed I deserved. But somehow over the years, I’ve deviated. I’ve acquiesced to dating and entertaining lesser beings to not give truth to the stereotype of the professional black woman too good to give folks a chance. I tried to temper my expectations, but it still didn’t feel right. I’ve dated men who didn’t attend HBCUs, but they were still missing something… or lacked some level of consciousness that never sat right with me, or they didn’t see themselves in the collective “we” in the black diaspora. And I don’t mean that in a dashiki-wearing, anti-white, afro-wearing, ankh-adorned, shea butter-scented way.

But there’s something about Howard that awakens your consciousness and how you walk in it, how you live it, is entirely up to you and shaped also by your own experience, but above all, it’s informed. It’s multifaceted.

So here it is. It’s the season of finding someone whose light reflects my own.

That’s been the biggest thing I’ve been afraid to ask for out loud, but the missing ingredient that I keep summing up and dumbing down as an intangible, when I reply two oactives higher than usual “I don’t know.”
So at this point, where are those kinds of men? Welp, my guess is they are doing all sorts of things. They are friends of friends. They volunteer. They may be in the clubs, but I’m over that. I will not do that.

However, friends, I’m consciously and to some degree defiantly making a $350 investment in myself (+ the cost of my rent the runway dress), my badassery and my future. Sometimes if you go to places you’ve never gone, you’ll have experiences you’ve never had. In the year of badassery, it’s time to not put a price tag on me living up to my potential. Besides, I’m nosey. I want to see how the other half lives… I do wonder if they’ll let a sister register as a student, using her George Washington id, tho… lol.

So that settles it. I’m good enough to be in the room. I AM GOOD ENOUGH TO BE IN THE ROOM.

I deserve to go to the gala because well, I was invited. That should end the argument there.

I’m an alumni. That should also end the argument.

And with a swipe of a credit card, I’ll be in there. And let’s face it, my credit card going through is probably the only thing Howard is thinking about anyway. LOL.

The only person who can say I don’t belong for whatever stupid reason, is me. So I’ll stop. I’ll start looking for a dress. The Golden Globes and Oscar season have me feigning to slay in my lane at  some event. And I’ll go. Bad-ass Scardycats unite!

Bad-Ass Scardy Cat

I keep telling yall. 2016 will be the year of the unexpected. I mentioned in a previous blog, in 2015, I was concentrating on balance. And it served me well. Focusing on balance brought me to a good place and I think prepared me for the coming year.

I’m getting that much closer to finishing my master’s degree (hopefully in December folks!), and I’m getting much better at just saying no to things I can’t get with and taking a time out when things get a little crazy. I’m learning to listen to my inner voice and my body (which is super important as I’m getting older. 34 next month yall… and when 29tolife started, we were talking about the possibilities of what the 30s will bring! Ha!)

At any rate, I’m the kind of person who, I believe exudes a certain self-confidence (that I fight for daily). People in my life and strangers even compliment me on how I carry myself, and how I can motivate other people or make others feel good too. But at the root of it all, like I said, I fight for it. I have to pump myself up, and I’m elated when people tell me that I am beautiful or I did something well. It really helps. I think on twitter, I mentioned being what I call a “bad-ass scardy cat.”

I may try new things or things that scare the hell out of me, or make a life change that scares me, but once I’ve made up my mind, no matter how scared I am I do it. There you go, a bad-ass scardy cat.

Well on Jan 2, 2016, I may have outdone myself.

I got a tattoo. At 33 years old, I was eating breakfast with my cousin and I said I’m doing it today. She asked if I was sure, and with a piece of bacon in my mouth, I said yes. It was clear as a bell.

I knew I wanted a tattoo right then, that day, just as I knew my name. I just knew I had to do it. So after thinking about local places my friends have gone to, looking at the websites and recalling strong reputations for cleanliness, experience, ability and friendliness to newbies, I set out for the tattoo shop.

The place was pretty busy with folks also determined to get tatted or pierced, most folks adding to their collections.

I have to say my tattoo artist Jen, was the PERFECT person to do my tattoo. She was warm, kind, and had a bunch of bad-ass tattoos of her own. She made me feel completely at ease, even though my heart was beating out of my chest as the needle touched my skin for the very first time.

I asked her to please just keep talking to me, as she worked. I couldn’t bear to just let the buzzing hum of the needle and background noise of other conversations suffice.

Keep in mind, this act of badassery was going against everything my religious family believed was proper, especially for a woman. To my family, it probably would have even made more sense for me to do such a thing during college. But to be an established “professional” woman rolling into her mid-thirties, why now?

Now was the perfect time, because I am grown. I have lived enough to get a really good idea of who I am and who I’m not. I’ve had my heart broken, I’ve changed careers slightly, I’m expanding my education, I’ve changed my hair, I’ve lost weight, I’ve visited other countries. Whatever I choose to put on my body at this point wouldn’t be a whim, but a conscious decision.

That choice, was a lovely quill pen. The feather represents truth. The truth sets us free and makes us light as a feather. Birds are free and fly, they have feathers. I love the connection of it all. Whether I work in journalism or not, I’ll always be a writer. That will never change.

My truth will be ever-evolving as I continue to learn things, experience things and grow.

I think when Jen asked me why I wanted a quill, I wasn’t as eloquent as I was just now, but I mentioned being a journalist, the feather representing truth and how I really wanted this particular tattoo for YEARS, but never had the guts to do it.

By not being in a relationship, it was even easier not to be influenced by or wonder whether or not my partner thought it was a good idea or not, sexy or not, etc.

I truly believe the Belize trip was a catalyst for this. Ziplining through the jungle, getting a mud bath and being butt naked and painted and adorned in flowers and having myself photographed, it was liberating. It was an acceptance of myself that I wasn’t familiar with, but it fit. I saw myself in those pictures being adventurous and happy and comfortable with my body and my hair and just living. I loved that. This is me. This is who I am. This is who I’ve been all along.

Was it painful? Well, it wasn’t a massage, but it wasn’t waterboarding either. The best way I can describe it was a deep scratching, that became more sensitive depending on where the needle went. But it wasn’t that bad. Jen was quick and focused, while making me feel comfortable.

I went into journalist mode asking her about what it was like to do her very first tattoo, what was her own personal first tattoo, and if she doodled as a child. She went to college for fine arts, and found that tattoo artistry would be a reasonable and profitable way to make good on that education and how she enjoyed meeting so many different kinds of people. She admitted to giving a side-eye or two for people’s choices, and told me about how celebrities often send people in in droves to have identical ink.

She also mentioned how an audience can make people more dramatic while getting ink, and that women tend to appear to be in more pain if a boyfriend or group of girlfriends are around.

I thanked Jen and walked out with my cousin kind of new.

I felt a bit more edgy, but then I unpacked that confidence later as I proudly rubbed the After Ink ointment on my brand new tat. I kept looking at it and admiring it. It just felt like I was myself. I was always myself, and this was an outward manifestation of just how bad-ass I could really be, according to my own standards and there’s nothing more bad-ass or revolutionary than that.

 

 

Grown Man Confidence

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve managed to see two amazing musicians, known for their persona of sex appeal almost as much as their mind-boggling musicianship and artistry.
I saw Prince two weeks ago, and saw D’Angelo last night.
Seeing these two amazing performers in the same month had to be Kismet, because there were a few things I peeped about them, that made me think about why people are so enamored and attracted to them. It also made me think about how most women are looking for similar elements in men. You don’t have to be a genius musician, but there are some basics that can be applied to anyone, to achieve real sex appeal and that intangible… attraction.
1. Confidence. So everyone says confident people are the ones who win at life. Being in the presence of confident people make us feel more at ease. Confident people seem to be in control and seem like they will be able to handle whatever is thrown at them.
I will say this about confidence. People say, oh, if you don’t have it fake it. But I say that’s putting a band-aid on a gaping hole in your flesh larger than a paper cut. Confidence develops over time, and is grown and cultivated and forged by failure and being embarrassed and bouncing back after being told no. Confidence develops when you do something someone said you couldn’t do, or when your version of good enough drowns out everyone else’s assessment.
2. Doing things you’re good at and pushing yourself to be even better. Nothing builds confidence more than doing things you’re good at. When people watch you do your thing (whatever that is) and you make it look effortless, watch people get drawn to you. They’ll want your opinion, they’ll want your approval. Watching D’Angelo and Prince perform made me want to pick up a guitar and sing. Now I’ve taken guitar lessons and it’s hard freaking work. I’ve played the drums for years, and it took practice not to suck. So people who have developed a level a mastery for what they do aren’t just sexy because of natural talent, they are sexy because they take it to the next level with hard work, dedication and discipline. There’s a certain devotion musicians have to their work, and trying to get better and experimenting with new sounds and being fluent in music and other artists. They are sponges, they have people they look up to, they study certain sounds or riffs over and over, and then they interpret it, weave it into their own sound to make something unique and new, rooted in the old. That’s levels of sexy.

3. Being yourself unapologetically. Prince and D’Angelo have taken some serious fashion risks. Sometimes they don’t come out with an album right away. Sometimes people don’t get their music. Some people may think certain songs are too sexual, or too political. R and B fans may not like the songs with a more rock edge, the rockers may not like the songs that sound more like R and B… but it doesn’t matter. These artists do what feels right to them, they wear what makes them feel good. Does it stand out? They pull it off because of confidence, but being yourself unapologetically and moving past all of the reactions, leads to the sexy confidence.

4. Inside out. Sexy grown men let the sexy radiate from the inside out. There are some men I know now that aren’t as thin or as muscular as they used to be, but a warm smile, an easy laugh, the sweat they build up from fixing something around the house or an auto repair, makes them irresistible. I’ve read articles that after the massive success of D’Angelo’s “Untitled (How Does It Feel?)” he struggled with body image and having to keep up that BODY that teased us in the video. Today’s D’Angelo is thicker, healthy looking and still making women swoon. He has a sly grin that seems like he’s about to lead you into some trouble and you are down for the ride. He had so much energy on the stage, there was joy on his face while he was working the crowd and receiving the love from the crowd. The man was in the moment. There have been times when I’ve observed men I love doing simple things, quietly, looking serene and self-satisfied. In those moments, they were sexy, and in those same moments when I catch them, I might offer them a hug or kiss without a word, because I appreciated seeing them in that moment. They’d wonder, “Oh, what’s that for?” and I’d just kiss them or hug them again and walk away.

5. Maturity. One of the greatest gifts of getting older and living is experience and maturity. Mature people can be confident without being arrogant. They can understand the power of confidence and how it may lead to influence, but they don’t abuse it. They don’t have to win every argument, but can firmly and passionately make a point that sticks with you well after the conversation is over. Mature and confident people don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Frankly, they don’t want to and they aren’t going to. Who they are and how they handle business and how they treat people in the face of adversity or in the pit of failure, in their mind, says what needs to be said. As far as they’re concerned you can take them or leave them, and it doesn’t change their life or who they are, they’re going to keep being who they are. I won’t say that nothing phases confident people, but criticisms, or suggestions don’t turn their world upside down, or represent an accurate reflection of who they are. When people know that, they hold on to their power instead of giving it away to every person with an opinion. They gather more strength to say no when they mean no and yes when they mean yes.

Do you know of any other qualities that make a grown man sexy?

Treat Yo Self To Some ‘Good Jewelry’

Every now and then, a woman should walk into a jewelry store– not your favorite accessory spot, but a straight up jewelry store and buy yourself a piece.
We often place the role of special jewelry hunting to significant others.
Sometimes we hint, or tell folks what we want and we hope around Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or an anniversary, we’ll get that shiny object of desire.
Well, I’m single.
And for some reason, while I don’t mind getting jewelry from a lover or a loved one (rare occasions) I tend to buy myself a piece of jewelry as a symbol of power and loving myself. It’s a special moment, because I don’t do it often and I’m discriminating about my selection.
Maybe it’s a special moment to me, because I know I like to wear a lot of costume jewelry, so when I’m ready to throw down real cash for a certain piece, it means so much more.
Fairly recently I purchased a new watch.
I’m very picky about watches and it takes me a long time to find just the right one. Nothing that’s too plain, nothing that’s too dainty, but not too thick and masculine either… not gaudy, but classic. Something I’d reach for when I want to make a statement about my style without saying a word.
I had worn a silver Guess watch for probably the last 12 years. It had been with me through the ups and downs and there was even one moment I was heartbroken when I thought I lost it in Chicago. Thankfully my boyfriend at the time found it. I was so relieved. Sure, I could have had another watch, but it was so much a part of my daily life, it was like me putting on my glasses every day. For the last couple of years, I’d been saying I need a new watch or at least a different watch if I’m not wearing silver jewelry.
So in my mind, I decided I would upgrade from Guess and make sure I chose either a black watch or one that was rose gold.
I always buy my good jewelry during random moments. That old Guess watch I purchased as a student from Lord and Taylor. I felt fancy just buying it.
My new watch, I bought from Macy’s and they were actually having a great sale on all of their watches, it was too good to be true. And after trying on a black one and a rose gold one, I found it and I’ve been loving it.
Interestingly enough, I’ve only been breaking out the rose gold for special occasions. I continue to wear my Guess watch to work. We should have special items for special times that make us feel like we shine.
Today, I bought a lovely ring. Once again it was a random situation, and ironically enough in another store, my dear friend asked me how I choose my accessories.
“They speak to me. And then I can see in my mind how they look with certain outfits I have at home. The thing is all of this stuff will be speaking to you. Some even screaming (those you leave alone, they are probably ugly and gaudy) So you have to just relax and go with what gravitates to you.”
Welp, we made our way to an official jewelry store and that’s just what happened. I was drawn to a rose gold ring with a white sapphire stone because it looked like an antique, it looked timeless and it was on sale for a great price. Shortly after my engagement ended I bought a little sterling silver ring with black stones and I can’t wear it anymore it’s too small. So I decided, I needed an even better ring that just would suit me and my style. And there she was. My goal of being in the store was actually for my friend, but I kept coming back to it. There were other rings, but that one seemed to be the one. It spoke to me.
I like those moments when I decide to treat myself with these kinds of trinkets. I’ve only done it one other time, when I bought my silver pearls and a silver cuff and recently I’ve gotten on the Pandora bandwagon. Those charms suck you in. But it’s a nice reminder to treat yourself, to love yourself and that it’s okay to acknowledge your own beauty and fabulousness through nicer jewelry from time to time.

I always tend to buy myself nice jewelry to commemorate a new phase in my life, the end of a relationship to remind me that I’m important, the beginning of a new career. And today, I think I bought the ring because I’m ready to commit myself to a new start, I’m in a good place and I’m blessed. I can support my friends with a full heart as they embark on new relationships and not think about where I may lack in love. I wasn’t always there, and that deserves a treat!!!
S

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