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How Howard U Helped Me Personalize Familiar Fashions From Mass Retailers

It was one of those days.

I was mentally drained as we put the finishing touches on a complicated, months-long project and I wanted a decent lunch. I wanted to take an actual full lunch hour away from my desk, where I could eat and digest my food uninterrupted, walk the streets of DC on a non-stifling hot day, and even, gasp, browse a large H&M nearby.

Well, I made the executive decision to take that hour of self-care, and managed to slide into H&M while a great sale was taking place. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to any of the other floors. (I eventually had to go back to work. Tick, tick. Sniff, sniff.)

There was plenty of wonderful merchandise that caught my eye including shorts with beautiful African-inspired prints, (I’m a sucker for that, and I’m heading to the African-American Festival in Baltimore this weekend, so I simultaneously honor the ancestors and slay.) breezy, flowy dresses, cute tops and lightweight summer jackets I rationalized that I’ll need in freezing offices and on airplanes.

Like myself, I saw other women, with a leisurely, yet purposeful stroll through the racks, eyeing and pawing at the clothing. We’d each hold up items we were interested in, giving it a quick assessment and making yes, no decisions in a matter of seconds, well, cuz, we had to go back to work. Even while making these decisions, there was a general sense of calm.

We were all in our happy place. Shopping. Surrounded by sales.

But while we were all different shapes, sizes, ethnicities, ages, etc., I noticed something while standing in the swiftly moving line (Shout out to the store at 17th and K).

We were all buying the same things.

The same, exact items.

This is the nature of shopping at fast fashion spots like H&M or Zara, or even Target (especially when they do those collaborations with major fashion designers). Someone you know, or don’t know, like the cute girl standing at the end of the train platform who seems familiar, is. Not because you may know her, or she’s a friend of a friend you met once, it’s simply because you both bought the same clothes.

As a Howard grad, I can recall this happening on a regular basis as the Howard girls flocked to all of the same stores in Georgetown and Pentagon City (my crew purposely made treks out to other shopping malls in Virginia or Maryland to avoid this problem), or even around the corner on Georgia Ave with the quick, cheap club gear at Susan Fashion. If you had a bit more disposable income, you could hit Up Against the Wall, for the hottest, more expensive brand names in early 2000s Hip-Hop fashion.

Because of this inevitability, most Howard girls didn’t sweat it. It was no secret we all liked shopping at the same places. However, rather than having a meltdown and trying to exit unnoticed, or trying to accidentally ruin someone’s outfit, we chose a more civilized and creative solution. A solution that would actually serve us well throughout life and emphasize individuality and confidence.

We tailored the outfit to our personality and developing style. We all didn’t have the money to keep buying more clothes, or more exclusive clothes, so we were forced to work with what we had and gained some insight into our own style to stand out in a sea of other beautiful women.

Thinking back, it was a who wore it best before that became an actual thing. But, to me, the wide variety of interpretations was more inspiring than competitive.

It wasn’t unusual to see a tomboy from a big city rock the same top as a southern, small-town debutante. Maybe the tomboy would cut it up a little and wear it with sports bra, sweatpants and Jordans, while the debutante rocked it with a skirt, blazer and pearls.The bohemian soul sista would rock hip-hugging jeans, and a headscarf, with beautiful wooden earrings hanging from her ears. Maybe she’d tie her shirt to show off her bellyring. SAME SHIRT THO!

So as I scanned the other fashionable DC worker bees checking out, or standing in line with some of the same items I held in my hands, I issued myself a challenge. I reminded myself of my good ol college days where it was expected that you’d spot several girls on your dorm floor, at the game, in your classes and on the yard rocking the same fits from Express, Forever 21, Gap, Aeropostale. And you simply had to do you and be confident in doing so.

I also hope that the women who bought the same items that I did today and the gazillions of other H & M stores worldwide and online, rock them with confidence and that it reflects their personal style. I know I will. I’m excited.

Instead of running for the hills, when I see another woman wearing the same outfit, if she’s within arm’s reach, I like to compliment her and admire her twist on it. Usually, it turns out well, and we compliment each other.

And in this spirit, I share with you the tricks I honed from my Howard sisters that have helped me stand out today.

ACCESSORIES: For me, I strategize around accessories. Accessories always elevate my outfit, and tend to earn me compliments. Simply putting on a belt to cinch that waist, will change the game. Throw on a scarf, and folks will swear you are Clair Huxtable and Kate Middleton rolled up into one. And it’s pretty easy to throw on a great necklace or a couple of bracelets, and look pulled together. From the fashionistas rocking the Chanel jewelry and the Louis Vuitton handbags, to the around the way girls who copped their accessories bargaining at a flea market, to the chicks who make their own, accessories do make an outfit sing even if they are all wearing an H&M jumpsuit.

BOLD LIP: Folks tend to notice me more when I rock a red, or a pink lip. I usually like browns, beiges and deep plum colors.

SHOE GAME PROPER: Got a great summer dress from H&M? Are you rocking cowboy boots or some old school chucks? Attention will be paid for you thinking beyond heels or sandals. Do you have shoes that have a cool print, or a bold, solid color?

MIX N’ MATCH: Michelle Obama has taught us long ago the art of mixing high-end clothing with more affordable brands to present an effortless and always-on-point ensemble. I’ve been thinking about how great my solid color tees, or bodysuits would look with my print heavy shorts, or how the lightweight African print jacket I bought would work nicely with one of my long, solid sundresses, sunglasses and a great statement necklace. The options are really endless!

So Blessed

“Woke up this morning feeling fresh to death, I’m so blessed, yes, yes.” -Jill Scott

I’m in a really good mood today. The sun is shining, I have on what I call my Michelle Obama blue dress, that reminds me of something vintage. My hair is curly and shiny (a little upset about the shrinkage, but oh well). I’m wearing my favorite heels.

My car runs, I’ve paid all my bills for the month with a little left over. I have a job to go to. A job I’ve been at for 7 years. I’ve been able to grow and learn and work with really great people. I can work from home once a week. People trust my judgement and they know I’m smart. That’s a huge blessing. Even somedays when I feel ungrateful, I still know I’m in a position that many wish they had.

I’m going to lunch with one of my favorite co-workers today for Restaurant Week.

I found swimsuits on sale at Macy’s that allow me to feel good about my body while on my trip to Curacao in a few weeks.

A pair of shorts I really wanted finally went on sale. It was the only pair left, in my size and I got to use a $10 off coupon to reduce the price even more.

Oh, and I’m going to Curacao. I’ve never been there. I’ve been watching videos and pinning photos from pinterest. My excitement is increasing. I haven’t gone on a vacation like that since, hmmm 2008, I think. Cabo San Lucas. I’m thrilled. And like before, my homegirl had to push and peer pressure and I finally took the days off and made arrangements to go.

I feel so good today.

I have an apartment that reflects how ecclectic I am and it’s homey and comfortable and filled with things I enjoy.

I’m becoming a better cook everyday. I can feel it. I just made some simple drumsticks last night and it made me super happy. Old Bay on baked chicken is my new secret weapon!

I’m blessed.

I have wonderful friends and family and people who love and support me. My friends and my family are loving people, they are smart and even when I’m feeling jerky, or distant, they still reach out to me they still care and I know they do. They make me smile and they make me laugh.

I’m proud of them when they accomplish something that’s important to them and I rejoice with them. I’m glad when they try something new and escape their comfort zone.

I want to find a great book to read, that tends to make me happy and make me feel smarter.

When I was pumping my gas, I thought to myself about an article that said women will be their most prettiest and sexiest in their 30s. 31, to be exact. Ding, ding, ding.   I thought, wow, I’m not going to be this physically awesome with such great skin and hair and strength, so enjoy this girl! And I held my head higher. I totally felt better. It almost seems fitting I’ll be celebrating a dear friend’s 31st birthday with her in gorgeous Curacao. I’ve been 31 for several months now, but what a great year, to go on such a great trip.

So when I shared with un-Common this morning how wonderful I felt, he told me to make the day count. And I will.

I encourage you all today to just count your blessings one by one, even if it’s being able to have a cup of green tea in the peace and quiet of your home when you got up this morning.  Sit with those blessings for a minute and think about how fortunate you are. It will be an instant pick-me-up! I am simply blessed even by you visiting my blog. Thank you!

Jill Scott “So Blessed”

“Black Don’t Crack, But You Should Start Early, For Only $500…”

I knew I was in trouble when the siren call of the mall was completely drowning out that of the gym during the later hours of work yesterday.

So I listened. After all, the day after tomorrow, I will be in the fabulous city of New Orleans for the Essence Music Festival.

This will be the third time I’m going. I went for the first time in 2005, and then again in 2008.

Let me break this down for you. The Essence Music Festival is always held fourth of July weekend and draws hundreds of thousands of primarily black women from all over.

This straight up is black woman/girlfriends/exhale weekend. It’s a spring break for black chicks with wall-to-wall concerts with the most amazing R&B, neo-soul, jazz and gospel artists on the planet. Beyoncé is headlining. That alone is a reason to go, but I’m foaming at the mouth to see the following artists:

Friday, July 5: Maxwell, Jill Scott, LL Cool J and Brandy will take the mainstage. While Blackstreet, Anthony David, Les Nubians, Emeli Sande, Maya Azucena, Simphiwe Dana, Mali Music, Shamarr Allen and The Underdawgs will perform in the superlounges.

Saturday, July 6: New Edition, Charlie Wilson, Trey Songz, Keyshia Cole and Solange will grace the mainstage. Faith Evans, Bridget Kelly, Big Daddy Kane, F. Stokes, PJ Morton, Jody Watley, Leela James and Avery*Sunshine will rock the superlounges.

Sunday, July 7: Beyoncé, Janelle Monáe and supergroup TGT (Tyrese, Ginuwine and Tank) will storm the mainstage while Rachelle Ferrell, Mia Borders, Mint Condition, Luke James, Daley, Tamia, Kourtney Heart, Greta Prince and Alice Smith perform in the superlounges.

http://www.essence.com/2013/04/04/2013-essence-festival-night-night-concert-schedule-revealed/

Let’s also keep in mind that every year I’ve gone, I’ve gone with dear friends that I really love. We’ve enjoyed the amazing food that only New Orleans can offer (including Brothers chicken, the most amazing chicken you can buy in a convenience store 24 hours for like $3 for a three-piece), the drinks (I will have a hurricane or a hand grenade or both at nearly all times) and just the fun and revelry of being in such a sexy, awesome, historic city.

This year is the first year I won’t be with one of my most fabulous travel partners. I’m going to miss her. Instead, I’m accompanied by some EMF virgins- my college roommate, and two older cousins. These ladies are a lot of fun, so I’m sure they will bring an interesting vibe to all of the festivities.

This will also be the first year I actually spring for nicer seats at the concerts, so it’s going to be cool to enjoy that perk. I had loads of fun in the nosebleeds getting plastered and making friends with the bartender, but it’s nice to take it up a notch in that department.

Because there are droves and droves of women, men make it their business to come and take advantage of women loosening up because they are on vacation and in New Orleans, fueled by liquor and the atmosphere.

I won’t lie. I’ve packed short, shorts, revealing tops and a freakum dress or two. I’m ready to get loose. I’ve got cute flats, breezy summer dresses (truth be told I’ve been shopping for this trip since March.)

But the initial inspiration for today’s post comes from my visit to the mall. A sweet charismatic young lady got me to walk over to her kiosk for high-end, paraben free, mineral make up.

Her presentation was impressive. I did enjoy how the eyeshadow could transform to a lip gloss with just a little bit of water. I was most impressed with the foundation.

I won’t lie. I hate make up and I want things to be as simple as possible. If someone can help me find a foundation, that’s half the battle and that’s why I let her do her thing, and that’s why I forked over the ridiculous amount of money for it. It was light and it did make my skin look great and naturally glowy.

But what killed me was her partner who was giving me a facial with all of this stuff that’s supposed to tighten my face and fight aging. He went on and on about botox and how even at the tender age of 31, the key is to start with all these creams and gels.

“You look great, you look beautiful. But everyone thinks in 20s and 30s they don’t have to start with the creams. In 40s and 50s, you are already too late. You must start now. Black don’t crack right? But you should start early. For $500 I will give you…”

And he starts stacking boxes of so many products, I just couldn’t take it and I knew for damn sure I wasn’t going to spend $500 on any of that mess. I’d buy a new bag or some damn Jimmy Choos before I spend that on those kinds of products. Beauty products are not my drug of choice. They just aren’t.

The women in my family age beautifully. My late aunt was a faithful Oil of Olay user. So I’ma stick to that and my occasional bentonite clay mask.

He can go somewhere with all of that.

AINT NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT, SIR!

So I would like to share a few tips for the newbies.

You need flats. Or wedges you know you are comfy walking or standing in (standing particularly if you hang in the superlounges). Most people walk to the Superdome every night because the weather is awesome, the people watching is great and most people want to burn off the calories from all of the amazing food. Now for the more practical reason. Traffic near and around the Superdome is stupid. You’ll just be sitting in your cab. You’ll get there faster if you walk. If your hotel is in a mile radius, hoof it.

DRINK LOTS OF WATER. I know, you are going to be taking down those hurricanes and hand grenades, but seriously, get you some water, you are going to need it.

Sundresses are the way to go. It’s a music festival, they are cute and sexy and women of all sizes usually look pretty nice in them. You feel better when you catch a breeze. Trying to teeter around in heels or things that are too tight, you are going to end up looking silly as the night goes on, unless you have VIP tickets. Keep it simple.

Buddy system. Ladies, you are grown, but seriously stick with at least one other person in your party at all times. It’s easy to get lost. Put your section number in your phone and text it to yourself. One of my homies came up with the brilliant idea of texting the address and room number of our hotel to herself. I’d suggest that too. The street names can be hard to pronounce anyway and when you are stumbling in with the sun in the a.m. remembering your room number is harder than it looks.

Keep your cell phone charged. For some reason, I remember my service being spotty in the Superdome. But who needs a phone? It’s too loud to talk. Just use it for selfies and cute pics with the homies.

Safe sex. That’s a no-brainer. Let’s keep it real. People relax their standards during these kinds of trips. Wrap it up. No exceptions.

It’s always a good idea to have blotting papers and hand sanitizer. The heat and the nastiness of Burbon street will get all up on ya. It’s nice to be able to freshen up a little.

No large bags. You do not want to be fumbling with a huge handbag. Get yourself a cute, small cross body or a wristlet with just enough room your id, cash, cards, room key, phone, lip gloss and blotting papers and hand sanitizer.

Carry a little cash. The restaurants are packed. If you and your party pay in cash you can get the hell out a lot faster. Also if you pay in cash, you may be able to haggle with the fantastic street vendors for art and various things. Now, I’ve never managed to make it to the convention center, but this year, I plan to check out the day time events over there. It should be pretty cool. So I don’t have tips for that.

Oh yes! The superdome is freezing. A cute cardi is a must.

So if you’re going, have a fantastic and safe time! It’s going to be amazing!!!

xoxox

 

 

Funks, Shopping and Dream Intrepretation for Dummies

So after work, I treated myself to a nice sushi dinner (man, I miss my sushi half-priced happy hour place), and decided on a whim to go to the mall and treat myself some more.

I was feeling really funky and needed a lift. So, I found an amazing, flattering dress from Loft, a cute pair of shorts for the summer from H&M an awesome pair of pants that look like I tend to hang out at Bazaars in Marrakesh also from H&M, and the Jimmy Choo fragrance rollerball (when you want to be somebody else, sometimes just smell different) and my favorite French face mist from Sephora. Oh, and a lemonade.

It was a splurge. I can admit. But it was nice. When I got home, I took a long shower and burned incense and put on fresh sheets.

I tried to do all of the simple things I know make me feel good.

When I went to sleep last night, I had three dreams. But I remember two of them. In the second dream, I appeared to be on a college Real World-type show. I wasn’t really getting along with any of my roommates who all had two or three pets, which drove me nuts. I kept explaining over and over that I didn’t have a problem with animals, but they were too big and too many.

It seemed like I was the nerd of the group and the other girls claimed I didn’t have a big butt. I know those simple chicks were lying. But I did manage to connect with a very cool male roommate, who happened to be familiar with the area and he and I would sneak off and just visit the town and look at the old buildings. Something tells me we were in Louisiana or Savannah. The vibe was hot and humid and sexy and warm. There were gardens and old buildings, the pace was slow. He explained to me history we laughed and walked arm-in-arm. He made me feel not like the unlikable nerd of the house, but quite beautiful. I felt this energy rushing through me. He was calm and cool and he didn’t have to say it, but I knew he liked me too. I knew he wanted to protect me and show me a world greater than the one I was clumsily trying to navigate, frustrated and unsure of myself.

That’s all I remember.

The second dream, I was in Greece. That’s for sure. Me and a Howard classmate, who I currently admire professionally were racing through the streets in a tiny, yet powerful red sports car. I was leaning on his arm as he drove and we darted in and out of these massive columns and long-standing monuments of Greece. I hate when men drive too fast, darting in and out of traffic. But for some reason, I enjoyed this. In Greece, it was awesome. Again, I felt flirty and sexy and completely alive. I felt like I could feel every atom, every bit of water and oxygen and blood flowing through my body. Oddly enough, I knew the person I was having this moment with had to be a metaphor, because I don’t really see myself with this person in real life, but being with him in that moment, felt completely correct.

I woke up to one of my best friends texting me. Then I realized it was 8 a.m. I leave my house for work at 8 a.m. I overslept, I was late. Three days of rain. Three days of dismalness.

I found myself rushing around the house and managed to get myself together in a span of ten minutes.

The whole way to work (about an hour of driving) I kept thinking about those dreams.

In both of those dreams, I was totally in love. In both of those dreams, I felt safe with the person I was with. I was able to let go and let them show me new worlds and I was happy. There was something familiar about each guy, even though they were both different, but the feeling was the same. There was joy. There was an appreciation for the moment as it was happening. Nothing else mattered. I wasn’t thinking about the future, I damn sure wasn’t thinking about the past. I forgot about all of the things I tend to find wrong with myself and I let myself be the woman who those men saw.

But then I panicked while on my way to work.

What did those dreams really mean? What was going on in my subconscious? Was it telling me the kind of man I really wanted and needed? The kind I’m truly yearning for?

The other piece of the puzzle was how easy it felt when I was with those dream guys. Love was coming out of my pores.

I wasn’t questioning anything. It was just happening.

Anything they would have asked me to do, I’m quite certain I would have done it.

I had already had a tiny anxiety attack at work yesterday in which I had to get up from my desk and take a walk in the rain to calm myself. I couldn’t put myself through that again.

I nearly want to cry right now, because I was reminded, if not but for a moment how that felt. I miss that feeling.

I keep on tricking myself into wanting a mature, stable, practical love. A love that is safe.

But love isn’t really safe. Not all the time anyway.

Love is a fucking risk.

As we get older, we get less reckless. We are super aware of our limitations, and history and failures and success tend to dictate how we proceed. We take fewer risks.

We do that with love too. We train ourselves to believe all sorts of stuff to be with who we think we should, and to talk us out of being with people who we think we shouldn’t be with. We get lost.

Our pain, our pain, it messes with us the most. Fear of pain drives us to be horribly safe, and even with in the confines of the safety prison we’ve built for ourselves. We’ve managed to be just as miserable. We have no cuts, no bruises, no stories. Yet, we suffocate.

I am suffocating. Right now. I am. It’s hard to fall asleep at night. It’s hard to stay awake during the day. I ache to be free. I want to go away for six months, travel, write, make bad art, drink wine, make love. Sing in a band and do the bass player, then write a song about what a ho he is. Wear sunglasses and sundresses with no panties. Wear long braids that I can feel on my back when I get out of the shower and swing them around. Just live. I don’t want to worry about bills, or love or falling in love or getting hurt or being alone, or being confused and neurotic, or being lonely, or choosing the right path, or being better.

I want to be someplace else. I want to be somebody else, but still me. Sometimes I want to be the spunky little kid I was. Sometimes, I want to be the fierce teenager who did everything. She sang, she played sports, she served the community, she was a nerd. Sometimes, I want to be a college student testing out my independence, partying, staying up all night long with my new friends talking about ridiculous things, then serious things, then studying and achieving.

I’m at a crossroads. There’s who I was, who I am and who I’m going to be. It’s getting so hard to see sometimes who I’m going to be especially based on who I was and who I am right now. I used to be able to see it so clearly.

The Choking Kind. Joss Stone

31tolife

This blog is called 29tolife.

I started writing this at the age of 29, because I was tired of everyone talking about 30 and what they hope it will be or what it should be or what it should not be. I wanted to talk about the fear that comes with being really grown and a “real” adult.

This blog has opened up a lot of things in my life. I freely talked about the end of a devastating relationship, the darkness that came with it, and the healing and the starting over.

I’ve talked about losing friends, strengthening my relationships, appreciating the people in my life, pushing myself out of mediocrity and being very real about my fears and my shortcomings.

I turned 31 yesterday, and today I spent the entire day off, doing just what I pleased.

That consisted of getting a massage, having a great lunch alone and strolling through the mall and picking up a few things. Then there was my nap, then I went to the grocery store and picked up some healthy items for the week, and then tried a recipe for black bean veggie soup I’d been itching to try but never took the time.

Like the soup, my day turned out great.

I realized something. My life is great.

I’m not my perfect weight. I do not weigh what I weighed frolicking in South Beach ten years ago as a college co-ed. However, I am still attractive and I will love myself and my body as it is and will love it as it changes gradually with exercise and proper eating.

But I purchased a dinette set. An awesome one that will elevate my cute little apartment even more into the home of a grown, 31-year-old woman with some taste.

I realized I like hosting and sharing my space and time and a great meal with the people I love and a table and two chairs ain’t gonna cut it. I want to host a dinner party.

So, I splurged and I can’t wait for it to arrive next week.

I’m going to go with dear friends to see Alvin Ailey at the Kennedy Center this upcoming weekend.

I splurged on some Chanel lip gloss today. Why not? I’m 31 and I work.

I bought a birthday gift for a friend that was special and from the heart. She’s going to flip. I can’t wait to see her face when she opens it.

It wasn’t so much the buying of things, because I didn’t get anything crazy. I found a necklace for my outing next week and I bought a bunch of hand soap for my bathroom, but it made me feel good.

Walking around the mall with my bags after having a wonderful lunch, I felt blessed.

I’d been having some random thoughts about work. How unhappy I thought I was, but I was not looking at what I have. I was in the panic. In the panic of what other people were doing at work, and reacting the way I thought I should be reacting. I thought working in this panic, and applying for other jobs in a panic was being proactive and not taking my pay cut lying down.

At this point, I’m the only one who does what I do. Folks have reminded me of the serious leveraging power I have right now. Honestly, if I were able to get back the money I lost from our paycut, I’d actually be happy. I’d be satisfied.

I started hearing rumors about other people who left and how unhappy they are, even with more money.

And it made me think.

I spent six years earning respect.

At a new place, I’d have to do that all over again.

I can work from home. I have a lot of flexibility and I’ve never been turned down for vacation time or leave. I’ve earned my three weeks.

I have a lot of autonomy and folks listen when I speak or say something needs to change or needs to be fixed.

God has given me favor. It’s nothing to scoff at.

Maybe I’d been looking at things all wrong. While the new company that acquired us still gives me pause, I’ve realized something.

The point now isn’t to just leave, or find a place that will give me $10,000 or more than I make now.

The point right now, as the 31-year-old me is to position myself to make my next move a place where I really, really want to be, where the work will satisfy me where it won’t matter that I have to prove myself all over again to new people or work harder for awhile.

So, I’ve come to the realization, at 31, it is about quality of life. Not as much about a paycheck, which is nice. I will be picky about the jobs I apply to. I will work with what I’ve got. I’ll cut down on my complaining.

I always worry about settling, I always worry about wanting too much. As I get older, I think those lines start to intersect and blend in interesting ways. Especially when things like family are involved.

I’m glad to be 31.

I’m glad to pay all of my important bills first.

I’m glad I spent the greater part of my 20s learning how credit really works so I can have good credit now.

I’m glad I’ve dated every kind of man possible, so I can get closer to the one who was meant for me.

I’m glad I had an awesome body in my 20s, it’s proof I can get it back and appreciate it even more.

I’m glad I understand the value of good underwear.

I’m glad I appreciate a kind word from anyone.

I’m glad I appreciate an honest word from my friends.

I’m glad I can decide what’s a necessity and what’s a want and not act like it’s the end of the world that I couldn’t get what I wanted.

I’m glad that patience is a virtue.

I’m glad to know my parents are actually imperfect, and that they managed to do so much with what they had anyway.

I’m glad that I am imperfect too, because I can make a mistake and it’s really ok. It is.

If turning 31 can give me this kind of insight only two days in… the thirties ain’t so bad at all.

Tired Of Shopping

I am tired of shopping. Like, I am basically done with my Christmas shopping. And I’m glad.

I guess it’s tiring because I want to give people good gifts and I really put thought into it. It’s easy to buy random crap and hand it out.

It takes effort to get something for folks and really take into consideration their likes or anticipate something they didn’t realize they’d enjoy so much.

Between online shopping and going H.A.M with my bestie back home at the outlets, for the first time ever, I don’t think I will have to do any last-minute shopping the week of Christmas for anyone.

I am proud.

I did buy some stuff for myself,  and I indulged in the Coach bag I wanted.

I signed my soul away to Coach on Facebook to get a very rare 25 percent off coupon for regular priced items in the store. Not the outlet, the store. They never have sales in the for real, for real store.

I tricked out my social media self, for a bag. Well, I tricked myself out to get a $100 discount on a bag. Either way, I tricked myself for an excellent deal.

I’d do it again. The bag is awesome. Even New Guy approved and said, the black is nice, but the brown says, “I’m here.” And it’s not brown, it’s… let me look it up. It’s cognac!!!

When I was out with my dad, and showed him the bag, he simply said, “For that much, that purse needs to jump on your arm, turn out the light when you leave the house and start your car.”

I told him, it was only a Coach, and if a Coach had to do that, a Louis Vuitton and a Chanel would have to do something ungodly, that I will wisely choose not to talk about with my father.

He shook his head. But he did say there is nothing wrong with working hard and enjoying nice things from time to time. For some people, it’s gadgets, for some it’s shoes and for some it’s bags.

But seriously, I’ve seen malls and outlets too much in the last week.

I’m fatigued from the barrage of sales emails I’m getting every hour on the hour. So I’m glad to basically be done with everyone on my list.

The only thing left on my list is my new laptop! Maybe dad will put in on it as my gift and help a sista out.

I have most of what I want and certainly all I need. I do dig the nine west perfume love fury, and I wouldn’t mind a spa treatment and I’m always down for gift cards to Panera, Chipotle, Potbelly or Subway. Oh, I would like a DVD of one of my favorite movies Best In Show. I could watch that movie a million times! It’s so friggin awesome. And I’ve been looking for Vivian Green’s physical CD “The Green Room.”

Oh! I have to say, I’m a fan of Ruby Tuesday’s menu. They have some really good red velvet cupcakes and this really great cider fizz!!! I know that’s random, but it was really good, and this chicken and shrimp dish was good on calories and actually tasty! Hurray Ruby Tuesday!

Who else has finished shopping? And who else is already tired of shopping? And that’s hard for me to say, I usually enjoy it, but I’m tired. I really don’t need to see another mall for a minute.

Even though I’m never home for actual Christmas day, I did try to put myself in the holiday spirit and break out my little “single girl tree.” It is no muss, no fuss. I plug it in, it lights up, it’s small, I throw a few dollar store ornaments on it and I’m set! I do like to put all the presents I wrap for other people around it to make it look real baller.

Fun fact about me.

I really enjoy wrapping gifts.

Like, I take it seriously.

It soothes me.

I should volunteer to wrap gifts this year for charity at the mall.

So I think I’ll wrap gifts this weekend! Whoo hoo.

Happy shopping dear ones!

Too Soon? The Christmas Gift Conundrum

So, as we dive head first into the most aggressive time of year in the shopping season, I’ve been trying to get ahead of the ball by figuring out what the hell I’m going to get folks for Christmas.

Shopping for grown folks is already hard enough. That’s why I try to purchase awesome things when I see them all year long.

This almost always works out for one of my best friends who I randomly see stuff, then think of her and buy. So she’s basically done.

My parents on the other hand, gee whiz. I feel like I’ve done it all. I can’t afford to send them on vacation, so I guess I haven’t done it all. Something to put on the vision board for next year.

I have an idea of what I want to do for my sister, so I may stick to that. Then there’s my brother-in-law, eh, not sure what to do about him.

My nephew is easy, because I always ask my sister to email me his Christmas list and I just pick something, order it and have it sent to the house.

There’s one new addition to the list, and if things continue to go as well as they have been, I think it’s totally reasonable to get New Guy a gift.

Two of my friends have already suggested to keep it very simple, and under $25.

I sort of agree, I sort of don’t. I have a feeling things will continue to progress, and while I won’t go nuts, if I do get a more expensive gift, it would be tickets to something or something for us to do together.

My wish list this year is pretty simple.

I would gladly take gift cards to places like Chipotle or Panera. I would also take a gift certificate to a spa in a heartbeat.

Two gifts I will probably get for myself will be this lovely coach bag I’ve been wanting and a cute watch (gold or rose gold).

I feel like I treat myself in various ways all year long. 🙂

Any suggestions on what to get the New Guy that isn’t too much, but isn’t too little?

I love this episode of the Big Bang Theory. I love how they deal with the struggle of gift giving. Sheldon is too cute this episode. http://youtu.be/Q1_zVswbW8s

In honor of the shopping season and the impending arrival of Christmas….

Addictive Tendencies

I’m watching myself as of late, because I’ve been on some addictive type stuff.

I love shopping, but I think I have a problem. I’ve been spending my lunch breaks buying stuff.

Last week, I bought two shirts one day, and a pair of shoes the next.

Today, I bought a clutch (but I’ve wanted this kind of clutch since last year and they never had the right color or style).

Like I’m not spending crazy amounts of money, but after a while it adds up.

My latest addiction is that stupid online dating site I signed up for almost two weeks ago.

I’m checking the stupid thing all day, even on my phone, draining the battery.

I must be bored. Most of these men, I’m not even interested in, but I’m digging the high I get from opening my mailbox everyday to like 20 guys.

Some of them, I’m actually sending messages to, and some of them seem kind of nice, or interesting.

But something tells me, I’m not really going to find that super dooper love connection.

Before, I was being very strict about men who are long distance since we know I’m the queen of that, and now, if the man seems like he’s got some sense, I’m willing to have a conversation.

What’s most interesting is, as some conversations are fading out and interest is waning, there’s always a new guy to start a new conversation with.

There they are. All laid out. Every time I log on, I hear Arsenio Hall’s voice in “Coming to America” where he tells Akeem, “apparently these are the best women Queens has to offer. Pick one and let’s go home.”

Pick One and Let’s Go Home

I keep hearing, “Pick one and let’s go home.”

I put myself out there and reached out to some guys who I thought were good-looking and had something decent to say in their profile, but I’ve not gotten any responses from those guys. I guess I’m not their type.

Side note: This dating site allows you to rate your level of attractiveness. Some of these fools really have the nerve to say stunningly good-looking.

I mean seriously, “stunningly”? Like damn, you got big ones.

I just put good-looking. I refused to put average and I certainly wasn’t nuts enough to put stunningly good-looking. I’ll let you decide that for yourself potential suitors.

Just wow. These dudes are a trip.

But that’s ok.

I’m restless, I cannot sleep, STILL! If any of you have any good suggestions for insomnia that do not include, NyQuil, child Benadryl, hot baths, orgasm, or sleepy tea (not saying these are bad, these are just the ones that have already been suggested), please let me know.

I had a huge cupcake today, and it was delicious. I was so tired after work yesterday, I did not work out and I had an hour nap. Just an hour. I figured I’d be able to sleep. No.

Still up til nearly two. I haven’t had a solid night’s sleep since last week.

One of my favorite addictions, Kyle Barker has been texting me. And he’s quite a temptation. Usually I stave off that temptation by not shaving and keeping my house a mess, so I’ll be too embarrassed to host him.

One of my good male friends, tells me if I give in now, what will my 11 months of celibacy be good for? What will it have meant?

But at this point, I’m wondering why am I still waiting? I mean, I know why. I want to be in a relationship that’s going somewhere. Wherever somewhere is…

So I’m back to square one.

Food, shopping, self-love, sleepless nights and online flirting.

This sounds horribly sad.

Horribly sad.

I am a real life Cathy comic.

Speaking of rockin single television women who I root for and love, if yall aren’t watching the Mindy Project, yall are friggin slippin. I LOVVVVE this chick.

30 and Still Spoiled

Ok, ok.

All my life I’ve been well-loved by my family and friends.
When you are younger you take it for granted. You expect it. When you are the youngest cousin and everyone including your sister is at least 10 years older than you, these folks are going to surround you, protect you and look after you, well forever.

This weekend one of my favorite older cousins came to town. She’s basically my second sister. She’s always looked after me, talked to me about sex, boys, men, fashion, being classy and the importance of a good bra.

We had a fantastic time. Went to a football game, went shopping, ate at a bunch of great places (lots of eating); it was just wonderful. Even when I got a flat tire, she calmed me down and because this was a tough week for me financially, she paid for my new tire.

I love my family.

Strange things were happening the entire trip. I ran into a man who looked just like my ex, she purchased a pair of shoes only to find later they were both right feet and we had to kind of drive out-of-the-way to go back to the store to return them, an old man even asked us for hugs outside of a restaurant, before his wife came out to the parking lot.

We had a good laugh at it all.

Even though I didn’t have much money this week, (hey it’s hard out here, can we say rent?) I tried to treat her when I could and she did A LOT of treating for me. Even at a buy one get one half off shoe sale, I became a happy owner of a new pair of fabulous heels from her shopping trip too!!!! LOVE MY COUSIN.

She mentioned how she admired my independence and how hard I’ve been working and how she had just been enjoying herself. I really, really appreciated the fact that she was so generous and still saw me as her little cousin that she wanted to spoil.

I won’t front, as independent as I am, I love it when my family members refuse to take my money, or when they pick up a tab. But I believe that I usually pay it forward, and when I have some extra money, I love sharing with them or giving them a gift to let them know how much I appreciate them.

It was so nice to kick back and spend time with one of my favorite people for a few days. We laughed and just went wherever the wind took us.  And the wind took us all over the place! I showed her some of my favorite places and we even found new ones. Including the AFI theater, where we saw the amazing “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” a Sundance darling sure to win truckloads of awards in the coming year.

It was worth all of the buzz and hype because it was a beautiful, emotional story, with a lot of heart, and the kind of courage I don’t know if I would have under the circumstances.

I don’t have anything groundbreaking to share, I’m still in recovery mode from hosting, but please go see the film. I may try to do my own little review another time.

On Office Rumors And Relationship Closure

I am emotionally drained today.

Yesterday, after the immature text war I had with my ex, I was approached by a co-worker who is always talking about the imminent shake up of our company. Today she heard one of our top-level execs in another state was clearing out his desk.

No email that he’s no longer with us. No other facts, that’s all she had.

It set off a firestorm of hysteria. I was already reeling from just being sick and tired of being at an emotional stalemate about my past relationship and wanting to just end it and walk away for good. No being a supportive friend who wants to hear quarterly updates, no Facebook, just free and clear. So this information about the job did not improve my mood.

I instantly thought of a top 10 list that Forbes put out about signs that your company is going to go through a massive shake up. One of those rules mentioned top dogs, resigning, getting fired, or seeing them clean up their LinkedIn profiles. So I went into full panic mode.

Shit was going to go down.

Welp, let’s get to this morning. It was a false alarm. He was indeed cleaning out his desk, but ridding it of several magazines he has no doubt collected over time. No resignation, no firing.

Ridiculous. So I’m irritated. If I don’t hear anything from the boss or see a company wide email I’m not entertaining any more end of the job world talk. I’m through. I’m going to keep applying for other jobs, so I can get the hell out before things get worse. That’s it.

Boom.

As for “Relationship Closure” another thing I promised in today’s headline, I’m going to try to make this brief.

My ex wants to hang on to his pain, and my pain and punish himself forever.

I told him I forgave him a long time ago, and him inflicting emotional pain on himself will never settle the score or make us even, it’s only going to make him have a horrible life.

We both have to move forward. I still love him, but going on two years just in limbo, or having him tell me every three months that he loves me and he can’t get his shit together is not helping me.

I’ve grown from this and I’m not willing to just roll up and die anymore because I’ve been hurt.

He says it’s easier for me to move on because I wasn’t the one who inflicted the pain.

I asked him if he learned anything at all, and he asked how can he learn and grow from hurting someone so badly?

I told him if anything, the lesson should be that if you ever get the chance to love, you will do everything in your power not to hurt someone so badly, you’ll fight for what you want, you’ll appreciate what you have, and you will have faith to try and get up even if you fail.

I told him I didn’t know the person I was talking to. I was crying that it killed me that he couldn’t see the good in him that I could still see, even after all he put me through. But I can’t make him see it, I can’t make him forgive himself, I can’t make him believe in himself, I can’t make him trust himself and trust God.

And that’s when I knew. The gulf between us had grown into a black hole.

Any man who loves me has to completely love and know himself first, so that when he is with me there isn’t any doubt, there isn’t any fear, the thought of failure in loving me will not exist because if he’s loving me to the best of his ability every day, he isn’t failing. He can’t.

That man has to know that.

I can’t squander my love and my sanity and my mental and physical health on someone like that. And it hurts me right now.

Believe it or not, I want him to succeed and be happy and healthy.

He said “it wouldn’t make you feel better if things were the complete opposite and I was totally happy after all of this.”

I said, “Dude, I love you so much and yes I have pride and ego. The greatest extent of bad I would want to happen to you is to have a flat tire every month for two years. And there, that’s real.”

“But in terms of you having all of this anguish off of hurting me, you not growing, you not learning, you making yourself a martyr, that doesn’t please me. That doesn’t make me feel better. You have to heal. That’s what real love is, that’s what deep love is, that’s what it is to love someone on the level I love you. It’s sick to want you to carry on like this for the rest of your life.”

“I’m a fucked up person, that’s the real me,” he said.

“Baby, I’m not ready to let the pain of you and me kill me. I’m not ready to die. I want to live. I have to live. I can’t have you have this hold on me. I can’t go into another year feeling like I can’t really dig into new relationships because I’m hanging on to you, or worried about you and what’s going to happen to you because you are talking the way you are talking. You have to get help, you have to talk to somebody.

You don’t have to feel like you have no purpose. Even if you have to pick one thing to thank God for everyday when you get up, start there. But you got to want more for yourself. You got to want to do better.”

He replied he doesn’t want anything. That he is no good to anyone.

I didn’t know what else to say. I cried and begged him to get it together, not for me but for himself. To dig deep and heal his wounds from us, from his past, from his family, because the road he is on is dark and horrible.

I cannot join him any longer. Even though we haven’t been together for going on almost two years, I was still with him on this path.

This is really the end for me.

I’ve come too far and I see it. I can’t look back. I can’t wait for the fantasy I once had. I don’t want to say that it’s a hopeless situation. God can turn anything around. But what can you do with a person who does not want to save themselves?

I see him drowning. But I told him as much as I love him, I can’t put myself out there for him again or say we can start over. I can’t put myself out there to save someone who is so far gone. I barely survived the last time.

Still crying, my last words were, “I’ve got to hang up now. Goodbye.”

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