Unbothered: Easier Said Than Done

At some point during our formative years, we learn to develop thick skin. From lunchbox toting elementary schoolers, we’re taught sayings like “I am rubber, you are glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you” or “I know you are but what am I?” to empower us to not take things that people say about us to heart. By the time we reach adulthood, “not caring” has become a defense mechanism to protect us against our own feelings. But what if we allowed ourselves to feel? What if we actually acknowledge that things hurt our feelings, or piss us off? It’s so easy to brush things under the rug to the public as if they don’t faze you, but what’s the point in the façade if you still have to feel the feelings anyway? Why not acknowledge them and move on?

Over the weekend, a nasty, character assassinating comment from “anonymous” was waiting for me to approve in my comment bay. At first I thought it was spam and I almost flagged it and sent it to the trash without so much as a second glance. But for some reason my eyes lingered. I could feel myself getting hot and my hands starting to shake. This is most certainly not the behavior of someone who doesn’t care. Pissed is more like it.

I’m at home on a Saturday evening, eating my General Tso’s shrimp and fried rice, drinking that god-awful iced-tea served out of a soup container, minding my business. Here somebody is, all in my comments loud and wrong as hell about something that has nothing to do with me, is completely nonsensical, and not to mention, FALSE.

The easiest thing for me to do is act high, mighty, and unbothered. But the truth of the matter — and what many of us fail to acknowledge — is that sometimes you do actually care what people think about you. And that’s ok. No one wants false information spread about them. Even worse, no one wants people to actually internalize it, believe it, and in turn act on it.

It brings on this whole firestorm of other thoughts:

“I’m sick? The things you heard about me are sick? QUE? Heard about me from WHOM? Someone I’ve met and dealt with once? Someone with whom my only interaction has been an amicable, and what I THOUGHT was genuine hi and bye..ONCE? Ok Anonymous…Ok.”

“Wait…is she lying to add more venom to her comment? Or is someone really just using their imagination and creating interactions with me to share with their friends over a glass of Merlot? (let’s get real, it’s probably Moscato).”

Of course I won’t divulge all the details here, because that’s called being messy — at least in my world. But I think most of us can relate to being completely caught off guard by someone’s malicious intents, which happen to be loaded, cocked, and aimed at you. No, every negative comment hurled at you isn’t going to break you. Yes, its true that most people’s opinions of you DON’T matter. But there’s always that one that’s so ridiculous, yet comes so hard, that it actually breaks your thick skin. Call me crazy, but it just doesn’t sit well with me that there are these extreme falsehoods about me being put out into the universe to God knows whom.

Maybe if I were a completely soul-less and shitty person, these accusations wouldn’t sting as badly. But when you spend your time mostly minding your business and being especially careful to be nice to people, you’re not quite equipped to deal with hateful people. Its one thing to be an asshole and have people come at your neck for it. If I were in fact, an asshole, I would totally give zero f*ucks about someone calling me out on being an asshole, because duh. But no, I’m not an asshole. I’m not one of those people who pride myself on being rude or a “meangirl”. I’ve been over here frolicking in my little sunny flower patch where I don’t need an umbrella, and here you come anonymous, to place a dark rain cloud over my head. So uncalled for.

Society would like us all to default to how we “must be doing something right if we have haters” But I don’t know…I don’t want people to hate me. I’m not going to extremes and bending over backwards for people NOT to hate me. But the goal is being liked. I think that’s everyone’s goal — to be liked, or at least respected. For me, there is something starkly upsetting about the idea that there are people who have formed an opinion of me based on things that aren’t true, and are outside of my control. That’s what I take the most issue with. Hate me because I’m a bitch. Hate me because I stole your boyfriend. Hate me from a first-person interaction you’ve had with me, not because of something that someone else told you to make themselves look better or to justify their own…idk…agenda.

This is not to say that I allow comments from others to affect what I do, my self-esteem, or my self-worth. At the end of the day, I can only put my best foot forward. Anything outside of that has nothing to do with me, and I’m not wallowing in a corner crying about it. What I AM doing is acknowledging that I have emotions, and wondering why someone has so much venom towards me. But as the saying goes: One monkey (or bird) don’t stop no show.

Be blessed, or #runtelldat. Your choice. 🙂

 

 

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In Defense of Moms with Social Lives

As it nears closer to the weekend, rest assured that somewhere in social media-land, a #judgynonparent is preparing a meme, tweet or status update shaming those of us who have children and choose to have a life outside slinging dirty diapers and juicy-juice boxes.

The cliché of neglectful young mothers is too often the crutch for lame jokes and Instagram memes. Being a young mother, and being friends with other young mothers is enough for me to finally address those who constantly critique our lifestyle choices.

It’s understandable that when you’re not a parent, there are some inner-workings of parenthood that you just won’t get. Like not understanding why I still tell you my child’s age in months, or that I would rather his hair look absolutely all over the place than put braids in it (I. Hate.The.Braids.). I get it. But then, there are just the downright judgy people — and I’ve addressed you before — like the woman on Facebook who called my child a “spoiled crumbcruncher” and implied that I was afraid of my kid, in response to my piece about tantrums (which she clearly didn’t read).

This is apparently what they do when Mommy is out with her girlfriends.

This is apparently what they do when Mommy is out with her girlfriends.

My question is this: Have none of you ever spent the night at granny’s so your mother could go out with her girlfriends? Or so your parents could spend a night out on the town? Secondly, why does no one ever question men about whose care their child is in? Men leave their kids at home with their mamma, to go to the club everyday, B…and there’s nothing wrong with that. Because you know why? During club time? It’s also bedtime. Sleep. Sweet dreams.

My parents have always been fairly sociable. I have fond memories of going to either set of grandparents houses for  so my parents could enjoy a night out. Not once did I think they didn’t love me or that they were abandoning me. Not once did I feel neglected and wonder why they weren’t tucking me in. And never did I not have a boatload of fun while my parents were away. Anytime outside of my recollection is probably because I was too young to remember and was obviously not traumatized, and probably was asleep by the time I knew what was going on anyway.

It’s not at all ok to consistently neglect your offspring in exchange for painting the town red with your crew, but I have trouble understanding what’s neglectful about leaving Baby Billy with Nana, so you can make a 10pm shindig. Baby Billy should be sleeping. You’ll be back by the morning and he’ll be none the wiser.

I can’t think of anything more annoying than someone probing me about where my child is, while I happen to be out cruising the city with my girls after dark. Like…its 11pm, he’s somewhere sleeping. Should I have brought him with me to celebrate my friend’s birthday at a bar? Or should I just be forever relegated to the company of a two-year old? Are we not allowed to enjoy nightlife now that we’re moms? What am I missing here?

It’s as if people forget that a child could have two parents and could potentially be spending the night building forts and playing video games with daddy while mommy enjoys a long-overdue happy hour. Or maybe the grands offered to take little munchkin for the weekend because they haven’t seen him. Either way, just know that wherever my child is, he’s well taken care of by someone who loves him and cares about his safety and well-being. K? K.

 

 

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By the Skin of My Teeth: A Re-cap of my Life with Vision Experience

I spent my Saturday attending Dining with Bevy: Life with Vision. I’d been excited beyond reason since the moment I applied and Ms. Bevy responded letting me know that she thought my blog was funny, relatable and well-rounded. She said I was exactly the type of person she wanted at Life with Vision. I was floored that she actually read it, but more importantly it gave me a boost of confidence and reassurance that my blog was becoming exactly what I set out for it to be.

A friend from highschool, Andrea, CEO of Honeecakes Bakery, was attending as well. I couldn’t have been more thrilled that I wouldn’t have to travel to NYC and navigate alone. Even better: She had an Amtrak hook-up, costing me all of free-99. Apparently a family friend owed her tickets to NYC for her birthday, and she allowed me to cash in on them with her. (Thanks Drea!). Her connect scheduled us for an 8:10am train out of Union Station and all was well. Kind of.

We get to Union Station as the announcer is making the last call for our train. I still had no idea how we were getting on the train since we had no tickets. Out of nowhere, our connect appears, and I’m being escorted to the train with every door opened and every rope pulled aside. Apparently this connect is “the man” at Amtrak. Cool with me.

We’re walking down the empty platform and an employee enthusiastically motions for us to get on the train. “Get your ass on this train, because I will leave you” is the vibe I got. So we got our asses on the train. I look at my watch, and it reads a smooth 8:09. Had we arrived at Union Station any later we could have kissed Life with Vision goodbye.

Here begins our 3.5 hour ride to NYC. Which would get us to our event exactly at 12 most likely. I would have preferred a little more cushion time than that, but hey, I took what the hook-up-man gave me for free-99. During the long ride, Drea and I caught up, ate hummus and pretzels and played a game called “Heads Up” on her phone to pass the time.

Four hours and 15 minutes later *insert sarcastic smile* we arrive at the Greenwich Project. A cute little restaurant on W. 8th Street (food was amazing, btw). The moment I opened the glass doors, I was met with an eruption of applause coming from upstairs. “Yup, I’m definitely late” I thought to myself.  I couldn’t bring myself to feel flustered because that wasn’t going to change anything. So I checked in, poofed my hair, and headed upstairs to take my seat, hoping that no one would notice me.

True to form, as I stepped off of the last landing, I’m standing in the very front on the room, clearly interrupting Ms. Bevy’s introductory spiel.  ALL eyes were on me as she sashayed past in all her glory. I nervously scanned the room and immediately met eyes with Miss Lawrence from Fashion Queens, and Necole Bitchie.

Ms. Bevy telling us stories about her GOOD work

Ms. Bevy telling us stories about her GOOD work

“Hello!” said Ms. Bevy to my late self.

“Hi!” I energetically respond. No sense in being late AND shy.

“What’s YOUR name?” She asked.

“Chaunece!” I said with a smile.

“Oh well Chaunece, come on in and find your seat! You know what they say, If you’re going to be late you better look good, so at least you’ve got that down.”

The room explodes in “Yes Ma’am’s” and my embarrassment disappears.

I find my place card at a table full of T.V. Producers, Multimedia Journalists, Writers and Executives. I could tell she spent lots of time creating the guest list and choosing which tables we would sit at. Even still, I wondered what about me made me worthy of a seat at this table. I have to admit that I felt very small as the day unfolded, and I discovered what it was that made them all important.

“So Chaunece, what do YOU do?” I was asked by one of Ms. Bevy’s former VIBE Magazine co-workers.

“I’m a blogger” I replied, after clearing my throat.

That was probably my first time saying it out loud, and this table full of women actually sat and listened to my little old elevator pitch.

We listened to Bevy share her impressive career trajectory with us, and we asked questions of her to try and figure out how we too could dictate how our lives pan out, like she did. Ms. Bevy answered those questions with all the skill, knowledge and wisdom of a life coach, therapist, and clairvoyant all in one. She was quick-witted and could match everyone’s name with their business off the top of her head. I was so impressed by that.

Ms. Bevy and Necole after an emotional introduction (Photocred: @justkimonline via IG)

Ms. Bevy and Necole after an emotional introduction (Photocred: @justkimonline via IG)

The part of the day I was most anticipating, was hearing from Necole Bitchie, the guest speaker. I’ve followed Necole since 2007–the start of her career, and indirectly the start of mine. Seeing her succeed at becoming a blogger made me start PinkWire–my first (now defuct) blog. I’ve followed her in transition from Necole Bitchie, the entertainment blogger, to Necole–just Necole. Hearing her speak of her struggles and seeing her get in front of us, be vulnerable and cry real tears put a lot of things in perspective for me. It let me know that its okay not to have everything together or to even know which direction you’re going in–and that was important for me to hear. Especially from her. I’m glad I was able to pull Necole to the side, hug her and tell her a bit about myself. She totally made my day with how sweet she was. Couldn’t tell me NOTHIN’ *Kanye’ voice* after that.

As the event came to a close and people were handing out business cards to keep in touch, I was taken aback that people actually asked for mine, and marveled over how cute they were, and asked me questions about my life, and wanted to see pictures of my son. It was definitely a confidence booster. I even got a follow-up email the same night from someone who’s work I’ve read for years, saying that she’d checked out my blog and enjoyed it.

Myself and Necole--no Bitchie

Myself and Necole–no Bitchie

Everything was moving in slow motion as I was soaking all the amazingness of the day, when Andrea called out to me

“Hey Chaunece! 4:05!”

“Is that what time we have to leave here?” I asked?

“No, that’s what time our train is.”

I looked down at my phone for the time. 3:15. Of course. Can’t complain when you’re working with a free-99 connect though. I tried to soak in as much energy as I could before I had to whisk myself away all Cinderella-like. I gave a few hugs, extended a few more well-wishes, and just like that it was over.

We made it on the train by 3-fifty something–by the skin of my teeth again, and by 8pm, I was back in DC with yet another story to tell.

 

 

 

 

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A Couple of Rants about Hair

Black women and hair is one of the most sensitive and divisive topics only second to the topic of marriage, and Beyonce’s relevance. As tired as I am of talking about it, there’s always some huge social media uprising that brings it back into my line of thought and then I get irritated.  Here are my peeves:

Can we stop attributing everything to European standards of beauty?

The beauty of Black hair is in the versatility. I can wear my hair in a huge ‘fro, a twist-out, in braids, AND I can straighten it because, options. I love my ‘fro and wouldn’t trade the ability to queue one up for the world. I also love flipping my freshly flat-ironed hair from side to side, because it is luxurious. Not luxurious like a white girl, but luxurious like MINE. That grows from my scalp. While engaging in said hair flipping, never do I think to myself

“Wow, I feel really white right now” or “Maybe people will find me more beautiful since my hair is straight and thus closer to European beauty standards.”

Thoughts of being a baddie cross my mind daily regardless of my hairstyle, much like many other black women. So save that theory. There’s no denying that it exists–there are some people who only see beauty in straight hair (or brazilian or peruvian additives), thinner noses, lighter skin etc. But let’s not be so broad when pointing out Eurocentrism. Is it not possible to enjoy your own hair in the many ways that it can be styled?

Photosource: http://okmagazine.com/get-scoop/beyonce-jay-z-blue-ivy-at-the-vmas/

A cute little afro. Photosource: http://okmagazine.com/get-scoop/beyonce-jay-z-blue-ivy-at-the-vmas/

 

Can we stop talking about Blue Ivy’s hair?

I don’t have a daughter (much like many of Blue’s critics), so I can’t say exactly what I would do or not do to her hair if I had one. But I do have a son, and his hair is wild and every time any one of his grandparents or great grandparents see him, they’re asking me when he’s getting a haircut (when I feel like he’s ready). Aside from his hair being wild, my child is intelligent, and charismatic. He’s not abused, doesn’t miss any meals, and wears nice clothes and shoes. Anything else you’re talking about is irrelevant to me.

This is probably how Beyonce feels when there are grown women who devote their time to starting online petitions to comb her daughters hair…like…business…get some. There are a millllliiiionnnn other things people should concern themselves with besides Blue Ivy’s hair. What if Blue doesn’t like getting her hair done? Should Beyonce sit her down and pop her with a comb until she submits? She’s like 3 years old fuhgawdsakes. She is a free and happy black girl who has loving parents, and we hope that despite being pop royalty by default, will grow into a well-adjusted adult.

Furthermore, when Blue gets older and people are still acting this way about the hair that grows out of her head, what type of message will this send to her and all the other girls who have hair like hers and don’t feel the need to tame it to make YOU feel comfortable? What if she likes the way she looks? If a little black girl with kinky hair, adorned with a pretty bow is unkempt to you, you should probably ask yourself why. Because there is an absence of loose shiny ringlets? THEN you should probably re-visit your theory on  European standards of beauty.

All that’s all I’ve got to say about that *Forest Gump voice*

 

 

 

 

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Menace to Society

It’s about 11pm on a Tuesday night. One of the two nights per week that I actually get to sleep with my husband. Instead of  enjoying his embrace, I’m watching him sleep peacefully as I toss, turn, and incessantly scroll my twitter timeline to keep up with what isn’t being shown on the news. Straight anarchy. I’m sick to my stomach as I scroll past images of tanks, tear gas, side-by-side images of protests in the 1960’s with images from present day, and a lifeless body in the street.

“What’s wrong boo?” my husband asked, half-asleep.

“Nothing.” I said.

He’s not big on social media and he’d worked 16 hours on Monday and another 8 just that morning. I was sure he was oblivious to the goings-on in Ferguson earlier in the week, and I didn’t want to keep him up all night talking about it.

“Something’s wrong…you ok?” he probed again.

Something WAS wrong, but I didn’t quite know how to articulate it. In fact, I didn’t even know what it was that I was feeling. A combination of sadness, fear, anxiety and anger. But mostly sadness. As both the mother of a black son, and the wife of a police officer, I am sad, afraid, and angry that I have to feel those things.

Since he insists, I show him my timeline and he sits up in the bed as he too, scrolls though the blurbs and images provided by those who are protesting amidst the military tanks, rubber bullets, and tear gas.

“Isn’t that crazy?” I interrupted. “Those are the police doing that…It’s just crazy, you know? Especially now that we’re raising a black son…”

My son, at not even two years old is nowhere near able to understand what being a Black boy means for him. He doesn’t even know about race, let alone skin color. There will come a time where I will have to explain to him the meaning of the color of his skin and his Dad will have to teach him how to not look threatening, and what to do if he’s pulled over–not as a police officer himself, but as a Black man.

My absolute biggest fear is something happening to my son or my husband. Horrible thoughts run through my mind an irrational amount of times throughout the day, and this will only get worse as my son gets older. Old enough to walk to the 7-11 and buy some skittles, or old enough to be casually jay-walking down the street.

I worry about my baby brother in college in New Hampshire, hoping he never happens to look threatening to the wrong person, or hoping he never gets involved with the wrong White girl. I worry about my other younger brother here in Maryland hoping he never gets pulled over by the wrong cop. Hell, I even worry that my husband will get pulled over by the wrong cop, just praying that he knows not to reach too quickly for his wallet to show his badge, lest he be mistaken for “reaching for a weapon”. The badge that he carries in the pocket of his slightly sagging jeans, does not make him any different from any other Black man to those who see Black men as a threat.

And as of late, not only do I worry about him being a target as a Black man, but a target as a police officer as tensions rise and chants of “Fuck the police”grow stronger. I half-heartedly agree. Not that there should be a vendetta against all police officers, but there is something that needs to change when an officer is allowed to murder a child in cold blood, and then take a nice paid vacation as the entire state tries to cover up this injustice and fuel the fire for their terrorism. TERRORISM. Install the dash cams. Puchase the body cams. We need this.

Still, my heart skips a beat and my palms get sweaty as I scroll past images of picket signs calling for the blood of police in the streets. My husband is not a pig. He is a loving, compassionate, funny,  personable, father and husband. My baby boy is not a menace to society. Neither was Trayvon, or Michael, or Sean, or Amadou, or Oscar, or Eric or any other unarmed Black man gunned down by a police officer. I just wish I didn’t have to argue these facts, but I do, and everyday, my prayer will be the same–that BOTH of my men are able to return home to me.

 

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The Terrible Two’s Are Officially Here.

Before yesterday, I had never experienced a public meltdown with Carter. Strangers hand out compliments in restaurants as I take them in and beam with pride. I go to the grocery store, Target, the mall, and other shoppers smile at me while he peacefully chants “mommymommymommymommy” up and down the aisles. Somehow, coming up on birthday number two, I feel a change coming on.

Yesterday I scheduled Carter an impromptu urgent-care Dr’s visit. I went straight from work to pick him up from daycare, and we headed to our 6p.m. appointment. Being by myself, I was nervous. The Dr’s office is generally not an entertaining place for a toddler and although I was hoping this wouldn’t be a test, I was pretty sure that it would be.

Being a good mother is not all innate. Most of it comes from trial-and-error and experience. For example,  I learned that Carter usually likes a snack after daycare, so I stopped at the vending machine on the way out and picked up a bag of Cheez-Its and a bottle of water for him since we wouldn’t have time to stop at home. Imagine me patting myself on the back for thinking ahead and going in “prepared”.

“There’s no way Carter will have a meltdown at the Dr’s.  office. I have snacks!”  

Right? Yea, no. The moment I got Carter buckled into his car seat, he started to whine. So I smugly pulled out my bag of Cheez-Its, feeling like a veteran mom. I pour a couple of them into his cup holder and his face lights up with excitement. All I hear is humming and crunching — the sweet sound of victory. But in my head, I’m thinking that I should have gone down to the Starbucks on the first floor and grabbed one of those apple juice boxes before I left the office. Mental note for next time.

The drive to the Dr’s office was short. But as we’re pulling into the parking lot, Carter started to whine again. *deep sigh* Here we go. I turned around and very sternly through my teeth told him to “Cut.it.out.” It worked. Another small victory. Oh, but these were only two small battles in what was soon to be a war…and I was about to lose.

We park, I get out and lift him from his carseat…and here we go again. He wants his backpack. I’m pretty sure he thinks there are more snacks in there. There aren’t. His backpack is empty and the snacks are in my purse, but you can’t reason with an almost-two-year-old.  So I pick him up as a distraction from the backpack and carry him into the office. He’s quietly observing his new surroundings, pointing and saying “Dah-dee”. Cool. Babble away kid. I just need to make it upstairs to pediatrics so he can play with the toys. I’m so close, yet so far. At the check-in counter, I put him down so I could get his medical card out of my purse. He. Has. A. FIT.

This is new behavior and uncharted territory for me, so I’m not really sure how to respond outside of the comforts of home. It feels like every occupant of the waiting room had their eyes locked on me at that very moment. I kept my composure, handed him the bag of un-eaten Cheez-Its and turned back around to try to get him checked in. As we’re finishing up, I hear the sound of a bag hitting the ground, followed by the grunt of a frustrated toddler. He was over the Cheez-Its, and this was feeling like longest five minutes of my life…if it was even five minutes.

He proceeds to fall out on the floor AND roll around. I look up and my eyes are met with judgement from onlookers who I’m sure were thinking unsavory thoughts about “this young mom not knowing how to control her child”.  I turn back to receptionist so we can hurry and finish checking in,  ignoring the burning feeling of all the eyes on the room fixated on me. Instead of doing her best to get me checked in so I could deal with this sourpatch kid, the receptionist felt it her civic duty to ask that I “please pick him up for her”…Yes. Instead of minding her business and doing her job, or even offering him some consolation if she wanted to be of help, She asks if I can pick him up…for her. Would she have asked someone’s grandmother to pick their tantrum having child up off of the floor? If I appeared to be her age would she have asked me to pick him up off the floor? I suspect not. #Judgynonparent for sure. But I picked him up so we could move on.

He eventually calmed down enough for us to get checked in, and make it to a seat where I was able to pull up some videos on my phone to keep him entertained (what did parents do before phones?). My feelings of embarrassment quickly subsided and feelings of relief took over. He was done and I didn’t have a nervous break-down.

I’m a young mother. I DON’T know what I’m doing. But neither did anyone else when they experienced their first public meltdown. I’ll just continue to let experience be my teacher.

So what did I learn from THIS experience? Juice. I’ll definitely get the juice next time.

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Millenial Men on Marriage

Marriage. A golden word for some, a forbidden word for others. As society would have it, women are the only ones who obsess over marriage. The only ones who stay up at night wondering about their future. The only ones who want the 2.5 kids and white picket fence. Leave it to the twitterverse, and men are just not that interested in marriage.

But men are the ones who propose. The ones who essentially determine the fate of many of our futures in so many words — those of us who want to be married that is — Men can’t ALL have an aversion to marriage because, well…they’re getting married. So what is it? Why do people think that men in our generation aren’t concerned with marriage? And how do they really feel about it? I asked a few and here’s what they had to say:

Mr. Married:Dated his wife for 5 years, married for 2 years

Mr. Soon-to-be married: Dated his fiancée for 5 years, will be married this weekend

Mr. Committed: Involved exclusively for about 2 years

Mr. No-time-soon: Single

 

People place lots of emphasis on finding a woman who cooks, cleans, is a lady in the streets (you know the rest). But that’s not necessarily the case for everyone. How did you/will you know when YOU found “the one”?

Mr. Committed: There were many instances where I thought to myself “I think I found the one.” Cooking, cleaning, fucking hard lol … All that good shit, but there is one moment in particular that I always think of: We were laying down after a night out like any other weekend. She fell asleep first and I sat up watching TV as usual. As I’m falling asleep I hear the loudest pop followed by a never-ending hissing sound. I took a second and thought to myself… “Did this girl just fart under my covers?!” It sounded like a tire with a slow leak. Smelled like sewage juice. I didn’t get mad, I didn’t even care…I just laughed! I told her the next morning and we laughed through her embarrassment together. That’s when I knew.

Mr. No-time-soon: Although cooking, cleaning and being a freak in the sheets are good qualities, they’re standard and expected for any woman who hopes to one day become “the one”. Let Me explain. It’s like, when a woman goes on the first date with a man, she expects for that man to pay, correct? I think I will know when I find “the one” when I meet a lady that sticks with me through thick and thin ,and understands that I’m a man in progress if you know what I mean…a rider and back bone.

Mr. Married: I knew I found the one when she saw things in me that I didn’t see in myself. This made me want to be a better man. My wife’s values and morals played a major part in me choosing to spend the rest of my life with her. She is wise beyond her years when in comes to a relationship, honesty, loyalty, commitment, and love. The cooking and being my personal freak takes the backseat to those key traits.

Mr. Soon-to-be married: I think you just know when it presents itself to you. I didn’t think there would be a woman who would “cook and clean”, just because that’s not what I’m used to from women my age. Speaking for myself I really didn’t know what I wanted. I just knew she had to keep my attention mentally, physically and be a cool motherfucker (if I can say that). Life’s serious enough and isn’t fair, so it’s a blessing knowing you can find some peace at the end of all the madness. You do some crazy things when you find that person that hits all the right buttons.

 

On the days leading up to my wedding, lots of people asked me if I was nervous. Were/Are you nervous? What makes you nervous?

Mr. Committed: I don’t know if this applies to me Lol. But…I’m not nervous about getting married…and I honestly don’t know why. I probably should be lol

Mr. No time soon: Not married

Mr. Married: No, I wasn’t nervous at all. What makes me nervous is the thought of my wife leaving me. I know the type of man I would be if my marriage came to an end.

Mr. Soon-to-be married: I’m not really nervous at all. If I were nervous about anything it would just be having a spotlight on me on the day of the wedding. I’m confident in what I’m doing…I just can’t believe it. It’s surreal going through my daily routine knowing everything will be different in less than a week. I’m excited about the unknown.

 

What makes you believe in marriage, or not believe in marriage?

Mr. Committed: I haven’t always believed in marriage or even relationships for that matter. I now believe in marriage because I’ve seen it work. I’ve seen two people share a type of love that only they will ever know. It only exist between those two people. They created something only they could. That’s great to me. That’s something worth believing in.

Mr. No time soon: I believe in marriage because I think its sacred and God’s gift to Man… I think that most marriages are built on WORLDLY traits and as a result, they fail because the world is dark. So without getting too T.D. Jakes on you, build your marriage on the light and the light is none other than God.

Mr. Married: I’ve always believed in marriage, but growing up, I was afraid of it because I’d never seen what a “successful” marriage looked like.

Mr. Soon-to-be married: I was the one that said I would never get married. I was surrounded by failed marriages and men who preached against it. Now, at 28, and days away from getting married it’s a different mentality. It was a personal decision to make that commitment to her, not something that I think is cool. I’m blessed to have a phenomenal woman, who happens to be my best friend. I couldn’t see myself with anyone else.

 

It’s a popular idea that a man’s friends keep him from being committed or stop him from proposing etc. How did your friends impact your decision to commit to one woman? Did you/do you get any flack from them?

Mr. Committed: My friends have seen so many girls that I have dealt with, that when I made a decision to be with this one they doubted me at first. That kind of made me want to prove them wrong. When they saw how serious I was, I didn’t take any flack at all. They even accepted her to football Sundays occasionally.

Mr. No time soon: It’s only natural for a man to not want to be tied down. It may take a little while for his friends to adjust because they may feel like your taking their friend. I know if they’re your real friend, they will support you and love the woman like a sister.

Mr. Married: My friends never discouraged me to marry my wife. Yes, they have jokes about being with one woman and how they aren’t ready for that type of commitment, or that they can’t be with one woman. Those things didn’t bother me though because I knew what I had. I only get flack from my friends about not coming around that much since I got married. But my job plays a big role in that. I see them when I can and when we get together it’s like old times.

Mr. Soon-to-be married: I have friends that are happily married with kids, and others who are really living that bachelor life. I got slack from any and every man who found out I was engaged, but most of them surprisingly still had positive things to say. Having a mix of friends like that kind of helped, but I wasn’t about to ask my friends for permission to get married.

 

What are the challenges about your current relationship status?

Mr. Committed: Personally: The pressure to take the next step. We/ I’m reminded so much of what is expected and seen for us (me and my significant other), sometimes it’s hard to distinguish genuine feelings of wanting to do something from doing something because “it’s time” or it’s what’s expected of you.

Mr. No time soon: Not in one

Mr. Married: A major challenge about being married for me is time management. There are only 24 hours in a day. In those 24 hours I manage to squeeze in 2 full-time jobs, playing the drums on Sundays for my church, quality time with my family, quality time with my wife, and chill time with friends.

Mr. Soon-to-be married: Honestly, being a young, black, engaged man working in a super young and social corporate environment. I have to deflect slick comments, and the curious girl on the 26th floor daily. I pay it no mind, but you never know the reaction you’ll get when someone learns you’re engaged. Some think you’re a soon-to-be daddy, on death row, or your balls are in glass case somewhere.

 

Many people feel like you should wait until a certain age before marriage. Why do you think that is?

Mr. Committed: Maturity is more important than age. Age means nothing to me. There are some 35 y/o kids that got married. Probably didn’t work out. As long as two mature adults make that choice, age shouldn’t matter.

Mr. No time soon: I think you need to experience life before committing for life to one person…if you don’t you may wish you would have done things or worse — actually do the things you “missed out” on.

Mr. Married: I think that age has nothing to do with it, but your mind-set and maturity. Marriage is more than just getting some jewelry on your ring finger to show off to people. More often than not, people now-a-days see marriage as a fad, not for what it really is.

Mr. Soon-to-be married: There’s no perfect age, it’s more of a culture and maturity thing. Society is quick to label and apply rules to everything, but every culture looks at marriage differently. I think marriage is a sensitive subject and people don’t want see a young couple make a potential “mistake” by getting hitched too young.

 

Anything else to add?

Mr. Committed: Nope. I do like your posts. They’re very interesting. Shows me things from a perspective I would have never noticed. Say nice things about me! Lol

 

 

Your Resident “Sassy Black Girl”

I can hear the new intern being led down the line of cubicles, introduced to each team member by name before she  gets to me.

“And this is Necewrldpeace — but we call her sassy…”

In the short year that I’ve worked for this company, I’ve somehow earned the nickname “sassy”. It’s not all of my co-workers that refer to me as such, actually only a couple. I’m not sure if it’s my signature big hair that people can’t get enough of, my fashion forward work attire, or the mere fact that I’m a Black woman and although I speak properly, pronouncing all of my -ing’s and -y’s, there is a certain Black girl nuance in my voice that I don’t bother to mask for the workplace. I don’t stand with my hands on my hips, nor do I roll my neck or my eyes in disagreement to anything. So I’m not quite sure what it is about me that screams sass. Is is my quiet confidence? The subtle hair-flips? The audacity of my hips to sway when I walk? If that’s what you call sassy then fine. I’ll be that.

But, if you consult my close group of friends, while sassy may be in the mix of adjectives somewhere, it’s definitely not the first descriptor that comes to mind when you think of me. Goofy? Yes. Cynical? Yes. Sarcastic? Yes. Corny? Debatable.

I get the impression that “sassy” is a term of endearment here, but every so often it still rubs me the wrong way. There is a long-standing complexity existing in the thin line between “sassy black girl”, and angry, confrontational black woman–even more so when it comes from people who don’t look like you. Sass is acceptable and cute when it’s all about the way I dress, the way I walk, and the way I style my hair. The thing is, it gets complicated when the “sassy” black girl begins to open her mouth — when it becomes deeper than the physical being. She becomes a threat. To what? Patriarchy? Whiteness? Corporate America?  I don’t know.

What I do know, is what was once just a cute little word, becomes a guided missile aimed at my character. I don’t want to be associated with sass and attitude, because I have a lot more to offer, than a “ki-ki”and some cute shoes, and especially since there are two co-workers who, off the top of my head would go before me on the sassy scale, yet are never met with such a vivid descriptor. One, an older charming southern belle with impeccable style, quick wit, and almost always includes the word honey in a sentence, no matter who she’s speaking to. The other, a fiery red-head from up north who you can usually hear from a mile away, either yelling to (not at) her subordinates from her office, or cursing someone out–most likely a media representative from a local news outlet.

Then there’s little old me. I say good morning to everyone passing by, I keep a smile on my face, and more often than not, I am seen more than I’m heard. How these two got passed up when they were handing out the sassy moniker is beyond me. Wait…no it’s not. Because I’m the Black girl. I’m expected to roll my neck and suck my teeth at the first sign of irritation. I’m supposed to put my co-workers “in-check”. I’m supposed to be sassy…even if I’m not.

Whatever.

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Welcome to the Jungle: A Life Update and Whatnot.

I originally titled this post as an update about my public bathing-suit wearing in the Yayo with my girls, because cheetah print (and tiger stripes). You’re probably not familiar with the term “Yayo”, because it’s a lame nickname for Miami and I enjoy using lame slang. But #anywaydoe, A jungle pretty much describes what my life has been for the past two weeks, down to the current state of my place of dwelling. So let’s share.

Hi cheetah print. Hi Tiger stripes.

Hi cheetah print. Hi Tiger stripes.

Almost a week before the girls and I planned to take flight on our kind-of-annual trip to the beach, my husband and I finally got the news that we’d been waiting on for the past year (Ok it was like 9 months, but who’s counting). The short-sale was finally approved by all parties and the house was as good as ours! Our long-awaited settlement date was scheduled for the day I took off for MIA. I planned to go cut a huge check, sign my life away, and sashay down to SoBe with an extra set of keys jingling in my pocket. But the house gods did not see fit for my day to be THAT bomb. Haters.

After a pushed-back settlement date (which cost us money), and an infuriating experience with Delta airlines that threatened to make me miss the new date (I cried at the airport y’all…and I don’t cry.) Me and the hubs finallllllyyyyy got our keys and as of 7/1/14 are proud homeowners. The next step? Get the hell out of my parent’s basement. Expeditiously.

See, a little after we got married, we moved from our cozy apartment in downtown Silver Spring, to my parent’s house. It was a no-brainer when my Dad offered us that option. His reasoning was that we should save all the money we were throwing away towards rent, and get out of our lease while we could so that we could comfortably house-hunt on our own time.You only have to mention the words save and money in the same sentence once, OK?

What we planned to last for no longer than 1 year, turned into an indefinite purgatory. It was convenient not having to pay real rent prices, and having several live-in babysitters. But let’s be real. There is no amount of savings that can replace a newly married couple having their OWN space–and I’ll just leave that there.

We put up an offer for a house that we love, the seller accepted and we swiftly entered into contract. We played this waiting game with the short-sale from September 2013 now. We went months at a time with no updates, and looked at other homes on several occasions. I watched a good five of my peers go through the entire home buying process while we were still just waiting on updates from a process that we started over a year ago. And yes I was salty. So, so salty. But we waited, and here we are!

Cut to now. My husband and I celebrated our 2nd wedding Anniversary on the 7th. I assumed that we would be spending a nice, quiet, (free) evening in our new home, sitting on the floor eating ramen noodles by candlelight or something rom-com-esque. To my surprise, Officer Woods had tickets to On The Run up his sleeve and a babysitter on deck! Needless to say, We didn’t get around to moving anything that weekend. Oh but this weekend? We had furniture delivered and packed up a U-haul with all the rest of our humble belongings and now we finally, officially have a Woods Residence! But it currently looks like this:

Hi junk.

Hi junk.

Hi boxes.

Hi boxes.

Hi holes.

Hi holes.

So yes, about that jungle…I’ve been buried under a sea of boxes and junk. And there are holes in the wall. Lots of holes in the wall. And I am broke. And last night, I wanted to eat Talenti ice cream but I couldn’t because I unpacked all my silverware that’s been boxed up and put it in the dishwasher. I could have just waited, but eff that. I managed to unpack all of my wine glasses and conveniently found a bottle of Merlot that someone gifted us a long time ago and all was right with the world…until I get home this evening and wonder why the cleaning fairies didn’t put all my junk away yet.

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26.

Get into my bow. Flawless.

Get into my bow. Flawless.

I spent the opening hours of my birthday reading posts on From A Wildflower, with my son’s snoring and re-runs of ratchet reality Mondays in the background. Not a celebratory glass of wine, or anything with bubbles in sight. Just me, my “bye Felicia” braids, and eyes heavy from a long day of staring at a computer screen. Oddly enough, there really isn’t anything else that I wanted be doing besides cuddling with my husband. Either way, the clock strikes 12…

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?”

Today is my birthday. I turn 26. How do I feel? I feel complete. I feel wise. I feel self-actualized. And perhaps my ghost of birthdays, future is standing next to my 30-year-old self like “girl please” — kind of like the same way I look back at my 16-year-old self — but regardless of how I’ll feel about it later, I like who I am on THIS day. I like that I’m unapologetic about what I think or feel, and I love that I’ve developed enough wisdom to recognize when it’s appropriate to share. I like that I have the skill to argue with the greatest of debaters, and that I’ve developed the maturity to know when to let things go — sometimes.

I’ve emerged from a shy, self-conscious, girl who tried too hard to be cool at one point, to a confident, unapologetic, empathetic, wise and mature woman. I appreciate all the growth I’ve experienced, but I know there’s more. In this 26th year of my life, I want to become influential, and I want to become fearless.

“You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us, it is in everyone.”

All my life, I’ve convinced myself that I wanted to play the background. Mostly because I was shy, but also because I was afraid of what people would think of me, and even more afraid of what they would say out loud. I never wanted to try too hard, because I didn’t want to be the girl who “tried too hard”. I didn’t want to walk in my confidence because I didn’t want to be the girl who “thought she was all that”. Where did that get me? Mediocrity. And somehow I still became that girl who “thought I was all that”.

Looking back, all this really was, was a fear of rejection. I didn’t want to share my gifts with people, out of fear that they wouldn’t be received well. I didn’t want to be criticized, or told I wasn’t good enough, or even told that I was doing the most. So I didn’t do anything. At 26, that time is up, and this light is ON. I will pitch publications. I will shamelessly promote my work on all of my social networking sites, and I will openly acknowledge those who inspire me and support me.

“And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.”
– Marianne Williamson.

A funny thing happens when you finally discover your light. You realize that no matter what anyone else has going on, what is for you is ONLY for you. It doesn’t kill you to compliment someone else, or share someone else’s work, or to recognize that his new girlfriend IS actually pretty. Who cares? No skin off of your back and no light from your candle. Sure there are people who are smarter, stronger, prettier, more fit, or make more money, and sure there are people who aren’t as smart, strong, pretty,or fit. But when you discover YOUR magic, there isn’t a thing anyone can do to turn you down. Who gon’ check me boo?

So yes. 26. The year of relentless pursuit of my dreams, the year of influence, the year of fearlessness and the year of turning my light all the way up.

And today? Well, I baked myself some dark chocolate cookies last night, without chocolate chips, because yuck. I ate one for breakfast because I’m trill like that. I’m having lunch with my husband, probably go get a mani and pedi after work. Go home, play with my Carter and cuddle with my husband until I fall asleep. And in my dreams, I’ll be plotting on how to take over the world.

Bow Down.

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